Subject: General Tech | May 3, 2013 - 11:00 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: smartphone, optimus f5, LG, jelly bean, Android
LG has launched a new Android smartphone with 4G LTE connectivity. The new LG Optimus F5 is available in France now, and will be rolled out worldwide later this month. It measures 126 x 64.5 x 93mm and comes in either glossy white or piano black. Its specifications are not anything surprising, but this is not a new flagship smartphone. Rather, LG is positioning the mobile device as an affordable LTE smartphone.
On the outside, the LG Optimus F5 features a 4.3” IPS qHD display with a resolution of 960x540 (256 PPI). Above the display is a 1.3MP webcam while the rear of the smartphone hosts a 5MP camera with autofocus.
Internally, the LG Optimus F5 is powered by a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC clocked at 1.2GHz, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of internal storage. LG is using a beefy 2,150 mAh battery which should give it decent battery life even when connected to 4G LTE networks. The phone also supports microSD cards for expandable storage up to 32GB. The Optimus F5 is running Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean.
The new Optimus F5 smartphone will be available soon in France and worldwide towards the end of May. LG has not yet released specific pricing information, however.
Subject: Mobile | April 12, 2013 - 05:27 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: smartphone, Samsung, jelly bean, galaxy s4, exynos octa, android 4.2.2
Samsung recently launched its new flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone, and users will be able to pre-order it from several US carriers later this month.
AT&T customers will be able to pre-order the 16GB Galaxy S4 for $199.99 and 32GB model for $249.99 beginning April 16. Those prices are contingent on a two-year contract. US Cellular will also be carrying the new flagship smartphone, but has not announced how much it will cost. Customers can register to be notified when it becomes available, however. T-Mobile is also going to offer the Samsung Galaxy S4, but customers will need to pay full price. According to UK mobile site Phones Review, T-Mobile will offer the smartphone on its new no-contract plans for $99 plus a $20 per month fee until it is paid off starting May 1. Regrettably, there is no word on when (or whether) a Verizon or Sprint-comparable model will show up.
Of course, the Samsung Galaxy S4 offers up the following specifications. On the outside, the phone features a 5” Super AMOLED screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and Gorilla Glass 3 protection. A 2MP webcam and 12MP auto-focus camera with LED flash are also included. The internals of the phone are also impressive, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 SoC, 2GB of RAM, and up to 64GB of internal storage (expandable via microSD cards). The 2,600 mAh battery seems a bit weak compared to the one in the Galaxy Mega 6.3, but space constraints likely limited the battery size despite the beefier processor and higher-resolution display. Sensors and I/O include accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity, compass, barometer, temperature, humidity, and gesture. Wireless radios include a cellular modem (4G LTE, 3G HSDPA), A-GPS+GLONASS, dual band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, NFC, and Bluetooth 4.0. The Qualcomm 600 SoC consists of a quad core Krait 300 processor clocked at 1.9GHz and an Adreno 320 GPU.
Note that the US version does not use the higher-performance Samsung Exynos 5 Octa SoC. For reference, the international model's SoC has the following features:
The Exynos 5 Octa consists of a PowerVR SGX 544MP3 GPU and both a quad core Cortex A15 clocked at 1.6GHz and a 1.2GHz Cortex A7 processor with four cores. The two ARM processors are configured in big.LITTLE configuration, so technically it is still a quad core phone--but the lower-power Cortex A7 cores will be used for background tasks and/or to save power while shutting down the Cortex A15 cores when CPU load allows.
The Galaxy S4 will come in White Frost or Black Mist colors. It is an impressive phone and one that I’m considering for my next upgrade pending good reviews. Another good consequence of the S4 launching is price reductions for the Galaxy S3, which may be an option if you don’t have impending upgrade pricing and can’t justify paying the approximate $600 full price of the S4--but still want a new Android phone.
