Chip-Monks  ⁄  LG

LG Electronics, initially known as Goldstar, is the fourth largest member of the South Korean LG Group Chaebol (a large family-owned business conglomerate).

The Seoul-based multinational company has five operating divisions: Mobile Communications, Home Entertainment, Home Appliances, Air Conditioning, and Energy Solutions.

LG began it’s journey by producing mass-appeal consumer electronics like radios, televisions, refrigerators, washing machines, and even air conditioners; but soon expanded its portfolio owing to its success at being “economically superior”.

Some interesting facts about LG:

  • The acronym ‘LG’ honors the merger of Lak-Hui and GoldStar (to form the Group in 1995).
  • The current slogan “Life’s Good” is actually a backronym.
  • LG procured the domain name lg.com for a price purported to be in excess of $100 million –  placing it among an extremely select cluster of companies that own their brand’s two-letter domain name.
  • It is the world’s second-largest television manufacturer and the world’s fifth-largest mobile phone maker (by unit sales) at the end of the second quarter of 2012.
  • LG is one of the extremely rare smartphone manufacturers to have products running two different operating systems – while most of LG’s phones run Android, LG recently launched Lancet (that runs on Windows 8.1).

Living upto LG’s overarching strategy of being universally attractive (and not working to any specific target audience), it’s smartphones range from ₹ 5,000 to ₹ 55,000.

  • Produced Korea’s first radio, TV, washing machine, refrigerator and AC in the 1960s
  • Developed the world’s first 60-inch plasma TV in 1998
  • LG launched the world’s first Internet refrigerator in 2000 and the world’s first Internet washing machine, AC and microwave in 2001
  • In 2005, LG developed the world’s first 3G UMTS DMB handset, 3G-based DVB-Hand Media FLO
  • In 2007, LG launched the industry’s first dual-format, high-definition disc player and drive
Chip–Monks Recommend

Samsung's Still Perfecting It's Foldable Smartphone

Samsung Still Perfecting It is Foldable Smartphone

We consumers have become rather difficult to impress when it comes to smartphones now. Apple came through by removing the headphone jack from their iPhone 7. And Samsung too is making a lot of efforts to do something new, particularly after the Note 7 debacle. Rumors abound that Samsung might be launching a foldable smartphone soon. How soon, we don’t know, but what we do know now is that they’re about to begin testing a prototype for a phone that they’ve named Galaxy X for the time being.

Chip-Monks had begun talking about this super-secret project at Samsung way back in November 2015, when we’d heard they were testing two smartphones bearing different processors. Time passed and the phones didn’t make an appearance.

Then in December 2016, we wrote about the device again, since the wind had it that Samsung would be unveiling their miracle at the CES or MWC shows in 2017.

The world then heard about this when some other websites reported that Samsung had applied for the patents for their technology. We wrote about that in February 2017, and you can read that article here.

Well, it’s time for another update.

Keeping with our first report on the matter, there’s validation that the prototype will be a foldable smartphone, with a horizontal joint in the middle of the phone. This joint will make it possible for the phone to be folded up to 180 degrees after usage. The hinge will hold together two OLED displays of 5 inches.

It’s worth noting though, that this isn’t a completely original design. We know that devices actually in the market, like the Kyocera Echo and NEC’s Medias W N-05E, have had similar designs for their foldable smartphones.

But like Apple, Samsung seems to be veering towards “being the best, is better than being first”. This has been a long term project for Samsung, and they haven’t spared any expenses in growing the tech before they launch it to the world.

They have another advantage too – they own Samsung Display – their very on display manufacturing division that can back them on all the experimentation, testing and redesign – for as long as Samsung needs. Plus there are none of the perils of outsource their research and development to third parties.

The Investor, a South Korean publication, reported that Samsung has placed orders for the production of only a limited number of prototypes, 3,000 at the most. We can expect this to be completed by the first half of this year.
Samsung seems to be testing the waters with the dual-screen device to gather ideas about its upcoming foldable phone”.

And this is the right move too. There are bound to be some potholes and cracks that develop during testing. After the Note7 dud, Samsung will be loathe to ensure this new tech is sweated properly and all defects and opportunities so revealed be corrected effectively.

This will also allow the company to test out the potential of foldable devices. If all works out, we might see Samsung’s “newest” invention in the market in the coming two years or so.

