IRL is a column about stuff we're using in real life and yes, that sometimes includes neon-green charging cables. It also includes all manner of smartphones, as you know, and this week we've got a short-and-sweet write-up comparing the GS3 and GS4. Is the 4 worth an early upgrade? Not if you ask Jon Fingas, anyway, but that's mostly because he's happy with the camera, performance and LTE radio on last year's model.
I've seen some kooky cabling in my day, but TYLT is undoubtedly amongst the kookiest. There's really no rhyme or reason for the company's accessories looking the way they do, but it's fun. And sometimes, you just need fun. I've been using the Band and Y-Charge in my vehicle for a few weeks now to keep my gaggle of iOS and Android devices charged, and I've but a few complaints. On the positive side, it's impossible to lose these things. They're bright, durable, grippy and just generally unlikely to fall between one's seat and the center console -- you know, the abyss.
That said, they're better suited to tweens and the like than grown professionals. They'll liven up the interior of your car, and that may not be the vibe you're after when picking up clients who rock suits and ties. (Update: These are indeed offered in black for those who prefer something less loud, and they work just as well in whatever color you choose.) It'd also be nice if the Y-Charge weren't quite so large -- I picked up a two-port USB car charger from Amazon that just barely sits taller than the cigarette plug itself, which I prefer due to its bantam stature.
Still, the company's got a pretty stout collection of quirky gadgets, and if it's a gift you're after, you can bet that something from TYLT will score high on the "unique" scale.
-- Darren Murph
GS3 vs. GS4
While our review of the Galaxy S 4 gave a quick glance at what it was like to trade up from the GS3, I thought it would be worthwhile to use both more extensively to see what differences would truly stand out after just such a switch. Is it worth being a compulsive early adopter in Samsung's universe? I got to find out by using both Bell and Rogers editions.
More than anything, I enjoy the surface-level improvements. The OLED screen is still dark in bright sunlight, but it's considerably easier to read in those harsher conditions. The PenTile effect is mercifully less noticeable at 1080p, too. The new hardware is easier to grip and use, even one-handed, and the white GS4 so far seems more resistant to scratches and scuffs than either the blue or white GS3. I'm surprisingly okay with the plastic. While I ultimately prefer the build quality of the HTC One, the GS4 feels good enough -- if about as passionless as a washing machine.
It's a tougher call when you consider what's under the hood. The GS4 is indeed faster, but the speed is harder to appreciate beyond specific circumstances, like loading complex web pages or playing taxing games like Real Racing 3. Likewise, the 13-megapixel camera is sharper in low light, but it's not so much better than the GS3's 8-megapixel shooter that I would buy the GS4 for that reason alone. And both Galaxy generations are equally speedy on LTE: the GS4 on Rogers typically peaked at 35 Mbps downstream and 17 Mbps upstream here in Ottawa, which is roughly in line with what the GS3 managed on both Bell and Rogers.
As such, it's hard to imagine forking over the hundreds of dollars for an early GS4 upgrade. It's a fine phone and would be the perfect replacement for someone with a 2011-era Android phone like the Galaxy S II, but I'd have to be genuinely annoyed with the GS3's limitations to buy the 4 right now. Especially when many of the GS4's new features work only sporadically (see: waving my hand frantically to scroll pages), I'd rather spring for the One today, or bide my time for the GS5.
-- Jon Fingas