- This Mobile runs on Android OS, v4.4.4 (KitKat) powered with Octa-core 1.7 GHz Cortex-A53.
- This Mobile has 13 MP, 4160 x 3120 pixels, autofocus, LED flash and has 8 MP, 1080p Secondary camera
- This Mobile has 5.5 inches (~67.2% screen-to-body ratio) inches display Capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors.
- This Mobile has 16 GB, 2 GB RAM of internal memory.
- This Mobile has Non-removable Li-Po 2600 mAh battery
- This Mobile has Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by) sim
- Compare prices for HTC Desire 820s dual sim in Saudi Arabia:
Write Your Own Review
|2G Network||GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 - SIM 1 & SIM 2|
|3G Network||HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100 TD-SCDMA 1900 / 2000|
|4G Network||LTE band 1(2100), 3(1800), 7(2600), 8(900), 38(2600), 39(1900), 40(2300), 41(2500)|
|Sim||Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)|
|Status||Available. Released 2015, March|
|Dimensions||157.7 x 78.7 x 7.7 mm (6.21 x 3.10 x 0.30 in)|
|Weight||155 g (5.47 oz)|
|Display Size||5.5 inches (~67.2% screen-to-body ratio)|
|Protection||Corning Gorilla Glass 3 - HTC Sense UI 6.0|
|AlertTypes||Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones|
|LoudSpeaker||Yes, with stereo speakers|
|CardSlot||microSD, up to 32 GB|
|Internal||16 GB, 2 GB RAM|
|Speed||HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE Cat4 150/50 Mbps|
|WLAN||Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, hotspot|
|Blue Tooth||v4.0, A2DP|
|Camera Primary||13 MP, 4160 x 3120 pixels, autofocus, LED flash|
|Camera Features||Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, HDR, panorama|
|CameraSecondary||8 MP, 1080p|
|OS||Android OS, v4.4.4 (KitKat)|
|CPU||Octa-core 1.7 GHz Cortex-A53|
|Sensors||Accelerometer, proximity, compass|
|GPS||Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS|
|Java||Yes, via Java MIDP emulator|
|Colors||Marble White, Milkyway Gray, Monarch Orange, Santorini White, Tuxedo Gray|
|Others||- MP4/H.264/WMV player - MP3/eAAC+/WMA/WAV player - Document viewer - Photo/video editor|
|Battery||Non-removable Li-Po 2600 mAh battery|
|StandBy||Up to 560 h (3G)|
|TalkTime||Up to 12 h 10 min (3G)|
Your princess isn't in another smartphone
It's Friday. You're giddy with excitement. It can only mean one thing…7 days in smartphones is back again!
Forget being "social" with your so-called "friends", stay here in the dark with as we try to make you laugh. Once. It's the best we can hope for.
Nintendo is finally entering the smartphone market. We've waited years to say it and – phwoar– that felt seriously good.
The bad news is it isn't exactly as we'd anticipated, it looks like Mario and co will be taking a back seat to make way for new mobile franchises.
The move comes after a partnership with developer DeNA who will have free reign over the Nintendo IPs but won't be aiming to create ports of Wii U or 3DS games.
Instead it'll be focusing on new titles – is that really such a bad thing? Well, probably - these things rarely go well.
Even though the Mario, Zelda, Pokémon, rinse and repeat formula can sometimes feel a little tiresome, Nintendo wanting to enter the world of Candy Crush doesn't necessarily fill me with glee.
That said, if anyone can do it with style and create some new engaging characters to go on the journey with, surely it's Nintendo. You hear that Iwata? My credit card is waiting and I'm ready and waiting to make micro payments now.
Microsoft wants your Android!
Windows 10 news now smartphans: Microsoft wants to bring its new operating system to your Android smartphone.
Yeah, that's right, Microsoft wants to wrangle your unrestricted OS, throw up a bunch of electric fences and restrict the amount of apps you'll be able to download.
OK, maybe not quite like that, but the Softies have announced plans to allow users to trial a custom ROM on the Xiamoi Mi 4 that removes all trace of the Android OS for an almost complete version of Windows 10.
It's Microsoft's attempt to steal users from the Android ecosystem and switch them over to Windows Phone, but it'll be some seriously hard work considering the reduced number of apps available on the platform.
Will anyone actually choose to make their Android run Windows Phone? Only time will tell.
Or, well, no.
One hoof forward
One hoof, two hoof, three hoof, four, repeat. Walking was becoming easier by the day as Winston's long recovery continued to drag.
"You're doing great, just a few more steps" reassured the nurse ready to catch him at the slightest sign of a stumble.
One hoof, two hoof, three hoof, four, done. Winston collapsed into the really rather long wheelchair, sweat dripping from his mane. The nurse looked at him sympathetically, stroking his fetlock, and said tenderly: "That's enough for one day... let's get you back to your bed."
Wheeled back to the side of his bed, he clambered onto the sheets and forced himself to look at the odd, faceless black brick that seemed to be staring him from the bedside table.
Over the preceding days and weeks he'd gradually been building the confidence to explore the Apple iPhone and take control of his first ever keyless smartphone. OK, the Storm didn't have any keys... except it did. The whole display was a key. It was glorious, but now it was gone.
In that time he'd learnt how to turn on the display, unlock it, take a few snaps around his hospital room and even get used to the onscreen keyboard. Apps were still a weird experience: he'd finally realised how to download them, but was bewildered by how many there were. Inside, he still missed the choice of just 11 that used to populate BlackBerry App World.
Then the day came: it was time to go home. His rehab was over. It was time to venture back out into the world, a robotic unicorn sent out to live once again.
With an NHS prescribed iPhone 6 Plus in his left hoof, a small bag of belongings in his right, it was time to flip open Apple Maps, type in Mobonia, get confused as to why it wasn't there (before finding it simply on Google Maps) and continue on his journey, but where next?
A flagship for the Shin!
Although likely not the best smartphone you've ever owned, the Samsung Galaxy S ended up being one of the major competitors to the iPhone 4.
Here are some of the highlights from the one and only JK Shin announcing it way back in March 2010. Kevin from Twitter is definitely NOT reading from an auto-cue.
