Moto G

Of flappy birds and happy days

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Moto G

Moto G

This year, in just under two months, the Internet has thrown up many new juggernauts. Lakshmi Krupa on all that’s making news now

If there’s one thing the social media has done, it is doing away with the difference between the ‘tech-savvy’ and the ‘not-so-tech savvy’. Just ask Facebook, the great leveller, which has been in the news for — among other things — the fact that more ‘old people’ are on it now than ever before. For even an admittedly tech illiterate person such as yours truly, 2014 has already thrown up many a surprise. The New Year has brought with it a whole new perspective on the power of the ‘viral’. Its ‘happy as sunshine’ side is almost too cute to handle (read as ‘100 Happy Days’ project) while a deadly drinking game, is almost making me want to quit social media sooner than later.

A gone goose

A while ago, I read this cryptic status message from someone on my timeline on Facebook. “’Describe your life in two words.’ ‘Flappy Bird’.” Soon I was reading stories and watching Youtube videos on how annoyingly simple and tough at the same time this game was. The story of Flappy Bird is, in a sense, the story of our times.

For the uninitiated, Flappy Bird is a mobile game that indie developer Dong Nguyen from Vietnam launched in 2013. With a vintage ‘Mario’ like look, the game requires you to move a bird forward without hitting the green pipes that dot its digital landscape. Sounds simple enough, but it is (was) a frustratingly tough game to play. And as games go, the simpler it seemed (deceptively so) the more addictive it was. And everywhere I went, I heard of this annoying bird! All was well and Flappy Birds seemed headed towards a happy ending that could earn Nguyen a lot of green when a tweet shook the world. “I am sorry ‘Flappy Bird’ users, 22 hours from now I will take ‘Flappy Bird’ down. I cannot take this anymore,” he announced on Twitter. It was shared more than 1.44 lakh times on the social media site. The developer explained that he created the game so that people could relax and was deleting it because people were getting addicted to it. At a time when every new technological business is looking for ways to keep people hooked to their gadgets, Nguyen’s move is at once bizarre and reassuring. Even as others say ‘there must be more to this than meets the eye’, I am happy enough with his explanation. Rumour has it that phones with the Flappy Bird game are now selling like hotcakes.

My new motto…

…is to not feel tempted into buying a phone while my old phone works perfectly fine. Well that does not seem like a motto that will last, what with Motorola and Flipkart going on an aggressively feel good campaign. What is so ‘feel good’ about it you ask? The new Moto G (cue jokes about the phone that commands our respect so much that we need to suffix a ‘ji’ to its name) available exclusively on Flipkart for Rs.12,499 (8GB) and Rs. 13,999 (16GB), sold several thousand units within hours of being launched. The 16GB version has been sold out and you can now pre-book it if you want to and get on a queue.

Reviews have been pouring in from all corners, and so far they all seem to say, paisa vasool! Apart from the pricing, what has drawn a lot of admiration for the phone has been its strong battery support. Now all of us with a smartphone know how annoying it is to have a phone that is constantly instructing us to connect the phone to a charger. (I also think we should all consider starting a campaign asking Android phone companies to make polite phones that will say things like, ‘Kindly charge me’, ‘Please give me some food’. Honestly, ‘Connect your phone to a charger’ sounds like an instruction. We could all do with one less instruction in life. No?)

And the Oscar goes to…

Ok, admit it, you found that meme on Facebook that says “Thanks for sharing your Facebook movie. Here’s your (insert expletive) Oscar” hilarious even if you did share your movie. When Facebook turned 10 this year they decided to do something they do best. Make it seem like it’s all about us. Well it worked. The “movie” set to a soaring background score showcased snippets from our first post to most popular photos! While for some of us this was a lot of fun, there were also others who found the movie irrelevant. For instance, some photographer friends on my list complained about how their entire movie was about other ten married couples’ best moments. Ouch.

The most heartening thing to have come out of this entire affair is the story of John Berlin whose 21-year-old son died two years ago. He made a very emotional video requesting Facebook and Zuckerberg to let him see his son’s movie. Berlin had seen his as well as others’ movies in which his son’s photo popped up and then wanted to see his son’s movie! The video went viral and in no time Facebook had released his son’s ‘lookback’ movie.


From the heartening to the scary. A college student recently told me about this “insane” new game called neknomination. “A lot of my friends have been posting it. It’s just madness!” he said. The game requires you to down alcohol and attempt a dare, recording it all as a video. You then post the game online and name two people and then they each attempt the dare!

There have been four shocking reports of people dying while attempting the game. There has also been concern on underage drinking and here’s the worst part, its popularity has only been rising. Form underage drinking to threat to life, the game is symptomatic of how the Internet need not always advocate what’s best. Take it with a pinch of salt, and when it sounds ridiculous give it a miss. Here’s hoping the game morphs into something better, such as the South African and Canadian version where instead of performing risky tasks people are encouraged to perform a random act of kindness and post a video!

