Nexus has been Pixel-ated by Motorola ... Google it!

Subject: Mobile | October 20, 2016 - 05:45 PM |
Tagged: pixel, pixel xl, google, Android, Snapdragon 821, nougat

Ah, the tech industry; blink and suddenly familiar things disappear and yet you are also simultaneously overcome with a sense of deja vu.  Former Motorola President Rick Osterloh now heads a team at Google which is the combination of Nexus, Pixel Chromebooks, Chromecast, OnHub, ATAP, and Google Glass and this team have just released two new Google phones.  The 5" 1920x1080 Pixel and the 5.5" 2560x1440 Pixel XL have arrived on the market, priced to compete with Apple's new lineup, though still far less expensive than the Chromebooks which bore the same name up until recently.  The phones run Android 7.1 Nougat on a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 and are manufactured by HTC.  Ars Technica considers them to now be the best Android phones on the market and yet somehow bland; read their full review to see if you agree.


"Welcome to the age of Google Hardware. Apparently tired of letting third-party Android OEMs serve as the stewards of Android handsets, Google has become a hardware company. (Again)."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

More Mobile Articles

Source: Ars Technica

NVIDIA Tegra SoC powers new Nintendo Switch gaming system

Subject: Processors, Mobile | October 20, 2016 - 11:40 AM |
Tagged: Nintendo, switch, nvidia, tegra

It's been a hell of a 24 hours for NVIDIA and the Tegra processor. A platform that many considered dead in the water after the failure of it to find its way into smartphones or into an appreciable amount of consumer tablets, had two major design wins revealed. First, it was revealed that NVIDIA is powered the new fully autonomous driving system in the Autopilot 2.0 hardware implementation in Tesla's current Model S, X and upcoming Model 3 cars.

Now, we know that Nintendo's long rumored portable and dockable gaming system called Switch is also powered by a custom NVIDIA Tegra SoC.


We don't know much about the hardware that gives the Switch life, but NVIDIA did post a short blog with some basic information worth looking at. Based on it, we know that the Tegra processor powering this Nintendo system is completely custom and likely uses Pascal architecture GPU CUDA cores; though we don't know how many and how powerful it will be. It will likely exceed the performance of the Nintendo Wii U, which was only 0.35 TFLOPS and consisting of 320 AMD-based stream processors. How much faster we just don't know yet.

On the CPU side we assume that this is built using an ARM-based processor, most likely off-the-shelf core designs to keep things simple. Basing it on custom designs like Denver might not be necessary for this type of platform. 

Nintendo has traditionally used custom operating systems for its consoles and that seems to be what is happening with the Switch as well. NVIDIA mentions a couple of times how much work the technology vendor put into custom APIs, custom physic engines, new libraries, etc. 

The Nintendo Switch’s gaming experience is also supported by fully custom software, including a revamped physics engine, new libraries, advanced game tools and libraries. NVIDIA additionally created new gaming APIs to fully harness this performance. The newest API, NVN, was built specifically to bring lightweight, fast gaming to the masses.

We’ve optimized the full suite of hardware and software for gaming and mobile use cases. This includes custom operating system integration with the GPU to increase both performance and efficiency.

The system itself looks pretty damn interesting, with the ability to switch (get it?) between a docked to your TV configuration to a mobile one with attached or wireless controllers. Check out the video below for a preview.

I've asked both NVIDIA and Nintendo for more information on the hardware side but these guys tend to be tight lipped on the custom silicon going into console hardware. Hopefully one or the other is excited to tell us about the technology so we can some interesting specifications to discuss and debate!

UPDATE: A story on The Verge claims that Nintendo "took the chip from the Shield" and put it in the Switch. This is more than likely completely false; the Shield is a significantly dated product and that kind of statement could undersell the power and capability of the Switch and NVIDIA's custom SoC quite dramatically.

Source: Nintendo

Qualcomm Announces Snapdragon 653, 626, and 427 SoCs

Subject: Processors, Mobile | October 18, 2016 - 11:32 AM |
Tagged: SoC, Snapdragon 653, Snapdragon 626, Snapdragon 427, snapdragon, smartphone, qualcomm, mobile

Qualcomm has announced new 400 and 600-series Snapdragon parts, and these new SoCs (Snapdragon 653, 626, and 427) inherit technology found previously on the 800-series parts, including fast LTE connectivity and dual-camera support.


