The ZTE Axon 7 had a troubled news cycle over the last year or so. While the company was working on updates, they were essentially slapped out of existence by the US Department of Commerce for business with embargoed nations. This caused a lot of issues, to the say least, including the shutdown of their OTA update servers.
Yadda yadda yadda. ZTE has just released their Oreo update.
This image is from the Nougat update. I'm not upgrading. It's still my primary phone.
But you probably don’t want to install it. This seems to be a release for the enthusiasts to make good on their original intentions, but it comes with a few major downsides. Before we get too much further, those downsides are:
- The update will completely wipe your phone.
- Daydream VR will completely stop working after the update.
- Might not be able to roll back to Nougat?
- You need to manually install it from the SD card. No simple OTA.
Of course, the fourth issue is a good thing. ZTE doesn’t want to erase important photos or remove a major feature unless the user explicitly accepts the side-effects. If they do, however, then the Oreo update also replaces the ZTE MiFavor with their newer Stock+ interface. (This switchover is apparently the specific element that will destroy local data.)
It’s up to you. ZTE gave the enthusiasts what they asked for – and it's nice that they did – but it’s probably a step back from Nougat if you still use it as your primary phone. Check it out on their forums.
Subject: Mobile | October 15, 2018 - 02:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, ROG Strix, ASUS ROG Strix Hero II, GL504GM, gaming laptop
ASUS released the updated ROG Strix Hero II, which Kitguru grabbed for review. The 15.6" laptop is powered by an Intel i7-8750H and GTX 1060, with 16GB DDR4-2666 and a 256GB PCIe SSD paired with a 1TB hybrid drive. The screen is 1080p IPS, with a top refresh rate of 144Hz sadly lacking in either Freesync or GSYNC. The gaming performance was as expected, but Kitguru did find a couple of things they wish ASUS would improve, which you can find out about in the full review.
"That brings us to today where we finally have our hands on the Strix Hero II GL504GM. In this review we put it through its paces to find out if this is a must have laptop for gamers on the go and whether it is worth the £1800 asking price."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
More Mobile Articles
- Google Pixel 3 XL @ The Inquirer
- Pixel 3 XL review—Google software deserves better than this hardware @ Ars Technica
- Samsung Galaxy A9: Mid-range bruiser that takes the fight to Huawei @ The Register
- Galaxy Note9 vs iPhone X @ TechARP
- iPhone XS and XS Max review: Big screens, big performance, big lenses, big prices @ Ars Technica
- Amazon Fire HD 8 2018 @ The Inquirer
Subject: Mobile | October 4, 2018 - 03:00 AM | Ken Addison
Tagged: nvidia, m15, Intel, gtx 1070 max-q, gtx 1060, dell, alienware
Dell today unveiled their latest gaming notebook, the Alienware m15. Weighing in at just under 5 lbs, the Alienware m15 is Dell's smallest 15-in gaming notebook ever.
Buyers have the choice of either the quad-core Intel Core i5-8500H or the six-core i7-8750H. On the graphics side, the Alienware m15 will be offered with an "overclocked" GTX 1060, as well as with the GTX 1070 Max-Q.
Display options on the Alienware m15 include two 1080p options, a 60Hz TN and a 144Hz IPS, as well as a 4K 60Hz IPS panel. Despite the availability for a high-refresh display, none of these displays seem to support G-SYNC variable refresh technology.
Considering the relatively small size for a gaming notebook, the Alienware m15 still features an impressive array of ports including Ethernet, 3 USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a Thunderbolt 3 port, HDMI 2.0 as well as Mini DisplayPort 1.3.
The Alienware m15 continues support for the Alienware Graphics Amplifier, which utilizes a proprietary PCI-Express cable to connect external graphics to a given notebook. While the m15 also features a Thunderbolt 3 port, it remains unclear if Thunderbolt 3 graphics will also be supported.
The Alienware m15 will become available on October 25th, at a starting price of $1,299.99.
Subject: Mobile | September 28, 2018 - 03:25 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: yoga, thinkpad x1, lenovo thinkpad x1 yoga, Lenovo
Lenovo's new ThinkPad X1 offers a unique choice, you can get a silver model if for some reason you wish to commit such a heretical action. The connectivity options include two Thunderbolt 3 and two USB-C 3 ports, along with a mini-LAN port if you can't go wireless at some point, which should be quite infrequently as you can install a SIM card in these Yogas. The IPS screen is HDR, though not OLED and The Register was quite taken with it. Check out their full review as well as the rather important note at the very end right here.
