Going on holiday? Don’t forget to use protection

Some months ago I wrote up a review of this TouchAbility waterproof case. If I remember correctly I splashed it with water, got the hose-pipe on it and gave it some positive feedback.

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However, it’s rare that reviewers get enough time to do a full-on test. Say, for example, I did a real-world test of the iPhone – I’d pretty much have to own it for several months to give you a full overview of how it works in my daily life. So, the hose-pipe test was good enough, but the TouchAbility case was still sat on a cupboard at home when I started packing for our holiday, and it was a real last-minute decision to throw it in the suitcase.

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Luckily I did, as the case has rescued me from having a completely destroyed iPhone 5s which I’m reviewing at the moment. The iPhone 5s, which was loaned to me by the nice people at Vodafone, came out with me on holiday so that I could submerge myself into the iOS world and give it a proper full on test. I’ve used Android for so many years and, although I have an iPad, I’ve not used the iPhone itself as my daily driver for any real length of time.

As this phone doesn’t belong to me, I’ve been taking great care with it. I brought an Android phone to use when I went to the beach or sat near the pool. It worked well until, one day while swimming in the pool, I realised that my wallet was in my shorts. As I felt inside my pocket I suddenly became aware that it wasn’t my wallet, it was my Android phone. I’d been swimming for a good 30 minutes and, despite putting it in the baking 38 degree heat to dry (which it did quite quickly) it was a dead duck, showing just a white screen when I tried to power it up a few days later.

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Out on the beach and around the pool, the iPhone started to become my one and only book-reader and camera. These are both risky areas to take phones, and I noticed at a local water park that some people had taken to using waterproof handsets like the Sony Xperia line. I decided to start using the TouchAbility waterproof case that I’d nearly forgotten about. Pretty instantly this proved its worth when we went for a long drive to a remote beach. I kept the phone with me just in case we got lost or had car trouble, and had put it in the case before setting out.

After a few hours at the beach I retrieved the phone to find that the case was absolutely covered in sand. Thanks to a few ice-lolly wrappers and sticking fizzy drinks, it also had a mixture of water, Fanta, Callipo ice-lolly wrappers and all sorts of other things. It was a state. The iPhone inside wasn’t. It was absolutely pristine when removed the phone later and, after a quick rinse of the case, it was ready to go again.
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The case itself uses a rubbery plastic for the clear sections. It’s tricky to describe, but imagine those rain-covers for pushchairs and mix that in with some elastic and your there. It sticks to the screen of the phone, meaning that you can still use nearly all the functions. Sure, pressing the volume up / down keys in the side is a bit tricky and yes, if you have a phone with a power button on the side it’s not possible to turn it on. I managed to get to the top power key on the iPhone quite easily though thanks to the elasticity of the covering material.

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The front and rear has the same look pretty much, although the rear has a frosted section and logo taking up half of it. Most cameras are at the top of phones, so you can still take shots and they’ll come out very well indeed thanks to the figure-hugging material.

To place your phone inside, just slide the bottom green lock, place your phone in, then close and slide the lock back on. It’ll ensure that the entire unit is sealed and held closed. There’s also a lanyard for attaching to your wrist or belt loop should you want to keep hold of the phone.

Back to my story though, and although I had started using the case on the iPhone I didn’t really want to test it more than the odd splash or drip. This is really as far as we pushed it in the earlier review, but one day in the pool it somehow ended up taking a dip into the deep end. All the way down, about 1.80m down. I dived down and used the floating lanyard to grab it, and this is when everything changed. It was fine. Absolutely fine. Not a drip of water, condensation or anything. The phone was fine, which should stop the guys at Vodafone invoicing me for a new one. Phew.

From then on I had a growing confidence in this particular case. Due to the rigid sides it was robust and, under water, I could still operate the screen. I recorded under water movies in the pool to help my son with his swimming technique, I took it to a water park, in the sea and even went paragliding with it (although I did have to smuggle it past the guy hooking me up, who told me that they wanted everything out of my pockets as things had got wet in the past). Here’s a video I shot in the pool just to prove it…

Honestly, some of the footage I filmed on my holiday would’ve never been possible without this case, as you have the confidence to take the phone anywhere. A simple trip to the beach ended up with me and the family paragliding and I took shots I’m going to keep forever up there.

