November 2014 – Mobile Geeks http://www.mobilegeeks.com Covering the Latest Mobile Technology Mon, 22 Apr 2019 22:16:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 39846093 Google Nexus 9 Review: The HTC Android 5.0 ‘Lollipop’ Tablet http://www.mobilegeeks.com/google-nexus-9-review-htc-android-5-0-lollipop-tablet/ http://www.mobilegeeks.com/google-nexus-9-review-htc-android-5-0-lollipop-tablet/#comments Sun, 30 Nov 2014 08:49:15 +0000 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/?p=20036

The Google Nexus 9 is the beginning of a new era, not just for the Google’s Android mobile OS, but also for manufacturer HTC. Introducing the latest 8.9 inch tablet featuring a flagship Android 5.0 Lollipop UI and the first HTC tablet in years, Mobile Geeks review the Google Nexus 9. With the Nexus 9 […]

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The Google Nexus 9 is the beginning of a new era, not just for the Google’s Android mobile OS, but also for manufacturer HTC. Introducing the latest 8.9 inch tablet featuring a flagship Android 5.0 Lollipop UI and the first HTC tablet in years, Mobile Geeks review the Google Nexus 9.

With the Nexus 9 Google has paired up with long time partner HTC, but it’s actually the first time they have collaborated on a tablet device together. Google is also debuting its Android 5.0 Lollipop on a 8.9 inch device that arrives in a 4:3 aspect ratio, also a first for a Nexus tablet. Unlike previous Nexus devices which revolved around the concept of creating a premium quality device for the most affordable price point, in this case we see a somewhat higher price of just under $400.

Nexus 9: Hardware Overview

Technically speaking the hardware HTC is providing looks to be totally solid. For the first time we have a 64-bit capable processor in the form of the Nvidia Tegra K1 based on the latest ‘Denver’ architecture, a dual-core chip clocked at 2.5GHz packing a ‘Kepler’ architecture GPU that brings 192 CUDA cores. In addition you are getting 2GB of RAM and a choice of 16GB or 32GB of flash memory but alas no microSD card – this is deserving of a rant later in the article, just you wait. Gigabit WiFi is also featured with the 802.11 ac standard, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC and optional LTE support for bandwidth of up to 150MBit/ sec. The 8.9 inch display has a pretty high resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels and is covered by durable Gorilla Glass 3 from Corning. The chassis itself is constructed using metal which adds a cognizant feeling of robustness.

The 8MP camera has an impressive F/2.4 aperture as well as auto-focus and LED flash. There is also 1.6MP front facing camera and a pair of stereo speakers on the front, sans HTC BoomSound technology unfortunately. If you want the extra memory you may have to stump up an extra $80, which is a handsome amount of money for a additional 16GB, although it still keeps it a few dollars cheaper than the leading Apple tablet. But if you want LTE support you will have to shell out $599 USD as the 4G version is available only in the form of the 32GB model.

Overall, you would have to say that this hardware specification is very close to what you might consider an ideal Android tablet. The price might not be quite what we could expect from a Nexus device with Google turning away from the idea of cheap ubiquity, favoring a more premium flavor that can compete on a level field with competing Apple devices.

Design and Build

The Nexus 9 looks like stealth bomber – at least that’s the impression I have by the Gray-blue version that we have because its slightly curved back and tapered edges somehow remind me of the famous US Aircraft. The device is based around a metal frame which is has been painted black to match the rest of the device most of which consists of the back cover of the device which made an attractive, thin polycarbonate.

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The plastic cover on the rear feels quite good in the hand, with the polycarbonate finish enhancing your ability to grip the tablet securely. Although the surface of the back cover is somewhat dull it is by no means immune to fingerprints, especially if there is a little grease involved. Unlike many glossier finishes however, these can be wiped away easily with any kind cloth or even your sleeve. So far the Nexus 9 has survived without any scratches, which is not to say it’s entirely scratch-proof, but thus far for us it seems to do well this respect.

The choice of materials on the back has its advantages and disadvantages, but there is one little problem, a problem that has surfaced in various tear-down pieces available on the net. The back cover is indeed so thin that it can yield to even slight pressure when pushed in. This issues seems to be more pronounced on some samples than on others, and I can reassure readers that on our sample we noticed some give of only up to around 2mm, and was only noticeable when applying a substantial amount of pressure. The Nexus 9 however is not particularly rigid in spite of its metal frame which can be twisted a little, also affecting the display – more on this later in the review.

The camera is positioned in a similar manner to what we saw on the Nexus 5, sitting very close to the corner with its metal frame protruding out. The transition between the edge of the device and the power and volume buttons is a highlight of the device. Despite being made of metal the buttons actually feel less sturdy than you would want and actually wobble just a fraction. These buttons can also be a little difficult to feel for in everyday usage as they actually don’t protrude far enough from the chassis itself. The power button also can be less responsive at times too. The main saving grace here is the addition of Double-Tap-to-Wake, allowing you to bring the device out of standby with a simple tap tap. In reality I have been using the double tap in place of the power button, likewise we can use the onscreen slider to alter volumes rather than engage the volume rocker.

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Thanks to the implementation of Gorilla Glass the display of the Nexus 9 is also not so susceptible to fingerprints. It’s interesting to note also the two narrow outlets for the front speakers which can easily become filled with dust. This is mostly because HTC have neglected to add kind grill or other kind of protective layer. The front face contains no logos any other adornments that distract from the simple black, but the problem is when you wipe the front face to clean it you can end up putting all the dust in the speaker bins on either edge.

This might seem a little neurotic, but ultimately these are the kinds of details that separate a good design from a great design. The front facing stereo speakers are of course totally welcome, offering the best possible stereo audio experience without any kind of concealment affecting the ability to hear the audio, a problem we frequently highlight with rear mounted speakers. You could argue that when handling the device in landscape mode the palm of your hand could obscure the speakers. This is possible, but in reality we found it was not a problem.

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Visually the Nexus 9 is very attractive with its clean lines and a minimalistic approach that makes it look very modern in keeping with Google’s Material design philosophy. Some users may feel the design overly simplified and even bland, but the main reason the Nexus 9 exists is to flaunt the new Android 5 Lollipop OS. There’s less in the way of bling compared to Samsung or Apple, but what you have instead is maximum understatement – at least here on the grey version it certainly is.