With LG’s rollable panels in the works and Samsung’s curved displays already in the market, the South Korean tech company doesn’t have a lot of time to achieve its ambitions. While we might be anticipating foldable phones with enthusiasm, their usefulness and lifespan is still a question. Samsung will still need to add some promising new features in these smartphones to gain attention in the market, other than the foldable “novelty”.

The company has seen quite a lot of ups and downs, and is still well above water, but with growing disenchantment with “gimmicky” features on devices, Samsung definitely needs to get this right, by ensuring that the new capability comes with some uses, and isn’t developed in version 2 or 3 (like they did by releasing Edge displays that hardly did anything on the 2014 Samsung Galaxy Note edge, and only began to justify their existence with the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge a full one and a half years later!)

Samsung Creates Bendable Graphene Based Storage Chips

Samsung Creates Bendable Graphene Based Storage Chips

Bendable devices have been long time coming – with brands like Samsung, LG, Microsoft and even a little known brand, Moxi, rumoured to be readying various forms of smartphones and wearables.

Each of these brands obviously estimate that the Next Big Thing is going to be a device that can be folded or bent, to offer more utility and durability.

Now, some recent news on the matter is fanning the flames of the rumours some more. The rumour mill has it that Samsung has now developed technology to create a graphene-based storage chip.
This is an important milestone – because for a device to bend, all of it’s internals must support such adventure. Hence, each of these “internals” must be developed with that new personality in mind. And that will call for some innovative approaches and materials.

Most of us tend to think of memory as an abstract thing in most cases, not realizing that for the software on the phone to run, there needs to be a hardware component to enable the memory on which the software would run.

The current devices use what is called the flash memory, which is not made up of flexible material, and thus would not be well accommodated in a bendable device. Graphene is a flexible material and can bend as the phone bends, which makes this development key to the development of the impending bendable smartphones.

One of the most promising materials that will assist flexibility is graphene. We’d written an absolutely brilliant article explaining what graphene is, and I highly recommend you read it to fully grasp the concept.

Graphene being a strong conductor of electricity and given its bendable and flexible attributes, it is most likely to feature in the coming revolution of smartphones.

A Graphene based bendable memory chip not only provides the necessary flexibility, it also frees up some critical space for the manufacturer.
Given that its length is a mere 50 nanometers and its thickness is 8 nanometers, the chip will provide Samsung with a little bit more space to work with, and to shoehorn more battery or additional hardware.

But that’s not all! This hybrid oxide-titanium oxide memory chip only requires 5 nanoseconds to boot, write and read data. As smartphones use electricity to synthesize its processes, the graphene-based memory is ideally suited for them.

Given that Samsung has already made a strong investment in Graphene and has even been granted a patent for it, the previously-agreed partnership between Samsung’s Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) and Sungkyunkwan University is likely to bear fruit soon.

We can thus safely assume that Samsung plans to utilise this technology somewhere, sometime soon. If reports are to be given any cognisance then it is most likely that Samsung would release its first smartphone with a bendable display is 2019. Speculations have already been hinting that the smartphone is to be called Galaxy X and will most likely feature a flexible OLED display.

If this move is successful, it is bound to bring bendable devices closer to reality which might serve to be a breath of fresh air in the current market.

Meanwhile, back to our very straight and stiff devices for now! We’re crossing our fingers and hoping for Samsung’s bendable smartphones to soon be a reality!

Google Brokers A Consortium Amongst Top Android Partners To Increase Mutual Benefit

Google Brokers A Consortium Amongst Top Android Partners To Increase Mutual Benefit

If you are a mobile manufacturing enterprise that produces Android-backed smartphones or tablets, then things just got sweeter for you!

Google and several top-drawer Android device manufacturing companies have agreed to a truce that will bring more openness into the Android applications and software market.

The agreement, namely the “Android Networked Cross License Agreement” has been melded together between a group comprising of Android giants Google, HTC, LG, Samsung, HMD, Foxconn and a variety of other companies. It pledges to share royalty-free patents amongst each other.

Licenses are going to be granted royalty-free to any company that manufactures devices with pre-installed Android applications which meet Android’s compatibility norms, with the condition that they join the group and adhere to the agreement.

The agreement is also being coined as PAX by executives at Google, which means ‘peace’ in Latin.

Jamie Rosenberg, Google’s Vice President of Business and Operations of the Android and Google Play wing said in an editorial, “It is with a hope for such benefits that we are announcing our newest patent licensing initiative focusing on patent peace, which we call PAX”.