"The Yoga form factor has been one of Lenovo’s biggest successes, and in 2013 the company slapped a business suit on it and brought the it into the Thinkpad fold. Three years later it added the X1 branding, and a premium OLED display."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
More Mobile Articles
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga @ The Inquirer
- Acer Nitro 5 @ Kitguru
- Lenovo Thinkpad X280: Choosing a light luggable isn't so easy @ The Register
- Apple Watch Series 4 review: A bigger, better watchOS experience @ Ars Technica
- Samsung Galaxy Note9 @ TechARP
- BlackBerry KEY2 LE: Cheaper QWERTY, but not for what's inside @ The Register
- Sony Xperia XZ3 @ The Inquirer
Subject: Mobile | September 26, 2018 - 01:37 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: VR, rift, oculus quest, oculus go, Oculus, htc vive, facebook, 6 dof
Today, at their Oculus Connect 5 developer conference, Facebook announced the Oculus Quest standalone VR headset.
Oculus Quest (previously codenamed Santa Cruz) is similar to the Oculus Go launched last year in that it's an entirely self-contained solution, with no need for an external device like a PC or phone.
Oculus Quest builds on what the Go offers in several significant ways. Quest provides 6 Degree of Freedom (DoF) movement and room scale tracking, compared to the 3-DoF system on the Go. This means that you will now be able to walk around a room, instead of just moving your head. For reference, both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive (via external trackers), and the Lenovo Mirage Google Daydream headset offer 6-DoF movement functionality.
Additionally, Oculus Quest will ship with a full set of touch controllers, similar to the Oculus Rift, where Go only ships with a single controller that is more akin to a remote than a full game controller.
Compared to the Oculus Go's 1280 x 1440 per eye, the Oculus Quest also offers a much higher resolution of 1600x1440 resolution per eye.
Oculus Quest will sit alongside the Oculus Rift and Oculus Go, offering VR experiences at several different price points. Facebook has said the addition of this third device completes their roadmap, and that app compatibility will be retained for future products in each of these segmentations (e.g., Oculus Go apps will run on Oculus Go 2).
Facebook has said the Oculus Quest will offer "Rift-like" experiences, touting Quest versions of Robo Recall, The Climb, and Moss. However, we aren't exactly sure what hardware is powering the Oculus Quest to accomplish this. However, due to the form factor, we expect it to be similar to the Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered Oculus Go, especially given the limited 64GB on-board storage.
Oculus Quest is set to ship in Spring 2019, for a price of $399 (including the touch controllers).
Stay tuned for more details from Oculus Connect 5!
Subject: Mobile | September 12, 2018 - 04:24 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: SoC, smartphone, mobile, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XS, iPhone XR, iphone, ios, apple, A12 Bionic, 7nm
Apple’s event today included expected (and previously leaked) iPhone announcements for the faster “S” variant of the iPhone X, as well as a new, larger iPhone XS Max, and finally the new, lower-cost iPhone XR. All three phones include Apple’s latest mobile processor, the A12 Bionic, as well as new cameras and other improvements.
The design is unchanged, but the 6.5-inch form-factor is new (image via Apple)
Beginning with the primary announcement, the new 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch iPhone XS and XS Max phones both feature Super Retina OLED displays which Apple says now offer wider dynamic range, and the glass protecting them is “the most durable glass ever” in a smartphone. The new XS Max offers the same 458 ppi density as the iPhone XS with its 2688x1242 resolution (the iPhone XS has the same 2436x1125 resolution as the iPhone X), and both phones are now IP68 water and dust resistant and dual-SIM capable (using eSIM).
Apple says the A12 Bionic chip will be the first to market at 7nm (Hauwei's 7nm Kirin 980 was previously announced but not shipping until mid-October), and the move to this smaller process should allow for lower power consumption and increased performance.
The A12 Bionic has a 6-core CPU design as we saw with the A11, and uses the same Apple-designed Fusion architecture. Apple says its two performance cores are “up to 15% faster and 40% lower power”, and the four efficiency cores offer “up to 50% lower power” with no stated increase in performance. Other than stating that it is a proprietary design little was revealed about the GPU other than it is now a 4-core design, which Apple says is “50% faster” than before.
