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Panasonic has a brand new Android Lollipop phone…and it’s not for Japan

Posted by wicked February - 27 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

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Panasonic has a new Android smartphone coming, and fittingly enough, the device is decidedly not for its native country of Japan. The Eluga U2 is a mid-ranged, budget friendly phone that still manages to offer some pretty decent hardware. It’s actually the follow-up to last year’s rather low-key Eluga U which was released, among other countries, in India.

The device comes with a 5-inch, 720X1280 IPS display, a Quad-Core Snapdragon 410 (64-Bit) CPU, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage (with MicroSD card support up to 64GB), a 13 megapixel rear/5 megapixel front camera combo, and a 2500 mAh battery. It will ship with Android Lollipop and support LTE, all while retailing for a very affordable $254. Despite the inclusion of Android 5.0, the device is running a customized skin which Panasonic has branded “Fit Home UI” which has a somewhat interesting take on the typical App Drawer. The end result is somewhat of a hybrid between stock Android icons and features and something else entirely. Take a look:

As mentioned, the Eluga U2 isn’t actually listed on Panasonic Japan’s mobile phone portal, which makes perfect sense given the company’s late-arrival to the smartphone game and subsequent bowing out due to a lack of consumer interest and intention to outsource smartphone manufacturing. Clearly the company once known as the Matsushita Electric Company realized that there are potential sales to be had in the Asian market at-large. Of course, we’ve also seen Panasonic show interest in Europe and, more recently, North America – perhaps we could see the same situation with their budget offerings as well?

Sony updates the Folding@Home App to support non-Sony phones and Android Lollipop

Posted by wicked February - 27 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

Sony-Folding@Home-short

Many of us have allowed our home PC’s to be used for the Folding@Home project that utilises the PC’s idle time to investigate the mechanisms of protein folding, aiding medical research into Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases among others. Owners of Sony smartphones running Android 4.4 KitKat have previously been able to run the relevant Android app on their devices, and now Sony has updated the app to be compatible with Android 5.0 Lollipop as well. Perhaps even more importantly, even non-Sony smartphones can run the app thanks to this latest update.

A few details on how the application works, it uses your smartphone’s processing power and WiFi connection when it is idle i.e when you go to bed at night and put the phone or tablet on charge. Default settings for ‘idle time’ are between midnight and 6am although you can change it to suit your needs. This results in the smartphone crunching data during its idle time to aid medical research in its bid to find cure cures for various ailments. If you’d like to take part in the Folding@Home project, just click the download link below to be taken to the Google Play Store.

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Google Play Store Download Link

Come comment on this article: Sony updates the Folding@Home App to support non-Sony phones and Android Lollipop

Acer teases the arrival of a new wearable and multiple smartphones

Posted by wicked February - 26 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

acermwcteaser

Acer has just teased the launch of a new wearable as well as a couple of smartphones. The company will reportedly show off these devices during next week’s MWC event.

With all the focus on the HTC One M9 and the Samsung Galaxy S6, it might be a little hard to shift our attention towards the Acer offerings. But luckily, Acer’s announcement is scheduled for after Samsung and HTC announce their smartphones.

The teaser image posted by Acer doesn’t reveal a whole lot, but it seems like these devices will boast of a premium grade hardware. Judging by one of the images, one of the devices could also have a metal body.

That’s pretty much everything we can decipher from this image, but luckily, we won’t have to wait long to find out more about the devices that will be on offer.

It will be interesting to see if the wearable that the company intends to show will be based on Android Wear or perhaps a custom wearable OS, which would make it compatible with a wide range of mobile platforms rather than just Android.

Source: Facebook Malaysia

Come comment on this article: Acer teases the arrival of a new wearable and multiple smartphones

Samsung has an ultra high speed 128GB UFS 2.0 storage module ready for smartphones

Posted by wicked February - 26 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

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Think about the last smartphone you purchased. Consider the cost. Surmise the storage. Chances are, the device was a pretty penny and yet contains only 16/32GB on-board disk space if it’s a flagship, or 8/16GB if it’s a lower-end model. While many smartphones now have expandable storage via microSD, wouldn’t it be nice to get a lot more for your dollar? Samsung might have just the ticket.