On the PAX website, it mentions that any company that wishes to join, shall not be a party to interference, as all the other members will respect each other’s autonomy in their own affairs, as long-term freedom of action related to Google and Android shall be accorded everyone concerned.

What are the obvious benefits for signatories

The website also sheds light on certain facts such as that of the current member companies having a combined patent inventory of more than 230,000 patents. Hence, Google is quite excited and interested in welcoming other companies, large or small, to become signatories and reap the benefits of a sustainable, peaceful and friendly Android ecosystem.

Commercially, what the agreement will help the companies indirectly with, is the might to fight patent lawsuits collectively. As lawsuit rulings in favour of companies which acquired lawsuits amounted to a certain amount of income, the group might sue other companies together if the need arises. The direct benefits for companies are very high as there is no need to pay royalties to a ‘partner’ company.

Google, Samsung and HTC will really benefit from PAX. This is because, the Android ecosystem, owner by Google, will get a wider spectrum of companies of varying size in its family. Therefore, multiplying the acceptability of Android.

As a competitor of iOS, Google would really benefit. The smaller companies which feared litigation, would be exempt from it. Similarly, Samsung and HTC selling a huge number of devices integrated with Android and Google applications, looks to benefit the most. There would be hardly any risk form patent trolls given the nature of the agreement and the willingness to fight the lawsuits collectively.

However, it is not yet known what kind of patents will be shared or what threats these companies wish to defend against. That is the kind of details we would have to keep an eye out for.

SIM Cards Rebooted - Say Hello To e-SIMs

Are we ready for eSIMs in India

The traditional SIM card has been dying a slow death over the last few years.
The normal SIM cards (now called “Macro SIMs”) that seem from prehistoric times now, set the ball rolling for mobile telephony. Then we got to micro SIM cards as smartphones arrived. As devices became bigger, the real estate within them became even more at a premium, hence smartphone manufacturers hit upon nano SIM cards.
Now, it’s time for better the technology in an even smaller card – called the e-SIM.

In light of this changing environment, the GSMA (who represents carriers and mobile companies around the world), has announced the specifications for e-SIMs, that are expected to be used in smart watches, fitness trackers, and even tablets. These SIMs will allow users the freedom to activate the SIM embedded in those devices on any carrier of their choice, as well as bring in the convenience of switching carriers and devices without swapping SIMs.

If everything works out as planned, the team behind the development of e-SIM suggests the new technology will be rolled out by 2018.

For now, the leaders of the smartphone industry are in talks with American and British mobile carriers with the intent of making e-SIMs a reality in those regions.
Apparently, conversations are already on with AT&T, T-Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, Orange, Etisalat, Hutchison Whampoa and Teleónica – which are some of the biggest around the world.

The GSMA plans to roll out a similar standard for smartphones themselves in June, at which point the days of the SIM card could be numbered.

Since this specification is also backed by manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, BlackBerry, LG and Huawei! The freedom and convenience that this welcome ability of switching operators will bring is best understood by device manufacturers – it drives better customer satisfaction and it frees up the manufacturer from having to kowtow to operator-demands. It even helps them move inventory around more seamlessly, instead of suffering the logistical nightmare they currently face – the device is operator agnostic, but since it was packed with a specific-operator’s SIM (at the factory), the manufacturer can’t lift and shift the inventory to other regions/stores/operators at will.

Once implemented, this universal tech will allow users to add mobile devices to a single subscription, in turn allowing them to connect directly to any mobile network. No separate SIM cards, no phone-as-a-middle-man, just an embedded SIM in each device, programmed to connect to a network all by itself!

Not that the GSMA sees it that way. It says “the initiative does not aim to replace all SIM cards in the field, but is instead designed to help users connect multiple devices through the same subscription and will help mobile device manufacturers to develop a new range of smaller, lighter mobile-connected devices that are better suited for wearable technology applications”.

Some Reactions From The Smartphones Industry

BlackBerry:
The technology allows an individual to have both, a personal and business number on a single mobile device, with separate billing for voice, data and messaging usage on each number. People can switch between business and personal profiles easily without carrying multiple devices or SIM cards,” BlackBerry India Managing Director, Sunil Lalvani said at as per Tech First Post.

Apple:
Well, Apple has already explored with its own SIM cards that can swap networks on flights and lets users choose from three different carriers.

For what it’s worth, the first example of a programmable SIM card, is already out there are – notably in Apple’s iPads. But it wasn’t officially recognised by the GSMA.
The GSMA notes there recently announced specifications as “the only common, interoperable and global specification that has the backing of the mobile industry“.

