LG L15G Sunrise TracFone is $9.82 at Walmart

Subject: Mobile | November 17, 2015 - 06:01 PM |
Tagged: LG, tracfone, walmart

Don't expect much.

This $9.82 phone runs Android 4.4 KitKat with a 1.2 GHz, dual-core processor, which is backed by 512 MB of RAM. It has 4GB of internal storage, which LG advertises as having “up to 1.15 GB usable”. It is also listed as having about 7 hours of talk time, with almost 10 days of standby (although that is probably with next to nothing running). These components power a phone with a 3.8-inch, 480x320 display. It is not compatible with LTE, but it does have WiFi and 3G.

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That said, the person writing this article is currently using an LG Optimus One from 2010, which runs Android 2.2 and doesn't even have enough on-device storage to install and use Firefox for Android. (My phone has ~60MB usable with basically nothing installed and a couple of built-in apps uninstalled.) So, for someone like me, this phone would actually be a step up and usable for something more than just phone calls.

... not much more, but maybe $10 worth of more?

Source: Walmart
Author:
Subject: Processors, Mobile
Manufacturer: Intel

Skylake Architecture Comes Through

When Intel finally revealed the details surrounding it's latest Skylake architecture design back in August at IDF, we learned for the first time about a new technology called Intel Speed Shift. A feature that moves some of the control of CPU clock speed and ramp up away from the operating system and into hardware gives more control to the processor itself, making it less dependent on Windows (and presumably in the future, other operating systems). This allows the clock speed of a Skylake processor to get higher, faster, allowing for better user responsiveness.

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It's pretty clear that Intel is targeting this feature addition for tablets and 2-in-1s where the finger/pen to screen interaction is highly reliant on immediate performance to enable improved user experiences. It has long been known that one of the biggest performance deltas between iOS from Apple and Android from Google centers on the ability for the machine to FEEL faster when doing direct interaction, regardless of how fast the background rendering of an application or web browser actually is. Intel has been on a quest to fix this problem for Android for some time, where it has the ability to influence software development, and now they are bringing that emphasis to Windows 10.

With the most recent Windows 10 update, to build v10586, Intel Speed Shift has finally been enabled for Skylake users. And since you cannot disable the feature once it's installed, this is the one and only time we'll be able to measure performance in our test systems. So let's see if Intel's claims of improved user experiences stand up to our scrutiny.

Continue reading our performance evaluation of Intel Speed Shift on the Skylake Architecture!!

Samsung Announces Exynos 8 Octa 8890 Application Processor

Subject: Processors, Mobile | November 12, 2015 - 09:30 AM |
Tagged: SoC, smartphone, Samsung Galaxy, Samsung, mobile, Exynos 8890, Exynos 8 Octa, Exynos 7420, Application Processor

Coming just a day after Qualcomm officially launched their Snapdragon 820 SoC, Samsung is today unveiling their latest flagship mobile part, the Exynos 8 Octa 8890.

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The Exynos 8 Octa 8890 is built on Samsung’s 14 nm FinFET process like the previous Exynos 7 Octa 7420, and again is based on the a big.LITTLE configuration; though the big processing cores are a custom design this time around. The Exynos 7420 was comprised of four ARM Cortex A57 cores and four small Cortex A53 cores, and while the small cores in the 8890 are again ARM Cortex A53, the big cores feature Samsung’s “first custom designed CPU based on 64-bit ARMv8 architecture”.

“With Samsung’s own SCI (Samsung Coherent Interconnect) technology, which provides cache-coherency between big and small cores, the Exynos 8 Octa fully utilizes benefits of big.LITTLE structure for efficient usage of the eight cores. Additionally, Exynos 8 Octa is built on highly praised 14nm FinFET process. These all efforts for Exynos 8 Octa provide 30% more superb performance and 10% more power efficiency.”

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Another big advancement for the Exynos 8 Octa is the integrated modem, which provides Category 12/13 LTE with download speeds (with carrier aggregation) of up to 600 Mbps, and uploads up to 150 Mbps. This might sound familiar, as it mirrors the LTE Release 12 specs of the new modem in the Snapdragon 820.

Video processing is handled by the Mali-T880 GPU, moving up from the Mali-T760 found in the Exynos 7 Octa. The T880 is “the highest performance and the most energy-efficient mobile GPU in the Mali family”, with up to 1.8x the performance of the T760 while being 40% more energy-efficient. 

Samsung will be taking this new SoC into mass production later this year, and the chip is expected to be featured in the company’s upcoming flagship Galaxy phone.

Full PR after the break.

