Sunday 19 February 2023

Into the Forest (2015)

This is a film more about the strength, power and bonds within a family - as they face uninformed isolation - than the apocalyptic event taking place in the world around them. Around them, but far enough away for them not to be able to discover even what it is, or what's gone wrong.

The power goes off. The car won't start. They live a two-hour walk from even the nearest small town in the woodlands of Canada. They have a generator, but dwindling fuel supplies to keep it going. The internet and radio broadcasts bringing news of what's going on cease, early on in the film - and even then, they didn't seem to know much except for the collapse of society, services and facilities. The days turn into weeks - surely, any day now it will get sorted, they'll find out what it's all about and get back to normal. Weeks turn into months and on it goes.

Our family unit consists of three. Mum seems to have died prior to the film's timeline, so there's dad, Robert, played by Callum Keith Rennie (The Man in the High Castle, Memento), older daughter Eva by Evan Rachel Wood (Whatever Works) and the star of the show Nell, depicted by Elliot (then Ellen) Page (Juno, To Rome with Love). She (now he) really is a terrific actor, cute and pretty, here, and holds the film together beautifully...

...a film which was directed and written by Patricia Rozema (Mouthpiece, Mansfield Park) and based on the novel of the same name by Jean Hegland. A novel about this small family who start from a point of relative wealth and privilege, not wanting for much, lovely house in the woods - an idyllic life, towards something different. As resources start to run out (and quite early on there's a tragedy involving dad) the two girls are left alone to work out how to survive. Fortunately, there's plenty of water as it rains an awful lot in their neck of the woods! But they have to work out how to find food and ensure that they can eat, with some interesting creative solutions and self-reliance on display.

Unfortunately, there are visits from two young men during this timeline. One, and old flame of Nell's with (apparent) word from Boston, where things are allegedly 'back to normal'. It was enough of a temptation for Nell to think about trekking on foot for an estimated eight months, with Eli, played by Max Minghella (The Handmaid's Tale), to get there. The other, a much more sinister and tragic visit with outcomes which strive to keep the girls together and strengthen their bond.

The film is sometimes slow, but purposefully, to engage the audience within the experience - a taster of what it might be like for any of us and a reminder perhaps about looking at how resourceful we would all be, given this scenario (unlikely as we might think it could be). The actors bring out a fine depiction of the frustrations, concern, anxiety and hopelessness for us to admire as well as the hope which may, any minute, be around the corner.

There's some lovely cinematography going on in this wooden wonderland and the set lends itself very nicely to injecting a sense of isolation and eventually paranoia into the viewer. The film seems to have got more than it's fair share of bad press, but I really enjoyed it and would recommend it for a viewing as it's currently included in Amazon Prime Video for those who subscribe.

Sunday 12 February 2023

The Roads Not Taken (2020)

This film is a portrait of a broken man. A broken man not especially because of the fact that he is, in present day, suffering from some kind of dementia (which was never really labelled throughout), but also because of tragic events in his life before present day. The film flashes back to fill these gaps, using his memory within the context of what is happening now.

Leo (Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men) is living alone, with a carer coming in and out to help him, but also under the watchful eye of Molly (Elle Fanning, A Rainy Day in New York), his daughter from his previous marriage to Rita (Laura Linney, Ozark). This is all set in a flat in New York where Leo insists on living, nearly under a railway bridge, providing more context from his tragic 'first love' relationship with Dolores (Salma Hayek, Frida).

Leo was a writer and Molly is trying hard to follow in his footsteps, but the pressure of looking after Leo grows throughout the length of the film, which is a day-in-the-life style from British writer/director/composer Sally Potter. Not quite in real-time, but certainly depicting a day. A day when Molly has Leo booked in for a dental appointment followed by an optician's one - hoping to get all that done by lunchtime in order to meet a deadline for her work.