So, the integration of the e-SIM into upcoming iPhones seems like the next logical step for the Cupertino tech giant.

Samsung:
The world’s other smartphone giant also has intentions of using this “programmable” SIM in it’s smartwatch line.

So this isn’t technology that’s a way off-you might be using it yourself by the middle of the year!

Microsoft’s New Patent Hints At A Communication Device That Can Be Folded in Half

Microsoft New Patent Hints At A Communication Device That Can Be Folded in Half

A patent filed back in 2015 by the tech giant Microsoft provides a telling hint of the direction that the company’s phone division might be heading towards, for a new range of mobile products in the possible future.

The patent is for –

  • A device with a multi-layered screen engineered with a number of panels with curved edges.
  • Where all the panels are conjoined with a hinge which moves in any direction
  • Where the hinges along with the panels shall be resting on a solid surface – upper layer, much like a book,
  • A specific focus on the ‘obscurity’ of the hinges, thereby restricting the visibility of the hinges, with special display devices on the curved edges of the panels, And
  • Utilization of various parts or the device as a whole, which if manipulated to serve different functions, could be made into a phone, a tablet or any other communication device much like Microsoft’s own Surface Pro 4.

The points above clearly shed light upon the key facets of the patent and provides significant indication as to where Microsoft wishes to devote their R&D resources.

However, Microsoft is not alone in following this direction – there already are products that have hit the market like Lenovo’s C-Plus (a bendable phone that can be worn around the wrist like a watch), or are almost ready for launch – Samsung is also scheduled to introduce a new bendable phone in the third quarter, and LG has been known to be working on bendable OLED screens for a while now.

Perhaps, the only credible difference between the intention behind Microsoft’s patent, and what has already been released in the market, is the focus on the “obscurity” of the hinges.

The patent clearly states – “In order to reduce and/or obscure the visibility of a support structure for a display panel, the present disclosure provides example display devices including curved or otherwise bent regions for directing light to a user’s eye when the user’s gaze is directed to a support structure at an edge of the display panel. In this way, when a user is viewing a region occupied by the support panel, the user may instead see light from the display panel showing the displayed objects”.

While it all seems the same, in the world of technology, even the smallest of changes can lead to tectonic shift in the field. But, what is much more important is that the intentions behind the filing of the patent are exercised upon!

The document has been filed by Timothy Large and Steven Bathiche, two Microsoft employees, who have filed other patents as well. However despite being published, no significant progresses have been made on those patents, and in some cases, have been stalled.

Similarly, thousands of patents are filed every year by resourceful companies but are not exercised upon with the same zeal. So, the expectation that rumored device would definitely be worked upon, and that a tangible product would emerge in the near future, is still a question that is begging to be answered.

Go do it, Microsoft – get ahead!

Class-Action Lawsuit Targets LG Over G4 & V10 Boot-Loop Issues

Class-Action Lawsuit Targets LG Over G4 & V10 Boot-Loop Issues

LG is facing a severe class-action lawsuit from four disgruntled users over the infamous boot loop issue that plagued the LG G4 and LG V10.

To recap, this issue caused the phones to reboot repeatedly, rendering them useless. Apparently, users who got defective units of the phones were refused replacements as their devices were out of warranty, or in some cases, LG replaced them with other faulty ones!

In January last year, LG acknowledge the problem with the G4 and attempted to address the boot loop mishap (after much prodding), claiming that it was the result of “[a] loose contact between components“, and started offering replacements and fixes officially.

The lawsuit highlights that LG undertook a rather meek recall by offering faulty replacements, or denying replacement altogether for out of warranty devices.

Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges that “LG continued to manufacture LG phones with the boot loop defect” even after admission of a hardware defect. The lawsuit also claims that several V10 users also faced the same issue as its “hardware closely resembles the LG G4 with only a few adjustments, such as expanded storage and an additional camera“.

One of the plaintiffs complained in the lawsuit that LG replaced his defective G4 unit twice with faulty units, and his third one also constantly freezes. The suit demands “damages in an amount to be determined at trial” and hopes that the federal judge order a “comprehensive program to repair all LG phones containing the boot loop defect“, in addition to some compensation for harassing the customer.

LG is yet to respond to this lawsuit.

What's LG G6 Looking Like?