Strange press shot of the week
*Read in your best David Attenborough voice*
Here we see a young stubble-styled hipster out of his normal Shoreditch habitat, discovering the phenomenon of fresh berries.
This specimen, likely known as Atticus to his friends, has lost his Polaroid camera and decides to join the modern world with the Sony QX100 Lens Style Camera for smartphones and tablets.
He attaches it to a Sony Xperia Z2 to snap some blackberries and then ask all his Instagram friends what they are.
Sadly he has yet to receive a response as none of his followers could identify them through the Nashville filter.
Retro video of the week
"You know there's a sexier way to connect to the web." That was the slogan of the Siemens C35i.
It seems the company wanted to sex up its image – if that's even possible with a NSFW name like Siemens – so it employed some proper hot bods to strut around the emptiest, weirdest lit nightclub in all of Germany.
If you can discern what actually happens at the end of the video please let us know in the comments as our tiny little tech focused minds can't work it out.
Proper bits from the site
Remember the best phone you ever had? It was likely the Nokia 3310 and we went on a journey through time to bring you back the best details we could find on it – just look how pretty it is!
EE has replaced its Orange Wednesday's deal with a significantly less exciting streaming proposition. We don't know exactly what kind of films it'll include just yet but we can speculate 70% of them will include Steven Seagal.
Dyson has invested in some new technology to make your smartphone's, and your vacuum cleaner's, battery last even longer.
And finally the auto-tuned Robocop look-a-like that is Will.i.am has teamed up with the fashion brand Gucci to bring you yet another horrible "smartband".
Introduction and design
The Android mid-range is a varied and wonderful place to be shopping in 2015. At one end, the Motorola Moto G is punching above its weight, while at the other, the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is mixing it with the flagships.
In particular, an injection of talent from China has really boosted and stimulated this portion of the market – which is where the ZTE Blade S6 comes in.
At just £170 ($250, AU$314), the Blade S6 slips comfortably into that lower-mid range alongside the Moto G and under the OnePlus One.
ZTE's well-specced 5-inch phone has the raw ingredients to be a real contender at this price point, but lazy design could prove to be its downfall in an increasingly competitive market.
Let's not pretend here – the ZTE Blade S6 design is a blatant copy of the iPhone 6.
From its rounded corners and tapered display to its curved metal-effect edges and back, an initial glance is all that's necessary to see through ZTE's act.
Unfortunately, a closer look reveals the folly of taking such a shameless approach in a cut-price handset. The inevitable unflattering comparison can only lead to disappointment and a far more critical appraisal than a more modest or generic design might elicit.
That tapered display turns out to be ringed by a naff plastic rim, while the back and sides of the Blade S6 are formed of a tacky silver-painted plastic that's both slippery and unpleasant to hold.
The power and volume buttons are well situated on the right hand edge, and reasonably tactile in a clicky kind of way, but the capacitive keys below the display are just plain weird.
There's a permanently visible circular home key that seems to suggest iPhone-like functionality, but pressing it won't wake the phone from sleep, despite that being your instinctive response. This home button doubles as a blue notification light, which also looks a little cheap and out of place.
Either side of that home button are two dots that occasionally light up, providing the standard Android back and menu buttons. They've been left as dots because you can swap around their assigned functions, but it feels a little counter-intuitive not having them properly labeled.
Matters improve with the ZTE Blade S6's display. It's only a relatively modest 5-inch 720p LCD effort, so it's not particularly sharp compared to the 1080p efforts that are now making their way into mid-range fare such as the Honor 6 and (of course) the OnePlus One.
However, it's sharp enough for most tasks. The picture is nice and clear, thanks to in-cell technology that combines the digitiser and the LCD components into a single layer. Viewing angles are decent too, as befits an IPS screen.
It's not so long ago that in-cell and IPS screen technologies were signs of a premium handset.
If I was to pick a nit here, it would be that the ZTE Blade S6 display's maximum brightness setting seems a little on the low side. It's not dim, but it only just feels like enough.
Storage of 16GB is okay for a phone of this class, and you also get a microSD slot for expansion. This is accessed through a slightly ugly tray that requires a SIM tool, and is situated right alongside the SIM tray itself.
Check out the press blurb surrounding the launch of the Blade S6, and you might be surprised to learn that ZTE views its Smart Sense function as the handset's defining feature.
I say surprised, because the feature completely escaped my notice for most of the time I spent with the phone. It's turned off by default, and it's not even labeled as Smart Sense on the phone. Instead, it's buried away as part of the rather unassuming Gesture & Motion app.
Once activated, Smart Sense lets you initiate certain functions with various gestures and motions. These vary in usefulness from "kind of cool I guess" to "why on earth would I want to do that?"
On the gesture front, there are the ultra-fiddly music app shortcuts that let you play and pause tracks by holding the volume down key and moving the Blade S6 in a V and a O shape respectively.
This function is already off to a loser by virtue of the fact that it only works with the stock Music app, which will probably be sidelined by Google Music or your music subscription app of choice.
It's also just a really flaky system, and it's much easier just to hit the power button and used the lock screen music controls that are baked into Android 5.0 Lollipop.
The ability to silence alarms or answer phone calls by swiping over the phone when it's lying flat on a table might have been of some use if it wasn't so hit and miss, and the option to boot up the torch or calculator apps by shaking the phone is possibly the least reliable gesture of the lot.
Smart Sense is a good idea, but the fact that it can be backgrounded and forgotten so readily tells you everything about its practical worth and usability.
Another defining feature of the ZTE Blade S6 is its dual-SIM set-up. You can sit two nano SIMs side by side the SIM tray, allowing you to run two phone accounts from the one handset.
This feature has been available for years in feature phones and smartphones in the developing world, but we only get the odd niche handset supporting the feature in the west. It's actually very handy if you're someone who has to lug two phones around with you – one for work and one for personal use.
The execution feels a little clunky and shoehorned in here, but with Android 5.1 adding native support for dual-SIM set-ups, the ZTE Blade S6 should only get better in this regard once it receives the update.