Source: Samsung

Video Perspective: Lenovo Yoga 900 Skylake-powered 2-in-1 Notebook Preview

Subject: Mobile | November 11, 2015 - 03:15 PM |
Tagged: yoga 900, yoga, video, Skylake, Lenovo, Intel

The barrage of Skylake powered notebooks and tablets has begun and the PC Perspective offices are filling to the gills with boxes and samples. I have already previewed the new Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book in preparation for our full review, so I thought I would do the same for the Lenovo Yoga 900. This is the first product released as part of a new branding scheme Lenovo has adopted for its flexible notebook line. 

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The Lenovo Yoga 900 is a 13-in convertible notebook that can be used in the classic clamshell form factor in addition to the fully collapsed mode to operate as a tablet (and in two other forms). It maintains the same watch bad style hinge that was introduced with the Yoga 3 Pro and starts at $1099 with a Core i7 processor, 8GB of memory, a 3200x1800 resolution touch screen and a 256GB  NVMe SSD. You can find it in orange, gold or silver colors.

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Even maxed out with 16GB of memory and a 512GB SSD, the Yoga 900 is quite affordable, at just $1299!

For this generation Lenovo has decided to use the full 15 watt Skylake processor which will improve performance over the Yoga 3 Pro (the previous model) quite dramatically. If you remember back to last year, the Yoga 3 Pro was thinner and lighter than the Yoga 2 Pro but actually took a step backwards in performance (using a Core M processor) and battery life. Lenovo got lots of feedback that users weren't interested in those trade offs and the Yoga 900 is a bit thicker and heavier, but offers better performance and impressive battery life at over 9 hours in our Wi-Fi browsing tests.

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Connectivity is decent for a thin and light machine including two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.1 port, SD card reader and a combination power port / USB port. That combo port is used to plug in your charger when you are tethered to power or utilize it as an additional USB port for accessories when mobile. 

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The keyboard and trackpad are still question marks for me - it definitely doesn't feel like previous Lenovo keyboards, with very little throw a requirement to fit in this form factor. I'll give it until we post our full review to really pass judgment.

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Check out the video preview as well for some more thoughts on the new Lenovo Yoga 900!!

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Qualcomm

Cat 12 Modem, Wi-Fi Adaptive Calling

If you have been following PC Perspective over the last several months it would be hard to miss news about the upcoming release of Qualcomm's latest flagship SoC for smartphones and tablets, the Snapdragon 820. Beginning in early August with discussion of the Adreno 5xx GPU architecture, followed by information covering the Hexagon 680 DSP (digital signal processor) and then details on the LTE modem in the SoC (the X12), and ending with information on the Kryo CPU cores, the release of the Snapdragon 820 processor has been drawn out if nothing else. 

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The emphasis on distribution of data was likely at attempt to rebuild trust with the enthusiast consumer, media and even the OEMs, as the launch of the Snapdragon 810 was troubled by overheating concerns and second revisions. Several high impact flagship smartphone used the SoC, including the LG G4 (correction: G4 shipped with the Snapdragon 808, while the HTC One M9, OnePlus 2, Sony Xperia Z5 and others use the 810) but with Samsung moving away from Qualcomm parts to its own designs, the processor didn't see nearly the ubiquitous adoption that we had expected and witnessed in previous generations.

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Qualcomm invited some media and analysts out to New York this week to take the cover off of the Snapdragon 820 completely, at least as far as features are concerned. We still were not able to get to the meat of the details surrounding the CPU / Kryo implementation or architectural improvements, but we are promised those would be coming closer to product availability in 2016. Instead, Qualcomm wanted to show off the consumer benefits that phones and tablets based on Snapdragon 820 could feature (based on OEM implementation); that means lots of demos, lots of time with product and feature managers.

Continue reading our overview of the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 mobile processor!!

Shopping for mobile devices?

Subject: Mobile | November 9, 2015 - 03:19 PM |
Tagged: ZenPad, ipad, venue 8

It is the season of sales and shopping and mobile devices are always in demand, which is why The Tech Report could not have timed the newest update to their Mobile Device Guide any better.  From tablets ranging in price from $200-500 to a range of laptops for the mobile business user to those with deep pockets and a desire to game on a laptop there is a lot of good advice in the article.  They have separated the convertible laptops from those permanently attached to their screens for your convenience and finish up with a half dozen phone favourites for you.

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"In our mobile staff picks, we round up the latest and greatest tablets, laptops, convertibles, and phones that we think are worth your hard-earned dollars. In this edition, we consider Microsoft's Surface Book, Google's latest Nexus devices, Apple's iPhone 6S, and more."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Toshiba's new Skylake powered Portégé series

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | November 9, 2015 - 02:59 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, portege, Skylake

The Inquirer hasn't received a model for review yet but they did get a quick peek at the new line of Portégé business laptops from Toshiba.  The new models are the 13.3" Portégé Z20t-C, 14" Portégé Z30-C, 14" Tecra Z40-C, and 15.6" Tecra Z50-C and will ship running either Windows 7 or Windows 10 depending on your preference.  From what they were told only the small Z20t-C will have the new USB 3.1 Type-C port, other models will sport USB 3.0.  One nice feature with the new Z series is that they will all use the same docking station, handy for when you are managing multiple models.  If you are looking for a new business laptop or your company is fishing for vendors then you might want to wait to check out Toshiba's new line when it officially launches.

