Phones

How to Root the HTC One M8

April 21st, 2014 by David Cogen

HTC One M8

By rooting (aka gaining admin rights to) your HTC One M8, you can install a custom ROM, run rooted apps, undervolt or overclock the processor and even remove all the bloatware your carrier put on the phone. A developer over on the XDA developer forums called Hasoon2000 has created a great toolkit for automating the process. Just change a few settings on the phone, install the drivers, click a few times in the toolkit and  you’ll open the door to an entirely new world of custom modifications, tweaks, and ROMs becomes.

Here’s how to root the HTC One M8:

Note: This method only works on Windows so you need a Windows computer to complete this procedure. 

1. Go to Settings > Battery Manager > Turn OFF Fastboot on your phone.

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2. Download the latest version of the developer’s toolkit and save it to your Windows desktop.

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3. Download and install WinRar so you can extract the .rar file from the developer.

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MORE: 5 Ways to Speed Up Your Android Phone in Under 5 Minutes

4. Right-click the toolkit .rar file you downloaded earlier and select extract.

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5. Double-click the One M8 .exe file inside the newly created folder (and give it permission to open if it’s blocked by Windows).

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6. Highlight Download HTC Drivers and click Go.

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7. Install the drivers once they download.

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8. Highlight Register at HTCDev and click Go.

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9. Register on HTCDev (make sure to use a real email as we’ll need something sent to it later) and confirm your account.

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10. Go to Settings > About > Software Information > More > Keep tapping on Build Number until it says you are a developer.

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11. Go to Settings > Developer Options > Turn USB Debugging On.

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12. Plug your device in via USB.

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13. Check “Always allow” and tap OK.

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14. Highlight Get Token ID and click Go.

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15. Close the first command prompt when your device shows Fastboot mode.

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16. Copy everything from and including <<<< Identifier Token Start >>>> to <<<<< Identifier Token End >>>>> and save it somewhere on your computer.

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17. Highlight Submit Token ID and click Go.

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18. Log in to the HTC Dev site when it appears and then go to HTCDev.com and click on Unlock Bootloader.

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19. Choose your device from the drop down and click Begin Unlock Bootloader.

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20. Skip all of the steps and just click Next until you get to the part where it asks you to input the Token ID.

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21. Paste the Token ID we copied earlier into the text box and click Continue.

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22. Save the Unlock_Code.bin file you receive by email to your desktop.

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23. Highlight Unlock Bootloader and click Go.

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24. Choose the Unlock_Code.bin file when prompted and click OK.

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25. Use the volume buttons to highlight yes and the power button to select it when prompted by your device.

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26. Reenable USB Debugging by going to Settings > About > Software Information > More > Keep tapping on Build Number until it says you are a developer.

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27. Go to Settings > Developer Options > Turn USB Debugging On.

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28. Highlight the recovery for your device and click Go.

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29. Close the first command prompt when your device shows Fastboot mode.

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30. Close the second command prompt when it says finished.

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31. Use the volume buttons to highlight Reboot and push the power button to select it.

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32. Highlight Perm Root under Extras and click Go.

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33. Close the first command prompt after it shows something was transferred.

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34. Tap on Install in recovery mode and tap the SuperSU.zip file.

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35. Swipe to install it.

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36. Tap Reboot > System.

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37. You should see SuperSU in your app drawer if everything worked out. Enjoy!

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David Cogen’s site, TheUnlockr.com, is a popular site for rooting, jailbreaking, hacking, modding, and other how to’s to show you how to unlock your device’s true potential. If you want to see what you can do with your HTC One M8 now that it’s rooted, head to the ROM repository to flash a custom ROM and open up a new world of possibilities.

Tags: HTC One M8, Smartphones, HTC, how-to | 1 Comment »

Smartphones with the Longest Battery Life

April 16th, 2014 by Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief

With their zippy quad-core processors and big screens, smartphones have never been more powerful–or more power hungry. Yes, specs and apps matter, but what good are they if you’re hunting for an outlet by lunchtime? If you want a smartphone that endures, check out the handsets that made our list. These devices lasted at least 7 hours on the LAPTOP Battery Test, which involves continuous web surfing over 4G.

See for yourself which smartphones truly go the distance.