Probably of more interests to users in places like the UK, the US and Australia will be the fact that the ZTE Blade S6 runs on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 615 CPU. There'll be more detail on this chip's in the next section, but it's worth pointing out that ZTE is claiming that the Blade S6 is the "World's first Android-L mobile phones powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 615."
This is notable because the Snapdragon 615, while a decidedly mid-range chip, is built on a 64-bit architecture. This doesn't make a huge difference in practical terms, but it does mean that the Blade S6 is future-friendly and well set-up for the 64-bit Android 5.0 Lollipop OS.
Indeed, the fact that the ZTE Blade S6 comes with Android 5.0 Lollipop is a noteworthy feature in itself. What's more, this is a pretty faithful version of Google's most attractive and advanced mobile OS yet.
Layered on top is ZTE's MiFavor 3.0 UI, which is one of the less obtrusive and fussy custom Android interfaces manufacturers have come up with.
Android 5.0's core components are pretty much unchanged, including its slick menus, notification bar, and multitasking function. This is a very good thing, and actually makes the Blade S6 nicer to operate (in software terms at least) than many more expensive handsets from more established manufacturers.
ZTE has made a couple of changes though, the most obvious of which is the fact that there's no app tray. As in iOS, your apps are simply spread across however many home screens they need. You still get access to app folders, though, which can be set up by dragging and dropping the icons onto one another.
There's also a rather pointless personalisation menu here, which is initiated by swiping up on the home screen as in iOS 8's quick settings menu. This offers instant access to background colour, wallpaper and menu animation changes.
I'm not opposed to personalisation, but is this really the best use of such a readily accessible menu? We'd rather ZTE had used this gesture to provide quick access to handy tools such as the torch and the calculator, like in iOS 8.
Still, if you download the Google Now Launcher, Google Camera, and Google Keyboard, you'll essentially get something approaching a stock Android 5.0 Lollipop experience, which is pretty cool – and still all too rare.
Performance and battery life
As I mentioned in the previous section, the ZTE Blade S6 runs on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 615 CPU. This capable chip may be middle-of-the-range, but it has a couple of advanced features up its sleeve that serve to boost the ZTE Blade S6's performance.
The Snapdragon 615 is a quad-core (octa-core actually, but I'll discuss that in the battery section) chip running at 1.7GHz. As stated, the headline spec here is the chip's 64-bit architecture, though that doesn't mean that it outperforms last year's flagship 32-bit chip, the Snapdragon 801.
As my Geekbench 3 benchmark tests reveal, the Snapdragon 615 chip (backed by 2GB of RAM) performs similarly to the Snapdragon 600 it replaces – that's the chip that powered the HTC One M7 and other 2013 flagships – in single-core terms.
When it comes to multi-core performance, which is useful for high-end tasks like 3D gaming, the ZTE Blade S6 and its Snapdragon 615 chip are roughly in the region of Snapdragon 800-powered devices like the Nexus 5.
Not bad at all for this price.
Combined with a fluid and relatively unmolested Android 5.0 Lollipop OS, the ZTE Blade S6 performs brilliantly in general tasks, with navigation smooth and snappy.
When pushing it a little harder with 3D games, performance remained strong. Real Racing 3's impressive 3D racing was rendered pretty much flawlessly here, as was Trials: Frontier's wince-inducing bike physics action.
With the graphics settings bumped up to high, Dead Trigger 2's advanced reflections caused the Blade S6 to strain a little, but it was still perfectly playable.
All in all, you can't get a better performing phone for less than £200.
The ZTE Blade S6's 2,400mAh battery provides adequate stamina - decent at a push - but it's nothing special.
After a day of moderate usage (with the phone switched to airplane mode overnight), I would find that the phone had less than 30% left in the tank.
"Moderate usage" here involved 20 minutes or so of 3D gaming, a little light web browsing, and frequent email and text message checks and responses, with regular notifications coming through.
When put through the standard TechRadar test of a 90 minute 720p video, with screen brightness set to full, the Blade S6 was left with 83% battery life.
That's pretty good going, and is roughly equivalent to the Honor 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S5.
True, those phones have sharper, more power-hungry 1080p displays, but they also have significantly larger batteries.
Aiding this battery life, the ZTE Blade S6's Snapdragon 615 processor is built to ARM's big.LITTLE standard, which means that it flips between two quad-core set-ups according to the intensity of the task at hand.
All in all, you'll be able to get through a day of usage fairly comfortably, but any more will be pushing it.
The ZTE Blade S6 is a solid general performer, which is aided by that light UI layered over stock Android 5.0 Lollipop.
This means that you get the stock Google phone and contacts apps, which serve the purpose of making and receiving calls very well indeed. That includes a smart dialer that predicts the number you're dialing as you tap it out – whether numerical or alphabetical.
Speaking of calls, call quality was fairly poor during my time with the phone. Calls were stable enough, but the sound was slightly muffled and distant compared to more premium phones like the LG G3.
The standard messaging app feels a little out of place in this shiny Lollipop environment. Its design feels old fashioned, clashing with the aforementioned core phone and contacts apps.
I'd recommend downloading Google's own Messages app from the Google Play Store, which has a much more fitting Material Design aesthetic.
When it comes to typing out those messages, though, the ZTE Blade S6 is quite strong. The TouchPal keyboard is one of the better default examples I've used, with a novel but genuinely useful swipe system for alternative characters.
Inputting a comma, for example, is a simple case of touching the M key and swiping down. It's quick and impressively reliable, and beats the usual press-and-hold technique hands-down.
Visually, it doesn't sit too well with the Material Design aesthetic that of Android 5.0 – it's closer to the Jelly Bean and KitKat-era keyboard – but this was one of those rare cases where I didn't feel impelled to head straight to the Google Play Store to download SwiftKey or Google Keyboard.
As well as a by-now-typical joined-up typing system, there's also an interesting new word prediction technology to the TouchPal keyboard that sees suggested words emerging from the relevant letters. You then pull the suggested words down to the space bar to select them.
It wasn't something I found compelling or useful enough to adopt in day-to-day use, but as ever with keyboards, it's a very personal thing that will take a lot longer than a week to really click.
