Is Mystic Bronze Actually Pink?

After frequenting the Galaxy Fold owners forums and subreddits, one of the biggest and most asked questions is in relation to Samsungs new colour ‘Mystic Bronze’. Whilst it sounds all mysterious with the marketing panache of Apple’s colours — what people really want to know is if it is pink, and if so how pink is it really.

This is a difficult question to answer. Not because there isn’t enough of them about, there are loads of hands on videos and review of both the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and also the Galaxy Z Fold 2 — with Samsung providing Mystic Bronze to every reviewer. More so because there is a lot to take into account when deciding on a colour as complex as this one.


Much like the new Midnight Green colour that the iPhone 11 Pro comes in, Mystic Bronze looks different in different lights. Its matte texture adds to the colour shift and in many instances it appears very bronze coloured. Looking straight on at the phone you would be hard pushed to call the colour anything other than a muted bronze. However when you look at the phone in your hand, the camera bump, rings around the camera sensors and also the top and bottom edges have a much more Pink hue to them.

Note 20 Ultra 2 2It is only when you place the phone next to contrasting colours such as dark jeans or a dark desk, that you really see the pink hue come to life. In comparison to something that is actually is bronze coloured there is really no comparison to the colour. While this defiantly isn’t rose gold, its not bronze either.

Adding A Case

You’d think that this could be mediated by putting a case on your phone, and while that is a great idea in principle it actually adds to the Pink colour. By isolating the Camera unit the phone takes on more of a pink vibe and may make some people even more unhappy. So bare this in mind if you are thinking about getting this colour.
Note 20 Ultra 1 1Personally I think this colour is great and those that go for it will be very happy with its overall finish and it’s resistance to finger prints. However bear in mind that this phone defiantly is pinkish.


Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G Review

About 10 months ago, I was invited down by Samsung KX to have a few hours hands on with their first folding phone. Mere months after it had been recalled due to major issues with the device, it was back with a bang, and already picking up quite a following. The appeal of having a tablet folded up in your pocket had a much larger pull than the £1500 price tag, as was the exciting move forward in technology that Samsung had been teasing for years.

Despite really liking the phone, it wasn’t ready for me to splash my own cash on it, there were far too many compromises with handset for me to bear. Fast-forward to now as the second version goes on sale, with many of the first versions issues fixed — but with a hefty price increase. Has Samsung done enough to justify the £1800 ($2000) price tag?

Premium Feel

There are lots of people that get annoyed when you talk about the price of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 in reviews. They think that this shouldn’t be brought into it as there is nothing that lives up to the Folds usability. While this true, it is impossible to escape the £1800 price tag and the expectations it brings with it. You expect a premium smartphone with top of the line specs — and that is exactly what you get from the handset. In the hand it feels nothing short of magical, the weight (282g) is impossible to describe as anything else but heavy, but in the hand it is balanced perfectly.

Especially folded, the unit sinks into your hand with a reassuring heft. Samsung have done some great engineering to get all the technology in this size package, but you feel the weight every time you use it. There are no creaks or cracks from this Uber Smartphone, so the engineering needs some special appreciation when compared to others on the market.

Samsung have developed the hinge much further forward when compared to last years unit, and taken over much of the function from the Z Flip. Four CAM hinges allow the phone to be oped to whichever angle you wish, and provides more resistance to opening to allow more usability. Combined with a sweeper system to remove dust from the hinge should mean that this unit resists the issues plaguing the first attempt, and certainly those still using the Z Flip support this claim.

This re-engineered hinge further adds to the premium feel for the Galaxy Z Fold 2, where every part of the hardware feels thought through and designed to exude a certain type of extravagant image. As Flossy Carter says, you are going to see lots of images of these on tables surrounded by glasses of Cristal. There is a certain exuberance to the Galaxy Fold 2, and lots of flexing going on simply because it delivers on it premium price tag.

Screens

Perhaps the number one complaint against the first version of the Galaxy Fold was the tiny cover screen. While perfectly useful for notification triaging, on a device so futuristic it felt out of place. So, understandably this is the first thing that is immediately obvious when using the Fold 2. The cover screen now fills almost the entirety of the front of the phone minus a small hole punch camera cut out.

At 6.2” (2260×816 – 386ppi – 60hz ) the cover screen is now more usable, and even if a bit narrow to type on, is perfect for quick tasks or responding to notifications. Enabling swiping on the keyboard makes interacting with the keyboard at bit easier, but this is not to say it is impossible. The tall, narrow screen is perfectly suited to scrolling through emails or social media. Using the cover screen grows on you more than the last version ever did, and I found myself interacting with it much more than I thought I would.

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However, why have a huge screen and not use it, open up the fold and the beauty of the screen is a wonder to behold. Samsung have done away with the huge notch from the first version as well as boosting the size and refresh rate (2208×1768 – 373ppi – 120hz). Dubbed the ‘Infinity Flex’ display, it goes closer to the edge now, encompassing the whole of the device, bar Samsungs signature hold punch.

Apps in use on the cover screen carry over to the inside screen (bar a little bit of weirdness from some), to give you something truly immersive. When using the inner screen it feels like you are moving pixels around the screen. The adaptive display varies refresh rate from 11zh all the way up to 120hz, meaning that no matter that you are doing you will get great battery life and also a smooth scrolling experience. The Jelly scroll that the original fold suffered from is not completely removed but almost impossible to spot.

It’s hard to find a downside to this gorgeous display, games look great, reading is brilliant and videos immersive. When open the device feels balanced and perfectly poised in your hand for media consumption, and many users will see little reason to use anything else for all of their needs. The inner display is truly why you would buy the Galaxy fold, and this version truly delivers.

Of course there is one, the screen has a crease in the middle that is hard to avoid. Much like any other foldable, you can feel it in usage, you can see it in some instances but not every one. The great thing is that it does not take away anything when you are using the device, it doesn’t stick out and in fact soon fades into the background like a notched screen, or the camera hole punch.