The integrated LTE modem has been significantly for each of these SoCs, and Qualcomm lists these features for each of the new products:

  • X9 LTE with CAT 7 modem (300Mbps DL; 150Mbps UL) designed to provide users with a 50 percent increase in maximum uplink speeds over the X8 LTE modem.
  • LTE Advanced Carrier Aggregation with up to 2x20 MHz in the downlink and uplink
  • Support for 64-QAM in the uplink
  • Superior call clarity and higher call reliability with the Enhanced Voice Services (EVS) codec on VoLTE calls.

In addition to the new X9 modem, all three SoCs offer faster CPU and GPU performance, with the Snapdragon 653 (which replaces the 652) now supporting up to 8GB of memory - up from a max of 4GB previously. Each of the new SoCs also feature Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0 for fast charging.


Full specifications for these new products can be found on the updated Snapdragon product page.

Availability of the new 600-series Snapdragon processors is set for the end of this year, so we could start seeing handsets with the faster parts soon; while the Snapdragon 427 is expected to ship in devices early in 2017.

Source: Qualcomm

Qualcomm Announces Snapdragon X50 5G Modem

Subject: Networking, Mobile | October 17, 2016 - 11:00 PM |
Tagged: Snapdragon X50, snapdragon, qualcomm, modem, mobile, mmWave, LTE, cellular, 5G

Qualcomm has officially unveiled the development of a new 5G modem with the Snapdragon X50, which targets OEMs and early 5G development. The X50 supports milimeter wave (mmWave) technology initially, and rather than replace existing LTE solutions the X50 is designed to work alongside LTE modems integrated into Snapdragon SoCs, for a seamless handoff between 5G and 4G networks.


"The Snapdragon X50 5G modem will initially support operation in millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum in the 28GHz band. It will employ Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) antenna technology with adaptive beamforming and beam tracking techniques, which facilitates robust and sustained mobile broadband communications in non-line-of-sight (NLOS) environments. With 800 MHz bandwidth support, the Snapdragon X50 5G modem is designed to support peak download speeds of up to 5 gigabits per second. 

Designed to be used for multi-mode 4G/5G mobile broadband, as well as fixed wireless broadband devices, the Snapdragon X50 5G modem can be paired with a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processor with an integrated Gigabit LTE modem and interwork cohesively via dual-connectivity. Gigabit LTE will become an essential pillar for the 5G mobile experience, as it can provide a wide coverage layer for nascent 5G networks."

Ratification of an official “5G” standard has not taken place, but Qualcomm hopes to position itself at the forefront of its development. The mmWave technology (which is explained in this video) is only one part of the puzzle:

"Work has begun on defining, standardizing and designing the new OFDM-based 5G New Radio (NR) as part of the global 3GPP standard. 5G NR is being designed to support a wide variation of device-types, services and deployments. It is also being designed to get the most out of every bit of spectrum across a wide array of available spectrum bands and regulatory paradigms."

(More information is available on Qualcomm's 5G Technologies page.)

The Snapdragon X50 modem is set to begin sampling to OEMs in the second half of 2017, with the first half of 2018 projected for the first commercial products featuring the new modem.

Source: Qualcomm

Samsung Begins Mass Production of 10nm LPE SoCs

Subject: Mobile | October 17, 2016 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: Samsung, 10nm

Earlier today, Samsung announced that mass production has started for system-on-a-chip (SoC) products on their first-generation 10nm process, which is called Low Power Early (10LPE). Chips produced from this node will begin to ship in devices starting early 2017. The press release claims that, for integrated circuits manufactured under the 10LPE process, die area could decrease up to 30%, with either an increase in performance of up to 27% or a decrease in power of up to 40%.


This is a little higher than the 10% increase in performance that AnandTech claimed in April. On the plus side, it was also expected that any design that was created for 10LPE could be migrated, pretty much without change, to the second-generation, Low Power Plus (10LPP) node. Jumping back to today's press release, Samsung claims that 10LPP will begin mass production in the second half of next year. So basically, early 10nm parts will launch in a couple of months, then a second wave will arrive the year after, using a more refined fabrication method.