If you're thinking of consuming a lot of media on the ZTE Blade S6, you're really going to need to bring along a set of headphones. Of course, we'd say that about any smartphone - even the HTC One M8 with its excellent BoomSound speakers. But in this case, the less you have to rely on the phone's speaker the better.
The Blade S6's sole rear-mounted speaker is tinny and weedy, outputting an ear-achingly bad garble of noise for anything but the simplest of sounds. It's clearly been an area of compromise.
One area that ZTE hasn't compromised on with the Blade S6 is the camera. It uses the popular 13-megapixel Sony IMX214 image sensor, which is the same component as can be found in the OnePlus One and the Xiaomi Mi 4 - two more well-specced, high-value Chinese smartphones.
The result is that the ZTE Blade S6 takes reliably decent pictures in good lighting, with accurate colours and a pleasant SLR-style depth-of-field effect when taking close-ups. Indoors and low-light shots are a little fuzzy and murky, but that's to be expected.
There's an HDR mode here that aids with those bright skies and deep shady areas, but my results with it were a little mixed. It invariably improved the skies in bright daytime shots, but the price for this tended to be a slightly false, otherworldly glow to the mid-ground or subject.
The Blade S6's camera app is a fairly accomplished affair, though it's a little dated in appearance, and would benefit from an update to fit with its Material Design surroundings.
It's perfectly functional, though. Opposite the main virtual shutter and video controls there's a prominent toggle (seemingly styled after the Blade S6's ugly capacitive home key) that switches between Simple and Expert modes.
Simple mode is the default point-and-shoot setting, and it's all you'll need for most shots - though of course there's the now obligatory range of filters to help jazz things up. Expert mode, however, brings up settings for ISO, white balance and exposure, as well as a handy level guide and a manual spot metering tool.
Video can be captured at 1080p, but the quality is nothing more than OK. There's no OIS to keep things steady, and the audio capture in particular is pretty sub-standard, but it does the job.
For such a cheap smartphone, the ZTE Blade S6's camera is excellent, and is certainly a good level or two above the likes of the Motorola Moto G and other Android phones in this very reasonable price range.
The ZTE Blade S6 offers decent specs and a pleasantly light customisation of Android 5.0 Lollipop for a very reasonable price, but its tacky and derivative design means that the phone isn't the absolute pleasure to use that it should be.
You don't usually find such a capable, modern processor in a smartphone of this price, but that's exactly what we have in the ZTE Blade S6.
The same can be said for its 13-megapixel camera which, given enough light, takes better pictures than many smartphones that cost twice the price.
It's also good to see a manufacturer showing some restraint with the already-great Android 5.0 Lollipop OS, leaving the operating system's core menus commendably untouched.
While ZTE has made some smart choices with the Blade S6's components, its design leaves much to be desired. The phone neither looks good nor feels very nice in the hand.
Also, while it's a light skin, what additions there are in the MiFavor 3.0 UI aren't particularly memorable or useful.
Finally, while the Blade S6's 720p display is decent enough, you only need to spend a little more to get a decent phone with a superior 1080p option.
ZTE has turned out a highly capable Android smartphone for a very reasonable price.
In terms of power and photographic capabilities, it wipes the floor with the Motorola Moto G, which is only a little cheaper. However, ZTE could learn a thing or two about design from the current budget champ, as the Blade S6 simply doesn't look or feel very nice in the hand.
It's not balanced or attractive enough to take the affordable handset crown, then, but power-hungry Android fans on a budget may want to consider it as an option.
50 best iPhone games: 1-25
Gaming on iOS is so big that the platform is becoming dominant enough to threaten the likes of Nintendo and Sony, long-reigning kings of the mobile gaming hill.
Yet for all iOS's gaming prowess, there's no escaping the fact the App Store has a lot of dross. Apple's relative openness, in enabling anyone to develop for the system, means there's almost no meaningful quality control. The flip-side is that previously undiscovered indie talent can find an outlet for frequently innovative fare.
Too often, though, people focus only on the negative, mistaking stories about in-app purchases and low-quality clones for evidence that there are no good games on iOS. But there are. In fact, the best games on iOS are among the very best on any platform, mixing traditional fare with titles that could only have appeared on a capable multi-touch device. Here are our current favourites…
1. Asphalt 8 (free)
Some time long ago, the gaming gods apparently decreed that racing games should be dull and grey, on grey tracks, with grey controls. Thankfully Gameloft chose to ignore their foolish omniscient notions - along with a large chunk of real-world physics - with Asphalt 8: Airborne. Here, then, you zoom along at ludicrous speeds, drifting for miles through exciting city courses, occasionally being hurled into the air to perform stunts that absolutely aren't acceptable according to the car manufacturer's warranty.
2. Badland ($3.99/£2.49)
This darkly humorous title at its core echoes copter-style games, in you prodding the screen to make your avatar fly. But the hazards and traps are devious and plentiful, imaginative and deadly contraptions in silhouette, ready to eliminate any passing creature. Your retaliation in Badland comes via cloning your flying monster, and figuring out how to manipulate the environment to bring as many clones home as possible.
3. Beat Sneak Bandit ($2.99/£1.99)
One thumb is plenty when a game's so cleverly designed. Beat Sneak Bandit is part rhythm-action, part platformer and part stealth game, with the titular hero aiming to steal back the world's clocks from the nefarious Duke Clockface. You move on the beat, rebounding off walls, and avoiding guards and alarms. It's clever, charming and brilliant.
4. Bejeweled (free)
We've lost count of how many gem-swappers exist for iOS, but PopCap's Bejeweled has a long history, its maturity reflected in this iPhone release. Along with a polished standard mode, where you match three or more gems with each swap, there's Diamond Mine (dig into the ground), Butterflies (save insects from spider-ronch doom), and Poker (make 'hands' of gems).
5. Beyond Ynth ($1.99/£1.49)
This fantastic platform puzzler stars a bug who's oddly averse to flying. Instead, he gets about 2D levels by rolling around in boxes full of platforms. Beyond Ynth hangs on a quest, but each level forms a devious test, where you must figure out precisely how to reach the end via careful use of boxes, switches and even environmental hazards.
