MWC: HMD Launches Nokia PureView 9 Camera-Focused Smartphone

Subject: Mobile | February 27, 2019 - 08:10 PM |
Tagged: nokia, HMD, android one, pie, light, camera, photography, pOLED, snapdragon 845, qualcomm

Finnish company HMD Global Oy unveiled an interesting new smartphone under its Nokia brand at Mobile World Congress that, in typical Nokia fashion, focuses on camera quality. The Nokia PureView 9 offers up five rear cameras along with the hardware and software to harness computational photography techniques to deliver high quality HDR images.

Nokia PureView 9 Android One Smartphone.jpg

The PureView 9 nestles a 5.99-inch QHD+ pOLED HDR10 certified display (2880x1440 resolution) in a two-tone Midnight Blue body with front and back glass faces and aluminum sides with curved stylized edges. There is an optical fingerprint reader under the display and a small front facing camera sitting above the display. If you are looking for an edge-to-edge display, the PureView 9 is not the phone for you as it does have small bezels top and bottom and the front face does not curve into the sides. Ars Technica compares the design to the LG V30 which I would say is fair as both phones have similar bezels with curved display corners. For a most specific comparison, the V30 puts the “selfie” camera on the left not the right like the PureView 9, the bezels on the Nokia may be ever so slightly thicker and there is also a Nokia logo in the top right corner while there is no branding on the front of the V30. Nokia’s PureView 9 features a single USB-C port on the bottom edge along with what looks to be a single speaker. The right side holds the volume and power buttons while the left side is blank. The top edge appears to be the SIM tray slot.

I like the blue colors HMD has chosen, and while a good portion of the back is taken up by the camera system, the lenses sit flush with the body which is nice to see (Nokia has never been one afraid of cameras protruding from the phone in the name of photo and lens quality). There are five Zeiss camera lenses, one LED flash, and a sensor suite including time of flight grouped in a hexagonal shape.

The cameras are the star of the show with the Nokia PureView 9 and where most of the money was focused. HMD/Nokia partnered with Light to design a system with five 12MP f/1.8 camera sensors two of which have the RGB color filters and three of which are monochrome sensors that let it far more light than your usual camera sensor thanks in large part to not having a color filter which absorbs most of the light that enters the camera. In fact, HMD claims that the PureView 9’s five camera sensor system captures 10 times as much light as single sensor of the same type. Light provided its Lux Capacitor co-processor to allow all five cameras (it supports up to six) to shoot simultaneously allowing Nokia to use up to 60MP of total data from a single shot from each of the five 12MP cameras or up to 240MP of data when doing temporal image stacking with each camera taking four shots each combined and then downstacked/downsampled into, ideally, a much better 12MP (JPG or RAW DNG) image than would be possible with a single camera on its own using various computational photography and “Image stacking” techniques. The camera should do really well in low-light situations as well as being able to offer depth of field and bokeh effects that are much closer to reality and DSLR cameras than to your typical smartphone that can fake it. Nokia’s also partnered with Google to allow photographers to save shots to Google Photos with GDepth at up to 1200 layers of dept of field data that can be adjusted later to get customized photos in editing. Speaking of editing, Nokia and Adobe are supporting the PureView 9 in the Android version of Lightroom with a camera profile allowing you to work with the RAW DNG images right on your phone which is interesting, at least in theory (it’s not clear what performance will be like with the SD845).

In typical Nokia fashion, its Pro Camera UI offers a full manual mode as well as features like long exposure (with a tripod), time lapse, bokeh, filters, scenes, and more.

What is powering this camera that happens to make calls and run Android though? Well, here is where Nokia has compromised in the design with the use of the older Snapdragon 845 chipset though it is paired with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of UFS 2.1 internal memory (not expandable as there is no microSD card support). There is a 3320 mAh battery though and a stock Android One (Pie) OS experience.

HMD’s Nokia PureView 9 will reportedly be a limited production run product with an MSRP of $699. The flagship pricing may be difficult for some smartphone enthusiasts to justify especially with competing flagships also being announced at MWC featuring newer designs with edge-to-edge displays, newer processors, and support for 2TB microSD cards. For amateur photographers and anyone that uses their smartphone as their primary camera and love taking photos though the Nokia PureView 9 may be the niche product to beat in 2019 so long as the usual build quality, I’ve come to expect from Nokia holds up.

I do worry about the glass back and how that will hold up (it is Gorilla Glass 5 at least and the phone is IP67 rated for dust/water resistance) and 9-to-5 Google’s hands-on video mentions that the optical fingerprint reader was hit-or-miss (which can hopefully be improved between now and launch). No microSD card slot and no headphone jack may also turn off buyers (one advantage the V30 retains), and while many photo-happy users could live without the headphone jack, no expandable storage is a real disappointment and the 128GB of internal storage simply may not be enough.