The Nexus 9 has relatively thin bezels along the right and left edges, but there remains enough width that you can hold the device securely in hand without any issues. This is also helped in some respects by the finish of the back cover which also adds additional grip. The thin bezels help make the device fairly compact considering its 8.9 inch display. A weight of 425 grams means it is a touch lighter than the Apple iPad Air 2 but only by a few grams so we probably shouldn’t get too carried away. It is light enough for extended handling and feels well balanced and comfortable.

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Under closer inspection we could find no blemishes or irregularities during the review and testing procedure, as long as the minor matter of the give we discerned on the back panel is overlooked. Also on the front, there are no discernible weaknesses in terms of quality, because the cover-glass is employed evenly and consistently throughout. It’s clear that the production and manufacturing takes place at one of HTC’s own factories in Taiwan – with virtually no outsourcing to Chinese contract manufacturers. The Nexus 9 is evidence that Taiwanese manufacturing is largely on par with that which we find in China.

Nvidia Tegra K1 Performance

The Nvidia Tegra K1 ‘Denver’ chip is the 64-bit version of the K1processor from the manufacturer headed up by Jen-Sun Huang. You might be surprised to learn that the K1 Denver is based around two ARMv8-compatible cores, which means we are looking a dual-core mobile chip. How does this affect the performance of the K1 compared to competing quad-core equivalents? In truth, not by much as the K1 delivers some truly impressive scoring in our testing, pulling ahead of the pack in AnTuTu scoring, leaving arguably its biggest competitor, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 in its wake. Compared to the Apple A8X, also a 64-bit capable dual-core SoC, the K1 really shows its muscle in terms of graphics performance with the ‘Kepler’ cores coming to the fore.

Interestingly, the Nexus 9 does not actually exploit the full potential of the Nvidia Denver K1 which according to technical documentation can reach a top core clock of up to 2.5GHz. This is in contrast HTC and Google’s implementation which tops out at only 2.3GHz – the motivation for this apparent under-clocking can most likely be attributed to heat issues with the Nividia chip. We have seen issues with overheating in the past with Nvidia mobile chips, and in the corner near the camera of the Nexus 9 you can detect significant levels of waste heat. Not enough heat to make the device uncomfortable to hold, or enough to affect overall stability, but it can get surprisingly warm during extended benchmarking i.e. when the system is under full load.

Everyday Performance

In terms of general UI fluidity, the Nvidia K1 does a great job and keeps things very nice and slick with Google’s latest Android release. How much optimization has been achieved between the three companies involved (Google, HTC and Nvidia…), but we can report that in general there were very few moments where the K1 was challenged. Browser performance is impressive even with several tabs open and other processes and applications open in the background. Of course Chrome will only refresh a page when it is being viewed, which helps in terms of memory efficiency, but overall scrolling through web pages is a treat with virtually no stuttering or other issues. In all games we tested, the sheer brute performance of the ‘Kepler’ graphics cores meant that we could comfortably crank up the graphics settings without seeing any performance problems at all.

Overall there is nothing to complain about in purely performance terms as the Nvidia chip works as advertised by the company – i.e. adding plenty of credence to the notion that this is the world’s fastest mobile chip. Some US reviewers (probably with early samples) have reported inconsistent performance, but we found no issues. Possibly the Android 5.0 has been tweaked and improved to iron out these early problems, but in reality we found that general benchmarking, everyday use and also things like app loading speeds to all be very much at the forefront of today’s Android tablet performance.

4:3 IPS Display

The 8.9 inch display of the Google Nexus 9 is a pretty good quality IPS-LCD, but arriving in a slightly unusual 4:3 aspect ratio compared to most Android tablets which feature a longer length 16:9 screen. The QXGA panel offers a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels which implies a pixel density of 264ppi, a respectable but far from leading pixel density. The content on the screen is presented with plenty of sharpness and clarity in photos and text.

Excuse the pun, but the display’s bright spot is its of overall brightness, offering around 460 lumens which is certainly brighter than the majority of flagship tablet devices. This means you will encounter no problems when using the Nexus 9 outdoors in bright sunlight. Reflections are not an issue an the high contrast ratio assures plenty of readability outdoors. Viewing from acute angles are good with screen contents readable and clear even from the tightest of angles. The color temperature too is pretty close to reality with colors reproduced accurately. Photos look very close to we find in reality.

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Unfortunately all that glitters is not gold, and we do in fact find one small issue related to the way the screen is manufactured. The devices uses a glass-on-glass design to combine the display and touch panel, and there is a small gap between the display and the display cover. This design typically does not help with reflections, and even though the Nexus 9 does not suffer from excessive reflections it could have been a touch better had the Taiwanese manufacturer opted for a different implementation. Perhaps I’m being a little picky. It is a very good display and one that stands up well to competing devices from Apple and Samsung, if not actually besting them.

Leaking Light Dampens My Joy

Much more irritating as a subject matter, and one that we have discussed at Mobile Geeks before is the issue of light bleeding around the edge of the screen. The Nexus 9 certainly has issues in this respect. When encountering dark backgrounds, the strong LED backlight can cause some lighter patches to bleed over the edges of the display, an phenomena which can be a little distracting when watching 16:9 (standard) ratio movies where you have two dark bands above and below the content. Having light bleed around the edges frankly cheapens the experience as we are more used to seeing this happen on cheaper devices. When it comes to $400 tablet, we could be excused for asking for better component quality control.

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I actually took the initial sample back to have it replaced at Media Markt in Berlin, which essentially just exacerbated my frustrations. After waiting in line for quite a while, speaking to several members of staff at no less than three different counters, the completion of five pages of bureaucracy and a wait of around 30 minutes, I finally had a replacement in hand. Scrutiny of the new sample once again revealed light bleeding – just in different areas of the screen.

Of course how you feel about these issues it is dependent on various factors. In normal usage (browsing the web, playing video games, reading e-books etc) the light bleeding is not actually visible. As I mentioned above, it really becomes a problem when watching 16:9 movies and TV content. The problem also seems to be amplified by the automatic brightness adjustment which at times I felt benefited from manual adjustment.

