We all carry a smartphone on us at all times these days and we rely on them for so many things. But if you carry something around on you at all times, shouldn’t you make it look good? A lot of people don’t really think about how their phone looks and they aren’t bothered that it looks just the same as everybody else’s phone, but if you want to make your phone more unique, there are some simple ways to customize it and make it your own. These are some of the best ways to personalize your smartphone and make it more unique.
Choose A Different Brand
Everybody is walking around with iPhones or Samsungs, so if you want to set yourself apart from the crowd, why not go for something different? When you are choosing a phone, look at some of the less popular brands and see what they have to offer. In a lot of cases, the phone itself will be just as good as the well-known brands, but it will be a lot cheaper. You’ll get a more interesting phone that not as many people have and it will save you a lot of money at the same time.
Get A Good Case
Getting a good smartphone case is important because phones are fragile and the screen will easily break if you drop it. But you should also see your case as a good opportunity to personalize your smartphone and make it more unique. There are so many amazing cases out there, so when you are buying one, think about something that reflects you and your interests. For example, if you love cars, you can get some great Formula 1 Phone Cases online. You can also get custom made photo ones with pictures of your friends and family. The right case can make your phone a lot more unique to you while also protecting it from damage.
Customize Your Wallpaper And Lock Screen
The case makes a big difference, but you should also customize the wallpaper and lock screen on your phone. Usually, your phone comes with a default wallpaper, which will probably be pretty boring. If you want your phone to be unique to you, make sure to change it to something different right away, like a photo of your family and friends or a great picture of something that you are passionate about, like your favourite place. You can also make a live wallpaper with dynamic moving images, which is much better than a boring static picture.
Add Widgets To The Home Screen
You can improve the look of your phone and boost the user experience at the same time by adding a few widgets to the home screen. Most people already have things like a clock or the weather on their home screen, but why not add something more interesting? You can get some great note-taking widgets to keep things organized or even use a custom widget-maker to create your own.
Make these simple customizations and you can make your smartphone a lot more unique to you.
Each day the average amount of time a person spends on their smartphone increases, and now we have reached a stage in which some young adults spend upwards of 6 hours mindlessly scrolling. Getting involved with this from a business perspective can cause you to gain a considerable amount of profit, as you can join the smartphone revolution with your own unique company concept and become a great hit! Figuring out exactly how you can become a part of the mobile industry doesn’t have to be a difficult task, as there are a few unique ideas that may just be the perfect choice for you. So, if you want to know more about how you can cash in on modern societies smartphone obsession, then read on for some of the greatest pathways that you can take to reach ultimate business bliss in no time at all.
Get Creative With Applications
One of the best things about smartphones is that you can download and play a seemingly endless amount of different games that can be tailored to suit your own specific likes and dislikes. The App Store contains a wealth of different genres for you to make the most of, whether that means education, socialising or just plain fun and games! If you have some knowledge regarding programming and previous technical experience to base your project on then feel free to dive straight in and code the algorithms yourself, as you will be able to get the most unique application that’s individual to your company. If you struggle with electronics then there’s no need to worry, as you can find bespoke iOS application Development teams that can do all of the hard work for you – simply approach them with your plans and explain your goals for the future so that they can fully understand your requirements.
Repairing & Refurbishing
Despite the seemingly limitless selection of cases on offer today, so many people end up dropping, smashing or generally breaking their smartphones. It’s common to see a young person sporting a cracked screen, as it would seem that smartphone related built-in obsolescence has one of the shortest life cycles ever. As a result of this, getting into the repair business will ensure that you always have a job to do – people are always going to be clumsy, and smartphones will always be made just well enough for you to experience them in their prime for no longer than a couple of months. Sourcing old smartphones that can be refurbished into working models is also a good route to take, as you can buy parts for a very cheap price and make a full phone that can generate a nice profit.
Being a part of the smartphone revolution has never been so simple when you can take the ideas detailed above on board. Whether you decide to get creative and develop your own app or do something hardware related such as repair and refurbish old models – there are so many choices you can choose between.
Finding the right business phone is absolutely crucial if you want to be able to conduct business while you’re out and about. The right business phone will allow you to use the internet on the go, call and even video call your clients and team members and have plenty of apps that help you to keep track of things like business expenses.
