• Devices

    by Published on 07-11-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors



    If the source is to be believed then what we're looking at is the rear camera assembly on Samsung's forthcoming Galaxy Note 8. Only thing is, I've no idea as to the legitimacy of the source—it's literally some Thai dude on Facebook. But that didn't stop the tech press from enthusiastically re-sharing it. Guess I'm similarly guilty. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯



    This is supposedly a full press render of the phone from the same source. But since it was shared on Facebook the image's resolution is limited to 800 pixels wide—less if you remove the empty space around the image, like I've done here.



    And here's a render of a Note 8 and case from a separate but equally dubious source, some random person on Twitter. It's possible that this person took the Thai person's render and Photoshopped a case onto it. Or it could be entirely legit.

    From what I've read there seems to at least be a consensus that the Note 8 will sport dual rear cameras. As such, moving its fingerprint reader to the right of the flash (and presumably iris scanner) assembly will hopefully result in less accidental finger presses on the actual lenses. We'll know for sure when Samsung makes its official announcement sometime in Q3.

    Sources: Facebook, Twitter

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    by Published on 07-10-2017 08:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors



    Welcome to Moto Mondays, our semi-regular feature where we detail the latest in a steady stream of leaked Android smartphones from Motorola. Today's edition comes from a pretty reliable source: Motorola's own site for the Chinese market. It looks to me like the image above has been removed; here's where it came from if you want to verify for yourself.

    The Moto Z2 has already appeared on AnTuTu and GFXBench, so the specs for the device are already known:

    Snapdragon 835 processor
    5.5 inch QHD AMOLED display
    4 GB RAM / 64 GB of storage
    Dual 12 MP rear cameras / 5 MP selfie cam
    Android 7.1.1

    The AnTuTu benchmarks actually show another variant of the Z2, with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. This is widely thought to be the Moto Z2 Force, which will sold in the USA by Verizon as the Moto Z2 Force Droid. This year, however, there may be other non-Droid editions of the Z2 Force sold by U.S. carriers as well.

    All should become clear when Motorola officially announces the remainder of their 2017 phone lineup on Tuesday, July 25th. Hopefully this early look will allow Moto fans to better plan their 2017 smartphone purchase.

    Sources: DroidHolic (1) (2), PhoneArena

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    by Published on 07-07-2017 07:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors



    While we await the North American début of the Nokia 6 (come on, unlockable bootloader!) here's an early look at its bigger sibling, via some promotional materials that someone leaked to a Chinese tech blog. The blurry photo on the left shows a top-mounted headphone jack, bottom-mounted stereo speakers and a USB-C connector. The less blurry photo on the right shows what looks like an edge-to-edge display and multiple colour options.

    The rumoured release for the Nokia 8 is July or August—in China, anyway—and specs are thought to be as follows:

    Snapdragon 835 processor
    6 inch 2K display
    6 GB of RAM / 128 GB of storage

    What's especially interesting is the price: 3188 CNY, which converts to about $469 USD. That's $10 cheaper than the starting price of a OnePlus 5.

    Could these leaked materials be fake? Absolutely. There is ample evidence of another Nokia flagship, the Nokia 9, which seems to have a design language more in line with the already-released 6. Whatever the case, it's going to be an interesting year for Nokia and Android fans!

    Sources: CNMO via BGR, Nokia Power User

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    by Published on 07-06-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis



    I'm hoping that this post will be of some use to anyone looking to purchase a OnePlus device, now or in the future. As an online-only retailer here in the Americas, there's currently no way to hold one of their products in your hands before you commit to buying it—unless, perhaps, you live near New York City and can attend one of their launch events. To put worried would-be buyers at ease, OnePlus offers a 15-day "no hassle" return, which I got to test on my recent OnePlus 5 order.

    The first step in the return process is to create a service request on the OnePlus support site. If you want a refund you're asked to include some details as to why, but this is optional if I remember correctly. Anyway, almost immediately I received an email confirmation of my service request, and a few hours later I got another email from a company called FutureTel, a Canadian authorized service centre for OnePlus. Their message included an RMA number and a FedEx mailer, so all I had to do was pack up my phone, attach the mailer to the box and drop it off for shipping.

