Established in 1984 in Beijing, Lenovo is today a multinational technology firm that sells Personal Computers, Servers, Tablets, Smartphones and Smart Televisions, in more than 160 countries.
Lenovo earned its spurs in the Personal Computer space and has been a world player in that domain since the turn of the century. Lenovo acquired IBM’s Personal Computing Division (IBM’s Desktops and Notebooks business) along with the trademarks to IBM’s “Think” devices in 2005, thus making it the third-largest personal computer company in the world. In 2012, Lenovo was listed as the world’s second-largest personal computer vendor by unit sales. It markets the ThinkPad line of notebook computers and the Think Centre line of desktops.
In the mobile phones arena, Lenovo has had an on-off-on track record. While Lenovo entered the market early enough, but lack of traction caused it to sell its mobile phone division in 2008 with the intent of focusing its attention on its personal computer business and then they paid $200 million to buy it back in November 2009, apparently because they saw the burgeoning smartphone and tablets market (thanks to the iPhone H-bomb that hit the markets in 2007-8)!
Lenovo entered the smartphone market with the introduction of ‘LePhone’ series, in China in 2010. Subsequently, the “IdeaPhone” brand was launched for the rest of the world.
Lenovo sold about 50 million smartphones in 2013.
To further cement its foray in the smartphone space, Lenovo acquired Motorola Mobility (Motorola’s consumer-oriented business unit, which included Motorola’s mobile phone business, cable modems, set-top boxes for digital cable and satellite television services) from Google in January 2014.
As of May 2014, Lenovo was the fourth largest phone manufacturer in the world by unit sales, putting it behind Apple, Samsung, and Huawei. As of November 2014, the Lenovo and Motorola brands held a combined 7.8% of global smartphone shipments, making Lenovo the third largest company in this market.
Lenovo To Launch It's Cheapest Smartphones Ever
Apparently, Lenovo is trying to surprise customers who like to keep a tight leash on their budgets by releasing ‘in budget’ handsets. The other agenda is probably to attract first-time smartphone buyers by trying to fit their needs and also breaking the myth that cheap phones need to be bottom-run performers.
Lenovo is reportedly working with it’s in-house Moto team on a mission to create the brand’s “most affordable handsets ever”, and tread in the challenging narrow budget lane.
The company is expected to release two models – the Moto C and the Moto C Plus. The pair will have features similar to the Moto G5 and the Moto G5 Plus, but are expected to cost significantly lesser than their inspiration.
Some of the specs of the upcoming handsets have already leaked online – both the phones are said to run the latest Android OS (Android 7.0 Nougat), offer a 5 inch display and will be powered by a quad-core MediaTek processor.
While the Moto C is said to have a non-HD resolution of 854×480 pixels, the Moto C Plus will carry an HD screen (1,280×720 pixels). The phones will be available in 4G configuration and carry slightly different battery capacities. The Moto C is said to be powered by a 2,350 mAh battery while the Moto C Plus will have double that capacity at 4,000 mAh.
Conjecture has it that the Moto C will be priced at INR 5,000, while the Moto C Plus would cost about INR 7,000.
No official announcement regarding the phones or the launch availability has been made yet by Lenovo.
Lenovo Backtracks 'Moto By Lenovo' Branding, Puts Smartwatches On Hold
It was just last year that Lenovo had announced that it planned to completely re-brand the ‘Moto’ line of devices that they’d acquired a couple years ago from Google, to ‘Moto by Lenovo’, completely dissolving Motorola name.
But with a change in leadership at Lenovo, there is word that the company might be planning to backtrack this branding strategy and let Moto remain pinned with Motorola, and retaining the “bat wing” M logo that has become the face of Moto over the years.
Additionally, word is that Lenovo might also be putting the smartwatches line (subsequent to the second-gen Moto 360) on hold for a while.
In a more surprising (but imminently intelligent) move, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer is also said to be contemplating a switch of all of its subsidiary brands to Moto’s branding. This would also include the sub-brands like Zuk. The switchover, however, is expected to be gradual.
This news comes in the back of other market decisions the company is making under the new leadership. This also includes plans of doubling down on Moto Mods, as well as bringing the Moto Z to more carriers in the US.
Coming back to rumour of Lenovo’s decision to halt any smartwatches for the time being, this ‘decision’ is said to be based on the fact that they did not sell enough smartwatches to justify the existence of the business, and in the highly dynamic smartwatch market, it indeed is hard to survive.
“I don’t want to be in the business doing a product for the sake of doing a product because we need to do a follow-up”, said Motorola Chairman and President, Aymar de Lencquesaing.
But one must be clear that this halt on smartwatches is only towards bringing out new smartwatches to the market. The company will continue to work on the device, with the hope of coming up with something that could be brought to the market at some time in the future.
Lenovo seems to be acting on the instinct to tap into the legacy of the Motorola brand, for starters. Motorola was one of the pioneers of smartphones in the last decade, and their flip phones are an image that most of us can not get out of our heads. Then things went downhill thanks to some poor decisions. Subsequently bought by Google for primarily its patents, Motorola sold off to Lenovo in 2014.
With this decision, the brand might again gain some stability, which it well deserves after having given the market the famed Moto G series of mid-range smartphones that have been rocking the market for many years.
Welcome back, Motorola!
Moto G5 and G5 Plus Leaked
Moto is back with another bang – two of them, in fact!
While most sites’ headlines these last few weeks have been grabbed by rumours and discussions of upcoming flagship devices of the likes of the Galaxy S8 and LG G6, however a lot of us are of the opinion that flagship devices are not the only ones worth getting excited about.
Recent leaks for Moto G5 and G5 Plus have shown that these near-twins could prove to be solid budget devices, and could continue the popularity streak that Lenovo had established with their G4 Plus last year.
As per the leaks, the Moto G5 will come with a 5 inch, 1080p display. It will run on Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, 4 GB of RAM, and 3,000 mAh battery with Turbo Charge.
On the storage front, it is said to have 32 GB of internal storage which is expected to be expandable with a microSD card. The phone is thankfully said to be shipping with Android 7.0. Nougat out of the box.
Cameras: the phone is expected to have a 13 megapixel rear-facing camera with LED flash and a 5 megapixel front-facing camera. While this combination doesn’t exactly fit the bill of the standard this year—which has been a 12 megapixel/8 megapixel combo – its arguable how much of a difference the slight deviations will actually make. Amongst other things, the G5 is expected to have NFC, Dual-SIM, and Android Pay support and like its predecessor, it is also expected to have a fingerprint sensor, possibly mounted on the front, where the usual home button is.
The Moto G5 Plus on the other hand, will feature some enhancements over the base Moto G5 model, with other things being the same. These will include a slightly bigger screen at 5.5 inches, and a tinge more battery life, with 3,100 mAh, though the latter is arguably not going to be “more” battery life since the bigger screen will soak up more power.
The Moto G5 Plus could also be water and dust resistant, like the Moto G4 and the Moto M, though there’s no official word on that front (it’s more like we all are hoping for this, and not that it’s been mentioned on the rumour mill, as yet).
When early last year the Moto G4 Plus made it to the market, what Lenovo had brought to the market was a dirt cheap phone that arguably took better pictures than the flagships in the market at the time. What they cemented with that phone was a space for themselves in the budget device marked, a sub-INR 20,000 market, competing with the likes of Huawei, Xiaomi, and Micromax.
Both the rumoured phones have reportedly made their way through the FCC documentation this week. They are thus suspected of being shown off at the Mobile World Congress next month, as the Moto team at Lenovo has already sent out press invites which includes a teaser for a new phone.
However, we can’t yet be sure if the company will want to start selling the phone in a specific region first, like most Asian brands do, or would they want to wait and prepare for a global roll out. However, given the streak with Moto G4 and G4 Plus, we shall expect the latter.
Chances are that more leaks will clear this up as we get closer to the Mobile World Congress and the launches.
Those who are waiting for the new smartphones to hit the market, they will probably have to hold their excitement only a few more weeks. On the other hand, those wondering if they should upgrade from a G4 or G4 Plus would perhaps want to wait for more details to unfold and reviews to follow through before they make a decision. While the new G5 and G5 Plus are quite certainly promising, how much of an upgrade they are from their predecessors is yet to be determined.
Amongst the other things awaited from Moto right now is the follow up to Moto G4 Play. This was an ultra-affordable model of the Moto G line that made its way to market last fall. More information on this can also be expected at the Mobile World Congress ahead in this month.
We shall keep an eye out for you.
Come 2017, one of the noticeable changes in the market would be in Motorola’s branding on it’s devices. The phones would now instead be known as Moto by Lenovo; will still maintain the nickname of Moto, and the winged M as their brand sign.
“We’ll slowly phase out Motorola“, said Rick Osterloh, Motorola’s Chief Operating Officer, told CNET about the change at CES, 2017.
The company has almost always maintained a significant position and visibility in the market since it’s invention of the mobile phone some 40 years ago. While the company seemed to be stagnating at the turn of the last decade, the buy-out by Google, and the launch of Moto X in 2013, restored some of it’s glory.
Motorola Mobility was then sold to Lenovo by Google in 2014, and since then the company has seen a significant shift in it’s brand and it’s products, coming more in alignment with the brand that Lenovo stands for – a budget brand that is more accessible to people. “It’s our treasure“, Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing had said back then. “We plan to not only protect the Motorola brand, but make it stronger“.
This imminent phase out of the brand name is significant because once upon a time Motorola used to be the name that represented the pinnacle of wireless technology. “Lenovo does not have a bad brand but Motorola stands for a lot, especially in mobile“, said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst for Kantar WorldPanel. “It would be a shame to move away from that“.
In the last two years, under the brand, an entire range of phones was built, and developed, ranging widely in price and quality. What Lenovo now seem to be doing is using the Moto brand for the high end products, and the homegrown Vibe and Zuk brands for their budget devices, as Motorola exists as a division of Lenovo, in the corporate sense of things.
In addition, Osterloh told CNET that Lenovo will continue to focus on these phones, and that his team will run mobile operations at Lenovo.
The decision also seems like a smart one, since it will help use the Moto brand name, which is popular with Android enthusiasts, to help acquaint them with the Lenovo brand. Lenovo, while it is the world’s largest PC maker in the market at the moment, is not that well know or popular with smartphones.
