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Samsung releases “trailers” for its Unpacked event at IFA 2014

Posted by wicked September - 1 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

Teasers are defined as small, cryptic details that are revealed to makes us anticipate or get excited about an upcoming event or bigger reveal. Well in the days leading up to its press event pre-IFA 2014 in Berlin, Samsung has really been mercilessly teasing us with short videos about its upcoming Galaxy Note 4. The latest (maybe last?) Ready to Note? videos are now focusing on the Unpacked event itself, ratcheting up the excitement until the main event on September 3.

The video released over the weekend doesn’t really tell us anything new about the Galaxy Note 4. They actually don’t even show us the device of course since it is after all, a teaser. But it does have some clues about what to expect due to some key words shown. Using the concept of “Ready…set…go”, it shows various people doing all sorts of activities that we assume will be fulfilled by the new smartphone. Words like share (social networking), win (gaming), write (S-Pen), go big (video), create (maybe S-Pen too), smile (photos) are just basic ideas but we have to wait and see if there’s anything new to them in the Galaxy Note 4.

The other video is a one-minute teaser which highlight how the idea of the pen has changed our lives by creating art, touching our soul and enhancing our lives. It then says that “it gets even better” with an image of the S-Pen for the Galaxy Note 4. Now we still have no idea what that S-Pen for Samsung’s newest smartphone can do, but it better be shooting lasers out of it or something really special, given how much Samsung has been hyping this particular feature in their previous teaser videos.

The Unpacked event is set for September 3, a day before the IFA 2014 officially begins, as has been the tradition of Samsung the past few years. If you’re not actually in Berlin, you can still see the big reveal as they will be streaming the event live through its YouTube channel. Let’s see what the S-Pen hype is all about.

Xiaomi Mi 4 review – a very solid offering

Posted by wicked August - 30 - 2014 - Saturday Comments Off

At A Glance

PROS
  • Great design with a metal frame
  • Flagship specifications
  • Vibrant display
  • MIUI is an unique take on Android
  • Better than average battery life
  • High resolution front-facing camera
CONS
  • Mobile networking can be spotty with HSDPA version
  • Unremarkable overall camera experience
  • MIUI is not for everyone

8.0

The Xiaomi Mi 4 is the new creation of China’s most popular phone manufacturer, and we were anxious to check it out. What you get in the Mi 4 is a great example of Xiaomi’s ability to create a flagship – this time, with a metal frame. Plus, it comes in at a pretty great price.

Xiaomi is one of the leading OEMs in its home country, but the Chinese company has been pushing for a wider global audience. After finding success in emerging markets in Asia, Xiaomi is now hoping to continue that run with its latest flagship offering, which, at least on paper, should give the current crop of high-end flagships a run for their money. Whether it manages to do so, and more, is what we find out as we take an in-depth look at the Xiaomi Mi 4!

Design

xiaomi mi4 first impressions aa (10 of 13)

The Xiaomi Mi 4 joins a growing list of smartphones, particularly out of the Chinese market, that are starting to feature some metal in their build. While it’s not the full unibody metal construction that you’d get with the HTC One (M8), the metal skeleton of the Mi 4 contributes not only to the sturdiness of the phone, but also to its good looks. The buttons on the right side are also metallic, with the placement of the power button below the volume rocker making it very to reach. Up top is where you’ll find the headphone jack, with the microUSB charging port and a speaker placed on the bottom.

xiaomi mi4 review aa (6 of 19)

The rest of the build material is a glossy plastic, which makes the phone a little slippery, and a little bit of a fingerprint magnet. That said, the size of the phone makes it very easy to handle, with the flat sides of the metal frame allowing for good grip. The 5-inch display has relatively thin bezels around the sides, adding to the slenderness of the device, and one-handed use is also a breeze. The capacitive keys are found below the screen, along with an LED light, that is active when charging the phone.

xiaomi mi4 review aa (3 of 19)

Handling the Xiaomi Mi 4, you definitely get the feeling that it’s a sturdy device, and while the look may be somewhat unoriginal, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t look good.

Display

xiaomi mi4 review aa (11 of 19)

The Mi 4 features a 5-inch 1080p display, resulting in a pixel density of 441 ppi, numbers we’d certainly expect from any device that is hoping to compete with current flagships. Colors are quite vibrant, and the contrast allows for some deep blacks, making media consumption and even gaming every bit as good as they should be. Viewing angles are great too, with the image losing fidelity only at extremely sharp angles.

xiaomi mi4 review aa (9 of 19)

If you look closely around the screen though, you’ll see a small black line framing the image, which adds to the overall bezel size. It’s not a big deal by any means, and is not as big an offender as we’ve seen on some other displays, but is still something worth making a note of.