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Despite my obvious criticism of the display of the HTC Nexus 9 I want to make it clear that it is in fact a good quality screen and one which is still much better than many other tablet panels I have handled recently. Sufficient sharpness, exceptional brightness, good contrast, pleasant color temperatures and low viewing angles are all clearly overwhelmingly positive. So much so that you could say that the problems with the light bleed stay where they come from – in the background. I also like the that fact that Double-Tap-to-Wake has been implemented – a feature I would be happy to see on all smartphones and tablets. In fact I would also be happy to see devices use a Double-Tap to sleep… perhaps one day.

Memory (…a Small Rant)

When it comes to the internal storage of Google Nexus devices I have a perpetual axe to grind. I simply do not understand the decision from Google and HTC to only offer the Nexus 9 in 16GB and 32GB offerings. It’s a mystery to me. Ok, so many users will feel these are substantial enough for most usage scenarios, but it really does depend. If all you want to do is use YouTube, social media, web surfing and the like, then you will probably feel the 16GB version is sufficient.

But the above usage scenario is not universal and certainly plenty of people, myself included will want more. I like to use my tablet on long journeys where I would like to enjoy a selection of movies and TV. I would also like to install a good chunk of my substantial music library on the device, a real boon when you are traveling and cannot be assured of a connection to the cloud. There is also the issue of gaming. If you want to install any kind of game – even if its just a Candy Crush clone, then you will probably need the 32GB version.

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The 32GB version however will set you back an additional $80, a fairly steep price for an extra 16GB. This in a day and age where you can pick up a 120GB SSD for around $60? Seriously? Maybe five or six years ago this would have been acceptable, but in 2014… frankly this is a joke.

We could perhaps blame Google’s somewhat moronic attitude that users are now streaming their content from the cloud so that we really can dispense with decent storage sizes and also ditch the humble microSD card at the same time. You could argue that previous Nexus devices where so price sensitive that there was a genuine need to keep prices down and forgo larger storage options, but the reality is that the Nexus 9 is not bargain basement, it is prices in the middle ground where microSD and 64GB are in fact pretty standard. You can argue in favor OTG connectivity, which is supported on the Nexus 9, but who wants to wave around a USB stick adapter when the device could simply offer a much more elegant and convenient solution.

Sorry, but the average user will invariable end up purchasing the $399 16GB version and if he or she is anything like me, they will inevitably run into storage issues. This is simply one very large fail. 16GB without the possibility of extension may well be acceptable on a smartphone device, but for me it almost destroys the Nexus 9 as a real traveling companion and media consumption device.

Just to give you a clearer idea. Upon the first start up of the 16GB device you will have a mere 11.05GB left to play with. After installing our standard benchmark apps, some other apps and a few games kike Grand Theft Auto 3, you are suddenly faced with only 6.6GB. With modern games taking several gigabytes each, you can quickly see that you will running out space pretty soon.

Rant over. The 2GB of RAM are certainly sufficient. Maybe the Nexus 9 cold have achieved a unique selling point by pushing the boat out and giving us 4GB, a spec that would have fit the capabilities of 64-bit compatible processor used here… I just don’t have the energy left to complain.

Great Audio Quality

Unlike recent flagship smartphones from HTC, the Nexus 9 does not integrate their exclusive BoomSound technology, but as we mentioned earlier you do get a proper set of front facing stereo speakers. Generally speaking they provide quite a good level of audio quality and unlike most other tablet designs, they actually offer a pretty good level of lower frequencies with deeper, bassier tones offering a warm and pleasant audio experience. The volume levels are pretty impressive also and its always great to enjoy true stereo when watching movies.

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Of course the actual speakers themselves are quite small, which only goes to impress further. In fact I would argue that the Nexus 9 is one of the best sounding tablets on the market right now. Even though the Nexus 9 doesn’t really approach the audio quality of what we saw recently from HTC and the One M8 smartphone, it makes competitors like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S and even the Apple iPad Air seem positively dull. The placement of the speakers, as mentioned earlier, also helps make the audio experience better as the squarer 4:3 ratio design rarely means that they impaired when held in landscape mode.

8MP Camera

On paper at least the camera of the HTC Nexus 9 should be pretty impressive; an 8MP sensor with auto-focus and an F/2.4 aperture lens should mean some decent quality photos. Our testing reveals that in good, bright daylight conditions the snaps look very sharp and clear with few if any issues. The age old problem arises as the light dims with image quality quickly deteriorating quite quickly. Sometimes significant noise levels are present with interior lighting.

The auto-focus works well with fast focusing happening in most circumstances. But this is to be considered within the context of a tablet camera, which by no means has the expectation of competing with high-end smartphone offerings. In the past Google has failed to really deliver a top-notch camera on its Nexus devices, and to be fair, even with very modest expectations here, Google still largely disappoints.

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Of course the Nexus 9 showcases the standard or stock camera app that has been revised and updated as per Android 5.0. The camera app actually provides significantly less in terms of raw functionality compared to most device camera apps on the market, and the app itself uses some heavily nested menus that can make certain settings and a little hard to find. Once you dig past the surface and find yourself in the ‘Advanced’ section of the app, you can activate more functions such as manual exposure settings and more.

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You can eventually manage to change several core camera settings including photo and video quality and resolution settings, a selfie timer plus of course some more typical photo features such Photo Sphere (360 degree panoramic shots), standard panorama options and not much else. The rear camera is an 8.1MP shooter that will take shots in a 4:3 aspect ratio, needing you to crank it down to 2.1MP to enjoy 16:9 photos. This is clearly not the most powerful sensor, although it does manage to do Full HD video recording reasonably well.

Software: Welcome to Android Lollipop

Nexus. Need I say any more? Well, of course there is the fact that we are getting the all new Android 5.0 Lollipop version from Google, delivered in its purest form as a showcase for how Google intend their new OS to be implemented. The Nexus 9, as you would expect does indeed highlight the look, feel and design of Lollipop, and it is looking good.

Also of interest: Everything you need to know about Android 5.0 Lollipop

You can actually tell that this is the first edition of a new major upgrade to Android as there is a slight sense that this is not a mature OS with some stuff thrown together and redesigned in a slightly haphazard way where we experience a little UI flicker and animations that are not running quite as fluidly as they should. However these instances are actually quite rare and should perhaps be forgiven at this very early and nascent stage of a new mobile platform’s development. Let’s remember that Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich arrived almost two and half years ago with 4.2 Jelly Bean arriving not long after that Android 5.0 is the first real major release from Google since Ice Cream Sandwich. Doubtless the very minor blemishes we see today will be solved and eradicated by subsequent updates.