The camera system on the new phones offers a new “advanced bokeh” feature which allows for f-stop adjustment after the photo has been taken, and during the presentation this feature appears to work in a very realistic way comparable to dedicated lenses with a DSLR. Other features include improved speakers, stereo audio recording with video, and "Gigabit-class" LTE.
The iPhone XR is an LCD variant with lower cost (image via Apple)
The “one more thing” at the even was a new lower-cost iPhone based on the iPhone X design, but with an LCD display that Apple is calling “Liquid Retina”. This 6.1-inch device has a display resolution of 1792x828 (326 ppi), uses the new A12 chip, and while it is a single-camera phone like the iPhone 8 it uses the latest wide-angle camera from its “S” model siblings.
The display also features “120 Hz touch-sensing” - which may be independent of display refresh, but that is unknown at this point - a wide color gamut, and is a True Tone display like the iPhone X. The phone drops 3D Touch, using instead what appears to be a long-press detection with haptic feedback. The phone does not offer the "Gigabit-class LTE" of the XS/XS Max, is IP67 rather than IP68 water and dust resistant, but does retain the new “most durable glass” from the "S" models.
Pricing for the new lineup is as follows:
- iPhone XS 64GB - $999
- iPhone XS 256GB - $1149
- iPhone XS 512GB - $1349
- iPhone XS Max 64GB - $1099
- iPhone XS Max 256GB - $1249
- iPhone XS Max 512GB - $1449
- iPhone XR 64GB - $749
- iPhone XR 128GB - $799
- iPhone XR 256GB - $899
The new iPhones XS and XS Max will be available next week, with a September 21 launch day (pre-ordering begins on Friday, September 14). The iPhone XR launches on October 26 (pre-order October 19).
Subject: Processors, Mobile | September 9, 2018 - 04:50 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: p20 pro, Kirin 970, Kirin, Huawei
Last week the gang at Anandtech posted a story discovering systematic cheating by Huawei in smartphone benchmarks. In its story, AT focused on 3DMark and GFXBench, looking at how the Chinese-based silicon and phone provider was artificially increasing benchmark scores to gain an advantage in its battles with other smartphone providers and SoC vendors like Qualcomm.
As a result of that testing, UL Benchmarks (who acquired Futuremark) delisted several Huawei smartphones from 3DMark, taking the artificial scores down from the leaderboards. This puts the existing device reviews in question while also pulling a cloud over the recently announced (and impressive sounding) Kirin 980 SoC meant to battle with the Snapdragon 845 and next-gen Qualcomm product. The Kirin 980 will be the first shipping processor to integrate high performance Arm Cortex-A76 cores, so the need to cheat on performance claims is questionable.
Just a day after this story broke, UL and Huawei released a joint statement that is, quite honestly, laughable.
"In the discussion, Huawei explained that its smartphones use an artificial intelligent resource scheduling mechanism. Because different scenarios have different resource needs, the latest Huawei handsets leverage innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence to optimize resource allocation in a way so that the hardware can demonstrate its capabilities to the fullest extent, while fulfilling user demands across all scenarios.
To somehow assert that any kind of AI processing is happening on Huawei devices that is responsible for the performance differences that Anandtech measured is at best naïve and at worst straight out lying. This criticism is aimed at both Huawei and UL Benchmarks – I would assume that a company with as much experience in performance evaluation would not succumb to this kind of messaging.
After that AT story was posted, I started talking with the team that builds Geekbench, one of the most widely used and respected benchmarks for processors on mobile devices and PCs. It provides a valuable resource of comparative performance and leaderboards. As it turns out, Huawei devices are exhibiting the same cheating behavior in this benchmark.
Below I have compiled results from Geekbench that were run by developer John Poole on a Huawei P20 Pro device powered by the Kirin 970 SoC. (Private app results, public app results.) To be clear: the public version is the application package as downloaded from the Google Play Store while the private version is a custom build he created to test against this behavior. It uses absolutely identical workloads and only renames the package and does basic string replacement in the application.
Clearly the Huawei P20 Pro is increasing performance on the public version of the Geekbench test and not on the private version, despite using identical workloads on both. In the single threaded tests, the total score is 6.5% lower with the largest outlier being in the memory performance sub-score, where the true result is 14.3% slower than the inaccurate public version result. Raw integer performance drops by 3.7% and floating-point performance falls by 5.6%.
The multi-threaded score differences are much more substantial. Floating point performance drops by 26% in the private version of Geekbench, taking a significant hit that would no doubt affect its placement in the leaderboards and reviews of flagship Android smartphones.