Usability

So, you want to actually use the thing right? Well all of that reassuring weight we have spoken about, it’s also going to affect it in your pocket and in your hand. There is no getting away from this phone/tablet hybrid being heavy. I found myself struggling to hold it up when open, and resorted to using both hands most of the time — but that’s the point right.

In this heavy package you get two screens, and battery life that will get you loads of screen onetime if you use the larger screen most of the time — and considerably more if you use the outer screen more. Even in the first week of me using the Fold 2 and playing with it what felt like constantly, I would still be at more than 25% when going to bed. You should comfortably be able to get 6hours of screen on time and still have battery left over, which is amazing results considering battery life should also get better as the OS analyses my usage and improves things. If the next model slims things down, I would hope that battery life stays as good as it is because an increase in weight is worth it.

You can’t expect a Galaxy fold to be as light as a regular phone can you, this is simply the trade off with wanting and using one of these devices. While something like the Z flip balances the reassuring weight without feeling clumsy, the Z Fold feels a little unwieldy when out and about. Bending the phone slightly helps to fit it better in your hand, but obviously adds a little distortion to the screen.

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Flex Mode

Expanding on the special mode introduced with the Z Flip, the Z Fold 2 allows apps to take advantage of a partially folded state. As an example Youtube in Flex mode shows a video on the top half of the screen, allowing you to interact with the comments on the bottom half. Google Duo also supports this as does the native camera app.

The limited nature of this and the lack of visual clues means you may spend a bit of time experimenting to find out what does and doesn’t support it — and often this is more no than yes. I am yet to find any reason to use it outside of novelty, especially given the lack of people actually using Google Duo. I wouldn’t go out of my way to encourage others to use it, just so I can flex my phone.

More often that not, a partial flexed form is used simply to enable me to set my phone down and still watch a video, or prop it up to keep an eye on the time. As app developers update apps we might see some more innovative use of flex mode, but given the lack of support so far I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Tablet Mode

Which leads me into another issue with app support, and the lack of tablet layout from apps. It could be the weird aspect ratio, it could be Android apps as a whole, but many apps make little use of the bigger screen.

Apps like Outlook are a delight to use, and offer different layouts and view options, but most just put more content on the screen with no options to increase text size or improve readability. Samsung does offers options in settings to choose between blowing the app up or trying to force more content. Combined with further options in Samsungs own Goodlock app, you can tune most things to work, but it takes a considerable amount of work.

Muti-Tasking Master

All these words can be ignored if you want the biggest screen possible on a smartphone to do your ‘stuff’. If you need a device to work on the go, consume loads of media, or just want to blow everything up as large as possible you’ll put up with all the downsides.

Samsung have put in a great deal of work to make the Fold 2 take advantage of the large inner screen and make it as useful as possible. It is a delight to use two apps side by side when multi taking. Having email and calendar up on the screen while talking on the phone, or simply watching YouTube while texting is quite frankly a transformative experience. Sure you can do that on a tablet, but you can’t then fold it up and put it in your pocket. If being productive on the go is your bag, then this needs to be your phone.

I am on the fence about how usable Flex mode is, but the amazing app pairing done by OneUI is something that you may struggle to live without. Other phones such as the Note20 Ultra do this as well, but nowhere near on the same level.

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Software

The Galaxy Z Fold 2 runs on Android 10 and has Samsungs One UI 2.5 on top of this to add in additional features. It comes bundled with the expected Google services but also several Microsoft ones baked in, such as syncing your photos to OneDrive. There is very little to say about Android nowadays, as it functions exactly as expected and is intuitive to use. The tie with Microsoft is due to get stronger with improvements to note and reminders syncing with MS products as they take aim at productivity customers.

Unfortunately, for Samsung, they seem to never really get services 100% correct. Photo sync only works with a Microsoft account, not a Microsoft 365 account which is frankly bizarre. A Microsoft 365 calendar does not sync to the stock calendar unless you instal the Samsung email app, yet you are encouraged to use Outlook.

Samsung does provide, in my opinion, the best extension or ‘skin’ on Android around today. Samsung’s design and user experience are often a delight to use. They have really thought about a modern design that doesn’t deviate too far from stock Android design, but offers something uniquely Samsung. Of course that is a subject view point, but since OneUI was introduced the design and implementation of their software has improved dramatically.

I just wish Samsung didn’t feel the need to fill their apps full of adverts, or useless information at every turn. Even the default weather app has news articles and rubbish crammed in it for no good reason. I know it takes very little to change these apps to others, I just don’t expect to see these kinds of things in default apps on an £1800 phone. Some users have already reported adverts and the usual shady tactics by Samsung, something that needs to be fixed if they want to be taken seriously.

Changes to your life

When you adopt the Fold 2 it changes the way you use your phone. Both in a positive and a negative way. The large screen allows you to do things that you simply can’t any other phone, it provides something that only the Z Fold can provide. It is in essence a folding tablet, and there are adjustments you will have to make to the way you use it.

Taking out the Fold 2 and walking around gives you a level of anxiety that nothing else has given me. The slippery body and high price tag make me nervous every time my phone makes a noise. There are already reports of some dropages, and it seems to hold up pretty well, but the lack of cases and expected large repair bills leave me worried, and I am not the only one. Due to longevity worries on the UTG screen and no IP rating, users are worried even about cleaning the device correctly.

The inner screen still has a tendency to scratch easily, and you’ll need to take some extra care. You won’t be using this at the beach, or throwing it into the bottom of a bag, but if long-time users of other foldable phones are anything to go by it should hold up ok. It is just another thing you need to think about when choosing a device like this.

I have to treat this phone with an extra amount of care, and in some instances change the way I use it. Which is what a foldable device dictates, you are carrying around a huge screen in your pocket and as such you’ll be opening it as much as possible to really take advantage. The screen draws you in and makes many tasks much easier, such as typing out a long email on the split keyboard.

