Subject: Mobile | October 17, 2017 - 03:50 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: SoC, Snapdragon 636, snapdragon, qualcomm, octa-core, mobile platform, Kryo 260, Kryo, cpu, adreno, 8-core
Qualcomm's latest mobile platform is the Snapdragon 636, positioned (at least numerically) between the Snapdragon 630 and 660 introduced earlier this year, and offering a very impressive set of features for mid-range devices - even reaching parity with the Snapdragon 800-series in some respects.
Qualcomm claims CPU performance gains of up to 40% from the Kryo 260 cores in the Snapdragon 636 compared to the ARM Cortex-A53 cores found in the Snapdragon 630, and the switch to Kryo brings the new Snapdragon 636 closer to the specs of the Snapdragon 660 - also an 8-core Kryo 260 design (though the higher-numbered platform does boast slightly higher clocks from its eight CPU cores at 2.2 GHz vs. 1.8 GHz from the 636).
The Snapdragon 636 also features the same X12 LTE modem found in the existing Snapdragon 630/660, which is capable of up to 600 Mbps download speeds (3 x 20 Hz carrier aggregation, 256-QAM) and 150 Mbps peak upload (2 x 20 Hz aggregation, 64-QAM).
Graphics duties are performed by the Adreno 509, and 18:9 FHD+ displays are supported. The Snapdragon 636 also includes the Hexagon 680 DSP (which we first saw in the Snapdragon 820) with Spectra 160 ISP for supported image capture "of up to 24 megapixels with zero shutter lag while supporting smooth zoom, fast autofocus and true-to-life colors for outstanding image quality", according to Qualcomm.
This new Snapdragon 636 also offers Qualcomm's Aqstic codec (another feature inherited from the 800-series) for high-resolution audio up to 24-bit/192 kHz PCM, along with dual-oscillator support (separate clock generators for 44.1 kHz and 48 kHz based sample rates!) and a 130dB dynamic range with a very low THD+N of -109dB.
To expand on what the Aqstic codec in the SD636 provides, the separate clock generators are a fascinating addition in a world where many codecs resample the common 44.1 kHz - pretty much all digital music at or below CD quality - to 48 kHz during playback. Having a proper 44.1 kHz clock means native playback without the interpolation and subsequent filtering required when altering the original signal to an incompatible sample rate.
The Snapdragon 636 - which is both "pin and software-compatible" with existing Snapdragon 660 and 630 mobile platforms, according to Qualcomm - is expected to ship to customers beginning in November.
Subject: Mobile | October 16, 2017 - 09:30 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: x50, qualcomm, mmWave, 5g nr, 5G
Earlier this year Qualcomm announced that it had made its first connection with the 5G NR (new radio) through its prototype system. This prototype was constructed to help with the build outs with Ericsson and Vodafone to get 5G in trials in the second of half this year. The device was crude, but effective, and took up a lot of space in a 2U rackmount design.
Today Qualcomm steps up its investment and apparent leadership position with the next generation connectivity technology by showcasing a reference smartphone design that implements the X50 5G modem for the first time.
Though far from a retail-ready announcement, this 9mm thin smartphone design proves that the future of 5G is strong and allows Qualcomm to crow about its position in the field. This design makes several key points, according to the connectivity giant:
- It is the first smartphone-style design integration for the X50 modem, announced a year ago at the company’s 4G/5G summit in Hong Kong.
- Showcases greater than 1Gbps data connectivity on the 100 MHz bands with only a 2xCA (carrier aggregation) implementation.
- Proves the feasibility of mmWave (millimeter wave) technology at 28 GHz in a smartphone with a silicon-based chip that fits four mmWave antenna and a 5G transceiver.
The real bright spot on this design is the inclusion of connectivity support on mmWave technology, previously thought to be extremely difficult to do in a smartphone form factor. Using mmWaves creates complexity due to its reluctance to transmit THROUGH things (including people), so the small surface area of a phone was going to cause issues. By integrating support for four large surface area antenna on this design and the 5G module, Qualcomm believes it has taken a large step in productization.
