Smart phones, tablets, and laptops do lots of things well, but providing great sound quality usually isn't one of them. The small speakers in many of these devices produce audio that you could charitably call weak or even tinny. So what do you do if you're sharing tunes with friends or you want to listen to music or enjoy a video without putting on a pair of headphones?
With smart-phone theft reaching epidemic proportions, a coalition of more than 50 law enforcement agencies, scholars, consumer advocates—including Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports—and others is demanding that smart phone makers add a 'kill switch' (a mechanism that can shut down a device remotely) to phones in order to decrease their attractiveness to thieves.
LG and Pantech, two companies that barely made a blip in the smart-phone world until recently, are churning out noteworthy models that earn high scores in Consumer Reports Ratings. Two of their most recent entries, the LG Optimus G Pro and Pantech Perception, have ultra-sharp displays, clever document-editing options, and intriguing features found on higher-priced rivals. Here are the details:
Apple today unveiled its upcoming iOS 7 mobile operating system, which includes a more-elegant-looking interface and a unique poison-pill approach to thwarting device theft.
BMW has announced upgrades to its ConnectedDrive suite of telematics safety and convenience features for 2014 models, including the ability to access Apple's Siri or Android S-Voice interactive features through a button on the steering wheel.
Based on our latest nationally representative survey of adult Internet users, Consumer Reports projected that 1.6 million American consumers were victims of smart phone theft in 2012. A variety of possible solutions are being proposed by law enforcement and industry experts.
More than 18 months ago, Google Wallet was launched on the Sprint cellular network amid hoopla that payment-by-smart-phone technology at cashiers nationwide would replace your plastic debit and credit cards. Since then, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have begun testing their own Isis Mobile Wallet, and other companies have also jumped on the bandwagon.
Several major U.S. banks are beta-testing a new way to give you access to your mobile banking account, which could mark the beginning of the end for your password headaches, according to Toby Rush, CEO of EyeVerify, a Kansas City, Kan., technology firm.
The LG Optimus G Pro, exclusively available now from AT&T for $200 with a two-year contract, is essentially a supersized version of the Optimus G, one of the highest-scoring models in our Ratings of smart phones. But with its 5.5-inch display, the G Pro also invites comparisons to the popular Samsung Galaxy Note II. The Optimus colossus lacks the Note II's stylus and the floating-preview options that come with it, but it compensates with other capabilities, including the unique ability to "zoom in" on conversations while using the phone's camcorder.
At BlackBerry Live 2013, the company announced that the latest version of the BlackBerry 10 OS, version 10.1, will be available for download on the BlackBerry Z10 as of today. BlackBerry also announced the Blackberry Q5, a QWERTY keyboard smart phone with a 3.1-inch display—but it's targeted for emerging markets.
AT&T's new Aio Wireless (pronounced A-O) service is the company's answer to T-Mobile's recent radical switch to simpler, lower-cost, no-contract plans for phones and tablets. Like T-Mobile, Aio Wireless offers unlimited talk, text, and data without a contract, starting at $40 a month—much less than a traditional contract plan from AT&T and the other major carriers.
While the BlackBerry Z10, launched in January, was the first smart phone to run on the company's revamped operating system. But its most radical aspect was the absence of a physical keyboard—this from a brand that inspired the term "BlackBerry Thumb," the medical condition caused by repeated tapping of the tiny buttons on mobile devices. Now the BlackBerry Q10 gives longtime 'Berry' loyalists a phone that boasts both the new OS and a physical keyboard—a very good one, too, I found.
Our testers put 100s of products through their paces at our National Testing and Research Center. Learn more about how we test for: