Category Archives: Android

Optimus G Review: LG Gets Serious About Smartphones

More than anything else, the biggest problem LG has at the moment is that no one really considers it a top grade Android device manufacturer. This isn’t because their devices don’t have great screens, or the latest specs, but because people don’t really associate LG with great smartphones. In the Android ecosystem its all about Samsung these days, and then to a lesser extent HTC and Sony. Tell a friend that you picked up the latest LG, and you’re sure to get a puzzled look. This sentiment is LG’s problem, and they are getting serious about fixing this.

Optimus G Review: LG Gets Serious About Smartphones

The partnership with Google to make the Nexus 4 has really helped, but the branding is not quite there yet. So does the Optimus G help LG push that envelope further, is this a smartphone that you should think about when looking for a shiny new toy? Lets find out.

When it comes to specs, LG’s really left no stone unturned. For about 30,000 INR ($560 / 425 Euro) this devices manages to pack quite a bit of muscle:

  • A 4.7″ 16M-color WXGA True HD IPS Plus (768 x 1280 pixels) display with Gorilla Glas
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset – Quad-core 1.5 GHz Krait CPU with 2 GB of RAM, Adreno 320 GPU
  • 13 MP camera with LED flash and a 1.3 MP front-facing camera
  • 32 GB of non expandable storage
  • NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, WIFI Direct
  • Active noise cancellation with a dedicated mic
  • Runs Jelly Bean 4.1.2
  • Stereo FM radio


If you can’t see the video, click here.


LG generally has a tendency of following its Korean sibling, Samsung’s lead when taking cues for its smartphones, but thankfully they’ve brought something of their own to the table with the Optimus G. The device is made using plastic and glass with a metal frame surrounding the screen. The glass back also has a nice reflective texture that becomes visible when light hits it at certain angles, much like the Nexus 4 and the older Optimus devices before that. This along with the metal frame around the screen add a premium feel to the device, and the glossy plastic bezel doesn’t feel too bad at all.

Optimus G Review: LG Gets Serious About Smartphones

LG’s gone in for a very squared look, and that means that the Optimus G can feel a little blocky at times. Since there is no curved back, the device doesn’t fit as naturally into the hand as some other devices. However, since this is a unibody design with no removable parts, it does feel quite solid and reassuring in the hand with no creaks or squeaks. At 131.9 x 68.9 x 8.5 mm and a 145 grams, the Optimus G isn’t too big or bulky. Its a little smaller than the Galaxy S3, but about 12 grams heavier.


The Optimus G had launched with Ice Cream Sandwich, but has since been upgraded to Jelly Bean 4.1.2, while that’s not the latest Jelly Bean software, devices like the HTC One that are just coming out, also run the same release. In any case, there isn’t much that Android 4.2 (also called Jelly Bean) brings to the table that you’ll really miss.

Optimus G Review: LG Gets Serious About Smartphones Optimus G Review: LG Gets Serious About Smartphones

On top of Jelly Bean 4.1.2 is LG’s very own Optimus UI. Traditionally, it has been very cartoon like and LG’s worked on toning it down. Infact, the Optimus UI comes with four themes that you can choose from, and you can also pick the font that you like from the settings. Google’s new default Android font, Roboto is available. While the icons still do not deserve an A+, you can easily live with them.

Optimus G Review: LG Gets Serious About Smartphones Optimus G Review: LG Gets Serious About Smartphones

Other than that, the UI is very slick and very fast. You can literally fly past homescreens, and everything launches instantly. The lockscreen features a nice bubble like unlock animation. The notification area houses quick toggle for everything that you can think of, and then there are the Qslide apps.

If Samsung has multi window apps, where you can run two apps side by side, LG has Qslide. Arguably, this implementation is better. Basically Qslide gives you a picture on picture mode, where one app becomes transparent and lets you interact with the app under it. So for example if you are watching a video and an email pops in, instead of exiting the video, you can enable the Qslide mode and let the video play in the background (its still visible, but is now see through) while you check your email/do other tasks. Since you can also control the transparency, this feature comes in pretty handy. This works with Memo, Calendar, Browser and Calculator. The video above will give you a better idea of how this works.

