Samsung’s new Alpha – the latest saga in Samsung’s Galaxy Quest

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Samsung has just unveiled its latest handset – the Samsung Galaxy Alpha. What is all the fuss about?

Starting with the size, it is rather slim at just 6.7 mm thick and is the first Galaxy to be fitted with a metal frame. It is not a heavy handset either, weighing in at just 115 grams – very lightweight and very portable.

So far so good, and Samsung has listened to some of its criticism in terms of the robustness of its phones. One noticeable drawback in the new Alpha is the back is fitted with a flimsy plastic case unlike its rivals Apple and HTC, but this carries the advantage over these rivals in that you can remove the battery. However the flimsy plastic case also prevents effective water-proofing – a small detail but one that would have been appreciated. 

It comes with fingerprint sensor built into the Home button, similar to its other family members. This feature is a relatively new development in mobiles, and comes standard with Apple’s latest iPhone 5. Fingerprint scanning allows for near-instant recognition of the fingerprint of registered users in the phone, so passwords and codes do not have to be entered to access the phone. This works well on the iPhone 5, but Samsung’s fingerprint scanning in its recent Galaxy S5 has taken flak recently, and is reputed to be fairly temperamental and does not work nearly as efficiently as the iPhone’s.

The comparisons with other members of the Galaxy family are pretty well rounded up by Andrew Williams over at Trusted Review where he says:

The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is not a replacement for the Galaxy S5. In many respects it’s a lower-end phone, sitting in-between the Galaxy S5 and S5 Mini in terms of spec.

It has been fitted with Octa Core (Quad 1.8GHz + Quad 1.3GHz) processor complete with 2GB RAM – plenty of processing power for YouTube watchers and Facebook users, but lacking behind the Galaxy S5 if you’re a serious mobile gamer due to its reduced processing power.

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On the screen side you will find a 4.7inch HD (1280x720p). While this is a decent resolution for a handset, it has been pointed out by Trusted Reviews that it is far from being the best screen on the market: “A long shot from the Full HD and QHD heights of the market leading devices”.

The phone is shipped with the Android KitKat 4.4.4 operating system and has internal memory capacity of 32GB – a good amount of space if you plan to store lots of photos, music and videos on your phone. It doesn’t have a SD slot so if you have the tendency to hoard data your phone you may have to ensure you have your phone properly organised. For the selfie lover you have a 2.1MP at the front and a 12MP at the back – plenty of photo quality whether you’re taking photos of yourself or someone else.

The Samsung Galaxy Alpha comes in 5 attractive colours. Charcoal Black, Dazzling White, Frosted Gold, Sleek Silver, and Scuba Blue are all available and look great, so make sure you choose before you buy or you may be stuck for choice. So far Carphone Warehouse as an exclusivity on the blue option. Other provider in line are EE , Vodafone and Three but the phone is not due to release until late August top early September. No announcement has been made by Samsung in terms of pricing for the moment so we shall have to wait and wait and see if the Galaxy Alpha is going to take the world of mobiles over.

What to do with unwanted gadgets: Weeebuy.co.uk, freecycling and charity

A study has revealed that Brits throw away an unbelievable £6 billion a year in unwanted gadgets.

With just 20% of electrical devices recycled, the report, from www.weeebuy.co.uk, reckons each of us is around £90 out of pocket thanks to our wasteful habits.

As we know our readers love their gadgets (well, you wouldn’t be reading this otherwise would you?) we don’t like to think of you throwing good money down the drain, when you could be using it to indulge in your next piece of gadgety goodness.

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So, here are a few ideas about what you can do with your unwanted gadgets, whether it’s making yourself a bit of cash, doing a good turn for someone less fortunate, or saving the earth with a bit of the old reduce, reuse, recycle ethos:

Sell them
As you, our astute readers are obviously aware, www.weeebuy.co.uk didn’t carry out that study entirely for philanthropic purposes. They wanted to get their name out into the open, so that we tech-heads would sell them our gear. So, let’s pander to them, and we’ll tell you how it works.

Log on to the site, enter the products you want to sell and they’ll tell you how much they’ll get. They then data wipe and refurbish devices before selling them on. Personally I’d wipe my device myself, but I guess it adds an extra level of security. If they’re not working, they may be broken down and used for parts to fix other devices.

I though I’d check out a few of my own devices – my EOS 350D DSLR would get me just over £13, while my Sony Ericsson F500i phone (I know, I really need to upgrade!) would get me a paltry two quid. My Nintendo Wii, however would bring in a not inconsiderable £47. You can also swap your gadgets for vouchers if you prefer.