Performance

xiaomi mi4 review aa (8 of 19)

Under the hood, you’ll find the quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, clocked at 2.5 GHz, and backed by the Adreno 330 GPU and 3 GB of RAM. The processing package is par for the course when it comes to flagship devices, and offers the kind of power you’ll need to do everything, from work to play, easily.

xiaomi mi4 review aa (13 of 19)

Playing games in particular was a lot of fun on this phone, and I noticed little to no slowdowns in even highly processor-intensive games. One game I got sucked into, Shadow Fight 2, not only showcased the gaming prowess of the device, but also showed off the contrast possible on this display.

One issue I have to mention is that the upper half of the device did get noticeably warm. While the heat did not affect performance in any way, it did make for a slightly uncomfortable handling experience while gaming.

Hardware

xiaomi mi4 review aa (7 of 19)

When it comes to hardware, we start to see the issues with using a Chinese market smartphone outside its home country. For starters, this version of the Mi 4 connects only to HSDPA networks, making the internet experience less than ideal for US audiences. This is something I’ve faced with other smartphones in the past, but in the case of the Mi 4, I’ve unfortunately had a lot of connection issues, and have been unable to use mobile networks consistently. That said, a version that is 4G-capable and able to connect to Western mobile networks is coming soon, which is great. When I did find some connectivity, phone calls came in loud and clear.

xiaomi mi4 review aa (4 of 19)

The external speaker at the bottom of the device is also capable performer. When listening to music or playing high-calibre games, sound is quite loud and rich, and I didn’t feel the need to reach for my headphones all the time. If you do like to use the external speaker for media consumption, you won’t have much to complain about. When it comes to storage, 16 GB and 64 GB variants of the Mi 4 are available, but there is no microSD support.

xiaomi mi4 first impressions aa (8 of 13)

The issue of poor network connectivity unfortunately made it difficult to have any conclusive battery testing, so instead I’ll talk about my day to day experience with regards to battery life. Standby time seems to be really great, and letting the phone sit idle for almost an entire day didn’t dent battery life. I did do one specific test using a looped season of a TV series at half brightness and volume, and while the phone died before I could get a screenshot of the battery usage, it definitely took at least 8 hours to reach single digits.

Camera

xiaomi mi4 review aa (19 of 19)

The Xiaomi Mi 4 comes with a 13 MP rear facing camera, and an impressive 8 MP front-facing unit, with the latter being above and beyond anything we’ve seen from popular flagship smartphones.

The software interface is pretty simplistic, and can be changed from a basic to an advanced mode. The advanced mode does add some settings, but switching to it mostly removes the icon labels. Ultimately, functionality is on par with other high-end smartphones, and includes a panorama mode and even a selective focus mode if you want to play with the depth of field.

xiaomi mi4 review aa (14 of 19)

Camera quality is about as standard as you’d expect. In broad daylight, the camera captures detail well, though it might produce the occasional photo that is too bright. The quality starts to taper off once indoors, with grain appearing and getting exponentially worse as the conditions get less than ideal. Colour also loses fidelity in darker situations.

xiaomi mi4 review aa (15 of 19)

The 8 MP front-facing camera does produce some nice large photos, but its colour reproduction leaves quite a bit to be desired. Selfie lovers might love the higher megapixel count, but it  doesn’t bring anything extraordinary to the table.

Software

xiaomi mi4 review aa (12 of 19)

The real difference between the Mi 4 and any other flagship device comes to the fore in the software department. While it’s based on Android 4.4 Kitkat, much of what you’d expect from an Android-based OS is turned on its head on the Mi 4′s MIUI software.

xiaomi mi4 review aa (2 of 19)

The biggest departure from the norm is the lack of an app drawer. Bubbly icons sprawl across all the homescreens, and the only way to organize them is to use folders. Keeping a clean interface is possible, but if you download a lot of apps, it will take some effort to keep things clean and organized. That aside, menus take on the same simplistic but attractive style, and just about everything moves about in some interesting transitions.

xiaomi mi4 review aa (16 of 19)

Diving in deeper is where you’ll find quite a lot of customization, which makes MIUI a hybrid of sorts, where you’ll find the rigidity of iOS style homescreens, combined with Android’s customization prowess in any other aspect. A powerful theming engine offers a slew of themes and options to personalize your device.