    And here's where we get to the only issues with my return experience. While these FutureTel people were inspecting my phone I received two separate and cryptic emails from OnePlus that read like this:

    Hello Friend,

    This is to inform you that your RMA has now been cancelled.
    This was immediately followed by a FutureTel email with a new RMA number and, somewhat distressingly, another mailing label. I contacted someone from OnePlus through their support chat portal, and was told that this was merely a procedural hiccup, and that FutureTel was still in the process of inspecting my device.

    The process wrapped up yesterday, with separate notices from OnePlus and PayPal that my refund had been issued; when all was said and done the entire return process took about 8 days. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a no-stress return, but "no-hassle" seems fair. I have heard that U.S. returns are subject to a 10% restocking fee if there's nothing wrong with the phone (ie. if the user just doesn't like it), so keep that in mind if you're planning to order.

    As for the OnePlus 5 itself, I don't think I can recommend it. The manufacturing defects that I experienced with mine, along with the reports I've read about the upside-down screen and even upside-down audio (?) makes me think that OnePlus cut too many corners in the making of what ended up being their most expensive device yet.

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    by Published on 07-05-2017 07:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors



    Evan Blass is at it again...

    Yesterday he tweeted the above image of the soon-to-be-made-official Motorola Moto X4—I added in some artwork for the device that I found on a separate Blass story posted to VentureBeat. The phone's specs are purported to be as follows:

    Aluminum body with IP68 dust and water protection
    5.2 inch FHD screen
    Snapdragon 630 octa-core processor
    4 GB RAM / 64 GB storage + microSD
    8 and 12 megapixel rear cameras / 16 megapixel front camera
    3,000 mAh battery
    Android 7.1 Nougat

    The X4 will be released sometime in Q4 and, according to Blass, will be the first non-Google smartphone available to subscribers of Google's Fi network. It's hard for this Canadian to get too excited about any new Motorola handset, as in this country Moto has traditionally been more interested in selling to carriers rather than direct to consumers. It looks promising for our American friends, though.

    Sources: Evan Blass (1) (2) via Liliputing

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    by Published on 06-30-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    In case you didn't hear the news, Nokia is indeed bringing their mid-range Android-powered 6 to the USA. It will sell through Amazon.com starting July 10th. Amazon will even deliver to Canada—with extra shipping and import fees, of course. Here's the rundown in case you're not familiar with the device:

    Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor
    5.5 inch FHD display (LCD)
    16 MP rear-facing and 8 MP front-facing cameras
    32 GB of storage, expandable to 128 GB via microSD
    3 GB of RAM
    Android 7.1 Nougat

    A quick glance at the specs on Nokia.com shows support for LTE bands 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28, 38 and 40. According to Amazon their unlocked version is compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile at the very least, but there's no band 66 support for Freedom Mobile in Canada.

    It will sell for a pretty reasonable $299.99 USD, with a special Prime version—that is, Amazon apps and lock screen ads—coming later this summer. The Prime version should pique the interest of Android modders. I imagine that the XDA crowd would eagerly apply their mad skillz to liberate the phone of its Amazon cruft. Unfortunately things don't look too promising on that front; Nokia has yet to release the kernel source for the 6, and overseas versions seem to have a locked bootloader.

    I really hope that isn't the case with what Amazon ends up selling on the 10th. Nokia would do very well to follow the path of Nexus and OnePlus, to embrace the Android modding community with their first American Android release. I think it would pave the way for even more interest in their flagship model 8, at least among early adopters and enthusiasts. Root access on a device with Nokia's legendary build quality and camera tech would be a pretty killer combo.

    Come on, Nokia... I WANT TO BELIEVE!

    Links: Amazon, Nokia, XDA

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    by Published on 06-28-2017 07:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    Remember the OnePlus 5 that got delivered to me a week ago? I finally got around to unboxing it over the weekend, and on Monday sent it back.

    Follow the arrow in the image above and you'll hopefully see the long scratch along the bottom of the camera lens assembly. And while the photo doesn't really show it, I'm fairly certain that the lens assembly itself is misaligned, like it was jammed into place by someone who had neither the time nor inclination to do it properly. I went straight for a refund instead of a repair, as I honestly can't remember ever buying a phone with such an obvious manufacturing defect out of the box.

