Monthly Archives: December 2017

Nokia 1 Android Go Phone Launch Rumoured for March

While Google has so far maintained silence, it has now been rumoured that Nokia 1 will be one of the early Android Go phones. The new Nokia smartphone is claimed to be designed for emerging markets and is said to arrive sometime in March. Announced back in May, Android Go programme is designed by Google to deliver an enhanced user experience on entry-level devices.

Russian tipster Eldar Murtazin revealed in a tweet that the Nokia 1 will be a part of Google’s Android Oreo (Go edition) programme. The new Nokia smartphone is said to have an HD (720×1280 pixels) IPS display, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of onboard storage. Also, the blogger claimed that the smartphone will be priced at RUB 5,990 (approximately Rs. 6,670). The rumoured smartphone is expected to run Android Oreo (Go edition) that would come with some lightweight Google apps such as Files Go, Google Maps Go, and YouTube Go.

Murtazin also pointed out that like HMD Global is with the Nokia 1, Huawei is also working on an Android Go smartphone. However, the blogger hasn’t detailed any specifications of the latter.

In October, HMD Global brought Nokia 2 as its cheapest Android smartphone. The smartphone was debuted in India following its formal announcement with a price tag of Rs. 6,999 and is also available in the US. The Android Nougat-based Nokia 2 features a 5-inch HD LTPS display and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 chip that has a 1.2GHz quad-core CPU, coupled with 1GB of RAM. The handset has an 8-megapixel rear camera sensor with an LED flash and a 5-megapixel front camera sensor and packs a 4100mAh battery.

The Verge 2017 tech report card: Samsung

Samsung entered 2017 on its heels, coming off the embarrassing debacle of the Galaxy Note 7, a phone that was recalled not just once but twice in 2016, for having a propensity to spontaneously catch fire. And so, Samsung started off the year by apologizing for what happened and vowing that it would do things better in the future.

The mea culpa and apology certainly helped Samsung repair its reputation, but it’s what came after that truly turned things around for the company. Starting with the release of the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus in April, Samsung regained its status as a leading smartphone maker in 2017.

The Galaxy S8 quickly made everyone forget about what happened with the Note 7. Its design, performance, display, and reliably excellent camera quickly put it at the top of the pack among Android phones and kept it there all year. Other phones may beat the S8 (and by extension, the S8 Plus) in one specific area or another, but if you’re looking for the best overall Android phone, the S8 is the one.

Then, in August, Samsung released the ill-fated Note 7’s true successor, the Galaxy Note 8. Much like the Galaxy S8, the Note 8 proved to be an excellent device. Instead of attempting to cater to a general smartphone buyer, Samsung doubled down on what makes a Note a Note: it’s big, expensive, and unapologetic. The Note 8 also introduced Samsung’s take on a dual-camera system, which lets it capture portrait-mode images like the larger iPhone models.

Samsung’s biggest product blunder this year wasn’t related to hardware at all: it was the Bixby virtual assistant, which first debuted on the S8 and also was prominently featured on the Note 8. Samsung believed in Bixby so much that it put a dedicated button on the side of the phones that was reserved for only launching Bixby. Unfortunately, it turned out that Bixby was no more useful than the Google Assistant also found on Samsung’s phones (and in many ways, Bixby’s worse), and Samsung eventually added the ability to disable the button on the phones. But it’s still not possible to reprogram the button to do something else more useful, which is frustrating.

Outside of mobile, Samsung’s PC and TV efforts are less interesting — it’s still pushing its “QLED” technology, which is inferior (yet intentionally similarly named) to the OLED tech LG offers in its TVs.

Though Samsung had a strong product showing this year, its status as a company leaves a lot to be desired. The vice chairman of Samsung Electronics and effective head of the entire conglomerate, Jay Y. Lee, was embroiled in a corruption scandal that included illegal horse trading, cult practices, and eventually contributed to the impeachment of South Korea’s president.

Lee spent much of the year in custody, and was convicted of perjury, embezzlement, and bribery in August. He was sentenced to five years in prison for his crimes. Four other Samsung executives have been accused of offering bribes to deposed President Park Geun-hye and an associate of hers.

Despite his conviction, Lee plans to appeal, and history is on his side for a pardon: South Korea has a long legacy of pardoning chaebol chairmen, including Lee’s own father, who was pardoned not once, but twice, for tax evasion and bribery.