The notification dropdown can also be customized by a good amount, with the option to sort icons in rows or grids, and even to show certain additional information, such as your current bandwidth speed. Long press functionality can also be programmed for the capacitive keys.

xiaomi mi4 review aa (18 of 19)

Google Play Services are not available with the Chinese version of the Mi 4, but it’s not hard to install it yourself, and luckily, the Play Store was pre-installed on my unit out of the box. It’s nice to have to ability to install your own apps, but I did see the Play Store crash quite frequently. Xiaomi’s own apps are still in Chinese here, making them impossible to use for anyone who can’t read the language.

xiaomi mi4 review aa (1 of 19)

At the very least, you can say that MIUI is continually improving, with updates available on a weekly basis. Ultimately, it’s a very attractive operating system that takes a different approach to Android, and shouldn’t be discounted just because it doesn’t have an app drawer.

Specifications
Display 5-inch IPS LCD, 1920 x 1080 resolution, 441 ppi
Processor 2.5 GHz, quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, Adreno 330
RAM 3 GB
Storage 16/64 GB, not expandable
Camera 13 MP rear camera, 8 MP front camera
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0, IR Blaster
Battery 3,080 mAh
OS MIUI OS based on Android 4.4.3 Kitkat
Dimensions 139.2 x 68.5 x 8.9 mm, 149 grams

Gallery

Pricing and Final Thoughts

The Mi 4 isn’t widely available just yet, but if you do want this phone right now, the currency exchange will make it about $350. That is definitely a great price for a device that has a lot to offer, which is the best way to describe this Xiaomi Mi 4. Of course, you’ll have to make sure first that the device works on your mobile network!

xiaomi mi4 review aa (5 of 19)

So there you have it, our Xiaomi Mi 4 review! In the end, this smartphones is another good example of how the Chinese mobile industry is trying to show the world what is capable of. And, in this regard, the Xiaomi Mi 4 is a proof of success. You get a package that is easy on the eyes, and easy to use, thanks to the somewhat controversial take on Android called MIUI.

We’re seeing a new batch of metal-clad smartphones in the Asian market, and it seems that they’re all coming to the US, one way or another. In the case of the Xiaomi Mi 4, we’re off to a good start.

ZTE event coming to NYC on Sept. 16, right after all other announcements

Posted by wicked August - 29 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 2.39.12 PM

September will be a huge and eventful month for the tech industry. We have a plethora of announcements coming from companies like Apple, Samsung, Motorola, HTC and others (we can thank IFA for most of this hype). This all seems to be happening during the first half of the month, but ZTE is willing to take a leap of faith and be the last to take the stage.

The Chinese manufacturer has taken it to Vine (out of all mediums out there) to announce a September 16th event, which is to take place in New York City. The Vine clip doesn’t tell us much – they simply ask us to come see “the next hot thing”. Is it a smartphone? A tablet? It’s anyone’s guess at this point, but we do hear ZTE has a killer budget phablet lined up

While ZTE is not very well-known in the USA, We’ll have you know they manufacture decent devices. They have been stepping up their game as they try to further penetrate western markets. We recently reviewed the ZTE Nubia 5S Mini and it fared very well. There’s no doubt America’s mobile competition is fierce, and we will see if ZTE is bringing the right weapons come September 16.


Source: ZTE USA (Vine);

Sprint brings the HTC One E8 to the USA

Posted by wicked August - 29 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

HTC One E8 Brand Logo 2014 2

The HTC One E8 has been a hit in Asia and other markets. It was only a matter of time before the One M8‘s plastic twin reached the USA. As it turns out, Sprint will be the first carrier in the States to bring the neat device to this side of the lake.

It has everything you can expect from a high-end device, mimicking most of the M8′s specs.

The Now Network will be offering the One E8 in two colors: white or gray with silver accents. It has everything you can expect from a high-end device, mimicking most of the M8′s specs. The main differences lie in the plastic body (instead of metal) and the 13 MP camera (instead of 4 MP UPixel).

These differences make the device a bit more affordable, but I know many of you find metal to be a bit too slippery, making the plastic build an improvement. Aside from these changes, you will find the same Snapdragon 801 processor, 2 GB of RAM, 5-inch 1080p display and 2,600 mAh battery on both smartphones.