What does LG G6 have for us

LG, seems to be playing Santa a little late this year. It wants to fulfil all your smartphone wishes with its next G series flagship smartphone called the LG G6.

The South Korean tech giant teased the new smartphone in January with a video that brought home the message, “Imagine how your wishes will come to life”. Going by the teaser, a “more reliable” phone is making its way to the users, a smartphone that won’t compel the users to “keep paying for a cracked screen“, which perhaps could mean LG’s move to provide free or low-cost screen replacement program, or it’s intention to bless the phone with Gorilla Glass 5 (which is known to be significant more shatter resistant than earlier versions).

You can read more about Gorilla Glass here.

All these, of course are indicators of the specs or features that LG has incorporated into the all new LG G6. Another advertisement by LG highlights reliability as the USP of this smartphone.

And the three-repeat of the word “check” in that teaser could imply the kind of triple-check secure system that LG be using – but we actually think we know the smartphone manufacturer that LG is taking a dig at, by mentioning this.
Samsung’s unforgettable Note7 debacle is being pitted here as a path that LG never treads on.

However, without being biased, it is important to highlight LG’s own notorious issues of bootlooping with devices like the LG G4, LG G5, LG V10, and LG V20. The G6 of course emerges as LG’s chance for a glorious redemption and to start afresh.

It is not that LG hasn’t done anything to evade such problems. Last month, the company claimed that it has enacted new technologies and performed tougher in-house testing to scale up safety of the device altogether, “as more consumers seek safe smartphones“. As if having exploding smartphones and overheating batteries was something one likes to possess for adrenaline rush!

Other than this, if the specs on the G6 are on your mind – here’s the USP first.

Reports have surfaced suggesting that the device will sport a 32-bit quad-DAC system that guarantees improved sound quality.
What this Digital-to-analog conversion does is that it enables superior control over each earbud individually, which in turn ends up providing more balanced, clearer sound as claimed by LG itself in a press release.
ESS, the high-performance chipset specialist is manufacturing this DAC which as per LG can increase circuit integration and decrease the negative distortion to 0.0002% on the LG G6, thereby also reducing the loss of acoustic information in the process.

The technology is an improvement on the Quad DAC that first featured on the LG V20 launched last year. You may recall, the LG V20 which was touted as “great for audiophiles” by LG. In fact, a single 32-bit Hi-Fi DAC was also a part of the LG V10.

During CES 2017, curtains were raised from a lot of things from Alexa powered robot “Hub Robot” to QLED TVs to gaming laptops. Among these things was a limited media event by LG that included a presentation that showcased some of the stuff on the upcoming smartphone G6.

Leaked screenshots from the same confirm the utilisation of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 830 processor coupled with 4 GB of RAM in the LG G6. This lends LG the opportunity to have a tremendous headstart with regards the prime competition, i.e. the Samsung Galaxy S8 that is rumoured to pack the same chipset ,but will not be seen anywhere near March which is when the volume production of the G6 takes place. A headstart of even a month might give reason enough to users who look up to LG’s mid-range devices as a suitable alternative to Samsungs’s  A and J series.

Other details that can be figured out from the screenshot include an IP68 water and dust resistant body that comes with a fingerprint scanner at the rear.

Apart this, what’s really interesting on the LG G6 is its peculiar 18:9 aspect ratio which perhaps aims to grant both ‘larger display’ and ‘one hand texting’ wishes of its users. The device is expected to sport the highest-resolution display, one which is unmatched at the moment on any other smartphone, in the form of a lustrous 5.7 inch LCD screen with a whopping 2,880×1,440 pixel resolution.

Going by other leaks and rumors, LG might ditch the plastic body from its LG G5, instead adopt an all-metal design on the brand new LG G6.

Another major highlight on this one is the fact that the LG G6 comes preloaded with Google Assistant out-of-the-box, which is buzz-worthy in itself, as this makes the G6, first non-Pixel smartphone to come with Google Assistant!

On the downside, LG’s much-liked modular concept with add-on modules, called LG Friends has been abandoned on the LG G6.

More details will be confirmed when LG unveils the G6 flagship smartphone at the company’s February 26 event.

South Korea Tightening It's Regulations After Galaxy Note7 Fiasco

South Korea Tightening It is Regulations After Galaxy Note7 Fiasco

In what may become as a major blow to Samsung, South Korea has tightened battery safety regulations after the Galaxy Note7 fiasco. This will certainly add to the woes of the company (and other brands from the burgeoning economy), given that Samsung is still on its self-apology tour round the world after the Note7 debacle.