Below, you’ll find the steps you need to take in order to find the right business phone. Take a look:
1. Assess Your Budget
Start by assessing your budget so that you can make sure you’re getting a phone you can afford. Even if you can afford the newest and best iPhone, that doesn’t mean you have to go out and get it. Look at the best iPhone deals first and see what’s out there. You might be surprised at how cost-effective some of the older models are, while still being feature-rich and perfect for what you need.
2. Consider The Features You Really Need
Make sure you consider the features you’re going to need in your business phone. Does the camera really need to be super clear? Do you really need the highest amount of memory you can purchase? If features aren’t all that important to you and you just want to be able to send messages, make calls, and use the internet, then looking outside of the Apple range may be a good idea. However, there’s a reason so many business people do choose Apple. Ultimately, it depends on what you need and what you prefer.
3. Test Them Out In Person
Testing phones out in person is always a good idea, so go to a physical store and see what feels best in your hand. Some of the newer smartphones are huge, and may not be the best choice for you when travelling – especially if you have other devices and things you want to take with you, too. Testing them out in person will give you a better idea of what feels right to you. You might even find that you prefer a bigger phone with a larger screen for business purposes. It all depends on what you’re going to be doing.
4. Ask For Recommendations
Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations from your team or friends. See what you get the most recommendations for and make a shortlist this way. You can read all of the reviews online that you like, but at the end of the day, you don’t know who wrote it and how much they were being paid. If somebody was given a free product for review, they may be a lot kinder than they need to be.
5. Consider How Long You’d Like To Have This Phone
Would you like to keep this phone for 2 years, or perhaps even longer? If you want it to last a long time, buying a newer model is a good idea, as software updates won’t have slowed it down yet.
In the second of my 10 Retro Gadgets of the Week, I talk about arguably one of the most important inventions of the 20th century!
Don’t forget to listen in to the podcast link above where I talk about the gadget and its functions.
The Sony Walkman was a portable cassette player launched in 1979, it started a revolution in personal audio cassette players and altered the listening habits of people and brought music to the masses wherever they might be.
Soundabout, Freestyle and Stowaway
Originally invented as the Sony Pressman to allow journalists to record interviews using a compact device, it became a personal entertainment device shortly after, settling on the name Walkman after being names the Soundabout, Freestyle and Stowaway. It very quickly became very popular and Sony began marketing it under a single brand-name, the Sony Walkman was born.
Originally the Walkman came with two headphone sockets with individual volume controls and a Hotline button which lowered the volume levels and opened the microphone to allow for station announcements to be heard or the user to have conversations with other people.
Other manufacturers such as Aiwa, Toshiba and Panasonic soon followed suit launched competing products, but the devices all became known as a “Walkman” as the brand-name crossed over into popular culture and entered the Oxford English Dictionary in 1986.
The Walkman was used when walking, exercising and running. Sony launched the ‘Sports Walkman’ which offered a degree of waterproofing and allegedly drove the fitness craze of the late ’80s. It was during this time that cassettes began outselling vinyl as millions of people chose the Walkman for their entertainment.
As music delivery advanced forwards, Sony was quick to adapt the brand to suit new formats, thus they launched the Sony Discman for the CD marketplace, the Sony DAT Walkman, MiniDisc Walkman and Sony Watchman TV.
Without the Sony Walkman, we wouldn’t have modern personal music players and most certainly would never have seen the Apple iPod. Sony continued the brand of Walkman into the modern smartphone marketplace.
Don’t forget to listen to the podcast above! Like, Share and Subscribe and I will see you next week for the Retro Gadget No.3
Thanks to Matt Marvell at BBC Radio Suffolk for having me on his show as a guest again this week.
Many of us will remember the halcyon days when upgrading our mobile phone handsets was a six-month event.
No so now it would seem, instead, we are waiting much longer and are clearly looking for greater incentives to part with our beloved devices and even more importantly, our money.
You can listen into my interview with James Hazell on BBC Radio Suffolk where I talk about why the smartphone market is slowing down. Click on the link above to hear what I had to say.
A Short(ish) History
My first mobile phone was bought in 1993 (some 26 years ago) from Dixons in Derby. It was an NEC P100 and I think it cost me £50 and then £7.50 per month for the contract with Vodafone, no calls were included, so I paid 50p per minute if I did need to call anyone.