HTC One E8 vs HTC One M8 -4

So how much is that non-metallic construction saving you? Sprint sells the HTC One E8 for $499 off-contract, or $99.99 on a 2-year contract after a mail-in rebate. Meanwhile, the HTC One M8 will cost you $649 off-contract or $199 on-contract. Not a bad discount if you don’t mind letting go of the “better” materials.

The HTC One E8 is now available from Sprint’s website or over the phone, so go sign up if you are interested. Those still on the fence can check out our HTC One E8 review and One M8 comparison to learn more about this smartphone.


Source: Sprint;

HTC Desire 610 Review: a Moto G challenger?

Posted by wicked August - 29 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

The Bottom Line

HTC’s signature features in a budget-friendly package

PROS
  • Solid build quality
  • Front-facing speakers
  • Decent battery life
  • Affordable
CONS
  • Low resolution display
  • Lackluster camera

7.5

With its Boom Sound speakers, compact form factor, and generally pleasing aesthetic, the Desire 610 is an acceptable budget offering from HTC.

The Desire lineup of HTC smartphones have proved to be quite popular in various emerging markets in Asia and Europe, but haven’t gained a lot of traction in the US market, in part due to the lack of availability of these devices at rates subsidized by network carriers. This is has slowly begun to change, with an HTC Desire smartphone finally making its way to a US network carrier, at a more than reasonable price point, with or without a contract. Here’s our comprehensive review of the HTC Desire 610!

Design

HTC Desire 610-1

When it comes to the design, you’ll notice quite a few similarities between the Desire 610 and its big brother, the Desire 816, if only at a smaller scale. It’s made entirely of plastic, with a glossy finish on the back, and a matte finish along the sides. The glossy plastic back is prone to fingerprints and light scratches, and makes the device quite slippery, but the matte finish along the sides does help a little bit with grip. You’re certainly not getting the premium feel that you do with the flagship HTC One (M8), but the Desire 610 is still a solidly built phone.

HTC Desire 610-8

All the buttons and ports are found at their typical positions for an HTC phone, with the power button and headphone jack up top, the microUSB port at the bottom, the volume rocker on the right, and the SIM tray and microSD card slot on the left side. Even though it is a low-end smartphone, you do get HTC’s signature front-facing BoomSound speakers with the Desire 610 as well, which may not boast the quality of its more expensive siblings, but is still appreciated nonetheless. You do get huge bezels around the display though, which is definitely a turn off, and makes the phone bigger than it should be.

Display

HTC Desire 610-5

The HTC Desire 610 features a 4.7-inch LCD display with a 854 x 480 resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 200 ppi. With such a low resolution, pixels are definitely are noticeable when reading text or looking at graphics, and you’re not going to be able to watch content in HD.  The color calibration is also questionable, and the viewing angles aren’t the best either. It does get pretty bright though, so outdoor visibility isn’t an issue, but other than that, this display doesn’t have a lot to offer. With a display of this size, I would have certainly preferred a 720p resolution to really make it stand out.

Performance

HTC Desire 610-18

Under the hood is a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, clocked at 1.2 GHz, and backed by 1 GB of RAM. Even with its low-end specifications, the phone performs quite well, and I didn’t run into any significant issues with lag. Swiping and scrolling is still pretty smooth, apps opened relatively quickly, multitasking wasn’t a problem, and playing games was fine, without any major hiccups. It probably does help that the low resolution of the display isn’t as taxing on the processing package, but the streamlined HTC Sense 6 is also a contributing factor to this smooth performance.

HTC Desire 610-4

When it comes to the battery life, the Desire 610 comes with a 2,040 mAh battery, which seems quite small, but performed admirably. I was able to get through a full day of usage without much difficulty, while using the phone for texting, browsing the web, checking social networks, and playing a few games here and there.

Camera

HTC Desire 610-24

The Desire 601 features an 8 MP rear camera with LED flash, and a basic 1.3 MP front-facing camera. As far as the camera software is concerned, you get a simplistic and clean interface, but includes standard settings like ISO, exposure value, white balance, HDR, and more. Of course, you won’t find features like uFocus, and you’ll have to get the HTC Zoe application from the Google Play Store to create Zoes.