Source: Samsung

Putting fingerprints on the Google Pixel

Subject: Mobile | October 6, 2016 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: google, pixel, pixel xl, nougat, Android 7.1

The Inquirer had a chance to lay their hands on the new Google Pixel and Pixel XL and have shared their experiences here.  We have covered the specs of the phone previously and so will not reiterate them here, check out Tim's coverage for the details.  The impression that The Inq immediately had upon grasping the phone is that it feels very much like a slimmer HTC 10, which they were not overly impressed by. That HTC phone was rated 88 in DxOMark, the Pixel an 89 while the iPhone 7 garnered a rating of 86, if you follow that particular benchmark tool.  They had a strong feeling that Google may have missed too many marks on this phone to justify the pricing, read on to see if you agree with their experiences.


"On first impressions, we can't help but feel that the Pixel is a bit of a wasted opportunity. The handset has a largely boring design, doesn't offer much in the way of innovation and is expensive compared with previous Nexus smartphones."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

More Mobile Articles

Source: The Inquirer

A Second Allegedly Replacement Note7 Catches Fire

Subject: Mobile | October 5, 2016 - 06:26 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, galaxy note 7

Last week, we passed along a Bloomberg report about a Galaxy Note 7 that caught fire in China. It was allegedly a replacement device from Samsung's recall, which was supposed to fix this issue. We have not heard anything about this phone since, but, at the time, we suggested keeping your replacement device powered off and disconnected from the charger until we receive further info.


Now a second, allegedly post-recall device has caught fire. This time, it occurred this morning on a plane. The Boeing 737 was about ten minutes from take-off when the passenger, who claims the phone was both shut down and in his pocket, noticed the device begin to smoke. He tossed it onto the floor when it begun to billow a thick, gray-green smoke, and burned through the carpet. He claims that it had the green battery icon to indicate that it was a fixed device, which should rule out a pre-recall Note7 getting incorrectly classified as post-recall by, for instance, a retail store goof.

All of that said, we don't know if either of the two cases are accurate yet. Samsung's released a statement over today's issue, which we include below via The Verge, that basically says no comment until they can perform their own investigation.

  • Until we are able to retrieve the device, we cannot confirm that this incident involves the new Note7. We are working with the authorities and Southwest now to recover the device and confirm the cause. Once we have examined the device we will have more information to share.

Obviously, we could speculate over a number of things that could be to blame. Part of the issue is just physics -- you're storing a lot of energy in a small volume. This is inherently difficult, and a rapid release of a lot of energy tends to be explosive. It's always good to remember this, even though it's the company's responsibility to produce devices that are safe from all but the most unreasonable of uses.

Source: The Verge

Mozilla Discontinues Firefox OS for All Devices

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 29, 2016 - 02:15 AM |
Tagged: mozilla, Firefox OS, firefox

Update: There has been a little confusion. The web browser, Firefox, is still going strong. In fact, they're focusing their engineering efforts more on it, by cutting back on these secondary projects.

Less than a year after their decision to stop developing and selling smartphones through carriers, Mozilla has decided to end all commercial development of Firefox OS. Releases after Firefox OS 2.6 will be handled by third parties, such as Panasonic, should they wish to continue using it for their smart TV platform. Further, source code for the underlying operating system, Boot-to-Gecko (B2G), will be removed from their repository, mozilla-central, so it doesn't hinder development of their other products.


Obviously, this is quite disappointing from a platform standpoint. Many applications, especially for mobile and similar devices, can be created in Web standards. At this point, we usually get comments about how web browsers shouldn't be app platforms, and that JavaScript is too inefficient. The thing is, Web is about the best, ubiquitous platform we have, and it will only get better with initiatives such as WebAssembly. Also, native applications don't necessarily perform better than Web-based ones, especially if the latter are packaged standalone (versus sharing resources with other tabs in a browser).

Regardless, Mozilla needs to consider their long-term financial stability, and throwing resources at Firefox OS apparently doesn't return enough value for them, both directly and for its impact on society.

Source: Mozilla

Samsung Investigating Replacement Galaxy Note 7 Fire

Subject: Mobile | September 28, 2016 - 09:04 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, recall, galaxy note 7

Bloomberg is reporting that a 25-year-old customer from China, Hui Renjie, claims to have received a replacement Galaxy Note 7, and that it caught fire within 24 hours. A representative of the company immediately visited him and asked to take the phone to investigate, but the customer wished to go public first, assuming that he wouldn't get any answers if he just gave up the phone silently. The explosion allegedly caused minor burns to two of the customer's fingers, as well as damaged his MacBook.