As the film progresses, we travel with Leo's mind to spend time understanding what the relationship with Dolores was about, the passion, emotion and conflict between them - as their tragedy unfolds. We travel with him also to a time when Molly was very young and he appeared to have abandoned Rita and her to head off to Greece for 'peace to write his book'. In amongst all this, we follow Molly and Leo as they go about the day in question, meandering between disasters in the programme and crisis of confidence.

As all of this unfolds, we do get a rounded picture of what's what, the pieces of the jigsaw are put together in the end, but the central portrait remains with Leo and Bardem's harrowing depiction of this broken man. Which he does excellently. He's more 'removed' from any kind of control in his life than, for example, Anthony Hopkins in The Father, remaining passive mostly and muttering words in his native Mexican tongue and English in rotation. Alongside Fanning, they pull together impactful and moving performances which I couldn't fault. Hayek had less to do, but she also executed her usual ability to demonstrate passion and emotion in a role, whilst Linney nailed the one scene she was in - but both certainly underused. This was all about the two main characters, family bonds, daughter/father, blood is thicker than water.

There was also a message going on here about the value of human beings, regardless of their intellectual capacity as Molly berates various members of staff from the hospital, optician and dentist for their 'inhumane' approach to her father. There's also a taxi driver in one scene who does the same to a colleague, who is treating Leo with less respect than a person should receive. Another central theme is about regret, visited a couple of times in the dialogue but also demonstrated by other visual means throughout.

Sally Potter (The Party, Orlando) pulls it all together really well with just the right amount of storyline exposure at the right times, emotional engagement with the audience and I think, hits the nail on the head. I was surprised to see that the film has received less than enthusiastic appraisal from various quarters as I have watched/read various reviews - often focusing on that very point - about emotional engagement. So yes, I would counter all that and suggest that the disjointed claims are not valid and I'd assert that it was put together very nicely to achieve what it set out to do.

It's well worth a look and is now available via the usual streaming services for viewing. It's a pretty short film at under 90 minutes, but there's an awful lot packed into them and for me, the time flew as the depiction of the events and performances got right under my skin! Recommended.

Saturday 11 February 2023

Why Do People Criticise Others?

We're all victims of criticism, but that does not make it less painful. When we are criticised we may feel embarrassed, angry or even unworthy and incapable. In fact, Winston Churchill compared criticism to physical pain and was not wrong by much, since a recent study has shown that the experiences of rejection, criticism and humiliation are processed in the same brain area that processes pain.

Obviously, not all critics generate these negative experiences - there is constructive criticism that makes you think and helps you grow. To detect that, it's important to understand what motivates people to criticise, if their reasons are valid or, conversely, are only a strategy to reassert their power, complain or humiliate.

Here's a list of 15 potential reasons why people criticise...
1. They feel threatened by some of your qualities and use criticism as a weapon to try to balance the game.
2. They are convinced that they have a right to special treatment and conditions and think that they are not getting them.
3. They like to feel responsible for the situation in every moment and get scared when they feel that are losing control.
4. They want to gain something.
5. They think they are helping you, because they are offering a part of their wisdom or experience.
6. They think that only their views are valid, then criticise you when you dare to suggest something different, which is often considered a personal attack, because, deep down, these people are often very insecure.
7. They try to attract your attention, but since they’re short of social and/or emotional skills, fail to do it in an assertive way, so they end up criticising, complaining or whining.
8. They seek admiration and approval.
9. They feel frustrated because they have tried to express their own needs and opinions in a more assertive way, but you haven’t been paying attention and, consequently, they discharge all that anger in the criticism.
10. They feel wounded by your (perhaps unintentional) words or actions, but don’t dare to say it directly and hide this dissatisfaction within a criticism.
11. They’re projecting their fears and insecurities.
12. They try to take revenge on you for a situation never completely assimilated, so they turn the criticism into a tool of humiliation and shame.
13. They need to feel powerful.
14. They have perceived your words or attitudes as a criticism, so went directly on the counter attack.
15. They envy or admire you, but do not manage to express those emotions properly, so they end up criticising exactly those qualities.