Nougat Updates Are Rolling Out
While the roll-out of Android Nougat 7.0 is still underway, Google has already started rolling out the beta version of Nougat 7.1.1 for certain devices.
The Nougat 7.1.1 version was put out in the developer preview in November, and was subsequently released for the Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Nexus 6P, Google Nexus 5X, Google Nexus 9, Google Pixel tablet, the Nexus player and other General Mobile 4G (Android One) devices.
With the Nougat 7.1.1 update, Google is interestingly bringing some features that were initially seen only on the Pixel devices to the Nexus devices.
While Google has moved on, most other non-Google brands are still yet to roll out the Nougat 7.0 version entirely.
As budget smartphone brands, most of them Chinese, have been climbing up the charts for their products’ specs and capabilities, they all use heavily personalized versions of Android, to distinguish their products from the rivals in the market.
What this basically means for the users of these devices is that brands such as Huawei, Lenovo, Xiaomi, Gionee, Oppo, Vivo, Coolpad and LeEco, are almost always among the very last to roll out updates to their respective devices.
This time around, however, with Nougat 7.0, things seem to be a little different.
And it is good news, as Android Nougat brings several improvements over the older versions of Android for the users.
All this is very impressive. Android has historically be infamous for the glacial reach across brands. With the 7.0 update in the market for over a month now, and the 7.1.1 version already starting out, it stands to reason that updates should be rolling out even faster, as more and more companies seem ready to bring it to their devices.
For more information on if the update is yet available on your device or not, check for the update on your device, or stay tuned for more information.
Samsung To Introduce Two Dual-Screen Foldable Smartphones In 2017
Samsung has been hounding the headlines almost through the entire annum of 2016 – be it for excellent product design, battery explosion incidents or upcoming launches, the South Korean mobile manufacturer has consistently grabbed attention.
Samsung is now making waves with news relating to its plans to introduce foldable smartphones by early 2017.
Samsung, has joined hands with numerous manufacturers including its own display manufacturing unit, Samsung Display, to launch a foldable smartphone.
Renowned as an innovator, Samsung has launched plenty of new tech and hardware in smartphones – improved RAM, storage, battery and many other mind-blowing features, but a foldable smartphone from the company could be a drastic first-mover advantage in the crowded smartphone industry.
The South Korean giant, has been developing the foldable-screen technology for the past ten years and it seems to have finally taken a step into the future, by nearing the public release of a foldable smartphones, soon.
Following several rumours, leaked designs, teaser videos regarding the device with a foldable screen, the company seems to be following through with the plan. ET News has in fact now reported that Samsung’s working on a ‘two-track strategy’ which implies a possibility of two separate dual-screened variants, expected to be released early next year.
According to ET News, the company will bring the ‘dual-screen’ smartphone to the market before it announces the foldable designs.
A dual-screen device implies one that has two different flat displays on either side of the device. According to the report, Samsung will go ahead with the foldable smartphone launch only if the dual screen device is a hit among the masses and hence will be manufactured in limited quantity.
They added that the initial foldable design will be launched in 2017 and another single flexible display smartphone will come forth in 2018.
The dual-screened smartphone is expected to be unveiled at CES or MWC in 2017.
According to a recently published patent, the tech giant appeared to have been planning for a new smartphone which can fold in half near the middle. The Samsung smartphone could also be one that folds like a flip phone of yesteryear, yet one could see a secondary display which works even when the device is folded.
In 2013, the company had had a limited launch of the Galaxy Round which had a curved OLED display. Then it announced the Galaxy Note Edge which took the market by storm as it was the first to have an edge display. The recent Galaxy S7 edge followed with a dual curved display.
This progression is indicative that Samsung has the resources and technology to bring in a foldable device.
Apart from Samsung, Lenovo too, is reportedly working on foldable smartphone prototypes as it had showcased a few at the Tech World conference this year; however, the company has not yet published a plan on bringing those devices to the market anytime soon. LG too is working on foldable screens, but there’s no news of them having attained the concept for smartphones yet.
So… Samsung clearly has an advantage and should be working to launch this killer feature at the soonest possible.
Lenovo Zuk Edge Spotted With Snapdragon 821
Lenovo’s got a whole lot going on.
Managing two aspiring brands, that compete in different but very crowded market zones can’t be easy. Pushing Motorola’s (improving and increasingly expensive) Moto line, while also elbowing for space with it’s own Zuk sub-line of smartphones is surely keeping Lenovo up late nights.
Lenovo’s latest Zuk smartphone called the Zuk Z2151 a.k.a. Zuk Edge, is speculated to have a 5.5 inch Full HD display powered by a 2.15 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB or 128 GB internal storage options.
The camera combination is expected to be 13 megapixel and 8 megapixel, for the rear and the front cameras respectively, which would be at par with the standards from this year.
It is expected to run on a 3,000 mAh battery and is tipped include 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS, and even carry a fingerprint scanner.
Most of this information comes from a recent leak from the Chinese certification authority TENAA. Three pictures of the device were spotted online, revealing key specs of the phablet, including showing it running on Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
The leaked photos also confirm that despite the name ‘Edge’, the phone will not have a curved screen, or a curved display, like the Samsung Galaxy edge devices did. Rather, the bezels appear to be ultra sleek giving it a larger screen real estate.
There’s another novelty on this phablet.
Unlike most other devices, which have the fingerprint scanner either embedded in the home button or on the back, the fingerprint sensor on the Zuk Edge seems to be embedded below the screen. Such a design is rumoured to make an appearance in Samsung’s Galaxy S8, though from the looks of it, Lenovo might have beaten them to the punch.
It reminds me of how Apple was rumoured to be the first manufacturer to remove of the 3.5 mm audio jack, yet being beaten by LeeEco who launched a device without the jack and showcasing new audio-processing technology, a month or so before the launch of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.
Back to Lenovo, the company has so far put out three handsets under the Zuk brand – the Zuk Z1 (launched in August 2015), Zuk Z2 Pro (launched in April 2016), and Zuk Z2 (launched in May 2016). While none of these phones broke any records as such, they all seem to have done fairly well for themselves in the market.
So… when can the phone be expected out in the market? Well, truth be told, it is too soon to predict the phone’s international availability. It can quite certainly be expected to be released in the Chinese market sometime this year. It does not, however, seem to be ready enough to be out in the first quarter at least.
Whenever it does come out, it would be another interesting salvo in the crowded budget marketplace, and one hopes that Lenovo is able to do some justice to it’s house-wine.
Moto Z Line Up To Launch In India On 4th October
Motorola is all set to launch its first modular smartphone Moto Z in India on October 4. In fact, the company has started sending “save the date” invites to media just to trigger some public enthusiasm for the upcoming release.
The Moto Z, which can be called the spiritual successor of the Moto X, was first unveiled at Lenovo’s Tech World conference in San Francisco, this year in early June. The Moto Z does actually look like a new-age Moto phone made with a fusion of top class hardware and premium looks.
Initially Motorola said that it would roll the phones in the market before Diwali – “It will come to India in September or October time frame and this is a product for which we think there is scope in the Indian market“, Aymar de Lencquesaing, Senior Vice President, Lenovo Group had said earlier. But now we do have a date which is October 4, and that may be just as well – Lenovo/Motorola need to have the device completely ready for the public – they can’t afford the flack from a hurried release a la the Galaxy Note7!
There are three variants of the phone that we know of so far: Moto Z, Moto Z Force and Moto Z Play.
Moto Z and Moto Z Force were launched at company’s Tech World Conference while Moto Z Play was made official at IFA 2016.
It’s interesting to see how Motorola has taken a positive approach towards modular phones, considering the recent killing of Project Ara by Google because of the jaded demand for modular devices.
With Google confirming the death of its Project Ara and admitting the lacklustre demand for modular devices, Motorola taking the road less travelled is definitely like setting a new trend. In fact, Motorola looks at modular smartphones as the way forward and is putting in double the efforts.
Lenovo’s Ken Wong said, “We believe our solution is the most advanced right now and the competition is playing catch up”. He added, “We see a demand for such design like with the Mods. I don’t think competition can catch up with us in a short period of time. And if they do, we are confident we can stay ahead. If more people join and create that category we’re super happy”.
Motorola has managed to make Moto Z and Moto Z Force a top-end flagship. The Moto Z comes with a 5.5 inch Quad HD display and is just 5.2 mm thick. Both Moto Z and Moto Z Force come with 4GB RAM and option of 32GB or 64GB storage. Both Moto Z and Moto Z Force don’t have the 3.5 mm headphone jack which means audio is routed via the USB Type-C port. In fact, technically it is Lenovo that has beaten Apple in this regard as it chucked out the audio jack way before the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus came out.
The Moto Z runs on Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor with 4 GB RAM, 64 GB of internal memory which can be expanded through a microSD card and fingerprint scanner. There’s a 13 megapixel rear camera with a 5 megapixel front shooter. All this is backed by a 2,600 mAh battery which is significantly smaller than that on the Moto Z Force (which is a 3,500 mAh unit) and even the Moto Z Play (a 3,510 mAh unit).
What makes the whole Z series exciting is the concept of Moto Mods, 16 magnetic connector pins at the back that might be launched alongside these devices.
Moto Mods are modules that can be added to improve and increase the functionality of the phone. These include fun stuff like Moto Insta-Share Projector, Moto shells, battery packs, a JBL speaker, a Pico projector and a high-end Hasselblad camera that allows for up to 10 X optical zoom on the Moto Z.
That’s not all, for all those who are very particular about how their phone appears or want to customise things as per their fashion needs, a whole batch of custom rear skin modules for the Moto Z will be available.
The Moto Z Force is pretty much same in that its display is the same size, it’s just that it is shatterproof and in the camera department the primary camera is 21 megapixel and the secondary one is 5 megapixel. The storage options are same as that of Moto Z.
Whereas Moto Z Play looks like a toned down version of Moto Z Force. With the same display size it runs on Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, 3 GB RAM and 32 GB storage. A 16 megapixel rear camera, 5 megapixel front camera and the highest 3,510 mAh battery completes the package.
The only mystery that surrounds the Moto Z line up is that of the price of the smartphones. In case of a market that is cost conscious, innovation needs to be balanced with decent pricing. For the final word regarding pricing, we need to wait for October 4.