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"TOSHIBA HAS UNVEILED fresh iterations of its flagship business laptop range, the Z Series, adding Intel's latest 6th-gen Core processors."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

Appropriately named for Halloween; the HP Spectre x360

Subject: Mobile | October 30, 2015 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: hp, spectre x360

We saw a preview of HP's new Spectre x360 back in March, today The Inquirer has put up a quick hands on look at the Skylake powered laptop.  The touchscreen resolution will satisfy most users, at 13.3" 2560x1440 but the shiny coating on it may not.  While the keyboard does hinge completely over to allow you to use the device in tablet mode, however The Inquirer found it a bit heavy to be comfortable while using it as such.  For peripheral support you have three USB 3.0 ports, a mini DisplayPort, a full-size HDMI port and a SD card reader.  The 2.5GHz dual core i7-6500U is paired with 8GB of RAM and there was a 512GB SSD installed in the model The Inquirer spent some time with.  Check it out here.

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"Regardless, the recent launches of Windows 10 and Intel's 6th-generation Core processors - nicknamed Skylake - have prompted a refresh of HP's portable PCs. We went hands-on at a preview event in London to see what, besides an updated CPU, the latest Spectre x360 has to offer."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Source: The Inquirer

Android to iPhone Day 31: Battery Life and Closing

Subject: Mobile | October 29, 2015 - 09:46 AM |
Tagged: iphone 6s, iphone, ios, google, apple, Android, A9

PC Perspective’s Android to iPhone series explores the opinions, views and experiences of the site’s Editor in Chief, Ryan Shrout, as he moves from the Android smartphone ecosystem to the world of the iPhone and iOS. Having been entrenched in the Android smartphone market for 7+ years, the editorial series is less of a review of the new iPhone 6s as it is an exploration on how the current smartphone market compares to what each sides’ expectations are.

Full Story Listing:

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It has been too long since my last update to this story, and I promised a final answer when it comes to our view of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus in terms of battery life. If you remember back to some of our previous posts, the iPhone 6s actually has a smaller battery in it than the previous iPhone 6 did; the same is true for the Plus model as well.

Model Battery Size
iPhone 6 1810 mAh
iPhone 6s 1715 mAh
iPhone 6 Plus 2910 mAh
iPhone 6s Plus 2750 mAh

Clearly Apple knew that would be a contentious specification change from year to year, but the company has clearly done a lot to make sure it doesn't affect the battery life and usability of the iPhone. First, the new Apple A9 SoC is built on a smaller process technology; both Samsung and TSMC are making chips for the phones at 16nm and 14nm, and along with that process technology change comes an inherent power efficiency gain. Changing process nodes does not always magically make an existing architecture better performing or more efficient, but Apple's engineers are more than capable of being able to achieve that. After all, when you have unlimited funds and an edict never make a misstep, it helps.

The other change that came with the iPhone 6s and Plus is the move to iOS 9, which promises to improve battery and processing efficiency along the way. In the past, we have all heard rumors or had experiences with users of older phone models seeing decreased performance or decreased battery life when upgrading to the latest version of iOS. That may be the true, and I am not going to attempt to validate those claims here today, but it does make some sense that the latest OS would be tuned for the latest hardware.

If you're Apple, you don't want to have to make the battery in the new phones smaller than the old phones. It's a line item in a review that stands out to the general consumer - "WHAT? This year's model has a SMALLER battery??" - and could have a dramatic impact on sales and perception. But Apple also couldn't make the new phone any thicker as the same immediate response would take place. In order to add in support for the new 3D Touch and Taptic Engine technology the phones had to sacrifice a bit of space behind the screen. The result is a slightly thinner, and smaller capacity, battery.

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Image source: iFixit iPhone 6s Teardown

But let's talk about usability. In several instances in this series of editorials I have mentioned my extremely positive impressions from battery life in my normal use. The phone just seems to last longer than my Motorola Droid Turbo did, even with the Droid Turbo's much larger (3000 mAh) battery. Apple's control over the operating system, and to some extent the amount of interaction and capability that third party applications have, allows them to do more with less. And as a result you can drastically improve surrounding experiences: phone size, weight, design, included hardware features, etc.

