Finding the Best Weight Loss Shakes for Low-Carb Dieting That Contain Enough Protein

If you’re embarking on a low-carb weight loss journey and you want to use the best weight loss shakes in order to reduce, without sacrificing the nutrition that your body needs, then you should look for shakes that have a high protein count per serving. Protein offers so many benefits to people who are on diets. It helps them to feel full, fuels fat-burning, helps to preserve lean muscle and promotes good energy levels. Protein is really important!

Without adequate protein, a meal replacement shake for weight loss may not give you the feeling of fullness and the nutrients that you need. When you choose the best weight loss shakes while you’re on a low-carb diet, you’ll find that it’s easier to stick with your diet over the long term, whether you plan to stay on the diet for days, weeks or months.

In particular, when you’re on a low-carb diet, you’re going to find that that you need good sources of protein regularly. If you don’t get them through the best weight loss shakes and through meals, you may find that you suffer from intense cravings for carbs (at least, until your body adjusts to not having them). As well, hunger pangs may be a problem. A low-carb diet takes us away from many of the comfort foods that we rely on in order to calm our minds down and slow our bodies down. If you’ve ever “medicated” yourself with a big bag of potato chips (or a few Twinkie snack cakes), because you had a rough day, you probably already know what we mean.

Low-carb diets may be mentally challenging. People who go on them make a lot of changes to their eating routines. For example, they may make sandwiches with lettuce instead of bread, go for “pasta” made with spaghetti squash instead of noodles and generally change their eating habits in a dramatic way. These diets really work. That’s why people go on them in the first place. A low-carb diet shocks the body into changing shape quickly. However, without the best weight loss shakes for low-carb dieting, these diets may be too stringent. A good meal replacement shake with a great protein count, such as fifteen grams per serving, will be a fine choice. It will help you to feel full and healthy as you diet. It’ll also help you to burn fat, instead of lean muscle.

Other Features of the Best Weight Loss Shakes

If you’re on a low-carb diet, you will need to think about product purity. This means that a meal replacement shake should not be filled with unhealthy fillers. In other words, if you have the choice between a meal replacement shake with lots of protein, which includes sugar and other unhealthy fillers, or a meal replacement shake which has lots of protein, no sugar and no unhealthy fillers, go for the purer shake.

You don’t need sugar while you’re on a low-carb diet. Sugar is hard on the body and leads to spikes and dips in energy which may trigger high-carb binges. It’s better to choose a shake which is completely sugar-free, loaded with at least fifteen grams of protein per serving and fortified with superfood greens, vitamins, minerals and natural fiber.

In my opinion, meal replacement shakes with plant-based proteins are the best, because this type of protein is really easy for the body to absorb.

Shop for Meal Replacement Shakes Today

Now that you understand the value and importance of protein, you’ll be ready to shop around for exceptional weight loss shakes which have enough protein to suit your low-carb diet. There are good choices out there. You should look at product ingredient listings carefully before you buy. Keep purity and protein count per serving in mind. Also, think about flavors. Will you be limited to vanilla or will you be able to access sugar-free flavors that are exciting, such as Salted Caramel and Vegan Chocolate? It’s nice to know that good flavors are available. Lastly, you should compare prices, servings per package (if you plan on buying shake mix, rather than single-serving, pre-mixed shakes) and customer reviews.

Now that you have the inside scoop on how to find the best weight loss shakes for low-carb dieting that have more than enough healthy protein, you’ll be ready to shop for meal replacement shakes with confidence.

Why Low to No Sugar is the Way to Go When You’re Low-Carb Dieting and Looking for the Best Weight Loss Shakes

Are you on a low-carb diet? Do you want to find the best weight loss shakes for the type of diet that you’re on? If the answer to these two questions is, “yes”, then you should know that choosing shakes with low sugar per serving will be the smartest way to support your weight loss goals! Today, we want to talk about why the best weight loss shakes for low-carb diets are low-sugar or sugar-free.

Why Is Low Sugar So Important?

When you start a low-carbohydrate diet, you’ll begin to eat less carbs and more fat. Some people call these types of diets LCHF (low-carb/high-fat) or “ketogenic” diets. By staying away from starches and sugars, you’ll stabilize your blood glucose levels. This means that your levels of insulin, which is the “fat-storing hormone” will plummet. This makes it way easier to lose weight fast.

When you choose meal replacement shakes that have a lot of sugar, you’re basically shooting yourself in the foot! You’re negating the effects of staying away from carbs. This is why it’s so important to choose the best meal replacement shakes for your type of diet. They should be low in sugar. Ideally, they should be free of sugar.

Sugar Wreaks Havoc on Energy Levels

Also, sugar tends to affect our energy levels. When we consume sugar, we get a quick boost in energy, but it doesn’t last. It’s a short term energy increase which leads to a crash later on. When you start relying on sugar-laden meal replacement shakes in order to supplement during your low-carb diet, you may end up burning out.

It’s better to choose a sugar-free shake which has all of the right features. The best meal replacement shakes have plenty of plant-based protein, super food greens which are beneficial to energy and well-being, loads of minerals and vitamins and plenty of filling natural fiber. They don’t need to contain sugar in order to taste great, so please don’t assume that you’ll have to sacrifice good taste in order to get nutrients from a meal replacement shake.

There are awesome sugar free shakes for weight loss which come in delicious flavors, from classic vanilla to trendy salted caramel to vegan chocolate. You can enjoy creamy and satisfying taste as you access the ultimate in sugar-free nutrition!

