Subject: General Tech | July 23, 2014 - 01:40 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: xiaomi, snapdragon 801, smartphone, mobile, LTE, Android 4.4.2
Yesterday, Xiaomi revealed a powerful smartphone called the Mi4 that looks to give the unlocked OnePlus One a run for its money. The new smartphone is launching first in China with an international version coming in the future.
The Xiaomi Mi4 features a 5" 1080p IPS LCD display, 13MP rear camera, and 8MP webcam. A metal band surrounds the outside edges of the phone while a stainless steel frame adds rigidity and protection for the internal hardware. The other bits of the case are plastic, however likely due to weight and signal reception concerns. There is a removable back cover that is available in several different designs and colors. The Mi4 is slightly bulkier than its predecessor at 0.35-inches thick and 149 grams.
Internally, the Mi4 uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC with four Krait 400 CPU cores clocked at 2.5GHz and an Adreno 330 GPU. Further, the smartphone features 3GB of RAM and either 16GB or 64GB of internal storage. It is powered by a 3,080 mAh battery which should provide ample battery life. Wireless connectivity includes dual band 802.11b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, 3G, and LTE. The WCDMA version of the smartphone will be available first with a CDMA version coming next month, and a 4G LTE capable device coming in September.
The smartphone runs Android 4.4.2 with a highly customized MIUI5 user interface. An updated version of the UI, called MIUI6 is reportedly coming in August, but it is unclear how soon Mi4 users can expect an upgrade.
The Xiaomi Mi4 will be available on July 29 for 1,999 Yuan ($322 USD) for the 16GB version and 2,499 Yuan ($403) for the 64GB version. Initially, it will be 3G only, but a 4G LTE capable version of the smartphone is coming in September (presumably for the same price). Even further out, an unlocked international version is said to be available for purchase in the future.
In all, the Mi4 looks to be a decent phone with enough design tweaks and hardware oomph to give existing high end smartphones a run for their money. You do sacrifice micro SD card support and stock Android, but if you can live with that and are in the target market (or can wait for an international version) it is worth keeping an eye on!
Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2014 - 08:29 PM | Steve Schardein
Tagged: smartphone, PadFone Mini, padfone, LTE Advanced, HD Voice, CES 2014, CES, Carrier Aggregation, atom z2580, asus, Android
Asus’ PadFone is a cool idea that’s never yet made it stateside—but that’s all about to change with the advent of the PadFone X, which will be headed exclusively to AT&T at some point in the future (TBA). The PadFone was a concept first introduced in 2011 that involves a smartphone which docks with a larger tablet for seamless transition between screen sizes. Everything is also constantly and instantly synced between the two gadgets via independent Wi-Fi and cellular data connections without the need to manually invoke synchronization. Any applications which are currently running on either device will automatically resize to fit the other screen when the PadFone is docked or undocked.
It’s a really clever design that we’re happy to see is coming to the US. Pricing and detailed specifications are still up in the air, but here’s what we do know about it:
- 5-inch 1080p screen
- Docks with a 9-inch 1080p companion tablet station
- Brushed metal frame with soft-touch back cover
- Dual front speakers
A “large” battery in the companion tablet station also allows for charging of the 5-inch PadFone when docked, providing “2 times longer” battery life.
The PadFone X supports a couple of new technologies on AT&T’s network as well to help improve voice quality:
- Voice over LTE (VoLTE): This is a new technology which allows for much better quality voice transmission using a codec referred to as HD Voice (technically called Adaptive Multi-Rate Wideband).
- Carrier Aggregation: A part of LTE Advanced, this allows for the grouping of up to five separate 20 MHz bands to produce up to a maximum aggregated bandwidth of 100 MHz. Essentially, it translates to better voice quality for the PadFone X.
More details about the PadFone X will be announced soon.