The news is especially aggravating since the South Korea is the home country of the company.

On 6th February, the South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy issued a statement highlighting its intent to provide more testing around the ubiquitous technology.

We ask that the industry shares the view that making efforts to ensure safety is equally as critical as developing new products through technological innovation”, Vice Minister Jeong Marn-ki said in a statement .

The South Korean government published the results of its own investigation into the explosive phone, according to the The Korea Herald. Like Samsung, the state-run Korean Agency for Technology Standards too, concluded that the Note7’s volatility stemmed from its battery.

So, the government’s announcement of new, stronger regulations for smartphone battery safety issues could conceivably stem from it’s findings of the investigation.

The Agency tested 14 overheated Note7s, 46 stable phones and 169 batteries provided by Samsung over a three-month time frame. The tests concluded that the batteries exhibited “factors that cause explosions“, but said there were no flaws with the Note7 smartphones themselves. In other words, it wasn’t the phone that has caused the trouble, but solely the battery.

The South Korean government now plans to rejig a current law, which earlier only required the batteries to be inspected once before mass production. The revision, which should be in place this July, will require tests every two years.

A revision of the Phone Recall Process is on the anvil too. The intention is to empower the government to be able to issue cautionary advice to consumers against buying a certain product even before an official recall is instituted by the company in question.

The safety standards are now in line with those of the International Electro Technical Commission and European Union – but sources claim that in the near future, the country’s government will be adding new procedures to mimic the standard procedures of Japan and the U.S.

Also, the new measures will include requiring manufacturers to issue a certificate of the safety of Lithium-Ion batteries, that will be newly manufactured by a new process that doesn’t have the same errors as the previous one.

To me, all this sounds good. While naysayers may claim that government oversight will hamper the growth of the company that was quickly conglomerating itself into a new tech giant, I differ.

The best that these regulations have to offer is that they shall weed out unwanted developments that hinder consumer efficiency and threaten her safety.

While Samsung’s Galaxy Note may have put a dent in the trade reputation of the country which till now has been considered as a safe haven for companies, governmental interest in restoring (and thence, maintaining) the world’s respect and confidence in the nation’s products, is an excellent statement of intent and promise, by the South Korean authorities.

Last month, Samsung announced that its energy storage subsidiary, SDI, was working on a next-gen battery for electric vehicles that would allow for a range of up to 372 miles on a single charge. Being a well wisher of the company, we sincerely hope that these will be tested thoroughly before they find the vehicles reach roads and citizens around the world.

LG Is In Love With Your Neck

LG is in love with your neck

LG turned out to be one of the biggest participants and loudest voices at the abundant CES 2017@Las Vegas.

It made quite a few exciting announcements, some of them outright surprises. In fact, the company spilled the beans prior to the official press release and just ahead of the brand studded  CES 2017 event.

At the CES LG officially announced:

  • LG Tone Studio – Shaped like a horseshoe, the LG Tone Studio comprises of a vibrating plastic neckband resting on the shoulders, that blasts surround sound up at the user’s ears.
  • LG Tone Free which comes along with a neck band as a convenient storage unit that ensures that you don’t lose your earbuds anywhere and charges your earbuds for the next use. LG Tone Free also offers vibrating alerts on incoming calls and texts.
  • LG also announced that it is planning to introduce a ‘futuristic’ levitating portable Bluetooth speaker called the LG PJ9, which is IPX7 resistant and features 10 hours of battery life.

Chip-Monks spent some time discovering more about these devices. Here’s what we learnt.

The new Tone Studio has some ‘wow’ factors. The device is actually a pair of wearable speakers that offer 3D surround sound, which it manages to do with the help of two full-range speakers at the top, plus two vibrating speakers at the bottom.

This arrangement allows users to experience surround sound experience while say, watching a movie, playing a video game or streaming music.

The neck wearable has been designed in association with surround sound experts at DTS to bring home an experience close to a real theatre.

The Tone Studio also features a Hi-Fi DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) that really augments sound quality by reprocessing audio content while converting it from it’s digital form (as it is stored or streamed by the parent device) into the analog beats played by the speakers themselves.

Further, the LG Tone Studio comes with what LG calls a Dual Play functionality which enables the user to connect two sets of LG Tone Studio wearable speakers and share the sound from a movie or playlist, allowing you to share stuff with your friends real time. So you won’t be considered a hogger (or selfish) or any such misnames.