Lenovo’s Phab2 Pro With Google Tango Just Got Delayed To "Fall"
For all those who were eagerly waiting for the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, there is news that might upset you – the launch of Phab 2 Pro has been kicked back to a Fall launch instead of the previously-promised Summer launch.
You’d recall, Chip-Monks had sounded you off on the Phab2 Pro being the launch vehicle for Google’s Tango project, which is Google’s moonshot at making use of computer vision to enable devices to see the world around them without the crutches of GPS.
The official page now mentions, “Coming This Fall”, whereas previously it said “Summer”. This now means that the first Google Tango-enabled phone will now hit the shelves somewhere between September and December 2016.
Google unveiled the Project Tango around two years ago. In fact, earlier this year it associated with Lenovo on this project, and had announced the launch of first Tango enabled phone called the Phab 2 Pro. At the Google I/O (Part Two), the developments regarding the device were demonstrated and the phone sure looks like a game- changer in the field of AR.
In case you still have difficulty recalling what Project Tango is about (and if you haven’t read our earlier article); it is a technology platform allowing developers to create experiences by incorporating indoor navigation, 3D mapping, and augmented reality.
Tango uses computer vision to enable devices to see the world around them without relying on GPS.
Interestingly enough, the Phab 2 Pro also comes with pre- installed apps from Wayfair and Lowe’s. Wayfair enables the users to virtually view how furniture would look inside the room, how it will fit in, after which, you can simply order the products online or visit the nearest Lowe’s store to select the products on your own. Made possible by augmented reality capabilities on the giant Phab 2 Pro!
There have been no official announcements regarding the reason for delay of the Phab 2 Pro’s launch but the most plausible guess is that Lenovo hasn’t been able to “dot their i’s” to give their phone an amazing kick-start from the word go. Or it is possible that the work needs to be done at Google’s end with regards to software tweaks or tuning. After all it’s better to learn from the mistakes of others and take time to build the right way than being explosive as the Samsung Galaxy Note7.
The news of the official launch is important because Project Tango has bypassed the “project” stage and isn’t fated to bite the dust like Project Ara.
Other than being the first Tango enabled phone, the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro packs a gigantic 6.4 inch 2K display screen, which makes it suitable for all the AR tricks that the phone can perform. The phone comes with 64 GB of internal storage, 4 GB RAM and runs on a Snapdragon 652 processor, with its multiple cameras being the other crowd puller.
There are a total of four cameras, which include an 8 MP front camera, a 16 MP rear RGB camera, a depth-sensing infrared camera and a motion-tracking camera. Besides 3D mapping and depth sensing, the phone is also capable of recording 360-degree as well as 4K videos.
All this brought to you at $499 (around INR 34,000)!
Apart from the U.S., the Phab 2 Pro is expected to hit the Asia Pacific markets including India, Indonesia, Philippines, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Cambodia, and Myanmar. However, we can’t say when that is going to happen just yet.
Lenovo To Start Preloading Microsoft’s Applications On Its Devices
Microsoft is a giant. And giants have a tendency to subdue other not-so-giant giants.
Sometimes by aggressive buying and at other times, by “strategic alliances”.
Microsoft, unbeknownst to many, has been steadily roping in Android OEMs to get them to preload its suite of productivity apps on their devices.
The latest company to join this list is Lenovo which has entered into a “strategic relationship” with the Redmond based company to include its productivity apps, including Microsoft Office, OneDrive, and Skype, on its selected devices.
Lenovo is not the first company that has entered into such a “strategic relationship” with Microsoft. Samsung, Xiaomi, Asus, Dell, and many other Android OEMs are already a part of such a strategic partnership with the Redmond Company.
“Microsoft’s thrilled that our productivity apps will be pre-installed on Lenovo’s premium devices”, said Nick Parker, Corporate Vice President, OEM Division, Microsoft. “The marriage of Microsoft’s apps and Lenovo’s Android-based devices will enable customers around the world to be more productive, more connected and achieve even more”.
Christian Eigen, leader of Corporate Alliances at Lenovo, said deeper collaboration with Microsoft will create opportunities for customers to take advantage of some of Microsoft’s most popular apps. “Installing Microsoft apps and services on our devices will bring additional value to consumers around the globe”, he said.
In case it was not already obvious to you, Microsoft is using its patent portfolio to get these companies to enter such agreements. In turn, the company is likely reducing or completely waiving off the royalty fees that it gets from the sales of such Apps on each Android device.
Of course, the Apps could be very useful for those plugged into Microsoft’s ecosystem. For others, however, the apps coming with Lenovo phones could be a little frustrating, especially if they end up on Moto devices.
Phones like the Moto Z and Moto X have long been loved because of their near stock Android experience, and while it’s certainly possible that the apps can be deleted, less is very often more for many users.
Microsoft has been struggling in mobile over the past few years, and it seems as though the company has gotten better at offering services on operating systems like iOS and Android than it is at offering a decent mobile operating system.
According to Fortune magazine, “Microsoft needs all the licensing deals it can get. Microsoft makes a lot of money from Android, thanks to its patents being used in Google’s operating system. That income has recently been faltering due to a fall in shipments of smartphones whose manufacturers have struck licensing deals with Microsoft.
The companies’ app arrangement is notable, but it’s really the continuing expansion of Microsoft’s licensing program that’s the big deal here. Microsoft’s most recent quarterly results showed a 27% year-on-year drop “due to a decline in license revenue per unit and licensed units.”
Given that Microsoft was estimated to be pulling in USD 2 billion a year from these deals a few years back, that’s a lot of money going out the window. And it’s probably because Chinese manufacturers such as Huawei, Oppo and Vivo, who are riding high in the smartphone charts right now, don’t have Microsoft licensing deals.
Lenovo’s stature in the mobile market is shaky, having recently experienced a 33% decline in sales – again, thanks to those other rising stars in China. However, it could still bounce back, and is therefore an important win for Microsoft.
As we see it, if these Apps are not unremovable from the devices, then they aren’t really bloatware – a lot of these apps are genuinely useful and if the devices are going to be used as productivity machines, then having such apps preloaded is really a benefit – one that folks would actually end up utilising. So, overall, its a good move and a win-win for
The Tough Just Got Tougher: Introducing Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5!
This one goes out to all my clumsy comrades who keep dropping their smartphones from new heights and of course, to all you other more sapient creatures who’d like to know just how sturdy the next generation of touchscreen iPhones is going to be.
Corning is coming up with the King Kong of tough glass material, the “Gorilla Glass 5”.
Established in 1851, Corning Inc. is a veteran in the glass and ceramics manufacturing industry with the experience of over a century and a half under its belt, and the credit for developing the ion exchange and fusion process to make toughened glass – a kind of shatterproof glass with a high resistance to physical and thermal pressure. It is used everywhere from automobiles to buildings to cookware to bulletproof windows and even space shuttles!
Corning Gorilla Glass has been used on more than 4.5 billion devices worldwide, including more than 1,800 product models across 40 major brands! Some companies that use Corning Glass in their products are: Acer, Asus, HP, HTC, Lenovo, LG, Motorola, OnePlus, Samsung, Micromax and Huawei.
A standard feature of any smartphone worth its salt, Corning’s Gorilla Glass is a similarly toughened glass made especially for electronic devices and displays. Interestingly, it was used for the very first time in the first generation of iPhones that was launched in 2007 – months before Corning made it available on the market. While thin and lightweight, it is highly resistant to the battery of scratches that befall a smartphone on a daily basis.
Vice President and General Manager at Corning Gorilla Glass, John Bayne, states on Corning’s website that the new product will secure Corning’s position over those of its competitors.
According to a recent global study, over 85% of smartphone owners have dropped their phones at least once per year and 55% have dropped their phones three times or more. Additionally, more than 60% of smartphone owners reported dropping their devices between shoulder and waist height.
In addition to the ability to withstand unfortunate falls, the tougher glass promises an unmatched clarity and sensitivity while being thin enough for your smartphone to look as slim and slick as ever.
Mobile devices are the primary tools consumers use to capture, view, create, send and consume digital content, and the cover glass is the interface for touching, typing and swiping that content. Consumers count on their cover glass to deliver damage resistance, optical clarity, touch sensitivity, and protection from drops.
Gorilla Glass 5 is a marked improvement over its previous iterations. Where Gorilla Glass 4 could only survive falls of up to 3.2 feet, the new one can survive those of up to 5.2 feet. With more than half of all smartphone users dropping their cell phones at least thrice each year, and with most of those falls occurring from shoulder or waist height, the new glass is a much-needed advancement in prolonging the lifespan of our precious devices.
There has also been some speculation, ever since the launch of the iPhone 5 in 2014, over whether Apple might choose Sapphire glass, a harder material made of Sapphire crystal, over Corning’s Gorilla Glass. However, Apple has consistently refused to use it on its displays and with good reason.
Sapphire is costlier and bulkier than glass. It is also less transparent, which means that more light must pass through the display for it to be bright enough, putting a strain on battery life while making the iPhone bulkier and costlier. Sapphire is, however, practically immune to scratches and which is why Apple uses it on the camera and home button/fingerprint scanner of the iPhone 6.
In all probability, the upcoming series of iPhones will feature Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5. Not only would this be in line with Apple’s plan to make a stronger build of the iPhone after the “Bendgate” fiasco, but it would also make sense given the fact that each successive generation of the iconic phone has used Corning’s high strength glass.
Even though Corning and Apple work in a rather clandestine fashion, and there has been no official statement on the matter, it would be rather safe to make that prediction.
Motorola Is Back With ‘Moto Mods’
In an attempt to reclaim some of the smartphone space dominated by Apple and Samsung, Lenovo-owned Motorola recently unveiled a new hardware project called “Moto Mods”.
Moto Mods is a series of swappable accessories that can bring new capabilities to their Moto Z line of handsets. Clearly, Motorola has taken a leaf from Apple’s playbook – of self-branded accessories and add-ons.
As it were, with burgeoning device prices, these days it’s rare to see a smartphone without accessories and add-ons like protective cases, headphones, zoom lenses, and many more. Owners have started spending more on ancillaries, in order to protect their investments in the primary handset, and to also derive more value from it, for a longer period.
In fact, these add-ons and accessories brought in their manufacturers an estimated $80 billion last year.
Apple had started the trend of defining the design for the accessories and add-ons compatible with their devices, however they did not bring the manufacturing process under their own roof; a step that Motorola has just taken with this program. Motorola supports the advent, by an official development kit.