How to Find the Right Shake

Product purity, including no sugar, should be your primary concern as you shop around for meal replacement shakes online. Don’t settle for sugar-laden shakes when you just don’t have to.

When you’re looking around online, focus on reading ingredients lists for meal replacement shakes that you are interested in. Make sure that they are sugar-free, contain around fifteen grams of plant-based protein and lots of other beneficial nutrients, including minerals, vitamins and superfoods. Also, make sure that you’re getting a good deal. Compare prices for shake mixes. Consider how many servings each packet offers when you’re comparing prices.

Customer reviews are also helpful. Another tip is to look at flavor options. When you consider all of these variables, you should be able to find superb meal replacement shakes which make it so much easier to achieve your ideal weight while you’re on a low-carb diet.

A low-carb diet is a great way to lose weight rapidly. People who give up carbs are often amazed at just how fast the numbers on their bathroom scales decrease. Nothing works faster and the right meal replacement shakes will make it easier to get slim and sexy via this type of diet. The best weight loss shakes will give you the protein that you need to burn fat, instead of lean muscle. They’ll also be sugar-free, so they won’t negatively impact your blood glucose levels. And they’ll be loaded with other nutrients which help you to feel happy and energized as you reduce.

An excellent meal replacement shake is really the secret weapon of many low-carb dieters. It allows them to skip meals without skipping vital nutrition. It also adds welcome variety to their diets, at a time when their diets are naturally a bit more restricted than usual. A tasty meal replacement shake will be a creamy and fulfilling treat that you look forward to, which also supports your low-carb weight loss goals.

BlackBerry PRIV review: the best Android smartphone of the year

The scene: you’ve met up with some friends at a restaurant.

Before you sit down, you nonchalantly take your phone out of your pocket and put it on the table.

At first, no one seems to notice anything. Your new phone fits right in with the other 5-inch screens laid out.

Eventually, someone will spot the logo at the top of device, if the unusually-placed front-facing speaker doesn’t catch their eye first.

“BlackBerry? Did you drop your phone in the toilet again, man?”

Yes, it’s a BlackBerry, and it’s the best Android smartphone released in 2015

You might have to endure a few jibes about your smartphone, but when the joking is over what remains is an excellent Android smartphone – arguably the best phone BlackBerry has ever built.

Weighing in at 192g, when you hold the BlackBerry PRIV it feels like you’re holding something substantial, while the rounded edges and textured back creates an air of quality.

This is backed up by a solid set of internals and an excellent screen, as summarised in the table below.

Specifications BlackBerry PRIV
Dimensions 147 (184 opened) x 77.2 x 9.4 mm
Operating system Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
Display 5.4″ QHD (1,440 x 2,560)
Rear camera 18MP
Front camera 2MP
Storage, internal 32GB
Storage, expandable microSD
RAM 3GB
Processor 1.8GHz hexa-core Snapdragon 808
Battery 3,410mAh
SIM type Nano

The Basics

Battery life. Good – lasts more than a day under normal usage. Fast charge. Non-removable battery.

Display. Good – high resolution, responsive, circular polarising filter, good visibility in sunlight.

Storage. 32GB single partition internal, 23.86GB available. MicroSD support for up to 2TB.

Network. All SA 3G & 2G supported. STV100-4 supports Cell C, MTN, and Vodacom’s LTE networks. STV100-3 supports all SA LTE, including Telkom’s TD-LTE network.

Cameras. Excellent rear camera. “Shutter” is a bit slow. Front camera selfies are blurry. No selfie “flash”.

Bundled apps that are actually useful

The stand-out feature of the PRIV is its hardware keyboard – you’ve probably heard a lot about it – so let’s talk about that last.

Something not many people may be aware of is that BlackBerry has brought some amazing software features to Android.

This sets it apart from manufacturers that ship a bunch of irremovable shovelware on their devices that few people will use.

Here is a brief rundown of what you can find on the new BlackBerry Android.

BlackBerry Hub

BlackBerry has ported its notification hub to Android, offering a central repository for all your e-mail, text messages, WhatsApps, BBMs, and notifications from social networks.

It works well, but it can’t act as a complete notification tray replacement.

Only notifications from specific apps are pulled into the hub, leaving users of unsupported apps like Telegram and WeChat in the lurch.

If you don’t like the hub, or if your favourite services aren’t supported, there is nothing compelling you to use it.

Although you can’t uninstall BlackBerry Hub, you can disable notifications from it.

BlackBerry Hub
BlackBerry Hub

Productivity Tab

Linked to the Hub is the Productivity Tab, which lets you swipe the display to “peek” at the latest info from Hub.

It shows upcoming events from your calendar, a task list, and holds your favourite contacts.

While the calendar and contacts are integrated with the usual services and accounts, such as your Google account, BlackBerry’s Tasks and Notes app only synchronises with Microsoft and Novell servers.

This means that to synchronise the task list visible in the Productivity Tab with a cloud service, you will either need a Windows Live Hotmail or Outlook account, or be connected to a Microsoft Exchange or Novell Groupwise server.

You can disable the Productivity Tab, but you can’t uninstall it.

BlackBerry Productivity Tab
BlackBerry Productivity slide-out tab

Pop-up widgets

Another great feature BlackBerry has added to Android is the pop-up widget.

While the home screen widgets are one of the unique features Android has, many of the widgets that apps provide aren’t used.