6. Bit Pilot ($1.99/£1.49)
A pilot finds himself trapped inside a tiny area of space frequented by an alarming number of deadly asteroids. You must stave off death for as long as possible. Bit Pilot is the best of the iOS avoid 'em ups, with precise one- and two-thumb controls guiding your tiny ship, effortlessly dodging between rocky foes — until the inevitable collision.
7. Blackbar ($2.99/£1.99)
As much a warning about digital surveillance as a word-based puzzler, Blackbar is a unique and compelling iOS classic. The game comprises single screens of communications, many involving your friend who's gone to work in the city, which you soon learn is part of a worryingly oppressive society. You literally fill in the blanks, while becoming immersed in a stark dystopian reality that's fortunately still peppered with warmth, humour and humanity.
8. Blek ($0.99/69p)
Blek is akin to shepherding semi-sentient calligraphy through a series of dexterity tests. Each sparse screen has one or more dots that needs collecting, which is achieved by drawing a squiggle that's then set in motion. To say the game can be opaque is putting it lightly, but as a voyage of discovery, there are few touchscreen games that come close.
9. Boson X ($2.99/£1.99)
In what we can only assume is a totally accurate representation of what boffins in Geneva get up to, Boson X finds scientists sprinting inside colliders, running over energy panels and then discovering particles by leaping into the abyss. It's equal parts Super Hexagon, Tempest and Canabalt, and it's very addictive indeed.
10. Coolson's Pocket Pack ($0.99/69p)
This word puzzler's all about chaining. You drag tiles from the bottom of the well and make short words; do so without swapping any letters from the well's bottom row or the area you create the words and you start amassing huge points. Coolson's Pocket Pack is then a test of nerve, and your ability to not forget every single short word in the dictionary when under pressure.
11. CRUSH! ($1.99/£1.49)
CRUSH! is deceptive. At first, it appears to be little more than a collapse game, where you prod a coloured tile, only for the rest to collapse into the now empty space. But subtle changes to the formula elevate this title to greatness: the tiles wrap around, and each removal sees your pile jump towards a line of death. So even when tiles are moving at speed, you must carefully consider each tap.
12. Dark Nebula 2 HD ($2.99/£1.99)
One of the first titles to truly make use of the iPhone gyro, Dark Nebula was a beautiful tilt-based steampunk adventure and dexterity test, with you leading a strange craft through maze-like levels. Dark Nebula 2 ramped up the beauty and complexity, and the HD reissue added iPad and Retina support. The title still feels fresh and is perfectly suited to mobile, rewarding speed-runs and careful exploration of each level alike.
13. David. ($1.99/£1.49)
David. is a game that flirts with the conventional but comes across as half art piece, half brutally difficult action game. The eponymous hero is a simple square, charged with ridding the world of evil shapes. The controls broadly align with platform games, but David. goes all slow-motion when held, whereupon you can unleash colourful blobs of death on multi-angled foes. Tricky level design tests your ability to move, leap, plan, and tackle encroaching enemies while everyone's floating about as if immersed in water.
14. Death Ray Manta ($0.99/69p)
Akin to what Robotron might have looked like had its developer managed to recreate a 24-hour sherbet binge on-screen, Death Ray Manta is a wonderful, eye-searing twin-stick shooter. But whereas you initially think KILL ALL THE THINGS, each level contains a collectable 'tiffin'. Death Ray Manta therefore becomes both shooter and puzzler as you attempt to score the maximum 64 — and you've only got one life.
15. Device 6 ($3.99/£2.49)
Device 6 is first and foremost a story — a mystery into which protagonist Anna finds herself propelled. She awakes on an island, but where is she? How did she get there? Why can't she remember anything? The game fuses literature with adventuring, the very words forming corridors you travel along, integrated puzzles being dotted about for you to investigate. It's a truly inspiring experience, an imaginative, ambitious and brilliantly realised creation that showcases how iOS can be the home for something unique and wonderful.
16. Devil's Attorney ($1.99/£1.49)
A satirical take on 1980s lawyering, this turn-based strategy has you battling in court by using your legal skills on the opposition, who then fight back after you've exhausted your action points. Wins result in cash that can be spent on goods that boost your materialism, decadence and vanity, which results in new skills. Our verdict? Devil's Attorney is a very silly (or, depending on your outlook, entirely accurate) and compelling take on court-based sparring.
17. Eliss Infinity ($2.99/£1.99)
Eliss was the first game to truly take advantage of iOS's multitouch capabilities, with you combining and tearing apart planets to fling into like-coloured and suitably sized wormholes. Eliss Infinity, a semi-sequel, brings the original's levels into glorious Retina and adds a totally bonkers endless mode. Unique, challenging and fun, this is a game that defines the platform.
18. Frisbee Forever 2 (Free)
We were big fans of the original Frisbee Forever, with its Nintendo-like fling-a-plastic-disc about larks. Frisbee Forever 2's essentially more of the same, but prettier, smoother and with wilder locations in which to fly through hoops and collect stars. It's lovely and costs precisely zero pence, so download it.
19. Gridrunner (Free)
Jeff Minter is a shoot 'em up genius, and his Gridrunner series has a long history, starting out on the VIC-20, at the dawn of home gaming. This update riffs off classic Namco arcade machines but also shoves modern bullet-hell mechanics into a claustrophobic single screen. And in this version's survival mode, you have just one life. Argh! The 69p/99c 'Oxtended Mode' in-app purchase adds the rest of the standard game.
20. Hitman GO ($4.99/£2.99)
Square Enix would have been on a hiding to nothing converting its free-roaming 3D game to touchscreens, and so it's great to see the company do something entirely different with Hitman GO. Although still echoing the original series, this touchscreen title is presented as a board game of sorts, with turn-based actions against clockwork opposition. You must figure out your way to the prize, without getting knocked off (the board). It's an oddly adorable take on assassination, and one of the best iOS puzzlers.
21. Impossible Road ($1.99/£1.49)
A roller-coaster ribbon of road winds through space, and your only aim is to stay on it and reach the highest-numbered gate. But Impossible Road is sneaky: the winding track is one you can leave and rejoin, if you've enough skill, 'cheating' your way to higher scores. It's like the distillation of Super Monkey Ball, Rainbow Road and queue-skipping, all bundled up in a stark, razor-sharp package.