Motorola is definitely trying to give this new sub-series a leg up in the marketplace. Motorola hopes to bring accessories into the design spotlight, by adding definitive value through these ancillaries.
Moto Mods snap onto the back of a Moto Z series phone and add enhancements such as a longer battery life or a portable loudspeaker. In more advanced examples, Motorola has even showcased a snap-on projector built into a case, that will allow users to display an image up to 70 inches in size from their Moto Z smartphone! This projector accessory even includes an independent battery that provides an hour-long life before it taps into the battery on the phone itself.
Clearly, these are not dead-wood appendages. In fact Motorola’s even tweaked it’s version of Android that comes on Moto Z phones, to be able to support these add-ons. When you attach a Moto Mod to a Moto Z device, the phone vibrates and also gets on-screen notifications – which range from a full-screen alert to a more subtle extra battery percentage icon for the add-on.
Sound-Boost is perhaps the most impressive of the three initial Mods that Motorola had on display at Tech World.
It is actually a 6-watt stereo speaker that’s less built into a case. Less than an inch thick, it is loud. Loud enough that we could can hear it from the back of the crowded auditorium of the Expo. The speakers are less than an inch thick with a subtle curve on both ends, and a slim red kickstand that folds out from the middle to prop up your phone. Though it can’t replicate the highs and lows of a portable speaker like the Bose SoundLink, yet the Sound-Boost is a nice touch that enables you rock an impromptu jig.
But perhaps the best feature is one it lacks – no cumbersome Bluetooth pairing! Once the magnets connect, you’re set to rock on!
Like the other Mods, the USB-C port is available to charge its built-in, 10-hour battery, though it will charge automatically when it’s connected to a Moto Z that’s plugged into an electric supply.
The projector Mod mirrors the good looks of the SoundBoost, and also comes with a built-in battery and kickstand. But like most mobile projectors, its bulb is weak in all but a darkened room, making it impractical for the sort of impromptu family photo or quarterly sales slideshows for which it’s supposedly intended.
The power bank, projector, and speaker were developed by Lenovo in partnership with JBL and the designers.
They are “concepts to help seed the market“, said Lenovo’s Chief Technology Officer Peter Hortensius. With its Mod Development Kit, the company envisions and also aims a sea of third-party Mods that will be compatible with any pogo-equipped Motorola phone, making it most efficient.
The 5.2 mm Moto Z smartphone is made from aluminium and stainless steel, and has a water-repellent coating. (Nonetheless, judging from the amount of fingerprints on the Tech World demo units, it’s oleophobic properties aren’t so great).
On the inside, Moto Z has a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera with well-equipped optical image stabilization, a 5-megapixel front-facing shooter, and a 2,600 mAh battery that can be recharged to deliver eight hours of power in 15 minutes.
It runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor and includes 32 GB of storage. There’s also USB-C and microSD (up to 2 TB) support and a fingerprint reader.
The Moto Z Force is slightly thicker and includes a higher-resolution camera and longer-lasting battery, though is otherwise identical to the base Z model. If you don’t have a Mod power bank, you’ll appreciate its ability to get what Motorola claims is 15 hours of battery life from a 15-minute charge.
Getting back to the ‘Mods’, they are certainly innovative, but whether or not they are able to ignite a smartphone revolution will depend to a large degree on their price tags, which haven’t been announced yet.
In a presentation to the press, Motorola teased that the Mods will serve as a high advantage to the Motorola users, as they will provide an experience different from the usual stuff.
Nevertheless, the company seems to have tapped into a truism of smartphone users: some may need a 20-hour battery life, and others might crave JBL speakers. None of these users can reasonably expect their phones to come with those features built-in. Therefore, they might be willing to pay extra for the privilege of having them in an easy-to-use accessory that doesn’t make their phone look like a silicone camel.
Samsung's Future Lineup Including A Possible 4K UHD Display For Galaxy S8?
At the recently held Society for information display (SID) trade show 2016 in California, Samsung showcased a 5.5” 4K AMOLED display (3840 x 2160 resolution) with an 806ppi pixel density. Market analysts believe that the production of the same will increase in the coming months allowing Samsung to use it for its next flagship series.
“Considering various factors including the production yield rate for the next-generation display expected to improve in the coming months, the 5.5-inch AMOLED will be deployed in the next Galaxy Smartphone, presumably, named the S8,” said a UBI Research official via Korea Herald.
According to the report released by UBI Research, the display size of the Galaxy series smartphones has increased by 30% to 5.5in since the launch of the first Galaxy S handset in 2010. The research firm predicts the smartphones with 5in screen or larger than that would take up about 71% of the smartphone lineup of the firm. The company also came up with a new technology called Bio Blue which decreases the blue light levels to 6% which earlier displays can only reduce upto 32%.
If these clamours do come to fruition, S8 will be the company’s debut foray into the 4K high resolution display, though it won’t take the cake overall. In 2015 Sony unveiled its first 4K smartphone — Xperia Z5 Premium — at the international IFA event in Berlin, making them the first to brace the summit.
One might wonder why in all the time since 2015, no company announced any intentions to rival Sony’s spoils at 4K display smartphone. The reason, at least most of it, is that there is a limitation to the content that you can broadcast on a 4K display, so far that is, as the notion seems to be headed for 180 degrees turn.
The emergence of a new wireless connectivity standard like 802.11ad WiGig is gaining speed and could be the catalyst for a change. The WiGig ad standard, rumored to be coming with the iPhone 7 later in 2016, will allow for wireless transmission of 4K video files from or to a phone and a local docked device like a set-top box or 4K smart TV. WiGig has a range of only about 4 meters, or 12 feet but it at least creates a viable means of delivering 4K content straight to a smartphone with the correct display type.
The display will greatly enhance the virtual reality (VR) experience of the user. Most of the current virtual reality headset platforms that exist today have to be paired with smartphone devices to function. Virtual reality is already a hot topic and is widely regarded as the next big thing in the mobile world and all of the biggest tech companies are investing and developing their own variant of it. Google recently unraveled its next-generation version of Android N, which has Daydream VR support built in, and Samsung and HTC already offer their own VR headsets. Apple is also rumored to have a team working on an iOS-based VR platform.
It would be far from a wide stretch of imagination to say that Samsung’s Galaxy S8, owing to its high profile status, sales and frontrunning specs would be an ideal fit for a Daydream support interface, that is, besides Google’s own Nexus series.
Additionally, the rumour mills are abuzz with the following specifications for the yet to be announced S8:
The flat Galaxy S8 variant will likely have a 5.2-inch 4K display whereas the larger device will sport a curved 5.5-inch edge screen.
There is another speculation that says Samsung will be releasing a foldable device codenamed the Galaxy X in early 2017 as well. Lenovo had just recently showcased the bendable Cplus smartphone and foldable Folio tablet at the Lenovo Tech World 2016. While neither of the devices is fully developed yet, the company hopes to make the Cplus and Folio fully functional by the end of this year. LG too is also working on foldable display whereas Sony is said to launch the Xperia X Premium with a 4K HDR display. Suddenly Apple’s move to switch to OLEDs seems like one lost on its time.
Evidently, Samsung has a reputation of enhancing its display features every couple of years. The Galaxy S3 had an HD display while the Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy S5 both had a full HD display and the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S7 both feature a Quad HD display. If history is to be taken as testament then we have already caught on to your next move Samsung- an introduction to 4K.
Lenovo’s First Project Tango Device Will Reportedly Be The PHAB2 Pro Smartphone
While specifics of the partnership and the devices ensuing from it are yet awaited – expected at the Lenovo World Tech event (slated for 9th June), however prominent leakster Evan Blass already buzzed in with some details that piqued our interest.
But first, what exactly is Project Tango?
Well, it is another moonshot from Google. Project Tango is a technology platform being built by the technology megabrand that makes use of computer vision to enable devices to see the world around them without the crutches of GPS.
The objective is to create experiences like indoor navigation, 3D mapping, and augmented reality come alive on today’s mobile devices and not have to rely on external paraphernalia like VR headsets etc., that still in nascent stages of evolution.
The technology behind Tango achieves these miracles of virtualisation by combining inputs from a range of sensors and processing them into usable information at an amazingly fast speed.
Harnessing motion-tracking (using the onboard accelerometer and gyroscope in today’s smart devices), area learning and depth perception via sensors including infrared emitters, a wide-angle infrared camera picks up the reflected light.
Back to the leak.
If Evan is to be believed, Lenovo’s next smartphone, purportedly christened the PHAB2 Pro, will be the first Project Tango-equipped device anywhere in the world.
Although, Evan didn’t reveal much by way of device specs, but he did proclaim that the PHAB 2 Pro’s screen would be a gigantic 6.4 inches and that it’s resolution would be of Quad HD (which translates into 2560×1440 pixels in a 16:9 aspect ratio).
And this lends credibility to Evan’s leak. Google had already announced previously that the Project Tango’s device’s screen would be “somewhere under 6.5 inches”.
While the exact price that the customers for this unique Tango-enabled smartphone is yet to be confirmed, but we can be relatively sure that it will be under USD 500, as Google had mentioned that in an earlier release.
So what’s so exciting about another VR play?
Well, some of the possible capabilities that a Tango-powered PHAB 2 Pro might deliver would be the ability to map indoor spaces, figure out where the floors, walls, ceilings and furniture are – hence you could check out how a particular piece of furniture (your contemplating acquiring) would look in your actual home before buying it. You could even establish an estimate of your home’s internal area without actually taking out that long cumbersome measuring tape!
All this is very exciting, and sounds like there would be many many uses and applications of such technology, especially if device manufacturers build around this capability and reduce your effort to do many of these arduous things.
It’ll even open your eyes to a world that allows you to interact with objects and principles that outside the current realm of material reality.
The Lenovo World Tech Event has managed to induce a lot of excitement among users, hence the various speculations and leaks. So much so, that just a few hours before the launch, French website Nowhereelse’s editor shared two images of the PHAB2 Pro smartphone giving us our first possible look at the phablet.
It appears in the images that the phone has an aluminium body and interestingly racks up three cameras at the back, along with the flash and a fingerprint sensor. If these images turn out to be true, then the phablet will be available in at least two colour options – Gold and Silver.
Lending credibility to the leaked images are Lenovo and Tango branding that are evident on the back panel. This amounts to a lot of information before the launch eh?
