Concluding a series on the S4 Mini

This is the conclusion article in a series reviewing the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.

Here we are at the end of another series. This was my most inconsistent series, which I should have ended in October, but here I am in January 2014 finishing it off!

In the first article I introduced my new purchase and started the series. I am still (very) glad I chose Android over Apple and a Samsung Galaxy over other rivals. I really like the (in the words of David) Disney layer Samsung add, having compared it to various other Android devices, not running the Samsung version of the OS.

D3O case for the S4 MiniWhilst I do like the S4 Mini, is hasn’t been an easy ride. Before I got my D3O case and Tech21 screen protector, I dropped my phone. The screen hit something and it bounced to the floor. This completely ruined the screen. I took it in for repair and £100 later I had my phone back.

Note to self: always get a really good case, as the cost of that is way less than the cost of a repair. Oh and try not to drop your phone.

A few weeks later my battery started playing up. It wouldn’t hold charge and depleted very quickly. I wasn’t sure if this was related to the earlier drop or not, but I took it back to the shop I bought it from and they said that as it was still within warranty (Samsung give a two year warranty) they would take a look and repair it for me. A few days later I got my phone back (again) and since then nothing has gone wrong.

I recently dropped it again (by accident) outside. It landed on the pavement and bounced to the ground. Luckily the D3O did its work and my phone is still perfectly fine.

Anker S4 Mini Screen ProtectorIn terms of screen protectors I would say the Anker one was much better than the Muvit alternative, however since that post I have purchased a Tech21 Impactology screen protector and I would rate this the best yet. It cost £20 which is five times the cost of the Anker one and I don’t think it is really that much better. Clarity, responsiveness and adhesion are pretty much the same, it’s only the level of protection that I think is probably a little better. Check out this video for more.

My final article reviewed the RoadWarrior car holder for my S4 Mini. Depending upon the car it can be awkward to place, and I am worried it might damage my phone (if I am not really careful when inserting/removing it) but the FM transmitter and spare USB port are great features that I value.

Overall I enjoy using my S4 Mini. It is a good little phone with great capabilities. The battery life could be improved and the OS could be made a little sleeker/easier to use in some places, but on the whole it is a very good handset to buy; it’s more affordable than it’s bigger brother – the S4 – whilst offering a similar experience, from a more conveniently sized device.

Four and a Half StarI think the S4 Mini is worthy of a 4.5 star rating. 🙂

US Border Laptop Searches

This week in the US many news outlets are reporting a story that relates to how private the data on your computer, hard drive or mobile phone may be when passing national borders.

In a legal ruling a judge has in effect supported immigration officials’ rights to look inside your computer if you want to bring it in to the USA. The court ruling relates to an incident in 2010 when Pascal Abidor, a student crossing from Canada, had his laptop confiscated and searched.

A Laptop Search

A Laptop Search

The student claimed that this was unconstitutional as the 4th amendment states that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated….” The US has long held however that this amendment cannot be upheld when dealing with people entering the country.

The judge ruled however that “The agents certainly had reasonable suspicion supporting further inspection of Abidor’s electronic devices”. What is not widely reported is the circumstances that lead to this decision. Abidor has both French and US passports, and upon entering he chose to show the passport that did not contain Visas that demonstrated that he had visited Lebanon and Jordan,  giving officials the impression that he was trying to hide something.

Agents spent five hours searching his laptop and USB drives, and then demanded that he write down his passwords and hand over the laptop and storage media. The laptop was returned by post 11 days later.

There are rules about what the authorities must do with data seized in these cases. All data that is deemed innocent must be destroyed within 7 days of seizure unless permission is given to keep it for longer. Many blogs however cast doubt upon whether an unregulated and poorly reported system can actually enforce this however, an online search of the story gives many different perspectives. The Homeland securities News Wire has one of the most informative.

I presume that like me many of you keep a great deal of personal data on your laptops, from tax returns, bank details, love letters and personal photos, and all of these things may be accessed in a case like this. One issue that has come to the fore has been brought by researchers and reporters, who may not be able to reveal sources of information for ethical, security or legal reasons, but may unwittingly do so by leaving evidence of their informers’ identities on their computers.

The line is blurred here, as today smuggling must include information smuggling and authorities may need to search information media, but an individual must be aware that all information carried over an international border is open to search. This must have repercussions in terms of industrial as well as personal privacy.

RoadWarrior USB Car Holder Review

This is the sixth article in a series reviewing the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.

Is the sat nav redundant? Smartphones and tablets have arguably made laptops, desktops, mobile (or cell) phones and sat navs redundant. My S4 Mini is now my sat nav, so I need a car charger to hold my phone on the go so it can act as my sat nav.

After a lot of research I decided to get the a RoadWarrior – great name.

What Does It Do?

The reason I chose the RoadWarrior is because of its functionality. The car holder both charges a phone and holds it. It also has an extra USB port you can use to charge another device. Its most attractive feature however is its inbuilt FM transmitter inbuilt, meaning you can link your phone to your cars stereo.

Does It Work?

Ever looked at something online and though that it looks too good to be true? Well I was sceptical about the RoadWarrior. However whilst it does have  a few faults, it does generally do what it says it does. With some cars depending upon where the cigarette lighter plug is, it can be in an awkward place, meaning that the RoadWarrior can get in the way. This isn’t the fault of the holder and it does have a flexible arm which is movable so you can reposition it.

The FM receiver does work, and it relatively easy to set up (if you remember to flick the on/off switch on the side like I didn’t) just tune it to an unused frequency using the buttons and then tune your car stereo to the same frequency.

The charger does work reasonably well and still works when charging two devices (i.e. a phone and anything else plugged in to the spare USB). The power plug is a little wobbly and does sometimes disconnect which is annoying.

My biggest problem with the RoadWarrior is how it holds my phone. Whilst I appreciate it is designed to hold a variety of phones I don’t feel all to confident in putting my phone in and taking it out. The adjustable clamp does hold it in place, but my phone can still move a little, which I worry is damaging the connector. Furthermore, to get my phone out, the instructions say I have to bend it forwards and then pull it out. I am also concerned that this movement might be damaging my phones power connector – a costly thing to replace!

Rating

The RoadWarrior is a really great device. I feel its greatest feature is its FM transmitter so you can connect your phone to your car, whilst charging it, even if your car doesn’t have bluetooth of USB port. My main problem with the charger is how securely it holds my phone, nothing has gone wrong yet though.

Overall I rate the RoadWarrior USB Car Charger 4 star.Four Star

Next Week

Next week I will be finishing the series!