How to react to criticism?
The way to react to criticism depends largely on the situation and the reasons that cause it. In fact, there are cases where is better not to do it, because reacting to criticism would only serve to further enhance the other person and satisfy his/her desire for leadership and control. In these cases it is best to ignore them, because trying to defend ourselves would only lead to a dead end. Therefore, if you can, pretend that nothing has happened.

When the person who criticises you is important for you, it is desirable that you pay attention and let them know that you care about them, even if you do not agree with that opinion. You can also point out to that person that you respect their ideas and efforts, but always asserting your independence and the right to make your own decisions.

When it comes to a criticism made in public and you want to defend yourself, you're better focusing in on dismantling what they have said, always keeping calm. Often a quiet, concise and intelligent response is enough to make a good impression on the others. In any case, you should always reflect on criticism and, if it contains an ounce of truth, correct your behaviour, an attitude that shows maturity.

Wednesday 1 February 2023

Clash of the Ultras - Samsung vs Motorola

I have two 'Ultra' phones in hand and they fight for my attention on a daily basis, so I thought I'd pen my thoughts about the pros and cons of each - where one shines over the other (if at all) and end up with my thoughts on which one I'd prefer to use as my daily device. So yes, it's personal!

Thanks to Motorola PR in the UK I have the Motorola Edge 30 Ultra in-hand. It's the 256GB/12GB RAM version which was formally released in the UK and I have already published my full review of it, in isolation (or at most, comparing here and there to the Motorola Edge 30 Neo - which I own and have also reviewed here). Beginning to sound like I'm a Moto Fan isn't it - and the Samsung won't stand a chance! But we shall see - and yes, I shall be straight and honest.

The contender is the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, similarly, the 256GB/12GB RAM model, which I also own. Admittedly it's not the newest version of Samsung's Ultra, with the S22 Ultra having been released last year and forthcoming S23 Ultra now hours away, but I don't think that matters much really. The updating process these days with Samsung is largely evolutionary, not revolutionary, and I can't afford one anyway!

The Motorola Edge 30 Ultra was released in autumn 2022 whereas the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, spring 2021, so a year and a bit between them. As I say, I don't see this as a significant obstacle to a comparison. A lot of it will be about size, no doubt, and these Ultra phones don't change much in that respect!

I'll start with size
and it's clear that the Samsung is bigger in every direction and heavier in every way. In comparison with the Motorola it feels like a hefty lump! The camera island on the back is not in the least bit subtle like the Moto's (though to be fair, the S22/23 Ultras have fixed that) and contributes largely to the fact that the device simply feels top-heavy and unbalanced in the hand. The Moto certainly wins for me here as the camera array on the back is smaller and does not impact the balance in the hand at all.

Both phones have an aluminium frame but actually, because of the styling of the two, the Moto looks much classier and premium with edges coming to a slimmer 'point' resulting in a stealth-like impression. Regardless of the Samsung's broader edges, the buttons are the same thin ones as the Moto's, though again, looking closely, they seem like plastic rather than the Moto's more 'industrial' metal design. The Samsung's buttons actually look like plastic (at least on this black model) as the back 'boulders' around the curve to the front.

Similarly, the top and bottom of the Samsung looks 'rounded' and like its plastic whereas the Moto's looks like metal, premium - and is indeed 'flat' enough to stand on-end. I don't quite understand why Samsung have gone out of their way to give users the impression that their flagship phone of the day is not terribly classy in this respect, but more pebble-like. The back of the phones differ, too, with the Moto sporting the 'matt' finish (very slippery) surface over the Samsung's straight glossy glass (and slightly more grippy).