    Apparently I'm not the only affected user; there are at least two separate threads on the OnePlus reddit filled with details of similar defects. To be fair, there are a number of redditors mistaking the NFC antenna itself for a scratch—the antenna is a small groove extending upwards from the top of the lens assembly to the antenna bands along the top of the device. But there are other reports of scratches around the camera, on the SIM card tray cover and other places where they clearly should not be.

    Here's the big one: a number of users are experiencing a strange, jelly-like effect when scrolling through their app drawer, a website, etc. Apparently this is because the screens on some OnePlus 5s have been installed upside down.

    It's a big change from the OnePlus 3; I ordered a pair of those on launch day and both units were flawless. I can even remember watching Carl Pei in interviews boasting about their manufacturing process. Hopefully the company hasn't diverted funds from quality control to Bollywood star endorsements, but if you're thinking of ordering a OnePlus 5 you might want to hold off until they get these issues sorted out.

    Links: reddit (1) (2) (3)

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    by Published on 06-27-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis



    Here's a fan render of the forthcoming Galaxy Note 8 from Samsung. Evan Blass reports in VentureBeat that it will be the Korean conglomerate's first dual-camera smartphone, with a Snapdragon 835 processor (or Exynos equivalent), a generous 6 GB of RAM and a 6.3 inch AMOLED edge-to-edge screen, at an 18.5:9 aspect ratio.

    It will also retail for a thousand Euros. So in that regard, it will share the same problem as other 2017 flagships: they're all just too expensive.

    This troubling trend first came to my attention with the Google Pixel late last year, and has continued with the Galaxy S8/S8 Plus and Andy Rubin's Essential Phone. Even OnePlus is hopping on-board—the deluxe $539 USD OnePlus 5 is only a bargain when you compare it to everything else at the high end of the market.

    It also doesn't help that most people in North America are still getting their hardware financed or subsidized by their carrier. I have a friend with a teenage daughter who's been begging for more data, but when I told him about a decent prepaid offer he couldn't take it, because she's locked into a contract until the end of the year. In other words, she (more likely her dad) is trading years of affordable service for a one-time discount on an overpriced phone.

    This "kill the bezel" trend is at least part of the problem, enough so that it's interfering with what I still believe is the inevitable commoditization of smartphone hardware. Maybe it's time to stop chasing specs and start putting value above all else.

    Sources: BGR, VentureBeat

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    by Published on 06-26-2017 07:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors



    ... Vivo?!!

    It's true, a little-known Chinese Android OEM is expected to succeed where Samsung failed, and beat Apple to market with the world's first optical fingerprint sensor. The teaser above was tweeted from Vivo India last week, and this YouTube upload is currently blowing up over on r/Android. Don't blink or you'll miss it:



    According to Gizmochina the video was originally uploaded to Weibo about two weeks ago, and is a prototype device looking similar to the Vivo X9 Plus. This might not even be the first time Vivo has been first to market with new mobile phone innovations; Gizmochina also claims that the X9 and XPlay 6 Dual were the world's first "Hi-Fi" smartphones, though the late-2016 release date of those two devices don't exactly jibe with earlier audiophile efforts from the likes of LG.

    The Shanghai edition of Mobile World Congress is set to kick off Wednesday, so we won't have too long a wait to see if Vivo makes good on their promise. Funny thing is, Vivo is a subsidiary of BBK Electronics, who also run Oppo and OnePlus. Can you imagine the #HYPE if it was the OnePlus 5 that brought an embedded fingerprint sensor to its worldwide audience of rabid fans?

    Links: @Vivo_India, Gizmochina, MWC Shanghai, reddit, ZDNet

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    by Published on 06-22-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Tips



    Pro tip: If you're thinking of ordering a OnePlus 5 (and haven't already), do it when they go on sale at midnight next Tuesday, June 27th. You'll likely experience the same impossibly-quick delivery that I did with their early drop this week.

    What you're looking at above is a screen grab from an Android app called ParcelTrack, showing my phone's journey from Los Angeles to Cincinnati and then on to its final destination in Toronto. I placed my order Tuesday at 12:43pm Eastern (I'm a keener that way); less than 8 hours later the order was dispatched, and less than 24 hours after that I had the phone in my hands.

