• Devices

    by Published on 02-13-2019 04:35 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices

    Almost a year ago I reblogged a feature from Computerworld that graded smartphone OEMs on how fast they updated their top tier hardware to the latest version of Android. Back then it was 8.0 Oreo; let's see how the usual suspects fared with late 2018's Android 9.0 Pie:

    Google: A (same as last year)
    Current flagship upgraded in 0 days (60/60 points)
    Previous flagship upgraded in 0 days (30/30 points)
    Excellent communication (10/10 points)

    OnePlus: C (up from a 'D' last year)
    Current flagship upgraded in 47 days (53/60 points)
    Previous flagship upgraded in 142 days (21/30 points)
    Poor communication (0/10 points)

    Samsung: F (same as last year)
    Current flagship upgraded in 177 days (37/60 points)
    Still waiting for upgrade to previous flagship (0/30 points)
    Poor communication (0/10 points)

    Motorola: F (same as last year)
    Still waiting for upgrade to current flagship (0/60 points)
    Still waiting for upgrade to previous flagship (0/30 points)
    Poor communication (3/10 points)

    LG: F (same as last year)
    Still waiting for upgrade to current flagship (0/60 points)
    Still waiting for upgrade to previous flagship (0/30 points)
    Poor communication (0/10 points)

    Keep in mind that these scores do not reflect critical security updates, but entire OS upgrades to the latest and greatest version of Android. If that's important to you, stick with a Pixel—or to a lesser extent, OnePlus.

    Source: Computerworld

    by Published on 02-07-2019 02:40 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices

    Statista has published a pair of infographics ranking late model smartphones based on how much radiation they emit. The means for quantifying this is what's called the specific absorption rate, or SAR, measured in watts per kilogram.

    The data was gathered from the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection; according to them anything below 0.6 watts per kilogram can be considered safe.

    If you're viewing this on your phone here's the list in text form, in descending order from the highest SAR:

    Xiaomi Mi A1 - 1.75 watts per kilogram
    OnePlus 5T - 1.68
    Xiaomi Mi Max 3 - 1.58
    OnePlus 6T - 1.55
    HTC U12 life - 1.48
    Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 - 1.45
    Google Pixel 3 XL - 1.39
    OnePlus 5 - 1.39
    iPhone 7 - 1.38
    Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact - 1.36
    HTC Desire 12 / 12+ - 1.34
    Google Pixel 3 - 1.33
    OnePlus 6 - 1.33
    iPhone 8 - 1.32
    Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 - 1.29
    ZTE Axon 7 mini - 1.29

    Chinese brands are among the worst emitters here but surprisingly, the latest Pixels—plus a pair of late-model iPhones—also make the list.

    And here are the phones with the lowest SAR, rearranged to match the order of the previous list:

    ZTE Blade V9 - 0.32 watts per kilogram
    Samsung Galaxy J4+ - 0.32
    Samsung Galaxy S8 - 0.32
    Samsung Galaxy J6+ - 0.31
    ZTE Blade A610 - 0.31
    Motorola Moto G5 Plus - 0.30
    Motorola Moto Z - 0.30
    Samsung Galaxy S9+ - 0.29
    HTC U11 life - 0.28
    LG Q6 / Q6+ - 0.28
    Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge - 0.26
    Samsung Galaxy S8+ - 0.26
    LG G7 - 0.24
    Samsung Galaxy A8 - 0.24
    Samsung Galaxy Note 8 - 0.17
    ZTE Axon Elite - 0.17

    It makes sense to see legacy OEMs like LG, Moto and Samsung here, as all of them were making mobiles back when they were primarily used for making phone calls.

    Keep in mind too, that exposure to radiation during calls can be minimized with a decent headset.

    Source: Statista (1) (2)

    by Published on 01-31-2019 02:15 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors

    Steve Hemmerstoffer, aka @OnLeaks, is confident that this will be the triple camera setup on the 2019 iPhone when it's released later this year. Additional renders—and rumours—have been published in a collab with an Indian tech site called CompareRaja:

    Steve had reported that iPhone 2019 is still in EVT stage (Engineering Validation Test) and we can either have both ‘A’ & ‘B’ prototypes launched and marketed as two different models (say iPhone XIS and XIS max) or one of the leaked prototypes will be axed and the other will be retained.

