Subject: General Tech, Mobile | March 2, 2019 - 11:00 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: MWC, snapdragon 855, SD855, Samsung, galaxy, foldable, android 9
During Samsung's own Samsung's Unpacked press conference as well as Mobile World Congress in Spain the Sourth Korea-based tech giant unveiled a beaucoup of new smartphones, tablets, and accessories. The new Galaxy series smartphones were the headliners though with Samsung revealing a new flagship foldable smartphone at the top, four high-end S10 tier phones, and two budget A tier smartphones all within the Galaxy brand. Needless to say, it is a lot to process!
The Samsung Galaxy Fold is the new Galaxy flagship and is Samsung's first smartphone with a foldable AMOLED display [Video]. At first blush the new device is a thck bar of soap with rounded edges, a USB-C port along the bottom edge, and a camera bump around back with three lenses. A 4.6" full HD display sits in the center of the front face with a 10MP selfie camera and large bezels top and bottom. The right side is where the magic happens though, where the smartphone can be opened up like a book to reveal a larger 7.3" dynamic AMOLED display (QXGA) where it can be used like a tablet with up to three applications running at once in separate windows. Samsung claims that "app continuity" allows apps to switch between the cover display and the main tablet display with ease. When the 2-in-1 device is opened up in tablet mode there are two front facing selfie cameras (10MP dual pixel + 8MP RGB depth camera). Around back there are three cameras including a 12MP wide angle, 16MP ulta wide angle, and 12MP telephoto camera. The camera system offers dual optical image stabilization as well.
On the inside Samsung has opted for Qualcomm's Snaptdragon 855 platform paired with 12GB of LPDDR4x memory and 512GB of storage. Unfortunately there is no micro SD card support on the Galaxy Fold, but at least the internal memory is UFS 3.0 rather than the older (and slower) UFS 2.1 used in the rest of the Galaxy series. Two batteries (one in each half to balance the weight) add up to 4,380 mAh.
Samsung's new flagship comes at quite a premium though, with MSRP of $1980. It should be available starting in April 2019.
Moving down to the (slightly) more affordable S tier, Samsung has refreshed the Galaxy S series with four new devices: the S10+ at $999, the S10 at $899, and the entry-level S10e at $749. There is also the S10 5G that includes the optional X50 modem to all the largest S10 to connect to upcoming 5G cellular networks.
The Galaxy S10+ offers a 6.4" Infinity-O edge QHD+ AMOLED display sans notch with a 10MP dual pixel camera and 8MP RGB depth camera in the top right corner of the display in a slim body with rounded corners. Around back, the S10+ features a triple camera system with a wide angle, ultra wide angle, and telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom and dual OIS. The S10+ comes with glass display and either a glass back or a ceramic back with the ceramic variant weighing slightly more but, at least in theory, being much more durable.
The S10+ comes in Prism White, Prism Black, Prism Green, Prism Blue, Ceramic White, and Ceramic Black. The glass backs' prism colors have a glossy pearlescent look while the ceramic models are more solid and matte.
Internally, the S10+ uses a Snapdragon 855 SoC, 4,100mAh battery, and comes in configurations of 8GB RAM / 128GB ROM, 8GB RAM / 512GB ROM, and 12GB RAM / 1TB ROM. Yes, that's 1TB of internal memory on a phone – and it can be expanded with a Micro SD card officially up to 512GB.