This reference design will enable trials of 5G technology in real-world environments and use cases. Qualcomm also claims that at launch time (early 2019), the module for the mmWave transceiver will be shrunk by another 50%. Qualcomm hopes that by showing OEMs and carriers that 5G technology challenges are addressable in common and expected form factors, it can accelerate and ease the adoption of the technology for consumers and enterprise applications.
Subject: Mobile | October 16, 2017 - 04:59 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: X5 V7-KL3K3D, aorus, gigabyte, gaming laptop, g-sync
Instead of attaching ye plain olde 1080p fixed refresh rate display to the X5 V7-KL3K3D gaming laptop, Gigabyte chose a 2880x1620 G-SYNC display which is capable of up to a 75Hz refresh rate. As the laptop is powered by a GTX 1070, you will be able to play most games at full resolution, with G-SYNC ensuring a smooth experience. Along with the Kaby Lake i7-7820HK is a Samsung SM961 SSD, so non-graphical tasks also fly. The high end panel does boost the price, the model TechPowerUp reviewed will set you back $2400. If the features are worth it to you, check it out here.
"The AORUS X5 V7-KL3K3D is a stellar offering in terms of specifications, providing impressive performance due to an Intel Quad-Core i7-7820HK CPU, which Gigabyte paired with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070. This relatively thin and light gaming notebook also comes with a 3K IPS display that supports G-Sync."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
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- ASUS ZenBook UX430UA @ Kitguru
- Vivoactive 3 review: Garmin’s often the underdog, often the better choice @ Ars Technica
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- The Samsung Galaxy Note8 @ TechARP
- Apple iPhone 8 Plus @ Kitguru
Subject: Mobile | October 16, 2017 - 10:23 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: SoC, smartphone, phone, Oreo, mobile, Mate 10 Pro, Mate 10, Kirin 970, Huawei, Android 8, Android
Huawei has announced the successor(s) to the Mate 9 smartphone with the new Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro, which feature a new "3D Glass Body" industrial design along with the new Kirin 970 processor and other improvements.
The key features from Huawei include:
- Kirin 970, the world’s first AI processor for smartphones with a dedicated Neural Network Processing Unit (NPU)
- A 3D Glass Body featuring a barely-there-bezel, HUAWEI FullView Display and HDR10 supported technology for intensely vivid and brighter colors
- TÜV Fast-Charge Safety Certified HUAWEI SuperCharge and 4000 mAh battery with AI-powered Battery Management
- New Leica Dual Camera with SUMMILUX-H lenses, with both featuring an aperture of f/1.6, and intelligent photography including AI-powered Real-Time Scene and Object Recognition and AI-powered Bokeh Effect;
- An all-new, simplified EMUI 8.0 based on Android 8.0
The Mate 10 Pro features an 18:9 OLED display
The Mate 10 is a 5.9-inch device with a 16:9 IPS display supporting HDR10, while the Mate 10 Pro offers an 18:9 OLED display (also with HDR10 support).
The new dual-camera system is again a joint effort with Leica, and combines a 12 MP color sensor with a 20 MP monochrome sensor, using lenses with a aperture of f/1.6 - and Huawei says this aperture is the "world's largest" for a smartphone. The digital zoom and bokeh effects are AI-powered, along with real-time scene and object recognition.
The new Kirin 970 combines an 8-core CPU with a 12-core Mali-G72 GPU, and includes an NPU (neural processing unit) for AI-related tasks as well as a new dual ISP for the AI-powered camera features mentioned above.
Both phones include a 4000 mAh battery which offers "smart battery management" which Huawei states "understands user behavior and intelligently allocates resources to maximize battery life". The new TÜV-certified fast charging feature supports low-voltage charging of 4.5V / 5A, and Huawei states this will charge the phones from 1% to 20% in 10 minutes, or 1% to 58% in 30 minutes.
The Mate 10 lineup
The Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro ship with Android 8.0 and a new "simplified" version of Huawei's EMUI interface. Pricing and availablity for the U.S. was not revealed, but the phones will go on sale internationally starting this month for the Mate 10, and mid-November for the Mate 10 Pro.