    Today, one of our other reliable sources from the industry has confirmed that the prototype ‘A‘ will surely see the light of day!
    Wondering what the 'B' prototype looks like? As it turns out, very much like the current Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro:

    Additional (and unverified) media for this version can be seen on another Indian site called Digit. Since Steve doesn't publish this stuff to his own domain I can only surmise that there's some ad revenue sharing going on here, so take all this with a grain of salt.

    Sources: CompareRaja, Digit via Tom's Hardware

    by Published on 01-30-2019 03:30 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices

    Here's a PSA for anyone interested in what I think is the best-value smartwatch since the Pebble. Amazon (the U.S. version) is offering all four versions of the Amazfit Bip at a discount of at least 20% off of the $99.99 USD retail price. The prices below follow the colours above—from left to right:

    White Cloud -$67.49
    Cinnabar Red - $67.49
    Kokoda Green -$67.49
    Onyx Black -$79.97

    These prices are pretty close to what I paid for my collection of Bips on GearBest and GeekBuying last year; as the watch has gotten more popular those prices have have started to creep up.

    It's easy to see why the Bip is popular: for less than the $399 USD starting price of the latest Apple Watch you could buy all four Bips plus an extra strap for each, and enjoy a combined battery life of three months! I took one of mine with me on a two and a half week trip to Taiwan and Vancouver, and it came home on the same charge.

    And unlike most other smartwatches currently on the market, you won't be walking around with a dead screen on your wrist, because like any decent watch the Bip shows the time, all the time.

    You can revisit when the Bip won me over right here, and order yours through either of the links below.

    Source: Amazon.com via Android Central

    by Published on 01-29-2019 04:42 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices

    I guess some kind of embargo was lifted this week, because a phone I swooned over in Taiwan earlier this month is just now making the rounds through my YouTube feeds. I'm talking of course about the Mi Mix 3. Notable specs are as follows:

    6.39 inch 1080 x 2340 pixel Super AMOLED display @ 403 ppi
    Dual 12 megapixel rear cameras (telephoto and wide angle)
    24 megapixel selfie cam with 2 megapixel depth sensor
    Qualcomm 845 Processor
    6, 8 or 10 GB RAM / 128 or 256 GB storage
    MIUI 10 powered by Android 9.0 Pie

    The phone's best feature by far is its mechanical sliding mechanism. Here's a YouTube teardown that reveals how it works:

    Spoiler alert: magnets for the win!

    As a former Nokian with fond memories of his vertically-sliding N86 (and a current Android user who is aware of the BlackBerry Priv) I am all over this as an alternative to the stupid display notch. I would have seriously considered bringing one of these bad boys home with me had I not heard that the next OnePlus phone will be a slider as well.

    More on the Mi Mix 3 at the links immediately below.

    Links: GSMArena, Mi Global

    by Published on 01-26-2019 02:15 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. News,
    4. From The Forums,
    5. Carriers

    From the HMD Global press release:

    NEW YORK, NY January 25, 2019 – HMD Global, the home of Nokia phones, today announced collaborations with three leading wireless providers in North America – Cricket Wireless and Verizon in the United States and Rogers Communications, Inc. in Canada. This is the next step in the company’s journey to offer great quality experiences to consumers across accessible price points and to work with best-in-class players in the industry for supreme purchase flexibility.

    HMD Global is proud to continue to deliver on its reliability and durability promise through purposeful, distinct design with best-in-class materials and craftsmanship across the portfolio. Furthering this and providing greater options for consumers, it is also expanding its award-winning selection of Nokia smartphones on Android™ with the launch of two wireless provider-specific devices coming to the United States this month and another coming to Rogers subsidiary brand, chatr, in Canada very soon.

    Nokia 3.1 Plus is the inaugural Nokia phone on Cricket’s 4G LTE network that covers more than 99% of Americans, based on overall coverage in the U.S.1 and Nokia 2 V is the first Nokia phone on Verizon. Nokia 3.1 Plus gives fans two-day battery life , an ergonomically placed fingerprint sensor and NFC-enable Google Pay at an exceptional value. Nokia 2 V provides a beautiful, Nordic design with metallic accents and delivers long-lasting entertainment with a 5.5-inch HD display, dual front-facing stereo speakers and a two-day battery life2. Each new device offers the durable and reliable craftsmanship that consumers expect from a Nokia phone.
    Nokia 3.1 Plus | Nokia 2 V


    by Published on 01-25-2019 03:55 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors

    Samsung's 10th anniversary Galaxy phones are due to make their début in less than a month, and German site AllAboutSamsung seems to have managed a bit of a scoop: publishing detailed photos of two of the S10 lineup's three phones.