Korea’s largest OEM has just announced the world’s first 128GB smartphone storage module that makes use of Universal Flash Storage (UFS) 2.0, a cutting-edge technology that allows for blazing fast data access speeds. It makes use of “Command Queue”, which involves accessing SSDs via a serial interface and has allowed Samsung to make 19,000 I/O operations per second in random reading. This is approximately 2.7 times faster than the standard 8-bit-parallel-interfaced eMMC (5.0) currently deployed for smartphones.

emmc ufs memory

In random write-to-storage tests, the UFS format had 14,000 I/O per second making it 28 times faster than a standard external memory card. This will greatly add to the list of achievements flagship smartphones can perform as it will allow things such as seamless Ultra HD video playback while simultaneously multitasking.

Rounding out the feature-fest, Samsung promises a 50% reduction in power consumption which would make these tiny storage modules a theoretical match made in heaven for the increasingly demanding app array and multitasking that power users throw at their phones.

samsung galaxy s6 at&t teaser

Could the upcoming Galaxy S6 or Galaxy S Edge be the first devices to make use of the amazing new storage chip?

While 128GB is the largest storage option, 64GB and 32GB variants will also be available. The goal is to see that all flagship smartphones begin to make use of the new UFS technology chips and relegate eMMC to standard-affair, budget and mid-range products.

While Samsung is now mass-producing these chips, it remains to be seen as to if next week’s Galaxy S6 will, in fact, use such technology. Due to supply constraints or timing issues, it’s possible we won’t see them until the Galaxy Note 5 later this year, or even the rumored Galaxy Tab S2 line. Given that Samsung is the world’s largest producer of SSD/NAND flash storage modules in the world, this latest development is just another milestone in the company’s pursuit of the future of technology.

The full press release follows.

Show Press Release

Samsung is now mass producing the industry’s first 128-gigabyte (GB) ultra-fast embedded memory based on the much-anticipated Universal Flash Storage (UFS) 2.0 standard for next-generation flagship smartphones. The new embedded memory’s UFS 2.0 interface is the most advanced JEDEC-compliant, next-generation flash memory storage specification in the world.

“With our mass production of ultra-fast UFS memory of the industry’s highest capacity, we are making a significant contribution to enable a more advanced mobile experience for consumers,” said Jee-ho Baek, Senior Vice President of Memory Marketing, Samsung Electronics. “In the future, we will increase the proportion of high-capacity memory solutions, in leading the continued growth of the premium memory market.”

UFS memory utilizes “Command Queue,” a technology that accelerates the speed of command execution in SSDs through a serial interface, significantly increasing data processing speeds compared to the 8-bit parallel-interface-based eMMC standard. As a result, Samsung UFS memory conducts 19,000 input/output operations per second (IOPS) for random reading, which is 2.7 times faster than the most common embedded memory for high-end smartphones today, the eMMC 5.0. It also delivers a sequential read and write performance boost up to SSD levels, in addition to a 50 percent decrease in energy consumption. In addition, the random read speed is12 times faster than that of a typical high-speed memory card (which runs at 1,500 IOPS), and is expected to greatly improve system performance.

In the future, Samsung anticipates that UFS will support high-end mobile market needs, while eMMC solutions remain viable for the mid-market, value segments.

For random writing of data to storage, the blazingly fast UFS embedded memory operates at 14,000 IOPS and is 28 times as fast as a conventional external memory card, making it capable of supporting seamless Ultra HD video playback and smooth multitasking functions at the same time, enabling a much improved mobile experience. Samsung’s new UFS embedded memory comes in 128GB, 64GB and 32GB versions, which are twice the capacity of its eMMC line-up, making it today’s optimal memory storage solution for high-end mobile devices.

In an attempt to provide more design flexibility to global customers, Samsung’s UFS embedded memory package, a new ePoP (embedded package on package) solution, can be stacked directly on top of a logic chip, taking approximately 50 percent less space.

Over the next several years, Samsung will continue to set the pace for memory solutions that combine truly high-performance with high capacity.

Uncategorized

Android for Work launches, keeps your business separated

Posted by wicked February - 26 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

As we saw yesterday via IDC’s numbers, Android is on a lot of smartphones, and many of those phones travel with their owners to work everyday. Google wants to put them to good use, and as such it has announced the official launch of Android for Work, which we previously heard about last summer. Android for Work keeps your worlds apart and your work tasks secure, and does it all in a way that is simple enough for anyone familiar with Android to use.

Android tablets and smartphones running Android for Work will have access to Work Profiles, assuming the device is running Lollipop. For others, youll be able to grab the Android for Work app, which supports Ice Cream Sandwich up through Kitkat. The Android for Work app brings secure email, documents, web browsing, contacts, and more.

