Does the Snap 4 Luxe Phone Grip Live Up to Its Advertised Claims?

You’ve probably been inundated recently with social media advertisements for the Snap 4 Luxe phone grip – an alternative to the popular pop socket. The makers of the Snap 4, OhSnap, were exhibiting at CES this year and were giving out free samples to the media.

I picked one up at their booth and have been using it attached to my phone for the last week. My latest review sums up my experiences and whether or not the product lives up to the advertised claims.

The Snap4 promises compatibility with both iPhone and Android devices, even adding MagSafe compatibility to the latter. I tested it on my iPhone 15 Pro Max and an Android Pixel 8 Pro in my review.

The Snap 4 Luxe, priced at around $39, comes in various colors and boasts a sleek design that’s thinner than a standard camera bump. Its most notable feature is the center disc that extends out, allowing you to slip your fingers underneath for a secure grip, much like a pop socket but also allowing the user to slip their fingers through the center of the disc for a more secure grip. Additionally, it also works as a stand for your phone, a handy feature for watching videos. It was surprisingly sturdy and so far it has endured my rigorous daily use without any signs of wear or detachment.

One of the Snap 4 Luxe’s standout features is its magnets. This not only aligns it perfectly on a Magsafe equipped iPhone but also allows the Snap 4 Luxe to attach to metal surfaces. When attached to an Android phone the magnets allow for Apple Magsafe power adapters to work which is a nice bonus. The only complexity is having to manually align the Snap 4 over the Android phone’s charging coil.

The grip’s adhesive, designed to be reusable and residue-free, allowed for easy removal yet hung on tight enough to prevent the grip from falling off. While it’s convenient for easy attachment and removal, frequent reattachments may require regular cleaning to maintain its stickiness. Ohsnap says applying some water and letting it dry will restore the adhesive’s stickiness. I’ve seen similar adhesives in other products and this appears to work in the same way.

The only aspect of the product that did not fully work as advertised is wireless charging on non-Magsafe chargers. Most of my standard Qi chargers had trouble maintaining a connection – this despite claims in the ad that “you can charge straight through it.” In fairness ohSnap’s website does provide a disclaimer about non-magnetic charger compatibility but the social media ad does not.

Overall the Snap 4 Luxe Phone Grip mostly delivers on its promises. It offers a reliable grip, versatile use as a stand, and enhances the functionality of Android phones with MagSafe compatibility. However, its claim of universal wireless charging compatibility falls short, especially for non-MagSafe chargers. Despite this, the Snap 4 Luxe stands as a strong contender in the phone accessory market, especially for users who prioritize convenience and versatility in a sleek package.

Disclosure: ohSnap provided the Snap 4 to the channel free of charge. However they did not sponsor, review or approve the content before it was uploaded. All opinions are my own.

Google Pixel Fold Review: I’m Sold on Foldable Phones.. If Only They Didn’t Cost So Much!

I recently had the opportunity to review the new Google Pixel Fold smartphone, and I must say, it’s an intriguing piece of technology. This is the first foldable device I’ve tested and I really like what Google has put together here. The downside is that it costs a ridiculous $1799. See my full review here and you can find the phone for sale at Best Buy here (compensated affiliate link).

The Pixel Fold is powered by Google’s tensor G2 processor, the same chip that can be found in their more traditional phones like the entry-level Pixel 7A. It boasts 12 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. There is no SD card slot for storage expansion unfortunately.

The displays are impressive. The front display is a 5.8-inch OLED, while the inside reveals a 7.6-inch OLED. Both displays offer a 120 hertz refresh rate, ensuring a smooth user experience.

One thing that stood out to me was the phone’s compactness. I am a “small phone” guy and prefer a more compact device that’s easily pocketable to a larger one. The Fold fits comfortably in my pocket, and when unfolded, it offers a larger display, which is great for browsing and multitasking. It’s close in size to an iPad mini or other 8 inch tablet. Unfortunately, there’s a visible crease down the middle of the screen, which some might find distracting. I noticed it, and while many say you get used to it, I found it constantly catching my eye.

The Pixel Fold’s dual-display design offers a unique opportunity for app developers to enhance the user experience. Some apps have been optimized to recognize the device’s foldable nature and adjust their interface accordingly. For instance, the YouTube app adjusts the video playback area when the phone is partially folded, nudging the content to fit perfectly above the fold, essentially turning the bottom half into a stand. Similarly, productivity apps like Google Docs and Photos can run side by side, allowing users to drag and drop content between them.

However, not all apps have been optimized for this dual-display setup, and some might require manual adjustments to fully utilize the available screen real estate.Like other Android tablets and phones, most apps can run split screen even if they’re not optimized for larger screens.

The camera system is versatile. The back of the phone houses three cameras: an ultra-wide, a telephoto, and a standard 48-megapixel lens. The photos I took were sharp, detailed, and the colors were vibrant. There are two front facing cameras, one for when the phone is folded and another when unfolded. The folded selfie cam is the better of the two. Google also has a neat mode that turns the rear camera system into a selfie cam.

Gaming on the Pixel Fold was fun. From Android games to retro gaming, the experience was smooth. The larger screen real estate made gameplay more immersive. However, when compared to devices like the iPhone, the Pixel Fold’s gaming performance could be better.