Subject: Mobile | April 11, 2013 - 11:09 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: smartphone, Samsung, galaxy mega, galaxy, android 4.2
Samsung recently officially unveiled its new line of Galaxy Mega smartphones. The new phones (there are currently two on tap) run Android 4.2 and feature relatively gigantic screen sizes. As rumors suggested, and likely in order to keep costs down, the Galaxy Mega phones come without a stylus (like the Note series). Also, the displays are lower resolution than the flagship Galaxy S 4’s 1080p display.
The Galaxy Mega 6.3 and Galaxy Mega 5.8. The Galaxy Mega 6.3 measures 167.6 x 88 x 8mm and weighs 199 grams. On the outside, the smartphone features a black glossy finish, a 6.3” 720p display, an 1.9MP front-facing camera above the display, and an 8MP rear camera. The phone is powered by a 1.7GHz dual core ARM SoC, 1.5GB of RAM, and either 8GB or 16GB of internal storage (which can be expanded via microSD cards). Further, it has a 3,200 mAh battery.
The Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
The Galaxy Mega 6.3 includes accelerometer, Geomagnetic, Poximity, and Gyroscopic sensors. It is compatible with LTE 100/50Mbps, and HSPA+ 21/5.76 networks. A Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (supporting Wi-Fi Direct), Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS/GLONASS, and NFC radios round out the smartphone’s wireless connectivity options. The phone also features USB 2.0 and MHL support for getting an HDMI output via a powered adapter.
The Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 drops down in physical size and weight to 162.6 x 82.4 x 9mm and 182 grams respectively. The phone also drops MHL, NFC, and 802.11ac support. The Galaxy Mega 5.8 has a white glossy finish surrounding a 5.8” TFT touchscreen display with a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels. A 1.9MP camera serves video calling duties while the rear of the phone hosts an 8MP camera for taking higher-quality stills and video.
The smaller (but still huge) Galaxy Mega 5.8
Internal hardware includes a dual core ARM processor clocked at 1.4GHz, 1.5GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, and a 2,600 mAh battery. Wireless connectivity includes a cellular modem compatible with HSPA+ 21/5.76 networks, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS+GLONASS. There is no 16GB SKU, but storage space can be expanded via microSD cards.
Samsung has not released pricing information, but the two new Galaxy Mega phones will be available globally. Europe and Russia will be the first countries to get the new smartphone, which will be in May. From there, the phones will gradually roll out to other markets. Users can expect the hardware to cost less than both the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 2 as the Mega has lower-cost hardware despite the physically larger display. If you just want a large display without paying for the extra horsepower of other flagship smartphones, the Mega series should be a decent option. I would estimate AT&T will sell them for around the $150 mark on contract when they do make a US appearance.
More information along with photos of the new mega-sized Galaxy Mega phones can be found here.
Subject: Mobile | January 31, 2013 - 02:35 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: smartphone, RIM, blackberry z10, blackberry q10, blackberry, BB10
Research In Motion (RIM) is no more, but the company will live on as BlackBerry. Earlier this week, the company held a press conference where it made the name change official and introduced two new smartphones running the BlackBerry 10 operating system. It was a lot to take in at the time, and it has taken me this long for me to write about it as I have been torn on how I feel about the new BlackBerry.
First up though, the phones certainly look quite good. They are rather sleek looking utilizing curved edges well. BlackBerry has designed an all-touchscreen Z10 and a smaller Q10 smartphone with physical keyboard that is has just enough Bold DNA to evoke fond memories of my first smartphone.
The Z10 features a 4.2” touchscreen with a resolution of 1280 x 768 (356 PPI). Beneath the hood is a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 SoC clocked at 1.5 GHz along with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. For expansion, the phone supports micro SD cards. It can output video over HDMI and the phone includes an 8MP rear camera and a 2MP webcam. NFC and Wi-Fi are included along with LTE support.
Customers in the UK and Canada will be getting their hands on the phone sometime this week. US residents will have to wait until springtime, however. The BlackBerry Z10 is slated for a spring 2013 US launch (around March). In the US, the black version will be available on AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile for $149 while a white SKU will be $199 and a Verizon exclusive (Verizon will also sell the black model, but reportedly at the higher $199 price).