Optimus G Review: LG Gets Serious About Smartphones Optimus G Review: LG Gets Serious About Smartphones
Then there is also Quick Memo. This application takes a screenshot and then lets you annotate on top of that.Useful, and something similar to what Samsung has on the Galaxy Note devices.


The 4.7″ 16M-color WXGA True HD IPS Plus is one of the Optimus G’s highlights, and among the best 720p displays on the market currently. What I love about high resolution LCD displays is that unlike AMOLEDs, there is no blue tinge to them, so reading text on a white background is a real pleasure. Further, a person spends a lot more time reading on the phone than looking at photos/videos. So even if the display doesn’t have the pop that AMOLED screens do, it remains a better bet.

Optimus G Review: LG Gets Serious About Smartphones Optimus G Review: LG Gets Serious About Smartphones

While LG uses a zero-gap construction so that there is no air between screen layers in order to eliminate reflections, strong sunlight might present a bit of a challenge. Other than that, its everything you could want. Right under the screen are three capacitive buttons, back, home and menu. A long press on the home button brings up the task switcher, and a button to goto Google Now. You can change the duration for which they light up from the settings menu, I personally had them set to always on.


A quad core processor, a 720p screen, multitasking and all the other gazillion things that smartphones can do today eat into the one precious commodity that’s battery life. The Optimus G features a 2100 mAh Li-Po battery, that unlike Lithium-Ion batteries give you more charging charing cycles, about 800 in the Optimus G’s case. That’s a good things because the Optimus G’s battery isn’t end-user replaceable.

So how does the Lithium-Polymer battery do otherwise? With 3G enabled, 2 push Gmail accounts, a fair amount of Twitter and Facebook usage with notifications turned on, WhatsApp, an hour of browsing and 15 minutes of calls, you’ll get through a 9am to 8pm day. That’s not bad for a modern smartphone, without 3G and 3D gaming, the battery life will be even better. Most people shouldn’t have problems getting a day’s usage out of the device.


While the Optimus G boasts of a 13 MP sensor, don’t let that play on your mind too much. Unfortunately, the camera is at par with the 8MP snappers that the competition offers, and those 5 extra megapixels aren’t really doing anything for image quality. Day light photos are acceptable, but the unit struggles in low light, producing some grainy shots.

Optimus G Review: LG Gets Serious About Smartphones

The phones does come with the ability to shoot HDR photos and panoramas out of the box. The Camera UI is nice and simple, and there are even a few fun modes to it. For example you can take a shot using your voice by saying words such as ‘Whisky’, ‘Cheese’ and so on. Then there is a mode called ‘Time Catch Shot’ that starts taking photos before you have pressed the camera button, making sure you don’t miss the right frame. Next, there is ‘Smart Shutter’ that is aimed at producing lag free photos. The phone is also capable of shooting 1080p video, with average results.

Overall the Optimus G camera is good, without being impressive. A closer look at the camera UI is available in the video review above.


The Optimus G has been available for a while now, and it isn’t exactly the newest kid on the block. But because it came a few months after devices like the Galaxy S3 and the HTC One X, it does have a few advantages over them. A faster processor, 2 GB of RAM compared on the 1GB on the S3, 32 GB of storage compared to 16 on the S3 (but no microSD slot). The HTC One X/X+ devices with their Tegra processors had a tendency of getting hot, and that’s something that’s much better on the Snapdragon powered Optimus G. All of this does make the Optimus G more future proof.

Optimus G Review: LG Gets Serious About Smartphones

Overall the Optimus G presently a very competitive package. A good looking device that has powerful hardware under the hood. The Optimus UI has been toned down and is no longer a hindrance to the functioning of the device. Infact, with Qslide apps and things like Quick memo, it does bring value to the product. So if you are in the market for a mid-high range smartphone, should you consider the Optimus G? Yes.

Infact, if LG can continue to iterate and build upon devices like the Optimus G, it is poised to be the comeback kid of the Android world.

Must Know HTC One Tips & Tricks

The HTC One packs a quad core Snapdragon 600 chip, 2 GB of RAM, an incredible 1080p 4.7″ IPS display  and runs Sense 5.0, a new iteration of Sense that trims down the UI to a very large extent, while not taking away too much from the default Android experience. With its premium aluminium construction, there is hardly anything you won’t like about this device.