Tone Free, on the other hand can be described as a pair of wireless earbuds that can be charged using the neckband, making them super convenient and portable.

It has the functionality of notifying the users via vibration alerts for incoming texts and messages, provide the neckband with extra battery power so you can use it for extended hours and obviously, it doubles up as a safe haven for your earbuds, so that you don’t end up losing one or both of them.

LG has done its homework well and has also provided with an optional charging cradle that delivers more power for times when you feel lazy or when the neckband doesn’t look like the most convenient option to you.

Michael Park, Vice President of the Innovative Personal Devices Business Division at LG Electronics commented, “LG has a rich legacy of innovating in the wearable audio market, and our products have become the standard by which all other earphones are judged. We are committed to leading the way in this fast moving market by developing exciting new products which appeal to every music-loving and convenience-seeking individual”.

It is not that the company is a newbie to this whole concept of neckbuds, they have a previous association with this concept (LG Tone Infinim HBS-900, LG Tone Pro), however, with the previous models, the focus was more on fitness with retractable wires that would ensure that there were no chances of losing your earbuds even if they slipped out during an intense workout.

In fact, if competition in this cool, new, emerging field of neckbuds is taken into account, then Samsung’s Level U with its excellent 10 hours battery life, light weight and easy pricing of USD 70 seems to be a perfect buy for all those who are looking for their workout session partner. So LG has it’s work cut out.

The CES 2017 witnessed some cool, kickass gadgets and one of them was the Tone Infinim from LG that featured LG’s Metal Layer Speaker Technology for clean, crisp sounds and Tone Ultra which has been developed in partnership with audio specialist JBL.

Despite all the announcements, LG however made no official mention of the price, availability and most importantly the battery life of the Tone Studio and Tone Free units. I guess we’ll have to wait to put those babies through their paces when they are released to us mortals later this year.

Samsung To Introduce Two Dual-Screen Foldable Smartphones In 2017

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.

Background

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.

LG To Introduce The LG G6 Early Next Year (2017)

LG To Introduce The LG G6 Early Next Year (2017)

LG bet it all on Mods with the LG G5, but its ‘Friends’ ecosystem hasn’t been a winner, and the company has not released any additional modules since, to help build the range or to entice users.

As a result, LG will really have to blow the competition out of the water with it’s next flagship device, which we expect will be called the LG G6, and rumours that the modular feature will be dropped are already spreading.

Here’s everything we we know about the LG G6.

The most recent leak comes from @OnLeaks, and shows a 360-degree video of the device and the render falls in line with other leaks we’ve seen. The LG G6 could have a pretty familiar design similar to the LG G5 albeit with a few refinements.

LG will do away with modularity in the G6, and it looks like the 3.5 mm headphone jack will stick around in LG’s next flagship. The leaks also show what appear to be glossy finishes, following the new design trend set by Apple with the Jet Black version of the iPhone 7.

The camera module and fingerprint sensor along with button placements seem to remain the same as on the LG G5, but with a few differences. The G6 is expected to slim down a little to 72.43 mm, which is slightly thinner than the G5’s 73.9 mm chassis, although barely enough for most to notice the difference.

Coming back to modularity, for a second, the LG’s Friends range of modules for the G5 didn’t catch on, despite being an unusual feature with plenty of potential. This lack of success may actually cause LG to drop the feature for the G6.

It may not be the end for LG Friends, and LG has said it is not abandoning the modular ecosystem, according to CNET.

Perhaps LG will return with a stronger range for the next-to-next flagship (let’s call it LG G7 for now), or a spinoff sub-range only for module-enabled phones. It’s speculation for now, but should LG drop modules for the next major releases, it will be a blow to LG consumers that own the LG G5 as it would mean they spent money on supplementary products that aren’t reusable with future devices.

Every device today, needs a calling card, to stand out in the marketplace.

So, if LG drops modularity, it is said to replace it with something more in line with market standards. LG may be adding water resistance to the LG G6. Companies that supply waterproof adhesives are apparently bidding for the job of keeping the wet stuff out of the LG G6. This could translate into the G6 not having removable sections for new modules or a replacement battery.

The Japanese version of the LG V20, named the Isai Beat locally, included water resistance, but not the removable battery – two features that can’t work together. In December, a tweet from David Ruddock at Android Police shared that the LG G6 will not have a removable battery. It will, however, feature an all-glass design, and will keep its headphone jack (unlike the iPhone and rumoured Samsung Galaxy S8).