I do understand that Samsung have tried to move away from such a 'curved' (edge) on their screens, but in the process, I think they've devalued the look and feel. Moto have also done similarly, moving away from the outrageous 'waterfall' edges of the Motorola Edge+ from 2020, which I have reviewed here and still own, but not so much. Again, Moto have retained a balance - not gone almost completely flat like the Samsung but retained enough of a curve around the screen edges to make it look premium and classy. 
So far, then, for me, the Moto is winning hands-down on look/feel and handling potential (especially with one-handed use). However, all is not as it seems and a part of that bulk of the Samsung will come out later as we look at the capability of (particularly) the two device's camera set ups.

In the meantime, a look at the retail box, battery and charging. The Samsung box has pretty much nothing in it. A SIM Card Tool and a cable. Great. Whereas the Moto is supplied with a TPU case and 125W charging brick extra! I do understand the arguments about being all eco-friendly, but I also see that having an amazing fast-charging solution (and a case) in the box is a big selling feature between the two. Samsung, Apple, Google (and a few others) have gone to town with this, painting it up as being responsible for the planet, but actually, charging the same amount to the consumer for the phone anyway!

Anyway, to charging. The Samsung is capable of a mere 25W wired charging, 15W wireless charging and 4.5W reverse wireless. The Motorola, 125W wired, 50W wireless and 10W reverse. You can clearly see the difference there, though to be fair, the S22 Ultra did up that to 45W for wired (though the rest the same and word is via leaks that this is not changing for the S23 Ultra). So, much faster charging all-round for the Moto (aside from the fact that you also get the charger). In my tests here, I have charged the Moto from flat to 100% in 21 minutes. The Samsung will do the same in well over an hour. And furthermore, it's pretty addictive watching it happen (even if not so good for the life-expectancy of the battery). Something that's there if needed - not to be used routinely.

The battery in the Samsung is 5000mAh and the Moto, 4610mAh, but this is not reflected at all in the performance of each in my testing here (and many other Samsung phones, present and past). There's a lot going on behind the scenes with a Samsung, which we'll come to later, but in my experience this always ends up with not-so-good battery life. Having said that, it's a big battery, so it's nothing like a Samsung Galaxy S10 or Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3, which were appalling in my tests (and reported widely in other reviews). But even so, if you're out and about shooting 8K video, editing it, consuming loads of media on the big screen, then expect a significantly less long experience than you would with the Moto. I estimate that the battery's performance on the Moto is something like 33% better without all that stuff going on in the background. As always with battery assessment, your mileage may vary, nay, will vary, depending on how you use your device.

We believe that the pOLED panel on the Moto is made by LG and the Samsung's is clearly their own. They are both bright and vibrant, colourful wonderful screens which nobody will be able to complain about. On the Spec. Sheet the Samsung can get brighter (in Auto), but I don't really see that here. Under certain conditions maybe, but not day-to-day. The Samsung edges ahead with 1440p over the Moto's 1080p (and resulting ppi) but the Moto counters it with 144Hz refresh rate over the Samsung's 120. For anyone who can actually tell the difference! The Samsung screen (in keeping with the size of the device) is bigger at 6.8" over the Moto's 6.67" - not much in it, but you can tell the difference in terms of what you're looking at on the screen - so for those who are OK with bigger devices and want a bit more content visible on their screens, this is a point for Samsung. Another win for the Samsung is Gorilla Glass Victus 1 over the Moto's GG5, so slightly better protection against direct impact (smashing) but much the same for (micro) scratching.

The Always-On-Display arrangements I think I'd head for a draw, regarding. Motorola's 'Peek' arrangement really is very good. It's not a 'proper' AoD but it wakes up with movement of any kind and shows the incoming notifications as a badge. If you touch/hold each of them, at the top of the screen you get a deep-dive summary of what the notification is about. Let go and it goes away. Drag your finger to the fingerprint scanner area and the phone opens up the notification source and takes you directly to the app/service to read it. I've loved this system for years and am surprised that nobody has emulated it. Furthermore, you can choose to have AlbumArt from playing music right across the top half of the screen, then swipe left/right to go back to your usual clock/time/date etc.