The phone itself ran on the old 1G analogue network at 900MHz which was very quickly superceded by the digital 2G networks split between 900MHz for Vodafone and Cellnet and the alternative 1800Mhz for Orange and Mercury One2One.
Note: if you don’t recognise many of these names, it’s because due to buyouts, rebrands and mergers, Vodafone remained, Orange became EE, Cellnet became BT Cellnet, then O2. Mercury One2One became just One2One and then changed to T-Mobile which in turn is merged with Orange to become EE. Then of course 3 launched a 3g service later on and of course, two dozen or so ‘piggy-back’ operators such as Giffgaff, Sky Mobile, Virgin etc, who don’t, in fact, run their own networks but instead using the Big Four’s network.
So my first phone was relatively cheap in today’s terms and in fact in ‘yesterdays’ terms too. the NEC P100 was meant to be a durable portable phone which it was and I kept it for some years until the analogue network was phased out and I had to get a more modern phone. The 2G network roll-out in the UK caused a market explosion and along with it came the Nokia 5110 and then 3310 phones which completely dominated the marketplace.
This explosion in popularity came with reasonably cheap phones with cheap and short contracts, this meant that phones could be renewed quite regularly and soon cupboards would start filling up with unwanted and out of date devices, fuelling development and in reality, a war between manufacturers and networks to provide more and more functionality. Heading this surge was Orange and O2 who had struck up a deal with little known manufacturer HTC to produce the very first Microsoft Windows CE based ‘Smartphones’, long before the birth of the iPhone.
HTC was at the time manufacturing the Compaq and HP iPaq Pocket PC and by adding cellular functionality, the Orange SPV (Sounds, Pictures and Video) and O2 XDA (extended PDA) began to be sold and the Smartphone was born.
Suddenly our dumb phones became ‘Smartphones’ and with it rapidly increasing prices. These costs had to be passed onto consumers via increased contracts with longer minimum terms (mainly to allow for the handset and network infrastructure costs to be absorbed ). Minimum six-month contracts became twelve, then eighteen, then twenty-four months. All of this was necessary to pay for the device and network overheads!
The phone networks began bundling minutes (and later, data), in part to placate phone users who were starting to become caught up in the ever increasing contract times. Subsequently, devices became more expensive, resulting in more expensive contracts.
With the launch of Apple’s iPhone, O2 and T-Mobile began offering ‘all you can eat’ data plans in order for these data-hungry devices to take advantage of the vast amount of content appearing. Once the iPhone 3G was launched, with its ability to consume vast amounts of bandwidth and data, the all-you-can-eat model was scrapped or altered with ‘acceptable usage’ policies to limit data consumption, unless you were prepared to pay more.
Now that the smartphone had become established as a Super-Gadget, the manufacturers began an ‘Arms-Race’ to establish themselves as the Go-To brand in the multi-billion dollar marketplace, the likes of Apple, Samsung, Nokia, Motorola, LG, Sony and HTC began pumping billions into product development, patent registrations, cross-licensing and all-out war!
In turn, the Smartphone industry has driven bigger, better, faster and more costly devices into the consumers’ hands! Meanwhile, in China, Xiaomi, Huawei and Honor are producing comparable and in some cases, better products, the market is now awash with products that were once competing with each other but are now blurring their differences making it difficult to see the differences
We now have a smart-device marketplace with astoundingly high-quality handsets costing £1000 plus! How can we justify paying over £100 a month for a mobile phone contract, when we are struggling to differentiate between ‘last-years’ model?
What is needed now is for the manufacturers to take a breath! They need to find out what their customers really want. Maybe we are becoming tired and bewildered of being told what functions we need by these companies and it’s time for them to start listening to their consumers.
In the lead up to the East West Road Trip in October I was looking for a smartphone to enable me to document the trip both with photographs and video and was particularly keen to live stream the video where possible.
Initially I was looking to live-stream the trip using a 360° camera, unfortunately this didn’t come off and I was faced with a last-minute race to find an alternative literally 2 days before we were departing!
Fortunately, I was offered the Sony Xperia XZ1 phone with 30gb of data from EE. This solved by data anxiety problems immediately and having used Sony Xperia devices in the past, I was confident they would step up to the plate with image and video quality.
