• Devices

    by Published on 06-27-2017 07:00 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

    by Published on 06-26-2017 06:45 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

    by Published on 06-22-2017 07:00 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

    by Published on 06-21-2017 08:00 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.

    by Published on 06-20-2017 07:00 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

    by Published on 06-19-2017 07:30 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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    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

    by Published on 06-14-2017 07:45 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:

    5.5 inches
    1920 x 1080 pixels
    DCI-P3 Colors

    Snapdragon 835

    6 or 8 GB

    64 or 128 GB
    Dual-Band UFS 2.1

    3,300 mAh
    Dash Charge

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

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

    $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

    by Published on 06-13-2017 07:00 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

    by Published on 06-07-2017 07:00 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)

    by Published on 06-01-2017 07:00 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

    by Published on 05-31-2017 07:00 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:

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

    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

    3,040 mAh
    Fast charging via USB

    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

    by Published on 05-23-2017 07:00 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

    by Published on 05-19-2017 07:00 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

    by Published on 05-16-2017 07:15 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices

    Here's the just-announced HTC U11 in amazing silver, sapphire blue, brilliant black, solar red and ice white. Not all colour options will be available in all regions—in Canada, for example, you'll only be able to get one in silver, blue or black. Also, it'll set you back $999 CAD unlocked. Worth it? Read on and decide for yourself...

    Notable specs are as follows:

    5.5 inch Quad HD @534ppi
    "3D" Corning Gorilla Glass 5

    Qualcomm Snapdragon 835

    RAM / Storage
    4 GB / 64 GB + microSD

    Rear / Front Cameras
    12 MP with OIS / 16 MP

    3,000 mAh with fast charging

    OS / Software
    Android 7.1 with HTC Sense
    Google Assistant
    Amazon Alexa

    A new feature in this 2017 flagship is what HTC is calling "Edge Sense". From the press release:

    You affectionately squeeze the hand of the one you love. A baby intuitively squeezes her mother’s finger. A child squeezes his teddy bear to feel safe at night. Nothing feels as close, connected and personal as the sensation of touch or the warmth of an embrace...
    I'll cut to the chase: the U11 lets you launch two apps of your choice by squeezing—or long-squeezing (?)—its shiny frame. If I'm not mistaken the defaults are the camera and flashlight but again, the squeezable apps are fully customizable.

    What the U11 doesn't have is a headphone jack (boo), but at least a pair of noise-cancelling USB-C earbuds are included with it.

    The unlocked U11 seems to be in stock right now on HTC's Canadian site; our American friends can pre-order it on HTC.com, or wait for the Sprint version.

    Sources: Android Police, Mobile Syrup, XDA

    by Published on 05-15-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors

    Ah, you beat me to it! Adding in some additional details to draw folks here from the front page...

    You can't deny it, nine devices in one leaked photo is both impressive and efficient. Details are scant, but here's my transcription of what's in the slide, from top and bottom, and left to right:

    Moto Z Play – 5.5 inch FHD, supports Moto Mods
    Moto Z Force – shatterproof display, Moto Mods, Gigabit LTE
    Moto X – 5.2 inch FHD, 3D Glass (?) SmartCam (?)
    Moto gS – 5.2 inch FHD, full metal body
    Moto gS+ – 5.5 inch FHD, dual cameras
    Moto E – 5 inch HD (720p) display, 2.5D / FPS (?)
    Moto E Plus – 5.5 inch HD, 5,000 mAh battery
    Moto C – 5 inch FW (854 x 480 pixel) display
    Moto C Plus – 5 inch HD, 4,000 mAh battery

    There's some additional information out there about the Moto X; according to Blass it will actually be called the Moto X4, and Android Police has some additional specs:

    Snapdragon 660 processor
    64 GB storage / 4 GB RAM
    3xCA (3x carrier aggregation)
    IP68 dust and water resistance
    Turbo charging

    AP suspects that the "3D glass" is just a display with curved edges à la Samsung, but doesn't have any ideas about what the "SmartCam" could be.

    What do we think of the 2017 Motos?

    Sources: @evleaks on Twitter (1) (2), Android Police, Liliputing

    by Published on 05-12-2017 07:15 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis

    The Hacker News did up this fancy new graphic for what is ultimately an old problem. That problem? OnePlus doesn't use a secure channel to deliver OTA updates. Instead of HTTPS or TLS your stock OnePlus device will check for and receive software updates over plain old HTTP.

    The specific flaws are as follows:

    Exactly what I wrote above, that OnePlus OTAs are not delivered in a secure manner. This flaw makes the next three attacks possible.

    An additional fly in the ointment: Because all OTA updates from OnePlus are signed with the same key, it's possible to disguise a downgrade as an upgrade, making the target less secure.

    Because of that shared key it's also possible to disguise a Hydrogen OS OTA as an Oxygen one, and vice versa.

    Again with the shared key... it's also possible to remotely inject a OTA meant for a OnePlus X onto a OnePlus One, and vice versa.

    Keep in mind that for any of this to work the attacker would have to be on the same network as you, and you yourself would have to approve the incoming update on your device. But the fact remains that these vulnerabilities wouldn't exist at all if OnePlus used HTTP or TLS to check for and deliver updates.

    I'll add to this that the company should also be quicker to update the factory images on their site. I understand and can appreciate their practice of rolling out OTAs by region, but I see too many users on reddit and their forums installing updates from dodgy sources, like some random person's MEGA account.