The reason that it's a draw is down to one (I think) unique AoD feature with the Samsung - independently-controlled brightness of whatever AoD array you decide to use (from the plethora of options via Samsung's Galaxy Store/Theming/Icons etc. open to developers). So many devices these days get the AoD brightness linked to the phone's main screen control's - and they get the algorithms wrong mostly. So many times I'm sat looking at a phone (such as a Pixel) and I simply can't see the time (unless I put it under a light to push the sensor into action). I guess this is another reason why the battery gets hit on the Samsung. The Moto does not suffer from this - in the same lighting conditions as a Pixel, for example, when touched, it comes up nice and bright. Swings and roundabouts, thus a draw.

Another win here for Samsung is the IP-rating, IP6/8, over the Moto's IP5/2. That means that it has total protection against dust (over just 'limited') and submersion in water (over, essentially, splash-resistance). In practice, how much difference this might make will depend on a person's lifestyle (and how prone they are to accidents). I can't say that I've ever dropped a phone in the bath, toilet, river or swimming pool - but I guess there's always a first time and the Samsung does bring a greater level of confidence in survival. 

This is the first device from Motorola (I believe, in the UK) where they have actually committed to the number of OS updates the phone will receive and Google Security patches too. It's taken a long time to get there, and it only applies to the higher-end flagships, but it's great to see. Three OS Updates then (up to and including Android 15) with Security updates to autumn 2026. That fills the purchaser with much more confidence going forward. Samsung's S21 Ultra was the first generation to also benefit from a firm commitment with 4 years of OS updates and 5 security, so Samsung has the edge here (although because it was released earlier, it will also get Android 15 and the same Google Security patches to spring 2026. So, buying now, regardless of release dates, they're the same - so for my purposes here with these specific devices in 2023, another draw. I guess Samsung might just edge ahead on timeliness of the updates as they are much quicker than Motorola - trying to keep up with Google and Pixels.

Comparing chipsets
, we can see that because the Moto is newer, it has a more up-to-date one, with the SnapDragon 8+ Gen 1 (4nm) over the Samsung's SnapDragon 888 or Exynos 2100 (5nm). The 15 months between the devices clearly explains that difference but nevertheless, each is blazingly fast in anything I throw at them, including gaming. The 12GB RAM on each ensures that plenty of stuff stays open in the background and each can happily support the demands of their Ready For and DeX desktop/PC implementations. Another draw then! There's no microSD card slot on either phone but users can choose (and pay the extended price for) storage up to 512GB. I do find that 256GB is the sweet-spot these days, so am happy with this amount (and can save a bit of cash), and the OS/System is indeed cleaner working just from internal memory (or via storage plugged into the USB-C slot). More level-pegging!

I'm going to be doing a specific review/appraisal of Motorola's Ready For in the coming weeks, so watch out for that one. I have assessed Samsung's DeX in various reviews (see above) over the years, so no need for another deep-dive into that. But briefly here I would say that DeX feels like it's been a bit neglected of late and Motorola have leapfrogged over Samsung into, arguably, the lead. The implementation of Ready For on the desktop is very well thought out and a recent update has enabled even more screen sizing/resolution control. The biggest difference for me, however, whether wired (HDMI) or wireless (both supported by both devices) is sending content to a TV. With the Samsung, you're pretty much getting the same 'desktop' UI that you get on a PC but Moto have reimagined a big-buttoned front-end interface which, very often, from across the room makes for much easier navigation and launching of the applications and services which people want to use. It's all about that UX and I'm giving the points to Moto here because of this feature. Anyway, watch out for my full review, coming.