|Display||5.8" Flat FHD (2280x1080)||6.1" Edge QHD+ (3040x1440)||6.4" Edge QHD+ (3040x1440)||6.7" QHD+||4.6" (FHD) - 7.3" (QXGA)|
Front: 10MP dual pixel AF
Rear:12MP wide 77° FOV + 16MP 123° ultra wide angle
Front: 10MP dual pixel AF
Rear:12MP wide 77° FOV + 16MP 123° ultra wide angle + 12MP telephoto 45° (2x optical zoom)
Front: 10MP dual pixel + 8MP RGB depth
Rear:12MP wide 77° FOV + 16MP 123° ultra wide angle + 12MP telephoto 45° (2x optical zoom)
Front: 10MP dual pixel + 8MP RGB depth
Rear:12MP wide 77° FOV + 16MP 123° ultra wide angle + 12MP telephoto 45° (2x optical zoom) + 3D depth sense camera (ToF sensor)
Front: 10MP dual pixel + 8MP RGB depth
Rear:12MP wide 77° FOV + 16MP 123° ultra wide angle + 12MP telephoto 45° (2x optical zoom)
|CPU||SD855||SD855||SD855||SD855 + X50||SD855|
|RAM||6GB / 8GB||8GB||8GB / 8GB / 12GB||8GB||12GB LPDDR4x|
|Storage||128GB / 256GB||128GB / 512GB||128GB / 512GB / 1TB||256GB||512GB|
|Battery||3,100 mAh||3,400 mAh||4,100 mAh||4,500 mAh||4,380 mAh|
|Dimensions||142.2 x 69.9 x 7.9 mm||149.9 x 70.4 x 7.8 mm||57.6 x 74.1 x 7.8 mm||162.6 x 77.1 x 7.94 mm||?|
|Weight||150 g||157 g||175 g (glass) or 175 g (ceramic)||198 g||?|
Stepping down to the standard S10 model gets you a slightly small phone with a similar quality edge QHD+ AMOLED display albeit at 6.1". There is only one front facing camera here though, with the depth sensor being removed and only the 10MP dual pixel camera remaining. Bokeh effects in selfie portraits are still possible, but using the NPU to simulate it rather than doing it in hardware. Around back, the S10 matches the triple camera system of the S10+ model so you are not losing anything there. The smaller phone is also lighter at 157 grams vs 175+ on the S10+ and it comes in the same Prism color options sans the ceramics.
You lose some battery going with the smaller S10 though at just 3,400 mAh as well as hardware specifications with the smartphone maxing out at 8GB of RAM and either 128GB or 512GB of UFS 2.1 storage.
Samsung also introduced the S10e which is a new entry level tier to the Galaxy S series that gets you most of the features at a more affordable (for today's smartphones anyway) price with some compromises. The S10e is the smallest and lightest of the bunch and offers a 5.8" flat full HD+ display that is still Infinity-O Dynamic AMOLED and HDR10+ certified like the higher end models but is flat rather than curved. There is a single front-facing 10MP camera in the top right corner of the display and a dual camera system on the back of the phone which includes a 12MP wide angle and a 16MP ultra wide angle lens. There is no telephoto lens for optical zoom and the optical image stabilization is also of lower caliber. While the higher-end S10 and S10+ have ultrasonic fingerprint sensors embedded in the display, the budget S10e opts for an optical fingerprint reader integrated into the side power button which is not the end of the world so long as it's fast.
Specifications wise, the S10e retains the Snapdragon 855 (or Exynos 9820 depending on market) of the rest of the S series but RAM and storage options are limited to 6GB / 128GB or 8GB / 256GB respectively though there is still a micro SD card slot. You also lose a bit of battery at just 3,100 mAh but the loss is not as big as the gap between the S10 and S10+.
The S10+ comes in all of the same glossy Prism color as well as a Canary Yellow option with not all regions getting the same colors (if you want the yellow version you'll need to import it in the US, for example). The prism colors have a pearlescent look while the Canary Yellow is a solid flat but bright color.
According to Samsung, the various S10 models (which are all also IP68 rated) are the first smartphones with HDR10+ and Wi-Fi 6 certifications. The Snapdragon 855 offers 29% more CPU and 37% GPU performance versus last year's Galaxy S9. Samsung is using an intelligent battery algorithm to improve battery life by up to 25% by analyzing how you use apps and reducing CPU usage accordingly. The phones support wireless charging (Fast Wireless Charging 2.0) as well as reverse wireless charging with Powershare to charge other Qi devices (like the new Samsung Galaxy Buds (video), but that's a different story). All the S10 smartphones reportedly offer displays that can get very bright (850 to 1250+ nits) which should help a ton when trying to use it outdoors on sunny days. Other interesting tidbits of information that have come out include a heart rate/oxygen sensor on the back of the S10 and S10+, the S10+ (and only the plus version) using heat pipe / vapor cooling, and the ability to (finally) remap the Bixby button coming soon (for the S10 and older Galaxy devices).
The S10e, S10, and S10+ are slated for US availability on March 8th, with the Galaxy Fold coming sometime in April and the S10 5G making its debut over the summer.
Engadget got hands-on with the S10 5G at MWC 2019 on a test 5G network.