Naturally, Samsung is very interested in what happened. The previous incident involved Samsung-developed batteries. The manufacturing process accidentally pushed some the battery batch's two terminals together. Shorting out a battery causes it to release energy quickly as heat, which is often undesirable, to say the least.

Samsung is waiting to examine the device before they comment further. If you have also receive a replacement, then you might want to keep it powered off and disconnected from the charger until we find out what happened.

Source: Bloomberg

MSI's GT62VR 6RE Dominator Pro 4K; a gaming laptop almost as impressive as its name

Subject: Mobile | September 22, 2016 - 01:32 PM |
Tagged: msi, GT62VR 6RE Dominator Pro 4K, gaming laptop, VR, GTX 1070M

At 15.6" the IPS screen on the MSI GT62VR 6RE Dominator Pro 4K is just big enough for a 4k resolution to make sense.  The mobile variant of the GTX 1070 inside the laptop is powerful, with 128 more cores than the desktop model and slightly lower clocks but it will strain powering some games at 4k.  The rest of the components are equally decent, an i7-6820HK, 32GB of DDR4 and a 512GB PCIE GEN3 NVMe SSD for your OS and software backed up by a 1TB HDD for storage.  Kitguru mentions in their review that they have seen this laptop running an HTC Vive so VR support is a given.  Drop by to see how the laptop did in their benchmarks and power testing.


"MSI GT62VR 6RE Dominator Pro 4K has an absurdly long model name that gives us a fair amount of information about this impressive gaming laptop. The GT part tells us this is a chunky chassis that can dissipate a fair amount of heat, VR shows support for your Oculus Rift or HTC Vive and 4K is, obviously, the number of pixels in the screen."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

More Mobile Articles

Source: Kitguru

ASUS ROG Announces the Strix GL702VM

Subject: Mobile | September 21, 2016 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: VR, Strix GL702VM, ROG, gaming laptop, g-sync, asus

It does not yet show up on the ASUS page (there it is) but those looking for a gaming laptop with both G-SYNC and proper support for VR headsets can consider the ASUS ROG Strix GL702VM.  The 17.3" screen is 1080p with full G-SYNC support, though there is no mention of the maximum refresh rate.  Your keyboard will not click but the 30-key rollover should be good for everyone who is not a feline seeking warmth.  It sports a single USB 3.1 Thunderbolt Type-C port, along with three USB 3.0 ports as well as HDMI and DisplayPort out which ensures your VR headset will work with the laptop.  Check out the full PR just below.


Fremont, CA (September 19, 2016) -- ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) today announced the immediate availability of the ROG Strix GL702VM VR Ready gaming laptop, featuring an NVIDIA GTX 1060 GPU, Intel core i7 CPU, and a Full HD G-SYNC display for smooth and stutter free gaming. The GL702VM also packs next gen connectivity with a USB 3.1 Thunderbolt Type-C port, capable of lightning fast data transfer speeds and Ultra HD display output.

Portable and powerful gaming
The ROG Strix GL702VM delivers powerful performance in a light and portable package capable of fitting snuggly in messenger bags or backpacks. The GL702VM employs a 6th generation Intel Core i7 CPU, a NVIDIA GTX 1060 GPU with 6GB GDDR5, 16GB of high-performance DDR4 RAM, and a vibrant 17.3” Full HD display. The anti-glare matte display features G-SYNC technology to create beautifully smooth gaming experiences, eliminating tearing, and reducing stutter and lag.

The GL702VM uses a specially engineered triple fan cooling system. The cooling system features independent heatsinks, heatpipes, and fans for the CPU and GPU, while a third fan is positioned to provide additional cooling to the GPU during lengthy gaming sessions to prevent performance throttling due to heat and maximize framerates.

Built for gamers, featuring the latest technologies
The ROG Strix GL702VM features an anti-ghosting tactile gaming keyboard with 1.6mm of travel distance and up to 30-key rollover protection, ensuring each keystroke is accurately recorded. The keyboard features highlighted WASD keys and neon orange accents throughout, complimented by an aluminum lid with a hairline texture finish.