Overall, the performance of the Huawei P20 Pro is 6.5% slower in single threaded testing and 16.7% slower in multi-threaded testing when the artificial score inflation in place within the Huawei customized OS is removed. Despite claims to the contrary, and that somehow an AI system is being used to recognize specific user scenarios and improve performance, this is another data point to prove that Huawei was hoping to pull one over on the media and consumers with invalid performance comparisons.
Some have asked me why this issue matters; if the hardware is clearly capable of performance like this, why should Huawei and HiSilicon not be able to present it that way? The higher performance results that 3DMark, GFXBench, and now Geekbench show are not indicative of the performance consumers get with their devices on real applications. The entire goal of benchmarks and reviews is to try to convey the experience a buyer would get for a smartphone, or anything else for that matter.
If Huawei wanted one of its devices to offer this level of performance in games and other applications, it could do so, but at the expense of other traits. Skin temperature, battery life, and device lifespan could all be impacted – something that would definitely affect the reviews and reception of a smartphone. Hence, the practice of cheating in an attempt to have the best of both.
The sad part about all of this is that Huawei’s flagship smartphones have been exceptional in nearly every way. Design, screen quality, camera integration, features; the Mate and P-series devices have been excellent representations of what an Android device can be. Unfortunately, for enthusiasts that follow the market, this situation will follow the company and cloud some of those positives.
Today’s data shows that the story of Huawei and benchmarks goes beyond just 3DMark and GFXBench. We will be watching this closely to see how Huawei responds and if any kinds of updates to existing hardware are distributed. And, as the release of Kirin 980 devices nears, you can be sure that testing and evaluation of these will get a more scrutinizing eye than ever.
Subject: Processors, Mobile | September 2, 2018 - 11:45 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: SoC, octa-core, mobile, Mali-G76, Kirin, Huawei, HiSilicon, gpu, cpu, Cortex-A76, arm, 8-core
Huawei has introduced their subsidiary HiSilicon’s newest mobile processor in the Kirin 980, which, along with Huawei's claim of the world's first commercial 7nm SoC, is the first SoC to use Arm Cortex A76 CPU cores and Arm’s Mali G76 GPU.
Huawei is aiming squarely at Qualcomm with this announcement, claiming better performance than a Snapdragon 845 during the presentation. One of its primary differences to the current Snapdragon is the composition of the Kirin 980’s eight CPU cores, notable as the usual 'big.LITTLE' Arm CPU core configuration for an octa-core design gives way to a revised organization with three groups, as illustrated by AnandTech here:
Of the four Cortex A76 cores just two are clocked up to maximize performance with certain applications such as gaming (and, likely, benchmarks) at 2.60 GHz, and the other two are used more generally as more efficient performance cores at 1.92 GHz. The remaining four A55 cores operate at 1.80 GHz, and are used for lower-performance tasks. A full breakdown of the CPU core configuration as well as slides from the event are available at AnandTech.
Huawei claims that the improved CPU in the Kirin 980 results in "75 percent more powerful and 58 percent more efficient compared to their previous generation" (the Kirin 970). This claim translates into what Huawei claims to be 37% better performance and 32% greater efficiency than Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845.
The GPU also gets a much-needed lift this year from Arm's latest GPU, the Mali-G76, which features "new, wider execution engines with double the number of lanes" and "provides dramatic uplifts in both performance and efficiency for complex graphics and Machine Learning (ML) workloads", according to Arm.
Real-world testing with shipping handsets is needed to verify Huawei's performance claims, of course. In fact, the results shown by Huawei at the presentation carry a this disclaimer, sourced from today’s press release:
"The specifications of Kirin 980 does not represent the specifications of the phone using this chip. All data and benchmark results are based on internal testing. Results may vary in different environments."
The upcoming Mate 20 from Huawei will be powered by this new Kirin 980 - and could very well provide results consistent with the full potential of the new chip - and that is set for an official launch on October 16.
The full press release is available after the break.
Subject: Mobile | August 31, 2018 - 03:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: P65, msi, coffee lake h
If you spend more time being productive on your laptop than gaming, but still want to be able to spend a few hours playing then check out MSI's new P65 laptop. It is available in both silver and white, with both featuring an IPS panel with 100% Adobe RGB support to ensure the colours you see while designing will match when printed out.
