• Rumors

    by Published on 09-27-2016 07:45 AM
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    Here's yet another render of the Google Pixel, found by Evan Blass and posted to VentureBeat yesterday. With exactly one week to go before its official unveiling I thought it might be instructive to compare what we know about it (and the larger Pixel XL) against a list of traits one would expect in a Nexus phone of days gone by.

    Note that I won't have definitive answers for everything you'll read in this post; chalk that up to rumours I've heard on podcasts and my unfamiliarity with Verizon. ...
    by Published on 09-19-2016 07:30 AM
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    Over the weekend XDA posted an intriguing rumour about Google's new Pixel phones, the ones supposedly making their début on October 4th.

    Anyone who's ever used a custom recovery to backup their Android device or flash a new ROM onto it will be familiar with the more critical partitions in an Android installation—/boot, /system, /recovery, etc. Even if you've never modded your Android phone or tablet you've probably at least seen the stock recovery; on a Nexus device it's the screen showing the robot with the spinning gears in its belly, most often seen during the flashing of an OTA update or a factory reset.

    So the rumour, put forth by Dees_Troy, the lead developer of TWRP, is that the Pixel phones will be doubling up on key partitions. Here's the direct quote:

    The new Pixel phones will have 2 system partitions, 2 boot partitions, 2 vendor partitions, 2 modem partitions, etc. One set of partitions will be active—the set of partitions that are currently used to boot the device. When an update is published, the update will be applied to the second set in the background. Once the update has been applied, a prompt will appear asking to reboot. The reboot will not include booting to recovery. Instead, the device will switch which set of partitions are used to the second set and you will quickly, perhaps nearly instantly, boot an updated device.
    Pretty cool, right? You'll still be able to use your Pixel phone while a software update is being applied in the background. And for modders the news is even better: if those second set of partitions could be hijacked the savvy user would suddenly have a proper dual-booting device. That would also be pretty cool! ...
    by Published on 09-14-2016 07:30 AM
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    What we're looking at here is a video demo of HydrogenOS, the firmware installed on OnePlus 3s sold in China. Why are we looking at it? It seems that some of its features—or at least the back-end code—are bound for OxygenOS, the ROM that powers Western variants of the device.

    The official story, as told to XDA, is that the two ROMs are being merged to make software updates faster. The progress of this undertaking can be seen in the community builds of OxygenOS that OnePlus is posting to their English-language forums. I've not flashed any of the community builds myself only because the official OxygenOS has been so great—this is honestly the first time I've run stock firmware on an Android device (with root, of course) since I bought my first Nexus in 2010.

    But Android Central has learned that there's a bit more to it than that. Apparently some key members of the OxygenOS team have left the company:

    Long hours and insufficient resources in the run-up to OnePlus 3's launch led to a number of OxygenOS team members striking a deal to terminate their contracts just after the phone's release, according to people who didn't want to be named because they signed non-disclosure agreements.

    According to these people, despite a 3:1 ratio of OxygenOS users to its Chinese market counterpart, OnePlus was disproportionately pouring resources into HydrogenOS, causing strain between the two teams and leading the subsequent talent purge.
    This puts OnePlus in a tough spot, as the fast and efficient OxygenOS has been a major selling point for the OP3 thus far. The good news is that a new version of the official ROM, as discussed on reddit, seems to be carrying on that tradition. More on this as it develops. ...
    by Published on 09-13-2016 07:00 AM
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    Just finished reading a long-winded editorial over at Android Police, wherein author David Ruddock posits that Google's forthcoming Pixel phones will, more than any Nexus phone before them, be positioned as direct competitors to Apple's iPhone. Mmkay...

    As the world's largest smartphone OEM, you could argue that Samsung is already a pretty good iPhone competitor. You could also argue, I suppose, that its S apps and such detract from a "pure" Android experience. In that case the OnePlus 3 makes for a worthy iPhone adversary—but even this unabashed OnePlus fanboy knows that his smartphone camera can't compare to what's on offer from Apple.

    It seems to me that the Android platform has flourished with diversity and choice, and that having a direct iPhone competitor isn't really the point. That said, the AP editorial does point out that Google's Nexus phones have already begun shifting from a platform for "stock Android" (which isn't even really a thing anymore) to a more premium offering. Do first-party accessories and a device protection plan make an Android phone more "iPhone-like"? I'm not so sure. Read on and see what you think. ...
    by Published on 09-07-2016 07:00 AM
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    Well, that was easy.