The G702VM is also outfitted with a USI 3.1 Thunderbolt Type-C port, for single-cable data and signal transmission rates of up to 40Gbps, while also capable of serving as a display output, or for future performance upgrades through external GPU enclosures, such as the upcoming ASUS XG Station II.

ROG Gaming Center
The ROG Gaming Center is available on all ROG gaming notebooks and is a portal to ROG utilities, apps, and tools. System monitoring, overclocking settings, setting macro keys, display and audio tuning, lighting effects, network optimization, and more are available via the ROG Gaming Center software.


Source: ASUS

Just Delivered: ZTE Axon 7 (64GB Quartz Gray LTE)

Subject: Mobile | September 20, 2016 - 03:40 PM |
Tagged: zte, axon 7, just delivered

You can, for all intents and purposes, say that I haven't really had a smartphone until now. The only one that came close was my LG Optimus One, which ran Android 2.2 and had a few dozen megabytes of usable, internal storage. That said, I got it for about a hundred bucks around five years ago. I wanted a portable computer based on a modern Android OS for quite some time, but could never justify the cost give how little it would be used outside of WiFi.


This year changed that quite a bit. With ZTE, OnePlus, ASUS, and other companies fighting for the mid-range space, it seemed like now would be a good time to buy, and the ZTE Axon 7 ended up being my choice. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, which is all over the place it seems, supports OpenGL ES 3.2 and Vulkan, although the depends on the handset vendor to ship the compatible drivers. Since it's likely that ZTE will ship those APIs, especially when Android N is pushed to it, I was able to justify the extra cost with software development. It also has a beautiful, AMOLED display and surprisingly good sound, especially for voice-centric bands like The Tragically Hip.


One thing that confused me was Newegg's pre-order bonus. For purchasing the device, already about half the price of comparable phones, they throw in a pair of Monster over-ear headphones for free. Yes, nothing is truly for free, and Monster products typically don't cost anywhere near their retail price, which claims to be $200 CDN, but the phone, itself, already seemed like it was pocket change over cost. Makes you wonder how much ZTE is selling it to Newegg for, and whether it's sustainable.

Anywho, I have now joined the modern mobile world.

Source: ZTE

Apple Dual-Sourcing Its iPhone 7 Modems

Subject: Networking, Mobile | September 16, 2016 - 08:48 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 7, iphone, Intel, apple

Not every iPhone is created equal. Dual-sourcing parts is fairly common, especially in the mobile space. Samsung, for instance, is known to have separate models of the same phone, with some using its own parts, and others using third-party components. Apple has even designed separate versions of the same SoC in the past, to fabricate them at different locations and on different process technologies.


This case is more simple than that, though. Depending on the specific iPhone 7 that you get, which mostly varies by region and carrier, but also apparently between Plus and regular, you will either get a Qualcomm Snapdragon X12 modem, or you will get an Intel XMM 7360 modem. The ratio between these two parts, all markets considered, doesn't seem to have been announced yet, but old rumors claim about 70:30, Qualcomm-to-Intel. Still, Apple is a pretty big customer, so I'm hoping that both Intel and Qualcomm are moving enough to (Update: Sigh... input fail... original article cut off here. The rest of the sentence, after this update, was added a couple hours later.) be worthwhile for both parties.

Source: Fudzilla

The watercooled Asus ROG GX800VH

Subject: Mobile | September 13, 2016 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: asus, ASUS ROG, GX800VH, watercooling

Kitguru got their hands on the ASUS ROG GX800, the gaming laptop with the docking station that provides watercooling.  The design is unique and it certainly looks big enough to deal with the heat produced by a pair of desktop class GTX 1080s and an overclocked i7-6820HK.  The laptop's cooling system links to the radiator and pump inside the docking station via a small port on the bottom of the laptop, which also has dual 330W power bricks to add extra power to the system.  From the testing it seems ASUS really did do a great job, the four different profiles based on the amount of power and cooling available to the laptop do have an effect on performance which shows in the benchmarks.  The price is going to be equally impressive, when ASUS finally releases the GX800.