Looking at my own usage, I typically arrange my main home screen into folders of apps I want easy access to, with my calendar widget taking up 6 or 9 icon slots. Because they take up so much space, I might only have one more widget on a secondary home screen.

With pop-up widgets, you can access an app’s widget with a swipe up or down, giving you a way to see the latest information from the app without opening it.

This is similar to iPhone’s new peek-and-pop feature linked to 3D Touch.

BlackBerry Android popup widgets
BlackBerry Android pop-up widgets

Security features: Picture password

BlackBerry has also baked extra security features into Android.

Two that are visible to users are its picture password screen lock, and the BlackBerry DTEK app.

Picture password solves the problem of unlocking your device while being watched.

Instead of a PIN, pattern, or password, picture password lets you choose a number, and set a location for that number on a picture.

When you unlock your phone, you are presented with a randomised grid of numbers. You then find a copy of your number and drag it around the grid until it is over the secret location you selected.

BlackBerry picture password
BlackBerry picture password

Security features: DTEK

DTEK is BlackBerry’s way of helping users deal with the insecure app ecosystem on Android.

It lets you see which apps are requesting potentially privacy-violating permissions, like access to your camera, contacts, location, microphone, and text messages.

You can see what an app is doing on your system, and decide whether it is misbehaving.

From DTEK, you can then kill the app, uninstall it, or have DTEK notify you every time the app accesses a sensitive area of your device.

BlackBerry DTEK screenshots
BlackBerry DTEK

On Android, fragmentation, and updates

The PRIV doesn’t run Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the latest version of Google’s mobile OS.

However, BlackBerry has promised that it’s working on an update for the PRIV.

It is also proud of the fact that it has not only kept current with the security patch regime Google has for Android, but had a patch out before Google released it for the Nexus.

So, what’s the catch?

The Bottom Line: BlackBerry PRIV
The Good The Bad
  • Bundled BlackBerry apps don’t feel like shovelware.
  • Close to stock Android – very little skinning.
  • Picture passwords and pop-up widgets are great additions.
  • MicroSD support.
  • Hardware keyboard! On Android!
  • BlackBerry apps are still not removable, so technically shovelware.
  • Expensive – priced to compete with the Galaxy S6 Edge+ and iPhone.
  • Non-removable battery.
  • BlackBerry Hub isn’t the notification tray replacement we were hoping for.

No smartphone is perfect, and while the PRIV is a great piece of technology, it is no different.

It’s not a cheap phone, and if MTN’s prices are anything to go by, the PRIV is set to compete with the Galaxy S6 Edge+ and iPhone in SA (MyMTN Choice 100 package – R519 per month).

Considering you’re not getting an octa-core processor or 4GB RAM, that’s steep.

A key piece of hardware missing from the PRIV is a fingerprint reader. BlackBerry doesn’t think fingerprints are a particularly-secure authentication mechanism.

The PRIV can also run quite hot, and when it does I noticed a bit of flex and soft creaking from the non-removable back cover.

It didn’t feel like the phone was coming apart, just that the back cover didn’t feel as solid as the rest of the phone.

Early reviewers also complained that BlackBerry’s software, particularly the Hub, was slow.

While I found many issues with Hub, I didn’t find it to be sluggish.

BlackBerry PRIV
BlackBerry PRIV

Conclusion

In short: if it weren’t for the price, the PRIV would be my next phone.

I can’t help but wonder if BlackBerry had not insisted on developing its own mobile operating system (BlackBerry 10), what might have been.

If BlackBerry had been making Android phones all this time, would hardware keyboards be more prominent today?

Would BBM still be competition with WhatsApp in South Africa?

BlackBerry has said it didn’t feel that Google’s OS could do what it needed from a platform until the release of Android 5.0.

“We really couldn’t do that before then. It wasn’t ready. There were a number of capabilities that would require too much surgery on our part to add the capabilities we needed,” BlackBerry told VentureBeat.

“Lollipop reduced the amount of surgery to a point where we could add our special sauce and let us maintain the product going forward.”

Oh right, the keyboard!

BlackBerry Android software keyboard
BlackBerry Android software keyboard

The keyboard is awesome – both of them.

BlackBerry has ported its software keyboard from BlackBerry 10 to Android, which features a predictive text system that displays words above characters as you type.

You can then swipe up to send the word to the input field. You can also set the keyboard to predict words in up to 3 languages at once.

For the hardware keyboard, BlackBerry borrowed from the Passport.

While I would have preferred a keyboard more like those we saw on the Bold or the Q10, the keyboard on the PRIV is great – and is touch-sensitive.

You swipe back on it to delete a word, or use it as a trackpad to navigate around text you’re editing. It also has predictive text.

The keyboard is divided into thirds, with a word displayed above each section. You can then swipe up on the hardware keyboard underneath the predicted word to send it to the text field.

Together, this makes for the best typing experience you will find on any smartphone.

Review disclaimer: Devices are typically provided to MyBroadband for two weeks. The views are therefore based on short-term usage. We were given the PRIV model STV100-4 to review.

BlackBerry’s first Android smartphone – South African launch date and price

Why BlackBerry lost its cool-factor in South Africa

What the next BlackBerry Android smartphone could look like

BlackBerry rejects snooping proposals

Samsung and BlackBerry make Android smartphones more secure

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge review – a beautiful powerhouse

 

When Samsung announced the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge last year, the new design it unveiled traded functionality for looks.