    YouTuber DetroitBORG has uploaded a particularly "crispy" video demo of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, set to launch later today—a redditor browsing the Hong Kong Apple site has confirmed the names of the two phones. The dummy units you see in the video here are reference designs for case-makers; Apple doesn't produce dummy units for carrier stores, at least not in the Americas.

    Unfortunately I've a family obligation during the launch event today, but iPhone fans needn't worry; I'll have all the official details for you in the news round-up later this afternoon. In the meantime, The Verge has compiled a list of features to expect—with sources, no less!


    If you're available at around 10am PT / 1pm ET, you can watch a stream of the event right here. Oh, and there's one more thing. ...
    by Published on 09-02-2016 07:30 AM
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    Nexus is dead; long live Pixel? That's what a pair of new exclusives from Android Police would seem to suggest.

    Overnight they reported that the two new Google-branded HTC phones, the 5-inch Sailfish and 5.5-inch Marlin, would launch as the Pixel and Pixel XL, respectively. An hour later they published a launch date: Tuesday, October 4th. The phones will supposedly be announced alongside a Daydream VR viewer and 4K Chromecast.

    So what would Pixel branding mean for Android modders? Nothing good, I fear. Using the Android-powered Pixel C tablet as an example there is still, more than 9 months after its release, no official TWRP recovery available, and rooting it—on Marshmallow, at least—requires flashing a custom kernel. To be fair, though, it's widely thought that the C was originally intended to run Chrome OS, and as such might well have some wonky code that would impede an otherwise straightforward rooting procedure.

    Does Pixel branding make you any more or less interested in a white-label HTC phone? ...
    by Published on 09-01-2016 07:30 AM
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    If Android Central is correct, the forthcoming duo of HTC-made phones coming this fall will not bear the Nexus logo. Google almost managed to pull this off in 2014 with Android Silver—you'll recall that the gargantuan Nexus 6 was originally intended to be Motorola's contribution to the Android Silver program. But this time its for reals, with some further evidence in that Android Police render showing only Google branding on the back of the device.

    Speaking of Android Police, I heard a bit of juicy gossip on one of their recent podcasts: Apparently Google was in talks with Huawei for a multi-year contract to produce devices for them, but Huawei walked away when they heard that said devices could only have Google branding.

    But I digress. ...
    by Published on 08-31-2016 07:00 AM
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    Anyone remember that mystery mini-flagship I wrote about back at the beginning of August? Well, this is it.

    Yesterday XDA published these photos of the forthcoming Moto M (XT1662) from the Chinese certification site TENAA. This 4.6-inch powerhouse will rock a Snapdragon 820 processor, Full HD display and at least 3GB of RAM. There might also be a 5.5-inch version with a 3,000mAh battery.

    So is this why Motorola has summoned Howard to downtown Toronto later today? I'm guessing no.

    Remember, both Howard and I live in the mobile backwater of Canada, where the Moto Z hasn't even launched yet. That's my bet for what today's event is going to be about. And while I'm grateful to be invited along, there will be much smiling and nodding from yours truly while he pretends that the American tech press hasn't already covered this thing to death. ...
    by Published on 08-30-2016 07:00 AM
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    Look, I get it. We're all excited about the new iPhones. And while I don't doubt that Apple put a lot of thought into the design of their invite, I will humbly suggest the possibility that said invite might be designed to suggest a serious photography tool, and nothing more.

    If you agree then there's no need to click on the link below; they don't deserve the traffic.

    Source: Cult of Mac ...
    by Published on 08-08-2016 07:30 AM
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    Over the weekend MacRumors managed to find a 4K video featuring three variants of the forthcoming iPhone 7. The video is from a YouTube account associated with a Japanese iPhone reservation store.

    I've no idea how credible the source is, but the basic design matches what I've seen in other leaks, with cleaned-up antenna lines, larger camera humps and, of course, the absence of a headphone jack. The one red herring is the version with the dual-lens camera—at one point Apple was thought to be working on both a "Pro" and "Plus" version of the phone, but the current consensus seems to be that the Pro version has been abandoned, with the Plus getting the Pro's dual-lens camera instead.

    Confused yet? Me too. ...
    by Published on 08-05-2016 07:00 AM
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    It would be the perfect candidate for a OnePlus 3 Mini, but Carl Pei insists that it's not. So what is this mystery 4.6 inch high-powered phone, then?