Samsung also showed off the "Galaxy S10 5G" which is an even larger Galaxy phone with a 6.7" display. The company did not reveal as much information about this 5G capable devices as it did about the others, but it is a bit of an odd duck. It has the same front facing camera setup and the rear camera system has been beefed up with a fourth sensor: a Time of Flight sensor that allows for more realistic depth of field as well as adjustable bokeh effects when recording video and taking portraits.
The S10 5G gets the Snapdragon 855 and the X50 modem along with a larger 4,500 mAh battery, but storage has been limited to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. There is no microSD card support on this model.
Pricing and available colors are still an unknown though it is expected to launch this summer in the US.
Left: The Galaxy A30. Right: the Galaxy A50. (Image Credit: Samsung)
Finally, it is worth also mentioning that Samsung also announced two budget A tier Galaxy phones with the Galaxy A30 and Galaxy A50. These cheaper Galaxy devices use Samsung's notched Infinity-U displays at 6.4" (2340x1080 resolution) and a "3D Glasstic" body construction. The A50 gets a 25MP + 8MP ultra-wide + depth camera in back along with a single 25MP front camera while the A30 only have a dual rear camera system (16MP + 5MP wide angle) and a 16MP front camera. The Galaxy A50 is powered by an Exynos 9610 SoC, Mali G72 GPU, and either 4GB RAM / 64GB storage or 6GB RAM / 128GB storage. It uses a 4,000 mAh battery. The A50 will come in black, white, blue, and coral colors. Meanwhile the Galaxy A30 steps things down to a Exynos 7885 Octa and Mali-G71 GPU along with 3GB RAM / 32GB ROM or 4GB RAM / 64GB ROM. It will be available in black, white, or blue. While the A50 has an in-display fingerprint reader, the A30's fingerprint reader is mounted on the back of the phone. The A series is also IP68 dust and water resistant like its more expensive S siblings. These budget phones which are primarily going to launch in non-US markets (e.g. India, China, et al) are expected to be available in Q1.
What are your thoughts on Samsung's 2019 lineup? I think they did some interesting things and while I'm not sold on the Galaxy Fold (the front/cover display bezels are a bit much especially on an almost $2,000 phone!), I am looking forward to the reviews on the S10+ and the S10 5G with the video recording and photo/camera improvements they've made along with things like the laser cutout for the front cameras eliminating the need for a notch and the ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor (though I think I would still prefer the rear mounted sensor like my V30 has as the positioning seems more natural than at the bottom of the front face). The battery AI sounds cool, but how useful it will be in practice remains to be seen. If the reports of the much brighter displays is true though, that's going to be pretty huge as viewing OLED in direct sunlight is a pain.
- Watch Samsung Unveil Its Foldable Phone — The Galaxy Fold [Video] @ Tech Insider
- Samsung Galaxy S10 5G Hands-On at MWC 2019 [Video] @ Engadget
- Samsung reveals new Galaxy A phones at MWC @ CNet
- Galaxy Unpacked 20.02.2019. Official Replay [Video] @ Samsung
- Samsung Galaxy S10 - 30 Things You Didn't Know! [Video]
Subject: Mobile | February 27, 2019 - 11:12 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nm card, MWC, mate x, Leica, Kirin 980, Huawei, foldable, balong 5000, android 9
Huawei raised the stakes at MWC 2019 with the reveal of its new flagship foldable smartphone that is nearly all screen wrapping around the front and back in phone mode and able to fold outwards into an eight-inch tablet.
The upcoming Mate X measures 78.3 x 161.3 x 5.4 to 11mm when folded up in phone mode and expands to 146.2mm x 161.3 x 5.4-11mm in tablet mode. The Interstellar Blue phone weighs in a 259 grams (0.57 lbs) and is nearly all OLED display except for a small bump along the right side (which can double as a useful handle when in tablet mode akin to Kindle devices or Lenovo’s smaller tablets) where the three cameras, fingerprint sensor/power button, volume controls, USB Type-C port, and many of the internal hardware components are nestled.