The camera on the iPhone, as you’ll see in my upcoming review, is really rather fantastic. Great low-light shots, brilliant action images and great clear images throughout.

For £9.99 a case like this is a lot cheaper than an insurance claim too, because the excess is usually around £25 or so. It’s not just protecting your phone, it’s letting you capture moments that you wouldn’t have ever recorded without the protection. If you’re interested in getting one, head here.

Going on holiday? Don’t forget to use protection is original content from Coolsmartphone.com

Sony announce the M2 aqua

Sony today have announced a new phone the M2 Aqua. No, this isn’t just a different colour version of the M2, but rather a waterproof version of the mid-range M2 handset.

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Spec wise the new M2 Aqua is the same as the M2, a decent mid-range handset with a few small adjustments. Main specs are listed below:

  • Quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat on launch
  • 4.8″ screen 540 x 960 pixels
  • 8 Megapixel camera with LED flash
  • 1080p video recording with HDR video
  • 8GB internal memory with microSD support for 32GB

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The main difference between the two handsets is the Aqua uses an IPS panel, like that found in the Z2 rather than the TFT LCD panel in the original M2 which should ensure better viewing angles and a better display. Due to the waterproofing the phone is marginally bigger, 140 x 72 x 8.6 mm compared to 139.7 x 71.1 x 8.6 mm for the original so users won’t notice it but may find some tight cases may not fit. Speaking of the waterproofing, the M2 Aqua is IP 65 and 68 rated, with Sony declaring it as the “world’s highest level of waterproofing available in a smartphone”. The rating means the Aqua is impervious to dust, low pressure water jets and can be submerged in up to 1.5 metres of water for 30 minutes.

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The phone will be available in black and white colours with release in Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific, for a mid-range price, at some point in the autumn.

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Sony announce the M2 aqua is original content from Coolsmartphone.com

HTC’s latest J Butterfly is a supercharged One M8 in a waterproof body

Japanese carrier KDDI has just announced a new HTC J Butterfly, a handset which resembles the HTC One in specs, but with features aimed at KDDI's home market. Like a lot of other Japanese devices, the 5-inch, full HD handset is waterproof in case you feel like taking fish photos. And to do so, the latest from HTC has brand new cameras: a 13-megapixel rear dual-camera model with a selfie-friendly 5-megapixel front shooter. That differs from the One M8's 4-megapixel Duo "Ultrapixel" camera. KDDI instead calls it a "Duo Effect" camera, with the secondary 2-megapixel module giving depth-of-field adjustment and other features. Filling out the spec sheet are a Snapdragon 801, 802.11ac WiFi, LTE-Advanced, 150Mbps 4g, 2GB of RAM, Android 4.4 KitKat, JBL audio profile (plus bundled earphones) and a Dot View case. All of that sounds pretty nice, but will it come to US shores? Hard to say, but the last J Butterfly model did eventually arrive as the Droid DNA (to Verizon), so we wouldn't be surprised to see the new model here too.

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Source: KDDI

Waterproof headphones ODOYO that really are waterproof

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I know what you need. Waterproof earphones, that’s what you need. I’ve lost count of the times that my in-ear buds have got wet and broken…

…errr…

OK so that’s never happened, but if you’ve hankering for a pair, these ODOYO EP900i earphones are available for £25 from Phones 4u. They’re “waterproof sport earphones” and, jokes aside, it actually means that you can listen to music underwater – up to a metre under! Go swimming or do other water sports while bopping away to the latest one from Ed Sheeran.

Just don’t ask me how you’re going to keep your phone dry if you plug these into that…

The headphones are also dustproof, shock proof and they’re freeze proof too.

