Camera Challenge: Pixel 2 vs iPhone 6S

Since the main reason I bought the Pixel 2 was for the camera, I decided to put photos side-by-side to show the difference in camera quality. These pictures were all taken with automatic settings, flash turned off, and the camera focused itself. Read More »

BREAKING: Lauren Kortbein has switched platforms…again

A long, long time ago, I was a BlackBerry addict. I had numerous devices, from OS 7 all the way up to BlackBerry 10. I was such an addict, that when I switched to iPhone, it became a “thing”. (You can read my reasons to switch here.) Someone actually wrote a blog about why my reasons to switch were invalid and how getting an iPhone made me an “iSheep”. I was hounded on social media for weeks about being a traitor to BlackBerry. So while I would prefer not to live through that experience again, I do have an announcement: I’ve switched platforms yet again. But I’m getting ahead of myself…Read More »

Instagram Photo Tips (Plus My Best Kept Secret!)

As someone who absolutely loves Instagram, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way. I’m not an expert at Instagram, but I don’t think anyone really is. Social media is constantly changing, as is the way people use and relate to social media. Some people love looking at pictures of carefully organized flat lays, while others only want to see pictures of mountains and wilderness. But whatever Instagram is to you, everyone can benefit from a few tips and tricks to make the best of their Insta-experience! So take one tip or take them all, and let me know what helped you most!Read More »

Workhard Anywhere

Since we take our phones and tablets everywhere we go now, it would only make sense that we would use them for most of our day to day work. But how are we supposed to do said work without good WiFi, comfortable seating and plentiful outlets? If only there was an app that provided all this information…
Enter Workhard Anywhere. If you didn’t guess from the name, the app was created with the idea that it would give people a place to find all this information quickly. The founders, Benson and Cody, created the app while working on projects with each other. Because they didn’t live near each other, they had to meet in places like coffee shops and libraries. They created Workhard Anywhere as a way to keep track of which spots had the best WiFi, seating and outlet options. Today, over 900 people have helped grow the app into a collection of 2400+ workspaces in 50 countries. They believe “work may be hard, but finding a place to work shouldn’t be”.

The app itself is easy to use and understand, opening up by showing you a map of your surrounding location, and any possible workhard spots. Since it would be impossible for just 2 people like Benson and Cody to update every possible coffee shop and location, anyone who downloads the app is able to create new spots and update existing locations. Users can enter ratings of number of outlets and seats. They can also enter whether parking is readily available, whether on the street or in a lot. Once you say WiFi is available, the app will test the connection and show the speed.  And if you’re just looking for somewhere to write a quick blog post, you can pull up information on locations that have already been submitted by others. You’ll get a quick overview of all the information necessary to help you write that blog post about the latest app.

The beta testers have been hard at work making sure the app was absolutely perfect, so once it was officially released, everyone could be up and running, getting their work done in the most ideal locations. While this app was previously only available to those beta testing the app, as of today it’s available on the Apple App Store! Download it today, and add your input to the 2400 workhard locations around the globe!

Tough Love: Why We Left Our BlackBerrys

As you have probably noticed, we have recently made the change from BlackBerry to iPhone (which you can read about on Lauren’s blog and David’s blog). We’ve gotten a lot of questions and comments from this switch, and because of that, we decided to write a blog post about the reasons why. Since we both got BlackBerrys at the same time, and then switched to iPhone at the same time, we thought it only appropriate that we create a unified blog post about it!

How We Got Involved in BlackBerry

Lauren: I’ve always been a huge supporter of BlackBerry, and absolutely loved their phones. My first smartphone was a BlackBerry Storm back in 2009, and I’ve had BlackBerrys ever since. The #TeamBlackBerry community was just another reason I chose to stay with BlackBerry. They helped me with issues, supported me in my various endeavors, and became some of my closest friends! As iPhones became more and more popular, I swore I would never buy one. My friends eventually all switched to iPhones, even the ones who were as dedicated to Android as I was to BlackBerry. It was hard constantly explaining why I continued to love BlackBerry, why their devices worked for me, and why I hadn’t tried an iPhone yet. Since I had never used anything different, all I knew was BlackBerry. I thought they were the best phones for me, and no other phone would even come close.