As far the screen, Huawei is using an OLED panel covered with plastic (no glass here, unfortunately, but that’s the tradeoff for going foldable) with a resolution of 2480 x 2200 when unfolded in tablet mode or 2480 x 1148 for the 6.6” front display and 2480 x 892 for the 6.38” rear display when folded. Huawei’s Mate X is a very sleek design with rounded edges and corners that is able to fold into a fairly slim package (slimmer than Samsung’s Galaxy Fold which folds inwards). A button on the side unlocks the rear display and allows it to fold outwards to make a display that is reportedly flat without a crease or visible divider though does have a different feel to it than other flagship smartphones that have moved to glass displays. It certainly looks impressive though long-term reviews will flesh out how well the display holds up over time and many folds.
Internally, Huawei is using the Kirin 980 SoC along with the Balong 5000 5G modem to power the smartphone. The smartphone further includes 8GB of RAM and 512GB of internal memory. The Kirin 980 SoC is comprised of two Cortex-A76 cores clocked at 2.6 GHz, two Cortex-A76 cores clocked at 1.92 GHz, and four Cortex-A55 cores clocked at 1.8 GHz, a Mali-G76 GPU, and NPU for AI acceleration tasks. The Balong 5000 modem supports 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G multi mode in stand alone or non standalone configurations. The phone supports a dual SIM design with one SIM for 5G and the other for up to 4G networks. Alternatively, instead of a second SIM card users can slot in a nano memory card (NM card) up to 256GB which is Huawei’s expandable storage form factor that is a memory card with the size and form factor of a nano SIM. A 4,500 mAh battery powers the foldable phone with a 55W SuperCharger able to charge the battery from 1% to 85% in 30 minutes (4G standby, screen turned off). Connectivity options include 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0 (with AptX and other features supported), and USB Type-C 3.1 gen 1 with a cable purchased separately (the out-of-the-box cable is USB 2.0). The Mate X runs Android 9 with Huawei’s EMUI 9.1.1 skin.
The Leica cameras include a 40MP wide angle, 16MP ultra-wide angle, and 8MP telephone camera with the ability to mirror the screen when taking photographs (or selfies) so that the subjects can see the photo at the same time as the photographer to help compose the shot.
Huawei’s flagship Mate X foldable will be available in around the second half of 2019 with a MSRP of 2299 Euros (~$2615 though we likely won't see it in the US unless imported) that demands your wallet to go all in or fold. With that asking price, it is likely out of reach of most people, but it is an interesting look at the future and what it could bring as costs go down and the hinges and bendable display technologies are refined. I was admittedly not very excited about the idea of a foldable phone, especially seeing the rumor now reality where Samsung’s Galaxy Fold has a smaller screen in phone mode, but Huawei’s design has piqued my interest of what’s possible and I’m ready. Having a bigger screen on tap would be very helpful in being able to blow up text and make reading textbooks and fiction not yet available as an audiobook much easier on the eyes. It also just looks cool and futuristic to me as well(heh) with the only thing missing being a stylus/pen input hidden away in the ridge on the right side (if only!).
If you are curious to see the folding action, Michael Fisher was able to get hands on video at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
I’m ready. What are your thoughts on these foldable flagships and the idea of a foldable phone?
Subject: Mobile | February 25, 2018 - 03:24 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: snapdragon 845, smartphone, Samsung, MWC 2018, MWC, mobile, Galaxy S9+, galaxy s9, exynos
Samsung unveiled their not-so-secret Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphones at their 'unpacked' event at MWC today, coming after months of leaks and an accidental post of the launch video yesterday. So, while the existence of these new Galaxy phones was a foregone conclusion, does the final product meet expectations?
As previously leaked, the design of the Galaxy S9/S9+ is carried over from last year, as Samsung is updating their lineup in the manner of Apple's second-year iPhone "S" refresh. What we have are devices with faster internals courtesy of the Snapdragon 845 in the U.S. and China (read our performance preview of the 845 here), Samsung's Exynos 9810 Octa in the rest of the world, and improved cameras - the latter of which was the focus of the event (sorry).
The newest term in the smartphone space is "dual iris" thanks to Samsung's adoption of an adjustable iris on one of the dual 12MP rear cameras, which moves from f1.5 to f2.4 based on light level (the second camera is fixed at f2.4). This should result in much better exposures in low light without sacrificing daylight performance. But as vital as still camera quality is on mobile phones, as for so many is has replaced the need for a dedicated point-and-shoot, there is also video to consider. And not just any video.