22. Leo's Fortune ($4.99/£2.99)
Leo's Fortune finds gruff hairball Leo in search of his gold, which has been dropped in a suspiciously trail-like manner across typically platform-game environments. As he scoops up coins, he finds himself whizzing round Sonic-style loops, solving puzzles by manipulating the environment, and negotiating increasingly complex and deadly pathways. It's a beautiful game, full of character, and well-suited to quick bursts on your iPhone.
23. Letterpress (Free)
What mad fool welds Boggle to tug o' war Risk-style land-grabbing? The kind who doesn't want anyone to get any work done again, ever, that's who. Letterpress is, simply, the best word game on the App Store. You make words to win points and temporarily 'lock' letters from your opponent by surrounding them. The result is a tense asynchronous two-player game with plenty of last-move wins and general gnashing of teeth when you realise 'qin' is in fact an acceptable word.
24. Limbo ($4.99/£2.99)
A boy awakens in hell, and must work his way through a deadly forest. Gruesome deaths and trial and error gradually lead to progress, as he forces his way deeper into the gloom and greater mystery. Originating on the Xbox, Limbo fares surprisingly well on iOS, with smartly designed controls; and its eerie beauty and intriguing environments remain hypnotic.
25. Magnetic Billiards (free)
A game that could have been called Reverse Pool For Show-Offs, Magnetic Billiards lacks pockets. Instead, the aim is to join like-coloured balls that cling together on colliding. Along the way, you get more points for trick shots and 'buzzing' other balls that must otherwise be avoided. 20 diverse tables are provided for free, and many more can be unlocked for $1.99/£1.49.
50 best iPhone games: 26-50.
26. Micro Miners ($1.99/£1.49)
Marrying the elegance of digging games like Where's My Water? with the semi-controllable critters from Lemmings, Micro Miners is a superb real-time puzzler. Initially simple, the game is soon complicated by the need to switch the colour of miners, collect objects, and avoid or utilise deadly gas and lava. It's extremely tough later on, but you'll see it through to the bitter end.
27. Mikey Hooks ($1.99/£1.49)
If iOS is supposed to be no good for traditional 2D platform games, it's a good job no-one told the developer of Mikey Hooks. The mechanics aren't a million miles away from Nintendo titles starring a certain plumber, but Mikey's also armed with a rope that can attach to hooks dotted about the levels, enabling him to speedily swing to glory. An emphasis on time-attack racing and surprisingly solid controls round out a first-rate title.
28. Monument Valley ($3.99/£2.49)
In Monument Valley, you journey through delightful Escher-like landscapes, manipulating the very architecture to build impossible paths along which to explore. It's not the most challenging of games (nor one with the most coherent of storylines), but each scene is a gorgeous and mesmerising bite-sized experience that showcases how important great craft is in the best iOS titles.
29. Need For Speed Most Wanted ($6.99/£2.99)
Racing games are all very well, but too many aim for simulation rather than evoking the glorious feeling of speeding along like a maniac. Most Wanted absolutely nails the fun side of arcade racing, and is reminiscent of classic console title OutRun 2 in enabling you to effortlessly drift for miles. Add to that varied city streets on which to best rivals and avoid (or smash) the cops, and you've a tremendous iOS racer.
30. New Star Soccer (Free)
Starting out as a fresh-faced teen in a lowly non-league side, your aim in New Star Soccer is to make your way to a top-flight club. Along the way, you get chances in each match to win balls and score goals. It's management-lite with fun playable highlights, and although there's a whiff of freemium in the energy model, New Star Soccer's top-of-the-table, if you're willing to put in a few bucks here and there.
31. Osmos ($2.99/£1.99)
This superb arcade puzzler is at times microscopic and at others galactic in nature, as you use the power of physics and time to move your 'mote' about. Some levels in Osmos are primordial soup, the mote propelled by ejecting bits of itself, all the while aiming to absorb everything around it; elsewhere, motes circle sun-like 'Attractors', and your challenge becomes one of understanding the intersecting trajectories of orbital paths.
32. Plants vs Zombies ($0.99/69p)
Yes, we know there's a Plants vs. Zombies 2, but some dolt infected that with a pointless time-travel gimmick and a freemium business model. The charming, amusing, silly and sweet original remains where it's at. For the uninitiated, you repel zombies with the power of hostile plants. Countless other defence titles exist for iOS, but PopCap's classic, Plants vs Zombies, is still the best.
33. PUK ($1.99/£1.49)
PUK reminds us of what someone with a minimalism fetish might make of Angry Birds, before speeding everything up to manic levels. Here, each level lasts mere seconds, as you frantically fling discs at portals; and then just as you've got into the groove, deadly black levels aim to throw you off balance. There are no cartoon squawks here — just pure, adrenaline-fuelled arcade action.
34. Rayman Fiesta Run ($2.99/£1.99)
The iOS Rayman games are considered by some to be reductive, overly simplifying console-style platforming to an instant runner with bells on. We instead consider Ubisoft's games distilled: they take the essence of platforming action — running, jumping, timing — and make it truly fit for mobile. Smart, varied level and character design, along with a well-considered unlock mechanism, ensure Rayman Fiesta Run's an iOS classic.
35. Ridiculous Fishing ($2.99/£1.99)
If Ridiculous Fishing is what fishing's really like, we've been missing out all these years. An angular fisherman casts his line into the inky gloom, where you cunningly avoid fish by tilting your device. Snag one and the hero reels the line back in, and you jerk your iPhone from side to side, aiming to catch as many fish as possible. At the surface, the catch is flung into the sky, to be blasted to pieces by powerful weaponry. Longevity's secured by an amusing in-game store and social network parody, along with several fishing spots to visit.
36. Rocket Robo ($0.99/69p)
It's not the most innovative game around, but Rocket Robo makes up for it with bags of character, smart level design, and tight controls. You guide your little floating droid about the place, collecting stars and swiping in and out of the screen. The first few levels are extremely simple, but you're soon introduced to complex, cunning layouts and plenty of gimmicks that add some real bite to the cutesy proceedings.