David:  My intrigue with BlackBerry began in 2008 when my mother brought home a BlackBerry Curve 8330.  I was fascinated by a phone with the ability to load full web pages and one that had a full QWERTY keyboard.  In 2009, when it came time to upgrade, I chose a Pearl Flip 8230 to be my first smartphone and my first BlackBerry.  The more I used my BlackBerry, the more I loved the experience, and that experience is what brought me back in 2011 to a Torch 9810, a Z10 in early-2013, and a Z30 earlier this year.  With every passing BlackBerry device that fell into my hands, the more entrenched within the #TeamBlackBerry community I became and, soon enough, I found myself surrounded by some of my now-closest friends and the only thing which brought us together were our BlackBerry devices.  The allure of the iPhone and other competing operating systems normally felt distant, for a long time because BlackBerry’s experience felt better, but also because where BlackBerry lacked in a truly encompassing ecosystem, it excelled in forming a tight-knit community of users, most of whom cared about each other.  With every new BlackBerry came a renewed resolve, a resolve that I would never use anything but a BlackBerry in my life.

 

What Made Us Switch

Lauren: When one of my friends switched to the iPhone 6, I decided to test out his iPhone 5. After using it for a few days, I realized that this was actually the best phone for me. I was worried that I liked this phone so much! I was always defending BlackBerry against Apple, saying how you couldn’t possibly be productive on an iPhone, and how they were for people who wanted to conform. After using the phone for a few weeks, I realized what I should have realized years ago. Just because you support a company and appreciate the products they create doesn’t mean it’s the best product for you.

David:  In mobile, there are only two (well, three, now) companies that develop the software and manufacture their own hardware; Apple and BlackBerry (and now Microsoft).  As such, I’ve always found every iPhone since the iPhone 4 fascinating.  However, the experience (combination of both hardware and software) was never enough to pull me away from BlackBerry. Still, I levied my opinion on the iPhone as if I had used one.  As someone who loves technology, especially mobile technology, and a computer science undergraduate student, I recently began feeling that it was unfair of me to do this.  Admittedly, it became harder to say why my BlackBerry was the best choice for me, let alone my friends, family, and anyone else who asked for my opinion on the matter.  BlackBerry’s new enterprise-focused direction and target market further convinced me that it was time to explore other devices, OSs, and ecosystems.  It’s difficult to say that this was fueled by a dissatisfaction for my Z30 or BlackBerry 10, but it was a feeling of alienation that pushed me to fulfill a wish 4 years in the making; the wish to give the iPhone its fair share of a chance.

 

Why iPhone is Currently the Best Phone for Us

Lauren: Social media is my passion, and it’s the career path I plan on taking after college. Because there are so many new platforms and apps designed every day relating to social media, I need to stay up-to-date with them. This is the critical area that caused me to rethink my phone choice. BlackBerry doesn’t have the major apps that I need and want, like Instagram, Snapchat and Tumblr. Yes, there are Android apps that can be sideloaded, and there are native versions of these apps, but they just can’t compare. As much as I risk sounding like Jony Ive, everything on iPhones just works. The apps work as they should, the OS itself is lag-free and it has all of the features I want and need. Sure, there are things I miss on my BlackBerry, but things like the hub and LED come second to apps and compatibility.

David:  When I used to tell people why I chose a BlackBerry over other devices, I would say that I didn’t use many apps and that I didn’t need them.  Well, the fact of the matter is, I never knew what it meant to have many apps to use and the world’s largest, most polished app library from which to choose.  Now I have access to apps for services that I’ve used while on my BlackBerry, like Pinterest, WordPress, and all of my tennis apps. Of course, there are certain things about my BlackBerry that I miss; swiping to reach the BlackBerry Hub, the flashing LED, the typing experience, and BBM on BlackBerry.  However, when it comes to the most consistent, most polished, most power-efficient operating system on the market, it’s very difficult to make a case against iOS.  Everything really does just simply work as you’d like it and, for the most part, in a very elegant and efficient fashion.

 

The Future

We can’t predict what will happen in the future, and we certainly can’t predict what phones are coming out in the upcoming months/years.  When it comes to what devices we’ll be picking up in the future, it’s difficult to predict with much certainty.  Right now, iOS is our operating system of choice because it works the best for us above its competitors.  With that being said, the door is never fully closed on the possibility of returning to BlackBerry.  We’ll be ever observant and supportive of the company that made us passionate about smartphones, hoping that it fully recovers and wins in the enterprise.  Even more than that, though, we desperately hope to see BlackBerry return to the consumer market with devices that can compete for the hearts of consumers like us with a version of BlackBerry 10 that exudes the polish and elegance of iOS while, at the same time, does so in a very BlackBerry-like fashion.  Whether it be through carrying one of its devices or purely through our sentiments, we’ll always support BlackBerry and our #TeamBlackBerry community.