There is also the case of app developers not quite having their act together when it comes to full compatibility on Android 5.0, especially in the case of larger tablet screens as opposed to the smaller real estate found on most Smartphones. Consequently there are several apps where we find the interface is ‘inflated’ to cover the available pixel spread of a tablet, something that is noticeable with large areas of blank space apparent. Google’s new guidelines about how to update and improve apps specifically for Lollipop have been out there for a while now so it’s just a matter of time before we can expect these issues to be resolved.

Users who are new to Android 5.0 invariably coming from a few years of using the previous designs will no doubt find as I did that the new design takes a wee bit of getting used to. Just a few things just kind of feel a bit questionable at times. The new app launcher and notifications area are two examples that were a bit irritating at first plus we now find it actually takes two steps to get to the quick settings area. I would also like to see even more customization options available for the end user, something more akin to the direction that is being taken by CyanogenMod.

Battery Life

When it comes to battery life there is absolutely nothing to complain about. We find it fitted with a 6,700mAh battery, which is thoroughly decent compared to most tablet devices out there. Our test involves using the LaptopMag Battery Tester Tool which in our testing using brightness set at 70% gave a score of 8 hours 50 minutes. This may seem off the pace a little compared to some tablet devices but considering how bright the screen is, it’s a totally reasonable score. With brightness turned down to 50% (approx 250 Lumens) we find the device can squeeze out more than 10 hours. The test itself includes WiFi surfing of about 50 sites keeping the tablet more or less full active during that time, so you can expect around 9 to ten hours of almost continual web surfing, which is pretty solid.

In everyday life the Nexus 9 keeps going for quite a long time and does not disappoint. If you only the device for a moderate amount of time each day, casual sofa surfing at the end of the day for example, you can expect the Nexus 9 to keep going for several days on a single charge. That picture does change quite a bit once you get down to some tablet gaming. The Nvidia Tegra K1 processor has a lot of performance up its sleeve but it also sucks quite a bit of juice doing it. Continual gaming at a reasonable 70% brightness will shorten the expected life span to a mere four to five hours. This is still in keeping with other tablets that use a high-end mobile processor, so we would have to conclude that you are getting good performance when you need it, but solid battery life for most usage scenarios.

Nexus 9: Conclusion

This review stands as a testament to HTC getting back in the game where tablets are concerned, but it also reveals that the Nexus 9 is not actually a work of perfection either. The hardware design is attractive and well built – accusations regarding the flexible back cover are in my experience a little exaggerated, and at the end of the day is really is a non-issue and not one that would prevent me making a purchase. The display used is great quality, only suffering from the afore mentioned and slightly annoying back light bleeding around the edges, which again will probably not represent a deal breaker, as it only becomes an issue in relatively few usage scenarios. When it comes to raw performance also, there are no issues with a tremendously powerful Nvidia Tegra K1 processor that really shows its teeth when it comes to gaming. There are no issues regarding heat and battery life, which is significant when you appreciate the performance that is delivered here.

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Overall, the Nexus 9 is an excellent tablet. It is a little more expansive than previous Nexus devices but there is still plenty of quality and good value for money here. Android 5.0 is impressive and thanks to the pure Nexus flavor there is virtually zero in the way of bloatware or manufacturer intrusion to your Google Android Lollipop experience.

Thumbs up to HTC! Keep up the good work because the Nexus 9 proves you are ready to finally stake a claim in the current tablet space, proving just how capable the Taiwanese company can be at building solid and attractive Android tablets.

Google Nexus 9 0P82100-16-BLK 8.9-Inch, 16 GB Flash Memory Tablet (Black)

Price: $184.47

3.4 out of 5 stars (1363 customer reviews)

15 used & new available from $89.00

Written by Roland Quandt, translated and edited by Stewart Haston

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News: Sony hack could be related to North Korea, HP Slate 6 VoiceTab II now in India, Moto X commercial http://www.mobilegeeks.com/sony-hack-north-korea-moto-x-hp-slate-6-voicetab-ii/ http://www.mobilegeeks.com/sony-hack-north-korea-moto-x-hp-slate-6-voicetab-ii/#respond Sat, 29 Nov 2014 19:08:29 +0000 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/?p=20147

Sony is investigating possible ties between hackers and North Korea. On a brighter note, we have a new Moto X commercial HP released a new tablet in India. Sony investigating possible ties between hackers and North Korea Sony’s whole computer system was shut down earlier this week. The incident can be attributed to actions brought […]

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Sony is investigating possible ties between hackers and North Korea. On a brighter note, we have a new Moto X commercial HP released a new tablet in India.

Sony investigating possible ties between hackers and North Korea

Sony’s whole computer system was shut down earlier this week. The incident can be attributed to actions brought by GOP (Guardians of Peace), w group of hackers demanding “equality”. The interesting part is that they got inside help, so it must be a major issue, and so far we have no idea what GOP’s reasoning for doing this is.

New reports say the attack could be linked to North Korea. Why? Well, it seems the country’s government is not a big fan of the movie The Interview, which is set to be released on Christmas.

In this movie, Seth Rogen and James Franco play a couple journalists who are ordered to assassinate Kim Jong-Un, the North Korean leader. Kim takes this as an act of war, and swears he will retaliate if the movie is released.

Opinion: Can a movie be reason enough to hack a whole company? Maybe. I mean no president or leader would like to see a movie like this, right? Regardless, we hope a peaceful resolution can be reached. If it was, in fact, North Korea, that is. If not, we are sure Sony will be looking into the matter more.

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HP Slate 6 VoiceTab II launches in India

HP is known for its good quality, affordable tablets. This time around they have a little something for our fellow Indian geeks. The manufacturer has released the HP Slate 6 VocieTab II in India for 15,990 Rupees. That is about $258 USD.

This tablet is a bit unique in that it actually works as a smartphone too, feature voice calling capabilities. Other specs include a 720p display, a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, an 8 MP camera and dual-SIM support. All powered by Android 4.4 KitKat.

Opinion: Not a bad tablet for the price, especially if it can also be your smartphone. I mean, this is pretty much the size of a Nexus 6, so the size doesn’t seem that outrageous anymore.