The Mate 10 Pro lineup
While we don't have U.S. pricing yet, European pricing for the Mate 10 with 64GB of storage and 4GB memory is set at €699, and the Mate 10 Pro with 128GB/6GB will be €799.
How a ThinkPad is born
During Lenovo's recent ThinkPad 25th Anniversary Event in Yokohama, Japan, we were given an opportunity to learn a lot about the evolution of the ThinkPad brand over the years.
One of the most significant sources of pride mentioned by the Lenovo executives in charge of the ThinkPad division during this event was the team's Yamato Laboratory. Formerly located in Yamato City (hence the name) and relocated to Yokohama in 2011, the Yamato Labs have been responsible for every ThinkPad product, dating back to the IBM days and the original ThinkPad 700C.
This continuity from the earliest days of ThinkPad has helped provide a standard of quality and education passed down from engineer to engineer over the last 25 years of the ThinkPad brand. In fact, some of the original engineers from 1987 are still with the company and working on the latest and greatest ThinkPad innovations. It's impressive to see such continuity and pride in the Japanese development team considering Lenovo's acquisition of the brand back in 2005.
One of the most exciting things was a peek at some of the tests that every device bearing the ThinkPad name must go through, including non-notebook devices like the X1 Tablet.
Subject: Mobile | October 8, 2017 - 03:14 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10 mobile, windows 10
Windows 10 Mobile has been in a holding pattern for a couple of years now. Microsoft has not really announced any new hardware initiatives, but they were also saying, consistently, that the platform would get revisited in some other year. Likewise, they were keeping the mobile OS up-to-date, even tying Insider builds roughly in lockstep with PC build releases. If you were also paying attention to the Windows on ARM announcements, you could assume that Microsoft was waiting for several pieces to fall into place before pushing, once more, with all of their weight.
Of course we'll continue to support the platform.. bug fixes, security updates, etc. But building new features/hw aren't the focus. ???? https://t.co/0CH9TZdIFu
— Joe Belfiore (@joebelfiore) October 8, 2017
Today, Joe Belfiore of Microsoft has tweeted that features and hardware “aren’t the focus”. Windows Central goes on to note that some enterprises have already adopted Windows 10 Mobile.
We have tried VERY HARD to incent app devs. Paid money.. wrote apps 4 them.. but volume of users is too low for most companies to invest. ☹️ https://t.co/ePsySxR3LB
— Joe Belfiore (@joebelfiore) October 8, 2017
He also goes on to discuss initiatives that they’ve attempted to attract app developers. They commissioned works, and even built apps to get third-parties started. They didn’t take off because there wasn’t enough users. (Personally, I was scared off by development requirements and restrictions back in the Windows 8 Developer Preview days, which is an ongoing issue with UWP. That said, the developers that Joe Belfiore is talking about are the type who would publish on iOS, so that’s not an issue for them.)
But let’s think about this for a second. Microsoft still seems to be pushing Windows 10 for ARM, and it’s ever-less likely to be for an upcoming mobile initiative. So, why are they doing that? I can see how they would be concerned that Intel and AMD, in the future, repeat the mistakes of ~2007-2010 and fail to keep up with ARM vendors on an important market segment (which was tablets and mobile phones at the time, but might not be going forward). It could be a good opportunity to make this big change while the rest of the company is struggling with many other big changes, rather than waiting for the dust to settle to try again (although that’s already happened a few time over the last several years). Also, there are some implications for the server market, although I always assumed things like x86 emulation was for the consumer and enterprise markets.
It’s also possible that they don’t really have a cohesive plan. Some of these ideas could be running on momentum alone, until they gradually come to a stop.
Subject: Mobile | October 5, 2017 - 08:30 AM | Ken Addison
Tagged: thinkpad 25, Thinkpad, t470, Lenovo
It's official! After several years of teasing, Lenovo today has finally unveiled the "Retro ThinkPad."