HTC One Tips Tricks

The HTC One is definitely one of 2013’s top smartphones, and as is the case with most devices these days, there are features that are obvious and then there are some that take a bit of finding. Over the last few days that I have been using the HTC One as my primary device (review coming soon) I have come to learn a few nifty shortcuts and tricks that every HTC One user should know.

If you can’t see the video embedded above, hit this link to go to YouTube. If you’d like to see some of these tips & tricks in text instead of video, read on.

  • How Use The HTC One To Create Video Highlights Of Pictures & Video Taken On Another Camera: Details here.
  • Capacitive Buttons: Because the One only comes with two capacitive buttons, instead of the 3 button default Android setup, the home key has some added responsibilities. A long press of the key launches Google Now, while a quick double tap, ala iOS, launches the multitasking app switcher. From there you can kill apps by simply dragging them off the screen.
  • Screenshots: Taking screenshots is very easy, just hit the home button and the power key simultaneously and a screenshot will be saved to the gallery. The One also has the ability to take screenshots while a video is playing. So if you want to quickly grab an image, just tap the screen once while the video is playing and hit the camera button that appears. A 1920 x 1080 screenshot will be saved to the gallery.

Must Know HTC One Tips & Tricks

  • Homescreen Setup: By default, whenever you press the home button the first thing you’ll see is Blinkfeed. There is no way to turn Blinkfeed off, but fortunately you select another homescreen to be the default screen. To do this, pinch the homescreen and you’ll be presented with the following screen. Now choose the homescreen you want to set as the default by pressing down on it and dragging it to the ‘Set As Home’ option that appears.

Must Know HTC One Tips & Tricks

  • Jump To Top: Very hand for long lists, wherever you are to quickly jump to the top, hit the notification bar once. This works in all sorts of lists – Contacts, Blinkfeed, Music Player and so on. 
  • Secure Inbox: If there are certain messages that you’d best keep from prying eyes, the HTC One has you covered. Long press on the message you so wish to hide, and select the move to Secure Inbox button. Then when you wish to goto that message, choose ‘Secure Inbox’ from the list and enter your password. Note: The password is set the first time you enter the Secure Inbox.

Must Know HTC One Tips & Tricks

  • Two Finger Scrolling: Scrolling with two fingers on any list displays the corresponding alphabet as you scroll along. Great when you want to stop at a particular letter in say, the Contacts app. In the messages app, a two finger scroll results in the dates being displayed as you scroll along.
  • Bluetooth Remote for the Camera: A bluetooth headset can act as a remote for the camera. Mount the One of a tripod and be part of the shot. Makes you wonder why didn’t anyone implement this earlier.
  • NFC & Usage: Buried in the settings menu under the ‘More’ heading is a toggle for NFC, turn it off if you’d like to save that every bit of battery life. The Usage option lets you restrict and monitor the amount of data your device is using. You can also keep tabs on your cellular minutes and text messages. Very handy if you don’t have unlimited data.

Must Know HTC One Tips & Tricks

  • App Gallery: By default, the Sense UI displays a grid of 3 x 3. Thankfully you can change this to 4 x 5.  Also present is an option to hide certain apps completely. So all the operator branded junk that you never open can now easily be removed from sight. Also, you can list apps alphabetically, or by the date they were added. You can also have a custom setup if you like.

Must Know HTC One Tips & Tricks

  • Power Saver: The HTC One has a power saver mode, use it. It throttles the CPU, reduces the brightness, makes the data connection goto sleep for small intervals, and turns vibration off. Based on experience, just letting the phone throttle the CPU and suspend the data connection makes a lot of difference. Enjoy that screen, don’t skimp on the brightness.

Must Know HTC One Tips & Tricks

  • Stop Google Play from auto creating shortcuts: If like me, you hate it when an app is automatically added to your homescreen the moment you installed it, this tip is for you. Goto Google Play settings and uncheck the auto-add widgets button.