If you send in five or more gadgets you get a better price, so if you have a drawer (or cupboard) full of old gizmos, it’s worth a go. I’d say for more up-to-date kit you’d be better off selling privately on eBay or on a second-hand site such as pre-loved.com or gumtree.com – or even at a car boot sale. At most car boot sales I’ve sold at (especially in London) dealers will pounce on you as you arrive asking for old cameras, electrical and computer equipment, so you’ll be in demand. Just go prepared, with an idea of what your gadgets could fetch, and if they ask how much, always go in with a higher price as they will want to haggle you down.

Recycle mobile phones
You’ve all seen the sites for mobile phone recycling from the likes of Envirofone and Mazuma Mobile. But which one to choose? Well, just like pretty much everything else these days, there are price comparison sites that will trawl the recycling sites and find the best deal for you. I used this and discovered I could get £130 for my husband’s Apple iPhone 8GB 3g (don’t tell him though!).

Donate to charity
Last month, Michael Lucas, retail director at the British Heart Foundation, appealed for Britons to donate their small electrical items to charity shops. Rather than hoarding old CD players, radios and other electronic, give them to charity. Last year the British Heart Foundation raised more than £9 million from selling old electrical goods. Oxfam and Cancer Research also accept small electricals, but it’s worth checking with your local shop that they will accept them before you haul in a boxful of gizmos.

Diabetes UK, meanwhile, offers a free collection service for gadgets including mobile phone, laptops, notebooks and even ink cartridges. They will receive upwards of £3 for each phone, 50 for ink cartridges and up to £100 for old laptops, so it’s a simple way to donate to charity without doing any legwork yourself. For details log on here.

Your local council has to offer a similar service under the WEEE directive, which is aimed at reducing the amount of electrical products produced and the amount thrown away, rather recycled (find out more about WEEE here ). You might find you have to pay them to take your gear away though.
Check out more about local recycling at www.recyclenow.com

Give it away
Don’t forget that someone (almost) always wants what you don’t! Communities such as Freegle and Freecycle are great places to advertise old gadgets. Often you’ll find it populated by at least one person who refurbishes laptops (whether they sell them on for their own gains, or donate them to some charity organisation or school), as well as someone desperate for a CD player that works because their new puppy just chewed theirs to bits. You’ll have to register to join your local site before posting up your offerings.

Make something new!
Finally, if you’re feeling creative and inventive, you could actually make some new gizmos from your old gadgets. Glean some inspiration from 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer (Workman; £9.99; ISBN 978-0-7611-5243-9). This ingenious book has bright ideas for making a breathalyser machine, a water-gun alarm clock and USB-enabled fruit! Your old mobile phone can become a safe for money and thumb drives and your old Palm Pilot can become a doodle pad.
Find out more here.

Beauty is in the eye of the ZTE-holder: The new ZTE F930

Fancy a mobile phone that will enable you to access your mail, Facebook and Twitter accounts but don’t feel like dropping hundreds of pounds of waiting hours and hours in queues for shiny new iPhones? Well thanks to a new handset collaboration between ZTE and 3 you may not have to.

ZTE and 3 invited us down to have a play with the F930 and to talk a little about the future of mobile phones. The F930 is a cheap and cheerful touch screen 3G handset, targeted at students or first jobbers who don’t necessarily have the disposable income to drop on the latest and greatest but who still need access to social media on the go.
The F930 is smooth and pebble like and more chic than any phone that cheap has any right to be. The virtual keyboard was a little too small for my chubby fingers and I struggled to type fluidly. However the slender-fingered lady next to me had no problems at all and Mr. Wu Sa, director of mobile device operations, ZTE (UK) Ltd, was quick to point out there had been a stylus neatly tucked away in the corner of the phone all along that made typing much easier.

Unsurprisingly for a 3 phone, the F930 works well with Skype and has a host of features that are slowly becoming standard on low-end phones – a capacitive touch screen, Bluetooth, multimedia music player and a three mega-pixel camera. I took a few pictures of the slender fingered lady, which were unspectacular but fine for a casual shot at a party – exactly where I could see this phone being used. Planet 3 – an App store from the days before the App Store, also works and has a host of simple games and utilities as well as musical offerings.

If I was a parent looking for a functional phone for my tweens, a student on a budget or a just someone who didn’t want all the bells and whistles of a smartphone … but did want some bells and whistles I’d be happy with the ZTE F930. The F930 is £69.99 on a Pay As You Go contract and free on certain Pay Monthly tariffs.

ZTE and Three UK are also announcing an online competition that will give consumers the chance to win an F930 and a bespoke handbag to house the new handset. The competition will go live later this month and give five lucky winners a luxury leather handbag valued at £500, which will be customised according to the winner’s preferences and include a ZTE F930 compartment.