    As a reminder, here's what we're expecting in the S10 product portfolio:

    Galaxy S10 E (5.8 inch display)
    Galaxy S10 (6.1 inch display)
    Galaxy S10+ (6.4 inch display)

    There are also rumours of a fourth model with a 5G modem of some sort, but the photos immediately below show prototypes for the S10 and S10+ only.

    All three S10 models will ship with "hole punch" displays, with the plus-sized phone getting a larger cut-out to accommodate dual selfie cams.

    On the back you'll notice tri-camera setups and the absence of any fingerprint readers—that's because the S10 and S10+ will have them under their displays. The cheaper S10E will house a hardware sensor on the side of its chassis.

    Now here's some welcome news: bucking an industry-wide trend, both the S10 and S10+ will include headphone jacks. Kudos for that!

    Remember to check back here on February 20th to see how much of this the Germans got right...

    Source: AllAboutSamsung via Tom's Guide

    by Published on 01-21-2019 01:31 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview

    It wasn’t that long ago that Google would partner with an Android OEM to release a high end phone priced hundreds cheaper than similarly spec’d phones. However, since then Google has shifted strategies and began designing their own Android phones.

    They’ve followed a similar strategy that Apple and Samsung have been using by releasing a regular sized version; the Pixel and a larger Phablet; the Pixel XL.

    The line is now in their 3rd generation. Let’s check out the Pixel 3. ...
    by Published on 12-20-2018 02:15 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices

    I'm not talking about luxury brands retreating to Wear OS to fend off the Apple Watch, though there will certainly be more of those... I'm talking about two famous brands that will be going smart their own way. Kinda.

    Wareable has a new feature on what's in the pipeline for 2019. I've cut out the cruft and cut to the chase!

    1. Swatch

    The cheap and cheerful watchmaker has been taking its sweet time (sorry) with its in-house smartwatch platform, Swiss OS. In the works since 2017, Swatch is now saying that it will come to market early next year. The two big draws? Long battery life and "Swiss vault-grade" data protection. Mmkay.

    2. Timex

    This seems less like vapourware to me, since (1) Timex is already making hybrid watches, and (2) they're partnering with Huami for their first proper smartwatch venture. I remain a big fan of my Amazfit Bip, and even if Huami slaps a Timex logo on a new model that'll probably suffice for me.

    If you're more interested in reading how BMW, Puma and other brands will be jumping off a cliff with Wear OS, check the link immediately below.

    Source: Wareable

    by Published on 12-18-2018 02:12 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices

    This week CNET is taking a trip down memory lane, with a feature article and companion video (above) about the iconic Moto Razr.

    The video is definitely worth a watch, as it features Paul Pierce, who was on the design team for Moto back in the day. What made the RAZR so impossibly thin was a new (at the time) chipset that allowed the circuit board and battery to exist on the same physical plane. But the phone was so thin that its chunky chin was almost a necessity, to give the user something to hold on to while texting on the flush keypad.

    The article is a bit more of a fluff piece, with the author lamenting how he didn't "get" the appeal of the Razr when it was first released. There is, however, one quote that speaks to the lasting impact of Motorola's most famous creation:

    It took the iPhone's introduction in 2007 to really kill it.
    For what it's worth, I can recall being tasked to find a Razr for a friend in the mid-2000s. They were so popular at the time that the only unit I could procure was a grey market import from Spain. I distinctly remember spending an afternoon trying to figure out how to switch the menus to English. Good times...

    Source: CNET

    by Published on 12-14-2018 04:45 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices

    You may have noticed the deals on Fitbit's answer to the Apple Watch this holiday season. For example, Amazon.com is currently listing the Versa Special Edition (the one with Fitbit Pay) for $179 USD, almost $60 off the list price of $229.95. And for Canadians, Amazon.ca is listing the same model for $229.95 CAD, a full $70 off its regular $299.95

    So what's the catch?

    Well, if you're on iOS by all accounts you should be fine, but if you're phone is of the Android variety then maybe keep your expectations low. I've already posted about my own experience with the Versa and my OnePlus 5T—mine went straight back to Best Buy after notifications failed and failed hard.

    And it's not just me. From a recent thread on the Fitbit subreddit:

    I bought the Versa direct from Fitbit when it first came out. I paired with my Oneplus 3T and have always had problems with it. I would conservatively say 75% of the time the watch was not syncing or sending over ANY notifications.
    Granted, the OnePlus 3T isn't an officially supported Android device—nor was my 5T, for that matter. So which Android phones are supported? Less than you might think. Buried deep in Fitbit's help pages is a listing of currently compatible Android hardware. From this page find the section Which Devices Are Compatible With the Fitbit app? and then expand the sub-heading marked Android devices.

