Posts tagged iphone
Following the experiences of a number of our motorbike trips over the years, being sent a completely waterproof pouch for my phone to review was incredibly useful – thanks Mobile Fun! And, as expected but not wanted, when we woke up on Tuesday last week and it was teeming it down I reached for my Beachbuoy, sealed my phone inside, and didn’t worry about it for the rest of the day.
This waterproof pouch is designed for taking your gadgets underwater – down to five metres. It is totally and completely waterproof thanks to the two grip seals, and you can use your touch screen phone while it’s inside. I’ve seen this sort of thing before and have always thought one would be useful.
Before you use your Beachbuoy to put your phone in the manufacturer advises you complete the tissue paper test… just to make sure. Basically you put a tissue inside the pouch, seal it up, and dunk it in water for a few minutes. Then you take the pouch out of the water, dry off the outside and your hands, and open it up to see the state of the tissue inside. Completely dry, very impressive. As long as I made sure the grip seals are done up properly, which was very easy to do, I could be confident my precious phone wouldn’t get water damage.
In real life use it worked too. Good job really! My phone was very safe inside the pouch even when the rest of me was slowly getting wet through (mmmmm damp pants…), and I could take the phone (in the pouch) out of my pocket and use it in the rain also without worrying about it – there was nothing to stop me tweeting even on that day! You can also use the phone camera through the pouch as it is clear front and back, a definite bonus for me.
There are a couple of negatives I have found. One is the size. To be fair this isn’t just designed for the iPhone and can accommodate all sorts of phones and compact cameras, but it is quite wide and so was a squeeze to get it in my bike jacket pocket. It does have a neck strap, though, so you can wear it around your neck or attach it to something else to make it easier to carry. The other is that while I can happily use my phone when it is inside the pouch, the completely sealed construction that makes it waterproof means making a call (hearing the person you are talking to) is not that easy – the sound is a bit muffled.
Those two small things aside, this is a great accessory for anyone who does anything that involves getting wet and really wants to take their phone with them. The fact that it is totally waterproof means it’s not just good for activities like walking, cycling, motorbiking etc in the rain – it can also be used for water sports like swimming, sailing and canoeing.
The Beachbuoy is just one of the iPhone5 covers available from Mobile Fun.
Taking photos on our phones is quick, simple and can be instantly shared with others. The fact that cameras on mobile phones are now of a pretty decent standard we have more opportunity to capture moments as they happen without needing to carry around a “proper” camera – and we can keep and even print those shots. I love taking photos on my phone, it’s so convenient; I can snap away to my heart’s content in all situations, be creative whenever the mood takes me, and have stills to help remind me of nice things.
There are a number of simple tips and tricks that can help us to make the most of our phone cameras. I use an iPhone and so these things may well be specific to that, but you’ll find the functionality is useful across any and probably all decent phones out at the moment. And of course the art of taking a nice photograph is the same regardless of which device you are using. I thought I’d share my best practice ideas with you (and some of my photos too) – I hope you find them useful.
Clean the Lens
First things first. Before you attempt to take any photograph on your phone, turn your phone over and give the lens a wipe. Phones get finger prints all over them, and one across your lens will turn the best photo into a blurry mess – it’s like looking through a car window with rain spots and handprints all over it. Use your t-shirt (or a nice lens cloth) to give it a quick clean and you’re ready to go.
Generally speaking phones have a centred focus point. On an iPhone you can choose exactly where to focus by tapping the screen where you want that focus point to be. This is great for landscapes with people in – you can have the people on the left of the shot in focus by simply tapping on them. It’s also good for shots of people and pets; the most pleasing shots will have the eye in focus, so tap on the eye when taking the picture to get the best focus point.
One thing I see a lot is people talking photos while walking along or moving about, or with one hand waving about all over the place. I don’t know about you but if I did that my photos would be totally blurry – and I suspect theirs are too! Stand still, hold your phone with both hands, lean against something if you need to, breath in, hold your breath for a second, take the shot.
Keep it Straight
Remember that the lens on your phone is in one corner – it’s not in the middle. So look at the screen and make sure you have it straight! You can turn on the grid to help with this and also your general composition.
Please (please please) don’t pinch to zoom. Phone cameras are only equipped with digital zoom. All this does is increase the pixel size so you end up with a shot that is blocky and very difficult to get in focus. If you want a close up shot the best thing is to move! Simply get closer to your subject. Alternatively, if moving closer is impossible, take it as you are and crop later.