You got a metal and glass device, but at the cost of a removable battery.

Samsung also did away with support for microSD cards and the water and dust-proofing it brought to the Galaxy S5.

With the introduction of the Galaxy S7, Samsung has corrected most of the missteps it took with the S6.

It built on the stunning design of S6 range and brought back support for a microSD card. A better ingress protection rating (IP68) than the S5 was also included.

Samsung also refined the S7 Edge, smoothing the edges where the case meets the curved glass of the display – giving a more comfortable grip.

The only thing we didn’t get back was a removable battery, but to compensate Samsung made both S7 devices slightly fatter to fit larger batteries in their shells.

Neither device has the new reversible USB Type-C connector, and Samsung opted to stay with micro USB connectors partly for the sake of maintaining compatibility with existing accessories – particularly its Gear VR headset.

Ugh. Shovelware.

TouchWiz, Samsung’s “skin” for Android, is no longer the eyesore or obstacle it was 3-4 years ago.

It now runs on Android 6.0, offering the new permission model that Google added to its mobile operating system.

Features such as Samsung’s calendar widget add useful functionality without detracting from features already built into Android.

However, one major annoyance still remains – irremovable shovelware.

Some of Samsung’s apps, S Health and S Voice, come pre-installed and can only be disabled, not removed.

What’s worse is that apps from Facebook and Microsoft also come bundled with the smartphone: Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, and OneNote.

Most infuriating is that Microsoft’s apps will send you notifications if you refuse to use them, as shown below.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge shovelware and invasive push notifications
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge shovelware and invasive push notifications.

The Great White Whale of Perfection

Even without the bloatware, the S7 falls short of perfection.

The twin curved edges of the S7 Edge’s display will not excite everyone, and those who tell you that the curves offer functional benefits are lying to themselves.

You might hear a story about the Samsung Edge slide-out menu, which is cute, but in truth the curves offer little more than the illusion of a bezel-less display.

With a display running all the way to the edges of the smartphone, this invariably means accidental touches when you grip the device in your palm.

You get the hang of it after awhile, and eventually you won’t touch the screen’s edges while using the device normally. That said, even after weeks with mine I still struggle to type while lying down.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge right angle
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge – taken with a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

Design language consistency

Another matter of taste is that Samsung insists on sticking with hardware buttons on the front face of its smartphones.

Preferences for hardware or software buttons aside, the rounded rectangular home button and almost invisible capacitive buttons that flank it have become ingrained in Samsung’s design language.

It makes a Samsung Galaxy device instantly recognisable and, though I might not like it, there is something to be said for maintaining a level of consistency over the years.

Not perfection, but excellence

Despite its faults, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is an excellent phone. Magnificent, in fact.

Not only is it striking, it is powerful too. A beautiful beast of a device.

Unfortunately, the weakness of the rand has caused it to be much more expensive than its predecessor – but if you’re in the market for a new high-end smartphone it is well worth your consideration.

Specifications Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Dimensions 150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm
Weight 157g
Operating system Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Display 5.5″ QHD (1,440 x 2,560)
Rear camera 12MP with f/1.7 lens
Front camera 5MP with f/1.7 lens
Storage, internal 32/64GB
Storage, expandable microSD
RAM 4GB
Processor 2.3GHz + 1.6GHz Exynos 8 Octa 8890
Battery 3,600mAh
Cellular data LTE, HSPA+
IP Rating IP68

The Basics

Battery life. Good – lasts more than a day under normal usage. Fast charge. Non-removable battery.

Display. Good – high resolution, responsive, circular polarising filter, good visibility in sunlight.

Storage. 32GB single partition internal, 24.32GB available. MicroSD support for up to 200GB.

Network. All LTE, 3G, and 2G networks in SA supported.

Cameras. Excellent rear camera. Good front camera. Both have large f/1.7 aperture lenses.

The Verdict: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Likes Dislikes
  • Samsung SA’s ADH warranty
  • Powerful, responsive
  • Beautiful, striking design
  • MicroSD support is back!
  • Waterproof
  • Works with Gear VR
  • Shovelware. Kill it with fire!
  • Non-removable battery
  • Hardware Home, Recents, and Back buttons
  • USB micro-B connector, not type-C
  • Expensive

I tried to buy a Samsung Galaxy S7 and only Vodacom would take my money

Free Google Music with Samsung Galaxy S7 in South Africa

Samsung Galaxy S7 launched in SA – Vodacom and MTN contract prices compared

Samsung will fix your Galaxy S7 for free in one hour if you drop it

Apple iPhone 6s Plus vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge – drop tests reveal which is stronger

LG G5 review – interesting, but unrefined

LG is offering something interesting with its new G5 flagship smartphone.

Its stand-out feature is its modular design, which has received a lot of attention in coverage and reviews of the device.

This is understandable considering how unusual it is, and how dramatically it affected the design of the device, but overshadows the other elements which make up a great smartphone.

Good hardware at a decent price

Specifications LG G5
Dimensions 149.4 x 73.9 x 7.7~8.6mm
Weight 159g
Operating system Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Display 5.3″ IPS QHD (1,440 × 2,560)
Rear camera 16MP (8MP wide)
Front camera 8MP
Storage, internal 32GB
Storage, expandable microSD
RAM 4GB
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 (2x 2.15GHz Kryo + 2x 1.6GHz Kryo)
Battery 2,800mAh (removable)
Cellular data LTE, HSPA+

As the table above shows, the LG G5 has a solid set of hardware on its spec sheet.