Sony are an extremely well-established tech companies, in fact for many years they were ‘the’ tech company of choice and it’s no secret the mobile phone market is dominated by two other big tech brands, so I was interested to see how the XZ1 would differentiate itself in an ultra-competitive industry.
Out of the box, the Sony XZ1 is a sleek, smooth, black device, with Gorilla Glass 5 front facing glass and deep black aluminium at the back, a departure from the super-sized XZ Premium from earlier in the year which was covered from and rear in glass. With dimensions of 5.83″ x 2.87″ with a thickness of 7.4mm, this is not the most gigantic handset and its smooth edges make it comfortable to hold, although it is very smooth, so hold on tight! Aside from black, the device is also available in Moonlit Blue, Warm Silver and Venus Pink, so plenty of choice.
The phone is preloaded with the Google Android™ O (or Oreo) operating system and Sony have been very sensitive by not trashing the ideals of the OS by avoiding in the addition of their own ‘enhancements’ in the most part.
The phone packs a very bright 5.2″ TRILUMINOS™ display driven by BRAVIA® TV technology given HDR compatible playback X-Reality™ producing 138% of standard display colour spectrum, the companies experience in the display market really comes through. The display is noticeably brighter and colour more natural that other phone displays and playing HDR video from YouTube, Netflix or Amazon Prime is incredible. X-Reality™ intelligently removes noise and from videos produces exquisite results, it really is impressive. Some people would criticise the use of a Full HD screen HDR screen instead of the perceived standard of UHD and above, but I would beg to differ, having tried both UHD and 4K mobile devices, I see no real benefits, even when using VR Goggles.
The beating heart inside of the device is provided by a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 835 Processor, positioning the phone in the same bracket at the competition. In addition, storage comes as 4GB of RAM and 64 GB of super-fast UFS internal memory with support for an addition of a up to 256GB micro SDXC. It’s pleasing that support for additional memory has been included with the phone, although it’s quite fiddly adding and removing both Sim card and SD cards with the phone, but on the plus side it’s very accessible. It should be noted that around 9.5GB is used up by preinstalled firmware and applications.
The phone is powered by a 2700 mAh battery, featuring Smart Stamina 3.0 and Qnovo Adaptive Charging which prolongs the life of the battery by ensuring it is charged quickly and safely with the addition of Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 3.0. I’ve come across battery charge management in the past with electric cars and particularly the Tesla Model S, this too allows for quick charging, but upon reaching around 80% full, charging speed is tapered off to ensure the lifetime of the battery. Sony does a similar job with the Xperia XZ1 by intelligently noting owners charge habits and adjusting the charge rate of the phone if for instance you are sleeping and don’t begin using your phone until 7.15am. It is also possible to use the phone to charge other devices using an Android OTG adapter, but in fairness mobile phone battery is at such a premium that use of it for anything other than for the phone itself is rare.
With normal use the phone easily provides a days use with something left over at the end and this will be using all of the phones features, even some of the cooler ones which I will talk about later. Charging is provided by a Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 3.0 charger and USB Type C socket.
Moving on the the front and rear cameras, Sony has yet again infused the phone with their high quality optics and sensors. The rear facing 9MP Motion Eye™ camera with 1/ 2.3” Exmor RS™ with 1.22μm pixel pitch. The lens is a 25 mm wide G Lens F2.0. Sony again use their own BIONZ™ for mobile image-processing engine to give superb results. There’s a ton of features such as Predictive Capture (motion / smile), Autofocus burst, x8 Digital Zoom, HDR Photo, 0.6 sec Quick Launch & Capture, Predictive Hybrid Autofocus, Anti-distortion shutter, Triple image sensing technology, SteadyShot™ with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis stablisation) and 4K recording at 30fps.
However, the ‘pièce de résistance’ is the inclusion of a 960 fps Super slow motion video capture. This is achieved by the inclusion of addition hardware installed directly into the camera sensor in the form of hyper fast dynamic memory which allows for raw footage to be saved directly into the sensor and then drip feed and standard speed back to the standard hardware. Due to the colossal amount of power required to pulling 960 frames per second, the sensor only actually captures .18 of a second at 720hd, stretching it to around 6 seconds of footage.