The Q10 carries the same internal hardware as the Z10 but goes with a smaller 3.1” 720 x 720 touchscreen. Beneath the screen is a physical keyboard reminiscent of the old BlackBerry Bold. Specs and pricing were more-scarce here, but it should see a US release sometime in April 2013.
Both BlackBerry smartphones run the company’s new BB10 operating system. The new OS is a complete overhaul that has several neat features. There is a new BBM client that integrated video chat and screen sharing, an app store with 70,000 launch apps, a work and home workspace separation (which will be great for BYOD workplaces), and a feature called Peek. Peek is invoked by a swipe gesture and allows you to, well, peek at a second application (such as email0 while watching a video or browsing the web. BlackBerry 10 will run multiple applications in the background and has an app switcher similar to Maemo where it displays live icons laid out in a grid. The OS also includes a camera application and editor. The camera app allows you to time-shift a bit after the photo is taken in order to find the best shot (for example, finding the shot where everyone was looking at the camera and/or not blinking). It is nice to see that rolled into a smartphone camera as it is rather useful when trying to get group shots of the family! Having the physical keyboard is sure to be a boon to many former BlackBerry users and may be the deciding factor in those users coming back to BlackBerry after leaving for Android and iOS.
That statement does segway nicely into my worry, however. Essentially “former users” is the key phrase, and after Android and iOS have gobbled up the market I do not know that BB10 and the two new phones will be enough to win back their former users much less new customers that did not grow up using BlackBerry phones. Don’t get me wrong, the phones look really nice, and BB10 as an operating system shows promise. On the other hand, Google and Apple have a colossal head start and the majority of the market share. This is a stranglehold that even OS-juggernaut Microsoft has not been able to crack with its new Windows Phone 8 devices. BlackBerry may be able to win back the hearts of IT departments and grab some of the enterprise market, but I worry that BlackBerry took too long to put out BB10 and supporting hardware to reclaim its former glory.
I suppose I will just have to wait and see how well-received the phones are at the contract prices versus deals that are likely to be given out for Galaxy SIII phones, the Nexus 4, and previous-gen iPhones (keep in mind the Galaxy S4 is rumored to be released soon, so that would make the S3 likely to get a nice discounted on-contract price).
By all that is Brick Breaker, I hope that
RIM BlackBerry finds some way to succeed. Perhaps a partnership with NVIDIA for Tegra-powered BB10 devices? After all, as Ryan mentioned on the podcast NVIDIA is in need of design wins for it's chips and BlackBerry could do with more hardware aimed at more price points.
Enough of my speculation, however. What do you think about the new BlackBerry and it's new devices?
Subject: Mobile | January 10, 2013 - 04:23 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zte, smartphone, mozilla, html5, Firefox OS, ces 2013, CES
Mozilla has been interested in smartphones for awhile now. The Boot2Gecko project has since transitioned to Firefox OS, and now the company is nearly ready to officially release the code and begin getting it onto smartphones and competing with the current giants of Android, iOS, and WP8. According to The Verge, who talked with the company at CES, Mozilla’s mobile operating system will be released within the next two weeks.
The Verge checks out a prototype phone running Firefox OS.
The mobile OS is coded in HTML5 and uses HTML5 applications. While Mozilla plans to introduce an app store to curate things, currently users are able to find run web apps on the Internet. Do not expect Firefox OS to take the smartphone world by storm this year, however. Mozilla will reportedly restrict the mobile OS to low end hardware, with up to 800MHz single core ARM processors. Further, no OEM phones are scheduled for a US release this year (so far). ZTE has confirmed that it is pursuing handsets with Firefox OS pre-installed. Currently, the company is planning at least one low end smartphone release in Europe late this year. US residents will likely not see Firefox OS shipping with phones until next year at the earliest, depending on how well the phones do in the developing markets and when Mozilla opens up the hardware restrictions to higher-end devices.