The picture quality, however, is pretty unimpressive.  Photos lack a lot of sharpness, basically appearing noisy, and very soft around the edges. Colours looked washed out, and low light photography is practically out of the question. The camera will do if you’re looking to post pictures to social networks, but that’s about all you can expect from it.

Software

HTC Desire 610-17

On the software side of things, the Desire 610 runs Android 4.4.2 Kitkat, with HTC Sense 6 on top. If you’ve used any recent HTC smartphone, you’ll feel right at home with the software experience on the Desire 610. Features such as the vertical scrolling app drawer, BlinkFeed, and HTC’s various customization options all make a return here. Since the Desire 610 is available from AT&T, there are also a bunch of carrier applications pre-installed, but bloatware aside, you still get a clean and smooth software experience, which has been a big selling point of the streamlined HTC Sense 6 UI.

Specifications
Display 4.7-inch LCD, 854 X 480 resolution, 200 PPI
Processor 1.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
RAM 1 GB
Storage 8 GB, expandable up to 128 GB
Cameras 8 MP rear camera with LED flash, 1.3 MP front camera
Connectivity 3G/4G LTE
Software Android 4.4.2 Kitkat with HTC Sense 6
Dimensions 43.1 x 70.5 x 9.6 mm, 143.5 grams
Battery 2,040 mAh

Gallery

Pricing and Final Thoughts

HTC Desire 610-19

The HTC Desire 610 is available now from AT&T for just 99 cents with a two-year contract, but can also be picked up at its full price of $200, which is a price point that gives the Moto G a run for its money. While the display may not be as good, the Desire 610 does offer LTE connectivity, which makes it stand out in the crowd of similar low-end smartphones.

So there you have it – our review of the HTC Desire 610! If you’re in the market for the latest and greatest, this certainly isn’t what you’re looking for. But if you’re looking for a device at a reasonable price point that just works, while offering solid build quality, decent battery life, and LTE connectivity, you should definitely give the Desire 610 a chance.

Get hyped up with the Galaxy Note 4 QHD wallpaper! [DOWNLOAD]

Posted by wicked August - 27 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

Galaxy Note 4 the Date Episode 2-3

Our calendar is circled for September 3rd and we are ready to get our hands all over the Samsung Galaxy Note 4! The announcement is only a week away, and with all the details pretty much outed, it’s just a matter of waiting before everything is set in stone. Today we have a little something to get you all hyped up, though – the device’s stock wallpaper.

This QHD-ready (2560x2560p) wallpaper has been leaked and is ready for download. You can even use it on your own devices, but most of us currently sport 1080p phones, so very few can take advantage of the full resolution.

wallpaper-note-4

More than anything, it serves as a bit of proof that the display will, in fact, come with a QHD 2560x1440p resolution. Not that we doubted it at this point, but a bit more corroboration is always welcomed.

Those who are curious about other specs can always look back at out previous reports for more Galaxy Note 4 details. Camera and fingerprint reader information was recently rumored. Those are always interesting, but for a Galaxy Note overload you can check out our Note 4 rumor roundup.

galaxy note 4 leak

Other specs do include a Samsung Exynos octa-core processor or a Snapdragon 805 (depending on your market, as well as that 5.7-inch QHD display, 3 GB of RAM, 16MP/3.68MP cameras and 32 GB of internal storage, among other things. It will definitely be a force to be reckoned with, so let’s stay tuned for IFA!

For now we can all just download this wallpaper and salivate over it. Simply click on the wallpaper, right-click and hit save.


Source: SamMobile;

Huawei launching sapphire-clad Ascend P7

Posted by wicked August - 26 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

Huawei-Ascend-P7-sapphire-edition

Sapphire displays are becoming the new standard in high-quality screen materials. This mighty material boasts a powerful medium with unparalleled scratch resistance and crack performance. Huawei simply couldn’t keep their hands behind their backs, and while they are not going all in on the material, they are ready to give it a test.

The Chinese manufacturer is said to be releasing a sapphire version of their popular Ascend P7 smartphone, a Huawei representative tells Engadget. This Ascend P7 iteration would come in limited quantities, with the first batch due this September and the following one coming in November. No price was mentioned, but you can expect to see a higher tag attached to this version.

Sapphire Glass GTAT

Are sapphire displays all that?

Of course, all this talk about the transition to sapphire displays makes us wonder just how much these are worth all the hype. Previous tests prove Sapphire displays are great for protecting against scratches, but contrary to common belief, these are not shatter proof (though they are strong).