In conclusion, the Pixel Fold is a promising device. Its foldable design offers a unique user experience, and while there are some areas of improvement, it’s a solid first-generation attempt by Google. The price might be a deterrent for some, but if you’re looking for innovation and a fresh take on smartphones, the Pixel Fold is worth considering.

I hope the industry finds some ways to bring the price point on these foldables down to make the technology more accessible. Smartphones have become quite stale these last few years so anything new and exciting would be a welcome boost to the industry.

Disclosure: Google provided the phone free of charge for my review. However they did not review or approve the content before it was uploaded nor did they offer any additional compensation.

Google Pixel 6a Review

Google’s Pixel 6a phone is a value packed device for folks looking for some flagship features without paying a flagship price. I think most consumers will find this to have everything they’d want in a phone: a nice display, great camera, and excellent performance on par with their flagship phones. You can watch my full review here.

The Pixel 6 series phones are the first to use Google’s new Tensor processor which is tuned for some of the AI work and computational photography that Google integrates into their products. The new 6a also has a Tensor and it performs identically to the flagship 6 and 6 Pro phones.

Tensor doesn’t best its Android or Apple flagship rivals on performance benchmarks tests but what’s notable here is that there isn’t a performance penalty for choosing the lower end phone. Apple’s iPhone SE by comparison is powered by the same A15 chip as the iPhone 13 Pro but Apple throttles the SE’s performance to keep it from besting their top of the line product. That’s not the case here with the 6a.

The camera system is excellent here thanks to Google’s advancements in computational photography. The phone has two cameras on the back – one ultrawide lens with a 114 degree field of view and a wide angle camera. Photos look great in most light and the portrait mode gets better and better every year. The phone will also shoot clean and optically stabilized video at up to 4k at 60 frames per second. You can see some examples of photos and videos in the video.

So what’s missing from this phone vs. the 6 and 6 Pro? A few things. The 6a does not have wireless charging, the 6a’s back is made out of plastic vs. glass, it has a lower resolution wide angle camera (12 vs. 50 megapixels), its display is running at a 60hz refresh rate vs the 90 & 120 hz refresh rates on the 6 and 6 Pro, and it lacks the telephoto lens found on the 6 pro. Despite all that it doesn’t feel cheap nor does it feel lacking in any way.

I have long been a fan of the “a” series Google phones and this one is a nice upgrade over prior models. If you’re still running with the 3a this one will be a huge upgrade.

DISCLOSURE: Google sent me the Pixel 6a free of charge but this is not a sponsored review. Google did not have any input into the review nor did they review or approve it before it was uploaded.

New Video : Your Next Smartphone Might Use Satellites vs. Cellular Networks for Messaging

This week’s Weekly Wrapup Video was inspired by a Robert X. Cringley post about a rumored secret deal between Apple and satellite operator Globalstar. From the post:

Apple will shortly enter the satellite business by acquiring GlobalStar and its 24 satellites. They will use those 24, plus 24 more satellites that Apple has already commissioned, to offer satellite service for iMessage and Apple’s Find My network just like they implied in their denial last year.

The link in Cringley’s post goes to this Space News Article about a recent infusion of cash that Globalstar is set to receive from a top secret potential customer.

The operator said Feb. 24 it picked MDA and Rocket Lab to supply a set of 17 satellites to replenish its constellation after a “potential customer” agreed to fund most of the $327 million project. The agreement includes an option for up to nine additional satellites at $11.4 million each

The potential network will only run at about 10 megabits per second per satellite so it won’t be able to transfer large items like videos or high resolution imagery, but it is enough to provide service even in the most remote locations. In fact this type of messaging is very popular in the amateur radio world, with protocols like APRS transmitting location data in very small bursts at a much slower rate 1200 bits per second.

Would it work indoors? Who knows. But developments in weak signal technologies lead me to think that it will be able to send small bits of data anywhere in the world with an off-the-shelf consumer smartphone.

Like many other tech leaps the confluence of a bunch of technological developments are coming together here: cheaper launches to space, microprocessor advancements and smaller and cheaper satellites.

The EU May Decide Phone Charging Standard Next Week

Reuters reports that the European Union is likely going to meet next week to solidify a common standard for charging smartphones. That standard will of course be USB-C which means the lightning port’s days may be numbered.

According to the article it looks like lawmakers are also trying to codify a laptop charging standard too.

I covered this topic in detail last year when this effort started gaining steam.

Boost Mobile Goes Freemium

Boost Mobile is a prepaid wireless carrier here in the USA owned by Dish Network. They are introducing a new program that will let you bring your monthly bill down to nothing – but you have to sing for your supper by earning “Boostcoins.”

Here’s how the company says you earn them:

Boost Mobile’s BoostOne app allows users to earn blockchain-backed “Boostcoins” by playing games like “Spin & Win,” watching videos, and engaging with thousands of partners to complete offers to earn coins that can be redeemed for discounted and free wireless service.

These Boostcoins are of course “blockchain-backed” but have their value pegged to the dollar. According to CNET it looks like 100 boost coins equals about a dollar.