Camera

If there is anything I can point the finger at that is simply not good enough it is the camera. There is nothing inherently wrong with the shooter, but at this super flagship price point it is simply not good enough.

You can get some good shots from it, but be prepared to work for them and chuck 30-40% of them in the bin. In good light you are going to be happy with almost everything you take, despite not holding the most amount of detail they could, shots are bright and as with all Samsung images retain a vibrant saturation. In any other situation they are grainy, washed out and suffer from some kind of strange skin smoothing effort despite the option being switched off.

When trying to discus this with others that have the phone you are told to use Pro mode and do this and that, or simply blamed for the results. While it great that these options exist for you to have control over the image you take, I don’t feel you should have to do this is take a good shot. Undoubtedly the Galaxy Z Fold 2 gets the job done but when great cameras like the iPhone 11, Pixel 4 and OnePlus 8 take images with zero input, this camera falls well short of what I expect.

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There are other things you get with this phones camera that no one else provides. The huge screen is the best view finder possible, even if it does feel like you’re one of those people that takes pictures with a tablet. As well as the software ‘flex mode’ allowing you to set the phone down half flexed to stabilise your image, or simply view images you have snapped in the bottom half. Bear in mind though you have to place the phone down on its screen to do this.

Conclusion

While I would stop short of recommending this phone to others because of cost and the ways in which you need to change the way you use your phone, for a certain type of user this is going to be invaluable. It provides something to no other device on the market can provide, not just in the way it works, but the way it makes you feel. You feel as though you are using a little slice of the future and getting something out of your phone that no-one else does.

I can somewhat forgive the camera because I am getting a folding device that immerses me into whatever I want to do. You can play games, multi-task and consume media on this like no other device can and that speaks volumes. I love the Galaxy Z Fold 2 because it has that little something about it, it’s not the best at everything but it provides something unique and does it brilliantly.

If you really want a folding tablet, then look no further than this model. It fixes all the issues from the first one and puts them in a premium package that feels worth very bit of the price you are paying. But let’s be clear, to buy the Galaxy Z Fold 2 you need to really want a folding tablet because you will pay for it. Both in the high price tag and also in the caveats of having such a large device.

It comes down to do the advantages of having such a large screen to use, out weigh the downsides of carrying it around on your pocket all the time. For me, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 feels like wearing your winter coat all year because it is cold half the time, but for others this is going to be a game changer.

Wahoo Element Bolt Review

Wahoo Element Bolt Hero

I know exactly what you’re thinking. What exactly is this thing and how can I use this with my iPad? Well, this is something completely different, something I use for my new love cycling, but it’s still a gadget and well worth a review. So here are my thoughts on the Wahoo Element Bolt from my relatively new to cycling point of view.

There are loads of opinions out there already about what bit of kit to get to display your cycling info. Wahoo Element Bolt reviews are mainly written by almost professional cyclists, so I hoping my opinions and thoughts fit in somewhere for those of us not putting out unbelievable times. Indeed technology like this isn’t new, but its leaps and bounds above what was capable only a few years ago. From my novice experience of riding, this is my first computer since those cheap little boxes that you had to attach a magnet to your spokes, but when considering upping your game and spending a bit more time in the saddle there are only two things to consider.

Tracking All The Things

Do you want to track everything with your phone, and if not, do you buy a Garmin or a Wahoo? The more established Garmin has plenty of fans, but the real attraction for me was the huge battery life leap from the Wahoo, and the relatively cheep price. Yes this thing is going to set you back around £190, but it gives you an all singing all dancing cycle computer that should last you years.

The normal metrics are on board. Screens can be customised to show you speed, time, distance, power, heart rate, elevation and many more. So purists can see this live, review it later and export all the information their heart desires. That wasn’t why I bought this though. I am pretty sure that’s not why anyone would spend this kind of money on a training aid, because it can be done cheaper. Really the beauty of the Wahoo Element Bolt is its integrations with tools that make your cycling better.

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It offers turn by turn navigation, live tracking links to share with friends, route planning and wireless connection to a whole range of other products. This little black box has very quickly become one of my favourite things. Not because it gives me power output and speed information, because it lets me plan my route ahead of time and tells me where to go.

It has taken me from doing the same old routes to exploring more and finding my way around with confidence. I knew my local back roads very little considering I have lived here for more than 10 years, but using the companion app or online services live Strava, I can plot out a ride and complete it with much less stress. I am sure all the analytics displayed are important to those more deeply into cycling, but that’s just not me at the moment.

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Smart Connection

Initial setup of the Wahoo Element Bolt requires very little user input, but it does require a smartphone to set it up on first boot. After using it for signing in and setting up, you will also need the companion app connected if you want to customise anything. This wont be an issue for almost anyone but unfortunately as with all companion apps, it is terribly designed. Thankfully the Element app is very easy to use and understand. Here you can also connect your Wahoo Element Bolt to other services such as Strava, Komoot and even Apple Health on iOS.

You can also connect the Wahoo Element to other Bluetooth and WiFi extras such as heart rate monitors, power sensors and loads of other options. If like me you have the Shimano DI2 with wireless you can even set up the two buttons on the shifters to change pages on the Wahoo. You can connect it to just about anything and any service imaginable.

Using Apple Health to triage all of your rides is a great tool, and counts towards your daily move goal as long as you sync through Strava. For some reason I couldn’t get the Wahoo Element app to give Apple Health any calorie information, yet Strava does after a bit of setup. Unless you need to change the screens of the unit or check for an update reliance on the smartphone app is minimal if you use other services such as Strava. Allowing customisation through the app is a clever decision and removes the need for a touchscreen on the unit meaning interaction is done by good old trusty buttons.

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This is great if you live somewhere like the UK and need to wear gloves often. The three buttons on the front and two on the side allow for changing pages of information or zooming in and out of the displayed navigation map. The screen is bright and easy to read whatever the weather. Despite being criticised as only being black and white I think this is the right decision for ease of use.