I am looking forward to the reviews on this and am curious to see how the camera performs in the real world and what is possible with video recording as well. I don’t see the PureView 9 winning any popularity contests in 2019 and it appears to be kind of a mixed bag even with its exciting camera system with certain drawbacks dragging it down but I can also appreciate why some users might well choose it even with its compromises.

Related Reading:

Source: 9to5Google

Intelligent fruit flies slower than Snapdragons

Subject: General Tech | July 24, 2018 - 02:33 PM |
Tagged: Intel, LTE, qualcomm, snapdragon 845, Android

The Inquirer posted some findings from Ookla which is bound to be somewhat depressing for Apple users with Intel modems in them.  This will not be a surprise for anyone who recalls a certain court case from last year in which Qualcomm accused Apple of slowing down their modems to ensure they did not outperform models with an Intel modem in it.  That case has since snowballed into a much larger one.

Tossing the lawyers aside, the data from Ookla shows a large performance different between "Intel-based non-Android smartphones" LTE speeds and any phone utilizing a Snapdragon 845 modem.  The Snapdragon phones show "double-digit gains" in latency and "triple-digit gains" in download and upload speeds, which is going to be fairly noticeable.  Perhaps the rumours that Intel will no longer be inside the upcoming generations of Apple phones are true.

Apple Turtles-bolthouse farms.jpg

"Consumers seeking faster everyday 4G LTE connectivity can buy Android smartphones powered by the Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform, knowing that real-world data supports Qualcomm Technologies' claims of superior wireless performance."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Samsung

Not Just a Better Camera

Samsung’s updated Galaxy phones are available now, and while the external designs - while beautiful - look the same as last year, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ feature faster internals and an improved camera system. Is it worth an upgrade over the Galaxy S8? How does this new flagship from Samsung compare to Apple’s more expensive iPhone X? Read on to find out!

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During the Galaxy S9 at Samsung’s “Unpacked” event unveiling the new phones, much was made about the GS9’s camera - and particularly its video recording capability, which features an ultra slow-motion mode. While camera is a vital part of the experience, and can make or break a handset for many people, it is the application processor that constitutes a bigger upgrade from last year’s Galaxy S8 phones.

In the USA, Samsung is using Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 845, while many of the international versions of the phone use Samsung’s own Exynos SoC. We took an early look at performance with the Snapdragon 845 during Qualcomm’s recent media day, and now with shipping hardware and far more time for benchmarking we can really put this new mobile platform to the test. You can take or leave synthetic benchmark results, of course; I can offer my own subjective impressions of overall responsiveness, which is as much a test of software optimization as hardware.

Samsung Galaxy S9+ Specifications (US Version)
Display 6.2-inch 1440x2960 AMOLED
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (SDM845)
CPU Cores 8x Kryo 385 up to 2.8 GHz
GPU Cores Adreno 630
RAM 6 GB LPDDR4X
Storage 64 / 128 / 256 GB
Network Snapdragon X20 LTE
Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi
2x2 MU-MIMO
Bluetooth 5.0; A2DP, aptX
USB 3.1 (Type-C)
NFC
Battery 3500 mAh Li-Ion
Dimensions 158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5 mm, 189 g
OS Android 8.0

Samsung has opted to bring back the same industrial design introduced with last year’s Galaxy S8/S8+, but this was already a class-leading design so that is not a bad thing.

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Continue reading our review of the Samsung Galaxy S9+!

Tobii and Qualcomm Announce Collaboration on Mobile VR Headsets with Eye-Tracking

Subject: General Tech | March 16, 2018 - 09:45 AM |
Tagged: xr, VR, Tobii, snapdragon 845, qualcomm, mobile, HMD, head mounted display, eye tracking, AR, Adreno 630

Tobii and Qualcomm's collaboration in the VR HMD (head-mounted display) space is a convergence of two recent stories, with Tobii's impressing showing of a prototype HMD device at CES featuring their eye-tracking technology, and Qualcomm's unvieling last month of their updated mobile VR platform, featuring the new Snapdragon 845.

SVR845.jpg

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Mobile VR Reference Platform

What does this new collaboration mean for the VR industry? For now it means a new reference design and dev kit with the latest tech from Tobii and Qualcomm:

"As a result of their collaboration, Tobii and Qualcomm are creating a full reference design and development kit for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Mobile VR Platform, which includes Tobii's EyeCore eye tracking algorithms and hardware design. Tobii will license its eye tracking technologies and system and collaborate with HMD manufacturers on the optical solution for the reference design."