All About Light
The most important element in any photograph is the light. Your flash won’t help you get a nice bright shot, it will only fill a very small area in the centre of your frame (and give any people in the shot red eyes and ghostly white faces). What you need is light all around – the more light, the easier it is to get things in focus. Natural light beats artificial light any day of the week – the bulb in your living room light fitting just won’t do the same job as the big yellow thing in the sky outside (even on a cloudy day), so get outside whenever you can. You can’t generally alter ISO settings on your camera phone, so make the most of the light around you; keep it behind or above you and on your subject, and watch out for your own shadow. Also be mindful of lens flare which I find more prevalent when using my phone to take shots. You can use light to your creative advantage too, of course – silhouettes can be pleasing to look at, but if you take a shot of your best friend and they’re all dark and shaded the shot is useless. Night time shots taken on iPhones can look fabulous, but the shutter will stay open for longer so make sure you keep still – experiment with focussing on light areas and dark areas of your shot to get different effects.
Taking the Shot
A useful thing to know is that an iPhone does not take your photo until you take your finger off the shutter button. So you can get yourself set up and sorted, stick your finger on the button, and gently release it to take your shot when you are ready. I’m sure you all know that the + button on the side of your iPhone also works as a shutter button for when you have the camera in the landscape orientation – but did you now that the + button on your headphones also works? This is absolutely brilliant if you are prone to camera shake, and a really great tip if you are trying to use your phone to take a shot over other people’s heads or at a funny angle. If you’re in a rush to open your camera app also remember that you can swipe up on the camera icon on the locked screen which overrides the need to put in your unlock code, getting you access to your camera (and only your camera) nice and quickly.
Oh, and if you want to edit your photographs – crop them, tune them, alter the colours, add filters – then I recommend Snapseed as the most useful app out at the moment. I always take my photographs using the phone’s own camera function (not from within other apps), as this gives you the largest file size possible, and it’s always good to keep the original. Then I open my shot in Snapseed and play about as I want to. I like to use a square format and so I will use Snapseed to crop, and dependent on the shot and what I’m going to use it for I’ll also change the brightness, contrast, saturation, focus point, add tilt shift, and whatever else I think is appropriate. Snapseed can help turn a mediocre shot into a really great one. But it can also turn a really great shot into an awful one, so don’t go too overboard!
Practice Makes Perfect
Of course the best thing about having a camera phone is that you can take loads (and loads) of photographs and decide which is the best later. Snap away to your heart’s content and learn as you practice. Photography on a smartphone is fun, you can get some fabulous shots worthy of the wall as well as some silly shots to share on facebook. It’s quick, easy and very convenient. So keep it in hand and document your life. You’ll be thankful in a few year’s time when you want to walk down memory lane.
I like to share my photographs on instagram – it’s a lovely way to share and view squared up phone snaps. I’m Splodz over there – give me a follow and let me know your instagram name below.
Oh… And to help us all improve, please add your own phone photography hints and tips in the comments box below. Cheers!
I’ve seen these little Bluetooth speakers around for a while now. They come in all sorts of designs, all claiming to give you a great sound. The idea is that the speakers in your phone or MP3 player are pretty rubbish – they are, the speaker is definitely not an iPhone’s strong point – so you use one of these speakers instead to give you superior sound. I’ve never thought about buying one. At home we have a nice sound system in the lounge and a decent dock in the kitchen. And I’ve never really thought of using a speaker when I’m in a hotel room.
This is the BassBoomz. Made by the same people who make the Bass Buds I recently reviewed, the marketing material says it has explosive sound quality thanks to the “bass expansion system”. It is compatible with phones, MP3 players, tablets and laptops and can be connected to your devices using either Bluetooth or a 3.5mm jack output – so that’s pretty much anything then. It looks great, has a nice brushed finish in a really good bright blue.
I was pleased when the speaker arrived and I picked it up – it’s much heavier than I thought. I’m not an expert in speaker technology but I do know that heavy is good; weight often correlates to sound quality. It was really simple to pair with my phone and I had music playing very quickly.
Small speakers are very rarely good speakers. Sat on the granite kitchen worktop the sound was disappointingly tinny. It had no depth. I remember seeing similar speakers at The Gadget Show Live and spotting that they had them sat on specially made stands – and of course we know why! I moved it to the dining table, where there was some improvement. We wandered around the house putting it on different surfaces – each would make the sound change, dramatically in some cases. The best sound came when I put it on the window ledge, where the sound resonated and gave me some deeper tones to the music, but it’s still not “bassy”.