Gorilla Glass maker Corning states sapphire is brittle by nature, and not able to best Gorilla Glass 3. This comes from a company with vast experience and reputation in the industry, but we have also seen Marques Brownlee give an iPhone 6 Sapphire display quite the beating.

Sapphire Glass

Furthermore, big names like Apple and Kyocera (known for their rugged devices) are signing up to join the sapphire party. We can’t know just how strong sapphire crystal is yet, but you can be sure we will put it to the test. As usual, you can expect some drops to come!


Via: Engadget;

Can phones get any better? Really?

Posted by wicked August - 26 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

oneplus one vs samsung galaxy s5 aa (15 of 29)

Innovation in the smartphone market has slowed to a crawl. Maybe it has plateaued. Smartphone penetration is extremely high in many markets. The law of diminishing returns must be kicking in for OEMs seeking an edge that will enable their latest flagship to catch the eye as it slips out into an already packed ocean. If you don’t like the look of it, no worries, there’ll be another one along any minute.

As the market fully matures the battle shifts from innovative tech to price vs brand. It’s not a foregone conclusion. There’s always room for a surprise killer USP, or a technological breakthrough that triggers an avalanche of sales. The growth of wearables presents a whole new world of possibilities and smartphones will be at the center of it, just as they’ll power Android’s move into our cars and homes.

As the market fully matures the battle shifts from innovative tech to price vs brand.

But for the most part we are keeping our phones for longer and every upgrade is less of a jump than the last. There’s a shift away from the 20 to 24 month contract cycle and subsidized phones. Some two year-old smartphones can still hold their own. If you buy a flagship smartphone today what’s going to tempt you to upgrade in two years’ time? How can our phones get better?

Battery

ThL T100S battery

This is obviously going to top any poll, including the one down below. Screens keep getting bigger, many of the latest apps and games are more demanding, and hardware is growing more power-hungry with every new release. Anyone embracing the wearable technology trend can hardly fail to notice the extra demands that devices like smartwatches are putting on our smartphones. We need better battery technology. There are three main ways this can be tackled and a mixture of the three would be ideal.

  1. Bigger capacity without a major increase in size. The battery is still the biggest and heaviest single component under that touchscreen and it will take a breakthrough to change that. We’re hearing about potential breakthroughs all the time, using everything from graphene to hemp, we just need one of them to graduate from research to market.
  2. Faster charging cycle. If you could plug your smartphone in and it was fully charged within a minute or two, then the pain of discovering you forgot to plug it in as you make to leave the house five minutes late would be blissfully consigned to the past.
  3. Wireless charging from a distance. Wireless charging technology is still mired in a battle over standards and most of what’s on the market is rubbish. Slower than a wall charger, but requiring contact. What we really want is something that charges the smartphone in your pocket.

Display

LG G3 How To Take a Screenshot-5

We’ve just reached full 1080p HD as a standard and we’re already seeing 2K displays; you know that 4K is next. Do we really need better displays? It can sound ridiculous to think we need a higher resolution screen on a smartphone than on the big TV in our living room, but most of us (if not our kids) don’t sit with our noses virtually touching the TV screen, whereas we hold smartphone screens very close to our faces.

Apple claimed that we couldn’t see beyond Retina displays and their pixel-per-inch rating is 326. The LG G3 has a ppi of 534. There isn’t definite agreement on this point, but the general consensus seems to be that 500ppi is going to be high enough that the vast majority of people will be unable to discern a pixel. Even if we set the maximum at 600ppi it looks like 4K is overkill. Instead of focusing on the resolution we could use improvements that reduce the power required and don’t produce as much heat, not to mention color accuracy, brightness, saturation, or any of the other factors that make a great display.

Toughness

damaged-xperia-z2

This might actually be the biggest improvement we’ve seen in the last two-year cycle. There are actually a few phones on the market now that can survive a dip and be comfortably used in the rain. If they could also survive a fall without any obvious ill effects we’d be ecstatic. Of course, case manufacturers might not be so happy.

Can smartphones get a lot tougher? Do we need them to? The top causes of smartphone damage are falls, dunks, being sat or stood on, being left on the roof of a car, and children. It’s virtually impossible to find reliable statistics for broken smartphones, but we can safely say a lot of people kill their smartphones every year. Indestructability would be nice, but how much can things really be improved here without bumping the price tag up?