The press release announcing this collaboration recaps the benefits of Tobii eye tracking in a mobile VR/AR device, which include:

  • Foveated Rendering: VR/AR devices become aware of where you are looking and can direct high-definition graphics processing power to that exact spot in real time. This enables higher definition displays, more efficient devices, longer battery life and increased mobility.
  • Interpupillary Distance: Devices automatically orient images to align with your pupils. This enables devices to adapt to the individual user, helping to increase the visual quality of virtual and augmented reality experiences.
  • Hand-Eye Coordination: By using your eyes in harmony with your hands and associated controllers, truly natural interaction and immersion, not possible without the use of gaze, is realized.
  • Interactive Eye Contact: Devices can accurately track your gaze in real time, enabling content creators to express one of the most fundamental dimensions of human interaction – eye contact. VR technologies hold the promise of enabling a new and immersive medium for social interaction. The addition of true eye contact to virtual reality helps deliver that promise.

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Tobii's prototype eye-tracking HMD

For its part, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845-powered VR mobile platform promises greater portability of a better VR experience, with expanded freedom on top of the improved graphics horsepower from the new Adreno 630 GPU in the Snapdragon 845. This portability includes 6DoF (6 degrees of freedom) using external cameras to identify location within a room, eliminating the need for external room sensors.

"Together, 6DoF and SLAM deliver Roomscale - the ability to track the body and location within a room so you can freely walk around your XR environment without cables or separate room sensors – the first on a mobile standalone device. Much of this is processed on the new dedicated Qualcomm Hexagon Digital Signal Processor (DSP) and Adreno Graphics Processing Unit within the Snapdragon 845. Qualcomm Technologies’ reference designs have supported some of the first wave of standalone VR devices from VR ecosystem leaders like Google Daydream, Oculus and Vive."

It is up to developers, and consumer interest in VR moving forward, to see what this collaboration will produce. To editorialize briefly, from first-hand experience I can vouch for the positive impact of eye-tracking with an HMD, and if future products live up to the promise of a portable, high-performance VR experience (with a more natural feel from less rapid head movement) a new generation of VR enthusiasts could be born.

Source: PR Newswire

MWC 2018: Samsung Unpacks Galaxy S9 and S9+ Phones

Subject: Mobile | February 25, 2018 - 03:24 PM |
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?

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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).

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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!

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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.

Source: Samsung

Podcast #488 - AMD Ryzen performance, Qualcomm news, and more!

Subject: General Tech | February 22, 2018 - 08:58 AM |
Tagged: video, TrueWireless, snapdragon 845, Ryzen 5 2400G, raven ridge, qualcomm, Primochill Vue, podcast, mx master 2s, logitech, Kigen, EPYC, cherry, bitfenix, amd, 850W

PC Perspective Podcast #488 - 02/22/18

Join us this week for AMD Ryzen performance reviews, Qualcomm news, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg, Ken Addison

Program length: 1:20:48

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Picks of the Week:
    1. 1:12:30 Allyn: UltraVNC
    2. 1:18:10 Josh: My poor wife
  4. Closing/outro
 
 
Source:

Qualcomm Announces Snapdragon 845 Mobile VR Reference Platform

Subject: General Tech | February 21, 2018 - 07:50 PM |
Tagged: VR, snapdragon 845, reference platform, qualcomm, mobile, headset, development

Qualcomm has another mobile-related announcement ahead of MWC, introducing a new VR reference platform based on the Snapdragon 845 in collaboration with HTC. As the new Snapdragon 845 boasts much more powerful graphics from its Adreno 630 GPU compared to the Snapdragon 835 - which was behind the previous mobile VR platform - this represents an important step forward in the mobile VR space.

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The increased graphics horsepower isn't the only aspect of the Adreno 630 that should translate into a better mobile VR/AR (now rolled together into the term "XR" for extended reality) experience, as the gains in graphics performance we saw from the SDM845 reference platform are said to come with 30% power savings as well as Adreno Foveation, which allows eye-tracking to direct resources only to the area where the user is looking. Thus Foveation allows for, literally, focused GPU resource allocation, which should translate into better performance with less hardware overhead.

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The Snapdragon 845 Mobile VR Platform also boasts 6DoF, or "6 degrees of freedom", which incorporates external cameras to improve free movement compared to the previous 3DoF limitations:

"Together, 6DoF and SLAM deliver Roomscale - the ability to track the body and location within a room so you can freely walk around your XR environment without cables or separate room sensors – the first on a mobile standalone device. Much of this is processed on the new dedicated Qualcomm Hexagon Digital Signal Processor (DSP) and Adreno Graphics Processing Unit within the Snapdragon 845. Qualcomm Technologies’ reference designs have supported some of the first wave of standalone VR devices from VR ecosystem leaders like Google Daydream, Oculus and Vive."

Left view.jpg

Qualcomm's goal with the new Snapdragon 845 Mobile VR Platform is to support "the next wave of smartphone and standalone VR headsets", and it seems that mobile hardware is starting to catch up to the ambitions of what is now being called XR.