37. Smash Hit (free)
If you find catharsis in smashing things, Smash Hit will leave you in a totally blissed-out state. You float through the void, lobbing metal balls at glass objects, clearing a path and chaining collisions. Over time, the paths become increasingly complex, the camera begins to whirl, and the shots get very demanding, depleting your meagre resources. A single one-time 'premium' in app purchase upgrade exists should you want to start out on any sections of the journey you've managed to already reach.
38. SpellTower ($1.99/£1.49)
SpellTower is a fantastic word game that starts off easy. You get a grid of letters and remove them by dragging out words. Your only foe is gravity, letters falling into empty space as completed words disappear. But then come new modes, with ferocious timers and numbered letters that won't vanish unless you craft long enough words. And there always seem to be too many Vs!
39. Super Hexagon ($2.99/£1.99)
Ah, Super Hexagon. We remember that punishing first game, which must have lasted all of three seconds. Much like the next — and the next. But then we recognised patterns in the walls that closed in on our tiny ship, and learned to react and dodge. Then you threw increasingly tough difficulty levels at us, and we've been smitten ever since.
40. Super Monsters Ate My Condo
Logic? Pah! Sanity? Pfft! We care not for such things, yells Super Monsters Ate My Condo. It then gets on with turning the match-three genre and Jenga-style tower-building into a relentless time-attack cartoon fest of apartment-munching, explosions, giant tantrums and opera. No, really.
41. Super Stickman Golf 2 ($0.99/69p)
If you've often thought golf would be much better if it was played on Mars, or in a giant castle, or in dank caverns with glue-like surfaces, Super Stickman Golf 2 is the game for you. Its side-on charms echo Angry Birds in its artillery core, but this is a far smarter and more polished game. It also boasts two equally brilliant but different multiplayer modes: one-on-one asynchronous play and frantic multiplayer racing.
42. Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP ($4.99/£2.99)
Apple's mobile platform has become an unlikely home for traditional point-and-click adventures. Sword & Sworcery has long been a favourite, with its sense of mystery, palpable atmosphere, gorgeous pixel art and evocative soundtrack. Exploratory in nature, this is a true /adventure/ in the real sense of the word, and it's absolutely not to be missed.
43. Threes! ($1.99/£1.49)
Threes! is all about matching numbered cards. 1s and 2s merge to make 3s, and then pairs of identical cards can subsequently be merged, doubling their face value. With each swipe, a new card enters the tiny grid, forcing you to carefully manage your growing collection, and think many moves ahead. The ingenious mix of risk and reward makes it hugely frustrating when you're a fraction from an elusive 1536 card, but so addictive you'll immediately want another go.
44. Tiny Wings ($0.99/69p)
This sweet endless title stars a bird who loves to fly but doesn't have the wings for it. Instead, she uses gravity, sliding down hills and then propelling herself into the air from the top of adjacent slopes. Meanwhile, in another mode, her offspring are happily racing, bounding over lakes, eager to earn the biggest fish from their mother. Whichever route you take, Tiny Wings is a vibrant, warm and friendly experience.
45. Trainyard ($3.99/£2.49)
Trainyard is another devious puzzler that at first seems a cinch. Initially, you merely drag tracks to lead trains between stations of the same colour. But then rocks enter the fray, along with colour-mixing and train-splitting. Before you know it, you've 14 stations, seven trains, hazards aplenty and an aching brain from figuring out how to get all the trains home safely.
46. Monument Valley ($3.99/£2.99)
It might not be the most challenging game in the world, but Monument Valley is a short, sweet platformer that everyone should play through at least once. Its beautiful style is very Escher-esque, but even he'd have a hard time making his way through some of these labyrinths. More than worth its price.
47. Walking Dead (Free)
We do like a good zombie yarn, as long as we're not the subject matter, having just had our brains eaten. Walking Dead successfully jumped from comic to TV screen, and it's just as good in its interactive incarnation. The first part of the story is free, and you can then buy new episodes; if you survive, season 2 is also available.
48. WaveWave ($2.99/£1.99)
Wave Wave is cut from similar cloth as Super Hexagon. If anything, though, this demanding survival game is simpler and tougher than its forebear. It's a one-thumb affair, with you tapping to alter the direction of your line that zig-zags its way through a gauntlet of triangles as the screen lurches and spins. It's a mesmerising but utterly ferocious experience.
49. Year Walk ($3.99/£2.49)
Year Walk preceded the same developer's iOS masterpiece Device 6, but is equally daring. It's a first-person adventure of sorts, with more than a nod towards horror literature and, frankly, the just plain weird. It's unsettling, clever, distinctive and beautifully crafted — another unmissable and original touchscreen creation.
50. Zen Bound 2 ($2.99/£1.99)
One of the most tactile puzzlers around, Zen Bound 2 doesn't sound terribly exciting, in that you're wrapping sculptures in rope. But the atmosphere and polish combine with a nagging percentage bar, urging you to perfect each level. With no time limit, it's one of the more soothing puzzlers in this round-up, but it also never drifts towards the noodly.
Best free iPhone apps: 90 to choose from!
Apple Watch: watch cases and bands
In fact, there are 38 different Apple Watch choices (up from the original 34) and nine default watch faces with millions of customizations, according to Apple.
Here's every Apple Watch face, band and case announced so far, giving you extra time to decide which "iWatch" should be your watch before waiting in line.
Cases: Apple Watch vs Sport vs Watch Edition
All Apple Watches boast the same rectangular design with rounded off corners, but they're divided up into three different case "collections" based on build materials.
Starting at $349 (£299) and costing as much as $17,000 (£13,500, AU$24,000), the names Watch, Watch Sport and Watch Edition, don't tell us a whole lot about those differences, so let's explain each watch case.
The regular Apple Watch
Donning the "regular" Watch puts a highly polished stainless steel case on your wrist, one that comes in glossy metal colors of either space black or stainless steel.
Protecting the precious Retina display is sapphire crystal, which is the same glass that covers the Touch ID home button of newer iPhones.