Coinciding with the exact 25th anniversary of the release of the first ThinkPad model, the ThinkPad 700C, the ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25 harkens back to some of the features that have made the ThinkPad brand special over the years.
Built on the same chassis as the current generation ThinkPad T470, the Anniversary Edition has been updated with some features ThinkPad fans have been yearning for. The IBM-era 7-row keyboard is back, along with the traditional blue accented enter key and the key switch design that helped make the ThinkPad known as the premier option for business users throughout the years.
The return of a retro-style RGB ThinkPad Logo is a nice additional detail for longtime ThinkPad fans.
We don't know about the complete specifications yet, but so far we know that the base configuration will feature an Intel i7-7500U CPU with an NVIDIA 940MX GPU and a 14-in 1080p matte touchscreen.
As for pricing and availability, the ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25 should be available today, October 5th, on Lenovo's web store for a price starting at $1899. We've been told there's a special deal available today only for the 25th anniversary, but we have no indication of how much that discount is right now.
$1899 is a high price for the specifications, especially compared to other machines in Lenovo's lineup like the T470, but this seems like it will be a low-volume special edition SKU produced for the most dedicated ThinkPad fans.
We're still waiting to get some hands-on time with the device at the 25th-anniversary event, but we'll report back with more impressions on the ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25!
Subject: Mobile | October 4, 2017 - 04:32 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: smartphone, pOLED, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 2, pixel, phone, Oreo, google, DxOMark, Android 8, AMOLED
Google has announced the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones, the second-gen versions of the Nexus-replacement Pixel which launched last October. We looked at that first Pixel phone, which was the premier Android device at the time, and these new Pixel 2 devices hope to place Google at the top of the heap again (with stiff competition from Samsung, of course).
The Google Pixel 2 XL (image credit: Google)
The Pixel 2 arrives in a standard version with a 5-inch 1920x1080 AMOLED display, and an XL version with a new 6-inch pOLED display with 2880x1440 resolution. Both phones are powered by the 8-core Snapdragon 835 and feature 4GB of RAM and the option of either 64GB or 128GB of storage (no card slot on either phone).
While the design of the Pixel 2 is largely unchanged compared to last year, with large bezels above and below the display, the Pixel 2 XL comes closer to the ever-popular “all screen” look with its smaller top/bottom bezels.
The Google Pixel 2 (image credit: Google)
Both phones offer dual front-facing stereo speakers as well, unlike iPhones which have to combine an earpiece speaker and bottom-firing speaker for their stereo effect. The battery capacities are a little different than last year with both Pixel 2 phones, with a 2700 mAh battery (down from 2770 mAh) in the Pixel 2, and a 3520 mAh battery (up from 3450 mAh) in the Pixel 2 XL.
It’s all about camera
Once again, Google is proclaiming the Pixel 2 camera as the best in the industry, and again this is based on testing from DxOMark which has it ranked #1 overall among smartphones. with an incredible 98 out of a possible 100 in their scoring system.
Image credit: DxOMark
Both sizes of Pixel 2 offer a single 12.2 MP rear camera (sorry, no dual cameras here) with 1.4μm pixels, laser + dual pixel phase detection autofocus, OIS, and a f/1.8 aperture. Fans of simulated lens bokeh have no fear, as Google’s dual-pixel sensor design is said to allow for better portrait-style photos than the original Pixel. Video of up to 4k (but only at 30 FPS) is supported, and an 8 MP f/2.4 camera handles front-facing duties.
More on those new displays
Google has improved the display technology with the Pixel 2, as both versions now offer wide color gamut support (95% DCI-P3 coverage from the Pixel 2, and a full 100% DCI-P3 from the Pixel 2 XL). The displays are now ‘always on’, a handy feature that makes sense from a power standpoint when working with AMOLED panels (and hard to give up once you’ve grown accustomed to it as I did with the Galaxy S8+). Last but not least, covering these new displays is Corning Gorilla Glass 5, which is the most drop-resistant version to date (and is also found on the Galaxy S8/S8+ among other phones).