    Here are the details from its GFXBench listing:

    OS
    Android 6.0.1 (CyanogenMod)

    Display
    1920 x 1080, 4.6"
    Touch screen with at least 5 finger gesture support

    CPU
    Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
    2x Kryo @ 2.1 GHz + 2x Kryo @ 1.6 GHz - ARMv8

    GPU
    Qualcomm Adreno™ 530

    Memory
    5.6 GB

    Storage
    53 GB

    Back Camera
    Picture: 15 MP (4640 x 3480)
    Video: UHD (4K) (3840 x 2160)
    auto focus / face detection / flash / HDR photo

    Front Camera
    Picture: 7 MP (3264 x 2448)
    Video: 3264 x 1836

    Features
    accelerometer / barometer / bluetooth / compass / gps / gyroscope / light sensor / nfc / pedometer / proximity sensor / sim cards (1) / wifi

    For comparison's sake, 4.6 inches is smaller than both the original Moto X and the current iPhone 6s (each with 4.7 inch displays). Whatever this thing turns out to be, it will definitely be going against the grain of current phablet-sized phones. ...
    by Published on 08-04-2016 07:00 AM
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    Android Police has a trio of new Nexus leaks, which I will now share in order of most to least interesting.

    First up is a new launcher, which will apparently make its début on the pair of HTC-made devices expected this fall. As you can see in this gif, the app drawer button has been replaced by an indicator (with swipe-up gesture), and there's now a button/tab combo in place of the persistent Google search bar. These two elements alone give your home screen significantly more real estate to play with, which I like. A lot.

    But wait, there's more! ...
    by Published on 07-05-2016 03:30 PM
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    If there's one source I believe for Nexus leaks, it's Android Police. After posting specs for both upcoming devices—the smaller Sailfish and the larger Marlin—they've just posted a render that they say can be applied to the both of them.

    Here's author David Ruddock with a quick tour:

    "On the front we see the single earpiece speaker, front-facing camera, a small sensor cluster, and that's about it. On the back, you've got some antenna bands on the bottom (horizontal) and top (vertical, off-center), with that big glossy pane likely serving as a window for NFC and other radios. The three holes next to the camera are a bit of a mystery at this point, but our guess is that two of them relate to the camera (auto-focus and perhaps a secondary sensor of some kind) and one is likely a secondary microphone."

    Also interesting is that both made-by-HTC devices will sport an all-aluminum body this year. And what's really interesting is a rumored (but not confirmed) "electric blue" version—perhaps to match the iPhone 7?

    AP gives this render a "confidence level" of 8/10. Assuming they're right, what do you make of the new Nexus(es)? ...
    by Published on 06-27-2016 06:25 AM
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    Entirely believable and somewhat questionable.

    I'll start with the almost sure thing first. On Saturday Evan Blass tweeted this graphic, giving more weight to the rumours that Samsung will be skipping the Galaxy Note 6 and going straight to 7 this year, to better compete against the forthcoming iPhone 7 and fall in line with the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge.

    Some specs were leaked as well:

    • 5.7 inch, 2560 x 1440 pixel AMOLED display
    • IP68 waterproof design
    • Iris scanner
    • 12MP rear and 5MP front cameras
    • 64GB of storage
    • microSD card slot
    • black, silver, and blue color options

    The latest iteration of the original phablet is expected to be revealed on August 2nd. I think Blass may have leaked that too. ...
    by Published on 06-24-2016 06:00 AM
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    So you're probably getting tired of me writing about the OnePlus 3. Well, you know what? I'm getting tired of me writing about the OnePlus 3. So here's something a little different: a very early peek at one of the new Nexus phones coming later this year from HTC.

    It's been confirmed from multiple sources that HTC are on tap to be the next Nexus OEM, producing two different models for Google: the T50 "Sailfish" and T55 "Marlin". A trusted source has apparently provided Android Police with the specs for what would seem to be the smaller of the two devices.

    AP gives this leak a confidence level of 8/10. They have an excellent track record when it comes to Nexus leaks, so I likewise feel confident in reposting them for you here. ...
    by Published on 06-23-2016 08:29 AM
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    Just when I was wondering if Blackberry was going to release a Priv follow up, I got news of 3 new devices that they have in the pipeline; the Argon, Neon and Mercury. All run Android. Sorry no pics of these devices (that's a Priv in the picture).