Many potential users will be pleased to see the 10x Periscope Optical Zoom on the Samsung and it clearly stands above the 2x version found on the Moto. And with some justification. Having a zoom camera in a phone is an impressive feat, made available by folding optics through mirrors, like a traditional periscope, along with OIS. It gives the user everything between 24 and 240mm to play with, though this does use a secondary 10MP f4.9 sensor for the long zooming rather than the main 108MP unit. I've had great fun playing with this of course - and the Samsung's 3x zoom (with no folding trickery involved) via another 10MP f2.4 camera. The results are impressive from both, supported by smart software to assist with focus and stabilisation at that kind of range. The main 108MP f1.8 sensor by default, pixel-bins down to produce 12MP results, though for full use of the sensor there is a manual setting. This can work well in good light to squeeze out as much as possible from it - in exchange for large file sizes (13MB from about 3MB, binned). There's also a 12MP f2.2 wide-angle camera to make up the set on the back. 
There's lots of fun to be had with the array of cameras on offer from Samsung, controlled by their very capable Camera App, full of bells and whistles - and on the face of it, a clear winner for those looking for photography smarts from their phone. A full in-depth review of what these options can produce is available from the excellent GSMArena website as they drill down, test, prod and examine much more extensively.

The Motorola takes the Samsung's 108MP f1.8 sensor and ups it with a 200MP f1.9 one! At the point of release, it was certainly amongst the biggest MP count on a phone camera - and sensor, being 1/1.22". All is not quite as it seems though and it, too, pixel-bins down to 12MP results unless manually overridden. The payoff, again, is large file sizes if employed, with 4MB files becoming 26MB! I've given an appraisal of my thoughts on the camera in the Moto in my review and linked out to GSMArena again there for full in-depth, so I won't do that all again (click through to read), so rather, I'll come to my summary. 

There's no doubt at all that the 10x optical, stabilised zoom is a very attractive feature for a phone to have in its camera. As much as Moto boast the bigger sensor with a huge amount more megapixels with associated light-gathering functionality, many people will be bowled over by the flexibility of that long optical zoom. I do think that the shots taken with the Moto are exceptionally good generally, nicely balanced colours, more than sharp enough and so forth - but the reality is that neither of these are 'professional' tools and most photos taken with both of these cameras will end up being viewed on screens, not printed as posters, and probably live their life within social media. In which case, yes, the novelty of the long zoom will certainly provide 'wow' factor amongst one's mates. Both systems have their benefits and have pushed boundaries in their own ways, but there's more to consider than MPs and optical zooms. Having said that, I do think most people will be more impressed with the 10x zoom over the larger sensor, so I'll have to go with that and give the point to Samsung. Do click through though and read all about it if you can, for both phones, as there's much more behind the headline features to consider and digest.

Audio coming from tiny phone speakers is (probably) never going to be as great as any 'proper' speaker, but these two monsters have a good go at it! They both have stereo in pretty much the same format (bottom-firing right, earpiece left) and there's not much between them. If I had to choose, I'd go for the Moto, because I think that the default settings offer a slightly better sound in terms of 'tone' but the Samsung is probably louder overall. However, that bit louder, the Samsung attains with a price to pay - at full volume it tends to feel just a tad distorted, like the components are being pushed too far. Reduce it back down to, say, 80% volume and it sounds much better. But then it's lost the volume advantage over the Moto! The Moto on 100% sounds well adjusted - and that the hardware is not being pushed by the software. As always, sound output can be adjusted via the supplied tools (and other apps) and when two devices are so closely matched, a lot of it comes down to what genre of music is being played, how the audio track has been encoded and so on. I have tried to test here with a level playing field, same for both, and that is my resulting opinion. The Bluetooth output from both is loud and good quality (depending on attached equipment) and the '32-bit tuned by AKG' of the Samsung (with both sporting Dolby Atmos) doesn't really draw them apart either. It's a personal thing, they both perform well, but my ear tends towards the Moto.

is the element of the assessment here which might well end up being the chalk and cheese, the love/hate and the admiration or dislike depending on the user's view and experience. I come from a background of working with Pixel phones, AndroidOne, clean interface, not too much addition in terms of bells and whistles, so I guess you might know which way I'm going here. But hold on! Because actually, over time, I have come to also appreciate the ways in which the Samsung experience can enhance the functionality, flexibility and capability of the Android OS. There was a time when I wouldn't have looked at Samsung software for long without getting straight back to a Pixel (or a cleaner Vanilla UX), but these days, I can see both sides of the argument.