If you are the type of rider that takes your phone out with you so you stay connected, the Wahoo Element Bolt will also flash up messages and phone calls if you wish. Meaning you will still be contactable when out and about. The screen will show a preview of any messages, with customisable sound and LED alerts to something that needs your attention.

The strip of LEDs across the top can also be customised to alert you to different kinds of things. From Strava sections, to navigation alerts or your training metrics you want to highlight. This unit really does have it all for beginners to elite athletes.

Better By Design

Wahoo have made several design choices when producing the Element Bolt that all play together to build a complete package. Decisions such as the black and white screen don’t detract from the unit in anyway, save battery life and increase the visibility when out cycling. Something that may seem like a ‘con’ when compared to much of the Garmin range is actually the right decision.

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This rings even more true when you consider that battery life is absolutely insane. I have never used an alternative, however Wahoo claim it is up to 300% better than the Garmin 520 and even a 3 hour ride while navigating clips the battery by only 40%. Given the size of the Wahoo Element Bolt, that is pretty amazing battery life.

Wahoo have also thought about the Aerodynamics of the unit when designing. Claiming 50% less drag than competitors, with a sleek and all in one deign that clips safe and secure to its holder with zero fuss. I’m not looking to shave seconds off my ride here, but I appreciate something well designed and doesn’t look like you’ve attached a huge tablet to your handlebars. The Wahoo Element Bolt will pretty much go unnoticed when you don’t need it, but provide everything when you do.

Conclusion

With all of this packed into hardware that Wahoo claims has 50 percent less drag than a Garmin Edge 520, and triple the battery life there isn’t a lot not to love. If your buying this to shave off a few seconds in a time trial, its got you covered. If indeed your training had reached it peak and you need another push forward, this will help. However if you need something to help you get out and about a bit more and help you along the way as an enthusiast then the Wahoo Element Bolt is pretty perfect too.

Charty: Plot Data Directly From Shortcuts

If you’ve followed me for a while, you will already know my love of iOS automation. I am not Chris Lawley level of obsessed, but anything to make my daily life easier and I am all in! Shortcuts (and before that Workflow) is by far my favourite app for doing this, but the real beauty of Shortcuts is all the apps it plugs into. Almost everything on your home-screen can be automated, and a whole lot more. New app Charty is aiming to remove the hassle of creating graphs and charts, and launches today.

This is one of those apps that at first you dismiss, but when actually looking around the app you realise just how helpful it can be. That’s because developer Rodrigo Araújo has thought about almost every aspect of the app. Building on the success of his first app ChartStat he aims to make it easy for everyone to visualise any kind of data.

Image 06 05 2020 07 57 1There are 27 examples already included in the app ready to be imported into Shortcuts. These powerful Shortcuts can plot data you probably already have on your phone but don’t really look at that often. Displaying them in any of the available 5 different types – bar, line, scatter, pie and donut.

From there it is amazingly easy to create powerful algorithms that process and create your visualisations from inside Shortcuts. The really great things is that now you can begin to not only collect and store data using Shortcuts, but also combine it with utilities such as DataJar to build really powerful tools.

I have been using this quite a bit to plot out my heart rate changes over time, and my distance cycled due to my attempt to get fitter. The graphs in Apple Health are very restrictive so I am over the moon this app makes it easy for me to compare and highlight fitness issues. The graphs are amazingly customisable so I see exactly what I am exporting. I can then send these wherever I like to save and refer back to later.

In my limited use the app has already proved really helpful. Everyone should give it a go just for the amazing alternative icons. With that said I expect to see Matt Birchler really putting this to work over the next few weeks — he loves a graph!

Charty is available now for free with 4 Shortcut actions available — New Chart, Add Series To Chart, Delete Chart and Get Information From All Chart. You can upgrade the app for a one off payment of $4.99 to get extra shortcuts actions as well as a whole load of extras, but if you purchase this within the first month of release it will only be $2.99.

MX Master 3: A Master Pointer For Most

For years of my life, I have never strayed away from the mouse supplied with my computer. That usually meant horrible PC vendors attempts and more recently an Apple Magic mouse or trackpad. There isn’t much magic about these mice, and it’s only when you use one all day every day that you realise just how uncomfortable it is. Sure you can use gestures, but it’s just far too flat and unergonomic.

With this, my journey into finding a suitable mouse lead me down far too many YouTube rabbit holes – but I landed on the Logitech MX Master 3.  As you may already be able to tell this is the third iteration of Logitechs well thought after MX Master range. This new version is an iteration on the first few but offers a few tweaks and changes that make it a worthy upgrade and the best version to date.

Ergonomics

I don’t think I am alone in thinking that the most important thing from a mouse is comfort. It can have as many buttons and gestures on it as you like, but if it’s shaped weird or just wrong for your working position, then you’re going to struggle. The high curves and comfortable rounded edges of this mouse make it one of the most comfortable I have had the pleasure of using – as long as you’re right-handed of course. The MX Master 3 fits perfectly into my hand, and also anyone else that has laid ether hands on it.

There is something weird about other people using this mouse because it feels so personal to you. The customisation options and buttons feel part of you and the way you work. It’s full click things, glowing things and more scrolling stuff than you can shake a stick at. When you think you’ve found them all, Logitech throws a few more in there hidden under the thumb rest or underneath your palm.

What they didn’t include was a place to store the accompanying dongle, but I’m not sure if you need this with modern laptops and tablets. Mine is still sitting in the box after using it once. However, this mouse offers a vast range of connectivity to Mac, PC and iOS.

If you’re stuck, it works over USB and not only that you can charge it and use it at the same time! What a revelation. Battery life is ridiculous for the charging time it needs. Plug it into a USB cable and leave it an hour and you’ll be good to go for a reported 70 hours. In fact, in the two months, I have been using it I have charged it twice and been using it upwards of 6 hours a day.