Android for Work also brings with it Google Play for Work, which gives management an option for both deploying and managing work-related apps among employees that are using Android for Work. This makes it substantially easier to distribute apps that are needed across a workforce. Integrated productivity tools are also included, and they cover basic needs like scheduling and editing presentations.

A bunch of partners are on board with Android for Work, and included among them are Lenovo, LG, Sony and Samsung, HTC, Huawei, HP, Motorola, Dell, Adobe, Box, SAP, and more. Those interested in the program can find out more here.

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SOURCE: Google

Elephone P5000 review – a 5 inch, full HD smartphone with a 5350 mAh battery

Posted by wicked February - 25 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

Never autoplay videos

The Bottom Line

PROS
  • Huge battery
  • Full HD display
  • Dual-SIM and expandable storage
  • Did I mention the battery?
CONS
  • 3G only
  • Build quality
  • Gets hot
7.5

An interesting 5 inch device, with a huge battery. At over 5000 mAh there are 7 inch tablets out there with a smaller battery capacity!


Buy Now

If there is one thing that generates the most complaints from smartphone users it is battery life. Many devices on the market today, sadly even flagship devices, just don’t offer the battery life needed. Smartphones have a bewildering array of features and us poor users are prone to using them! When combined with the push to make devices thinner (if not smaller) then it is the poor old battery that seems to take a back seat.

Elephone-P5000-22

If you are looking for a phone with a big battery then maybe the Elephone P5000 is the phone just for you.

Specs

In short, the Elephone P5000 is powered by an octa-core Cortex-A7 based processor, has a 5 inch, full HD display, and runs Android 4.4 KitKat. Here are the full specs:

Display 5” full HD IPS 1920 x 1080 pixels
Processor MediaTek MT6592 Octa core Cortex-A7 at 1.7GHz
GPU ARM Mali-450 MP4
RAM 2GB
Storage 16GB, microSD card slot, up to 64GB
Camera 16 MP rear camera, 8 MP front camera
Battery 5350 mAh
Connectivity GPS, microUSB 2.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, NFC
Networks GSM, 3G: 900/1900/2100 MHz
Software Android 4.4 with Google Play.
Dimensions 146 x 73.6 x 9.3 mm, 206g
SIM slots Dual-SIM

Design

Because of the large battery, the P5000 is thicker than many of today’s devices, however it isn’t overly thick. The specs say the phone is 9.3mm thick, but my measurements set it closer to over 10mm. Although over 10mm may sound thick, it is still thinner than popular phones like the Moto G and about the same thickness as a Nexus 6. But of course, with a 5000+ mAh battery.

Elephone-P5000-41

Like many of Elephone’s recent devices, the device uses lots of dark colors in combination with rounded edges and silver colored trim. There is a silver colored band around the edge of the phone, and silver can be seen on the home button, on the logo, as well as around the camera lens.

On the front is the 5 inch , full HD display, the front facing camera, and a set of capacitive keys which flank the home button. The capacitive keys light up when pressed. The home button also houses the built-in fingerprint reader.

Down the right-hand side are the volume rocker and the power button. Both are easily accessible when the phone is held in your left hand. On the top you will find the 3.5mm headphone jack and the micro USB port. On the bottom edge are the speaker grills. Flipping the phone over, you will see the prominent Elephone logo, the flash and the camera lens.

In terms of build quality, the phone feels solid and robust enough, however the power button on my test unit is slightly inset, giving it a slightly spongy feel when pressed. At first I feared that the button was actually broken, however it did function as expected. Also the home button seems to not always detect that it has been pressed. I can’t tell if this is software or hardware, but it was a little annoying at times.

Display

The 5 inch display on the P5000 is good. It is an IPS display with a resolution of 1920 by 1080. That works out to 440 dpi. The color reproduction is faithful, however when placed next to a phone with a better screen I noticed that the whites are a little “dirty” and lacking in punch. However it isn’t something that I noticed while using the phone, only when doing a direct screen comparison. It is likely just be the color temperature of the display.

Performance

At the heart of the P5000 is the MediaTek MT6592. It has an octa-core Cortex-A7 based processor which is coupled with a Mali-450MP GPU. The Mali-450 is getting quite old now and only provides OpenGL ES 2.0, and not 3.0. However it still performs reasonably well for 3D gaming.

My experience with the P5000 was pleasant. The user interface responds well and I didn’t notice any lags or stutters. Swiping and general navigation was always smooth and fast. For everyday usage like browsing the web, reading email, checking my calendar etc, I have no complaints at all. And while the Mali-450MP is certainly an older GPU, it was able to handle games like Riptide GP2 without any problems.