It also amounts to a lot of excitement for us – we can hardly wait for the second annual Lenovo World Tech event to get underway on June 9 at 10am PST (10.30pm IST) in San Francisco.
Is it going to herald a bright new world of interaction, education and discovery for all of us?
Lenovo Trademarks ‘Moto Z’
Motorola’s brand is still alive, but these days it’s wrapped up inside the Lenovo Corporation, operating behind the scenes. The brand is still in process for designing and producing phones and tablets.
The firm’s legacy lives on through the Moto brand, a brand which while under Motorola (and Google) created some very popular device series including the Moto X and Moto G handsets which offered a competitive specification user customisation, a relatively low price point, optimised hardware and software, and a clean, stock Android experience.
So while the announcement for this year’s Moto devices has come via Lenovo, one has to be assured it is still a Motorola product through-and-through. A new change in branding from “Motorola Moto” to just “Moto” can be seen clearly.
The new handsets just unveiled in June have also switched things further just like the brand name. These are still the premium category in the vein of the Moto X- many fans know and love, however, it’s now the Moto Z, and the Moto Z Force.
Plenty of the other rumours turned out to be true as well, including, most importantly, the MotoMod Modular’s back panel design which allows a wide range of bolt-on features and capabilities, as well as visual customisation in-keeping with the Moto brand.
Lenovo, at the Tech World 2016 in San Francisco unveiled Moto Z and Moto Z Force, as semi-modular smartphones with replaceable back covers called MotoMods. Imagine a smartphone that doesn’t only look aesthetically appealing, but also transforms in to a new device each time you snap on its back cover. This is what Lenovo is offering with Moto Z.
The Moto Mods provide various function to the smartphone when attached to them. Some of the function are:
So the first among the lot is- the Power Packs. The module looks sleek and can be snapped to the rear of Moto Z and Moto Z Force to add an extra 2,200 mAh battery life. The Power Packs gives up to 22 hours of battery life. It is almost double of what Moto Z’s built-in 2,600 mAh battery offers.
Motorola has partnered with Kate Spade New York, TUMI and Incipio to create fashionable designs for Power Packs.
Lenovo and JBL have created a Mod to amplify the sound on these smartphones and it’s good enough to transform the smartphone into a speaker!
JBL SoundBoost has two three-watt drivers, and a built-in 1,000mAh battery.
“Like an instant party maker with the JBL SoundBoost – it’s really, really loud”, says Motorola.
Moto Insta-Share projector
Moto Insta-Share projector is a 70-inch movie projector, which can be used to either beam images or videos on to any surface. Moto Insta-Share projector is the most bulky of the three modules, and comes with a slightly protruding unit. The project also has a look of a built-in speaker.
Lenovo said that the MotoMods are designed to work with future generations of Moto Z smartphones too.
Coming back to the smartphones and their specifications,
Moto Z features a 5.5-inch Quad HD AMOLED display and is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset. The smartphone has 4 GB RAM and will be available in 32/64 GB storage options.
Moto Z features a 13 megapixel primary camera with f/1.8 aperture lens and a dual-LED flash. The rear camera also comes with laser autofocus and dual-LED flash. The front camera is a 5 megapixel that’s capable of recording 1080p videos.
Moto Z and Moto Z Force feature same display, same amount of RAM and storage. Moto Z skips 3.5 mm headphone jack and uses USB-C to 3.5 mm adaptor for audio playback. The smartphone is backed by a 2600 mAh battery.
Moto Z Force, on the other hand, comes with a shatterproof display like Moto X Force. Additionally, Moto Z Force gets a 21 megapixel rear camera and is backed by a beefy 3,500 mAh battery.
Lenovo’s Moto smartphones along with the Mods start selling in the US in September. The company has not announced any pricing on the device or its modules.
India will soon see a boom of the smartphone in its market due of their exceptional features and advantages, which put them in a different light from others.
Indian Lenovo K3 Note Users Finally Land The Android 6.0 Marshmallow Update
There is good news for Indian Lenovo K3 Note owners. The pocket friendly, yet technologically advanced phone is all set to get the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update.
The Chinese tech giant relied on Twitter to reveal the news, stating that the rollout had started from 18th of March.
A quick recap to those who are unaware of Lenovo K3 Note:
It is a 8 mm thick phablet weighing in at 150 gms, packed with ample technology and is extremely light on the pockets at INR 9,200. In short, it is an apt choice for new smartphone users and for those looking for a secondary device. The Lenovo K3 Note comes with following specs:
Coming back to the topic at hand, the Marshmallow update is available to be downloaded over the air (hence no need for a computer). Here’s are some of the sought-after Marshmallow offerings that users will finally have access to:
A word of caution though, the update is about 1.6 GB in size, so you’re best advised to hit the button when you’re safely on Broadband (and not saddled with Cellular Data bills later on)!
To access the upgrade, head over to: Settings > About Phone > System update.
Download and install the upgrade and you are good to go!
Enjoy! We’re now keeping our fingers crossed for those of you who have Marshmallow-compatible Lenovo devices. May Lenovo be with you (and push out updates soon)!
Samsung Galaxy TabPro S: Up Against The iPad Pro And Surface 4
The newest Samsung flagship to step into the tablet game is Galaxy TabPro S. But it’s not just another tablet from the company that seems to breed new products in a hyper-active hatchery.
It’s different, in oh so many ways.
First, the TabPro S is a hybrid device – a tablet and a laptop rolled into one (a trend we’re seeing lately), with its design and features inspired from and comparable with Apple’s iPad Pro and Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4.
Second, it’s a Samsung product, with a Windows operating system. So? Well, it’s Samsung’s first ever Windows tablet, and it’s first Windows product since the Omnia M released way back in July 2012.
Coming up with the perfect Windows tablet, to beat not just the competition in the existing tablet market, but also challenge the burgeoning phablet market, has been something that a lot of companies, including Microsoft, have been aiming at for a while now.
How long is the while? Well, you’d be surprised to know that it was Microsoft that came up with the first tablet ever, yet somehow they failed to make it as big or as mind blowing as Apple’s iPad over which the world has been going gaga for years now.
But Microsoft’s been gaining ground – their latest, the Surface Pro 4 does quite a good job nonetheless. It’s got it all right – hardware, looks, capabilities and the world’s attention.
Against those odds. can Samsung beat Microsoft at its own game?
To even the odds somewhat, Samsung appears to have brought in the expertise of it’s two biggest competitors and hopes to gain leverage to get a leg over them both – Apple’s design and Microsoft’s operating system. It even seems to be highly inspired by Apple’s iPad Pro!
TabPro S is a 12 inch tablet, a little smaller than iPad Pro, and almost the same size as the Surface Pro 4. But to best them, Samsung laid it’s best display yet – the third first for the TabPro S – it is the first tablet in the world, to sport a Super AMOLED screen on a Windows 10 platform.
Going back to ‘inspiration’ – the TabPro runs on the same central processing (CPU) unit as the Surface Pro 4; Intel’s new Core M3 CPU. This particular chip from Intel enables users to glide over multiple browsing and multiple tasks simultaneously.
The TabPro S comes with 4 GB RAM and a 128 GB non-expandable memory and is priced in the neighbourhood of $900, less than both its competitors. To sweeten the deal, the TabPro S comes with a familiar keyboard cover to double as a laptop.
The TabPro S also seems a little thinner than both of its competitors and does not have the standard USB port, but only a Type C port that can be used for charging as well as data.
That’s the fourth first – the TabPro S is the first Samsung product released with the Type C port; not even the smartphones have it yet!
When asked about that, Jennifer Langan, the Samsung Director of Mobile Product Marketing said: “usually it’s the phones that get the latest and greatest features and then the tablets get them next. This is the one time where we got it backwards.”
Okay, what do we expect out of the hybrid device?
Well, to speak freely, we expect it to do double duty. On one hand we need it to be our everyday workstation for email, accessing and working on office documents; and on the other hand we expect it to give us easy tap-swipe-flick of an entertainment experience with media watching and playing games.
This is what makes it so difficult to bring an iPad alternative to the market. While the iPad Pro is not really positioned as a hybrid, but to counter it’s capabilities other manufacturers are forced to make hybrid machines, like the Lenovo Yoga series, which is a lineup of full-time-laptop-and-part-time-tablets.
Microsoft’s Surface Pro over its 4 generations has finally come considerably close.
TabPro S, however, may have struck it right, the first time around.
Should you buy it?
All said, the TabPro could be a good investment. It brings sleek design, features of an iPad Pro, and the Surface Pro 4 rolled into one with the Windows 10 workstation experience.
In terms of its Super AMOLED display, and Type-C port, along with the package-included keyboard, it has a couple more firsts that might go in its favor. The $900 price tag along with the familiarity of a Windows interface could do it good.
I’d only qualify this verdict with the sobering thought that there aren’t too many apps out there on Windows 10 just yet, and a smart device especially one with so much horsepower could get tethered to that stake for quite a while, and the racehorse may never break into a gallop.
Samsung Remains on Top In India
India is a huge market and lots of international brands have descended upon this “goldmine” hoping to make a mark in it’s effervescent waters. And a lot of them seem to have hit paydirt.
In the past year, these budget brands have brought out flagship devices which have earned them fairly big shares in the already saturated market space. International Data Corporation (IDC) released data for the Indian smartphone market that shows 64.3 million units were sold in the fourth quarter of 2015, which is a drop of 11% from the last quarter and that of 5% from the previous year. This clearly signifies there’s some saturation setting in now.
That said, Samsung has managed to keep their lead in the market, retaining its number one position for the total number of devices sold. Given that Samsung is a brand that has a device for you in every single price bracket you can think of, from a feature phone to a flagship smartphone. With the J-series and On series, Samsung has managed to retain a little more than 29% of the smartphone market in the top 30 cities in the country.
Micromax, enjoyed a good run too, in it’s home-market, with a 14.7% share coming in at second position in the ranking, having gained credibility and trust in the Indian market over the last couple of years. It has however, suffered a loss of about 2.5% of it’s market share in the last six months, facing severe competition from brands like Intex and Lava.
With 10.1% market share, Lenovo and Motorola hold a joint third position in the market. With devices such a Lenovo K3 Note, Lenovo Vibe P1m and Motorola Moto G ( Gen 3), the brands have gained a “value for money” reputation, with both brands having moved up on the Brand popularity ladder.