This is called Motion Eye technology and personally I’m looking forward to seeing how this develops for the future, because it’s really impressive. As expected, you need bags of light to capture at this speed, so it works best outside in daylight, I also noticed light flicker in my office due to the refresh rate of our lights. Normal lighting does not cause his problem though.
The front facing camera is a saner 13MP 1/ 3.06” Exmor RS™ for mobile image sensor with 22mm wide angle lens at F2.0, again Sony includes it’s proprietary SteadyShot™ 5-axis stablization technology.
There is one simply AMAZING feature included with the XZ1 which is the 3D Capture mode. This uses software developed by Sony, utilising both processor and camera to allow you to 3D scan objects, share them and even have them 3D printed. It takes a little practice and Sony actively limit the modes available to give you time to get used to simple scans until you are ready to scan ‘freehand’. My initial results were ok, but I soon became adept in scanning some great objects, from peoples’ faces, heads, food and any other object I could think of. This is a tipping point in this industry, no longer do you need super expensive scanners and solutions, you can now use your Sony Xperia XZ1 (and now XZ Premium) to scan 3d objects. It truly is incredible.
Sony has chosen to stick with traditional Xperia design, this means that the trend of big screens and no bezels isn’t a feature of this phone, instead the phone packs stereo speakers at top and bottom of the phone which in landscape mode gives supreme stereo sound, making use of the Qualcomm® aptX™ HD audio features, the phone can ‘upscale’ lower quality audio to a near uncompressed sound when streaming across Bluetooth. There are a host of other features such as High-Resolution Audio, DSEE HX™, LDAC, Digital Noise Cancelling, Clear Audio+, S-Force Front Surround, Stereo Recording and Sony’s Virtual Phones technology. The speaker volume has also been increased by 50% over previous models.
Gaming wise, the phone is going to be able to handle pretty much everything thrown at it at the moment due to it’s highest end spec, but also included is PS4 integration using Remote Play. this allows you to connect to your own PS4 remotely and play your installed games, you can even pair a PS4 gamepad if that appeals.
The phone retails at £599 off contract, but at the time of writing there are some pretty appealing deals including some nice add-ons, but in the UK you are still looking above £50 per month for two years and more if you want better data allowance.
Although the XZ1 doesn’t pack the 4K display of the XZ Premium, the screen is quite possibly richer, especially in HDR mode, the sound it great and performance very very quick. In a world where it is perceived we only have two choices, Sony have yet again produced a solid handset capable of sitting amongst the best.
I did end up streaming a fair amount using the Sony Xperia XZ1 during and after the trip and found it to be a very capable device and coupled with an effectively limitless amount of data, it worked well.
On a side note, EE’s 4G network is very impressive and we were able to live stream both through Glencoe and arriving at Ardnamurchan, they pretty much had us covered.
A little over a month has passed since we arrived back from the Scotland and as promised, we have donated the remains of our Gadget Road Trip fund to British Red Cross.
This afternoon, I transferred the remaining balance of £42.32 from our Monzo Card to the British Red Cross charity and thus rendered the account empty.
I was personally extremely upset by the Grenfell Tower disaster earlier this year, which I know also affected Paul. The British Red Cross were on the ground there immediately after it happened and provided much need assistance to the poor families that had lost their loved ones, their homes and everything they owned in a matter of minutes. It is because of this, that I wanted to donate to this charity. Since Grenfell, other disasters have continued to affect the people of our planet and the British Red Cross have continued to provide much needed support for these people who have lost absolutely everything they own and still lack the basics of clean water, electricity and food. If you would like to continue to help them, you can also donate via this link
Thank you so much again to the following people and organisations for their kind donations of funds or services!
XSItems Ltd ACPlus Favorite Fried Chicken Free Reign Internet Coderus Gavin Dadd Patrick Lohan Jackie Robinson Ian Brown Olive Porter Sandra Grilli Callum McGilvery.
We wouldn’t have been able to feed ourselves during the trip and have something soft to sleep on. Thank you again.
Thanks also to Hillcroft Park in Ullswater for allowing us to stay at their lodgings for two nights (They will be featuring in the upcoming sitcom ‘Home from Home’ with Johnny Vegas, so keep an eye out!) and Far View Bed & Breakfast in Kilchoan (I won’t forget little Gracie exclaiming “My wellington boots fell over!!” as I took her and her dad on a little test drive).