"The model code suggests that GX800 is an upgrade of GX700, however that is wide of the mark. GX800 has a similar appearance to GX700 but the hardware is all new, starting with a pair of Nvidia GTX 1080 GPUs in SLI. Yes, two 1080s in a laptop, driving a 4K display for maximum gaming pleasure."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

More Mobile Articles

Source: Kitguru

It's not a Proton Pack, it's the MSI VR One backpack PC

Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 12, 2016 - 01:57 PM |
Tagged: VR One, msi, VR, backpack, htc vive

MSI released some more images of their VR One backpack PC designed to give you more freedom of movement when playing around in VR and to make it easier to cart around to show off to friends and relations.  We know very little about the internals as of yet, it will have an unspecified overclocked CPU and a GTX 10 series graphics card and will weigh 2.2kg empty, 3.6kg with a batteries installed; it ships with two which are hot-swappable.  At 1.5 lbs each, it will be very interesting to see which storage cell technology they used to reach the estimated 1.5 hours of full speed gameplay.  It also ships with an adapter so you can utilize mains power.


The VR One is HTC VIVE optimized though in theory an Oculus should work as the connectivity includes an HDMI port, MiniDP and one ultra-speed Thunderbolt 3 port, aka USB 3.1 Type-C as well as four USB 3.0 ports.   Cooling is provided by two 9cm ultra blade fans and 9 heat pipes which should only produce noise 41dBA which is good as the system will be on your back while you are using it.


Not all the flashing lights on the backpack are for show, LEDs will tell you the status of your battery to let you know when to swap it out.  This can be achieved without shutting the system down, presumably there is a physical switch on the armoured shell of the backpack to allow this feat as it would not accomplish much simply doing it in VR.  You can pop by MSI for more information on the MSI Dragon Center system software and the SHIFT Technology, aka the fan controller.


Source: MSI

Apple Announces iPhone 7 and 7 Plus with A10 SoC

Subject: Mobile | September 7, 2016 - 09:16 PM |
Tagged: smartphone, mobile, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 7, iphone, DCI P3, apple, a10

Another Apple announcement is in the books, and with it comes the expected refresh to the iPhone lineup. The new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus offer some notable upgrades from the previous models, though it's the lack of a 3.5 mm headphone jack that has been getting much of the attention.


Looking past the omission of the headphone jack for a moment, what exactly is new and noteworthy here? For starters, the iPhone 7 brings a new SoC to the table with the A10, a new design that is Apple's first foray into a "big.LITTLE" type of configuration. Unlike the A9 SoC's processor, a dual-core 1.85 GHz design, the A10 now offers a pair of high-performance cores, and a pair of high-efficiency cores that Apple says require only 1/5 of the larger pair's power. This sort of processor configuration is obviously similar to a number of existing ARM designs, which similarly combine faster and slower cores in an effort to reduce power consumption - though the 1/5 number is significant. It will be enlightening to see what the actual core speeds are - as well as particulars on the GPU, which is "50% faster" than the A9's PowerVR GT7600.


Other major updates include the cameras, which now features optical image stabilization (OIS) in the regular 7 as well as the 7 Plus (it was a 6/6s Plus-exclusive feature previously). The camera - or rather cameras - on the iPhone 7 Plus provide separate wide-angle and telephoto lenses, and allow for some powerful depth-of-field effects as demoed during the presentation. The displays contain another significant update - but not in resolution. The previous (low) 750x1344 resolution from the 6s remains in the iPhone 7, with the 7 Plus sticking to 1080x1920. The upgrade comes from the backlighting, which now provides 25% greater brightness and much wider color from the DCI P3 color space.


The lack of a 3.5 mm headphone jack was rumored for months leading up to today's announcement, and of course it will be a controversial topic. The Lightning connector is the only port on the iPhone 7/7 Plus, and Lightning-connected earbuds are included along with a 3.5 mm adapter (which also includes the DAC and headphone amp). The new haptic motor for the new non-mechanical home button is partly to blame for the omission of the headphone jack, but might also have been removed as part of the process to make the iPhone water resistant - a first for Apple.


Wireless earbuds ("AirPods") were also announced, which look pretty much like the existing "EarPods" with the cord cut off. One final note on sound: the new iPhones have stereo speakers for the first time, with sound claimed to be 50% louder than previous, and now emanating from both ends of the phone.


The family of iPhones now includes the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, along with existing 6s, 6s Plus, and the iPhone SE. In a surprising move, Apple announced that they would upgrade last year's 6s models to shipping with double the base storage - 32GB vs. 16GB - for the same price.