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New Moto X commercial is pretty fun

Lastly, we wanted to give you a little something fun for the weekend. How about Motorola’s new Moto X commercial? It’s all about the device’s level of customization. You can choose colors, engravings and more. This video clearly shows such capabilities in a creative and fun matter. Check it out!

Opinion: I found the video to be quite fun, even if a bit dorky.

The post News: Sony hack could be related to North Korea, HP Slate 6 VoiceTab II now in India, Moto X commercial appeared first on Mobile Geeks.

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News: Amazon Cyber Monday deals start Saturday, LG G Flex 2 at CES, Sony A7 II release date http://www.mobilegeeks.com/amazon-cyber-monday-lg-g-flex-2-ces-sony-a7-ii/ http://www.mobilegeeks.com/amazon-cyber-monday-lg-g-flex-2-ces-sony-a7-ii/#respond Fri, 28 Nov 2014 22:22:30 +0000 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/?p=20139

Amazon is starting Cyber Monday early. LG hasn’t had enough with a single Flex. Meanwhile, a new Sony full-frame camera is coming to America soon. Amazon starts Cyber Monday deals early, ends them late Amazon got rid of some Black Friday stress by allowing you to shop awesome deals for a whole week before actual […]

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Amazon is starting Cyber Monday early. LG hasn’t had enough with a single Flex. Meanwhile, a new Sony full-frame camera is coming to America soon.

Amazon starts Cyber Monday deals early, ends them late

Amazon got rid of some Black Friday stress by allowing you to shop awesome deals for a whole week before actual Black Friday came around. The online retailer is now announcing they are handling Cyber Monday in a similar manner.

Amazon’s Cyber Monday deals are actually starting tomorrow, November 29th, and the offers will last for 8 days. New deals will be added as fast as every 10 minutes, so you gotta be n your toes for this one.

Opinion: Amazon will be having some pretty hot deals, at least based on what I can see in their list. Samsung and Sony 40-inch TVs will be going for $298, for example. You can also get up to $50 in credit if you buy SONOS speakers, or $30 off some Bose headphones.

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LG G Flex 2 announcement coming during CES

It has been over a year since the LG G Flex was announced – is a successor in the works? According to Android Authority’s sources, the LG G Flex 2 is very much in the works, and should be announced at CES, this January.

The device is said to have an HD OLED display, and will be smaller than the first Flex. The self-healing material is also said to make a come-back, so it won’t be easy to get this bad boy scratched (unless you are trying, of course).

Opinion: I used the first LG G Flex and can say I actually liked the device quite a bit. I didn’t find much advantage in the flexible display, though. Regardless, it was a good phone, and I do believe a smaller size and some upgrades would make the G Flex 2 a better phone.

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Sony A7 II camera coming to the USA on December 9th

When it comes to full-frame, mirror-less cameras, Sony is king. Not many other manufacturers specialize on small full-frame cameras. Meanwhile, Sony’s A7 line-up is flourishing.

The A7 II comes with multiple improvements. Sony has added a 5-axis image stabilization system. And it happens to work with any lens you mount on the body, including the older lenses with adapters. Auto-focus is also 30% faster and has 50% better tracking abilities (this was a big complaint).

Enough about the details, though. When can you get it? Well, Sony has just announced the new camera will launch in the USA on December 9th. It will cost $1699 for the body alone, or $1999 with a lens.

Opinion: We know it’s pricey, but keep in mind this is a full-frame camera. This price is pretty standard among those types of shooters. And if you want a small body full-frame camera, this is one of your best option.

sony-a7-ii

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News: FES e-paper watch is Sony’s hidden project, OnePlus opening its first store, 40% off everything at Mophie http://www.mobilegeeks.com/fes-e-paper-watch-sony-oneplus-first-store-40-off-mophie/ http://www.mobilegeeks.com/fes-e-paper-watch-sony-oneplus-first-store-40-off-mophie/#respond Fri, 28 Nov 2014 19:49:24 +0000 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/?p=20134

Sony secretly showed its e-paper smart watch to the world, OnePlus is opening its first store and Mophie is selling everything at a 40% discount. Sony has already shown its e-paper smart watch to the world Recent reports show that Sony is working on a smart watch with a bit of a twist. The idea […]

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Sony secretly showed its e-paper smart watch to the world, OnePlus is opening its first store and Mophie is selling everything at a 40% discount.

Sony has already shown its e-paper smart watch to the world

Recent reports show that Sony is working on a smart watch with a bit of a twist. The idea would be that it is to come with a surface made out of e-paper, completely. With a higher focus on fashion and looks, the device wouldn’t be as full-featured as other smart watches.

It turns out Sony has already unveiled said device, but they did so without attaching Sony’s name to it. The FES Watch was crowdfunded without Sony’s branding because the manufacturer wanted to see the true value and interest on such a product.

Opinion: Hiding a product in plain sight. Not a bad idea. Now that we all know what Sony has been working on, we have to think about our options. Would you get one of these watches?

FES-watch-2

OnePlus opening its first store in Beijing

How can OnePlus beat the monster Xiaomi has become? If you want to compete in China, you need to be strong. OnePlus is getting ready to show its goods in Beijing, where the company will be opening its first store in December 20th.

The store is meant to be more of an experience than a retail location. They want people to test the device and get familiarized with it. Of course, you will also be able to purchase devices and accessories. We can imagine there won’t be too much to look at, though. OnePlus has a limited selection of products.

Opinion: The store is looking great, and I believe it will be an important part of getting more people used to the device. I can say I rarely ever buy a device that I haven’t used in the past. I like to make sure I like something, especially when it’s something pricey like a smartphone.

oneplus-store

Mophie selling everything at a 40% discount

Mophie is holding a very nice sale over at their website. You can pretty much get anything in there at a 40% discount by using the coupon code “POWER”. Of course, there is a catch, though.

Orders need to be $70 and over in order for the discount to work. This is still a great deal, though, because most Mophie products are worth a pretty penny, anyways. And you get 50% off a few products, like the space pack for iPhone 5/5s, the juice pack for the Galaxy S4 and the powerstand.

This offer is available until December 12th, so get your card ready.