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The great thing third party mice usually allow you to do is to have multiple devices set up at once. The MX Master 3 is no different, allowing you to switch between 3 different options at the touch of a button. Meaning you can switch to using a different computer or as I have seamlessly switch between macOS and iOS with the touch of a button. If you know the pain of having to unpair and repair that Apple requires, you’ll understand why this is a massive deal. When using the MX Master 3 with iOS and the new 13.4 update it works very well indeed. However you miss out on all of the customisations and some of the gestures — so this isn’t all good news.

The multi-paring options are for those that may use a different machine at home and work, or perhaps switch between a desktop and laptop, which is where maybe the black magic function of the MX Master 3 comes to light. Logitech Flow introduces another level above universal copy and paste. Only by having your devices on the same wi-fi network, you can seamlessly copy and paste files from one machine to another, even across operating systems.

Logi-Options: Loads Of Them

What is most surprising is that they manage to do this with minimal setup and a lot less hassle than I expected. You will need to grant Logi-options, the supporting software, some permission when installing. Still, in exchange, you get the ability to customise every single button and scroll wheel on the device to your liking. It doesn’t just stop at tracking or double click speed like some pointers. There are what seems like limitless options to customise all interaction and even change this depending on what application you are using. Especially great for those with very particular workflows or interaction needs.

Logitech provides a few default profiles and will offer to install these for you so you can see what other people use for each app. However, it takes very little time to build up a robust handful of shortcuts for your most-used functions. For example, I have set the forward button to act as a shortcut back to Selection (V) in Illustrator and the back button as the pen tool (P) — these are my most used tools, and I switch back and forth all the time. This may seem pointless because these are straight forward keyboard shortcuts, but I can worry about other things instead of reaching out for my keyboard.

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I was soon saving loads of time adopting shortcuts into my workflow and scrolling around with ease in almost every application I have. The MX Master 3 features both a horizontal and vertical scroll wheel for the ultimate ability to move around a canvas or scroll through your timeline. The most interesting of which is the vertical one, which now uses magnets to minimise noise and remove wear and tear. It still retains the easy switching between tense and free-scrolling that other versions have – the downside of which means I leave it spinning for way longer than I should. What can I say it’s my desk fidget spinner.

One of the best buttons to master (excuse the pun) on this mouse is the gesture button. By using the button under your thumb, it allows you to have five different shortcuts built-in. Press to open mission control, hold and move backwards for expose, or side to side to switch between apps. If you don’t currently use gestures on your Magic Mouse or Trackpad, the MX Master 3 will persuade you to start using multiple desktops and master expose for good.

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TL;DR

All these words above boil down to one thing. This is the best mouse you can buy for productivity. It’s going to cost a little more, but it’s going to speed up your workflow no end. The MX Master 3 is overkill if you don’t spend a lot of time at your desk, but it’s the real deal for everyone else. One of the few things I haven’t suffered any buyer remorse over for a long time and I don’t see myself going back to uncomfortable Apple mice ever again.

48 Hours With The Galaxy Z Flip

It isn’t very often something truly new comes to market. All right we’ve seen folding phones before, but not one this particular way, and not one available to the  mass market. The Galaxy Fold was horrendously expensive and had some longevity concerns, and as yet you can’t buy the Moto Razr other than on an expensive 24 month contract on EE. So when the chance came for me to not only get hands on with one but use one – I got a tad over excited.

Ok, the Galaxy Z Flip has some longevity concerns of its own, but I don’t think that is enough to dismiss such a new device.  It’s easy to be dismissive of something that doesn’t fit into your vision of what a device should be. Yet all others around me got excited when I first took the phone out of the box and that speaks volumes. All the insides of the Z Flip box are standard Samsung, yet when you take the phone out and peel off the plastic, something entirely different happens.

The device feels sturdy and reassuring, well built and engineered, but not bulky or uncomfortable. Not only much more comfortable and lighter than an iPhone 11, but considerably taller and slimmer. I am reminded of the memes that were made around the time of the iPhone 5 launch, and when you use a device like the Galaxy Z Flip and indeed the Note10 line, it shows how right Apple were back then. A slimmer taller screen is better in almost every way.

Real Talk After The Fold

The folding screen of the Z Flip is both marvelled and ridiculed at each point by technology commentators, but you can’t argue its usefulness. You may scoff and think that the Galaxy Fold is a much more useful device, but that the Z flip does allow me to have a 6.7″ screen device, but not feel one in my pocket. When not in use the device slims down to about the same size as a coaster, all be it a heavier one that feels a little weird in your pocket.

When in use the screen is comically tall, there is no getting around it. One handed use can be a little clumsy if the app you’re using is top-heavy, but a tall screen gives you a great way to consume written content, be it social media, emails or blog posts. I love reading on this device because it’s much more suited to 90% of web usage and fits nicely in your palm. The screen itself is bright and vivid, some will scoff at it ‘only’ being 1080p but it does it’s job well with no issues.

Galxy Z Flip In Hand 1The only issue with scrolling vertically on this screen in particular is the crease in the middle. It is unavoidable, you can see it, and anyone that says otherwise is mistaken. It sticks out like a sore thumb, mainly when using a dark UI (which I much prefer) or when the screen is empty of content. Even if you get used to seeing the crease after a few days of use like the notch on the iPhone; you feel it every time you swipe around and if you want a folding phone you have to find a way to make peace with this fact.

Minimalist Phone?

That shouldn’t put you off though, the crease is unapologetic. It is there the first time you pick the device up and won’t go away. But it also shouldn’t get any worse, because it is purposely put there by Samsung in the factory, so it doesn’t develop over time. It doesn’t go as far as ruining your experience of the phone; it is just something that is a trade-off for having a folding phone at this point in time. If having a crease in the screen bothers you, steer clear, but it’s a worthwhile trade-off for being able to fold your phone in half and put it away.