Intex with 8.2% and Lava with 7.1%, bagged the fifth and the sixth position respectively. Both brands have slipped by a couple spots, having been nudged over by Lenovo and Motorola.
This is only the second time that Intex has featured on the top 5 list, and could be owed to its focused launches and increased retail presence strategies. Lava also seems consistent in its market presence, despite its slip in position this year.
One of the notable brand movements since the last quarter in the market was Apple, with 4.6% share of the overall market, managed to pass Xiaomi.
At the end of the last quarter, the ranking was the other way around. While Apple dominates the over INR 20,000 market with a 42% share, Xiaomi has turned into a big name in the budget smartphone market, bringing feature-loaded devices to people. It has managed to gain a 3.5% share of the overall market in spite of having received a ban on a certain handset, and other hiccups over the quarter with its online-only approach.
Xiaomi’s Head, Hugo Barra, reportedly said that they do not plan to focus on competing with Apple, nor have they been doing so as of now.
That’s an interesting claim since I (and quite a few others) feel that their detail to construct, and even their website has inspiration from Apple written all over!
Proving their quality, the traction that these Chinese brands, and their established citizen brand, Motorola are gaining in the market is impressive, even though their low-end prices continue to make some people doubtful of the said features. The technology in their devices and the promised user experience thereafter are gaining trust and popularity faster in the leading cities.
“There is a clear trend of migration from feature phones to low end smartphones in smaller cities and towns, making these markets the next growth engine for the smartphone industry. With the first time mobile phone users coming on a smartphone, it will be their only connected device which meets all of their internet and entertainment needs,” reportedly said Swapnil Bhatnagar, Research Director, IDC India.
One of the brands that has disappeared from the top ranking in the last six months has been Nokia. It was taken over by Microsoft last year and had been struggling to keep up with the current smartphone market, however things could change for them as they now enter into the ever growing Android ecosystem.
Looking at the data with regards to cities, New Delhi, followed by Mumbai, has managed to be the leading city in the country to having generated maximum demand. As per IDC’s monthly city level smartphone tracker, the top 30 cities in the country make for 51% of the smartphone market in the last quarter of 2015, with the top 5 cities making up about 60% of the online smartphone market.
Segments wise, Samsung has managed to be the biggest winner in the market, dominating both, the high-end as well as the budget market by sheer length and breadth of their product offering. Apple seems to be dominating the high-end market, while the mid-range Android smartphone market has Motorola, Lenovo and Micromax fairing well and Xiaomi for now seems to be dwindling between the midrange and budget segments.
Introducing Lenovo’s Vibe K5 a.k.a. Lemon 3 Plus
While the Vibe K5 is a new budget smartphone, the Vibe K5 Plus is actually the long-awaited international variant of the Lenovo Lemon 3 (which had been launched only in China in January this year, and did splendidly in that market).
First, some clarity – going against the current trend of “Plus” variants being phablet versions of a smaller phone, the Vibe K5 Plus is almost the same as the Vibe K5, except featuring a more powerful processor (a Qualcomm 616 processor on the K5 Plus, and a 415 on the K5), and a better resolution screen (a Full HD on the Plus as opposed to an HD (720×1280) on the K5). The screen size is the same across both variants.
With that background, lets talk specs. Both smartphones come with a 5 inch displays, run Android 5.1 Lollipop, and have Qualcomm Snapdragon processors coupled with 2 GB of RAM. They both have 16 GB of internal memory, expandable to 32 GB and sport 4G support, WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS along with dual-sim compatibility. Cameras – they have a 13 megapixel shooter at the back and a 5 megapixel one on the front.
The two main features of the phones are the metallic body construct and the DOLBY Atmos audio technology that are fast becoming standard on Lenovo’s current crop of smartphones.
There’s no doubt about it – the metal body makes the device look sleek and elegant, bestowing it a look of richness and class; casting it into the clique of devices wanted by people with elegance on their minds.
Introduced in Lenovo’s devices in 2015, with the claim that “Users will immediately hear the Dolby Atmos difference using headphones: sounds of people, places, things, and music become more vivid and move from all directions, including overhead, with astonishing clarity, richness and depth. Voices and noises have a broader range from highs to lows, with the greatest subtlety. The technology also makes playback volume more consistent across all types of content.”
What was meant to revolutionize the audio technology world has succeeded in becoming the Lenovo standard, and its key feature.
Despite the hoard of things launched at the Mobile World Congress, Lenovo Vibe K5 has managed to gain a significant stand in the spotlight, but that doesn’t ensure it easy going in the real world. Out there in the market, the phone shall be competing directly with Xiaomi Mi 4i, Moto G Turbo Edition, Moto G (Gen 3), and multiple Samsung and Microsoft Lumia models.
In terms of its specs it stands at par with most that is in the market, however it’s metal body and the audio technology might turn out to be the key differentiating features.
Lenovo seems to be moving fast too. The company already announced the K5 Plus, a few days ago via a video teaser “A gorgeous new device has been engineered from scratch to deliver the #Knockout punch” said its rather ambitious Twitter announcement.
And, it may not be unfounded confidence. The device does actually seem to be a knockout in its price range!
Lenovo K5 Note Launches With A Helio P10 Processor
Barely 20 days after the Lenovo K4 Note was released in India, China’s already received it’s successor, the Lenovo K5 Note!
Pre-orders for a flash sale for the K5 Note just began online in China.
Clearly, Lenovo is playing the dual-jab game as far as launches go.
The first thing to ask obviously is, how different is the K5 Note from K4 Note? It’s extremely intriguing to know what changes could the company have made in to the K4, to be able to launch a successor already (bear in mind, the K4 was released in China just a short while ago).
Well, there are a few changes that the company’s made are – to the body and the processor.
So, will it light up the market? Well, it has better numbers to talk about, however the Chinese smart-device maker had branded K4 as the “Killer Note” on it’s launch. Yet, the market didn’t see it that way, and the K4 failed to receive any such “extraordinary” feedback. It yielded average sales, at best. It was seen as a low-end device that is pocket friendly for an average man from a developing country.
Would the performance of K5 in China be any different from that of K4 in India?
Well, the Lenovo K4 Note is priced between INR 11,500-12,000 for different colour specifications in India.
The K5 has been released in China at RMB 1099 (which comes to about INR 11,500 post-conversion). In that price bracket there’s a lot for the K5 to compete with.
Brands like Micromax and Xolo already rule that segment of the market with their established names and products, Samsung too, takes a great share of the market and Motorola has also marked it’s presence in this particular price bracket of late.
So, competition for the K5 is going to be hard for sure.
While there’s not been any mention of the K5’s international release yet, however Lenovo would be smart to decide on that basis the device’s performance in the home market first.
ARM-Based Mobile Chips By Lenovo And Xiaomi
Recent times have witnessed a growing trend where prolific smartphone manufacturers are designing their own systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) instead of equipping their devices with a Intel or Qualcomm chip.
Apple and Samsung have been in the business for long now. Inspired by them, quite a few other manufacturers seem to be attempting to enter this manufacturing domain.
With a clear intention to compete against Apple and Samsung, Lenovo and Xiaomi are likely to build their own adaptable SoCs.
While Xiaomi has partnered with a leading chip designer Leadcore Innovation for ARM-based SoCs to be fitted in Xiaomi’s 2016 devices, Lenovo has been constantly making serious efforts towards developing its own ARM chips in-house.
This can’t bode well for full-time chip manufacturers! With the world’s two largest brands having become self-reliant, the long-established chip producers have already witnessed significant losses in business.
In 2015, San Diego-based Qualcomm experienced a significant drop in shipments and if Samsung succeeds in fully replacing the need for Snapdragon processors by it’s self-made Exynos line, then the chipset maker could behold further plunges.
There’s another side to consider too.
With the increased competition in the chip manufacturing business from budding smartphone manufacturers like Xiaomi and Lenovo, Apple and Samsung themselves need to gear up for some improvements, or it would not take China too long to assert their dominance in the chipset sector too.
Clearly, chip designing is a strenuous task which takes quite some time to get right and it demands continuous improvements from a set of skilled engineers working for several years to perfect the technique.
As the chipsets from Xiaomi and Lenovo get ready for launch, it’ll be interesting to watch how their products fare against those of the existing eminent specialists, and those of the behemoths.
Vibe Smartphones Not Being Discontinued By Lenovo
Last week, there were reports surfacing online stating that Lenovo was to discontinue its Vibe series of smartphones to focus on Motorola’s line of smartphones.
Lenovo, the premier Chinese PC and smartphone maker acquired Motorola last year for $2.91 billion and as part of the merger, the company said that it would rely on Motorola for designing, developing, and manufacturing its smartphone products.
Accordingly, Lenovo began integrating its own mobile arm, the Mobile Business Group (MBG) into Motorola Mobility earlier this year.
This recent ‘report’ supposedly quoting Chen Xudong, President of Lenovo’s Mobile Business Group, claimed the company to be abandoning the Vibe lineup of smartphones.
Apparently the report was someone’s pipe dream. Lenovo was quick to react and clear the air. An official statement issued by Lenovo, “Vibe remains an important brand in the Lenovo mobile family and we plan to continue to expand and grow the franchise in select markets around the world”, nixes the fallacious ‘report’ about the Vibe smartphones being discontinued.
That said, the innocuous inclusion of the phrase “select markets” does suggest though, that Lenovo may indeed pull the plug in some countries and persevere in others – which could be the reason for the errant rumor.
According to a recent report, Lenovo is striving to take the second spot in India and is looking to almost double the local production to 10 million units annually by next year. The report also adds that Lenovo plans to export from its Chennai facility and will make more models in India.
While Motorola is a way more established brand of mobile devices (and their recent success with the manufactured-for-Google Nexus 6 adds to the lustre), Lenovo ought to stay focussed on their Vibe line too, as it allows a multi-pronged salvo in this crowded marketplace.
One thing’s for certain though, whatever their strategy be, Lenovo the brand is here to stay. And it’s a good thing!
Vibe Series From Lenovo Shelved?
Rumours are running around saying that, in order to consolidate its product offerings, Lenovo is reportedly shutting down a range of its devices – the Vibe series.
Currently ranked as the world’s fourth largest smartphone manufacturer, Lenovo looks forward to get bigger and better by solidifying its product range.