Opinion: I always recommend Mophie cases, simply because they double as an external battery. They offer a bunch of juice, and the size won’t bug you too much if you are already using a case.

mophie-iphone-6

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OnePlus One No Invite Needed for Black Friday http://www.mobilegeeks.com/oneplus-one-no-invite-needed-black-friday/ http://www.mobilegeeks.com/oneplus-one-no-invite-needed-black-friday/#respond Fri, 28 Nov 2014 10:08:54 +0000 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/?p=20112

Have you been hounding me for a OnePlus One Invite? If you’ve sent me a direct message lately and haven’t heard back, you’re in luck because OnePlus is opening up their invitation system for Black Friday. You’ve only been able to pick one up on an invite-only basis. About a month ago OnePlus started using […]

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Have you been hounding me for a OnePlus One Invite? If you’ve sent me a direct message lately and haven’t heard back, you’re in luck because OnePlus is opening up their invitation system for Black Friday.

You’ve only been able to pick one up on an invite-only basis. About a month ago OnePlus started using a pre-order system, pre-orders however, mean you have to wait till you get to the top of the list.  So that you’re going to be able to pick one up now with out an invite isn’t going to last long, with its deserved popularity we think you should head over right away to see if you can pick one up.

The OnePlus One comes with a 5.5-inch 1080p display, a quad-core 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 SoC, 3GB of RAM, a 13 mega-pixel rear camera, a 3100mAh battery with either 16GB or 64GB of non-expandable storage. You can pick up either capacity without an invitation right now.

There is a bit of fine print, confirmed orders will arrive ‘before December 25′, and the 64GB, 16GB versions ship in 5 and 10 business days.

If you’re on the fence about if this is the phone for you, we did an indepth review of the handset…and it’s the weapon of choice for Mobile Geek, Sascha Pallenberg. Here is our review video and a link to our full review.

OnePlus One – Day in the Life [Review in Taipei] from Mobile Geeks on Vimeo.

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News: Apple could replace Google with Yahoo, new Moto 360 straps now available, HTC One M8 gong for $369.99 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/apple-google-yahoo-moto-360-straps-htc-one-m8/ http://www.mobilegeeks.com/apple-google-yahoo-moto-360-straps-htc-one-m8/#respond Thu, 27 Nov 2014 02:27:00 +0000 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/?p=20100

Apple may be taking a huge step to distance itself from Google. In other news, you can buy new Moto 360 straps and a discounted HTC One M8. Apple could replace Google Search with Yahoo Apple’s contract with Google is ending next year, leaving us wondering what could happen with Google’s presence as the default […]

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Apple may be taking a huge step to distance itself from Google. In other news, you can buy new Moto 360 straps and a discounted HTC One M8.

Apple could replace Google Search with Yahoo

Apple’s contract with Google is ending next year, leaving us wondering what could happen with Google’s presence as the default search engine in the Safari browser. Google lost default rights from Mozilla’s Firefox just last week. Could they be loosing Apple’s support, too?

Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer is working hard to trip Google as it waltzes out of the room with all the cash. Reports claim Apple and Yahoo may be planning on a partnership following next year’s Google contract ending.

Of course, many factors are to be considered. These are still rumors, and we will have to wait and see what happens.

Opinion: Some rumors even say Apple is working on its very own search engine, which would be quite crazy. They managed to pull off Apple Maps, though. While I love Google, I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing some changes.

Marissa-Mayer-CEO-Yahoo-macworld-australia

Moto 360 leather and metal bands now available from Motorola

Motorola’s normal bands are cool, but we know some of you need a little something different. If you are looking to change your smart watch’s style, you can go ahead and get the new leather and metal bands from Motorola.

The leather band will cost you $29.99, while the metal band is going for a much pricier $79.99 price point. You can get them both from Motorola’s website.

moto_360_optional_straps

Refurbished HTC One M8 going for $369.99

Getting an unlocked, off-contract HTC One M8 for a good price is no easy feat. The device is still going for above $600 pretty much everywhere else, but right now eBay is running an offer that will let you walk away with HTC’s flagship smartphone for only $369.99.

There is only one catch – it’s a refurbished device. Regardless, it’s a good deal for those looking to get a good phone off-contract without breaking the bank.

Opinion: I am an HTC One M8 user and can tell you with a straight face that I still haven’t found another phone that convinces me to switch. I could say it’s my favorite phone of the year.

HTC One M8

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5 things other manufacturers should learn from Xiaomi http://www.mobilegeeks.com/manufacturers-learn-from-xiaomi/ http://www.mobilegeeks.com/manufacturers-learn-from-xiaomi/#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 01:42:51 +0000 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/?p=20093

Some say Xiaomi is the “Apple of China”, and they may not be completely wrong. The small startup that emerged only 4 years ago has been getting major recognition in recent months and years. Xiaomi has now risen to become the third biggest manufacturer in the global smartphone market. The equation Xiaomi is using may […]

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Some say Xiaomi is the “Apple of China”, and they may not be completely wrong. The small startup that emerged only 4 years ago has been getting major recognition in recent months and years. Xiaomi has now risen to become the third biggest manufacturer in the global smartphone market.

The equation Xiaomi is using may be more complex than we can explain, but there are some key factors that make Xiaomi one of the most important up-and-coming phone manufacturers in the world. They are taking some huge steps, and they are succeeding by selling out their products in a matter of seconds. How did they accomplish this?

Let us take you into the world of Xiaomi and show you a few things other manufacturers can learn from the Chinese startup.

Disclaimer: Before you jump on me, let me tell you I am no fanboy of Xiaomi or any other brand. This is part of a series of articles in which we highlight what each manufacturer is doing right. We have done similar posts on Motorola, HTC and Samsung.

Making solid products at great prices

When you are trying to sell a product, the manufacturer must be proud of it. The device must be a one-of-a-kind, and it must be worth its salt. This is something not every phone maker can tout, especially when you see manufacturer releasing phones left and right just for the sake of covering every niche market.

Xiaomi has very few products, but they are all great. The Xiaomi Redmi Note is one of our favorite affordable smartphones, with a stunning $130 price point and specs that make the device a great contender. The Xiaomi Mi4 is also an amazing device, with stunning specs and a $400 price point. The Xiaomi Mi Pad also offers iPad-like quality for a $300 price.