A comparison of LCD and OLED technologies (image credit: Android Authority)
The Pixel 2 XL’s “pOLED” display designation suggests a polymer OLED panel, which has the advantage of being much thinner than traditional glass OLED substrates. (Read more about AMOLED vs. P-OLED here.)
The Pixel 2 phones ship with the new Android 8.0 Oreo, with the promise of “minimum” 3 years of OS and security updates. Vanilla Google phone owners (previously Nexus) have enjoyed being the first to new OS updates, and that should still be the case with these new devices. And if you are coming over from another platform - say, Apple, for instance - a “quick switch” adapter is in every box to help transfer data quickly between phones.
The Quick Switch Adapter in action (image credit: Google)
Google is offering the (unlocked) phone for sale directly from their website, and have partnered with Verizon as the exclusive mobile carrier as they did with the original Pixel. The price? $649 gets you the 5-inch Pixel 2 with 64GB of storage, or double that to 128GB for $100 more. The Pixel 2 XL is available for $849 for the 64GB capacity, with the same $100 premium for a 128GB version. There are also four color options this year, with the whimsical naming fully intact from the previous generation: Just Black, Clearly White, Kinda Blue, and Black & White.
Oh, and one more thing: the 3.5 mm headphone jack is gone.
A New Standard
With a physical design that is largely unchanged other than the addition of a glass back for wireless charging support, and featuring incremental improvements to the camera system most notably with the Plus version, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are interesting largely due to the presence of a new Apple SoC. The upcoming iPhone X (pronounced "ten") stole the show at Apple's keynote annoucement earlier this month, but the new A11 Bionic chip powers all 2017 iPhone models, and for the first time Apple has a fully custom GPU after their highly publicized split with Imagination Technologies, makers of the PowerVR graphics found in previous Apple SoCs.
The A11 Bionic powering the 2017 iPhones contains Apple’s first 6-core processor, which is comprised of two high performance cores (code-named ‘Monsoon’) and four high efficiency cores (code-named ‘Mistral’). Hugely important to its performance is the fact that all six cores are addressable with this new design, as Apple mentions in their description of the SoC:
"With six cores and 4.3 billion transistors, A11 Bionic has four efficiency cores that are up to 70 percent faster than the A10 Fusion chip, and two performance cores that are up to 25 percent faster. The CPU can even harness all six cores simultaneously when you need a turbo boost."
It was left to improvments to IPC and clock speed to boost the per-core performance of previous Apple SoCs, such as the previous A10 Fusion part, which contained a quad-core CPU split in an even arrangement of 2x performance + 2x efficiency cores. Apple's quad-core effort did not affect app performance beyond the two performance cores, with additional cores limited to background tasks in real-world use (though the A10 Fusion did not provide any improvement to battery life over previous efforts, as we saw).
The A11 Bionic on the iPhone 8 system board (image credit: iFixit)
Just how big an impact this new six-core CPU design will have can be instantly observed with the CPU benchmarks to follow, and on the next page we will find out how Apple's in-house GPU solution compare to both the previous A10 Fusion PowerVR graphics, and market-leading Qualcomm Adreno 540 found in the Snapdragon 835. We will begin with the CPU benchmarks.
Subject: Mobile | September 26, 2017 - 03:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gigabyte, aero 15, gaming laptop, gtx 1060, i7-7700hq
Gigabyte's Aero 15 gaming notebook is a mere 19.9mm (0.78") at its thickest point and weighs in at 2.1 kg (4.62lbs), yet it manages to hold respectable components inside. Intels Core i7-7700HQ along with a proper 6GB GTX 1060, a Samsung 512 GB PCIe SSD and 16GB of DDR4-2400. That list of parts will set you back $1900, about what you should expect from a gaming laptop; if you want to play Prey and Doom on the road you do have to pay. Check out The Tech Report's full review to see how it handled a variety of other games.
"Gigabyte's Aero 15 notebook brings together one of Intel's most powerful mobile CPUs and Nvidia's GTX 1060 6GB graphics chip in a chassis that's well under an inch thick. We put the Aero 15 to the test to see if it can keep its cool under the most demanding workloads."
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