    Blackberry Neon:
    • touch only
    • $0 (400 MSRP)
    • Qualcomm 8952 (a 617 like the Moto G4 Plus)
    • 3GB RAM
    • 5.2" 1080P display
    • 16GB storage
    • 13MP rear camera
    • 8MP front camera
    • 2610mAh battery
    • Quick charge 2
    • aluminum frame
    • soft touch rear casing
    • Cat 6LTE
    • 130g
    • aimed at consumers and enterprise
    • August 2016 launch


    Blackberry Argon:
    • touch only
    • $200 (600-700MSRP)
    • Qualcomm 8996 (a Snapdragon 820 "lite")
    • 4GB RAM
    • 5.5" 1440P
    • 32GB storage
    • 21MP rear camera
    • fingerprint reader (finally)
    • 8MP front camera
    • 3000mAh battery
    • Quick Charge 3
    • USB type-C
    • aimed at consumers and enterprise
    • October 2016 launch


    Blackberry Mercury:
    • design like the Blackberry Classic:
    • QWERTY keyboard
    • Qualcomm 8953 (Snapdragon 625)
    • 4.5" screen with 3:2 display ratio
    • 3GB RAM
    • 32GB storage
    • 18MP rear camera
    • 8MP front camera
    • 3400mAh battery
    • Quick Charge 3.0
    • "High precision & Craftsmanship"
    • aluminum housing
    • aimed at enterprise
    • February 2017 launch


    To me, 4 things stand out; first, the price point of the Neon and Argon seem very reasonable. While the Priv is a nice device it's just priced way too high and probably falls off a lot of people's shopping lists because of that. Traditionally you paid quite a premium to get a Blackberry logo but that looks like that's changing.

    Secondly, while the Neon and Argon are still a few months off, their specs will probably be more in-line with the rest of the market. Typically Blackberry specs lagged the market by about 6 months but these ones look to be much more competitive. I mean August isn't far off and they probably could have gotten away with just 2GB of RAM. Then again, while I didn't hear word of it I hope it shows up a fingerprint reader.

    While the Mercury is still way, way off it's good to know that the QWERTY only Blackberry isn't going away. A power sipping Snapdragon 625 coupled with a smaller 4.5" display and a large 3400mAh battery should make for some epic battery life too.

    Lastly, all 3 devices run Android. I guess there just isn't enough demand for a Blackberry OS device. ...
    by Published on 05-25-2016 06:32 AM
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    The other day while rummaging through a drawer I came across a pair of bright red USB cables and thought to myself: "What a shame about OnePlus."

    Despite a controversial marketing campaign and the invite system that everyone loved to hate, their first smartphone was actually pretty good; if nothing else the OnePlus One at least showed the world that in 2014 an extra 32GB of onboard storage didn't have to cost an arm and a leg.

    Then came the OnePlus 2, which pretty much ruined the brand for Western markets—this "2016 flagship killer" (first sold in 2015) shipped with a USB-C cable that wasn't up to basic spec. It was quickly followed by the OnePlus X, a device that no one asked for and few customers seemed to want.

    But Carl Pei and company haven't thrown in the towel just yet. Their OnePlus 3 will be officially unveiled on June 14th. And this one will at least have NFC. ...
    by Published on 05-16-2016 06:20 AM
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    As an addendum to last week's post, here are two new press renders of the 4th generation Moto G—sorry, Moto Gs. There are two of them.

    First up is the XT1622. According to Android Central it's launching in India tomorrow, but has already received FCC certification for the USA. "But wait," you say, "I thought the new Moto G had a physical home button/fingerprint reader..." Nope, apparently that's a feature of its bigger brother, the XT1642—Otherwise known as the G4 Plus. ...
    by Published on 05-09-2016 06:25 AM
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    If these renders are to be believed, we now know what 2016's Moto X, Moto G and Moto Droid look like. This first image is supposedly the Moto X. The images were published by a Google+ account called hellomotoHK; they were republished by Android Police, so presumably there's some legitimacy to them.

    New to the X is a physical home button with what will almost surely be a fingerprint reader. There's also a curious 16-pin assembly on the back. Finally, there's a cutout in the bottom lens assembly that might possibly house a dual LED flash, but at the very least will attempt to make users feel better about the flat tire on their Moto 360 smartwatch. Yeah, I went there. ...
    by Published on 03-21-2016 06:40 AM
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    With LG and Samsung's flagships now officially official, let's take a look at what HTC has planned for Q2 2016.

    Here are some leaked press images for the HTC 10. Going clockwise from the top left we've got Carbon Gray, Glacier Silver (White), Glacier Silver (Black) and Topaz Gold. The date shown on all four screens is Tuesday, April 19th—widely believed to be when the phone will be announced. I guess HTC finally figured out that calling three different phones the HTC One was a tad confusing, so this forthcoming device will simply be called the HTC 10. ...
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