The laptop is build for use on the road, weight 4.14" and 0.69 inches thick with an 82Whr battery MSI states will last for up to nine hours of regular use. The limited White Edition comes with Thunderbolt 3 and a GTX 1070 while the Silver offers USB 3.1 Gen 1 and either a GTX 1060 or 1050Ti so make sure to take a look quickly if you are on an upgrade path.
Berlin, Germany – August 31, 2018 – MSI, a world leader in high performance computing hardware, today announces its new notebook designed specifically for content creators and professionals, the P65. The P65 is a powerful system with a stylish design featuring high-end specs, beautiful thin-bezel display and long-lasting battery life. MSI will have the P65 on display at IFA 2018 at Booth number 107.
The P65 provides everything a content creator or business professional needs to work quickly and efficiently. Creators are constantly on the move and need to have desktop-grade power in a form factor they can easily carry around. With a potent processor and dedicated graphics, the P65 gives users more than enough power to edit raw HD or 4K video, create motion graphics and fly through complicated spreadsheets on the go. The P65 also features a full suite of ports including an SD card reader, USB Type-C, USB Type-A, HDMI, micro-DisplayPort and an ethernet jack. The P65 will be available this September.
The P65 was made to arm creators with the best creative tools. The 15-inch screen features MSI’s exclusive True Color 2.0 technology. Each panel is examined thoroughly and undergoes an extensive factory calibration process, so each color is displayed with absolute precision. This results in a near perfect color presentation, with close to 100 percent coverage of the sRGB color spectrum. The IPS-level, 4.9mm thin-bezel panel is ideal for those who need extreme color accuracy when editing photos or videos.
While the elegant new silver chassis separates the P65 from MSI’s traditional design, the high-performance specifications keep the P65 in close comparison with MSI’s top-of-the-line gaming offerings. The P65 features Intel’s latest 8th Generation Core i7 processor and up to a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU. These specifications allow for faster rendering times and better multitasking. The P65 has up to almost three times more graphical performance than leading competitor in this category. The P65 uses MSI’s Cooler Boost Trinity, the same system found in its gaming laptops, to keep the notebook cool even during intense workloads.
“For a long time, MSI has just been recognized as a leader in PC gaming hardware,” said Sam Chern, MSI Assistant Vice President of Global Marketing. “With the P65, we’re investing deeply in professionals and content creators, bringing them high performance for all of their everyday tasks. We have taken the lessons we’ve learned from our years of experience in making gaming hardware and used it to create a beautiful, professional notebook that is more powerful than any laptop in its class.”
The P65 features top-of-the-line specifications while maintaining a slim, portable form factor. With its ultra-light aluminum chassis, the P65 weighs just 4.14 pounds and measures 0.69 inches thick. However, the slim design does not sacrifice battery life. The P65 has an 82Whr battery for up to nine hours of regular use. In addition to the productivity features, the P65 uses a Windows Hello Certified fingerprint sensor for a high-privacy business security solution and supports Microsoft’s Cortana voice-enabled digital assistant.
At launch, the P65 will be available in both silver and a gorgeous limited-edition white. The White Limited Edition shares many of the same specifications as the Silver Edition, but comes with a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU, Hi-Res Audio and Thunderbolt 3. At launch, the Silver Edition will be available with either a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q or GTX 1050 Ti. The White Limited Edition also comes in a beautiful wooden box and includes an extended one-year warranty and protective laptop sleeve.
Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | August 29, 2018 - 02:19 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: xps 13 2-in-1, XPS 13, ifa 2018, i7-8500Y, i5-8200Y, dell, core m, amber lake
With a choice of either the Core i5-8200Y or Core i7-8500Y, the chassis design of the XPS 13 2-in-1 remains largely unchanged from when it's introduction in 2017. However, users should look forward to the increased performance and battery life from the new 8th generation Intel processors.
The XPS 13 2-in-1 will start shipping September 11th, starting at $999.99.
Dell also launched a slightly more inexpensive option for users looking at their standard XPS 13 notebook for users looking who aren't as performance conscious.
Featuring a dual-core Intel Core i3-8130U, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB SATA SSD, and a 1080P display, this new XPS 13 configuration is now available for $899 from the Dell site and other retailers.
Finally, Dell announced that their popular Developer Edition XPS 13 is now shipping with the latest release of Ubuntu (18.04). As always, these Developer Editions come preconfigured with Ubuntu and all the necessary drivers out of the box and are less expensive than their Windows-toting counterparts.