The Motorola experience is, of course, the 'clean' one and closest to 'stock' Android (if such a thing exists any longer). There's no doubling up of core Google apps like the Samsung brings, with Moto making full use of what Google offer, from Contacts, EMail, Web browser, Phone and Calendar to Clock, File Manager, Photo Gallery, Knox Security, App Store, Keyboard, SMS/Messages and more. All of these with Samsung, are doubled-up as they offer their own Apps - many of which end up residing next to the Google ones (for moany of us), cluttering up the system (unless they are forcibly removed) and some installed by default. The 'Samsung world' is something of a Walled Garden where the range of apps and services they provide encourage the user to become a 'believer of the Samsung Way' and adopt it, lock stock and barrel, or make them tip-toe around the bits which they don't really want (to see). Bixby comes to mind, which Samsung persevere with, yet most people don't want to use because (probably outside of Routines) Google's tools are better. So many users try hard to get rid of it, which can be tricky with support needed for many.

On the other hand, the rich tapestry of available options, which I won't deep-dive into here, many will want to embrace - as they enable the user to control many, many aspects of the system which most other OEMs devices do not. A good example being the Good Lock app, with all the deep-rooted adjustments which can be made to all sorts of aspects of the UX - or Samsung Flow for cross-device working, Music and Video apps which are, actually, very good in many ways, Bixby Routines, theming, icons, AoD, the S-Pen functionality and so on, much of it just not available for a Moto user. There is a deep cavern to explore within the Samsung World for those who want to embrace it - and all this makes for a compelling argument in Sammy's favour! I'm back in the 'draw' camp here as I can appreciate all the above, the bells'n'whistles of the Samsung Way but also the clean, more battery-efficient and simpler world of Moto. 

Price is also a factor
here, given that, over a year down the line I paid £380 in the UK for a Samsung device which, on release, with 256GB storage and 12GB RAM would have been £1200 whereas the Moto was £749 on release (and is now frequently on sale for £649). The newer S22 Ultra with 256GB retailed at around the same price and it looks like the S23 Ultra being announced today is going to be even further away. So, in terms of value, you do pay an awful lot more for those Samsung features - at least, new.

In summary, it feels like that's what all this boils down to really - how important that vast array of hook-ins, theming, flexibility and (probably more importantly to many) that 10x optical zoom is to the buyer. Is it worth that much more money? Is it worth having to toe-the-line with the Samsung Way (or navigate and negotiate your way around much of it)? Is it worth living with a huge 'lump' of a phone, weighing down one's pockets, which really doesn't work one-handed very well? Or does the buyer save a shedload of cash (in terms of release-price) and head for a device with a cleaner, stock feel, sleeker in the hand, not bulky and weighty, a much better battery (in my tests here) and that 200MP camera?

It's a hard call and, as I say, I'm tempted (based on the used price for the Samsung) to call it a draw overall. On new prices, I certainly give it to Moto. But then I'm one who appreciates the less encumbered OS and UX. Is the phone in your pocket also your computer? Your Tablet? Your only smart device? Then maybe the Samsung is the way to go, cramming as much as one can into a (relatively) small package. For me, the balance swings the other way and I'd plump every time for the Motorola if going Ultra!

PodHubUK Podcasts for the Month of January 2023

...a roundup of our month of podcasting. Links to the team, communities and podcast homes on the net at the foot, so scroll down!