While we are here, it seems logical to talk about folding the phone in half, because you won’t be able to stop – perhaps ever. The hinge gives tactical feedback but also provides a smooth transition. Samsung says its a semi-rigid hinge, allowing for it to be used in that weird half folded way that Samsung thinks will appeal to ‘influencers’. So gone is the click into place that Galaxy Fold had when opening, to be replaced by a more pleasant experience. Unfortunately, you won’t be doing the communicator flip open like the devices of old – well you can, but it doesn’t work very well.

There is also a finality of closing the Z Flip that you don’t get with other devices. Something akin to putting the lid down on your laptop. It draws a line under your phone usage and puts it away. It will help those looking to minimalise their phone usage because the screen is now away and out of tempting site. It’s not as if you can do anything on the ridiculous front screen anyway.

If Samsung are going for a way to minimalist your phone, they hit the nail on the head, because the front display is ridiculous. Perhaps not in a wrong way, but I wish they have thought about using it a little more. Not going as far as they did with the Galaxy Fold, but an active display similar to the Razr would have been perfect. You are not going to do anything with this screen except glimpse notifications when they come in and check the time.

DSC0029 1I don’t want to comment on battery life much further than to say that I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t last you a day of usage. During my two days taking photos and playing with the phone, it still has more than 25% battery left after taking it off charge at 7 am. After a bit more usage, I will share full battery life expectations.

Camera

On the initial set up and test, I was disappointed with the performance of the camera, but there was a software update waiting for that improved things dramatically. I have a feeling this update is not installed on demo devices and some hands on versions I have seen, so perhaps take some video revews with a small pinch of salt.

I have to prefaces all my words with the fact I am not a fan of the processing done by Samsungs cameras. They often look overly processed sometimes downright ridiculous colour saturation in them. I prefer something much more natural-looking, and I am undeniably used to iPhone images.

As well as the usual family snaps, I took the Galaxy Z Flip with me on a day out to The Deep Aquarium, mainly because it is often one of the most challenging environments to get good snaps in. Dark rooms, with brightly lit tanks full of colourful fish that don’t stay still. I must say I am very impressed with its performance, not everything came out perfectly, but there were very few pictures I had to delete. At times I have often struggled to make Samsung cameras work for me, even as recently as the Note 10+ – having to turn features off and dial back processing – but this is not one of these times. Find a gallery below.

Galaxy Z Flip Around The Home

 

Conclusion

I am at a certain point in my life where each iPhone is as boring as the last one. I am excited by what other brands are doing and am always tempted to use something else but never do. I never want to say I will or won’t do anything else but switch back to an iPhone but using the Z Flip has opened my eyes to a brand new world. I enjoy the feel of having a much smaller device in my pocket and folding it out when needed – and to be honest, I also said this about the Galaxy Fold.

The Galaxy Z Flip is another step up in use case, a device that offers an improvement where the Galaxy Fold felt like you had to use gloves on it, but also an eye-opening form factor switch. The taller, slimmer screen is much easier to use and displays much of what I do online all day much better than anything else.

Pulling out the Z Flip leaves people around you genuinely amazed, and I have had loads of questions about it. Sure we are all aware these phones exist, but the general public doesn’t seem to be. Unfortunately, when showing it off, the black version I have is a fingerprint magnet, the same as the black Note10+ I had, so I spend far too much time is spent wiping off the body. The finish is also a bit too slippery than I would like, couple this with the smaller frame to carry and I feel a little uneasy using it outside.

DSC0036 1With all these words out the way – I am at a point as I write this that I am stuck at a Schrödinger’s phone. I both think the device is a game-changing smartphone and also a bit of a gimmick. Depending on the time of day, I am both marvelled and miffed at the Galaxy Z Flip. It offers me a use case like nothing before but is it worth a whopping £1300 price tag?

By far Galaxy Z Flip is the best folding phone you can buy. It is also a terrific smartphone that offers a brand new use case never before seen. I am just not 100% convinced that use case warrants the price tag or if it exists at all. I love using the Galaxy Z Flip because it is something completely new, but will that wear thin over time? Is this a solution to something that doesn’t need solving? These are all questions in my head and unique to each person.

What I woudl say is the dismissive feeling I have seen towards this phone are cimoletely unwarranted. This device feels like the start of something special and there is no denying it. I will try and answer the rest of the questions I have over the coming days – stay tuned.

Zero Fasting Made Easy

Zero fasting review
A few days ago, I shared what intermittent fasting had done for me and the health benefits I have felt. This app has helped me get going on my journey and is now an essential tool for tracking my body – it’s time to look at Zero fasting tracker. Available on iOS and Android, I am using the iOS version installed on my iPhone 11 Pro and Series 5 Apple Watch.

This app will only appeal to you if you are intermittently fasting, and even if you are, most people still won’t rely on one. I only started looking for something when I needed a kick to keep me going and also to keep track of my habits better. With that, the Zero app is full of fasting information on why to do it, how to do it and the answers to loads of questions you might have.

I found when first starting out it was both a hindrance and help to have something counting down the hours until I could eat again. So you might look at other options first – but what the app does well is make everything easy to find and straight forward to understand. Splitting areas into four tabs across the bottom to see your timer, check out the fasting options,  delve into your fasting history or learn more about fasting in general.

Zero fasting screenshots 1Zero enables you to start and stop your fasting quickly and gives you default options for regular ratios and also custom options. You can also get handy notifications (if you choose to switch them on) when you are in the final hour of fasting and indeed when you can start eating again. All customisable using the fasts tab at the bottom.If you’re feeling hardcore, you can track a full fast for up to 168 hours!

Users will spend the majority of the time starting and stopping the timer from the timer tab. Featuring a beautiful big clock, counting down the hours until your feeding window, or counting up the hours you have been feeding for. The big green (or red) button starts and stops your fast dependant what state you are in. If you forget you can edit start and stop times, and leave feedback on your fast at the end of each cycle.