    One of the phones listed as "fully compatible" is this year's Pixel 3—which this same redditor tried to use with his Versa:

    I recently bought a Pixel 3 which, by definition, runs stock Android OS. Again, watch doesn't sync, watch doesn't show ANY notifications. I have a 100% notification and sync rate with my Pebbles and Wear OS. Fitbit BOUGHT Pebble but they can't figure out bluetooth/syncing/notifications.
    I do find myself missing the great experience I had with the Versa and Fitbit Pay. But every time I'm tempted to buy, I have another look at that reddit thread and talk myself out of it. If you're also an Android user, maybe you should do the same.

    Source: reddit

    by Published on 12-12-2018 03:50 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Carriers

    A Windsor, Ontario couple are recovering from a scary experience with Freedom Mobile and their Samsung phones. Kelly Smith observed her partner displaying acute symptoms of a heart attack, and was unable to call for an ambulance from either of their two phones—a Samsung Galaxy A5 and A8.

    She was eventually able to get through, and her partner is currently recovering in a local hospital. About a week later Freedom sent Ms. Smith the text you see above.

    The CRTC has looked in to the issue, and believes it to be specific to the Freedom-branded A5. As the text says, it was likely due to a faulty software update. A technician from Samsung visited to couple to examine their devices; after that came a phone call from a Samsung Canada executive, offering complimentary replacements.

    Since then there has apparently been another software update for the A5, this one promising better 911 performance over LTE. Has anyone here received that update, or the text message from Freedom?

    Source: CBC

    by Published on 12-11-2018 03:25 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices

    Sure, it's a limited edition McClaren/OnePlus collab. And yes, it does indeed come with a whopping 10GB of RAM—plus orange accents and a neat carbon fiber effect on the back. But make no mistake, the real story here is BKK Electronics' next-generation fast-charging technology.

    It's already available on another limited edition handset from sister company Oppo (also an exotic car collab). Oppo calls it Super VOOC, and it can completely charge a 3,400mAh battery in just 35 minutes. OnePlus is calling their version Warp Charge 30, but they don't explicitly say how long the 6T's larger 3,700mAh cell will take to fill up.

    The rest of the device is the same as any other 6T, which is to say pretty great. The $70 USD / $90 CAD premium gives you the extra RAM, quicker charging and the fancy sticker on the back.

    The McLaren Edition will be available for purchase in Canada, the USA, Europe and India this Thursday, December 13th. If you order one kindly let the rest of us know how long it takes to charge... Thanks in advance!

    Sources: OnePlus, XDA

    by Published on 12-10-2018 03:00 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices

    In the Android world it seems that the me-too display notch will be supplanted in 2019 by actual display cutouts, to better accommodate that all-important selfie cam. I guess this is progress...?

    The Honor V20—or View 20, depending on where you buy it—is tipped for a December 26th launch in Beijing, and was only teased at an event in Hong Kong on Monday. Other notable features of this new handset include a 48 megapixel Sony IMX586 sensor on the back and what Huawei is calling "Link Turbo" inside; the latter allows for downloads on both 4G and WiFi networks simultaneously.

    Not to be outdone by their nearest competitor, Samsung has unveiled its own mid-range camera hole device, the Galaxy A8s. To address Honor rear camera envy there are no less than three cameras around back—oh wait, actually just two, plus a depth-sensor. At least this effort is powered by a more familiar Snapdragon 710.

    For anyone reading this, I'm curious to know which you'd prefer: a notch cutting into your display (which you can potentially hide), or a smaller camera hole (that you probably can't).

    Sources: Android Police (1) (2)

    by Published on 12-05-2018 01:30 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices

    A new report from IDC crowns Xiaomi as the new world leader in the sales of wearable tech. The report uses data gathered from July to September of this year, a period which included the launch of the Apple Watch Series 4.

    From the source:

    Xiaomi grabbed the top position during the quarter thanks to the success of the Mi Band 3 and significant expansion beyond its home country of China. Though typically China accounts for well over 80% of Xiaomi's shipment volume, this quarter that share fell to 61% as the company managed to grow its presence in other markets such as India, Europe, and Middle East & Africa.
    And here are the numbers:

    6.9 million units shipped
    21.5% market share

    4.2 million units shipped
    13.1% market share

    3.5 million units shipped
    10.9% market share

    It certainly helps that China's appetite for fitness bands and smartwatches is double that of the United States; year-over-year growth was 21.4% for the former and -0.4% for the latter. It also helps that the Mi Band 3 goes for less than $30 USD on either GearBest or GeekBuying.