Xiaomi Redmi Note Unboxing

It’s very hard to beat Xiaomi in terms of bang for your buck. But there’s also tricks the company has in order to accomplish this.

Focus on long-term revenue, not immediate profits

Xiaomi has taken a hint from Amazon’s business model, which has proven to be very effective. As a manufacturer, Xiaomi is not making too much money, but the plan here is to get more money in the long run, by selling software.

We can’t say Xiaomi is making too much money on software right now, either, but they are thinking for the future. Get great devices out there, focus on branding and make sure you can get a phone in a good amount of users’ hands. Then roll out your paid software and start rolling in the dough.

Xiaomi-Mi4-Unboxing-11

Don’t make more devices than you can sell

Xiaomi isn’t having a huge issue with selling phones (in fact, they always sell out in seconds), but they are definitely not risking the chance to overstock. Xiaomi sells every device in every batch that they make. Then they continue manufacturing and release another batch.

Xiaomi-Mi-Pad-colors

It may be a slow process, but it’s a safe one. Especially for a small startup that can’t afford taking losses. They are trying to keep the demand higher than the supply, while trying to sell as many devices as possible. I say they have found a great balance, even if it may annoy us that it’s hard to get our hands on a Xiaomi product.

Make it big at your home country first

Xiaomi-HugoNeedless to say Xiaomi has completely taken over China, which was a smart move from them. For starters, they have a very powerful home country to cater to. China is one of the most powerful markets in the world. Them making it at home means they have a huge chance at making it in a global expansion.

In addition, some manufacturers make the mistake of trying to expand way to quickly. Xiaomi knew how to balance its expansion, and that is why they are succeeding. Again, even if it’s annoying not having access to these products.

Adapt to modern, and more powerful, forms of advertising

Major brands have to gain huge profits in smartphones because their companies have huge maintenance expenses. You gotta pay employees, establishments and the like. One huge expense is always advertising, though.

It costs a fortune to pay for online ads, billboards, TV commercials and other forms of promotion. Companies often forget we have a very powerful tool that costs very little – the internet. Xiaomi has grown huge by depending on social media and word of mouth.

Xiaomi-Mi4-camera-4

In addition, they have a very strong group of followers. Because their products are awesome and priced very fairly, users tend to love Xiaomi. Some say Xiaomi fans are just as passionate about their brand as Apple fanboys. That says a lot!

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Best portable chargers http://www.mobilegeeks.com/best-portable-chargers/ http://www.mobilegeeks.com/best-portable-chargers/#respond Thu, 27 Nov 2014 00:11:19 +0000 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/?p=20085

Smartphone and tablet battery technology is not yet where we want it to be. Our devices often die on us mid-day, and don’t even think about taking your phone on a weekend camping trip. You will need to take some backup, and the best way to keep your phone juiced up is by carrying around […]

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Smartphone and tablet battery technology is not yet where we want it to be. Our devices often die on us mid-day, and don’t even think about taking your phone on a weekend camping trip. You will need to take some backup, and the best way to keep your phone juiced up is by carrying around a nifty portable charger (battery pack).

There are portable chargers of all kinds and sizes. Some are small and cute, others are large and powerful. Which one is the right for you? Trust us, at Mobile Geeks we are all about these battery packs, as we often have to go to long events and travel around the world. We really put these to the test. Let us show you some of our favorites.

IOGEAR GearPower 11,000mAh Ultra Capacity Mobile Power Station

I have been using a previous generation of this battery pack for over 2 years and it is still kicking. This is why I must root for IOGEAR when it comes to battery packs. These things are beasts and will give you juice for years to come.

The newer version comes in variations with up to 11,000 mAh batteries, which is nothing to scoff at. In fact, the IOGEAR portable charger I have been using only has a 6,600 mAh battery. This would be a neat upgrade, and a great option for any user.

To put it into perspective, your average smartphone has about a 3,000 mAh battery inside. And we are talking about smartphones with good battery life!

GMP10K

Intocircuit Power Castle 11,200 mAh

I recommend IOGEAR because of my solid experience with them, but here is a very similar charger that will cost you a good chunk of money less. It also has very similar features on paper. The charger includes an 11,200 mAh battery and two charging ports (5V 1A, 5V 2.1A).

To sweeten the deal a bit more, the charger even comes with a small flashlight and a small LCD screen that shows you the percentage and other details. It’s made of aluminum, so it also has a very solid feel and resistive body.

intocircuit-powercastle

RAVPower 2nd Gen Mini 3,000 mAh

Sometimes it can get annoying to carry around a full-sized portable charger. That is when battery packs like the RAVPower Mini come in handy. This device is the size of a lipstick and can be easily pocketed.

It only has a 3,000 mAh battery, but that is actually pretty good for the size of the portable charger. Best part? It’s only $15!

RAVPower

Zendure A5 Portable Charger 15,000 mAh

Want some more juice? Current portable chargers can carry much more than they used to, but it will cost you extra. Enter the Zendure A5 Portable Charger, a battery pack with a battery of up to 15,000 mAh. It is a beast, both inside and out.

Aside from its huge battery, the battery pack has a build quality you won’t find around very often. It has a shock-proof composite material that and powerful lining that will keep your battery safe.

Zendure (Silver 1

Price:

4.5 out of 5 stars (38 customer reviews)

0 used & new available from

A-Series-battery

iBattz 20,400 mAh Mojo Battstation Optimus Charger

Now, if you really want to get wild with an even bigger battery, the iBattz Mojo Battstation Optimus Charger carries a massive 20,400 mAh battery. Also, it may be just me, but this portable charger is super sexy.

It does include both a 1A port and a 2.1A port. But all these goodies won’t come cheap. This charger will cost a whopping $130.

iBattz 20,400mAh Mojo Battstation Optimus Charger for Smartphones – Retail Packaging – Black

Price: $139.99

4.1 out of 5 stars (47 customer reviews)

1 used & new available from $139.99

Mojo-Battstation-Optimus-scr1

Qi-infinity Portable Wireless Charger

Portable chargers don’t have to rely on cables. After all, they are all about cutting wires, so why stick to charging devices only via USB? There are multiple Qi-enabled battery packs out there, and the Qi-infinity Portable Wireless Charger is one of my favorite.

Sure, it only has a 4,000 mAh battery, but it has other functionality that will improve your experience. Not too mention, this charger actually looks pretty darn cute. And it’s not very expensive.