Until then, you can check out Firefox OS for yourself in a simulator using the Firefox web browser and a browser add-on called the Firefox OS Simulator. To test it out, open up a Firefox browser window and install the add-on from this webpage. Then click the Firefox button and navigate to Web Developer > Firefox OS Simulator. Then, on the left hand side of the window that opens, click the stopped button to start the simulator. A new window will open running the mobile operating system.
The Dialer, Messages, and Web Browser apps in Firefox OS.
PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Mobile | January 9, 2013 - 04:07 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: CES, smartphone, Lenovo, k900, Intel, clover trail, Android, ces 2013
Lenovo has shown off a new Android smartphone at CES. However, in an interesting twist the new Lenovo K900 is powered by an Intel Atom processor rather than an ARM SoC. The K900 smartphone is constructed of a stainless steel alloy and poly-carbonate material. Lenovo has managed to pack all the hardware in a 6.9mm thin chassis that weights 162 grams. It will come in one of four colors, including gold, silver, and grey in a brushed aluminum pattern and one that has a diamond-plate design on the back cover.
The K900 features a 5.5” IPS touchscreen display protected by Gorilla Glass 2 and with a resolution of 1920x1080. The chassis also hosts a front-facing webcam with an 88-degree field of view and a rear 13MP (F1.8) camera with a dual LED flash.
The outside is neat, but it is the internal specifications where the Lenovo K900 gets interesting. The smartphone is powered by an Intel Clover Trail+ SoC. While Intel is not yet providing details on the new processor, Engadget speculates that the SoC will be the Intel Atom Z2580, which is a dual core Clover Trail successor running at up to 2GHz. The K900 will also include 2GB of RAM and between 16GB and 64GB of internal storage (plus a microSD card slot). The phone will be running Android along with Lenovo’s Le Phone skin on top (though it can reportedly be disabled).
All in all it looks like a really slick smartphone from the specifications list. Battery life and performance are still unknown, but I’m excited to see benchmarks of this once it is released. Unfortunately, it is not headed to the United States at this time. Instead, the Lenovo K900 will be available in China starting in April of this year. Pricing should be available closer to the product’s release date. Engadget has the full press release along with hands on videos with the hardware.
PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | November 16, 2012 - 12:35 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: oled, Samsung, smartphone
If the marketing had been accurate we would now all be using millimetre thin displays with vibrant colours and near instantaneous response, either on our desks or in some form of electronic paper. Unfortunately organic LED screens have proven both difficult and expensive to make, with manufacturers still trying to find a way to make large OLED devices affordable for consumers. The next possible product is one we have seen prototypes of but if Samsung is to be believed they will be hawking bendable plastic phones next year. OLED phones would have several benefits, without glass they would weigh less than a traditional phone and could be somewhat slimmer, but the biggest benefit to OLEDs is that they can tolerate bending and twisting and still function properly. Hit up The Register for more on Samsung's new plans as well as a look at some of the prototypes previously offered by their competitors, but not Apple.
"Development work on Samsung mobiles fitted with flexible OLED displays is nearing completing, with handsets set to be released in the first half of 2013, it has been claimed.
A source said to be close to the matter reckons Samsung is almost ready to launch flexible displays for mobile handsets, the Wall Street Journal reports."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Samsung fabs 64Gb NAND chips on a 10nm process node @ The Inquirer
- Sinofsky denies failed putsch led to his defenestration @ The Register
- Everspin makes ST-MRAM a reality @ SemiAccurate
- Lenovo UEFI Bug Only Likes Windows and RHEL @ Slashdot
- Newer Technology NuGreen LED Desk Lamp Review @ Madshrimps
- The Ultimate Kitguru Giveaway – Modded GTX690/SSD/RAM
- Win an Antec P280 Window or P280 White Window Computer Case @ Tweaktown
Subject: Processors | October 31, 2012 - 02:25 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: smartphone, R&D, prototype, Intel
Intel researchers located at the company’s Barcelona, Spain labs are working on multi-core solutions. Specifically, the researchers are looking to bring massive numbers of processing cores to smartphones and tablets. The x86 chip giant hopes to see as many as 48 core processors powering mobile devices within the next five to ten years.