 

Final Thoughts on the LG G3

I want to start off by thanking Verizon for the opportunity to test out the LG G3 for the past few weeks! It’s been fun using a new device and a new OS. There are so many features of this phone, so let’s jump right in!

The most noticeable thing about the G3 versus the iPhone 5 is, of course, the screen size. The LG has a 5.5″ screen, which was fun to use at first, but too big for my liking. I use the phone one handed a lot, and this proved to be difficult even with the “one handed use” features Android has. I did love the screen resolution, which was very noticeable when using Instagram! Even though this is a brand new phone, the OS seemed to be laggy at times, even when I wasn’t asking it to do much. I’ve never had lag on my iPhone, even though it’s 2 years old. iOS seems more refined than Android, and although you can’t customize as much, you don’t need to on an iPhone because everything works the way it should. The features of Android itself go on and on. You can customize almost everything, and the lists seem to be infinite. For example, you have 6 different options just to unlock the phone, including knock code, where you tap a specific combination on the locked screen. With swipe to unlock enabled, double tapping the screen when it was off turned it on. Since the lock/unlock button is on the back of the phone, this was handy if you wanted to check notifications while it was on a flat surface. This unique feature ended up being my least favorite of the whole phone. I use phones on a flat surface a lot, whether I’m in class or at work, and I like being able to press the lock button without having to pick it up. The volume buttons on the back make sense when you’re on a phone call, but the power button on the back is just a hindrance. Another feature located on the back of the phone is the speaker. An interesting placement, but not as bad as the power button. The speaker itself sounds great, and was crystal clear even with the volume turned all the way up! The battery life was absolutely incredible. I only charged it a few times during the week, whereas I charge my iPhone a few times a day. I was pleased to find that the large and vibrant screen didn’t negatively affect battery life. I was also impressed by the quality of the phone itself. The back is made of plastic, but that doesn’t mean it looks cheap. I’m confident this phone is durable enough to withstand a fairly high drop.

Since I’ve used recent versions of BlackBerry, Android and iOS, I now understand the pull of each of them. BlackBerry is definitely the powerhouse, meant to get things done. iOS is great for people who need apps, and want compatibility between different types of technology. Android is meant for people who need choices, not only in the features they enable on their phone, but the phone itself. There will always be people who claim one platform is superior to all others, but I think each platform is great in their own way. It would take a novel to compare these three OS’, and talk about the features I liked on each one and didn’t on the others. Depending on what you’re looking for from a mobile OS, there is something for you out there!

Android seems to make this phone a great daily device, especially for someone who doesn’t want to carry around a laptop, but doesn’t own a tablet. Overall, although I’m very appreciative that I was able to test the G3 out, it’s definitely not the phone for me. The screen was too big, the power button is poorly placed, and Android seems unfinished. But just because it didn’t work for me doesn’t mean that it’s not right for others! The beauty of everyone having different wants and needs for their phone is that there are so many phones and OS’ to choose from! Read reviews, ask opinions, but most importantly, test these devices out for yourself to see what works best for you. Don’t knock it ’til you try it!

iPhone Apps and Accessories

Most of the time, getting used to a new phone and a new mobile OS is a challenge. But seeing as how the high majority of people have an iPhone, it wasn’t so much “difficult” as it was just finding out everything the phone could do. As I said in my previous post, a big part of me switching to an iPhone was the availability of apps. Now I’m overwhelmed with choices, but two weeks in and I’m already picking favorites.

My favorite apps (so far):

  • Tweetbot: I was hesitant to buy this Twitter app since it was $5, but I definitely don’t regret it! Native Twitter is awful no matter what platform, so I was glad to have this as a replacement.
  • Afterlight/VSCOcam/Fragment: These 3 photo editing apps are the main reasons why I’ve been posting so much more to Instagram now.
  • Spotify: Student discount makes this $5/month. That’s a cup of coffee!
  • Pocket: I find a lot of cool articles to read, but don’t always want to read them at that exact time. This app allows me to save the links to read whenever.

Not only do I have what seems like an unlimited amount of apps, but I also have an unlimited amount of accessories!

My favorite accessories (so far):

  • Mophie case: As stated on Twitter, this isn’t so much an accessory as it is a necessity. Nevertheless, I have one in pink now, so that’s freaking awesome.
  • Casemate brilliance case: I love glitter and sparkle. This case doesn’t lack that!
  • Bose speakers: These tiny speakers are as good as the huge speakers we have in my living room, if not better. Also, I don’t actually own this, I just steal it from my roommate. (Don’t worry, I always give it back!)