It’s not quite as impressive as the Samsung Galaxy S7, but at a recommended retail price of R11,999, the LG G5 is a grand or so cheaper than its nemesis.

Contracts for the LG G5 also run slightly cheaper than its Samsung rival.

Software

LG G5 UX
LG G5 UX

A significant change to the LG G5 that has been completely overshadowed by the modular design is the software user experience.

LG has revamped the look of its standard icons, the notification tray, and the settings menu.

It also followed in the footsteps of other Android OEMs that take a leaf from Apple’s book, and did away with the “All apps” menu.

All apps are now on the device’s home screen, where they may be organised into folders.

This didn’t significantly change the way I use my device, but some Android fans may not like the change.

Cameras

One of the big strengths of the LG G5 is its dual-camera, dual-lens system which offers a wide 135-degree lens and a narrow 78-degree lens.

Though the camera has not yet been rated by DxOmark, my tests with the LG G5’s unit yielded good results.

Several international reviews state that the G5’s camera, and not its modular design, is its best feature.

LG G5 camera test - standard angle HDR
LG G5 camera test – standard angle HDR
LG G5 camera test - wide angle HDR
LG G5 camera test – wide angle HDR

Modular design

While the cameras on the G5 are impressive, the real head-turning feature of LG’s new flagship is its ability to transform by attaching modules onto its battery.

A bold feature, and one of its greatest weaknesses.

Having to shut down your phone to attach a new module isn’t ideal, and many of the LG G5’s “friends” are not great.

While the idea behind the LG CAM Plus is good – an attachment that turns your phone into a dual-lens compact camera with an additional 1,200mAh battery – it wasn’t great to use.

It felt like I was trying to control the smartphone’s shooter with the physical buttons of a disposable camera.

The bottom cap on our review model also did not sit flush with the rest of the case. The right edge was neat, but a slight gap was visible between the bottom-left edge and the cap.

This contributed to the exterior design of the G5 feeling unrefined.

A thin metal wire that runs along the edge of the device – that is rough to the touch – was felt while gripping the device, which also did not help the G5’s cause.

It does offer a better grip, but sacrifices aesthetics and a bit of comfort in the process.

LG G5 cap not flush with case
LG G5 cap not flush with case
LG G5 battery ejected
LG G5 battery ejected

Not perfect, but does it have to be?

The LG G5 doesn’t appeal to me, but if you always wanted a near-solid-body smartphone with a slide-out battery, then it might be for you.

Misgivings about the modular design aside, LG has done something really interesting with the LG G5. It’s not perfect, but it doesn’t have to be.

Maybe the next iteration of this design will let you switch modules without ejecting the battery.

Maybe LG writes the whole concept off as a failure. Which is also all right, because at least they tried something new.

The Basics

Battery life. Good – lasts more than a day under normal usage. Fast charge. Removable battery.

Display. Good – high resolution, responsive, good visibility in sunlight.

Storage. 32GB single partition internal. MicroSD support.

Network. LTE (Cell C, MTN, and Vodacom), 3G, and 2G networks in SA supported.

Cameras. Excellent cameras.

The Verdict: LG G5
Likes Dislikes
  • Interesting design
  • Software Home, Recents, and Back buttons
  • Dual camera, wide and standard lens
  • Reversible USB Type-C connector
  • Removable battery
  • Facebook and Evernote shovelware
  • Unrefined design
  • The All Apps menu is gone

LG G5 contract and LG CAM Plus prices in South Africa

LG G5 hands-on – dragged down by poor friends

LG G5 – the transforming modular smartphone

Why a USB flash drive is better than a banana

 

A USB flash drive is a cool piece of tech.

It is small and relatively cheap, and allows you to carry around a bunch of movies, TV series, photos, and PowerPoint presentations in your pocket.

This is handy if you want to give your friend some media and you both don’t own uncapped 100Mbps fibre connections.

The problem with all the free USB drives we get from companies is that they are usually 4GB or 8GB models, and are in the shape of the Statue of Liberty or some other design that does not let you plug it into a slot if any other connections are within 10cm of it.

So I bought a 64GB Samsung flash drive for the purpose of this review.


Unboxing

Every good review starts with an unboxing.

In box

USB review

Not in box

USB review


Testing

The USB said 64GB on the packaging, but when I plugged it into my PC it only gave me 59.7GB.

Someone in the office was talking about metric vs binary measurements and the difference between hardware space and the size of data, but I couldn’t hear them over the sound of my sobbing.

I was 4.3GB short – that’s at least one full HD movie, including the bonus scenes and director’s commentary, and a bunch of Randy Orton RKO GIFs.

USB review

USB capacity


Comparing Apples to Bananas to DVDs

I was quite upset about having 4GB stolen from me, but I decided to look on the bright side – the flash drive was still better at holding data than many other competing products.

As you can see below, an apple is much bigger than the USB drive and not as good at holding data.

  • USB drive – very small, can hold 30 1080p movies.
  • Apple – big, can hold zero 1080p movies. Also goes brown and soft if left exposed to oxygen.

USB review

I know what you are thinking: “I bet a banana is much better than an apple at USB flash drive stuff”.

Wrong.

First off, look at how much bigger the banana is than the flash drive. That’s not fitting in the little pocket inside the bigger pocket of your jeans.

Secondly, the banana broke apart when we tried to insert it into the USB slot on my laptop.