Longevity

ara-ars

Since we’re going to keep our smartphones for longer, how about improving their longevity? This is a tricky one. The world of modern consumer electronics has certainly embraced planned obsolescence. It’s one of those perniciously wasteful aspects of capitalism that you can imagine future generations will curse us for. Manufacturers and carriers don’t want us to keep our smartphones and repair them; they want us to buy a new one instead.

It’s going to be very tough for a modular phone to succeed because all the incumbents in the industry have a vested interest in seeing it fail.

There has been some talk about how a modular system might increase longevity. We’ve all seen Project Ara. But would that actually solve the problem? If it isn’t wildly successful then it’s always going to come at a premium compared to mass manufactured handsets from the leading OEMs, which will be comparatively more powerful for less money. It’s going to be very tough for a modular phone to succeed because all the incumbents in the industry have a vested interest in seeing it fail.

There must be room for an OEM to take up the reliability mantle. There’s one in every industry, like Honda in auto, producing goods that are built to last.

Something else

There are obviously other ways that smartphones can improve, but quite a few functions seem to be good enough already. Cameras have really jumped in the last couple of years, but they may have hit a ceiling that’s unbreakable in the popular smartphone form factor. What else do we really need? Vote and tell us what you think in the comments

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

California Smartphone Kill Switch Bill Signed Into Law, Goes Into Effect on July 1 of 2015

Posted by Tim-o-tato August - 25 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

Starting July 1, 2015, smartphones sold in the state of California will be required to be sold with theoretical “kill switch” software baked in. Thanks to the bill, which was signed into law today, buyers who have their phones stolen will be able to remotely render their device unusable, with the ultimate goal being to help drastically cut down on theft of smart devices. 

Many companies who make the software found on devices, such as Apple and Google (Android Device Manager), have already begun this process for consumers, and in addition, a large group of manufacturers and US carriers have pledged to make smartphones harder to steal as part of a voluntary commitment with the CTIA.

The following excerpt was taken from the bill, SB-962, which lays out pretty well the exact details of the new law.

Any smartphone that is manufactured on or after July 1, 2015, and sold in California after that date, shall include a technological solution at the time of sale, to be provided by the manufacturer or operating system provider, that, once initiated and successfully communicated to the smartphone, can render the essential features of the smartphone inoperable to an unauthorized user when the smartphone is not in the possession of an authorized user. The smartphone shall, during the initial device setup process, prompt an authorized user to enable the technological solution.

The technological solution shall be reversible, so that if an authorized user obtains possession of the smartphone after the essential features of the smartphone have been rendered inoperable, the operation of those essential features can be restored by an authorized user. A technological solution may consist of software, hardware, or a combination of both software and hardware, and when enabled, shall be able to withstand a hard reset or operating system downgrade and shall prevent reactivation of the smartphone on a wireless network except by an authorized user.

Via: The Verge | The Office of Edmund Brown Jr.

California Smartphone Kill Switch Bill Signed Into Law, Goes Into Effect on July 1 of 2015 is a post from: Droid Life

Brazilian website uncovers Moto X+1 black, bamboo and leather versions

Posted by wicked August - 22 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

Brazilian retailer Livraria Logos didn’t conform with outing Moto E details ahead of schedule, last time. The store is now uncovering a whole set of Moto X+1 details and specs before the scheduled September 4th announcement. This time around they are giving us a few listings and a short list of specs.

These specs go parallel with past rumors and leaks. We are looking at a 5.2-inch HP display, a 2.2 GHz quad-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of internal storage, a 13 MP camera and Android 4.4.4. The most interesting part lies on the title labeling these listings, though.

moto-x-1

While no images are offered, a quick translation will let us know these listings refer to three different Moto X+1 models – black, leather and bamboo (preto, couro and bambu, accordingly). While the black and bamboo versions of the Moto X+1 are pretty well-known by now, said leather design comes as a surprise.

We are most excited to see this leather Moto X+1, as it’s a novelty, but we know many of you are leaning towards Motorola’s affordable Moto G2. It’s believed the mysterious Moto Titan (listed in the same website) could be the Moto G2, with modest specs that include a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of internal storage and a 5-inch HD display.

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 2.38.04 PM

On the other hand, this could very well be a Brazil-bound smartphone we don’t know about. Regardless, it’s smart to take all this information with a grain of salt. While this Brazilian retailer has been right in the past, nothing is official until it’s announced by Motorola.


Source: Livraria Logos;