Get some more details below. We couldn’t find these on the Phones 4u website, but they should be in store.

Waterproof headphones ODOYO that really are waterproof is original content from Coolsmartphone.com

The Samsung Galaxy S5 Active seems to have made an appearance

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Benchmarking programs are quite handy for people like me and also for manufacturers, allowing you to see how a device compares to other devices. Although sometimes people do make the mistake of being connected to the Internet and accidentally uploading the device details. Which for a non announced device is a little awkward.

Well once again another manufacturer has made that mistake and another device has been revealed. This time though it’s the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active.

The GFXBench benchmark database shows various things about this new device, which as expected will be slightly lower spec than the Galaxy S5. Here is what has been revealed.

- 5.1″ 1080p display.
- Snapdragon 800 processor.
- 2GB of RAM.
- 16-megapixel rear camera.
- 2-megapixel front-facing camera.
- 16GB of storage.
- Android 4.4.2 KitKat.

Costs will be cut so that they can add a higher level of water and dust proof. Keeping the cost lower or close to the existing Galaxy S5. It might even get announced in June at the next unpacked event. Design wise nothing has been revealed yet, but I’d expect a more rugged design like last year. Which to be honest I preferred over the Galaxy S4.

Source – SamMobile

The Samsung Galaxy S5 Active seems to have made an appearance is original content from Coolsmartphone.com

The Cat B15 gets some SERIOUS abuse

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Cat (who, incidentally, have a rather massive presence about 2 miles from here), asked me to “properly test” their Cat B15 smartphone I decided to put it through what I thought was the ultimate test. I gave it to my son and, after explaining that it was a “special phone”, I let him drop it in the bath and generally muck around with it. The results of that test can be seen here but…

.. the people at Cat went one stage further. They decided to get 600 of the B15 smartphones, line them up, then drive a blinkin’ great digger thing all over them. I’m talking 4 tonnes of honking great machinery rolling over the screens. Agghh.. the humanity!

So, if you’re after a tough smartphone that can survive getting dropped on the ground, dropped in water and generally abused, spend about £220 on one of these. They’re available from Amazon and many other SIM-free retailers. It runs Android 4.1 and has a 4″ screen with wet finger tracking, plus it’s dustproof, scratch resistant and can be dunked under a metre of water for up to 30 minutes. Here’s that last claim being put to the test in a way by my son..

The Cat B15 gets some SERIOUS abuse is original content from Coolsmartphone.com

Splash ! Ahhaaa! It’s a Bluetooth speaker

Whilst that was quite possibly the worst title for a review I could’ve come up with, the product itself is much better.
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First up, let’s have a look at the key selling points on this Bluetooth Splash Speaker. It’s available from Gizoo for £34.95 and, as the name has probably already revealed, is waterproof. It’s also got a 3W output and charges with the very same microUSB port you use for your phone.

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A flap at the bottom covers the charging point and 3.5mm aux cable, which you can use if Bluetooth isn’t your thing. Doing that isn’t ideal if you want to be waterproof though, as it’ll open up the innards to the elements.
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Out of the box it’s got a pretty distinctive tyre-tread outer design. The two treads are like something from a toy car that my son would use but there’s a good quality rubberised feel to them.

Bluetooth setup is easy enough and it sets up a Bluetooth 3.0 connection via the normal method after powering it on. Just hit the power button, it’ll bleep and flash a tiny LED inside the speaker and that’s pretty much your queue to initiate the Bluetooth setup on your phone. No PIN numbers to worry about, it just pairs and – once done – it’ll remember for next time.

The sound quality is very good, and I can testify to the volume after my son had it cranked up full blast while we were driving through our village. The people waiting at the bus stop could hear it well enough, so I’d say that was a success, even if the music in question was this..

That tough rubber exterior gave me more than enough confidence for my son to play with it and, likewise the buttons on top were both chunky and easy to use. Power, phone call, volume up and volume down.
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It measures in at 8.5 by 8.5 by 4.5cm so is really easy to carry around. The rubberised sides and strong construction were definitely reassuring.