    For this to happen OnePlus had to have stock already shipped from Shenzhen to LA, along with other tactical ports near key markets. I would expect the same for the phone's official launch next week.

    The buying experience has certainly come a long way since the dreaded invite system for the OnePlus One, and the added headache of import fees for those of us who had that device delivered to Canada. The only negative part of my OnePlus 5 experience so far is that cases for the phone are not yet available. I wonder how well a case for an iPhone 7 Plus would fit...?

    Links: OnePlus 5, ParcelTrack on Google Play

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    by Published on 06-21-2017 09:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    Though officially announced only yesterday, a select few of the tech press have had a OnePlus 5 in their possession for a few weeks now. One of them is the UK's Safwan Ahmedmia—aka SuperSaf—who is ready to answer the big question on everyone's minds: How good is the camera?

    To find out, he pits the OnePlus 5 against the device it most closely resembles, the iPhone 7 Plus. Here's a specs comparison from each company's website:


    iPhone 7 Plus

    12MP wide angle and telephoto cameras
    Wide-angle: ƒ/1.8 aperture
    Telephoto: ƒ/2.8 aperture
    Optical zoom at 2x; digital zoom up to 10x

    FaceTime HD Camera
    7-megapixel photos
    1080p HD video recording
    Retina Flash
    ƒ/2.2 aperture

    OnePlus 5

    Rear Camera Wide-angle
    16 megapixel Sony IMX 398 sensor
    f/1.7 aperture
    DCAF autofocus, EIS
    Pixel Size: 1.12 µm

    Rear Camera Telephoto
    20 megapixel Sony IMX 350 sensor
    f/2.6 aperture
    PDAF autofocus
    Pixel Size: 1.0 µm

    Front Camera
    16 megapixel Sony IMX 371 sensor
    f/2.0 aperture
    Fixed focus, EIS
    Pixel Size: 1.0 µm

    Watch the video above to see how they did; if you're pressed for time, here are the results:

    Front Cameras

    Outdoors: iPhone wins on colour, OnePlus 5 on sharpness
    Low light: OnePlus 5
    Low light with flash: draw
    Video: OnePlus wins on stabilization

    Rear Cameras

    Outdoor wide angle: OnePlus 5 has slightly better colour, contrast
    Outdoor telephoto: OnePlus 5 wins on higher resolution
    Outdoor macro: OnePlus 5 wins on sharpness, colour
    Outdoor bokeh: OnePlus loses on edge artifacts
    Outdoor low light: iPhone 7 Plus wins on exposure
    Indoor low light: OnePlus 5 wins on exposure
    Indoor with flash: OnePlus 5 wins on exposure
    Video: iPhone wins with stabilization at 4K , OnePlus wins at 1080p

    Keep in mind that the iPhone has the added bonus of Live Photos, while the OnePlus is $330 USD cheaper with the same storage and more RAM.

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    by Published on 06-20-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    The sixth phone from boutique Android smartphone OEM OnePlus launches today at noon Eastern; the global launch will be livestreamed on their YouTube channel (see above). If you want to see the phone for yourself OnePlus is also hosting pop-up events in New York London, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam and Copenhagen. Here are the details for the NYC event:

    June 20th @ 7pm
    Magnum New York
    875 Washington Street
    New York, NY 10014
    Special Guests: Carl Pei, Marques Brownlee

    At this point almost everything about the phone is known except for its price; check out the specs in last week's post here, but note that the listed starting price of $479 USD has yet to be confirmed. There will apparently be two trim levels and three colors—silver (or gunmetal) and soft gold will be available with 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage, while black will be exclusive to the upgraded model with 8 GB RAM and 128 GB of storage.

    When its price is finally revealed I think it will be important to keep the competition in mind. A 5.5 inch Google Pixel XL with 128 GB of storage currently lists for $869 USD, as does a 5.5 inch, 128 GB iPhone 7 Plus. And the iPhone doesn't even run Android!

    Anyone purchasing a OnePlus 5 will at least be able to save some money on accessories using any one of the referral links in this helpful reddit thread.