 

Tags: Smartphones | 90 Comments »

Top 10 Smartphones

April 11th, 2014 by LAPTOP Editors

Your smartphone is the one thing that never leaves your side because it can do it all. But the best smartphones do everything well. A great handset takes amazing photos, offers a bright and crisp HD screen and has enough speed to help you multitask with ease. There’s also plenty of variety out there when it comes to software and the overall user experience. That’s where we come in.

Once you’ve decided on your platform of choice — Android, iOS or Windows Phone — then it’s time to pick a device. At Laptop Mag, we test every major smartphone on the market and rate each one based on design, features, performance and battery life to help you make the right call. Here are our top 10 smartphones, ranging from the most sleek and compact handsets to the biggest phablets.

Tags: Smart phones, carriers, Android Smartphones, Apple iPhone | 157 Comments »

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10 Best Tweaks for Your Jailbroken iPhone

April 7th, 2014 by David Cogen

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The world of jailbreak tweaks can be a bit confusing and overwhelming. Once you’ve jailbroken your device and taken that plunge into the Cydia store to utilize your new-found freedom, you quickly realize that it isn’t organized very well and there is no way of knowing what jailbroken apps are even worth checking out.

To try and help shed some light in this rather dimly lit world, we’ve put together our favorite ten jailbreoken apps that we think are worth your time in checking out. Check out the ten we picked below and the video for each that shows you how to install the tweak and set it up.

To do be able to use any of the following tweaks, you must be on iOS 7.0.6 or below and jailbroken. If you are on that version and would like to jailbreak to get the following benefits (and more), head to our How to Jailbreak iOS 7 using Evasion tutorial, complete it, and come back to here to continue.

Activator

Ever want gesture controls on your iPhone? Activator adds a plethora of gestures that you can then tie actions to. Tapping the screen with three fingers can do something, pinching in can do something else, etc. You can get Activator by searching for “Activator” in the Cydia store and installing it for free.

BytaFont 

Sick of the same old, boring font Apple picked for iOS? Bytafont allows you to select from from a collection of fonts and change it up. Bytafont itself is free and so are a lot of the font collections if you  head to the Cydia store, search for “BytaFont 2″, and install it.

Zeppelin 

I think I get the most comments on my iPhone’s status bar, which has a Pac-Man symbol where the AT&T logo should be. Available as a free download from the Cydia store, Zeppelin is the tweak responsible for this and it’s free. Simply install it to use any of the icons it comes with (including the batman symbol) or install it then search Cydia for more Zeppelin icons. 

MORE: 25 Best iPhone 5c Apps

Music Widget

Widgets aren’t just for Android users. Music widget is a great little tweak that puts a moveable widget on your device’s screen that you can use to control whatever song you are listening to. Not only can you position thed widget on the screen where you need it, but you can even slide it off the screen and recall it using a small tab that appears whenever you need it.  Music Widget can be downloaded from the Cydia store for $1.99.

AutoFill Fingerprints

The iPhone 5S’s Touch ID feature isn’t  being used to its full potential.  Apple only enabled it to allow you to use your fingerprint to unlock the device and to pay for purchases in the App Store, but  jailbreak tweakers have had a field day making it work with other appropriate features. With a few tweaks, you can use your fingerprint to auto-fill passwords for websites and apps on your iPhone. Search for iTouchSecure in the Cydia store and you can install this tweak for $4.99.

Free Wifi Tethering

On most carriers, Wi-Fi tethering  requires an extra monthly fee. This tweak (for $5 one time) allows you to bypass your carrier’s limitations and get free tethering, which counts against your existing data plan. Just search Cydia for TetherMe and pay the $4.99 to install it.

MORE: 6 Reasons the iPhone 6 Has Already Lost

Live Weather Wallpaper

Dynamic wallpapers were introduced with iOS 7 but, unlike with Android live wallpapers where you can download new ones from the Play Store, Apple limited you to just the ones they included with the update. Jailbreakers have released several new dynamic wallpapers that you can install, but the Live Weather wallpaper really stands out. Available if you search for “Forecast” in the Cydia store, this $0.99 tweak automatically uses your iPhone’s location to determine what the weather is in your area at the time and then changes your background or lockscreen accordingly. 