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A long rubber strap is added to the top left of the speaker and means that you can hang this off your shower or belt without having to worry about getting it wet. Stick your phone somewhere dry and let this get splashed instead. Here’s a video showing the speaker getting soaked…

The sound quality was very good indeed, and I actually found the audio didn’t really need adjusting via any software equaliser – bass and treble were punchy enough and came through clearly without clashing.

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The battery inside lasts about 4 hours and, although I wouldn’t want to dunk this completely under water, it survived getting rained on and a few test showers too.

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Don’t forget that you can also use it as your hands-free device too, so you can make and receive calls whilst in the pool, on the beach or in the bath, if that’s where you like to do your business.

Thanks to Gizoo for the loan of the Splash Speaker, which is available for £34.95.

Splash ! Ahhaaa! It’s a Bluetooth speaker is original content from Coolsmartphone.com

HOYO wants to get you wet while you fondle your phone

Well that’s my New Years Resolution busted. I promised myself that I wouldn’t post another random Kickstarter project, but heck, I’ve lasted 21 days. :)

First though, a bit of a back-story. Mobile World Congress kicks off next month and, in my opinion, it’s more difficult than ever for a phone to make a really big impact.

Smartphones are now at a point where they’re really, really good. We’ve got excellent cameras, fast processors, brilliant connectivity and bags of storage. Battery life still needs a massive improvement, but apart from that it’s becoming harder to find that “edge” which will make your device stand out from the crowd.

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This year I’m expecting to see a lot more devices which work with smartphones making the headlines. We’ve already seen smartwatches, but it’s difficult to see just how popular they’ll become. Now, for me, is the time for accessory manufacturers to really shine so – in Barcelona a month from now – I’m expecting to see a lot of really interesting connected gadgets and accessories that’ll make your smartphone do more.

It kinda leads me to this, the HOYO. They’re after £25,000 to get the project off the ground and the guy behind it – George Sheety – is based here in London. It’s a product designed for people who really can’t leave their smartphone alone – not even when they’re soaping themselves up in the shower.

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It’s a waterproof pouch which, unlike normal waterproof cases, is easy to slide your phone into. There’s a few different designs, including a version which will sit inside your shower curtain or one that’ll sit next to your shower with a handy screw-cap to make the pouch waterproof quickly.

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It’ll let you keep an eye on your connected baby-monitor, watch videos, listen to online radio, browse the net or… err.. perhaps engage in a video call, if that’s your thing.

There’s a promotional video for the HOYO below, in which you’ll see some people making phone calls and singing along to YouTube videos whilst sponging themselves off. Whatever floats your boat I guess.

* Warning. Slightly irritating people in the shower.

What next? A phone holder for your toilet?

You can support the HOYO project here and you’ll get rewarded too..

Early supporters contributing £12 or more can choose to receive either one HOYO shower curtain kit or one HOYO wall kit and early supporters contributing £15 or more will receive a HOYO set that can be used either on a shower curtain or on the wall.

After the early bird specials are taken, supporters can give £15 or more to choose either one HOYO shower curtain kit or one HOYO wall kit. Supporters giving £18 or more receive one HOYO set that can be used either on a shower curtain or on the wall while supporters giving £30 or more receive the home set, which are two HOYO sets for use both in the shower and on the wall. Shipping in the United States and the United Kingdom is free.

Get more information within the press release below or on the Kickstarter site. I’ll leave it up to you guys to decide what you’d like to do with your smartphone while you’re showering yourself down.

HOYO wants to get you wet while you fondle your phone is original content from Coolsmartphone.com

TouchAbility Waterproof Cases – Reviewed

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We’ve already reviewed their gloves and now we’ve got the TouchAbility waterproof cases. These will let you protect your phone from the elements while you tweet live from the pool.

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The first is a soft-plastic “bag case” which costs £7.99 and I’ve got to point something out..

..you’ve seen them too haven’t you? People who take their phones out in the rain or on bike rides, but they use… a food bag.