USB review

USB review

Then there is the classic DVD, but this was not even a contest.

I use the DVD drive on my laptop to warm up ham at my desk, so it does not work properly – but even if it did, I don’t want the sound of a helicopter taking off every time I plan to watch a video.

Also, if you leave a DVD in the tray and your laptop on at night, it will start spinning at maximum pace just to wake you up and remind you that you don’t own a USB drive.

USB review


Usability

One of the most important aspects of any tech products is how “consumer friendly” it is.

If the product is too complex to operate, there is a high barrier to entry for large segments of the market.

Fortunately, the USB drive was not too difficult to use.

I took the drive and tried to stick it in a USB slot, but it would not go in.

I turned it over, and tried again – this time it worked. This manoeuvre is shown below.

USB test


Overall rating

The Samsung USB flash drive is a great product, and I give it a 4/5 rating.

The only reason it lost a point was because it is a very small device, which I put down on my desk at home and now cannot find.


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FNB ConeXis X1 review – a cheap phone with amazing battery life

 

First National Bank recently launched its own range of branded smartphones, which it calls ConeXis.

The aim behind the devices is to offer clients affordable ways to use its digital banking channels, said FNB.

It announced two devices, the more expensive of which was the ConeXis X1.

FNB ConeXis X1: Price – 5/10 to 10/10

ConeXis X1 deal

The ConeXis X1 is available for R150 per month on a 24-month plan.

The repayment plan is different from a typical cellphone contract as FNB won’t do a credit check before selling you either of the smartphones.

Instead, it asks for a refundable deposit. In the case of the ConeXis X1, the deposit is R1,500.

A standout feature is that the monthly price can be reduced through rebates based on your eBucks rewards level, ranging 10% to 100% off.

Premium customers’ rebates will be as follows:

  • Level 1 – R15
  • Level 2 – R30
  • Level 3 – R60
  • Level 4 – R90
  • Level 5 – R150

Without the discounts, the ConeXis X1 is not that competitive, though.

Devices like the Vodacom Smart Ultra 7 and smartphones from Xiaomi provide stiff competition.

If you’re not on a decent eBucks reward level, I would hesitate to recommend the X1.

Design – 8/10

FNB ConeXis X1 photo

The X1 looks like an iPhone 4, and you can’t fault FNB and ZTE for copying the great design.

The micro USB port is in the middle of the bottom edge of the device and on the right edge you’ll find the power/wake switch and volume rockers. The headset jack is just off-centre on the top edge.

Design-wise the X1 looks great, is a comfortable weight, sits well in your hand, and is practical.

Display – 7/10

For a cheap phone, the display on the ConeXis X1 isn’t bad.

However, even though it runs at 720p, the input lag on the touchscreen will frustrate those used to responsive devices.

Because of the slightly sluggish response, there is no way to type fast on the X1’s screen.

Cameras – 6/10

FNB ConeXis X1 camera test

In full light, the rear camera of the X1 takes decent shots – including good macro shots with a good, small depth of field.

At night and in low light, the camera does not perform well. It struggles to focus, the viewfinder in the camera app is sluggish, and shots come out grainy.

The front camera is also not great, with perceptible lag in the viewfinder and tricky focusing.

Battery – 8/10

With minimal usage and background data, Wi-Fi, and NFC turned on, the ConeXis X1 lasted more than a week.

Unfortunately, it does not support fast charge – which means you will have to charge the phone overnight. The battery is also not removable.

Storage – 4/10

FNB decided to split the X1’s storage into two 4GB partitions: system – which you cannot touch – and user.

This means that only 2GB of the device’s internal storage is actually usable.

While the X1 does have microSD support, the way Android works makes this configuration undesirable.

Every app you install takes up space on a phone’s internal storage, even if you are able to install it onto the SD card.

This results in users only being able to install a handful of apps before the internal storage is full.

Every device I have used with a restriction like this has been a frustration.

Network lock-in, shovelware, and software – 0/10

FNB ConeXis X1 homescreen

We don’t normally review SIM-locked phones, as the devices automatically score 0 for network flexibility and customer-friendliness.

The rest of the ConeXis’ software is decent. It sticks close to a stock Android experience, only removing the app tray in much the same way as Huawei does.

This means all your app icons are dumped onto your home screens. Not everyone will like this, and I would have preferred the option LG gives you to turn the app tray back on.

FNB also shipped only a moderate amount of shovelware with the device, most of which is removable.

The only pre-loaded third-party app we couldn’t remove was SwiftKey.

Overall

All things considered, the ConeXis X1 is a great deal if you are on a high eBucks reward level.

If you know what you need from a smartphone, and the limited storage and network lock-in won’t bother you, then it is a good bet for eBucks reward customers.

The Basics

Battery life. Excellent – On minimal usage it lasted more than a week.

Display. Reasonable – 720p, decent visibility in sunlight, not quite as responsive as it needs to be.

Storage. 8GB partitioned into a 4GB system area and 4GB user area. 2GB available. MicroSD support.

Network. LTE support. SIM-locked to FNB network.

Cameras. Reasonable. Decent quality in good light, grainy in low light. Camera app gets sluggish in low light.

The Verdict: ConeXis X1
Likes Dislikes
  • Cheap, provided you have a high eBucks rewards level.
  • Excellent battery life.
  • Cool headset and USB cable.
  • Case included in box.
  • Minimal shovelware. Removable: FNB app, Facebook, WhatsApp, WPS Office.
  • Performs like a low-cost phone.
  • Average camera.
  • Screen response isn’t quite there.
  • Weird internal storage partitioning scheme.
  • SIM-locked to FNB network.