Springtomize

 Springtomize is one of the most popular jailbreak tweaks of all-time, because it allows you to change every aspect of the iOS UI. Want more icons per page on the homescreen or transitions to change as you swipe? Need to remove items from the control center or the lock screen? You can make all those changes and more by downloading Springtomize 3 from the  Cydia store for $2.99.

IntelliscreenX

IntelliscreenX  makes the lock screen and control center  more functional by adding in feeds from your social networks,  email account and weather forecasts. It also provides a new app switcher and some added functionality for your messaging app. Head to the Cydia store and search for “IntelliscreenX 7″ and install it to give it a try. After a trial period, it will cost $9.99.

Winterboard

Winterboard allows you to download themes that change the look of your app icons, giving your home screen a completely new aesthetic. Using Winterboard with Sprintomize, which we mentioned above, is a great way to change the entire look and feel of your iPhone. Winterboard is a free download from the Cydia store.

David Cogen is the founder of TheUnlockr.com, the popular site for rooting, jailbreaking, hacking, modding, and other how tos to show you how to unlock your device’s true potential. If you are curious what awesome things you can do now that you’re jailbroken, head to TheUnlockr’s jailbreak tweaks section for tons of videos on other jailbreaks.

Tags: iOS 7, Apple iPhone 5S, jailbroken apps, Smartphones | No Comments »

How to Get Rid of Your Smartphone

April 4th, 2014 by Anna Attkisson, LAPTOP Managing Editor

Nearly $47 billion in trade-in value for old smartphones is going to waste in the U.S., according to a study from SellCell.com, and nearly $13 billion of that is in old iPhones. If you have such dusty drawers filled with old smartphones, don’t let it go to waste.  You can sell your old phone to earn some extra cash. Or you might prefer to donate it to charity or to a friend or child. Just make sure you follow our instructions on wiping your old smartphone before it’s delivered to its next owner, so your personal info will stay safe. Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: smartphones, Recycle Your Tech, tips and advice | No Comments »

25 Best Windows Phone Apps

April 2nd, 2014 by Dann Berg, LAPTOP Contributor

Windows Phone still may be trailing iOS and Android, but Microsoft’s mobile-app library is growing every day, and currently includes more than 200,000 apps. What were once limited beta versions of popular apps are now fully featured and look beautiful on Windows Phone’s unique user interface. Windows Phone Live Tiles allow certain apps to show important information directly on the home screen, extending an app’s usefulness. The Windows Phone store gained some big app names recently, and is sure to capture even more in the coming years.

Whether you just bought a Windows Phone or are thinking of getting one, these are the top 25 apps to get.

Tags: Windows Phone Apps, Windows Phone, Apps, slideshow | 15 Comments »

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How to Jailbreak Your iPhone With Evasi0n

March 5th, 2014 by David Cogen

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By jailbreaking (aka gaining administrative rights to) your iPhone, you can open up a whole world of possibilities for your handset. From adding themes to your iPhone, to using the fingerprint scanner on your iPhone 5S to automatically filling in passwords for you in websites and more, jailbreaking is the first step. By using a free program called Evasi0n, which is currently at version 7.0.6, you can jailbreak your iPhone with very little technical knowledge so why not give it a try? You can always unjailbreak the phone if you need to take it in for service.

We’ll be illustrating the steps to use on a Mac, but even these work the same even if you have a PC. You must also have the latest version of iTunes installed. If you aren’t sure, head to Apple’s site, download, and install the latest version.

1. Check that your iPhone is running iOS version 7.0.4 by going to Settings > General > About and looking under version. It should say 7.0.4. If it doesn’t, please update to that version if you are under it (and it’s the latest version). If you are above that number (i.e. 7.1) then this procedure might not work for you.

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2. Plug your iPhone into your computer via USB.

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MORE: iPhone 6 Features: What We Want From Apple

3. Open iTunes.

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4. Click Back Up Now.

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5. Go to Settings > General > Auto-Lock and change it to Never. 

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6. Go to Settings > General > Touch ID and Pass Code and tap Turn Passcode Off.

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7. Enter in your current password if necessary to confirm the change.

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8. Download the latest version of the jailbreaking program from Evasi0n.com and save it to your desktop (be sure to choose the version for your Operating System; Windows or Mac).