    Sources: Aleph Security via The Hacker News

    by Published on 05-11-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis

    I'm always fascinated by the mobile phone culture of other countries, be it the die-hard keitai users of Japan or the magic of M-Pesa mobile payments across great swaths of Africa. A couple of summers ago I linked to the XDA Atlas, providing some fantastic insight into that site's worldwide user base. This past week on r/Android a redditor from India posted about the peculiarities of using a smartphone in that country. I thought it would be interesting to share a few highlights, so here they are...

    First off, it would seem that most Indian smartphone users are on prepaid plans. That in itself isn't so unusual, until you consider that dual-SIM support is a must-have feature for them. The redditor explains why:

    Telenor's call rates are dirt cheap, but its data speed is bad. On the other hand, Airtel has good data speeds, but its call rate is way more than Telenor's. So many people use Telenor for calling and Airtel for data, getting the best of both without shelling out double the money.
    Dual-SIM phones will never be popular here in the west because carriers will never sell them—more specifically, they'll never undercut themselves by giving their customers the option of a second provider on the same device. That's definitely an advantage of a prepaid market, that users can easily obtain unlocked phones with dual-SIM support.

    The bad news with prepaid—for India, at least—is that SMS is much more expensive. According to the redditor users have largely abandoned it in favour of data-driven alternatives like WhatsApp and Nimbuzz. Remember Nimbuzz? That former XMPP aggregator is now its own proprietary service, the most popular one on the subcontinent, apparently.

    To find out which smartphones are popular in India and more, check out the reddit thread immediately below. Dual-SIMs ftw!

    Source: r/Android

    by Published on 05-10-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices

    This is Cito, the smartwatch prototype that moves on five axes—it rotates, rises up and down, lifts and falls on a hinge, moves left and right and even orbits around your wrist.

    Why on earth would you want such a thing? Well, imagine that you're wearing a long sleeve shirt, and as you lift your wrist your watch face pokes out just enough for you to see the time, then automatically retracts as you lower your arm. There are a few other use-cases as well. For fear of scratching their bezels I personally wear my smartwatches with loose-fitting bands, frequently twisting the watch face to the top or bottom of my wrist depending on what I'm doing. Cito promises to do that for me.

    You can see the prototype in action for yourself in this five-minute video:

    Cito was developed by researchers at Dartmouth College in the U.S. and the University of Waterloo in Canada, and will be shown off later today at the Association for Computing Machinery Conference on Human-Computer Interaction in Denver, Colorado.

    The idea is, if you'll pardon the pun, an interesting new twist on the traditional wristwatch; I think the team behind it should be commended for at least attempting to solve some practical issues with that form factor.

    Sources: EurekAlert! via SlashGear

    by Published on 05-08-2017 07:31 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors

    The Verge is confident that the OnePlus 3 and 3T's successor will go on sale this summer. It's widely expected to be called the OnePlus 5, since the number 4 has unlucky connotations in Chinese culture. I've read elsewhere that the phone will be available before the end of Q2, which would make sense—the OnePlus 3 made its début on June 14th of last year.

    With just over a month to go, here's what we know about the device so far...

    This could very well be an actual OnePlus 5—not a final production unit but rather a testing mule, similar to what's commonly used in the car industry. It was caught (or deliberately planted) in Carl Pei's Instagram feed, and shared via Twitter over the weekend. Note the dual cameras on the device, which will probably be aligned as above...

    ... Rather than stacked on top of each other as in this render, found on an Oppomart.com listing and shared by GSM Arena. The specs on that listing are as follows:

    - 5.5 inch quad HD screen, 2560 x 1440 pixels display resolution
    - 2.45 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 quad-core processor
    - 6 GB LPDDR4 RAM, 64/128 GB USF 2.1 storage
    - 12 MP rear dual-camera, 8 MP front camera
    - Front fingerprint scanner supported
    - Oxygen OS base on Android N, Dash Charge 2.0
    - Estimated availability: ships from beginning of June, 2017

    But wait, there's more!

    According to TechnoBuffalo this is an "about" screen from the Hydrogen OS-powered Chinese variant of the phone, showing off a whopping 8 GB of RAM!

    If you're a OnePlus fan or in the market for a new and unlocked Android device, you might want to hold off on any phone purchases until next month...

    Sources: GSM Arena, TechnoBuffalo, The Verge, Twitter

    by Published on 05-03-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors

    Can you guess what site these renders were leaked to?

    Anyway, here's Fitbit's first proper smartwatch, the company's Apple Watch killer and first beneficiary of all that IP gained in the acquisition of Pebble late last year. Kinda underwhelming, ain't it?

    And it's not just you... Yahoo! Finance reports that even people at Fitbit aren't happy:

    “It was very retro-looking with the lines and stuff — definitely not sexy,” another source previously told Yahoo Finance [...] “Several employees who saw the design complained about it.”
    Nonetheless, what's known internally as Project Higgs is coming to market this fall, and for an expected price of $300 USD will offer a colour display, on-board GPS, heart rate monitoring, contactless payments and music integration with Pandora, all while providing four days of battery life between charges.

    What's not known is whether or not Higgs will be fully waterproof; apparently the design team has been having a lot of trouble with that. At least they managed to fix an ongoing issue with GPS, which was apparently not working reliably on a final prototype of the watch.

    Fitbit will also be bringing these wireless earbuds—codenamed Parkside—to market. Streaming music is to be a headline feature on Fitbit's smartwatch, but the company apparently had to make a deal with Pandora after negotiations with Spotify fell through.

    To sum up, Fitbit's first proper smartwatch has all the makings of a disaster. It's ugly, uncompetitive and full of compromises. Pebble users likely won't go anywhere near the thing; we'll have to wait and see what Fitbit fans make of it.

    Source: Yahoo! Finance

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