Pre-orders for the new iPhones begin on September 9th, with pricing beginning at $649 for the 32GB iPhone 7, and $769 for the 32GB iPhone 7 Plus.

Source: Apple

Samsung Responds to Galaxy Note 7 Issue

Subject: Mobile | September 2, 2016 - 06:09 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, galaxy note 7

According to Samsung, there have been 35 reported cases of defective Galaxy Note 7 batteries. In response, they will voluntarily replace all existing Galaxy Note 7 devices “over the coming weeks”. They have also stopped selling the devices, presumably, because they are capable of fixing the devices for existing customers, until the stock can be replaced.


This comes after reports that Galaxy Note 7 phones have been either catching fire or exploding. Some outlets are claiming that Samsung has confirmed 35 cases of fire or explosion, but, unless these outlets have more information than on the public statement, Samsung has only confirmed 35 complaints, and it's possible that other, related issues were included in that tally (like feeling excessively hot).

They did not mention a specific way for Galaxy Note 7 owners to request a replacement in their press release, but their technical support contact information is available here. I assume that they will point you in the right direction.

Source: Samsung

Lenovo Announces Yoga Book 2-in-1 Tablet with Halo Keyboard and Create Pad

Subject: Systems, Mobile | August 31, 2016 - 02:30 PM |
Tagged: Yoga Book, windows, wacom, notebook, Lenovo, Halo Keyboard, Create Pad, Android

Lenovo has unveiled the Yoga Book, a 2-in-1 design with a unique touch-based lower half below a conventional 1920x1200 IPS touch display. Lenovo is calling the Yoga Book "the world’s thinnest and lightest 2-in-1", with a 9.6mm thickness and weight of 1.52 pounds.


This lower section is a hybrid design, combining Lenovo's "Halo Keyboard" virtual keyboard with a surface called "Create Pad"; allowing the lower half to be used for pen writing (with handwriting recognition) and drawing. The "Real Pen" (which is a dual-use ink pen and stylus) offers 2,048 pressure levels and 100-degree angle detection, according to Lenovo, and promises a precise experience when writing and creating artwork.

"The Halo Keyboard re-imagines the possibilities of a modern keyboard, while providing the technology platform for all other standout Yoga Book productivity-driven features, such as the Create Pad and Real Pen. It appears to the user as a full, backlit virtual keyboard with shortcut keys for a typing experience that matches that of a physical keyboard, easily overcoming the challenges of typing on a tablet screen."


"The lack of physical keys also allows the Halo Keyboard’s flush surface to house the Create Pad. For the artists and free hand note-takers, the Create Pad converts into a virtual notepad that instantly digitizes everything from doodles and to-do lists to web page annotations and on-screen notes, using the Real Pen and our Note Saver app."


The Yoga Book is available in both Android and Windows versions, with the Android version offering a custom interface called "Book UI". As to hardware, both versions are powered by an Intel Atom x5-Z8550 processor (quad-Core, up to 2.4 GHz) with 4GB of LPDDR3 memory and 64GB of onboard storage (expandable via microSD cards up to 128GB in size).

What about pricing? This might be surprising for a high-concept device like this, as Lenovo has chosen to compete in the $500 tablet space. The Android-powered Yoga Book starts at $499, with the Yoga Book with Windows at $549. Both will be available starting in October.


Full press release after the break.

Source: Lenovo

Acer Announces the Predator 21 X Curved Screen Gaming Notebook

Subject: Systems, Mobile | August 31, 2016 - 10:33 AM |
Tagged: 2560x1080, ips, Predator 21 X, notebook, laptop, gaming, curved, acer, kaby lake, GTX 1080, sli

Acer has announced "the world's first notebook with a curved screen", and this panel happens to be attached to a very high-end gaming laptop in the Predator 21 X.

Predator 21 X_07.jpg

In addition to the 2560x1080 curved 21-inch display, the new machine also offers Tobii eye-tracking technology, Intel 7th Generation "Kaby Lake" processors, and (last but not least) dual NVIDIA GTX 1080 GPUs in SLI.