    Source: IDC via Wareable

    by Published on 12-04-2018 03:50 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Tips

    Bloomberg is reporting today that new iPhone sales are falling short of expectations—so much so that Apple marketing staff have been pulled from other projects to address the situation. The result is potentially good news for anyone in the market for the company's latest and greatest:

    On Sunday evening, Apple kicked these efforts into high gear, adding a new banner to the top of its website advertising the iPhone XR for $449, $300 less than its official sticker price. The deal, noted with an asterisk and described at the bottom of the page, requires customers to trade in an iPhone 7 Plus, a high-end handset from two years ago.
    Unfortunately I don't think any comparable trade-in deals are available to Canadian buyers, at least not yet. Apple's GiveBack program in Canada is apparently run by an outfit called Brightstar; their current trade-in value for a 256 GB iPhone 7 Plus is only $315 CAD, or $237.75 USD. And I can see no asterisks on Apple.ca

    We'll have to live vicariously through our American friends, it seems. Be sure to let us know if you snag a sweet discount!

    Source: Bloomberg via iPhone in Canada

    by Published on 12-02-2018 01:50 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview

    It doesn’t seem that long ago that you’d need a crowbar to pry a Blackberry out of an addicts hands. However, since then, most of us have grown accustomed to on-screen keyboards. Still, for some, there’s no replacement for a physical keyboard. Fortunately, for them Blackberries have managed to stick around and even better, the keyboards are still being refined with each new generation.

    These days BlackBerry OS is long gone so if you want a BlackBerry, it’s going to be running Android. While it says BlackBerry on the phone, it’s actually made by TCL who also makes phones under the Alcatel and Palm brand names.

    If you want the latest, there’s the upper midrange Key 2 and the midrange Key 2 LE which I’m reviewing today.
    by Published on 11-30-2018 04:00 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices

    I've been using my OnePlus 6T for less than 24 hours, and the one thing I can say definitively is that its in-display fingerprint scanner is the real deal. It's maybe a titch slower than the rear-mounted equivalent on my OnePlus 5T, but because of the enlarged scanning area on the 6T version I'm actually finding it to be more accurate than my old phone. So accurate, in fact, that I've turned the face-unlock function off altogether.

    In an informal test performed just moments ago I've had a 100% success ratio with both my right and left thumbs (admittedly in ideal conditions). The only issue I'm having with this new setup is that the muscle memory on my index finger keeps reaching around the back of the 6T for the fingerprint reader that isn't there, and smudges the camera flash instead.

    It's still very much a novelty, but I'm so far so impressed with this that I might, in time, be willing to forgive the absence of a headphone jack. At least OnePlus is giving you something unique in return; Apple and Google, what's your excuse? ಠ_ಠ

    by Published on 11-21-2018 12:34 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview

    LG has always had an interesting place in the Android marketplace. I get this feeling like they’re always trying to offer a slightly different take on the Android flagship. The G3 had rear mounted volume and power buttons and higher resolution display while the G4 retained a removable battery. The G5 also had this feature but also allowed you to expand it with attachable accessories like a larger speaker. It also included a second, super-wide angle camera. The G6 was more about bringing it in line with other flagship phones with a more premium feel.

    So what is LG’s take on the 2018 flagship? Let’s check out the G7 ThinQ. ...
    by Published on 11-20-2018 04:20 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors

    Tom's Guide has assembled some interesting details about Samsung's 2019 flagship, not the least of which is this render from Dutch tech blog Let's Go Digital. Can't see the selfie cam? Check the top-left corner; it's under the display glass!

    There will apparently be at least three variants of the device:

    SM-G975x - 6.44 inch display, ultrasonic fingerprint reader
    SM-G973x - 5.8 inch display, ultrasonic fingerprint reader
    SM-G970x - 5.8 inch display, fingerprint reader embedded in power button

    US-bound versions of the device are expected to ship with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8150 processor, while international versions will likely be powered by the Exynos 9820. Available colours at launch will be black, green, white and yellow, with additional colours and gradients to follow. Nothing yet about the audio jack, unfortunately.

    Be sure to check the links below for additional details.

    Source: Let's Go Digital, Tom's Guide

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