    Feel free to add your thoughts on the phone and/or launch event below. If the price is right I'll probably end up ordering one.

    Links: OnePlus, reddit

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    by Published on 06-19-2017 08:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    GSMArena posted an interesting feature over the weekend, listing the three most popular phones on their site, by year, for the last decade. The results may be surprising until you consider the global reach of this domain, which at the very least includes English-reading audiences in the UK and Europe. Anyway, here are the results, with bonus links to each device's listing:

    2006
    1st Place - Nokia N73
    2nd Place - Sony Ericsson K800
    3rd Place - Nokia N80

    2007
    1st Place - Nokia N95
    2nd Place - Apple iPhone
    3rd Place - Nokia 6300

    2008
    1st Place - Nokia 5800 XpressMusic
    2nd Place - Nokia E71
    3rd Place - Apple iPhone 3G

    2009
    1st Place - Apple iPhone 3GS
    2nd Place - Nokia N97
    3rd Place - BlackBerry Curve 8520

    2010
    1st Place - Nokia N8
    2nd Place - Apple iPhone 4
    3rd Place - Samsung I9000 Galaxy S

    2011
    1st Place - Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II
    2nd Place - Apple iPhone 4s
    3rd Place - Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830

    2012
    1st Place - Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    2nd Place - Apple iPhone 5
    3rd Place - Samsung Galaxy S Duos S7562

    2013
    1st Place - Samsung I9500 Galaxy S4
    2nd Place - Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    3rd Place - Apple iPhone 5s

    2014
    1st Place - Samsung Galaxy S5
    2nd Place - Apple iPhone 6
    3rd Place - Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime

    2015
    1st Place - Samsung Galaxy S6
    2nd Place - Samsung Galaxy J7
    3rd Place - Samsung Galaxy J5

    2016
    1st Place - Xiaomi Redmi Note 3
    2nd Place - Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    3rd Place - Samsung Galaxy S7

    I can attest to the popularity of the Nokia N8 in 2010; I so desperately wanted it that when WOM World wouldn't lend me one I bought a Nexus One instead almost purely out of spite. Best decision ever—Nokia's complete absence in the listings thereafter shows how their switch to Windows Phone went down with their loyal customers...

    Source: GSMArena

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    by Published on 06-14-2017 08:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors



    A respected Brazilian tech blog has leaked this image of the OnePlus 5, along with a confirmation of specs and, crucially for OnePlus's frugal customers, the price. If you think that no company could have the audacity to produce such a derivative-looking phone, think again—Android Police revealed a partial view last week, and then OnePlus themselves went ahead and did the same.

    This week's Tecnoblog leak is significant because it appears to answer almost all of the remaining questions about the phone. Here's the spec sheet, with a little help from Google Translate and reddit:

    Screen
    5.5 inches
    1920 x 1080 pixels
    DCI-P3 Colors

    Processor
    Snapdragon 835

    RAM
    6 or 8 GB
    LPDDR4X

    Storage
    64 or 128 GB
    Dual-Band UFS 2.1

    Battery
    3,300 mAh
    Dash Charge

    Rear Cameras
    20 MP, f/2.6
    16 MP, f/1.7

    Other
    Bluetooth 5.0
    LTE Cat 12
    Fast Fingerprint Reader (0.2 seconds)

    Price
    $479 USD

    That starting price, if true, is a pretty big deal; an unlocked iPhone 7 with only 32 GB of storage is currently going for almost $300 USD more at Apple.com. It would also be a big win for prospective OnePlus buyers, as blogs were reporting a rumored price tag as high as $650 USD just a few weeks ago.

    And the homage to Apple shouldn't really surprise OnePlus fans, as co-founder Carl Pei is on record stating that the genesis of OnePlus was to bring an iPhone-like hardware experience to the Android platform. He certainly appears to have done that!

    Source: Tecnoblog (Portuguese) via r/Android

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    by Published on 06-13-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors



    Two stories about this year's Pixel phones are topping the charts over on r/Android this morning. Details are obviously scant as the devices aren't due until later this year, but there already seems to be a consensus among those in the know that Google has three code names ready for production.

    Actually, make that two, because one of them has been cancelled.