Currently, quad core System on a Chip (SoC) processors represent the highest number of cores in a mobile device, so a 48 core processor would be an absolutely massive jump. Of course, there are several issues that Intel will need to address in order for such a chip to be feasible. The package size, TDP, and power draw will all need to be drastically reduced in order to fit into the power envelope and form factor of smartphones in particular. The biggest issue standing in the way of such a chip though is software. Massively multi-threaded software is still extremely rare, and on mobile devices is no where close to effectively utilizing the number of cores Intel wants to provide.
Image credit: Computer Wold. A prototyping platform running software to research efficient multi-core processing.
Analyst Patrick Moorhead argues that five to ten years is effectively an eternity in technology-time, and by the time the hardware with massive numbers of cores is feasible, the software will be there. Intel is a bit less optimistic, but hopeful that developers will embrace the idea of multiple low power cores versus a few high clocked, power hungry cores. Such a transition in the software industry would allow smartphones to multitask much more efficiently than they do now, and would no longer have to comprise on the extent of background tasks in order to keep the user interface stable and snappy.
Intel is currently using cloud computers to analyze multi-threading and what tasks can be parallelized. The company envisions being able to encrypt email, listen to media, sync with backup services, and use voice recognition without needing to reach out to Internet-connected servers at the same time. Cores would be able to split the work or dedicate certain numbers of cores to tasks like the UI or video playback. Intel has already demonstrated the ability to turn off unused portions of the CPU to save power as well as its turbo boost modes to increase clockspeeds when there is TDP headroom. It will be interesting to see a 48 core chip, especially if software developers can be coerced into doing tasks with massive numbers of cores in mind.
Interestingly, AMD is going for heterogeneous cores (CPU cores, GPU cores, ARM cores, etc) while Intel is using its process node and chip technology lead to throw large numbers of homogenous cores at the problem of processing. In the end though, it all comes down to battery tech and software enabling these kinds of advancements. I'm hopeful that I'll see these kinds of currently mind-blowing chips in my future smartphone, however.
Computer World has a write-up with quotes from the Intel engineers working on the multi-core smartphone chip, which is worth a read. What do you think about the prospects of a 48 core chip in your handheld mobile device?
Subject: Mobile | September 27, 2012 - 02:46 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tablet, stylus, smartphone, Qualcomm MSM8960, optimus vuii, LG
LG recently confirmed the specifications for its upcoming smartphone, and the company has gone in a different direction that the other big players this time around. The Optimus Vu II is a rather large phone that is approaching the size of a tablet, and it will cost almost $900. The smartphone is model LG-F200 and measures 132.2 x 85.6 x 9.4 mm. At 159g, it is no lightweight, but is lighter than I would have guessed. It will be available in pick, white, or black colors, with a 5.0" IPS display prominently centered on the front of the device. The display can recognize finger or stylus input, and has a resolution of 1024 x 768. Interestingly, the Optimus Vu II has a 4:3 aspect ratio where most phones opt for the thinner 16:9 displays. This results in a phone that looks almost square, and makes it look more like a tablet than a smartphone.
Other features include an 8 MP rear camera, 1.3 MP front facing camera for web conferencing, and the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system. Connectivity includes 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, APT-X Codec, MHL (video output to HDMI), NFC, LTE, and USB 2.0. Of course, the Wi-Fi network connection supports DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, and Miracast.
Internal specifications include a Qualcomm MSM 8960 dual core processor running at 1.5GHz, 2GB of RAM, and a 2,150 mAh battery that can be charged via magnetic induction. There is an external SD card slot, but no word yet on how much internal storage the Vu II will come with. The smartphone (tablet?) will come with an IR blaster and QRemote software so that you can control your home theater PC setup with it, and a One Key keychain that will make the phone beep loudly to assist you in finding it (unless you have misplaced your keys as well... though that might just be my bad luck heh). The VoLTE support is also notable, and should result in improved audio quality during voice calls.