Qi-Infinity Qi Wireless Charger Power Bank (4000 Mah) for Qi Compatible Devices – Black

Price:

3.3 out of 5 stars (77 customer reviews)

0 used & new available from

qi-infinity

LUXA2 P-MEGA 41,600 mAh

You want the king of all portable chargers? Here it is – the LUXA2 P-MEGA. This battery pack is more of a battery box, as it is quite large, but it comes with a whopping 41,600 mAh battery.

It can charge 3 devices at once, making it a road warrior. It may be the best option if you are into taking camping trips or long road trips. It’s also about $160, though.

portable-battery-41-600

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News: GoPro making its own drone, Sony planning e-paper smart watch, sign up for Verizon Connection Day http://www.mobilegeeks.com/gopro-drone-sony-e-paper-smart-watch-verizon-connection-day/ http://www.mobilegeeks.com/gopro-drone-sony-e-paper-smart-watch-verizon-connection-day/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 21:50:16 +0000 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/?p=20079

Innovative products may be coming from GoPro and Sony. Meanwhile, Verizon has some sweet deals to make the busiest day of the year a bit more pleasant. GoPro making its own drone? GoPro cameras are go-to products for aerial photography and videography. GoPro knows people are attaching their devices to drones, so why not just […]

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Innovative products may be coming from GoPro and Sony. Meanwhile, Verizon has some sweet deals to make the busiest day of the year a bit more pleasant.

GoPro making its own drone?

GoPro cameras are go-to products for aerial photography and videography. GoPro knows people are attaching their devices to drones, so why not just jump into the business, themselves? The Wall Street Journal reports GoPro is planning to make multi-rotor flying drones to go with their cameras.

The price tag is said to range between $500 and $1000, which is not horribly expensive, really. More details will definitely emerge soon, so let’s stay tuned for more news to come.

Opinion: I have to wonder what kind of impact this will have on the industry. Drones are not something everyone buys – can GoPro change that? After all, they made a huge impact with their portable cameras.

gopro-drone-2

Sony planning a smart watch made of e-paper… entirely

Sony may not be doing great, but they have big plans in mind for the future. One of them may prove to be one of the most interesting products we have heard of. New reports say Sony is planning to release a new device with technology that would allow the whole surface to be made out of e-paper.

This would allow the watch to be customized in its entirety, while keeping battery consumption at its lowest. The focus will be on fashion, as opposed to crazy features like the ones Apple and Android Wear will offer. We can expect a release to come as soon as 2015.

Opinion: I would love to see something like this coming from Sony. The Japanese manufacturer has proven they can do a great job with novel devices. And an e-paper smart watch sounds amazing.

sony_smartwatch

Don’t forget to sign up for Verizon’s Connection Day deals

Thanksgiving day is tomorrow, and that can only mean one thing – today is one of the busiest days of the year. Every flight is packed, traffic is insane and stress levels are at their max. This is why Verizon has decided to offer us some great deals that will make today just a bit more relaxing.

Verizon is offering a sweet bundle of deals and free offerings to its subscribers. This includes free Amazon content, free airport/flight internet sessions, magazine downloads and music trials. All you need to do is go to the official Connection Day website and sign up.

Opinion: I have signed up and am enjoying some of these sweet deals, even though I am not really traveling… or stressed out. You should too!

Verizon-Wireless

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HOT DEALS: Amazon Fire Phone for $199 off-contract, Moto X for $359, OnePlus accessories http://www.mobilegeeks.com/deals-amazon-fire-phone-199-moto-x-359-oneplus-accessories/ http://www.mobilegeeks.com/deals-amazon-fire-phone-199-moto-x-359-oneplus-accessories/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 19:58:50 +0000 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/?p=20075

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are approaching. We are bound to see some amazing deals, and today Amazon, Motorola and OnePlus are announcing a few. Amazon Fire Phone selling for $199 off-contract Amazon’s Fire Phone was innovative, interesting and capable, but it lacked that kick that would justify its $449 price point. It’s simply not […]

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday are approaching. We are bound to see some amazing deals, and today Amazon, Motorola and OnePlus are announcing a few.

Amazon Fire Phone selling for $199 off-contract

Amazon’s Fire Phone was innovative, interesting and capable, but it lacked that kick that would justify its $449 price point. It’s simply not that awesome, but what if it was priced at $199?

That is exactly what is going on today as the Amazon Fire Phone gets a $250 discount. Now, at $199, unlocked and off-contract, this happens to be a very sweet deal. The phone sports a 2.2 GHz quad-core processor, 2 GB of RAM, a 4.7-inch HD display and a 13 MP camera.

Opinion: It’s very interesting to see Amazon really taking the price this low. We are not sure if this is a permanent move or not, but it’s obvious that they are trying to fix their mistakes, which they have already accepted.

amazon-fire-phone-3 (1)

Moto X going for just $359 on Cyber Monday

Looking to get yourself a Moto X? The phone is awesome, but we know we could all use a good discount. Cyber Monday is arriving and Motorola has just annoucned its featured deal. You will be able to get $140 off the Moto X, as well as 30% off accessories (with he purchase of a Moto X).

That takes down the price of an off-contract Moto X to just $359. You can also get the Verizon version for as low as 1 cent. All you need to do is register for the coupon code on Monday, December 1 from 11 AM to 5 PM CST. And you must redeem it by Monday 12/15 at 11:59 CST.

Opinion: $359 is a great price for a phone of the Moto X’s caliber. The device has powerful specs, great performance and very unique features. I would look into this deal if I was looking to get a new device.

Motorola-Moto-Xplus1-11

OnePlus joins the Black Friday frenzy with more social network-powered deals

OnePlus is not staying behind in teh whole Black Friday movement. They are bringing a whole selection of accessory deals for you, but they are asking for something in return. This happens to be one of those social network-powered deals. The more you share, the more they will discount a product. So if you are interested in getting a device for cheaper, you should go contribute to the cause and share on Facebook.

Opinion: They have good deals. They may be discounting the JBL E1+ earphones by up to 20%,a nd protectors may get up to 50% off. They also have cases and chargers. These are already pretty cheap, to be honest, but a good deal can’t hurt. Go share away!

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 11.56.13 AM

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