Elephone P5000 Epic Citadel

As for the benchmarks, the P5000 managed to chalk up 54.3 frames per second on Epic Citadel in High Quality mode, and scored an unverified 31749 on AnTuTu.

One other thing worth mentioning about the CPU/GPU package is that when pushed hard the device becomes quite warm. I am used to a little warmth on the back of a phone after playing 3D games, however in this particular case the front of the phone around the ear piece also heats up. Someone called me while I was playing some games on the device. When I placed it to my ear it was quite uncomfortable. Thankfully the heat dissipates quite quickly, but it is something to be aware of.

Hardware

The star attraction of the P5000 is of course its 5350 mAh battery. That is a big battery for a phone! To put it into perspective, the Nexus 7 (2013) tablet has a 3950 mAh battery, the Nexus 6 has a 3220 mAH battery, the Nexus 5 has a 2300 mAh battery, and the Moto G (2nd gen) has a 2070 mAh battery. In other words, the battery in the P5000 is bigger than the battery in some 7 inch tablets, and at least twice the size of the battery in many popular 5 inch phones.

I charged the phone overnight in Friday and started using it over the weekend. The battery lasted until late on Monday morning. That was a total of 2 days and 6 hours, with a on screen time of 5.25 hours. Wi-Fi and 3G were on all the time, as was sync (I was receiving all my emails etc). There is also about 90 minutes of game playing in the mix.

Elephone P5000 Battery

I ran some individual tests which basically confirmed my weekend testing. According to GameBench you can play 2D games for around 6 hours on one charge, while intensive 3D games will work for around 4 hours. Alternatively you can get about 5 hours of constant YouTube streaming over Wi-Fi.

The phone has two speaker grills on its bottom edge, however they don’t seem to have any actual relationship to the internal speaker! Covering both grills only muffles the sound slightly and the speaker appears to be buried in the phone’s innards somewhere. Taking off the battery cover doesn’t reveal any obvious speaker bits.  Pure audiophiles will likely be concerned about sound fidelity, however the advantage of this setup is that the phone sounds the same regardless of how the device is positioned: on its back, on its front, with the grills covered, and so on.

The P5000 is a dual SIM phone that offers quad-band GSM, which means 2G will work just about anywhere in the world; and tri-band 3G, on 900, 1900 and 2100MHz. The 3G will work in lots of countries around the world, especially in Europe and Asia. In the USA you will get 2G coverage but that is about it.

The GPS performance is excellent. The device is able to get a lock easily outdoors and can even get a lock indoors. I tested the P5000 with Nokia Here maps and I was able to use the turn-by-turn navigation without any problems.

The P5000 comes with 2GB of RAM, which is to be expected for a phone in this price range. In terms of internal storage, the device comes with 16GB of flash and has a micro-SD card slot, which can accept cards up to 64GB. Thankfully, unlike other MediaTek based devices, the internal storage isn’t divided up, you get access to the whole lot, which is around 13GB.

Camera

This phone has a 16MP rear facing camera and a 8MP front facing camera. The pictures are crisp and the color reproduction is good. The sensor struggles a bit in low-light situations, but for outdoor shots I was quite impressed. The inclusion of an 8MP front facing camera is good news for those who like selfies, however I did find the front camera tends to over expose pictures.

The included camera app, which looks to be the standard AOSP app, offers a few interesting features including HDR and Panorama. In the settings you can change things like the exposure level, the scene type, the white balance, face detection and so on. Overall, the app is fairly comprehensive but it doesn’t have any advanced modes or filters. You can also install and use third-party apps including Google’s camera app.

Here are some sample shots, judge for yourself:

Software

The P5000 runs stock Android 4.4.2. You get access to Google Play and all of Google’s services like YouTube, Gmail and Maps. I think the device is rooted by default as it comes with Chainfire’s SuperSU pre-installed. The reason I say “I think” is that the phone received an Over-The-Air (OTA) update within the first day of me getting it, and after the update SuperSU complains that the “su” binaries are no longer installed. My guess is that the OTA removed them and I didn’t check the phone’s root status before the OTA arrived.

Elephone P5000 UI

The UI is basically what you would expect from stock Android. The launcher has been lightly skinned by Elephone and there are a few additional sections in the settings for Gesture Recognition and for the Finger Scanner [sic]. But those are about the only differences between the supplied version of Android and pure stock Android.