Predator 21 X_05.jpg

"The Predator 21 X takes the flagship spot in Acer’s gaming notebook series and is advanced beyond anything on the market today. It’s the world’s first notebook to offer a curved 21-inch IPS display (2560 x 1080), and when combined with wide-angle viewing, it delivers a truly immersive gaming experience.

To bring gameplay immersion to the next level, the notebook also integrates Tobii eye-tracking technology for a new method of control that’s more intuitive and natural. Built-in eye-tracking hardware (infrared sensors and software) unlocks a completely new facet in gaming. By tracking a gamer’s eye with software, the notebook introduces new interactions like aiming, identifying enemies and taking cover simply by gazing at objects on the screen. Eye tracking also enhances the experience by providing infinite views whilst navigating treacherous paths and roads in a game."

Other features of the Predator 21 X include a keyboard with Cherry MX key switches, a unique design for the numeric keypad "that allows it to be flipped over and turned into a Precision Touchpad", a 5-fan cooling system, and a 4-speaker, dual-subwoofer premium sound system.

Predator 21 X_08.jpg

Pricing and availability have not been revealed.

Source: Acer

Qualcomm Releases the Snapdragon 821 Mobile Processor

Subject: Processors, Mobile | August 31, 2016 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: SoC, Snapdragon 821, snapdragon, SD821, qualcomm, processor, mobile, adreno

Qualcomm has officially launched the Snapdragon 821 SoC, an upgraded successor to the existing Snapdragon 820 found in such phones as the Samsung Galaxy S7.


"With Snapdragon 820 already powering many of the premier flagship Android smartphones today, Snapdragon 821 is now poised to become the processor of choice for leading smartphones and devices for this year’s holiday season. Qualcomm Technologies’ engineers have improved Snapdragon 821 in three key areas to ensure Snapdragon 821 maintains the level of industry leadership introduced by its predecessor."

Specifications were previously revealed when the Snapdragon 821 was announced in July, with a 10% increase on the CPU clocks (2.4 GHz, up from the previous 2.2 GHz max frequency). The Adreno 530 GPU clock increases 5%, to 650 MHz from 624 MHz. In addition to improved performance from CPU and GPU clock speed increases, the SD821 is said to offer lower power consumption (estimated at 5% compared to the SD820), and offers new functionality including improved auto-focus capability.


From Qualcomm:

Enhanced overall user experience:

The Snapdragon 821 has been specifically tuned to support a more responsive user experience when compared with the 820, including:

  • Shorter boot times: Snapdragon 821 powered devices can boot up to 10 percent faster.
  • Faster application launch times: Snapdragon 821 can reduce app load times by up to 10 percent.
  • Smoother, more responsive user interactions: UI optimizations and performance enhancements designed to allow users to enjoy smoother scrolling and more responsive browsing performance.

Improved performance and power consumption:

  • CPU speeds increase: As we previously announced, the 821 features Qualcomm Kryo CPU speeds up to 2.4GHz, representing an up to 10 percent improvement in performance over Snapdragon 820.
  • GPU speeds increase: The Qualcomm Adreno GPU received a 5 percent speed increase over Snapdragon 820.
  • Power savings: The 821 is engineered to deliver an incremental 5 percent power savings when comparing standard use case models. This power savings can extend battery life and support OEMs interested in reducing battery size for slimmer phones.

New features and functionality:

  • Snapdragon 821 introduces several new features and capabilities, offering OEMs new options to create more immersive and engaging user experiences, including support for:
  • Snapdragon VR SDK (Software Development Kit): Offers developers a superior mobile VR toolset, provides compatibility with the Google Daydream platform, and access to Snapdragon 821’s powerful heterogeneous architecture. Snapdragon VR SDK supports a superior level of visual and audio quality and more immersive virtual reality and gaming experiences in a mobile environment.
  • Dual PD (PDAF): Offers significantly faster image autofocus speeds under a wide variety of conditions when compared to single PDAF solutions.
  • Extended Laser Auto-Focus Ranging: Extends the visible focusing range, improving laser focal accuracy over Snapdragon 820.
  • Android Nougat OS: Snapdragon 821 (as well as the 820) will support the latest Android operating system when available, offering new features, expanded compatibility, and additional security compared to prior Android versions.

Qualcomm says the ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe is the first phone to use this new Snapdragon 821 SoC while other OEMs will be working on designs implementing the upgraded SoC.

Source: Qualcomm