Having said that I should say that the sound is clear whereever the speaker is sat. It’s depth that it lacks, not clarity. It is just brilliant for playing podcasts – the spoken word is crisp making it very easy to listen to.
We were on our way down to Essex to see friends when we realised one thing this speaker is just perfect for. We use the TomTom app on our iPhones for our satnav and have always struggled a bit with the volume – the phone just isn’t loud enough. This speaker is just what we’ve been looking for – it’s loud enough, clear, sits on the space between the two front seats without sliding about thanks to the weight and non-slip feet, and can be charged from the cigarette lighter too. Isn’t it good when you find a solution to a problem?
And then we found another use. How many times have I complained on twitter that hotel rooms don’t have power sockets by the bed? I reckon I say it every single time I go away! But with the speaker I can have my phone plugged in wherever is convenient, and have the speaker on so I can still hear my music. And if you can find a decent resonating surface you get a pretty decent sound too. It seems I do need a little portable speaker after all.
This is a great little speaker. In everything but the name. Bassy it is not. I don’t think it could ever be bassy. Something this small is never going to satisfy my liking for deep bass or dramatic rumbles in film scores or songs. But it is a useful thing and I have had so much use out of it since it arrives I now don’t know what I’d do without one.
I’ve been given a discount to share with you. It’s good for £30 off so the BassBoomz will cost £49.95 instead of the current retail price of £79.95 when bought directly from their website. The code to use is BBZ304621- it’ll work til the end of the month.
Docks are designed to allow you to sync and charge your phone while it is sat upright on your desk or bedside table. This one (showing off my very dusty iPhone!) is from Mobile Fun.
The dock is good for charging and syncing your phone with your computer, as well as plugging into the mains to charge quicker. It comes with a fairly short lighting to USB cable (also black – it’s long enough to go from the floor to my desk) which is useful, but not the USB mains adapter. The dock is small and actually looks great in glossy black – it has a non-slip base and has a good weight to it.
I’m impressed with how sturdy my phone is when sat in the dock. I worry about things like this being unstable or a bit precarious, and as a result breaking either the lightning connector or connection inside my phone. But this is very solid and my phone clips on very positively and doesn’t wobble around at all. Good.
I’ve now got this sat on my desk at work – my phone can charge and I can see the screen, there’s also no chance it’ll get accidentally swiped off my desk or lost under a pile of papers (not that I ever have massive piles of papers on my desk – if I can’t see the table there’s a good chance I’m stressed!). I can’t decide whether it’s most useful there or at the computer at home, I might need to buy another one. Thankfully they are a lower price than the official Apple ones at £21.95.
You can get a range of iPhone 5 docks from Mobile Fun.
One of the problems with upgrading to the iPhone 5 or the new iPad is that because Apple changed to their new lightning connection, using old accessories requires new cables or adapters (or new accessories entirely).
Whether you believe lightning is genuinely better (faster, smaller, etc) or that it’s just an exercise to make our old accessories defunct, the fact remains the same for all, and it makes upgrading to a new Apple product more expensive than simply the price on the ticket. Whether it’s a sound dock, a car charger, or the extra cable you bought so you had one at home and at work, it all adds up.
It’s taken a few months, but “fake” lightning cables and adapters are now available to us. Mobile Fun sent me one of their lightning to USB cables to try out. It retails at just over half the price of the Apple genuine one (£11.97 instead of £19.95) and so represents a significant saving, but I was very interested to see if the quality was there.
The cable itself is very slightly shorter than the genuine Apple one I got with my iPhone 5 – 104cm vs 106cm, so not enough to make a real difference (unless you really need that extra two cm!). The plastic coated cable is (again, very slightly) thicker, and the casing for the connections at either end is more bulky and feels cheaper. The lightning connection itself looks a bit different – it’s not as smooth or refined, again seems more cheaply made. The below photo shows the genuine Apple cable on the right, and the copy on the left.
But the proof is in the using… and I can confirm that it works. I used this cable with no problems to charge my phone from the computer and using the mains adapter, and synced my phone with iTunes too and it didn’t complain. I also checked it worked with LincsGeek’s iPad (my pad is an old iPad 2, and it does feel old I have to say!) and it’s fine there too. It is perfect to keep plugged into the computer for charging/syncing, leaving the one that came with my phone for in the office.