There have definitely been days where my iPhone 6s would have been dead before I made it to my bed had I not had an external battery with me. But those were always extreme cases and include little to no service at a camp ground with the family, a wedding where I took hundreds of photos and videos, a 7am to 2am day where we had a site maintenance issue and I was on the phone (yes, talking!) for several hours in total. I don't think there is a scenario of use where the Android devices I have had would ever surpass the battery life of the iPhone 6s. And that's an impressive feat all things considered.

But like many of you reading this, I like hard numbers. Data, graphs and empirical results. To get some numbers I ran the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus through our standard PC Perspective Wi-Fi Battery testing process. We have a custom site that allows us to cycle through legit, real websites in a cycle of 20, pausing and scrolling on each to closely simulate how a user would surf.

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The biggest winner here is the iPhone 6s Plus, pulling in nearly 9 hours of continuous use in our web browsing test. The OnePlus 2, with a battery size of 3,300 mAh, can't keep up with the flagship iPhone product of the class of form factor, able to muster only 7.5 hours of use, a full 20% less than the 6s Plus. The iPhone 6s, using the same Apple A9 processor, pulls in than 6.6 hours of battery life in our Wi-Fi test, more than 1.5 hours more than the LG G4, one of the flagship Android phones of this past summer.

It's not exhaustive, but I think the results speak clearly about where the iPhone 6s stands in the current smartphone ecosystem. It has outstanding battery life, though there are plenty of rival Android phones on market currently that could match it. The key difference is that Apple is able to do it with less physical battery, and thus make a sleeker device. Seeing the added battery life of the iPhone 6s Plus does make me wonder if I would be willing to sacrifice my pockets for the extra security it offers. What I really want though is an iPhone 6s that is a bit thicker, offering up the same level of battery capacity as the larger phone. I know many users would be willing to swap the cache of sexy iPhone industrial design for the ability to make last call without a wall plug completely reliably.

Wrapping up the Experiment

It's been just over 30 days now in my Android to iPhone experiment, so the big question needs to be answered: will I be sticking with the iPhone 6s or going back to one of the newer Android devices like the refresh Nexus phones?

The Apple iPhone 6s will stay in my pocket.

Honestly, the answer surprises me - I did not expect this result when I placed the order button on Apple.com those many weeks ago. I have always been a proponent of the openness of Android, the flexibility that offered in terms of applications and OS access, but at the end of the day, I'm just a person using a phone. I have had only one instance of a crash/lock up on the iPhone 6s in my usage and it is reliably fast and responsive, something that eventually faded on the Droid Turbo. The camera takes fantastic photos, the application ecosystem offers more range than the Google Play Store and the global integration of Touch ID makes using LastPass less frustrating, accessing my eTrade bank accounts quicker and much more. Those are just some of the reasons for the switch for me.

I don't propose that everyone should make the same move. If you are a power user that likes to root your phones and change Android ROMs, you won't really find the same level of support for that on iPhones. If you welcome side-loading applications easily to your device (which is something I do miss) for development or experimenting purposes, Android is still the way to go. But it's hard to see the majority of the consumer base of smartphones in this country using both devices for extended periods and not see Apple as the more polished and friendly experience. That's what happened to me.

I look forward to trying out the upcoming Android phones in the near term and I won't ever say that I won't be switching back. Google continues to push the OS development further and offers features sometimes years of ahead of Apple. I'm working on getting both a 6P and 5X Nexus phone to try out; I'm curious to see how the implementation of the fingerprint sensor and improve cameras might shift my view.

And who knows, maybe in early 2016 we'll see a revamped editorial series going back to Android, or even Windows Phone? Easy now, don't get crazy Ryan.

Video Perspective: Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book Preview

Subject: Mobile | October 27, 2015 - 05:26 PM |
Tagged: video, surface pro 4, surface book, surface, Skylake, microsoft, Intel

In early October Microsoft took the wraps off of a pair of new 2-in-1 convertible notebooks in the form of the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book. The Surface Pro 4 is much like the previous tablet designs from the Redmond giant and includes a kick stand and optional Type Cover to make the tablet a notebook in terms of functionality. The update kicks up the processor to Intel's 6th generation Skylake design while increasing storage performance with NVMe Samsung SSDs.

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The Surface Book is definitely the more interesting of the two devices with a unique design that is more notebook than tablet/2-in-1. The 13.5-in 3000x2000 3:2 screen tablet is detachable from a base that includes a full keyboard and track pad, additional battery and even an optional discrete NVIDIA GeForce GPU. The hinge is similar to the watch hinge that Lenovo introduced with the Yoga 3 Pro and uses something Microsoft calls "Muscle Wire" to keep the tablet and keyboard docked firmly using magnets.

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Though I am really just getting started on the review process of these devices, I wanted to share a quick overview of both machines. Check it out in the video embedded below.

So what do you want to know about or see specifically tested on the Surface Pro 4 or Surface Book? Let us know in the comments below!