Phones Show Chat
Saturday 7th January
Ryan Stephen joins Steve Litchfield and I this weekend as we talk big iPhones, big Moto phones and big Samsung phones! Plenty of photography chat too, CES2023 highlights, updates and leaks!

Tech Addicts Podcast
Sunday 8th January
Gareth and Ted are back with a roundup of some of the CES headlines from this year's show. Lenovo, Samsung, Roku, TCL, Xiaomi, Realme, Acer and Asus all turn heads with new technological innovations - alongside a step forward in clean energy and a backwards one in diplomatic relations!

Chewing Gum for the Ears
Episode 28 - Digitising LPs!?
Monday 9th January
What's this? An episode of Chewing Gum? After 18 months out in the cold? What is the world coming to?! Steve and I natter for half an hour or so about my recent activity digitising analogue - why I'm doing it, what is there to gain, where to get used LPs, how Steve collects and stores his music and lots of other stuff around the topic.

Projector Room
Episode 129 - Warrior Watcher
Wednesday 11th January
The gang is back again to natter about what you, and we, have been watching in film, cinema and TV. Why not join Gareth, Allan and I as we theme-treat Jack Nicholson, pick our top releases of 2022, look at what's coming soon and plenty more.

Phones Show Chat
Episode 731 - Investigating Graphene
Saturday 14th January
Hold onto your hats as we deep-dive into alternative OS, Lineage-looking and Graphene-gawping with Mike Warner as Steve Litchfield and I try to keep up! It's a very interesting ride, so do join us. There's plenty of chat about other stuff too, of course.

Tech Addicts Podcast
Sunday 15th January
Gareth and I, here again, to natter for a couple of hours about what tech has caught our eyes this week. Lots of RetroTech seems to be spilling with Gen-Z not wanting to miss out on what we had! All the latest, too, of course, so why not join us!

Whatever Works
Episode 178 - Kiss Swiss Chris!
Friday 20th January
Aidan and I are here again to taunt you for an hour as we bring you Whatever Works in our lives and yours. A mouse or a Mous, Cake Ache or Aik, or even a Joby jobbie as we get a grip with suction! Loads of goodies as always, so do join us for a hoot. If it doesn't cheer you up, you can have your entrance fee back!

Phones Show Chat
Saturday 21st January
A sneaky two-header this week as Steve and I sweep up the week's news and reviews. I'm floating between Motorola and Samsung, whilst Steve's gone all test/data/stats-centric and we both demand a Green Reticule in our phones!

Tech Addicts Podcast
Sunday 22nd January
This week Gareth and I welcome Ricky West to join in the techy nerd-fun as we pick apart the week's news and any other drivel and clap-trap we've stumbled into! Ham Radio, Samsung's new ISOCELL, Nixie Tubes and Stadia - OpenAI, TikTok in landscape, Gaming Phones, Flips and Folds - we have it all. And Accessibility stuff besides!

Projector Room
Episode 130 - Kleo Kaleidoscope
Wednesday 25th January
Gareth, Allan and I are back with another roundup of all things film, cinema and TV. Plenty to natter about, as always, this time The Decline of The Munsters invokes Falling Skies as we consider Another Woman, or perhaps a Mad God! Gene Hackman features in Themed Treats, who was better than The Last of Us.

Phones Show Chat
Saturday 28th January
Here's this weekend's chat for you as Steve and I welcome Sethu Pillai back. We hear about his time working for Nokia and find out which devices he's favouring just now. Plus loads of other content as always.

Tech Addicts Podcast
Sunday 29th January
Gareth and I bring you this weekend's top tech tinctures as we duck and dive around what's new. Getting ready to Unpack with Samsung, Pad-up with OnePlus/Oppo, perch on the Razer's Edge, create some AI-Musical scores and go all ELP on Laser Turntables!

Abigail (2024)

A bunch of lowly hoods are brought together in the typical nobody-knows-each-other style, not supposedly sharing anything about themselves, ...