Elephone P5000 Fingerprint and gesture

The fingerprint scanner is incorporated into the home button and the software allows you to set the screen to unlock only with your fingerprint. Overall the scanner and the unlock mechanism worked well. The number of misreads was relatively low and I kept the feature activated for a while. I only removed it, not because the scanner wasn’t up to the job, but because having to swipe my finger over the scanner to unlock the screen was becoming a bit tedious.

Comparison with THL 5000

The Elephone P5000 isn’t the first phone with an extra large battery. Another good example is the THL 5000. I used the THL 5000 as my daily driver for around 6 months, so I have a lot of experience with the device. Both cost around the same price and both share a number of common features: octa-core Cortex-A7 processor, Mali-450MP GPU, 2GB RAM, and 16GB storage.

The differences come down to this: the THL 5000 supports 3G on 850/2100MHz, compared to 900/1900/2100MHz on the P5000; the THL 5000 has a 13MP/5MP camera combo, compared to the 16MP/8MP of the P5000. The THL 5000 has Corning Gorilla Glass, but the P5000 has a fingerprint scanner. After that I guess it comes down to personal preference with regards to the styling, and the brand.

Price and Wrap up

To sum up, the P5000 is a 3G enabled smartphone, with a full HD display and an octa-core 32-bit CPU. The battery is a big plus point, and companies like Elephone are certainly pushing the standard feature list upwards. For once, the inclusion of a fingerprint scanner is more than just a gimmick, as it actually works. The over-heating issue might be a problem for some, but if you are aware of it then it can be easily managed.

Buy Now

LG G Flex 2 vs LG G3

Posted by wicked February - 18 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

LG unveiled its latest curved smartphone, the LG G Flex 2, at CES 2015 last month. We’ve already unboxed the device, and given you our first impressions. While we are in the midst of testing the device for our full review, we thought we’d take a look at how it compares to LG’s 2014 flagship, the G3. We’ll take a look at design, software, camera and more, and see how these two devices stack up against one another in this comprehensive look at the LG G Flex 2 vs the LG G3.

Read more: LG G Flex 2 unboxing and first impressions

Design

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To begin, it’s quite obvious where these devices differ on the design front. The curved screen on the G Flex 2 gives the device a unique look and feel, though what once was the size of the G Pro series now fits squarely in the realm of the G3’s territory. The G Flex 2 has been shrunken down to the benefit of many users who thought the larger 6-inch original was just too big. The curve of the G Flex 2 still goes from top to bottom, and like the original G Flex, LG claims that the curve results in a more resilient device all around. The curved phone has a self-healing back that is supposed to make scratches on the back disappear after some time. Additionally, there’s the benefit of an overall flexible device that can take some pressure when flattened.

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It’s no secret that LG is testing the waters on a few unique features with this handset, and they all offer some benefits to the user that aren’t as gimmicky as you’d expect. Both devices offer a removable back panel, but steering away from the glossy plastic finish of the G Flex 2, the G3 offers a sleek brushed design without the benefit of self-healing properties.

LG’s now iconic button layout found on the back of most of the company’s handsets is present on both smartphones. The back of the devices house the power/standby key and volume buttons sit under the camera optics that includes laser autofocus technology. There are no buttons on the sides of either device, which means both handsets can be kept pretty thin. Moving to the front, both devices offer 5.5-inch screens with very limited bezel on both devices.

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Thanks to its curved screen, the G Flex 2 almost literally sits perfectly in-hand, while the G3 is just a plain slab-shaped smartphone we’ve come to expect from most OEMs. The Flex’s self-healing back adds quite a bit of extra grip to the device compared to the smooth feel of the G3. While size has a lot to do with the handling, we give the ergonomics badge to the G Flex because the curve does make “hand gymnastics” easier to perform.

One aspect many people have worried about is fitting the G Flex 2 into a pocket. We can assure you that it is quite comfortable, but we should warn that if you wear jeans with extremely tight or small pockets, the G Flex 2 may be a tad uncomfortable. Either way, we’re looking at very attractive devices that show LG has really made strides in their design language, especially with their signature back button layout.

Display

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Each of these devices feature a 5.5-inch display, but the G Flex 2 sports a lower-res display due to its curve. The LG G3’s screen was one of the first to sport Quad HD or 1440p resolution, bringing high powered display experiences into the mainstream. However, there have been a few reports of some compromises with the G3’s high-res screen. A bit of over smoothing could be seen in mostly text-heavy areas, especially in the browser. And with so much pixel power to emote, certain elements might have a slight stutter in place of completely smooth movements. Such claims, at least in my experience, proved to be fairly rare. Though the power of a Quad HD display might not be noticeable without a keen eye, I still thoroughly enjoy mostly media consumption on the higher resolution screen.