I admit I would generally rather by the real thing when it comes to my tech, but there is nothing wrong as far as I can tell with this cable and why spend £20 when you can spend £12 and still have the same functionality. For something like a cable and similar accessories then copies like this one make so much sense. I’ll let you know how it holds up compared to my Apple one after a year of use!
Update 27th January
Since writing this review I have realised that while this lightening cable does work for both charging and data exchange, most of the time it only works one way around. One of the good things about the new Apple lightening connector is that it is not supposed to matter which way in you put it – there is no right way. But this cable only seems to work if you get the cable in the “right way round”. I say most of the time as on occasion it does work both ways, it’s very strange. This could of course be this particular cable rather than a problem with all of them, but I thought I would put a note here to tell you. The cable is still very useful, and I am continuing to use it.
I’ve had a number of generations of the iPhone over the past few years (I know, I’m very lucky), and each time I buy a new one my main concern is keeping it in perfect condition so that I can enjoy the screen and that retina display for as long as possible. I know many people who think screen protectors ruin the display on devices like iPhones, but every day life for me offers great risks of nasty scratches, even with me being as careful as I can possibly be. So I always get a screen protector so that I can stop worrying and just use my phone for everything I bought it for.
MobileFun sent me the Power Support Crystal Film Set to try on my iPhone 5. They didn’t know when they sent it that I am already a fan of Power Support and their screen protectors – I have used them on all my iPhones up until now and had been on the look out for the iPhone 5 version but hadn’t spotted it anywhere yet. I had actually purchased a different screen protector a couple of weeks before receiving this one, concentrated really hard to fit it perfectly, failed despite following the instructions to the letter, ruined it, got upset and chucked it in the bin. I can’t even remember what make it was now. But when this film set arrived I beamed, knowing that I would be able to tell you all what a happy blogger I was as a result.
I mentioned I hadn’t seen this product stocked anywhere. The packaging here might give you a clue… this has been imported – apart from the title everything else is in Japanese. Which if this is your first Power Support Crystal Film Set would be a problem (the picture based instructions are not particularly clear at all), but as I have installed (stuck on) several of these on mine and LincsGeeks phones in the past, I knew what I was doing.
In the package you get two screen protectors for the front of the iPhone 5, a sticky sleeve that cleans off dust and prints, a little cloth and the instruction card. Let me put the instructions here in case you get a Japanese one too… (these instructions worked for me anyway!).
1) Clean your iPhone screen. I use a teeny bit of windowlene on a cloth for this, it gets rid of everything including any grease which might otherwise be visible underneath the screen protector.
2) Stick the white sheet to your phone – the backing is in two halves to make this easy, simply remove one half of it and start sticking the sheet on the phone before removing the other half off the backing. Smooth this over using the cloth.
3) Get the screen protector ready. Have it the right way around etc. Once you are ready, remove the cleaning sheet from the phone carefully from one end and put those two halves of the backing paper back on it (you can use this again).
4) Pull the backing off the screen protector just a little bit and begin sticking it to the phone. It is fairly rigid so it doesn’t flop about everywhere (unlike the other brand one I’d tried and failed with which wafted with the slightest intake of breath) and you can offer it up, getting it lined up with the top of the phone before putting it on. Gradually pull off the backing (which is between the protector and the phone), allowing the screen film to cling to your screen. You will almost certainly have a few bubbles which you can smooth out using that cloth, wipe with a good amount of pressure pushing the bubble to the edge.
5) If you spot a speck of dust, use a bit of sticky tape to pull the protector up from one corner, and another piece of sticky tape to remove the offending item. It is possible to completely remove the protector and reapply it if you’re not happy with the alignment, thankfully it doesn’t ruin if you take it off.
I have to say I thought I was happy with the alignment of mine (above) until the day after when the slight wonky-ness just got too me too much so I used tape to pull the protector off and did it again, much better this time. And I can be sure now that this film will not come off unless I want it to.
I am really pleased with the results, as I anticipated. I can now use my phone all the time without worrying about any damage to the lovely display – and because the protector is completely clear and not textured in anyway (anti glare protectors have a texture to them so they stop the reflections, which unfortunately means the display becomes less clear), my display is not compromised. The touch screen is not affected either, it still works perfectly well. Oh and if for some reason I manage to ruin this protector I have another one in the drawer to replace it with – with my iPhone 4 one I replaced it after about 18 months just to give my phone a clean look again.
So thanks very much MobileFun, you have made me a very happy blogger.