Water bottle antics from Samsung's slo-mo demonstration video
Much was made during the event of the Galaxy S9/S9+ exclusive "Super Slow-mo", which takes just 0.2 seconds of video and produces 6 seconds of the sort of slow motion you never knew you couldn't live without before seeing it...in slow motion. (Some impressively slow cat videos were also shown during the event, as well as popcorn being thrown... AND MORE.) Regardless of the usefulness of capturing 0.2 seconds of action at 960 FPS (in HD, no less) - which you can do up to 20 times per video - these slo-mo treasures can be exported right from the phone in GIF format! (Expect uploads of such videos to fill your social feeds later this spring.)
From a design standpoint we are not seeing a new device, but that is not a bad thing in this case. Fans would always like to see the next big thing, of course, but the S8 was already an advanced design when it launched a year ago, marking the start of the all-display trend that Apple joined later on with the iPhone X. Speaking of displays, we know that Samsung has a killer screen already with the Galaxy S8/S8+, and on paper the S9/S9+ have identical 5.8-inch, 1440x2960 18.5:9 aspect AMOLED with the S9 and slightly larger 6.2 inches of the same on the S9+, both still covered in Gorilla Glass 5.
Samsung's cluster of camera and iris scanning tech is hidden from view
Two obvious nods to Apple's confusingly-named "X" handset were also introduced by Samsung, with both face/iris unlocking and animated emojis. First, it will be possible to unlock your Galaxy S9/S9+ by looking at it, but have no fear as the fingerprint reader remains - and is no longer next to the camera sensor on the back!
The fingerprint scanner is now below the camera sensors
Far more important, as everyone knows: animated emoji. Animoji is not the only facial-recognition-powered animated emoji game in town anymore, though Samsung's implementation of this is a little different since it is creating an avatar based on your own face, which you can then customize. The result is something possibly a little more realistic than an early 2000s sports game create-a-player, but with considerably less work. Progress!
March 16 is the release date for both the Galaxy S9 and S9+, with retail prices starting at $719.99 for the S9 and $839.99 for the S9+. Pre-orders are up now on Samsung's official web store.
Subject: Mobile | February 25, 2018 - 10:49 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: thin and light, notebook, mx150, MWC 2018, MWC, MateBook X Pro, matebook, laptop, Huawei
Huawei has introduced their new MateBook with the X Pro, an ultra slim design which features a nearly bezel-less 13.9-inch display that boasts a 91% screen-to-body ratio. More than just display, which is a 3:2 ratio 3K LTPS panel, the MateBook X Pro offers a choice between 8th-gen Intel Core i5 and Core i7 mobile processors, and the option of a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce MX150 GPU.
"Huawei has applied many of its innovative smartphone technologies to the HUAWEI MateBook X Pro to create effortless and intuitive user experiences. Pioneered by Huawei for the HUAWEI MateBook Series, the HUAWEI MateBook X Pro features the super-fast power button 2.0 which enables login in just 7.8 seconds from power off, and 6.6 seconds from hibernation. In addition, the HUAWEI MateBook X Pro features the world’s first recessed camera which discreetly sits on the keyboard – to activate it, all users need to do is press it and it will pop up, ensuring privacy when it’s not being used. This contributes greatly to the perfect experience of FullView Display."
While the look and especially name of the MateBook X Pro evokes memories of similar products from Cupertino, this seems to be more of a Surface Book competitor, down to the multi-touch 3:2 aspect, 3000x2000 display. A couple of the unique features are the combination power button/fingerprint reader, and a camera that is hidden among the function keys and pops up during use. Audio is also premium for a slim notebook with a four-speaker Dolby Atmos system.