This soft case isn’t one of those, but the top part acts a lot like the resealable bags. The clips one the upper section ensure that the resealable section is pressed shut precisely and it becomes completely waterproof.

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Take it out the box, pop your phone in the top….
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Then close the clips on the top to seal the case shut…
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..and you’re done.

This is compatible with the iPhone 4, 4S, 5 and many other handsets than and less than 5″ tall. Definitely measure your device first as some devices – like the Galaxy S3 or S4 – don’t fit. It also comes with a neck strap, something which is ideal for swimming. For most though, these waterproof pouches are great for joggers, cyclists and those wanting to use their phone in the rain without fear or the handset exploding.

This soft one is made from a flexible PVC and, luckily for me, it’s clear on both the front and rear (I got it in the wrong way around). Slot it in, close the clasps on the top and the device is still usable. It’s available in black or white and is available for £7.99. It’ll work up to 3 metres, which is pretty flipping good actually.

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The second case we have today is this hard case for £9.99. It’s dirt proof, water resistant, snow proof and offers scratch protection. Again it’ll work with phones up to 5″ and works up to 3 metres underwater. If you’re going camping or to the beach this is again an ideal solution. This time it’s a flexible yet hard case and it’s made from silicone, which really does a good job of clinging to the handset.

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It’s really easy to slot your phone in – perhaps easier than the soft version where you need to push the phone down inside from the top opening. It’s just a matter of removing the retaining clip and opening up the case like a book, then you pop your phone in, close it down and replace the retaining clip. It again has a neck strap and again you can use every part of the phone whilst the cover is on, although the power button on top was a little tricky to reach with both cases.

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Here’s a video to show the cases in action. I decided not to just splash the handsets, but to seriously DRENCH them to test the cases ;)

Overall

Well, as you can see above, the phone I used in the test survived the hosepipe test and both cases performed perfectly when submerged. The soft case was, at times, a little tricky to use because the phone had to be pushed in from the opening at the top and then pulled back out again in the same manner. I can only equate it to that moment when you try and fit your sandwiches in one of those sandwich bags. Sure, they’ll fit, but there’s a certain amount of wiggling and jiggling. That said, I did like the clips at the top which certainly made sealing the device a simple task.

The hard case was extremely easy to use, and I liked how the material clung – almost like cling-film – to the screen on the device. It was just a matter of removing that bottom clip, opening the case, dropping in your phone and then sliding the clip back up. Simple, easy and quick.

Both did their job perfectly and I was able to use the phone and most of the functions (I couldn’t press any buttons on the side of the phone). If you do have a handset which is awoken by a press of a power button on the top of the device then you may have to pop open the hard case to press that (I could just about do it on the soft case), but if you’re headed out for a fishing trip, a boating holiday, day at the beach or you’re walking around in the rain I’d definitely recommend both. If you can afford it, go for the slightly-more-expensive hard case in my opinion though as it’s so easy to just get going.

TouchAbility Waterproof Soft Case (£7.99)TouchAbility Hard Case (£9.99)

TouchAbility Waterproof Cases – Reviewed is original content from Coolsmartphone.com

Underwater for more than three months, Nokia Lumia continues to work

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Drop your phone in a lake and, well, you’re pretty much stuffed. However, Roger Nilsson found his Nokia Lumia again some three and a bit months later.

There it was, jammed between two rocks at low tide. Roger snapped a picture of it and sent his story to the Nokia Sweden Facebook page. He tells us that…

I took it home and started to clean it as best I could, (there were) shells and sh*t on (the) display, green goo around the entire phone and some other stuff. (I) let it dry on a radiator and then I put the charger cable in..

Imagine my surprise when it boots up as usual! Everything works just like before, the camera is great, battery life is two days and so on.

Now, this is a phone which isn’t sold as being waterproof, and to retrieve if after so long then have it work perfectly – well, that’s something quite surprising indeed.
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Underwater for more than three months, Nokia Lumia continues to work is original content from Coolsmartphone.com