Must Know HTC One Tips & Tricks

  • Gracenote Integration: Thanks to its Gracenote integration, the One automatically adds album art to the music you’ve copied to the device. That’s not all, it will even pull the lyrics down from the Internet and display them – synchronised.

Must Know HTC One Tips & Tricks

  • Unresponsive/Reset: If the HTC One ever hangs, or becomes unresponsive you can’t really pull the battery out. The way around that problem is holding the power button down for 10 seconds. The phone will reboot and hopefully your problem will be fixed.
  • Changing Shortcuts in the Dock: You can change the default apps in the dock, and even add folders. However, this cannot be done from the homescreen and you’ll have to be in the app drawer to make changes.

In addition to these, there are a ton of other must know things – Zoes, Video Highlights, IR Blaster for controlling the TV. Which ones are your favourites? Sound off in the comments section below!

Must Know Galaxy S3 Tips & Tricks

The Galaxy S3 is the sucessor to the super successful S2, and since I did a very popular must know tips & tricks post for it, now would be a good time to do a follow up for Samsung’s latest superphone. The S3 packs a quad core processor, a GB of RAM, a 4.8″ Super AMOLED screen with a 1280 x 720p resolution, a 2100 mAh battery, support for NFC and runs Ice Cream Sandwich with the TouchWiz layer on top.

TouchWiz is Samsung’s Android skin that differentiates the look and feel of its devices from others, while at the same time adding useful tweaks. Since this is a brand new version of TouchWiz, you’ll have to learn a few new tricks to get the best out of this flagship device. Samsung has also bundled a few useful and a few gimmicky features, some apparent and some hidden. This post explores a bunch of must know tips and tricks that every Galaxy S3 user should master.

If you can’t see the video embedded above, hit this link to go to YouTube. If you’d like to see these tips & tricks in text instead of video, read on.

  • Setup Any Screen As Your Default Homescreen: TouchWiz finally adds the ability to setup any screen as your homescreen. Just hit the home button on the top right, and once selected, everytime you hit the physical home key, you’ll be taken to that screen. You can of course move homescreens around as well.

 Galaxy S3 Trips & Tricks

  • Change Lockscreen Shortcuts: Changing the shortcuts on the dock of the homescreen is fairly straightforward, you simply drag an icon from the homescreen to the dock and it gets replaced. However the option to change the quick launch shortcuts on the lockscreen is a little hidden. You have to go into Settings>Security>Lockscreen options and then tap the shortcuts label to get to the screen on the right. Once there, tap an icon to replace it.

Galaxy S3 Trips & Tricks Galaxy S3 Trips & Tricks

  • WIFI Direct: This feature lets you send files to another WIFI Direct devices like the S2, or the S3 at speeds much higher than bluetooth. This is done by establishing a adhoc WIFI network, here’s a demo and an explanation of how it works on the S2. On the S3, the procedure is similar and once you’ve used it, you can turn it off by going into Settings>Wireless & networks. If you’re sending files between two S3’s, then just touch their backs to each other (NFC) and the phones will do the rest.

Galaxy S3 Trips & Tricks

  • LED Customisation: Out of the box the S3 doesn’t let you change the LED for specific tasks. You can’t have a red notification for missed calls, blue for emails, yellow for messages and so on. Fortunately an app called Lightflow can let fix that.

Galaxy S3 Trips & Tricks

  • Get Flipboard & Photo Editor: The S3 has a ton of apps pre-installed including Google Plus, however if you’re looking for Flipboard you’re out of luck. To get it you’ll have to go into an app called ‘More Services’. While you’re there I recommend you get Photo Editor as well, a very capable free tool. Also present are a bunch of other free apps.

Galaxy S3 Trips & Tricks

  • Task Manager & Clearing RAM: Despite packing 1 GB of RAM and a quad core processor, the S3 does get a little sluggish at times. The TouchWiz launcher sometimes has to redraw the apps once you exit a heavy app and so on. While the S3 uses the ICS way of killing apps by sliding them off the screen, Samsung’s also retained its own task manager. Its accessible from the bottom left of the task switcher screen and lets you quickly uninstall apps, clear some memory and even monitor storage.

