Christmas 2020. Oh, what a year that was!


Each year I tend to sign off for a couple of days over Christmas to unwind. This year, for all of us, has been one to remember – and perhaps not for the right reasons.

Things started off quite well at Coolsmartphone HQ. We’d put the final touches to the Home Office / Gaming Room setup, with details on wiring up Freesat, plumbing in an Ethernet connection and basically hammering the flip out of the walls in my house.

Then it started turning when we had to say goodbye to the ever-excellent Garry Clark but then, for reasons I’ll go into shortly, he returned again in August!

Here’s my little look back at 2020. As ever though, I want to thank you all for reading, watching and listening. Have a peaceful and happy Christmas and a great New Year for 2021.

January saw us reviewing the Honor MagicWatch 2 (which I later bought because it was so good), some screen-friendly gloves, creating a half-price Google Pixelbook and the rise and rise of 120Hz screens.

February should’ve seen us heading to our private jet so that we could bring you all the Mobile World Congress action. Sadly, a pandemic started appearing and it all got cancelled. Then, well, you know how that all turned out. Everything became virtual and life is still far from normal even now. In recent days we’ve seen even tighter regulations kicking in, and many will now be spending Christmas alone or without the wider family they’d hoped to see.

If your mental health is struggling over this festive season, do reach out to any of the following..

Samaritans 116 123
CALM 0800 58 58 58
YoungMinds 0800 018 2138
ChildLine 0800 1111
No Panic 0844 967 4848
SANE 0300 304 7000
Get Connected 0808 808 4994

March saw us getting into lots of home activity and, for a bit, it seemed like fun. I grabbed an old exercise bike out of the shed and, as a way to dodge the crazy Peloton prices, stuffed a phone-holder in the front to give me a similar experience.

With all the new time at home, I then cleared up some finances, ditching Sky seemed like it’d be a big jump, but in the end it turned out rather well and saved me a load of cash.

April brought us the OnePlus 8 Pro and OnePlus 8, both fantastic phones and covered in detail here. We also had a look at the Wireless Warp Charger 30 and accessing Google Stadia on my cheap-but-powerful “Chromebook”.

May saw us delving into the rather confusing mess of age ratings in streaming movies, plus a review of the Moto G8 Power and the Netgem TV box

June, and OnePlus were up to something. It would end up being the excellent OnePlus Nord handset. I still can’t get over how many people come up to me when I’m using a OnePlus phone and say, “Hey, I’ve got one of those, great aren’t they?” It’s like being in a cool club.

We reviewed the Volutz USB cables and we started seeing more Oppo phones on UK networks.

July saw yet more reviews – the VanTop H610 dashcam, our expansive OnePlus Nord coverage, the OnePlus Buds, Tribit Flybuds, EarFun Air Wireless buds, Honor 9X and much more.

August is when my world, quiet literally, fell apart. This post details my first memories of the “event” which then got added to after I’d spoken to my family. It’s still hard to put all of this into words and, as I type all this, I’m still in hospital, still having chemotherapy, over 4 months after being told that I was about to die.

It’s something I still struggle to process. There I was, finishing off some DIY, feeling fine, then – just one week later (and after my stomach had ballooned to look like I was 9-months pregnant), a consultant was telling me there were growths inside me and there was nothing they could do. I had days to live. My family were told. My son was told. That, it seemed, was it.

Coming to terms with that and being told to get things “in order” is something I will never, ever forget.

I was on morphine. Heck, when a doctor came up to me and told me I was going onto “palliative care”, I just nodded. The drugs took the edge and the reality of the situation away.

There’s a podcast about the whole cancer diagnoses too if you’re interested. The short version is that, with really not much time remaining, the biopsy results started coming back and showed that I instead had a type of blood cancer, rather than the “hard cancer” they were seeing on the CT Scan. I felt like I’d won the lottery a million times over because it was treatable and, with luck, lots of chemotherapy and the absolutely amazing staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham; I could lead a normal life. Now, in December, I’m hopefully on the last run of chemo and I can look forward to a better year in 2021.

Well, that was the plan anyway. I’ve just caught the coronavirus too. More on that in a minute.

The TCL 10 5G

September. We had a look at lots of new tech, including the Mi Watch, the Zepp E smartwatch, the Honor Magicbook Pro, the Moto Razr 5G, the TCL 10 5G

OnePlus 8T

October and it’s the big OnePlus 8T review, Honor Watch ES review, the Blurams security camera plus a look at the Nubia Watch. We also took a look at the Taotronics SoundLiberty 92 headphones, the Honor 20e and a pair of socks.

Vivo X51 5G

November saw us reviewing the Vivo X51 5G, which was really very good, the BlitzWolf TS1 Phone holder and the 70mai Jump Starter / Phone charger. We also took a look at the various ways to get music in your car.

December. We’re here! Nearly Christmas and there’s details of the OnePlus Nord N10 5G, the Realme 7 5G, the Syncwire iPhone car charger, Oppo Enco X headphones and a simple guide to switching networks.

What will January bring? Well, I’ll still be here in the hospital sadly. I’ve now got the coronavirus to add to my problems, so Christmas and New Year will be celebrated in my hospital bed. What, though, will the 19th year of Coolsmartphone bring to the table? Let’s see! ?

Again, a massive thank-you to everyone who hits the site. Everyone on Twitter, listening to the podcast and those emailing us. You keep us going, you keep us smiling. Have yourself a very Merry Christmas guys.



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