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9. If using Windows, right-click the .zip file and select Extract All. If using Windows, double click the .dmg file.

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10. Double click the file inside the new folder that has appeared to open Evasi0n.

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11. Click Jailbreak in Evasi0n.

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12. Unlock the device’s screen when asked by Evasi0n.

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13. Tap the Evasi0n app icon on the home screen of your device.

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14. You should see Cydia as an icon on your home screen if it worked. Cydia is the largest site for downloading special jailbroken apps. Enjoy!

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David Cogen is the founder of TheUnlockr.com, the popular site for rooting, jailbreaking, hacking, modding, and other how tos to show you how to unlock your device’s true potential. If you are curious what awesome things you can do now that you’re jailbroken, head to TheUnlockr’s jailbreak tweaks section for tons of videos on how to utilize your new found freedom. 

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Galaxy S4: What’s New?

February 24th, 2014 by Sherri L. Smith, LAPTOP Staff Writer

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs S4

Samsung has a big job on its hands — improving on the Galaxy S4, a device that to date has sold over 40 million units. It seems that the company is on the right track with the Galaxy S5. There are a few aesthetic improvements, such as a bigger display and a new soft-touch finish, but the device is also packing quite a few hardware and feature updates. From a new fingerprint scanner to a redesigned user interface, the Galaxy S5 may be the smartphone to watch in 2014. 

Design

Samsung Galaxy S5 design

Samsung has applied some of its more general design language to the S5 such as the rounded corners, the chrome lining the sides and the large rectangonal home button. There are some noteworthy differences, however. After enduring a barrage of complaints about the inherent slickness and cheapness of the S4 plastic back cover, Samsung has whipped up a functional, yet attractive solution.

The S5 rear panel is swathed in a luxurious soft-touch finish dotted with tiny perforations to ensure a steady grip. It’s not the aluminum chassis critics have been clamoring for, but its a nice improvement. When the phone debuts, consumers will have a few color options to choose from such as charcoal black, shimmery white and electric blue. In a deliberate nod to the iPhone 5S, Samsung can also pick up an S5 in copper gold. But the S5 will be more than a pretty face. Similar to the Galaxy S4 Active, the S5 is dust and water resistant according to IP67 standards. 

Measuring 5.6 x 2.85 x 0.32 inches, the Galaxy S5 is noticeably larger than the S4 (5.31 x 2.69 x 0.25 inches). Despite the larger profile, Samsung managed to keep the S5 reasonably light weight 5.1 ounces compared to the 4.6-ounce S4.

Display

Samsung Galaxy S5 display

Larger body, larger display. The Galaxy is S5 is outfitted with a 5.1-inch display, up from the S4′s 5-inches. Like it’s predecessor, the S5 features a 1920 x 1080 Super AMOLED display. The S5 however, comes with an ambient light sensor that adjusts screen brightness as well as the contrast ratio and color gamut to make the screen look great in direct sunlight. This is similar to the Sunlight readability feature found in Windows Phone like the the Nokia Lumia 928 and the Nokia Lumia Icon.  However, Samsung has taken things a bit further, stating the display uses object recognition to adjust its settings based on the content on screen, not just the ambient light hitting it. 

MORE: Top 10 Smartphones

Specs

A new flagship devices means bigger, better specs and Samsung does not disappoint. When it launches, the Galaxy S5 will be powered by a 2.5-GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor with 2GB of RAM. Compare that to the 1.9-GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 CPU on the S4. 

Battery size has been slightly increased from 2600mAH to 2800mAh. During the Laptop Mag Battery Test (continuous web surfing via 4G LTE with the display brightness set to 40 percent), the Galaxy S4 lasted 5 hours and 13 minutes in regular mode and 5:54 in Power Saving mode. We’re looking forward to putting the S5 through its paces when it arrives.

Speaking of Power Saving mode, Samsung has been bumped up to Ultra Power Saving mode which will turn the display to black and white and closes any unnecessary features to cut down on power consumption. The S5 will also ship with Android 4.4.2 (KitKat). 