In the meantime, Asus also unveiled the PadFone mini, which is not tethered to any particular carrier. It’s essentially a more basic version of the PadFone X, and judging by the screen resolution alone (800x480 for the phone and 1280x800 for the tablet), it’s clear that it’s intended more for the mainstream market than tech enthusiasts.
The full specs are as follows:
- CPU: Intel Atom Z2560 processor
- RAM: 1GB LPDDR2 RAM
- Storage: 8 GB internal w/ Micro SD slot for expansion
- Phone: 800x480 IPS
- Station: 1280x800 IPS
- Camera: 8 MP rear camera (f/2.0) and 2 MP front-facing camera
- Phone: 4.5Wh, 1170mAh, non-removable polymer battery
- Station: 8.3Wh, 2100mAh, non-removable polymer battery
- Phone: 116g; 124.42 (L) x 61.44 (W) x 6.3-11.2 (H) mm
- Station: 260g; 199.85 (L) x 119.43 (W) x 13.91 (H) mm
- Five color choices: Black, White, Red, Blue, and Yellow
- Dual-SIM support
- New ZenUI interface layered atop Android OS, which provides new apps, visual tweaks, and some useful extras.
Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more on both devices as it’s announced!
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 10, 2013 - 01:38 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tablet, smartphone, LTE, Intel, idf 2013, idf, Bay Trail, 22nm
This year at the Intel Developer Forum, Intel is announcing a slew of new products. Among the fray is a sneak peek at some of the mobile devices that will be utilizing the company's Bay Trail Atom SoCs.
The first device Intel showed off was a small Lenovo branded tablet that is likely the Intel-powered alternative to the current ARM-powered S5000 that was announced at IFA 2013 in Berlin. The Intel powered tablet is using a Bay Trail Atom SoC.
The mysteriously specc'd Lenovo tablet is not the only kit to use Bay Trail, however. Intel claims that there will be a number of new tablets on the way, including models that will be available for under $100 in time for this holiday season. Of course, beyond that specs were not announced.
Intel also showed off a new prototype smartphone that is powered by a new 22nm SoC. Ryan speculates that the chip is an Intel Merrifield-based SoC which is a mobile architecure derived from Silvermont. The company claims that the move to a 22nm manufacturing process for these mobile chips results in a 50% battery life improvement. Impressive, if those numbers hold true!
The smartphone further features an LTE radio, and Intel shared a speed test of the LTE modem during the conference. Today, the smartphone uses LTE for data and 3G for voice calls, but by the end of the year products will be able to use the LTE radio for both data and voice connections.
Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more IDF good-ness as it develops!
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 5, 2013 - 02:52 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: vibe x, smartphone, mtk 6589t, Lenovo, k900, android 4.2
Lenovo announced new mobile devices at IFA 2013 in Berlin this week including the new flagship Lenovo S960 “Vibe X” and an updated Lenovo K900 in orange or black colors. The new K900 is available now in China and the new Vibe X smartphone will be available (in China) in October.
The Lenovo Vibe X is the company's new flagship smartphone. The hardware, encased in a polycarbonate body is 6.9mm thin and weighs 121 grams. The smartphone features a 5-inch (440 pixels per inch) 1920 x 1080 IPS display covered by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. A 5MP front-facing webcam uses a 84-degree wide angle lens and the rear 13MP auto-focus camera has a back-illuminated sensor and LED flash.
Internal specifications include a quad core MediaTek 6589T SoC clocked at 1.5GHz, a PowerVR™ Series5XT GPU, 2GB of memory, 16GB of internal storage, and an embedded 2,000 mAh Li-Po battery. The phone runs Google's Android 4.2 operating system.
I find it interesting that Lenovo has moved away from the Intel platform for its new flagship. Unfortunately, it still is not coming to the US or Europe. Instead, the new Vibe X smartphone will be available in China in October and in other countries where Lenovo smartphones are sold around the December time frame.