Sapphire crystal is touted as the hardest transparent material on earth next to diamond. It'll stand up to dings every time your formerly-bare wrist forgets what it's like to wear a watch.
Sport is the the lightest of the three Apple Watch choices thanks to its anodized aluminum case that still manages to be 60% stronger than standard alloys.
It skips out of the expensive sapphire glass in favor of what Apple calls strengthened Ion-X or aluminosilicate glass. This further reduces the weight, making it fit for active lifestyles.
Sure, the iPhone-matching matte space gray and silver aluminum case appears less shiny vs the regular Watch, but Apple's 7000 Series aluminum and Ion-X glass makes it 30% lighter.
It's also the least expensive Apple Watch version at $349 (£299) for the 38mm size and 42mm for the $399 (£339) size.
Watch Edition will be the most expensive Apple Watch at $10,000 (£8,000) because of its 18-karat gold case. It may even be locked inside a safe within your local Apple Store.
It's been crafted by Apple's metallurgists to be twice as hard as standard gold, says the Cupertino company, and will come in two colors: yellow gold and rose gold.
Complementing those cases are color-matching bands made of leather or fluoroelastomer plastic.
Bands are the next step in deciding on the right Apple Watch.
Six different band styles, 18 colors
Apple Watch is all about personalization with six band types and 18 colors, all of which are easily interchangeable thanks a unique slide-out locking mechanism.
Yes, it's a proprietary watch strap - did you expect anything less? - but it looks to be a whole lot easier to switch out compared to the irksome hidden pins of the Moto 360.
I'm okay with that. I want the sport band at the gym and the Milanese loop for a night on the town without the hassle of digging into the watch case with a pair of tweezers.
Available with the regular Watch, the link bracelet is one of two stainless steel Apple Watch bands. This one matches the 316L stainless steel alloy of the case.
It has more than 100 components and the brushed metal links increase in width closer to the case. A custom butterfly closure folds neatly within the bracelet.
Best of all, you can add and remove links with a simple release button. No jeweler visits or special tools required for this stainless steel or space black-colored strap.
One of the classiest-looking Apple Watch bands is the Milanese loop, a stainless steel mesh strap that loops from case to clasp.
Emphasizing that woven metal design, there's hardly a clasp. Its tiny magnetic end makes the strap infinitely adjustable and tucks behind the band for a seamless look on one's wrist.
An out-of-the box option with the regular Watch, the Milanese loop is truly one of a kind in that it only comes in a stainless steel color.
Modern buckle (leather strap)
A modern buckle adorns the bottom the first of three leather options among Apple Watches, complete with top-grain leather sourced from France.
The French tannery is said to have been established in 1803, but Apple puts a tech-savvy twist on the buckle. It's a two-piece magnetic clasp that only looks ordinary when together.
This leather option comes in black, soft pink, brown or midnight blue for the regular Watch and bright black, red or rose gray for the premium Watch Edition, all meant for the smaller 38mm watch size.
Classic buckle (leather strap)
If the Apple Watch modern buckle is a normal-looking watch band with a magnetic twist, then the classic buckle is an ordinary-looking variant without one.
No tricks here. It's just a traditional and secure band that feeds through a stainless steel or an 18-karat gold loop and matches the watch case.
The classic buckle's leather is from the Netherlands and the color choices are as simple as can be: it comes in black for the regular Watch or either black or midnight blue for Watch Edition.
This is the leather-equivalent of the all-metal Milanese loop because it tucks magnets into the soft, quilted leather Apple Watch band.
The more pronounced pebbled texture also stands out from the subtle finishes of the modern and classic buckle. Apple says its Venezia leather sources from Italy.
Apple Watch buyers who go with the leather loop band have four colors choices: black, stone, light brown and bright blue.
Despite its name, the sport band is an out-of-the-box option among all three "collections," not just the Apple Watch Sport.
The band is made of smooth fluoroelastomer, so it's resilient for all activities and fastens with a simple pin-and-tuck closure. Hopefully it's easier to buckle than the Fitbit Charge.
The sport band is available in the most colors on the Sport Watch: white, black, blue, green or pink. Regular Watch and Watch Edition buyers can choose between black or white.
Apple Watch sizes
Less exciting, but equally important is the choice of among Apple Watch sizes. There are two case heights: 38mm and 42mm.
This opens it up to smaller and larger wrists. The 38mm size is more compact, but having that little bit extra screen space by way of the 42mm option may go a long way.
It should be noted that a few bands appear to be exclusive to certain sizes: the modern buckle is limited to the 38mm option and leather loop the 42mm size, for example.
No right-handed and left-handed Apple Watch decisions need to be made at the Apple Store, thankfully. This smartwatch is ambidextrous because the screen can be flipped.
Apple Watch faces
There are nine different default faces from Apple, according to its official website, and likely a lot more to come from third-party developers currently testing out WatchKit.
The great thing about smartwatch faces is that none of them are permanent, something we were fond of when testing out Android Wear smartwatches.
Mickey Mouse is my favorite because I never got a Mickey Mouse watch as a kid. But maybe that'll be reserved for Disneyland visits now that I'm an adult.
Analog watches like Chronograph, Color, Simple and Utility can be swapped in for a more professional look that rivals today's best smartwatch alternatives.
Customizable watch faces
Digital watch faces all have something unique to offer. Motion adds a bit of animal-inspired movement in the background, solar lets you follow the sun's path based on your location and the time of day and astronomy lets you explore space and a rotatable 3D Earth.
Modular, the grid-like ninth watch face, really defines what Apple means when it talks about complications. Most faces can be alerted to include pressing information like stock quotes, weather reports or your next calendar event, according to the company.
Apple Watch wrap-up
With two sizes for most band designs, six band types, 18 band colors and three cases with two colors each, there's a lot of choice going into this smartwatch purchase.
Apple Watch is launching with a lot of personalization, echoing a time when the Cupertino firm introduced variety among its iMac G3 computers and iPod successors.
Which case and band combination I get has ultimately been determined by the price and availability. For such a new product that's bound to be outdated in a few months to years, I'm leaning toward the cheaper Sport Edition when the Apple Watch release date rolls around.
- Check out the best Apple Watch apps to come