Corruption scandals did nothing to temper Samsung’s financials, however, as the company reported record profits in the July to September quarter. In addition, it has a new suite of leaders to carry the company into 2018: Kim Ki-nam (components), Kim Hyun-suk (HS Kim) (consumer electronics), and Koh Dong-jin (DJ Koh) (mobile and IT) are acting as CEOs of each of their divisions, replacing former Samsung Electronics CEO Kwon Oh-hyun.

And so, it’s onward and upward for Samsung moving past its scandals and mishaps. Rumors are already swirling that Samsung will release the Galaxy S9 in February of next year, so Samsung fans likely won’t have long to wait for something new from the company.

Samsung Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+ 18.5:9 Aspect Ratio Tipped in HTML5 Test

Two smartphone models from Samsung, SM-G960F and SM-G9650, have appeared on the HTML5 test benchmark website. These are believed to be the upcoming Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+. While the test results don’t reveal any specifications about the phones, it does mention the “screen size”, from which an aspect ratio of 18.5:9 can be inferred for both.

The “screen size” of the SM-G960F (Galaxy S9) is stated to be 360×740 pixels, while the SM-G9650 has a “screen size” of 412×846 pixels. Both of these figures translate into an 18.5:9 aspect ratio, which is same as the one seen on the Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, Galaxy Note 8, and the recent Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8+ (2018). Of course, the above seen “screen sizes” aren’t the actual resolution of the smartphone, but are indicative of the resolution nonetheless. The HTML5 test benchmarking site listings were first spotted by Android Headlines.

The HTML5 test also reveals that both smartphones will run Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box. The benchmark test also mentions that there is no Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus support on the two variants.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ are some of the most anticipated smartphones for 2018. The bigger of the lot, Galaxy S9+, recently leaked on Geekbench revealing a 25 percent better core performance compared to the Galaxy S8+. Renders of back panels were also leaked that show a dual camera setup on the Galaxy S9+.

Earlier this week, front panels and back panels of the Galaxy S9 also surfaced online. These show a similar display on the Galaxy S9, compared to the Galaxy S8, albeit with slightly smaller bezels. A Bloomberg report has also suggested a launch date for the Galaxy S9 duo in late February 2018, with availability in March.

Recent reports about the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ include anticipation of an improved iris scanner and the expected use of a next-gen substrate like PCB technology on the upcoming flagship smartphones.

Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018), A8+(2018) now official: Feature Infinity Display, dual front cameras

Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) and A8 Plus (2018), the two new mid-range flagship phones featuring the Infinity Display with 18:9 aspect ratio and dual front cameras, are now official. Samsung’s Galaxy A series is usually next in line after the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series in terms of features and pricing, and it is not surprising to see the Infinity Display being extended to the Galaxy A8 (2018) smartphones.

Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) and A8 Plus (2018) have officially been announced in the South Korean market. The India pricing and release date is yet not out. The selfie camera on the front is now 16MP + 8MP with f/1.9 aperture on both the sensors. Samsung’s Galaxy A8 will allow users to take portrait shots as well from the front camera. There is also the Live Focus feature to adjust the bokeh effect before or after the selfie has been taken as seen in the Galaxy Note 8, which has dual rear cameras.

On the back, the Galaxy A8 2018 series continues with a single camera, and this one is 16MP with f/1.7 aperture. Samsung is also bringing stickers to the selfie camera on the Galaxy A8 2018 and will also add a food mode for the rear camera, which it had previously introduced in the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 smartphones. The other big change on the camera front is the addition of video digital image stabilisation (VDis) and a new hyperlapse feature for Galaxy A8 2018 users.

Coming to the display, both Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8 Plus (2018) feature the Infinity Display with screen sporting an 18:9 aspect ratio display. The Galaxy A8 2018 series continues with the curved glass design on the back and front; it has a metal frame on the side. The Galaxy A8(2018) and A8 Plus (2018) will launch in four colours — black, orchid grey, gold and blue.

“With the release of the Galaxy A8(2018) and A8+(2018), we’re bringing our customers’ favorite features from our flagship smartphones, such as the Infinity Display and our first Dual Front Camera with Live Focus, to our Galaxy A series, which is already known for its premium design,” Junho Park, Vice President of Global Product Planning, Mobile Communications Business at Samsung Electronic said in a press statement.