In addition the IdeaPhone S960 Vibe X, Lenovo has issues a slight update to the Clover Trail+ powered K900. The phone will now be available in orange and black, which are new color options in addition to the existing silver model.
The phone is available now in China in 16GB and 32Gb capacities and will be available later this year in other countries. According to Into Mobile, the orange edition will cost users around 3,299 Yuan (which is a 300 Yuan premium over the silver SKU).
Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2013 - 06:58 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: verizon, smartphone, physical keyboard, LG, enact, Android
LG recently launched a new slider smartphone called the Enact on the US Verizon network. The new smartphone pairs low-to-midrange hardware with a physical keyboard and Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean.
The LG Enact measures 4.37” x 2.06” x 0.62” and weighs 5.99 ounces. A black chassis surrounds a 4” touchscreen display with a resolution of 800 x 400 and front-facing VGA webcam. A physical keyboard slides out from the left side of the phone and a 5MP camera (with auto-focus) is located on the back of the smartphone along with a LED flash. The keyboard’s five row layout includes full qwerty and a top number row along with arrow keys in the bottom-right corner.
Internal specifications include a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8930 SoC, 8GB of internal storage, wireless radios, and a 2,460 mAH Li-ion battery. The MSM8930 SoC includes a dual core ARM CPU clocked at 1.2GHz and a Adreno 305 GPU. Wireless functionality includes 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS. The smartphone runs Android 4.1.2.
The LG Enact has a full retail price of $349.99, and a subsidized price of $19.99 with a 2 year contract through the Verizon website. The smartphone has modest specifications and an older version of Google’s mobile operating system, but it does offer up a physical keyboard and is the latest in an increasingly rare product type.
Subject: General Tech | August 20, 2013 - 04:37 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zte open, zte, smartphone, msm7225a, mozilla, Firefox OS
Mozilla has been working on its mobile Firefox OS for about a year, and smartphones running the OS are starting to become available stateside. The first bit of hardware running Firefox OS is the ZTE Open, which launched last week for $79.99 exclusively on eBay. Unfortunately, the limited stock ZTE made available is already gone, and there is no word on when more smartphones will be available. (However, in typical eBay fashion, users are turning around and selling the $80 phone for $170 if you really want to get your hands on it...)
According to the eBay listing, ZTE managed to sell 985 of the orange ZTE Open smartphones.
The ZTE Open comes in blue or orange and features low end specifications. Fortunately, Firefox OS and its HTML5 applications do not demand much hardware. On the outside, the ZTE Open has a 3.5” TFT touchscreen with a resolution of 480 x 320, a single home button sitting below the display, and a 3.15 MP rear camera. Internal specifications include a MSM7225A SoC with an ARM Cortex-A5 CPU clocked at 1Ghz and Adreno 200 GPU along with 2GB of internal storage expandable by micro SD card. Other specifications include 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, 3G cellular radio, a 1200 mAH battery, and various sensors (accelerometer, ambient light, and GPS). The Firefox OS smartphone measures 114 x 62 x 12.5mm.
Seeing the ZTE Open sell out of its limited stock in such a short amount of time suggests that there is some positive amount of demand for Firefox OS from enthusiasts, but the smartphone and OS platform still has a long road ahead of it before it becomes a true threat to Android and iOS. Much like the fabled Ubuntu Phone, more than enthusiast demand will be needed, along with support from US carriers and app developers. With that said, it is a good first step into the US market and I hope ZTE makes more phones available soon.
Read more about Mozilla's Firefox OS.
Subject: General Tech | August 3, 2013 - 06:56 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: us cellular, smartphone, wireless carrier, financial results
US Cellular recently released financial results for the second quarter of 2013. US Cellular, a Chicago-based company, serves approximately 5 million wireless customers in 23 states. It reported second quarter revenue of $911 million, net income of $143.4 million, and Earnings Per Share (EPS) of $1.69.
Compared to the same period last year, US Cellular saw decreased revenue ($1.03 billion in Q2 2012), but increased net income and EPS versus the $52.7 million and $0.62 in Q2 2012 respectively.