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As was the case with the original G Flex, we learn in the 2nd iteration that the lower resolution is fine and just as enjoyable. The G Flex 2 has a 1080p screen which benefits from the curve, giving the user a more immersive media consumption experience. The screen will often not be as close to your face for the curve to fully make sense when it comes to talking, but the feature is mostly used to benefit durability and handling.

We have noticed that the G Flex 2’s 1080p panel doesn’t stutter quite as often as the G3’s, which makes the case that super high pixel densities could indeed impede general performance.

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If anything, both IPS displays work very well where they should. Brightness is good in broad daylight and colors have the vibrancy that makes all media look great. Ultimately, this comparison makes it even clearer that our tried and true resolutions are still viable in today’s cutting edge environment. You just have to pick which enhancement you want: the subtle bump up via higher resolution or the unique and fresh feeling effect of a top to bottom curve.

Performance

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LG has once again given us an incredible feature set in both of these devices. We give the company credit for keeping each new release fresh by keeping the processing packages updated, even if the G Flex 2 is not necessarily supposed to be considered a flagship device. Indeed, the new iteration of LG’s smartphone lines sports the latest and greatest – the Snapdragon 810 – backed by the Adreno 430 GPU and up to 3GB of RAM.

While performance has been great during in-app tasks and gaming on this device thus far, LG’s G UI runs into a few issues on the G Flex 2. Though our testing has not fully completed yet, we do believe the problems come from not only a lack of optimization in this Lollipop edition of LG’s interface, but also the sheer amount of bloatware that you typically get in devices made for the Asian market. We’ll need to reserve judgment on the Snapdragon 810 until we get our hands on a device meant for the US market.

The LG G3, on the other hand, has what is now almost considered old technology – the Snapdragon 801 – alongside the Adreno 330 and up to 3GB of RAM. Performance on the G3 has remained reliable despite how fast the market has been changing, and with updates to the G UI up until now, getting through the elements feels smoother despite what little stutters I mentioned before due to the Quad HD resolution.

Obviously the cutting edge is a place where many of us power users want to be, but while the Snapdragon 810 is pretty big deal, more variables might be skewing its performance experience in this very first crop that includes a Lollipop build that could use some updates.

Hardware

The G Flex 2’s main differentiator on the design front is obviously the curved display, but it doesn’t stop there with the unique features. The self-healing back, if it is anything like on the G Flex 1, will remove superficial scratches over some time, but anything more than that will likely leave permanent marks on the device. This is something we’ve already seen in preliminary testing. Removing the back of the G Flex 2 doesn’t allow you access to the battery, but the microSD and SIM card slots are still exposed underneath.

Speaking of the battery, we have yet to conclude longevity tests in just the couple days that we’ve had this phone thus far, but we can give you an example of one day’s power usage. Ten hours was what it took to get the G Flex 2 to go into its critical power saving mode, resulting in a total of around 3.5 hours of screen-on time. The 3000mAh battery unit likely won’t go the long distance, but it should be able to get you through a full day with a little more frugal usage.

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The battery of the G3, on the other hand, is replaceable and packs the same capacity. Our original review of the G3 put the battery life on par with its main competition, despite its higher resolution screen. We haven’t seen a huge change in battery performance from our full review, though the option to replace the battery easily gives it a bit of an edge in the long haul. Otherwise, the G3 doesn’t really benefit from any unique hardware features, but it still does sport a microSD card slot and all of the regular fixings for connectivity. Moreover, both devices still have the Knock On capability enhanced with Knock Code, which you can use as a customized way of unlocking the phone.

It’s important to note that our G Flex 2 does not work on US carriers for LTE connectivity, and our testing will be relegated to WiFi and 3G internet. With that said, call quality has been about as standard for the G Flex 2 as it was for the G3.

Camera

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The laser auto focus was definitely the focus of the LG G3, and brought very fast focusing atop optical image stabilization and a camera app that kept things really simple. The G3’s camera experience was very well-received by us and thus it should come as no surprise that the experience on the G Flex 2 is largely the same.

Right down to the apps themselves, the experiences in shooting with the LG cameras are largely the same. You get simple elements for picking resolution or changing from the decisive number of modes that include HDR, panorama, and dual shooting. However, magic focus seems to have been left out of the Flex.