FNB may release more branded smartphones

FNB Unlimited Calling package is the best in South Africa: Tariffic

Unlimited calls on FNB for R399 per month

FNB launching its own smartphones

Motorola back in South Africa with a bang – Moto Z review

Motorola is back in South Africa from 1 November, after it quietly disappeared from the country in 2012.

Its exit followed Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility in August 2011, and its return comes after Lenovo bought it from Google in 2014.

Lenovo has since abandoned the Motorola brand name, opting to use “Moto”.

Lenovo said it will bring a host of new Moto devices to South Africa, with the Moto Z leading the charge.

Moto Mods: snap-on modularity

The stand-out feature of the Moto Z is its modular design, which lets you attach a variety of accessories to the back of the device.

At launch, the Moto Z will have accessories like an extended power pack from Incipio, a Hasselblad camera attachment, and JBL speaker with kickstand.

Mods snap onto the back of the device without needing to power it down or reboot the phone.

They are held firmly in place with strong magnets. While it may not sound secure, the magnets really are strong.

To remove a mod, you put the tip of your finger between it and the bottom edge of the phone.

Applying force lifts the mod away from the phone, allowing you to pull the accessory away from the magnets

Forward (and backward) compatibility, and third-party mods

At over R4,000 each, mods like the Hasselblad True Zoom and Moto Insta-Share Projector are expensive.

However, Lenovo said it will not change the form factor of the Moto Z mods – meaning they remain compatible with future Moto Z devices.

Lenovo has committed to maintain mod compatibility for at least two generations of Moto Z smartphones.

It is also providing developer kits for third parties to build their own mods for the Moto Z range, and has set up an incubator to help fund the best mod ideas.

Moto Z with Hasselblad and JBL Mods

Hardware, design, and cameras

Specifications Moto Z
Dimensions 153.3 x 75.3 x 5.19 mm
Weight 136g
Operating system Android 6.0.1
Display 5.5″ Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440)
Rear camera 13MP
Front camera 5MP
Storage, internal 32GB/64GB
Storage, expandable microSD
RAM 4GB
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 2.2GHz Quad-core
Battery 2,600mAh
Cellular data LTE, HSPA+
SIM type Dual nano SIM

Even without the modular architecture, the Moto Z is a solid flagship Android smartphone.

Moto’s software is essentially vanilla Android, and hardware-wise it is a high-end smartphone.

Specifications include a great set of cameras (DxOMark score of 84), powerful system-on-chip, large high-resolution display, and a fingerprint sensor.

Lenovo made two big trade-offs on the Moto Z, though:

  1. It is not rated water or dustproof, but has a water-repelling nano coating.
  2. It ditched the headphone jack – a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter is included in the box.

Pricing, availability, and the verdict

With the Moto Z, Lenovo is offering an interesting flagship Android phone.

While the lack of 3.5mm jack will be a deal-breaker for some, between the adapter and Bluetooth headphones, I didn’t really miss it.

Moto’s major problem in South Africa is its price. It is going toe-to-toe with the iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S7, and is also facing challengers like the Huawei P9, LG G5, and Sony Xperia XZ.

The Moto Z will be available in black and lunar grey, with recommended retail prices of the device and mods as follows:

  • Moto Z (comes with Moto Style Shell): R12,999
  • Moto Insta-Share Projector Mod: R4,699
  • Incipio offGrid Power Pack Mod: R1,199
  • JBL SoundBoost Mod: R1,699
  • Hasselblad True Zoom Mod: R4,299

The Moto Z is set to go on sale at Takealot and Cellucity on 1 November. Dion Wired is scheduled to carry it from 13 November.

Lenovo has said that Vodacom will have the Moto Z on contract, but details and prices are not yet available.

The Basics

Battery life. Good – More than a week on standby, and well over a day with moderate use.

Display. Excellent – High resolution with good viewing in sunlight.

Storage. 13GB of 32GB available. Choice between microSD or second SIM.

Network. LTE support for Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, and Telkom’s networks. Dual SIM if microSD card not used.

Cameras. Great – Takes good shots in a variety of lighting conditions and distances from subject.

The Verdict: Moto Z
Likes Dislikes
  • Dual SIM
  • Snap-on modular design
  • USB Type-C port
  • Great hardware and software
  • No headphone jack
  • Expensive
  • Not rated against water or dust ingress

Moto Z upright

Moto Z back with Hasselblad and JBL Mod rear

Now read: Lenovo aiming to buy Fujitsu’s PC business: Report

iFrogz Impulse – the Bluetooth headphones that don’t make you look stupid

 

When you say the words “Bluetooth headset”, the first associations are “silly-looking” or “yuppie” earphones.

A more recent association you might make is Apple and Motorola’s decision to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack from their flagship smartphones.

The two companies offer alternatives to wired headphones, with Apple stating it “believes in a wireless future”.

During its announcement of the iPhone 7, Apple also unveiled its new AirPods – wireless headphones that have been on the receiving end of jokes, despite not being launched yet.

Defying the stereotype

The iFrogz Impulse wireless earbuds from Zagg break the Bluetooth headset stereotypes.

They are wireless and use Bluetooth to connect to your device, but you wouldn’t be able to tell at first glance.