A unique recessed camera design that pops up when needed
- FullView Display
- Size: 13.9 inches
- Resolution: 3000 x 2000
- Type: LTPS
- Screen-to-body ratio: 91%
- Aspect ratio: 3:2
- Viewing angle: 178 degrees
- Color: sRGB 100% color gamut
- Contrast: 1500:1
- Maximum brightness: 450 nits
- Touchscreen: 10-point, anti-fingerprint
- Processor: 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8550U / i5-8250U
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce MX150 with 2GB GDDR5 / Intel UHD Graphics 620
- Memory 8GB / 16GB LPDDR3 2133MHz
- Hard Drive: 256GB / 512GB NVMe PCIe SSD
- Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4/5 GHz 2x2 MIMO
- Bluetooth: BT 4.1 (compatible with 3.0 and 2.1+EDR)
- Camera: Front 1MP
- Audio Configuration: Quad digital microphones and Quad speakers
- Battery Material: Lithium polymer 57.4Wh (Typical Capacity)
- Local video playback: 12 hours (testing conducted by Huawei in a laboratory environment)
- Buttons and Ports
- One touch power button
- 3.5mm stereo headset jack
- USB-C x2 (both allow data transfer, charging and connection with MateDock 2 and one supports Thunderbolt 3)
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 304mm x 217mm x 14.6mm Weight: approximately 1.33kg
- Colors: Mystic Silver and Space Gray
The one touch power button with integrated fingerprint reader
The MateBook X Pro will be available this spring with pricing starting at €1499, or approximately $1850.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 11, 2018 - 05:20 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: snapdragon 845, Samsung, MWC, galaxy s9, galaxy, exynos 9810, CES 2018, CES
Samsung confirmed to ZDNet at CES that it plans to launch its new flagship Galaxy S smartphone at Mobile World Congress next month. The company has managed to keep a tight lid on the new devices, which are expected to be named the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+, with surprisingly few leaks. Samsung will reportedly show off the smartphone and announce the official specifications along with the release date and pricing information at its MWC keynote event.
Thanks to the rumor mill, there are potential specifications floating about with a few conflicting bits of information particularly where the fingerprint scanner is concerned. Looking around there seems to be several corroborated (but still rumored) specifications on the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+. Allegedly the Galaxy smartphones will feature curved Super AMOLED displays with QHD+ (3200x1800) resolutions measuring 5.8" on the Galaxy S9 and 6.2" on the Galaxy S9+. Further, Smasung is equipping them with dual rear-facing cameras, USB-C, and 3.5mm headphone jack. There are conflicting rumors on the fingerprint scanner with some rumors stating it will feature a fingerprint sensor embedded in the display while other rumors claim that Samsung ran into issues and instead opted for a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor.
Internally, the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 in the US and Samsung's own Exynos 9810 SoC outside of the US. Cat 18 LTE support is present in either case with faster than gigabit download speeds possible (though less in real world situations). The Galaxy S9 will allegedly be offered with 4GB of RAM and either 64GB of 128GB of storage while the S9+ will have 6GB of RAM and up to 256GB of internal flash storage.
In any case, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ are set to be powerhouses with the latest SoCs and (hopefully) large batteries for those infinity displays! It seems that we will have to wait another month for official information, but it should be out within the first quarter which is actually pretty fast considering it seems like the Galaxy S8 just came out (although it was actually last March heh). Mobile World Congress 2018 is scheduled from February 26th to March 1st in Barcelona, Spain.
What are your thoughts on the Galaxy S9 rumors so far? Do you plan to upgrade? This year may be the year I upgrade my LG G3 since the display is dying, but we'll see!
Subject: Mobile | March 1, 2017 - 02:26 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Snapdragon 625, opinion, MWC, keyone, enterprise, Cortex A53, blackberry, Android 7.1, Android
February is quite the busy month with GDC, MWC, and a flurry of technology announcements coming out all around the same time! One of the more surprising announcements from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona came from BlackBerry in the form of a new mid-range smartphone it is calling the KEYone. The KEYone is an Android 7.1 smartphone actually built by TCL with an aluminum frame, "soft touch" plastic back, curved edges, and (in traditional CrackBerry fashion) a full physical QWERTY keyboard!
The black and silver candy bar style KEYone (previously known as "Mercury") measures 5.78" x 2.85" x 0.37" and weighs 0.39 pounds. The left, right, and bottom edges are rounded and the top edge is flat. There are two bottom firing stereo speakers surrounding a USB Type-C port (Type-C 1.0 with USB OTG), a headphone jack up top, and volume, power, and convenience key buttons on the right side. The front of the device, which BlackBerry has designed to be comfortable using one handed, features a 4.5" 1620 x 1080 LCD touchscreen (434 PPI) protected by Gorilla Glass 4, a front facing camera with LED flash, and a large physical keyboard with straight rows of keys that have a traditional BlackBerry feel. The keyboard, in addition to having physical buttons, supports touch gestures such as swiping, and the spacebar has a fingerprint reader that early hands on reports indicate works rather well for quickly unlocking the phone. Further, every physical key can be programmed as a hot key to open any application with a long press (B for browser, E for email, ect).