Both cameras have 13MP resolutions on their rear-facing cameras, and both include video modes including 4K recording and slow motion through 120 frames per second. What made the G3 camera experience so enjoyable was the fast point and shoot capability. While using the minimal camera interface, you just tap a point and the lasers focus on it very quickly, snapping the shot in very little time. And actually, the G Flex 2’s camera seems to be a bit faster at focusing than the G3. Where as the focus might jump a little before settling on the G3, autofocusing on the G Flex 2 was pretty spot on and direct in the first go. This isn’t the biggest improvement, but one that was easy to notice when shooting side by side.

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Picture quality takes on a pretty similar affair in the G Flex 2, as these quickly shot photos (shown in the gallery below) show good color reproduction to the scene. There isn’t a high level of saturation in the post processing that you might now be accustomed to in competitor’s cameras, though it is something the photographer will have to decide is a true benefit or detractor, as more vivid photos tend to be preferred by users.

HDR modes do add a little more color to photos, though its main function of lightening darks and clarifying blown out areas may not be particularly strong. The sometimes overly-aggressive noise reduction in the G3 seems to have returned, however, which is a trade-off. Sometimes the pictures are just softened a little too much and fine details can suffer.

What does prove itself well is OIS+, helping shaky hands capture clear photos and helping video keep from getting too jittery. Self portraits have been made easier with a new gesture allowing you to review the picture you just took with a natural downward angle movement – the 2.1 megapixel front facing camera is still just a standard performer, however.

LG G Flex 2 Camera Samples

LG G3 Camera Samples

We’re still testing the G Flex 2’s camera, though it’s clear so far that these two camera experiences are very similar.

Software

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When it comes to software, the G Flex 2 is running LG’s G UI on Android 5.0 Lollipop, and the G3 is still running Android 4.4 KitKat, though the G3 Lollipop update has already started rolling out to some users. Snce our G3 hasn’t been updated yet, the main differences you’ll notice in the G3 is the older softkeys, the older recent apps switcher, and the notification dropdown.

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But from there, not much more has changed in G UI, as many of the elements take on LG’s typical style. The Settings screen is still a tabbed layout and the quick settings above the notifications are still a little too crowded for comfort. The Smart Notice widget does get a few more capabilities on the G Flex 2, but the most enjoyable Smart App experience is still the keyboard, which is just a blast to type with on the Flex. It has a customizable height and extra button layout with number keys up top, making it one of the most enjoyable OEM keyboards on which to type. The only real addition to the Flex interface is a peeking feature that is triggered by swiping down on the turned-off screen, which is basically a quick way to check the time and the notification bar.

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Just like the the version of LG’s UI found on the G3, the G Flex 2’s UI is still a little too cluttered for its own good, as our early performance issues seem to prove. Lollipop was a needed move forward for Android, but LG kept things looking and feeling mostly the same in the G Flex 2, which might not be a good thing for everyone.

Gallery

Pricing and final thoughts

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The LG G Flex 2 has launched in Korea, and will be available for pre-order on February 27th in Singapore. AT&T, Sprint and US Cellular have announced their plans to eventually carry the device sometime in the spring, though no exact date has been given. It will also launch on Vodafone in the UK, and will make its way to Australia, though there’s no timeframe for its availability. The phone has been rumored to launch at around €599.99 off-contract (~$600 US), but we’ll need to wait and see the exact price when the launch date gets closer.

The LG G3 has been out for quite some time, so you can pick up the device in a number of different places. All four major US carriers have the device, as well as multiple UK carriers, Korean carriers, and many other parts of Europe and Asia. Nowadays, you can grab the phone with a two-year contract anywhere from $0-$149.99. Off-contract prices vary, reaching anywhere from $479.99-$549.99.

These are definitely the two top dogs in the LG camp and it should come as no surprise that they are very similar.

And so, there you have it, our look at the LG G Flex 2 versus the LG G3. These are definitely the two top dogs in the LG camp and it should come as no surprise that they are very similar. The higher resolution display of the LG G3 is its marquee feature, but if you’re looking for something more unique, the G Flex 2 has already impressed us with its looks and very nice in-hand feel. What points we do give to the G Flex 2 for its noticeably faster camera experience are taken away a bit by the new Lollipop edition of LG’s UI that seems to lack the optimization needed to meet Snapdragon 810 expectations. That said, we thoroughly enjoy the G Flex 2 so far, and that basically means we still enjoy all that the G3 offers – it’s just that the Flex is trying to bend the rules – making it a marginally more intriguing choice.

samsung_w2014_flip_phoneJapan’s wireless industry is unique in that their carriers typically charge more for smartphones than any other country, but they also charge the least for basic phones, like flip phones. This has caused a pretty strange event in Japan where flip phones have actually grown in shipments for the first time in seven years. Inversely, that has caused smartphone shipments to decline as more and more people revert back to internet-enabled flip phones to save money.