Apple Watch App

You can also start and stop fasting with the companion Apple Watch App. There isn’t much more you can do on the watch, but it does come with complications in a range of sizes to slot into your choice of Watch face. I found this too overbearing and reminded me too often, which proved annoying after a while, but having a tap on your wrist when there is only an hour more to go can be helpful.

Zero fasting Applewatch 1It would be great to be able to edit fast start points and change the ratios on the Apple Watch in future updates. If I make a mistake or want to check my history, I have to pull my phone out, whereas a swipe across to different areas would be useful. You are able to change the number of hours you want to fast for before starting and this updates the iOS app information.

As well as a glorified alarm system, the app will track every fast you do and display it in one of the easiest to understand designs I have used. All the information is straight forward and easy to navigate. You will find information on your fasts, comparisons in time, and if you hit your intended target. Along with this, the app pulls heart rate data from an Apple Watch, allowing you to see trends easily. Since starting, I can see a pronounced decrease in resting heart rate, and this provides more positive feedback that everything is going well.

Zero fasting history 1Of course, there is a certain amount of gamification attempted by the app, encouraging you to put together ’streaks; and awarding badges. You can buy into this if you wish, but there is some research to say this does help motivation for health-related areas, so it’s understandable these kind of features are here.

Last but not least, you can find answers to all of your questions in the Zero Learn tab. It’s filled full of interesting information and blog-type posts that help get (and keep) you going. If you can’t find the answer here, it’s not worth knowing. Of course, only people that want to start or are already fasting will even download the app never mind about go digging in here, so my definition of interesting might be subjective.

If you want to get started intermittent fasting, or you need something to track your cycles going forward – look no further than Zero. I can’t find a bad word to say about it, and it’s become invaluable to me.

How I Use Agenda

Agenda featuredFor the last few weeks, I have been throwing my life into Agenda, I’ve played around with it previously, but this time it seems to have stuck. I’m one of those people that like to try out an app or service just because people are using it, and this is what I did in 2018 when Agenda won the apple design award. I think I had signed up previously to use it on Mac but didn’t hang around very long.

The only issue is this is a completely different approach to note taking. It ditches the somewhat traditional approach of a list of notes, in folders and turns it on its head. Everything is based around your calendar and dates. You can of course make notes without this, but its main power stems from tying into events in your life. For years I have been living out of my calendar and task management app (or apps), and I’ve been searching for a service that does it all for me. I feel like I have tried everything, from Todoist to Notion, to more recently Apple Notes. My life is split into to distinct area and Agenda is already benefiting me in both.

Work

I am a development and engagement manager for a UK based insurance company. In essence, this entails a massive balancing act involving loads of meeting, emails and tasks to be completed. I work from an iMac at my desk, an iPad in conferences and an iPhone at every other time, so having a cross-platform app with great sync is required.

Agenda usage iphone 1

Meetings

These are exchange meetings set up in Outlook, the only thing that stops me using Agenda for calendar management is the missing option to add invitees. This is not a massive issue for me, as I’m in Outlook for email anyway. From these events, I create all of my meeting preparation in Agenda, including all my written notes, clipped images some times also documents.

The benefit of being able to add in documents that I can refer too quickly in meetings is a godsend. The fact I don’t need to go into a room armed with loads of paperwork any more is a huge benefit. I also won’t lose any following it; if anything is handed to me, I can insert a scan of the document using my phone with a single click.

Granted this looks a little weird depending on who your meeting is with, thankfully my sessions are usually in tech or design people, and everyone else has just gotten used to my weirdness. Mainly because I can email a meeting review, including all documents, or print out a version within minutes of leaving the room. Exporting from Agenda is a massive benefit over something like Evernote or Apple Notes; it is powerful and flexible to fit into most situations.


Collecting Info

The second part of my job is producing content through various channels. For this, I have a section for work ‘in progress’ and create a project for putting things together. Mainly containing video scripts and outlines for blog posts, but some other random info I want to store. As much as Agenda is date focused, it works ok with saving some general info, but shouldn’t be seen as a note app replacement if you need to store loads of info. Because Agenda is date focused, I can collect all this together and make reminders right up to the ‘due date’.

Screenshot 2019 11 20 at 17 53 44 1

Home

The second part of my life revolves around my family. I am the parent of two children, one of whom is disabled, so date focused note-taking is more or less a given. Our calendar is filled full of hospital appointments, school events and other things that I need information on.

Hospitals

My agenda home section has a general project for my daughter’s hospital appointments, filled full of notes that refer to older appointments. No longer am I searching for information, or trying to remember what we discussed at the last appointment. Much like my work meetings, if I need to scan a medication label, or snap a picture of recommended equipment, I can put it right into the Agenda note. I also like to send my wife and parents a text with the notes in, which Agenda lets me do with a couple of taps.

Technology

I love writing and talking about technology, I’ve tried for more than seven years to stop, but something about it gets me excited. I take notes for upcoming episodes of my podcast, Bring Your Own Device, linked to the calendar event I share with my co-host. I would love to have collaboration, this would cut out our show notes Apple Note, but these notes are for my talking points only.

I also outline and write every blog post I publish in an Agenda Note. Taking the same form as with my work life, what I love is that I can drag in images and text from other sources as reference.


Features I would Like

There aren’t many features that I feel are missing from Agenda, and I would be concerned if they tried to add in too much. Agenda is not a publishing platform, and in many ways isn’t a note-taking app. However, each feature is thought out so it can be adapted to many use cases. There are a couple I have mentioned already, being able to create calendar events with invites; however, I don’t even know if this is possible due to the many different calendars available. Collaboration would also be perfect, and in which case this may even become an option for teams, but just being able to write some show notes for my podcast would be great.