Included in the recently-ended second quarter results is $480 million in cash from the de-consolidation "Divesture Transaction" deal.
Looking towards the second half of 2013, US Cellular plans to add Apple devices to its lineup and continue the build out of its 4G LTE cellular network. According to US Cellular, the company expects to see 2013 yearly revenue of $3.615 to $3.715 billion and annual income of up to $700 million.
More information can be found in the press release.
Subject: Mobile | July 16, 2013 - 04:40 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zte, tegra 4, td-scdma, smartphone, nvidia, china mobile
Details have leaked on a new ZTE smartphone called the Geek U988S thanks to China's TENNA certification database. The Geek is powered by NVIDIA’s latest-generation Tegra 4 SoC and is headed for Chinese wireless carrier China Mobile and its TD-SCDMA network.
Along with leaked specifications, the TENNA site has photos of its upcoming smartphone. The pictured model has a pink colored chassis with a large 5-inch touchscreen LCD with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. A 2MP webcam sits above the display and the rear of the phone hosts an 8MP camera. The device measures 144 x 71 x 9mm.
Internal hardware includes a Tegra 4 SoC clocked at 1.8GHz and 2GB of RAM. The phone works on China’s TD-SCDMA network.
There is no word on pricing or availability, but photos and a specs list can be found here.
Subject: Mobile | July 5, 2013 - 08:00 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: smartphone, sch-s738c, Samsung, just delivered, galaxy centura, android 4.0.4
Just Delivered is a new section of PC Perspective where we share some of the goodies that pass through our labs that may or may not see a review, but are pretty cool none the less.
Find the Galaxy Centura on Amazon!
I recently decided to move away from AT&T and try out a Straight Talk plan on the recommendation of friends. Moving to Straight Talk also meant getting a new phone though, because when I went to Straight Talk last month AT&T compatible SIM cards were still not available.
Long story short, I ended up getting the Samsung Galaxy Centura smart phone and Straight Talk's $45/month no-contract offering, which is around half of what I was paying AT&T! The phone itself cost $100.
The Samsung Galaxy Centura is smartphone that operates on Verizon's network and runs Android 4.0.4. Not the latest and greatest Android, but Samsung has not "blessed" the phone with its TouchWiz UI and a nice step up from the Samsung Infuse 4G's Android 2.3 OS that Samsung never bothered updating further (heh).
The Samsung Galaxy Centura is model number SCH-S738C (GP). It measures 4.44" (H) x 2.4" (W) x 0.45" (D) and weighs 4.4 ounces. The front of the phone features a 3.5" 262K TFT touchscreen with a resolution of 320 x 480. A small speaker grill and Tracfone logo sit at the top, while a Samsung logo and three capacitive buttons sit below the screen. The buttons are menu, home, and back. The front of the phone is black and surrounded by a glossy blue bezel that also matches the battery door.
The back of the phone has another Samsung logo, a speaker grill, and a 3MP camera capable of shooting 3MP stills and 640 x 480 video. The back of the phone comes off and doubles as the battery door. Samsung has put several clips along the edges to hold it in place, and may actually be a bit too secure as it can be hard to get the door off.
A standard 3.5mm headphone jack is located at the top of the phone, a power button is located on teh right side, and two volume buttons are located on the left edge. The bottom edge includes a micro-USB connector.
Internally, the Galaxy Centura features a Qualcomm MSM7625A SoC with a single core Snapdragon S1 processor (45nm, Cortex-A5) clocked at 800 Mhz, an Adreno 200 GPU, and a CDMA cellular radio. Additionally, the SoC is paired with 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage (expandable by a microSD card under the battery door), and a decent 3.7V, 5.55 Wh, 1500 mAh battery. Other internal hardware includes an accelerometer, GPS, Bluetooth radio, and Wi-Fi radio. I am not as familiar with CDMA as GSM, but the Centura operates on Verizon's equivalent to AT&T's 3G network for data and vocie (though not at the same time). It is currently connected to Verizon's EVDO Rev. A:8 network. As far as network data speed, the fastest results I have been able to get, as measured by speedtest.net, are 1,276 kbps down and 487 kbps up.