Galaxy S3 Trips & Tricks Galaxy S3 Trips & Tricks

  • Motion Activated Actions: Some motion activated controls are cool, while others are gimmicks. I’ve explained all of them in the video, but to quickly recap:

Galaxy S3 Trips & Tricks

– Direct calls dials the number of the contact you are looking at, if you put the phone to your ear. This also works if you’re in messaging and looking at a text.

– Smart alert vibrates the phone the moment you pick up the phone from a flat surface/table to let you know of any missed notifications. That way you won’t have to turn the screen on to see if you’ve missed a call etc.

– Tap to top works as advertised. A double tap on the top of the phone brings you to the top of a list.

– Tilt to zoom is fairly obvious, and pan to move icon uses the accelerometer to move icons around based on the direction in which you’re tilting the phone.

  • Enable Swype like typing: Unlike other Galaxy smatphones, the S3 doesn’t come with Swype pre-installed and there’s no official beta either. Fortunately Samsung’s own keyboard has some Swype like features. Once enabled from settings you can swipe to type.

Galaxy S3 Trips & Tricks

  • EQ setting during calls: A hidden setting that can be accessed by going into call settings and then additional settings. Access call settings directly from the dialer by hitting the menu key.

Galaxy S3 Trips & Tricks

  • More Useful Call Settings: Get extra volume in calls when you’re in noisy places by enabling the extra volume in call settings. Another option is to increase the volume of the ringtone if the phone detects that its in a pocket/handbag.

Galaxy S3 Trips & Tricks

  • Display battery percentage: For the control freaks among us, goto Settings>Display and hit the checkbox.

Galaxy S3 Trips & Tricks

  • Facetag & Buddy photo share: The S3 gallery has the ability to recognize faces and it prompts you to tag them. Once you do that, an option called buddy photo share comes in handy. By selecting this option you can directly email the photo(s) to all the people tagged in the photo without having to compose an email, enter their addresses and so on. It can send the email to any one person tagged in the photo as well. Sometimes face-tag gets annoying, specially when you’re just trying to browse photos on the large display of the S3 as it keeps showing a box around the face. That time you can turn Face tag off by hitting the menu key and choosing face tag.

Galaxy S3 Trips & Tricks Galaxy S3 Trips & Tricks

  • Additional security in Hotspot mode: The S3 has tethering capabilities and you can even set a password to protect your precious bandwidth. However Samsung has gone one step ahead and introduced a feature called ‘Allowed device list’. With this turned on, despite the fact that you have the right security code you won’t be able to connect to the hotspot, unless your device has been added to the ‘allowed list’.

Galaxy S3 Trips & Tricks Galaxy S3 Trips & Tricks

In addition to all of these, there are a bunch of things that work in the same manner as the S2, so check this post out as well. The one thing I am disappointed about is the fact that you can no longer control the brightness from the notification bar, unlike the S2. I also did a tips and tricks post for the Galaxy Note which can be found here.

What did I miss? Sound off in the comments section below!

How To Easily Root The Galaxy S3

One of the reasons that people prefer Android over iOS, or even Windows Phone is that it is ‘open’. It is, to an extent, but to really push the device, you do need to root your Android smartphone. Fortunately, rooting Samsung devices has been fairly easy in the past, and that’s thanks to XDA’s Chainfire. He has released CF-Root for a number of Samsung devices, and the best part about his method is that it keeps the device as close to stock configuration as possible, while giving you superuser status.

So your Samung Galaxy S3 will look as behave in the same manner as before, because CF-Root is not a complete ROM. It just installs SuperSU for allowing applications root access, a recovery manager in ClockWorkMod and a utility called CWM Manager. As Chainfire explains:

  • Root – SuperSU – The root permission management app installed by CF-Root is SuperSU. This will allow your apps to gain root (superuser) access.
  • Recovery – ClockWorkMod (CWM) – A custom CWM 5.5 build is included in CF-Root, taken from this thread. This provides for the ability to install custom ROMs, and do nandroid (full device) backups and restores.
  • Util – CWM Manager – My management application for CWM is also installed, see the recovery thread linked above for further details. It allows you to command CWM (install a ROM, make/restore backups, etc) from normally booted Android.