Oh happy days

We will end on a happy note of course. If you haven’t already heard, the 100 Happy Days Project challenges you to ask yourself if you can be happy for 100 days on a row. “We live in times when super-busy schedules have become something to boast about. While the speed of life increases, there is less and less time to enjoy the moment that you are in. The ability to appreciate the moment, the environment and yourself in it, isthe base for the bridge towards long term happiness of any human being. 71 per cent of people tried to complete this challenge, but failed quoting lack of time as the main reason. These people simply did not have time to be happy. Do you?” the website asks.

While you may wonder what happiness has to do with taking a picture and displaying it for all and sundry, it is still a fun project and will also tell you a little bit about yourself.

For instance, two days into the project I discovered that the thing that truly brings me joy almost always is good food. Bring on that Tiramisu.


Number 7: Moto G

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Buying Guide, Top mobile phones compared: what phone is best for you?

Moto G

7. Moto G

Motorola’s back, and it’s kicking off its global smartphone revival with the keenly priced Moto G handset. A mid-range handset with a low-end price tag – we’re talking around £100 in some stores.

On paper the Moto G looks like an excellent handset for the price, and in practice it lives up to the billing.

As the Nexus 4 did with the mid-range market, the Moto G has turned the budget end on its head with features found on handsets double its cost.

It exceeds its rivals in several key areas, from the well defined 4.5-inch display to its 1.2GHz quad-core processor and guaranteed Android 4.4 KitKat update. There’s a lot to love about the Moto G for its price.

Quick verdict

Motorola must have cut some corners to get the price of the Moto G so low, and the camera is one area which has seen the compromise, but that’s one of the only gripes.

So here’s the upshot: Motorola is back folks, it’s official. It may not be the return we would have predicted – there’s no flagship phone stuffed full of the latest tech – but arguably what the now Google-owned firm has done is even better.

The Moto G is a top notch, low cost smartphone and we wholeheartedly recommend this as the best budget mobile currently on the market.

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20 best mobile phones in the world today

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Buying Guide, Top mobile phones compared: what phone is best for you?

20 best mobile phones in the world today

What’s the best mobile phone? Our verdict on the best smartphone/best phones – constantly updated

We’ve all got at least one mobile phone each, right? We’ve probably got about three or four nowadays, and that counts giving your old Nokia 3310 to your Mum a few years ago.

But while you used to be able to just bank on the new Nokia or always get the next Sony Ericsson because it had a half-decent camera, there are now so many great options out there from loads of manufacturers.

The trouble is, how do you decide which is the best one for you?

Well, this is where we make it easy. Because here we have our continually updated comparison of the top 20 best smartphones currently adorning phone emporiums up and down the UK.

The last update saw the HTC One maintain its place at the top of the charts, holding off multiple challenges from Nokia, Samsung, LG and Sony (namely the Galaxy S4) – showing the smartphone market still has a fair few players.

But the HTC One is nearly a year old. That’s an age in smartphone terms, and Apple’s in there too, doubling down by bringing out a phone at the same price (the iPhone 5C) and pulling no punches with the supercharged iPhone 5S, so where have both landed in our top 20?

But it’s by no means a ‘can Apple topple HTC’ kind of race – as HTC has created a cheaper version of the One (the HTC One Mini, of course), LG’s gone all out with the aptly named LG G2, and even Sony is continually pushing the smartphone envelope with the all new small-yet-powerful Sony Xperia Z1 Compact – so who knows who will be number one these days?

And now Google is playing fast and loose with consumers’ wallets, thanks to offering the ultra-cheap Nexus 5 and the even ultra-cheaper Moto G – could those be the phones for you?

If that still doesn’t help, well, there’s always our extensive mobile phone reviews pages as well – or check out our personally crafted smartphone buyer’s guide:

And when you’ve decided which new phone to buy (and checked out the best mobile phone deal), why not cash in your old one with our phone recycling price comparison service?

Here are our rankings for the best mobile phones around, currently available in the UK.

20. Samsung Galaxy S3

Galaxy S3

With the Samsung Galaxy S4 (and friends) now launched, the S3 has predictably fallen down the rankings thanks to there being a better phone to recommend.

But don’t worry: the S3 is still a strong phone: it’s got loads of features we want and more, and raised the bar once again in terms of what consumers should be expecting in terms of battery life, processor speed and media management.

Would we recommend you buy one if you’re hankering for a spot of Samsung? Yes, but only if you’re trying to save money, as the S4 is a much better version of this phone indeed.

Price isn’t the only reason the Samsung Galaxy S3 is worthy of consideration though. Smart Stay, Super AMOLED HD screen, up to 128GB storage, Music Hub, removable battery, quick camera; for the price, this phone still delivers in ways that many others on the market can’t.

Quick verdict

If you’re after a decent slab of Samsung tech, the Galaxy S3 is an OK choice. It’s getting on a bit, hence the slip down the rankings.

Samsung faced an almost impossible task in trying to create a worthy sequel to the Galaxy S2, and while this is an older model, it’s still worth a look.