Source: Qualcomm

ZTE Axon 9 Leaks Surface

Subject: Mobile | February 19, 2018 - 07:36 PM |
Tagged: zte, axon 9, qualcomm, snapdragon 845

So there’s a lot to say about this story. The first bit is that the follow up to my current phone, which is a ZTE Axon 7, will be launching later this year. It will be called the ZTE Axon 9, and a bunch of rumored leaks have just dropped on it.

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Image Credit: ZTE Weibo via GSM Arena

GSMArena cites claims that the device will come with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845. High-end SKUs will have 6GB of RAM and 128 or 256 GB of internal storage. Low-end SKUs will have 4GB of RAM. Personally, I haven’t come close to filling up the 64GB of the original ZTE Axon 7, although that’s just me. This is the first time I checked pretty much since I got the phone, and I still have about 33 GB remaining. That said, you are not me, and you probably know how much space you’ll use.

The choice of SoC is interesting. ZTE seems to go straight for the top of Qualcomm’s product stack with their flagship device, which puts it against the performance of, for instance, Samsung’s latest-and-greatest at the time. The ZTE Axon 7 came out a few months after the Samsung Galaxy S7, had the same processor, and was hundreds of dollars cheaper. ZTE wanted market share, but it looks like they might be continuing the trend.

The new device is said to have a 6-inch screen, which makes it slightly larger than the Axon 7, which has a 5.5-inch screen. Both cameras have also been upgraded. The rear camera will be 20 megapixels, while the front-facing one will be 13 megapixels. This doesn't say much about how it will perform, such as how much light is required to get a good image, but we will find out eventually.

At around the same time, US intelligence agencies are warning against purchasing ZTE and Huawei devices because the two companies have ties with the Chinese government. ZTE and Huawei both rebuke the assertions, of course. Personally, I use the ZTE Axon 7 as my only cellphone.

It doesn’t bother me.

Source: GSMArena

Podcast #487 - AMD Desktop APUs, Snapdragon 845, ARM Machine Learning, and more!

Subject: General Tech | February 15, 2018 - 11:32 AM |
Tagged: podcast, Intel, amd, nvidia, raven ridge, r5 2400g, r3 2200g, arm, project trillium, qualcomm, snapdragon 845, x24, LTE, 5G

PC Perspective Podcast #487 - 02/15/18

Join us this week for a recap of news and reviews including new AMD Desktop APUs, Snapdragon 845 Performance Preview, ARM Machine Learning, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg, Ken Addison

Program length: 1:18:46

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Picks of the Week:
    1. 1:09:00 Jeremy: &genie=1
  4. Closing/outro
 

The SDM845 Reference Platform and CPU Results

The Snapdragon 845 is Qualcomm’s latest flagship mobile platform, officially announced on December 6 and known officially as the SDM845 (moving from the MSMxxxx nomenclature of previous iterations). At a recent media event we had a chance to go hands-on with a development platform device for a preview of this new Snapdragon's performance, the results of which we can now share. Will the Snapdragon 845 be Qualcomm's Android antidote to Apple's A11? Read on to find out!

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The SDM845 QRD (Qualcomm Reference Design) Device

While this article will focus on CPU and GPU performance with a few known benchmarks, the Snapdragon 845 is of course a full mobile platform which combines 8-core Kryo 385 CPU, Adreno 630 graphics, Hexagon 685 DSP (which includes the Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine), Spectra 280 image processor, X20 LTE modem, etc. The reference device was packaged like a typical 5.5-inch Android smartphone, which can only help to provide a real-world application of thermal management during benchmarking.


Qualcomm Reference Design Specifications:

  • Baseband Chipset: SDM845
  • Memory: 6 GB LPDDR4X (PoP)
  • Display: 5.5-inch 1440x2560
  • Camera:
    • Front: IMX320 12 MP Sensor
    • Rear: IMX386 12 MP Sensor
  • Audio:
    • No 3.5 mm headset jack (Analog over USB-C)
    • 4 Digital Microphones
  • Connector: USB 3.1 Type-C
    • DisplayPort over USB-C

At the heart of the Snapdragon 845 is the octa-core Kryo 385 CPU, configured with 4x performance cores and 4x efficiency cores, and offering clock speeds of up to 2.8 GHz. In comparison the Snapdragon 835 had a similar 8x CPU configuration (Kryo 280) clocked up to 2.45 GHz. The SDM845 is produced on 10 nm LPP process technology, while the SD835 (MSM8998) was the first to be manufactured at 10 nm (LPE). It is not surprising that Qualcomm is getting higher clock speeds from this new chip at the same process node, and increases in efficiency (the new 10nm LPP FinFET process) should theoretically result in similar - or possibly even lower - power draw from these higher clocks.

Continue reading our performance preview of the new Snapdragon 845 mobile platform!!