Beware that rooting your device may void your warranty, and once rooted your phone will display a yellow triangle during bootup that signifies your use of an insecure kernel. If you’re ready to root your Galaxy S3, here are the steps as explained by Chainfire himself:

– Follow these instructions to the letter. Do not touch any buttons or checkboxes that are not listed below to touch.
– Unzip the file (Get it from this thread).
– Download and unzip the file (Get it from this thread).
– If you end up with a recovery.img and cache.img file, you’ve extracted twice. You need to end up with a .tar file – don’t extract that one.
– (USB) Disconnect your phone from your computer.
– Start Odin3-vX.X.exe.
– Click the PDA button, and select CF-Root-SGS3-vX.X.tar.
– Put your phone in download mode (turn off phone, then hold volume-down + home + power to boot – if it asks you to press a button to continue, press the listed button, or run adb reboot download command).
– (USB) Connect the phone to your computer.
– Make sure Repartition is NOT checked.
– Click the Start button.
– Wait for Android to boot.
– Done (if it took you more than 30 seconds, you need practise!)

CF-Root is the easiest way to root your device, and in this XDA-Developers thread you’ll find extensive guidance. If you are new to rooting Samsung devices, then you can also familiarise yourself with Mobile Odin, and Triangle Away. The first lets you perform most actions that you can undertake using Odin on the PC, without needing the PC. The second, removes the pesky triangle that demonstrates that you are using an insecure kernel.

Note: The image is only a representation of how Odin looks on the PC, while performing the actual flash strictly follow the instructions listed. Image credit. Undertake at your own risk.

White Samsung Galaxy S3 Unboxing & Overview

The Galaxy S3 is definitely one of the hottest devices of 2012, and will continue to be the reigning Android flagship come 2013. Samsung’s just started selling the device across the world, and it just went on sale in India. While the maximum retail price in India is closer to the 43,000 INR mark, you can get it for anything between 38-39000 INR in in stores and online.

While Samsung in recent months has followed a policy of not dropping prices quickly, I do expect the retail price of the S3 to settle closer to the 35,000 mark rather than the near the 40,000 it currently is.

Back to the device, its a 4.8″ Super AMOLED display packing, 1.4 Ghz Quad-core processor touting superphone that is just 8.6 mm thick.  There’s also an 8 MP camera, an impressive 2100 mAh battery, NFC and the latest version of Android (Ice Cream Sandwich) inside. The device was supposed to come out in blue and white, but Samsung’s apparently hit a few production snags with the blue version and you can just buy the white currently, which isn’t really a bad thing.

So if you were to walk into a store and get a Galaxy S3, this is what it would be like. The unboxing video follows:

I will be bring you a ton of S3 coverage in the next few days, but in case you want me to cover something specifically, let me know in the comments section below.

HDFC Bank Releases An App For The iPhone: Windows Phone & Android Versions In The Works

One of India’s leading banks, HDFC has launched an iPhone/iPod app to facilitate banking on the go, and the good news is that versions for Android and Windows Phone are in the works too. The application is fully featured and lets you perform all those tasks for which you would normally have to login to netbanking on the computer.

HDFC Bank also has a mobile optimized website that can be accessed at which will let you accomplish a lot of these tasks until an app for your favourite platform comes along.

HDFC Bank Releases An App For The iPhone, Windows Phone & Android Versions In The Works HDFC Bank Releases An App For The iPhone, Windows Phone & Android Versions In The Works

The iPhone version isn’t optimised for the retina display of the iPhone 4/4S, but at least it lets you get work done. You can login with the customer ID and netbanking password. The applications lets you:

  • Pay utility bills, credit card bills, etc.
  • View Account summaries and Fixed Deposit summaries
  • Transfer funds ,including transfers to other bank customers
  • Request statements, cheque book, stop payment and more.

The iPhone does not enjoy a commanding position in India when it comes to marketshare, but due to sheer mindshare it still gets the apps first. But what is good to see is that Windows Phone despite not being every popular just yet, is also on the radar and Nokia’s push does seem to be having an effect.

HDFC Bank is also on Twitter, feel free to tell them how much you want a Windows Phone or Android version of the app. Download the iOS version here.