    Android Police reports that "muskie", intended as the 2017 update to the Pixel XL, has been shelved. A leak to 9to5Google suggests that the device had insurmountable issues with battery life.

    The good news is that an even bigger phone, code named "taimen", will supposedly fill the XL slot left vacant by muskie. Plot twist: while the smaller Pixel phone, "walleye", is expected from HTC, evidence suggests that taimen will be manufactured by LG. Both OEMs have a long and storied history with Android; HTC made the very first Nexus One and LG made the Nexus 5, possibly the best Nexus phone ever.

    So hardcore Android fans needn't worry about the pedigree of their 2017 Pixel. Hopefully Google is worrying about adding dust and/or water resistance, and getting rid of the 2016 model's ungainly chin.

    Sources: 9to5Google, Android Police

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    by Published on 06-07-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis



    The International Data Corporation (IDC) has published some stats for wearable sales in the first quarter of this year, which I caught on Liliputing. The big story? Fitbit has been overtaken in sales and market share by both Apple and Xiaomi. This doesn't necessarily mean that Fitbit has fallen out of favour with its user base, but might indicate that the market for fitness trackers is at the saturation point.

    According to the numbers Apple and Samsung have both shown impressive year over year growth, at 64.1 and 90.8% respectively. Xiaomi's dominant market share certainly caught me by surprise, until I realized that their cheap and cheerful Mi Band 2 is available through Amazon Prime in Canada and the USA. Also of interest is the complete absence of any specific device running Android Wear. A breakdown of market share by wearable OS would have been instructive here.

    To put wearable shipments in perspective, IDC reports that Samsung shipped 79.2 million phones in the same quarter as Apple's 3.6 million smartwatches and Xiaomi's 3.6 million fitness trackers. In other words, the addressable market for these things is still pretty small.

    Links: IDC (1) (2), Liliputing, Mi Band 2 on Amazon (1) (2)

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    by Published on 06-01-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    While I was away The Verge ran a nice little feature on Anker, an accessory company that deserves a lot more attention than it gets. The company is probably best-known for their portable phone and tablet chargers. I still have fond memories of their Astro 3E; it was perfectly-sized for my Nexus 5 and easily gave that phone three times the battery capacity. I've no doubt that they made a killing in sales last summer when Pokémon GO was all the rage.

    What I didn't know about Anker was that it was founded by an ex-Google software engineer—Steven Yang—in only 2011. He started the company to sell replacement laptop batteries but quickly (and wisely) switched to mobile power banks. A key component of Anker's success has been using Amazon for fulfillment—customers can easily return any item they're not happy with. Honestly, though, of all the Anker products I've purchased I've not returned a single one.

    And my Anker gear isn't limited to mobile chargers; I've bought two audio products, both of which are surprisingly good. The Soundcore Sport outdoor speaker is perfect for catching up on podcasts in the bath (don't judge!), and I've just started using the Soundbuds Sport on my morning walks—these Bluetooth earbuds are maybe a bit light in the bass department, but they're super-comfortable, cheap and again, perfect for podcasts.

    For those not comfortable buying accessories online, sight unseen, Anker is working on bringing their brand to brick and mortar stores like Best Buy and Wal-Mart. No complaints here; the more people that know about this excellent accessories company, the better!

    Links: Anker, The Verge

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    by Published on 05-31-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    Andy Rubin finally unveiled his Essential Phone yesterday, with The Verge getting the scoop a little early. You're looking at what I think is the phone's standout feature, a screen that seems to wrap around the front camera and sensor assembly. It's visually striking and also smart—with notifications on the left and indicators on the right the centre of your typical Android status bar is usually empty anyway, so why not put the selfie cam there?

    The phone also features a titanium and ceramic housing, and proprietary connectors for first-party accessories that at present include a 360-degree camera and a docking station. Specs are as follows:

    Display
    5.71 inch Quad-HD
    2560 x 1312 pixels @ 504 ppi
    Corning Gorilla Glass 5

    Processor
    Qualcomm Snapdragon 835

    RAM / Storage
    4 GB / 128 GB

    Rear-Facing Camera
    13-megapixel, f/1.85
    Dual RBG + Mono

    Front-Facing Camera
    8-megapixel, f/2.2
    16:9 aspect ratio

    Battery
    3,040 mAh
    Fast charging via USB

    Colours
    Black Moon
    Ocean Depths
    Pure White
    Stellar Grey

    Now the bad news: There's no headphone jack and no mention of dust or water resistance. The phone will only ship within the U.S. and is priced at $699 USD. Also, for a phone from the father of Android there's been surprisingly few details about the software running it, only a promise from Rubin that there will be nothing on this device that the user doesn't want.