Lenovo has been selling its range of smart-devices under three distinct brands – Motorola, Vibe and Lemon, however rumour mongers say the electronics giant has decided to shut down its Vibe brand consisting of middle to high-end smartphones.
It could be because it’s got it’s hands full with managing the resurgence of the Moto brand, and may just be finding it hard to paddle both, the Moto and Vibe boats at the same time.
Chen Xudong, President of Lenovo’s Mobile Business Group, is quoted to have said in a statement, “Lenovo is now cutting out the Vibe brand of middle-to-high-end phones. The Vibe series portfolio sells the mid-to-high-end range of smartphones while the affordable smartphones usually are branded under the Lemon range”.
Lenovo’s strategic adjustments seems completely justified following the acquisition of Motorola Mobility from Google last year. It doesn’t make too much sense to create two distinct brands under the same company, and make them rival each other.
Discontinuing a quite successful range of devices calls for some structural transition within the company, thus the affordable Lemon smartphones could well be utilizing some of the higher-grade hardware components belonging to the Vibe range.
So it could well be that Lenovo would continue to sell the entry-level and mid-range of smartphones under the Lemon sub-series name, and smartphones with the Motorola tag could be getting pushed into the upper-mid and high-end segments.
The slowing down of the Chinese economy, which stands as the world’s largest smartphone market, is one of the major reasons for Lenovo’s reported move to simplify its product range.
Reports from a research firm IDC indicates that 32.3% of the smartphones produced globally were exported to China in 2014, which is expected to drop to 23.1% by 2019 with the progressing markets like India and Africa calling for more portions of the pie.
Canalys, a market research firm, states Lenovo’s decision as a strategic move to simplify its smartphone portfolio, and reducing market cannibalisation by sibling brands. It has observed that Lenovo seeks a twofold increase into the existing smartphone production in India in 2016, up to 10 million units, and aspires to become the second largest smartphone manufacturer in the country.
Three Lenovo 4G Smartphones Launched In India
Lenovo, like many brands, is looking to leverage the upcoming festive season to boost sales. It just launched three smartphones that will be offered for sale in these run-up months, in the anticipation of doing a great business and to deepen its footprint in India’s emerging market.
The three smartphones – the A1000, the A6000 Shot, and the K3 Note Music, offer a plethora of options to the smartphone users – all designed to offer LTE connectivity.
Lenovo obviously realizes the growing need for high-speed Internet connectivity with more and more users connected to the world-wide network.
“Diwali is when we see a substantial jump in sales and this is why we are launching the A1000 priced at INR 4,999, A6000 Shot at INR 9,999 and K3 Note Music at INR 12,999 exclusively for our offline channel partners. Diwali is still the time when people buy stuff at stores with family and friends”, stated Sudhin Mathur, Director, Smartphones division at Lenovo India.
He added that, “We’re now the No. 5 brand in India and are looking at improving that position as we await the third-quarter results. We’re confident of gaining 2 per cent share points in the third quarter”.
In an attempt to strengthen its impact in the expanding low-priced smartphone market segment, the Chinese manufacturer has come up with the Lenovo A1000. The device possesses similar features as the Lenovo A2010 which was launched earlier this year, however, the 4G connectivity feature has been newly included.
The Lenovo A1000 flaunts a 4-inch WVGA (480×800) TFT-TN display, is powered by Spreadtrum SC7731 quad-core SoC clocked at 1.3 GHz and Adreno Mail 400 MP2 GPU coupled with 1 GB of RAM. It offers 8 GB of in-built storage, expandable up to 32 GB via microSD card.
The dual-SIM capable A1000 houses a 5-megapixel primary camera with a VGA front camera. The handset is equipped with a 2,050 mAh battery which should power the device for up to 9 hours of everyday use on a single charge and offers other connectivity options like 3G, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0.
The Lenovo A1000 runs on the Android 5.0 (Lollipop) OS and is available in two colour options – Onyx Black and Pearl White, and is priced at a modest INR 4,999.
The Lenovo A6000 Shot is a replica of the Lenovo A6000 launched earlier this year with some substantial camera improvements. It flaunts a 5-inch HD (720×1280) display, and is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 410 quad-core SoC clocking at 1.2 GHz, incorporated with Adreno 306 GPU and 2 GB of RAM. Apart from the 16 GB of in-built storage, there is a provision for microSD card slot for expansion.
The A6000 Shot houses a 13-megapixel rear autofocus camera with LED flash, and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. The camera sensors seem to have really improved as compared to the Lenovo A6000. Like the Lenovo A1000, the A6000 Shot also runs on the Android 5.0 OS. The Lenovo A6000 Shot is available in three colour options – Onyx Black, Pearl White, and Carmine Red, and is priced at INR 9,999.
The Lenovo K3 Note Music is also an improved version of the K3 Note, which was launched earlier this year, and now comes with better speakers and sound technology.
The K3 Note Music is the world’s first handset embedded with “AnyWoofer” technology along with Dolby Atmos audio and ceramic speakers, which gives it the ability to use any vessel and use it to produce a richer and louder sound (just like putting your phone in an empty glass to increase the volume, but with better sound output too).
The K3 Note Music flaunts a 5.5-inch FHD (1920×1080) display, is powered by MediaTek MT6752 octa-core 1.7 GHz SoC with Adreno Mali-T760 MP2 GPU paired with 2 GB of RAM, and offers 16 GB of internal storage expandable up to 32 GB via a microSD card.
Equipped with a 3,000 mAh battery, the device offers 4G LTE Indian bands on both the SIM slots.
There is however no improvement on the camera front, and the handset houses the same 13-megapixel rear-facing camera and 5-megapixel sensor upfront as the K3 Note.
The Lenovo K3 Note Music is available in three colour options – Pearl White, Onyx Black, and Laser Yellow, and is priced at Rs. 12,999.
The handsets will be made available for sale through the retail outlets in the country by the end of October.
Lenovo Launches Tab 2 A7-20 For INR 5,499
The Chinese tech firm Lenovo, just launched a brand-new, affordable tablet called the Tab 2 A7-20. Priced extremely sweetly at INR 5,499, it makes for an excellent Diwali gift (which may be precisely what Lenovo aimed for)!
The Tab 2 A7-20 carries decent budget-specs – it flaunts a 7-inch IPS display, is powered by a quad-core 1.3 GHz MediaTek processor with 1 GB of RAM and a 3,450 mAh battery to support it.
With a built-in storage of 8 GB, the tablet supports microSD cards up to 32 GB.
One of the surprises with this tablet is, that in this day and age of Android Lollipop, Lenovo has been tardy enough to launch a device on the now-archaic Android 4.4 (KitKat) OS; though it is reportedly upgradeable to Android 5.0 (Lollipop) however, neither has the update’s rollout date been announced, nor does Lenovo have a great record of being conscientious. Moreover, this should really not be something that users have to do!
The tablet is equipped with a 2 megapixel rear-facing camera with LED flash and a 0.3 megapixel front-facing camera (Lenovo seems to have compromised on cameras on the tablet – lower camera specs reduce costs, and that may be okay, given that photography via tablets is not a core competence, nor one that most users look for when shortlisting tablets).
The Tab 2 A7-20 doesn’t feature any support for SIM cards (another cost saving move), and is only available in a Wi-Fi-only configuration. However it does offer other connectivity options – USB On-The-Go and micro-USB to get content onto the tablet.
Listed as being made only in one color option (Ebony Black), the Tab 2 A7-20 is yet to adorn shelves in brick-and-mortar retail stores, however impatient early experimenters can grab it online at Snapdeal, where it is offered at a discounted price of INR 5,001.
As an aside, Lenovo has unveiled two more tablets along with the Tab 2 A7-20 – Phab Plus (available in Croma and Reliance Digital outlets at INR 20,990) and Yoga Tab 3 (yet to launch, expected at a price of INR 16,999).
This product diversity seems to be a smart move by the Chinese tech firm targeting the Indian market just ahead of the festive season, expecting to widen their product sales.
A New Variant Of Moto X Launched On Flipkart
The Moto X (Gen 2) shook the world, proving irrefutably that well made, high-spec phones from world-class manufacturers could be mass-produced and sold off the shelf in the INR 20,000-25,000 range.
The Moto X (Gen 2) was extremely well received in India, and its ‘cool’ attractive design regularly turned heads.
Probably in order to proactively deflect criticism for an unduly long silence about the Moto X (Gen 3, as we assume it’d be called, in keep with the lineage) launch – and there’s not much by way of discussions on when that would be, Motorola has quietly launched a new variant of the extremely popular Moto X (Gen 2) on Flipkart.
We aren’t sure if this is an interim “refresh” to cover for a delayed new product, or if the beleaguered Motorola neé Lenovo team has taken the year off (we just hope the very talented team that brought us the Moto G, Moto X, Moto E, Nexus 6, Moto 360 haven’t been sent to the gallows by the guys at the Big L).
This new edition to the Moto X series goes by the name of ‘Cognac’ and is priced at INR 25,999. Cognac is basically a color shade (and is also a variety of brandy) and the choice of name is a big departure from any precedent at Motorola.
From the photos on Flipkart that we have seen so far, Cognac is probably the most stylish looking of all leather variants that Motorola has launched for the Moto X (Gen 2) until now. If you already own a Moto X and are looking for a change, or if you’re plain sick of all the plastic that most phones suffer from – stand out from the crowd, lay your hands on this new baby. Price wise, the 32 GB Cognac variant is only INR 1,000 more than its older sibling the Moto X (Gen 2)
Talking technical: The Cognac variant of the Moto X comes with a 5.2 inch display, 13 megapixel rear camera with dual ring LED flash, 2 megapixel front shooter and a Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core processor clocked at 2.5 GHz which is backed by 2 GB of RAM.
This device is also said to be upgradable over-the-air to Android Lollipop.
Currently, Flipkart is sweeting the deal with an exchange offer on the Moto X (Gen 1), allowing you to grab the Cognac variant for just ₹20,999.
Xiaomi Beats Samsung In Their Own Backyard
Xiaomi has overpowered Samsung last year as the top smartphone company in China, having already amassed a 12.5% market share, according to a new report by the research firm International Data Corporation (IDC).
In the third quarter of 2014, Xiaomi became the world’s third largest smartphone maker, according to both IDC and Strategy Analytics and in August, it was entitled China’s top smartphone marketer by Canalys.