New Features

Samsung’s TouchWiz interface has gotten a slight makeover sporting a flatter interface with revamped icons. The touch capacitive buttons for Back and Menu have returned along side of the physical button for Home. In another obvious Apple grab, the Home button now doubles as a fingerprint scanner for biometric unlocking. However, this sesnore can also be used for mobile payments.

MORE: Samsung Rating: Best and Worst Smartphone Brands

For example, the button can be used to log into PayPal.  Not content to be another Apple copycat, the company added Private Mode, a special area that houses your most private documents, emails and other data. The iPhone 5S’ Touch ID sensor can only log into the device and be used to authenticate iTunes purchases.

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S Health, has gotten an overhaul, adding a heart monitor that measures heart rate via a monitor that sits next to the LED flash on the back of the phone. The software will also tender workout advice, telling users to raise or lower their heart rate at different points. S Health will also sync with your Gear 2, Gear Neo watch or Gear Fit band, each of which has its own heart rate monitor.

Other new features include Kids Corner and Quick Connect. The company’s Download Booster, a Wi-Fi technology that combines LTE and Wi-Fi connections to boost data speed ensuring users have the fastest possible connection. 

Camera

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is jam-packed with a slew of new camera features. The S5 boasts a 16-MP camera, up from 13-MP on the Galaxy S4 and Note 3 so we’re definitely expecting sharper, cleaner images. The smartphone now has the ability to autofocus and shoot in 0.3 seconds, a big improvement over the 1-2 second lag we’ve experienced on previous Galaxy phones. 

While we’re fans of Samsung’s ever-growing list of camera features, it can be overwhelming for some users. To cut their users a break, the company has tapered down the initial modes, providing photographers with a download button in the app for a more a la carte experience. For example, Animated Mode (gif creator) is missing from the initial feature offering, but can be downloaded at the users’ leisure. 

MORE: Samsung Galaxy S5 Hands-on

That doesn’t mean, however, that Samsung could resist adding a couple of new modes. The Shot & More mode shoots for a few seconds then allows you to activate other modes for your photo, such as Drama Shot, Eraser Mode or Best Face mode after the fact. On previous Samsung phones, you had to guess in advance that a stranger  might walk through your photo so you could choose eraser mode. But with Shot & More, you can determine that afterwards. The software even shows which modes your photo is eligible for, based on its content.

The Galaxy S5 also provides real-time HDR for photo and video shooting for more vivid images. According to Samsung, the HDR is based on a single image, not multiple shots. There’s also a new Virtual tour mode for creating walk-throughs of buildings, which is particularly useful for selling a home.

Outlook

Samsung has done a masterful job of addressing its critics while keeping the innovation flowing.  By knowing where to tweak and where to completely overhaul, the Galaxy S5 greatly improves upon the successes of the S4. The device comes with a slightly larger, brighter display, a faster processor and camera and a mildly revamped TouchWiz UI. The phone is also water and dustproof and  sports a stylish, yet functional rear panel. The addition of the fingerprint scanner will help to create a more secure user experience. Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is an exciting addition to the Galaxy line that we’re looking forward to reviewing in the near future. 

Tags: Samsung Galaxy S5, Galaxy S5, MWC 2014, Smartphones | 1 Comment »

Top 10 iPhone Alternatives

January 17th, 2014 by Dann Berg, LAPTOP Contributor

Apple’s iPhone 5s is one of the best smartphones in the world, but it has some drawbacks. It’s 4-inch display, though gorgeous, is significantly smaller than the 5 to 5.5-inch screens found on today’s leading Android handsets. And while it’s interface is slick and easy-to-use, it’s not nearly as customizable as Androids, or as unique as Microsoft’s Windows Phone. If you’re looking for something different from Apple’s trademark smartphone, these are the handsets for you.

Tags: Apple iPhone 4, T-Mobile myTouch 4G Slide, HTC Sensation 4G, HTC Thunderbolt | 31 Comments »

The 10 Best Android Smartphones

January 17th, 2014 by LAPTOP Editors

It seems like every day a new Android smartphone hits the market. Between Samsung, LG, HTC, Motorola, and four major carriers, smartphone shoppers looking for high-quality handsets with Google’s OS have lots of choices. To help you pick the right phone for your needs, we’ve selected the 10 best Android smartphones available right now.  

Tags: Google Android, smartphone, Google Android, 4G | 15 Comments »

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