Both devices also sport the Always On Display, and come with support for Samsung Pay. They both have Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) and Near Field Communication (NFC) on board as well. The fingerprint scanner is placed below camera module on the Galaxy A8 series. The phones are also IP68 water and dust resistance and come with a microSD card slot with 256GB capacity. The Galaxy A8 (2018) is the first in the A series to support Samsung Gear VR headset as well.

Specifications of Galaxy A8 (2018) are: 5.6-inch FHD+ resolution (2220 x 1080 pixels) SAMOLED display with 18:9 aspect ratio, octa-core processor, 4GB RAM coupled with 32GB/64GB storage. The bigger Samsung Galaxy A8+(2018) 6.0-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED display with 2220 x 1080 pixels resolution. The processor and RAM/Storage combination is the same.

The Galaxy A8 has a 3000 mAh battery on board, while the bigger phone has a 3500 mAh battery. The two phones sport identical rear and front cameras. Dimensions of the Galaxy A8 (2018) are 149.2 x 70.6 x 8.4 mm and it weighs 172g while the bigger Plus version has the following dimensions: 159.9 x 75.7 x 8.3 mm and this weighs 191 g.

Both phones also support fast charging and have a USB Type-C port. Sadly the phones are still running on Android 7.1.1. In terms of connectivity, there is NFC, MST for payments, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz), Bluetooth v 5.0 (LE up to 2Mbps), ANT+. Sensors on board the Galaxy A8 series for 2018 are: Accelerometer, Barometer, Fingerprint, Gyro, Geomagnetic sensor, Hall sensor, Proximity sensor and RGB Light sensor.

Apple iPhone performance woes linked to battery issues, iOS updates: GeekBench developer

If your older iPhone 6s has slowed down in terms of performance, the reason could be the battery and the iOS updates, according to a post by GeekBench developer John Poole. GeekBench for those who do not know is a popular benchmark testing app that rates the performance of smartphones across various parameters.

The post on GeekBench draws from a Reddit post, which hinted that the iPhone performance was linked to the battery age. The Reddit post has seen over a 1000 comments, with the main post arguing that Apple tends to slow down iPhones with low capacity batteries, especially devices like the iPhone 6s, iPhone 7, etc. According to Poole’s post for GeekBench, users with older iPhones saw the performance increase drastically as well as scores on GeekBench after they replaced batteries. Poole has shown on graphs the Geekbench 4 single-core scores for the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 7 running different versions of iOS.

In case of the iPhone 6s, which launched originally in September 2015, it looks like the phones running on iOS 10.2.0 appear more or less uniform in terms of scores, but for the same phone running on iOS 10.2.1 and iOS 11.2.0, there is one large peak in scores and smaller peaks around lower scores. The graph shared by Poole, shows that under iOS 11 this fluctuation in scores is much more pronounced.

In case of the Apple iPhone 7 scores under iOS 10.2.0, iOS 10.2.1, and iOS 11.1.2 appear identical, but the score distribution changes with iOS 11.2.0 and once again the fluctuation is similar to the Apple iPhone 6s series. The change in score performance is being linked to the iOS 11 update, according to the post.

According to Poole’s post, the problem gets worse for users as the phones and batteries age, which to be fair is expected in any smartphone as it gets older. The other issue, according to Poole is iOS and he writes, “the difference between 10.2.0 and 10.2.1 is too abrupt to be just a function of battery condition.” He argues that Apple has “introduced a change to limit performance when battery condition decreases past a certain point.”

The reason why Apple might have done is is based on the Reddit post, where a user kadupse argued that the company did this because many iPhone 6s phones were shutting down unexpectedly, despite battery replacement. For those who remember, Apple had announced a battery replacement program for some of the iPhone 6s series devices because the battery in these phones was not up to standard and likely to degrade faster, though the company had said it did not cause any safety issues.

However, Poole is arguing that the performance drop for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, and also iPhone 7 is deliberate and will lead many users to wrongly believe this is due to slow down in CPU performance, instead of battery issues. He also arguing the change in iOS 11.2.0 has ensured a slower performance for iPhone 7 as well.

The slowdown in performance might convince people they need to upgrade the iPhone, instead of fixing the battery, argues Poole. For Apple, this might be mean more users trying to upgrade. For the consumers though this might not be such good news. Apple has so far not commented on this GeekBench post.