The LG Optimus Vu II is a rather odd device with its large 5" screen size, aspect ratio, and boxy design. While we will have to wait for the US launch to confirm the approximate $864 (966,900 won) price, it is an expensive smartphone that looks and operates more like a tablet (and still costs more than a 7" Nexus 7!). As much as I love stylus support, I just don't see the Vu II catching on in the US.
You can find the full press release in the LG Korea newsroom website.
What do you think? Will you be picking up the Vu II, and if so why?
Subject: Mobile | August 24, 2012 - 06:41 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows phone 8, smartphone, nokia, microsoft
While Windows 8 on the desktop (and ARM devices) have occupied much of the spotlight for Microsoft’s products, it is not the only Windows 8 product coming out soon. Namely, the mobile variant that is Windows Phone 8 is set to officially release later this year. In line with, and suggesting a release day, the launch are leaked details on two Nokia smartphones that will run the next-generation Microsoft mobile operating system.
According to sources in the know, Nokia is planning to launch two new smartphones under its Lumia brand during a media event in NYC on September 5th 2012. As the event will see both Nokia and Microsoft on stage, the September 5th date seems very likely to be the official Windows Phone 8 debut. On the Nokia side of things specifically, the company plans to launch both a mid-range handset as well as the Windows Phone 8 flagship smartphone. The Nokia mobile devices are currently known by their code names of “Arrow” and “Phi” respectively. While specifications on the mid-range handset are unknown, the flagship Phi smartphone will reportedly feature similar design aesthetics to the company’s other Lumia-series smartphones–including a curved glass display and polycarbonate body.
The Phi will be an AT&T exclusive device while the Arrow will be available on both AT&T and T-Mobile. Interestingly, if the rumors hold true Verizon will not have a launch WP8 device. It will see a tweaked version of the mid-range Arrow codenamed Atlas but it is not going to launch with the other two Nokia devices.
Image credit: CNET.
Windows Phone 8 improves on hardware support, adds features, and tweaks the software interface to be more user friendly. Some of the more interesting new features include a shared codebase with Windows 8 RT and Windows 8 (x86-64) where only minor tweaks will be necessary to deploy “Metro” Modern UI apps to phones, tablets, and desktops. Further, hardware requirements have been upgraded to support 720p or 1280x768 (WXGA) displays, NFC (Near Field Communication. Think RFID but at shorter distances (and some other differences)), multi-core processors, and the inclusion of SD card slots.
On the software side of things, Windows Phone 8 will integrate the licensed map technology from Nokia and will feature a new Start Screen that allows changing tile size (small, medium, large) and ditches the navigational cue arrow. Nokia does seem to have some decent map technology from what I've used of it, so I'm glad Microsoft is taking advantage of the close relationship between itself and Nokia to get a licensing agreement going (and here's hoping Nokia is making some money off of it, they could always use the boost).
Unfortunately there is no pricing information or clues as to whether the two smartphones will actually be purchasable on announcement day. I guess we will all find out on September 5th!
In spite of the controversy surrounding the Modern UI on the desktop, Windows Phone 8 is looking to be a solid improvement over WP7 and it seems that Microsoft is moving in the right direction. Questions remain on whether or not it will be enough to take on the Google Android and Apple IOS juggernauts, however. Tizen and Firefox OS are going to have a harder time breaking into the market thanks to WP8, however.
That’s just my opinion and bit of speculation, however. What do you think? Will Nokia and Microsoft see better sales and increased adoption with Windows Phone 8 and Nokia’s second try at a smartphone running Microsoft’s OS? Will you be considering an upgrade or switch over to WP8?
Read more Windows Phone coverage using the Windows Phone 8 tag.