19. Samsung Galaxy Note 2

Galaxy Note 2

Many (including us, we admit) were not convinced when the original Samsung Galaxy Note launched. Who on earth would want something so big to make their calls and surf the internet, even with a glorified stylus? Cue awkward silence.

Millions of you, it would appear. The Galaxy Note sold by the bucketload, so how do you follow that up? With something better, of course – the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, which has shifted 20 million units worldwide, and now is the elder statesman thanks to the new Galaxy Note 3 appearing.

Still a strong and eye-catching device, the Galaxy Note 2 is well-connected, and thanks to that increased screen size (up to an eye-bulging 5.5-inches), is, among many things, a quality media player.

Samsung has achieved something special here, because it has made the Galaxy Note 2 bigger than the original, but pulls it off so that you don’t notice it too much and anyway, it’s the features that make it so amazing.

Air View, Multi-window, a dock that can turn it into a fully-fledged computer – it’s all here, people..

Quick verdict

As a phone, it’s big, but once you get over that, if you can, it’s great. As a PMP, it really does excel, but there are better options on the market (Note 3 and Sony Xperia Z Ultra, for instance).

Ultimately, there’s no getting away from the fact that the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is a niche device. But it does almost everything it sets out to do perfectly, with grace, class and maximum functionality.

With a lower price, it’s still powerful enough to last for at least a year or two, so we have no qualms recommending it as a viable option for your next phone.

18. Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

Galaxy S4 Active

Want the Samsung Galaxy S4 but are too worried about dropping it in the bath or flinging it into a sand dune? Well, you can either not do either of those things, or buy the Samsung Galaxy S4.

With a powerful IP67 water and dust proof case the Active is far more hardy than a lot of the top end devices currently on the market.

The only other handset which can match the rugged credentials of the S4 Active is the Sony Xperia Z, (and Z1 successor, of course) although those being covered in glass front and back makes them feel far more fragile.

While the 5-inch display may not sport the Super AMOLED technology of the S4, the full HD resolution still makes for an excellent visual experience which is only really bettered by its namesake, the LG G2 and the HTC One.

Quick verdict

If you’re in the market for a super powerful smartphone which you can take on extreme activities, swimming and in the bath then sure the Galaxy S4 Active is the best around, although that’s a pretty limited market.

And hey, chuck it in a bucket of water and your mates will be seriously impressed (honest).

We’ve only got this phone so far down on the list as we don’t think huge amounts of users will be desperate to add the heft to an S4 to make it a bit more life proof, and that isn’t going to be something most people will worry about.

But if you want the security of a phone that can withstand a few knocks but doesn’t scrimp on the specs or usability, then you could do a lot worse than checking out the S4 Active.

17. Nokia Lumia 925

Lumia 925

What’s better than a top Windows Phone 7 handset? A Windows Phone 8 one, and we’ve got no qualms about telling you this is one the best high-end Windows Phones out there.

Simplicity is the key here, the Lumia 925 does the basics well, from contact integration and calling, to web browsing and messaging. The camera is market-leading, and offers excellent performance from low-light to jumpy videos.

The 8.7MP PureView camera on the back of the Lumia 925 is actually one of the best we’ve used, and for anyone looking to get a top end cameraphone: you need to seriously consider this Nokia, although a glut of handsets (Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, HTC One, LG G2 and iPhone 5S) have all stepped up their game significantly to offer strong camera experiences too.

The 4.5-inch display is also a good’un, crisp and clear it makes watching movies, surfing the web or Facebook stalking an enjoyable experience, thanks to the PureMotion HD technology on offer.

And you can even use it with gloves on… what more could you want? You’re right: hologram messages. But they don’t exist yet.

Quick verdict

The Nokia Lumia 925 is a worthy ambassador for Windows Phone 8 and probably a strong part of the reason Microsoft decided to acquire the Finnish handset division.

It’s not got the clout to take on the likes of the HTC One and Galaxy S4 just yet, but it’s still a great choice if you’re not sold on Android or iOS but don’t want to give up a powerful phone.

16. iPhone 5C

iPhoen 5C

What’s this? A new iPhone not making it into the top five? Wait… not even the top ten?

Well, you can’t really blame us. This isn’t a new iPhone – it’s last year’s device in brand new package with more colours to choose from.

There are more LTE bands to choose from too, which is important to UK buyers as it means it can give superfast speeds from all the networks.

It’s still a really rather good phone, with the Retina display still giving market-leading colour reproduction, a strong camera and the best App Store around.

Quick verdict

We’ll be honest: this is the place the iPhone 5 would have occupied since it’s been usurped by the iPhone 5S.

This is, in our eyes, essentially the same phone with a new skin. There will be loads of people looking to buy it simply because the iPhone now comes in pink or green, and to those we say: look at the Lumia range. Nokia’s been doing the same thing for years and at a much, much cheaper price point.

The iPhone 5C is the same as a every phone from Apple: too expensive for what it is, but if you’re desperate for such a device from the Cupertino brand then this is still a strong handset to plump for.

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