A total of 420.7 million smartphones were shipped to China in 2014, with a subsequent rise in the shipments along the quarters. The fourth quarter of 2014 turned out to be splendid for Xiaomi with a continuous rise in their market share from 5.3% in 2013 to a whopping 12.5% in 2014. Concurrently, Samsung’s market share declined to 12.1% from 18.7%.
Xiaomi asserts that it has sold around 61 million devices last year, a rise in 227% from 2013.
The Chinese market is also experiencing the influx of Apple, who already govern the U.S. smartphone industry and have very aggressive plans for engagement of the Chinese market. Apple’s market share has grown significantly to 12.3% in the fourth quarter of 2014 and can be attributed to the company’s new flagship devices – iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
Xiaomi’s success is attributable to its marketing techniques – online flash sales, as well as modest pricing of their products. Hugo Barra, Vice President, told TechCrunch’s Jon Russell that Xiaomi manages to keep the prices reasonable through extensive sales with low profit margins while delivering a range of high-performance devices comparable to what Samsung or Apple provides.
The constant failure of the South Korean tech giant Samsung to bring about a revolution in the market with new technology, and also its overpriced flagship devices, attributes to the fall in its market share in a developing nation like China.
Although Samsung is in the second position overall, the huge drop should be a serious concern demanding immediate attention and implementation of relevant countermeasures. On the other hand, the strategy employed by Xiaomi is getting tough to crack and is its competitors sleepless nights, with gain in popularity and ever increasing fan base in China.
Xiaomi is all set to rule the market with its enchantment. The company is also performing competently in the other developing nations of Asia like India, and with the new investors willing to fund Xiaomi, the company can make substantial dents in the other markets in the coming year.
Google Lays Down the Law: No More Device Launches With Dated Android OS
Apple has forever had an edge over the Android devices with regard to the high proportion of it’s user base that is on the most-contemporary iOS version.
Android on the other hand, struggles to overcome the highly fragmented adoption rate of it’s newer Android versions. Manufacturers are to blame, as is the overall ‘open source’ method of Android.
Android thus suffers poor users experience on it’s devices and Google has forever know that.
Now, Google might be taking their first step to regain some ground by introducing a policy applicable to all manufacturers utilizing Android OS for their devices.
The policy discourages them from releasing any new devices with an Android version which is 2 levels older than the current one.
Google wants to cull the fragmentation of Android OS at the manufacturer level and have taken a stand that they will not approve GMS (Google Mobile Service) distribution of devices nine months after the Android OS is released.
What this means to the manufacturer (and by extension, the users) is that if a brand’s device is found flouting this policy, it might not be able to access the Google Play Store at all, including the Google Mobile Service (GMS) which is a suite of all Google apps like Google Maps, Google Now, Hangouts etc., that are critical to the overall Android experience.
While the device will gunction normally even without the GMS, however it’s features and capabilities will be severely restricted as it will largely become an ‘island’ of a device. Can you imagine what the lack of access to the Play Store would do to your experience with your smartphone/tablet!
Well, here are the dates that Google’s specified:
The way we’ve heard it, Google will be enforcing this policy on budget phones and mid-range phones to start with, along with the top-of-line smartphones to follow suit.
They intend to apply the policy to cover not only the major players like Samsung, HTC, LG but also the upcoming brands and local brands that are flooding the market with their inexpensive devices that come with high-end specifications like Xiaomi, Micromax and Karbonn.
Should Google actually enforce this policy, one can envision a day when Google will unveil the latest version of the Android OS and all manufacturers will simultaneously launch it across their products on the same day rather than making their non-Nexus users wait months.
Here’s a beer to that!
As Motorola prepares to show off the newest member of its family in August 2013, the rumors surrounding the release of Moto X sure have us all excited.
Rumoured to be manufactured in the US and with speculations out that the Moto X will be running Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, the specs are exciting too. Rumoured to have a 720p display, 2 GB RAM and 1.7 GHz dual-core CPU, this flagship smartphone is expected to come with 16 GB of internal memory.
The Moto X could use a new octa-core processor developed by Motorola itself. An dual LTE antenna will also be a part of the Moto X.
With a devoted single core natural language processor, voice recognition has promised to be perfected through the “Touch-less control” feature that will assist you even if your screen is switched off.
The new wrist gesture (Quick Capture) to access the camera at anytime seems to be a handy addition.
Keeping a minimalist and spontaneous UI, the camera app allows you to capture picture perfect moments by tapping anywhere on the screen while the camera is running.
If you tap and hold, it releases burst mode, which stores limitless snapshots in HD quality. It is rumored to have the panorama and slow motion modes as well.
The Moto X has added a non-GPS motion sensor, that senses whether you are behind the wheel hitting the road or hanging out back home to give you a live feed and keep you connected.
Moto X may come with Moto Magic Glass; which is a single sheet of Gorilla Glass molded to make a continuous surface.
Most of these features are mere speculations and rumors. Nothing can be confirmed regarding their validity or functioning till the release. But speculation does have us on our toes waiting for the Moto X to hit the market.
[R]evolution Of The Stylus
Does anyone remember the Stylus any more? No? Let me remind you – and for that, I’ll have to take you back in time.
Believe it or not, when the iPhone wasn’t around, people used to carry bulky PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) running Palm OS or Windows OS on them. While both OS’ were intended for point-and-click interactions, the screen technology (called Resistive Touch) back then didn’t really do well with finger or touch interactions. Hence, every touchscreen device had this little stick (metal or plastic) called the Stylus that was used to register inputs.
Resistive Touch technology works on the basis of contact made to the surface of the touchscreen presses it which then makes contact with another sheet placed right under it, separated by ‘microdots’. On these two sheets are horizontal and vertical lines that when pushed together, register the precise location of the touch. And in order to hit somewhere near precisely on the screen, one needed a pencil-point-sized instrument. Thus, the ever-important stylus.
The Stylus was not only the go-to tool for using your touchscreen device; it even increased the “cool” quotient of your device back then… indicative of “next-gen technology” or The Future.HTC PDA device with Stylus
However, with the debut of the Capacitive Touchscreen technology in mobile phones via Mr. Jobs’ brilliant introduction of the pathbreaking iPhone in 2007, the Stylus was suddenly redundant, and soon, forgotten.
A Capacitive Screen is basically a glass panel coated with a transparent conductive material that relies on touch-input on the surface of the screen via the finger, to trigger an electric field and register input. In simple words, it works on the principle of electric charges. Physically pressing down on the screen was no longer required. This as we all now know from personal experience, it is a much smoother and simpler experience. There’s no need to go hunting for or scrunching down on a stylus all day.
Soon resistive screens like styli, too became redundant technology and capacitive screens were incorporated into every phone, PDA, medical equipment and almost every other form of displays that we interact with nowadays.
With the onset of any new technology, people tend to dismiss all objects associated with what was ‘old’ as rubbish and move on, rather quickly. Give them some more time though, and nostalgia sets in. And remarkable as it is, old becomes fashionable again. Ah, the circle of life…
I was among the many smart phone users who had started secretly craving the Stylus after the dust from the whole touch screen razzmatazz had settled. I missed it – not that I have pudgy fingers or anything. But sometimes the curry, the wet hands and very often, the urge to peck at my phone as it lay at my work desk, instead of having to hold it in my hands (imagine that!) just belied the otherwise convenient touchscreen. I just needed distance from the screen, mainly to safeguard my sophisticated box of (silicon) chips and easily-smudged glass.
Well, the wheel rolled over and the circle was complete. Samsung came out with their Galaxy Note and its ‘S-Pen’, which sold more than 5 million units and almost all the phone-makers-of-the-world turned their collective attention back to the Stylus.
Now we’re onto the third gen of the Note series with Galaxy Note 3 and ‘S-Pen’ thrives – Samsung has optimized features on it, and on their homegrown variant of the Android OS. The number and kinds of things that the S-Pen can do has advanced significantly with the third installment of the Note series. So much so, that even though the Note III impresses customers with its size, features and capabilities, the S-Pen is the most versatile feature of the phone especially with the increased customizability of the Stylus to meet varied user needs.
However (there’s that word again), as with practically everything in the Digital Age, this super stylus requires some power to live up to all that it does. It draws that power wirelessly from the device itself (imagine that!!). Its all quite miraculous, this piece of plastic.
If you think I’m on some hyperbole trip, here are some of the most intriguing functions offered by the S-Pen:
• The Air Command feature lets you access the five most important functions from anywhere within the OS, just by clicking the S-Pen’s button while hovering over the screen,
• Displaying the contents of any app or folder when hovered over with the S-Pen.
• Drawing on the screen with the button pressed lets you clip anything that you’re reading to the clipboard; which then works beautifully with ‘S-Finder’ to help you look through all the content within your device including hand written notes (which also reminds me that the Hand Writing Recognition on this third gen Note is scarily accurate).
Other than this, the S-Pen has a lot more to offer and I believe it’s safe to say that it indeed is a very powerful tool capable of fulfilling expectations of all the creative minds out there, setting the Note III apart from all phones available in the market right now. It is commendable how Samsung has taken up the Stylus and introduced it as the mascot of their Note devices.
Samsung Galaxy Note with its dedicated Stylus [S-Pen] Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with the updated S-Pen
Other giants have also been paying attention to Samsung’s exploits with the stylus and have begun their journeys to revive the stylus with their own styles. HTC came out with its tablet devices, the Flyer and View with a dedicated Stylus each, which it called the ‘Scribe Pen’.
The stylus enabled users to do things like photo editing and drawing with pinpoint accuracy with such ease and simplicity that the Stylus (the modern stylus, of course) was back in the game.
HTC Flyer Tab with the Scribe Pen
Today, the demand for the Stylus is on the rise and there are many third party manufacturers catering to user’s needs by offering universal styli. We have styli for Apple devices too, however their limited use and cost has not made them a popular add-on for iOS devices. Yet.
However having taken a close look at the scenario today, I am not convinced that there are too many brands out there that have actually worked to harness the power of the Stylus. Most are just catching up with the Joneses, doing as they do, dancing as they dance.
With the evident popularity of the Samsung Galaxy Note and its sidekick, the S-Pen, there is a lot of potential for this simple tool to be re-incorporated with mobile devices and molded into something innovative and fresh. Opportunities are limitless, with touchscreen devices clearly being here to stay.