On the camera front, BlackBerry is using the same sensor found in the Google Pixel which is a Sony IMX378. There is a 12MP f/2.0 rear camera with dual LED flash and phase detect auto focus on the back as well as a front facing 8MP camera. Both cameras can record 1080p30 video as well as support HDR and software features like face detection. Android Central reports that the camera software is rather good (it even has a pro mode) and the camera is snappy at taking photos.
Internally, BlackBerry has opted to go with squarely mid-range hardware which is disappointing but not the end of the world. Specifically, the KEYone is powered by a Snapdragon 625 (MSM8953) with eight ARM Cortex A53 cores clocked at 2GHz and an Adreno 506 GPU paired with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. Wireless support includes dual band 802.11ac, FM, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, NFC, and GSM/HSPA/LTE cellular radios. The smartphone uses a 3,505 mAh battery that is not user removable but at least supports Quick Charge 3.0 which can reportedly charge the battery to 50% in 36 minutes. Storage can be expanded via MicroSD cards. The smartphone is running Android 7.1.1 with some BlackBerry UI tweaks but is otherwise fairly stock. Under the hood however BlackBerry has hardened the OS and includes its DTEK security sftware along with promising monthly updates.
Not bad right? Looking at the specifications and reading/watching the various hands-on reports coming out it is really looking like BlackBerry (finally) has a decent piece of hardware for enterprise customers, niche markets (lawyers, healthcare, ect), and customers craving a physical keyboard in a modern phone. At first glance the BlackBerry KEYone hits all the key marks to a competitive Android smartphone... except for its $549 price tag. The KEYone is expected to launch in April.
No scroll ball? Blasphemy! (hehe)
Unfortunately, that $549 price is not a typo, and is what kills it even for a CrackBerry addict like myself. After some reflection and discussion with our intrepid smartphone guru Sebastian, I feel as though BlackBerry would have a competitive smartphone on its hands at $399, but at $549 even business IT departments are going to balk much less consumers (especially as many businesses embrace the BYOD culture or have grown accustomed to pricing out and giving everyone whatever basic Android or iPhone they can fit into the budget).
While similarly specced Snapdragon 625 smartphones are going for around $300, (e.g. Asus ZenPhone 3 at $265.98), there is some precedent for higher priced MSM8953-based smartphones such as the $449 Moto Z Play. There is some inherent cost in integrating a physical keyboard and BlackBerry has also hardened the Android 7.1.1 OS which I can see them charging a premium for and that business customers (or anyone that does a lot of writing on the go) that values security can appreciate. It seems like BlackBerry (and hardware partner TCL) has finally learned how to compete on the hardware design front in this modern Android-dominated market, and now they must learn how to compete on price especially as more and more Americans are buying unlocked and off-contract smartphones! I think the KEYone is a refreshing bit of hardware to come out of BlackBerry (I was not a fan of the Priv design) and I would like to see it do well and give the major players (Apple, Samsung, LG, Asus, Huawei, ect) some healthy competition with the twist of its focus on better security but in order for that to happen I think the BlackBerry KEYone needs to be a bit cheaper.
What are your thoughts on the KEYone and the return of the physical keyboard? Am I onto something or simply off my Moto Rokr on this?
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 27, 2017 - 03:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: MWC, GDC, VRMark, Servermark, OptoFidelity, cyan room, benchmark
Futuremark are showing off new benchmarks at GDC and MWC, the two conferences which are both happening this week. We will have quite a bit of coverage this week as we try to keep up with simultaneous news releases and presentations.
First up is a new benchmark in their recently released DX12 VRMark suite, the new Cyan Room which sits between the existing two in the suite. The Orange Room is to test if your system is capable of providing you with an acceptable VR experience or if your system falls somewhat short of the minimum requirements while the Blue Room is to show off what a system that exceeds the recommended specs can manage. The Cyan room will be for those who know that their system can handle most VR, and need to test their systems settings. If you don't have the test suite Humble Bundle has a great deal on this suite and several other tools, if you act quickly.
Next up is a new suite to test Google Daydream, Google Cardboard, and Samsung Gear VR performance and ability. There is more than just performance to test when you are using your phone to view VR content, such as avoiding setting your eyeholes on fire. The tests will help you determine just how long your device can run VR content before overheating becomes an issue and interferes with performance, as well as helping you determine your battery life.