While it had no problems running Android games at decent frame rates, 3DMark mobile pushed it to its limits. It scored 536 in the Ice Storm benchmark and 281 in the Ice Storm Extreme benchmark, for example. Unfortunately, this 3DMark app was not available when I had the Infuse 4G so I am not able to offer up comparison results.
Now that the specifications and pricing is out of the way, I can talk a bit about first impressions. I have been using the smartphone for a couple of weeks now, and it is a fairly solid device, especially considering the price of the hardware (and the monthly plan is cheap too). It is noticeably slower at some tasks than my old Samsung Infuse, but that is to be expected with slower-clocked hardware. With that said, performance was actually much better than I expected it to be. The phone is able to run apps and games without issue, though when multi-tasking the game frame-rate starts to dip. Switching between applications (especially with a game running) is not as snappy as with my Infuse, but not terribly slow either. I'm not sure if it's the newer version of Android or not, but the software side of things seems to work well on this hardware.
The physical smartphone is plastic, but it feels well built. Admittedly, I have dropped my new phone quite a few more times than I would have liked (heh), but it has held up really well. It has not yet gone plastic to concrete yet though. Dropping it on tile and carpet has not caused any issues, however. When holding the phone and using the touchscreen, there is no creaking of the battery door and it seems to stand up to pressure without problems. With that said, I do have one complaint about the physical hardware, and that is that when holding the phone in the landscape position, the end of the back cover next to the speaker grill gives too much and makes a creaking noise when pressed in (say, when playing a racing game). That is the only area that exhibits that issue, however. It is likely due to the fact that Samsung carved out a bit internally for the microSD card and speaker underneath the back cover on the phone itself whereas the rest of the phone's back cover fits snugly to the back of the phone.
Overall, I'm happy with the phone, it gets excellent signal where I live now and is a good Android (albeit 4.0.4) experience for only $100 for the hardware. If you are off contract right now and thinking about switching to one of the many MVNOs (and live in an area with good Verizon coverage), I'd recommend trying out the Samsung Galaxy Centura from what I've experienced thus far. It is not the latest or fastest hardware by far, but it has great price/performance.
Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2013 - 06:36 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tablet, smartphone, phablet, mediatek, liquid s1, computex 2013, computex, android 4.2.2, acer
During Computex Acer announced its new Liquid S1 smartphone. In fact, the term smartphone may not be enough to do the nearly tablet-sized 5.7” Liquid S1 justice, and Acer has even dubbed it a “phablet”.
On the outside, the Acer Liquid S1 has a massive 5.7” touchscreen with 720p resoultion surrounded by an aluminum side grip and a front 24mm and 8MP rear camera. The smartphone/tablet/phablet (heh) weighs in at 195g.
The new mobile device is powered by a quad core MediaTek SoC clocked at 1.5GHz, 1GB RAM, 8GB storage, and a 2,400mAh battery that Acer claims will last “all day.” The Liquid S1 runs Android 4.2.2, and offers a stock experience apart from Acer's multitasking Float UI and Cloud Docs document software. Other features include DTS StudioSound audio, dual SIM card slots, and a microSD card support (maximum of 32GB).
Wireless connectivity options include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and 3G radios as well as wireless display and wireless printing technology.
The Liquid S1 smartphone will be available in either matte black or white across Asia and Europe for 329 Euros. It is set for release sometime in the third quarter of this year (Q3'13). US users wanting a large smartphone (or small tablet) will need to either import the Acer model or look elsewhere as the company has not yet expanded its mobile offerings to this side of the pond, excluding laptops of course.
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