    Do you think this premium smartphone has a chance in an already-saturated Android market, or is it essentially a cash grab?

    Sources: Essential, The Verge

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    by Published on 05-23-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors



    This summer could prove to be a bit more exciting than usual for Android fans; the hype machine for the OnePlus 5 has already begun spooling up, and there's also this: a leak from a French Android blog showing off what appears to be a prototype Nokia 9.

    There's good reason to mention Nokia and OnePlus in the same breath; based on what we know so far, the two potential flagships are more evenly matched than you might initially think. Here's a rundown of reported specs from GSM Arena:

    Nokia 9
    Snapdragon 835 CPU, Adreno 540 GPU
    5.3 inch QHD IPS display @554 ppi
    64/128 GB of storage, 4/6 GB RAM
    Dual SIM + microSD support
    Android 7.1.1

    OnePlus 5
    Snapdragon 835 CPU, Adreno 540 GPU
    5.5 inch QHD AMOLED display @534 ppi
    64/128/256(?) GB of storage, 6/8 GB RAM
    Dual SIM support
    Android 7.1.1

    There are some things about both devices that we don't yet know. For starters, its unclear if the Nokia 9 will even be available in North America, and what bands it would support here if it eventually is. A release date for the Nokia is another unknown, whereas the OnePlus 5 is expected before the end of June.

    The biggest and perhaps most important unknown is price. The OnePlus 5 could retail for as low as $450 and as high as $650 USD, or about $600 to $900 CAD. GSM Arena speculates that the Nokia 9 could sell for as high as €700 EUR—that's almost $800 USD!

    I guess my dream of a Nokia/OnePlus price war isn't going to happen...

    Sources: FrAndroid via Android Central, GSM Arena

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    by Published on 05-19-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. How-To,
    4. Apps



    I spend a lot of time here making the case for smartphones as true pocket computers, not just Internet and app-enabled appliances. I try to demonstrate how you can fully exploit the potential of an Android-powered device with an unlocked bootloader and root, and how you can use these tools to blocks ads, backup, restore or freeze apps, change your theme or even your file system.

    But I'll let you in on a little secret: a couple of weeks ago I bought a Kindle.

    I know, right? Hypocritical much? This single purpose device riddled with DRM is pretty much the polar opposite of a generative computing device. But the Kindle is technically a tablet and tablets are technically mobile, and that's the justification I'm using for what I actually want to talk about, the Kindle DRM—which can be easily, almost trivially, stripped out of your Amazon purchases using a desktop computer.

    To be clear, I did buy a Kindle and I think it's a fine ebook-reading device, but I would never had bought the thing without the means to liberate my legal Amazon ebook purchases from it.

    You'll need two bits of software to do the same, both of which are 100% free. The first is the Calibre ebook management app, which you can install on Linux, Mac and Windows systems. You'll also need a plugin called DeDRM, which you can read about on the author's blog and download from GitHub. Both the app and the plug are open source—that is, free as in freedom as well as free as in beer.

    Get your plugin installed by following the instructions on the author's site and you're nearly done. If you're on a PC or Mac you'll also need the desktop Kindle app (free as in beer only) as this will include Amazon's encryption key. On my Linux box I had the extra step of entering my Kindle's serial number.

    At this point you can open your legal Amazon purchases in Calibre, and export them to any file format of your choosing. Stripping DRM may technically be illegal depending on where you live, but it's certainly better than pirating books—this way Amazon, the publishers and authors all get their money, and you get full property rights to the ebooks that you've paid for. Of course I would prefer if Amazon sold DRM-free books in the first place, but as workarounds go this one's pretty easy.

    So that's why I bought a Kindle... and if none of this is mobile enough for you, what about my first purchase for it?

    Links: Calibre, DeDRM

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