I would also like to see a focus mode, where I can write in one note. At the moment I am writing in a note that is inside the today view, or on the Agenda. It would be great to be able to open a note and no other information. With all this said, the app is pretty perfect for mine, and many other peoples use case, all the features implemented are well thought out, and the developer support is brilliant. I’m an active member of the Agenda community, so you can always come say hi!

Lets Be Clear: This Case Is A Rip Off

It’s been a long time coming, but with the reproduction of colour into the iPhone line up with the XR, Apple released a clear case. The case has also appeared with the new phone line ups, available for the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro thanks to new colours in the lineup. Now I need to be straight to the point on this – Do Not Buy One.

You might be tempted to pick one up, show off that brand new Midnight-Green iPhone 11 Pro, or cool Yellow iPhone 11. If you choose to buy one in-store, you might even be pitched one to compliment your shiny new purchase, because you should show off the colour of them, the midnight green is my personal favourite, but at £45 you really shouldn’t.

DSC0004 1

The Apple cases are a bit like marmite, I love them because they fit and last the best I have found, but many people think they are a rip-off. Which is understandable given that most other cases are less than half the price of the stock options, but they do offer something different. The leather cases I have used last well and feel premium quality, whereas the silicone version provides a much more grippy surface. However, they charge what seems like more and more each year for the privilege.

The clear case feels like every other clear case on the market. The materials used are a little more robust than other clear cases, and the fit is perfect (as all ways with Apple cases). Some cheaper options are often flimsy and imperfect fitting but are a minute price when compared the Apple. What it doesn’t avoid is the same old issues that plague all clear cases – weird smudge marks and pocket lint build up.

DSC0005 1

To be fair almost every case in the world suffers from lint build-up, but because the case is clear, it is much more apparent. You might like showing everyone the lovely colour of your phone, but you’re also showing them you didn’t clean your phone in the last hour. When the phone is this good at avoiding fingerprints and smudges, its annoying the case isn’t – but no case can be.

If you are ogling to get a clear case, please don’t go for the Apple one. I made a mistake a purchased it along with a few other things and didn’t realise how expensive it is. Opt for a middle of the road option; there are plenty to choose from and save yourself some cash.

Hands On With The Galaxy Fold

My first impressions were pretty impressed actually. I used the phone for around 4 hours and got to put it thorough all its paces, apart from battery life. That remains to be seen, but the small number of people that do have them in their packets are reporting pretty decent battery life.

When we first were handed the phones, the Samsung guy went into full-on PR mode. I get the impression that there have been a small number of people asking about the phone, and the company is concerned with the negative press. Which is spot on, they asked me through everything that was changed with the phone, and interestingly precisely what went wrong with the first version.

Having never touched the first version I can’t speak of the differences but the silver and black units I got to use were both very robustly built and are defiantly using quality materials. The weight is a little heavier than an iPhone 11 pro but considerably heavier than something like the Note 10+ I had in my pocket. The most surprising place you feel it is when it’s in your pocket, despite the slim form factor when closed you’re not going to miss this in your skinny jeans.

But what everyone wants to know is about that screen! I want to start on the front one; it won’t get much use. Almost everything that I tried to do was a hassle. This screen is going to be like the LCD screens on the front of flip phones. Only there to glance at and see what is worth opening your phone for.

You will be opening it – A lot. Because there’s no point having a folding phone and not showing it off right?

Samsung has added caps to the end of the hinge and made the ‘not a screen protector’ extended underneath the bezels. Combined with a few internal changes, most of the screen issues should be resolved. The hinge is tested for 200,000 actions, so should last quite a while. The problem is the tactile feedback from opening the hinge is so satisfying that I found myself playing with it quite a lot – although I’d need to do it about 280 times a day over two years to get near the limits.

The screen is bright crisp in all lights, you very quickly get used to its dominance, and it becomes especially useful when trying to take photos. The fold uses the same camera set up form the galaxy s10, with a wide-angle, telephone and ultra-wide lens – combined with the usually portrait effects and AR goodness you expect from Samsung.

Although the screen comes in handy for things like google maps and even reading webpages, its a little cumbersome for one-handed use give it has a strange 4:3 ratio. Youtube videos are particularly enjoyable, and even watchable when multitasking, but to feel the benefit you’ll need to go full screen, which features black bars on the top and bottom.

What you will enjoy is the Dolby Atmos audio, these sound great, particularly when enjoying videos that use great audio such as Peter McKinnon or some football highlights.

With all this said. This phone will spend most of its time unfolded. So you can enjoy the large screen you’ve paid so much money for. With a screen this big, it’s crying out for more use cases such as an S-Pen. Unfortunately, you can’t use one, or any other stylus for that matter. Samsung doesn’t want you to use anything on this display or even press too hard because it is plastic and not glass that most people are used to.

There is no getting around the crease in the middle of the screen; it is noticeable when viewing something light such as messages and lots of one UI. When the screen is off, it sticks out like a sore thumb. If you’re paying attention, you can feel it when swiping about, but I get the impression that it would become as forgettable as a natch in the screen do after a few days use.

There are a few quirks, such as the fingerprint sensor is separate to the power button, meaning it requires quite a bit of getting used to. And also the wireless PowerShare, which is a cool feature, is in a minimal area on the back of the handset.

With all said, I am very impressed with the unit overall. The £1,900 you will need to spend gets you a robust and well-built phone that feels premium. In the box, you” ll also get the Galaxy buds, and kevlar case and a year’s worth of Samsung Insurance. Which I get the feeling is an addition to combat worries on longevity.

I’m not sure how many people are going to buy this thing, but it’s a great phone to see on the market. If money is no object, jump on this and see the future, with a few caveats.

Give Samsung a couple of iterations to get things right, and I think this is going to be a stellar phone. In a few years, everything might be folding, and we will look at this space-age technology as the flip phones of old.

Bravo Samsung, thanks for inviting me down to take a look at the fold its defiantly a hit from me. I’m excited to see where it goes.