Flip phones grew 5.7% in 2014, while smartphones shrunk about 5.3%. Smartphones shipments still hit about 27 million phones while flip phones only made up 10 million units, so if we’re looking at a pure volume standpoint, smartphones don’t have anything to worry about it. However, for manufacturers, it’s a tough market to penetrate if you’re trying to sell the latest and greatest touchscreen device. Companies like Panasonic have already left the smartphone market in Japan despite being a native Japanese company.

This news, coupled with the fact that smartphone penetration in Japan is sitting at around 98%, means there’s very, very little room for growth in Japan’s smartphone market, especially considering how long newer smartphones are capable of lasting. We’re past the point of absolutely needing to replace a phone after two years, so customers upgrade devices less often. That’s great news for consumers, but it’s a tough battle for manufacturers.

source: Reuters

Come comment on this article: Japan’s flip phone market grows for the first time in seven years at the expense of smartphones

Samsung releases teasers for #TheNextGalaxy

Posted by wicked February - 16 - 2015 - Monday Comments Off

“Find clarity in darkness.” No, this is not the tagline for a new spiritual movie, but rather it signals the start of Samsung‘s teaser campaign for what will probably be the Samsung Galaxy S6. The newest flagship is expected to be announced and unveiled at the OEM’s #Unpacked event happening early next month, right before the start of the Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona, Spain.

The first teaser came out the day before Valentine’s Day and showed a video that revealed nothing new but further fueled speculation that one of the major features of the upcoming Galaxy S6 is the ability to shoot better photos and videos in low light situations. The camera in the video is moving through a dimly lit corridor or tunnel, with some uplights showing that it is going towards an end that is brightly lit. A narrator dramatically says a few phrases, “Great vision. A unique view. That’s what inspires me.”

The 17-second video then ends with the hashtag #TheNextGalaxy together with a camera-like icon, which is a probably indication that the great highlight will have to do with the device’s camera. A few hours later, they post another photo, with the caption, “Find clarity in darkness.” Despite the advances made in mobile photography, most smartphones still have trouble adjusting to low light shooting. The Galaxy S6 is rumored to feature OIS, which will reportedly address this problem. The current flagship, the Galaxy S5 has notoriously struggled with shooting in low lighted conditions, and so the next one should probably address this issue.

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Expect the next few days and weeks to be ripe with other speculations about #TheNextGalaxy, which is also rumored to be sporting a “three-sided screen” although what that will look like is anyone’s guess. Unpacked will be held on March 1, the day before the official start of the MWC 2015.

SOURCE: Samsung (1), (2)

Archos 62 Xenon: Say hello to 2013 specifications

Posted by wicked February - 14 - 2015 - Saturday Comments Off

As announced by Arctablet a few days ago, Archos is planning to launch a new phablet model – the 62 Xenon. Unfortunately, the new model doesn’t offer much more than the 64 Xenon which was announced around the same time last year. We can still find the MediaTek MT6582 CPU, 1280×720 resolution screen, 1GB of RAM and 8 Mpx camera on the back.

62xenon-nowrmkThe operating system, Android 4.4 Kit-Kat, also dates from 2013. On the positive note, the 62 Xenon features a nice looking design and is only 8mm thick.

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Here are the full ARCHOS 62 Xenon phone specifications:

Operating System Android 4.4.4 Kit-Kat
CPU MediaTek MT6582 Quad-Core @1.3 GHz
GPU: Mali-400MP2
Flash Storage Memory Capacity: 8 GB
System Memory 1024 MB
Interfaces Micro USB 2.0: Mobile Transfer Protocol (MTP)
Micro SD slot (up to 64GB)
Display 6.27″ IPS
1280 x 720 resolution – 234 ppi
GPS Yes
Bluetooth 4.0
Camera Back: 8 MPx + LED Flash
Front: 5 MPx
Dual-Sim Yes
4G / LTE No
3G / UMTS / WCDMA 900 / 2100 MHz
GSM / GPRS / EDGE 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
Wi-Fi Yes + Hotspot functionality + Wi-Fi Direct
Dimensions 174 x 88 x 8mm 
Weight 210g
Battery 2400 mAh
Included in the pack ARCHOS 62 Xenon
Battery + Charger
Hands-Free kit, Documentation, Warranty Information