Thin wires run from a main control unit to the earbuds, like “normal” headsets. The main wireless hub also has a clip so that it may be attached to your top.

With the hub clipped on and the earbuds in, it is nigh impossible to tell that you’re wearing a Bluetooth headset.

The iFrogz Impulse is not the only Zagg headset that uses this design. It also makes the Charisma, Summit, and Plugz.

However, the Impulse is billed as its “premium audio” set.

zagg-ifrogz-impulse-wireless

Audio performance

Wireless headphones have a reputation for delivering poorer-quality sound than their cabled counterparts.

This preconceived notion is broken by the Impulse earbuds, delivering top-quality audio.

They feature reflective acoustics, which Zagg said creates rich and clear sound through its 11mm drivers.

We tested the headset over of a month, listening to everything from classical music to heavy metal, and using it for voice calls.

If I had to nitpick, I’d say the bass sounds weren’t quite as rich as I’d like them, but for a relatively-inexpensive set of wireless earbuds it was great.

Overall, the music we listened to sounded great and voices were always clear.

Pricing and availability

Zagg’s iFrogz Impulse wireless earbuds are available on Takealot, listed for R679.

Now read: The R570 adapter that lets you charge your iPhone 7 while using headphones

BlackBerry DTEK50 – the “most secure Android phone”

BlackBerry recently launched the DTEK50 in South Africa – a touchscreen Android smartphone built by TCL Corporation.

The DTEK range is marketed as the world’s most secure Android smartphones – a bold claim by the company.

With smartphone security a complex and multi-layered issue, it is not possible to conduct an assessment which takes into account the possibility of future hacking techniques or software – so claims of this nature must be read with caution.

Hardware root of trust, secure bootloaders, and factory reset protection

At the heart of BlackBerry’s security features is its hardware root of trust. This performs a four-stage integrity check of the smartphone’s critical software to ensure it hasn’t been compromised.

Another feature BlackBerry advertises is its improved bootloader for Android. Searching the web, we could not find a verified, working method to unlock the bootloader and flash custom firmware onto the device.

For tinkerers, this will be a bad thing, but for those looking for a completely locked-down Android device, BlackBerry appears to have delivered.

A feature BlackBerry doesn’t speak about is Android’s factory reset protection (FRP). This lets you make your phone useless to thieves by requiring that you sign in with your Google account even after your device has been factory reset.

Many manufacturers have introduced security flaws into their devices that let you bypass the FRP lock, however, rendering it useless.

We could not find any working FRP hacks for the DTEK50 at the time of writing.

blackberry-dtek50-front-bottom-edge

blackberry-dtek50-rear-close-up

Software updates and the DTEK app

All of the baked-in security mentioned above is great. Unfortunately, it does not necessarily insulate BlackBerry from flaws within Android.

When the Quadrooter vulnerability was first disclosed, the DTEK was one of the many Qualcomm-based devices affected.

BlackBerry said it was the first manufacturer to patch its devices, but it’s a reminder that even the DTEK is not untouchable.

Another issue not often mentioned in Android device reviews is that the future security of the device hinges on the continued partnership between the manufacturer and carriers.

If you buy your DTEK50 on contract, but your network operator is slow to test and release the patches supplied by BlackBerry, your device will remain vulnerable even if a security fix has been released.

This is a huge security concern and it’s a question even South Africa’s mobile operators have trouble answering.

BlackBerry DTEK screenshots


Specifications

Specifications BlackBerry DTEK50
Dimensions 147 x 72 x 7.4 mm
Weight 135g
Operating system Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Display 5.2″ 1080p (1,080 x 1,920)
Rear camera 13MP
Front camera 8MP
Storage, internal 16GB
Storage, expandable microSD
RAM 3GB
Processor Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617
Graphics Adreno 405
Battery 2,610mAh
Cellular data FD-LTE, HSPA+
SIM type Nano SIM


Great phone, great price, but don’t let your guard down

Overall, the DTEK50 is a great phone and at a recommended retail price of R6,899, it is pretty good value.

In criticising it, some have said the DTEK50 is just a rebranded Alcatel Idol 4 – which you can get cheaper elsewhere.

This is an oversimplification.

Yes, the DTEK50 does use TCL’s reference design for the Idol 4, but there’s nothing wrong with using a working reference design to build a solid product.

Among the physical differences between the devices is that the DTEK50 has an almost rubbery-textured back, which feels great in the hand. Alcatel opted for a smooth plastic back on the Idol 4.

The major difference is BlackBerry’s software. If the software and security features aren’t what interest you, then this is not the BlackBerry for you.

The DTEK50 offers a great suite of features, but I would warn against over-interpreting the “most secure Android phone in the world” marketing line.

In some respects it is more secure, in others it isn’t. What’s fair to say is that BlackBerry certainly makes the most security-aware Android phones in the world.

The Basics

Battery. Average life. Non-removable.

Display. Good. Decent visibility in sunlight.

Storage. Supports the Android 6 feature to format SD cards as internal storage.

Network. LTE and HSPA+ support.

Cameras. Good performance overall.

The Verdict: BlackBerry DTEK50
Likes Dislikes
  • An Android BlackBerry for people who don’t like hardware keyboards.
  • Great physical design – lovely to hold.
  • Great value. Solid set of hardware at a good price.
  • BlackBerry apps are still not removable, so technically shovelware.
  • Non-removable battery.
  • Danger of a false sense of security – always be vigilant.

Now read: BlackBerry is not abandoning the smartphone business