VR Latency testing is the next in the list of announcements and is very important when it comes to VR as high or unstable latency is the reason some users need to add a bucket to their list of VR essentials. Futuremark have partnered with OptoFidelity to produce VR Multimeter HMD hardware based testing. This allows you, and hopefully soon PCPer as well, to test motion-to-photon latency, display persistence, and frame jitter as well as audio to video synchronization and motion-to-audio-latency all of which could lead to a bad time.
Last up is the brand new Servermark to test the performance you can expect out of virtual servers, media servers and other common tasks. The VDI test lets you determine if a virtual machine has been provisioned at a level commensurate to the assigned task, so you can adjust it as required. The Media Transcode portion lets you determine the maximum number of concurrent streams as well as the maximum quality of those streams which your server can handle, very nice for those hosting media for an audience.
Expect to hear more as we see the new benchmarks in action.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | February 27, 2017 - 11:12 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: x50, Sub-6 Ghz, qualcomm, OFDM, NR, New Radio, MWC, multi-mode, modem, mmWave, LTE, 5G, 3GPP
Qualcomm has announced their first successful 5G New Radio (NR) connection using their prototype sub-6 GHz prototype system. This announcement was followed by today's news of Qualcomm's collaboration with Ericsson and Vodafone to trial 5G NR in the second half of 2017, as we approach the realization of 5G. New Radio is expected to become the standard for 5G going forward as 3GPP moves to finalize standards with release 15.
"5G NR will make the best use of a wide range of spectrum bands, and utilizing spectrum bands below 6 GHz is critical for achieving ubiquitous coverage and capacity to address the large number of envisioned 5G use cases. Qualcomm Technologies’ sub-6 GHz 5G NR prototype, which was announced and first showcased in June 2016, consists of both base stations and user equipment (UE) and serves as a testbed for verifying 5G NR capabilities in bands below 6 GHz."
The Qualcomm Sub-6 GHz 5G NR prototype (Image credit: Qualcomm)
Qualcomm first showed their sub-6 Ghz prototype this past summer, and it will be on display this week at MWC. The company states that the system is designed to demonstrate how 5G NR "can be utilized to efficiently achieve multi-gigabit-per-second data rates at significantly lower latency than today’s 4G LTE networks". New Radio, or NR, is a complex topic as it related to a new OFDM-based wireless standard. OFDM refers to "a digital multi-carrier modulation method" in which "a large number of closely spaced orthogonal sub-carrier signals are used to carry data on several parallel data streams or channels". With 3GPP adopting this standard going forward the "NR" name could stick, just as "LTE" (Long Term Evolution) caught on to describe the 4G wireless standard.
Along with this 5G NR news comes the annoucement of the expansion of its X50 modem family, first announced in October, "to include 5G New Radio (NR) multi-mode chipset solutions compliant with the 3GPP-based 5G NR global system", according to Qualcomm. This 'multi-mode' solution provides full 4G/5G compatibility with "2G/3G/4G/5G functionality in a single chip", with the first commercial devices expected in 2019.
"The new members of the Snapdragon X50 5G modem family are designed to support multi-mode 2G/3G/4G/5G functionality in a single chip, providing simultaneous connectivity across both 4G and 5G networks for robust mobility performance. The single chip solution also supports integrated Gigabit LTE capability, which has been pioneered by Qualcomm Technologies, and is an essential pillar for the 5G mobile experience as the high-speed coverage layer that co-exists and interworks with nascent 5G networks. This set of advanced multimode capabilities is designed to provide seamless Gigabit connectivity – a key requirement for next generation, premium smartphones and mobile computing devices."
Full press releases after the break.
Subject: Mobile | February 25, 2016 - 11:43 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: MWC, MWC 2016, Samsung, galaxy, s7, s7 edge, qualcomm, snapdragon, snapdragon 820
I got to spend some time with the brand new Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge phones at MWC this week in Barcelona. Is this your next Android flagship phone?
Subject: Systems, Mobile | February 25, 2016 - 11:42 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: MWC, MWC 2016, Huawei, matebook, Intel, core m, Skylake, 2-in-1
Huawei is getting into the PC business with the MateBook 2-in-1, built in the same vein as the Microsoft Surface Pro 4. Can they make a splash with impressive hardware and Intel Core m processors?