There’s more.

Following reports of an LG Pay mobile payments system, LG may introduce heightened security on the LG G6, in the form of an Iris scanner.

LG Innotek, a division of LG that produces components and other technology, had shown a traditional double-camera iris scanner, and a new single module with an iris scanner and a selfie camera inside, at a recent technology show. This has prompted rumours LG may take one of the modules and integrate it into the LG G6, although LG Innotek has issued a statement saying no deal exists. The company supplies components to many manufacturers.

If there’s one feature Samsung has a leg up on compared to Google, LG, Apple (yeah, Apple), and other smartphone competitors, which is it’s Samsung Pay. Where other mobile payment solutions (including Apple) use NFC, or near field communication, to offer a tap-and-pay experience, Samsung uses Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST). This means it replicates a card swipe – so it works wherever you can use your credit card.
That’s far better than looking for NFC terminals!

LG is now rumoured to be adding MST technology into the LG G6 to offer a similar payment service to rival Samsung, according to ET News. The company was supposed to launch LG Pay at the start of the year, but the plans were scrapped. We may see it for the first time on the LG G6.

Launch and availability

The LG G series device have traditionally been released at Mobile World Congress, and that’s unlikely to change for the LG G6. What could change, however, is the availability date after the device is launched.

The G5 was first unveiled at MWC in February 2016, but it wasn’t until April that consumers could actually own it. That could change this time around, and the G6 could be made available a full month earlier than its predecessor.

Why the change in availability? Well, 2016 wasn’t exactly LG’s best year. The LG G5 largely failed to capture the imaginations of consumers, and while the LG V20 was a great device, it also didn’t sell like LG might have hoped.

In the new year, LG would probably want to shake things up a little — which means beating out the competition by releasing flagships a little early. Considering that Apple released the mid-range iPhone SE in March 2016, LG may do well to get it’s next big device out before Apple issues an update in the budget-friendly market zone.

Either way, we wish LG pulls it off this time. They’re too good a device manufacturer to keep faltering.

LG Introduces A New Wireless Charging Pad

LG Introduces A New Wireless Charging Pad

Wireless charging is an exciting arena, but it’s proven more of an extravagance till now.

It’s nice to have, desired by many; but the current state of implementation, marks it down as  something inessential.

Perhaps one biggest reasons for this has been it’s tendency to charge slower than a traditional wired connections. Which is what South Korean tech giant LG’s Innotek division claims to have overcome.

LG’s new wireless charging pad is claimed to be three times faster than the existing 5W wireless charging module, and charges up to 50% within 30 minutes. Thus, LG’s claims imply that their new wireless charging pad can equal the speeds of even the wired Quick Charging equipment!

The company says that the wireless charging pad incorporates new technology from LG Innotek that prevents the pad from overheating during charging. The wireless charging pad embeds sensors that measure the temperature and allow users to suspend charging when it reaches a certain level by just touching the smartphone.

LG believes that if the 15W wireless charging pad’s design is optimized for other applications, it can be utilized in automobiles as well as in furniture as an embedded facility. Embedding charging capabilities is not new, DuPont has already dabbled in the same earlier (we’d covered their Corian Solid Surfaces product back in 2013!).

According to LG, the new charging pad can be used with most wireless charging enabled smartphones currently available in the market and it also meets the standards of Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), which is an international standardization organization for wireless charging.

The wireless charger triples the usual 5-watt output of a regular wireless charger to 15 watts, which is what allows it to match the speed of a traditional charger while conforms to the Wireless Power Consortium’s standards. You may know this as the Qi system, which is more widely used than its competitor by the Power Matters Alliance.

Which phones will be compatible? Any phone can be made to work with Qi wireless charging if you wrap it in a compatible case, and there are some, such as the LG G4, the Galaxy S6, the Galaxy S7, and many Nokia Lumia phones, which already have support built in.

This proves that LG Innotek has the world’s best wireless charging technology“, Huh Sung, Vice President of the firm’s Electronic Components Division, said in a statement. “As a wireless charging module is directly related to conveniences and safety of handset users, we will meet customer expectations with advanced performance and perfect product quality“.

Although wireless charging has had a slow start, it’s been picking up gradually. According to market research firm TSR (Techno Systems Research Co. Ltd.), the base unit sales were at USD 553 million in 2015 and is expected to go up to USD 2.2 billion by 2019!

While pricing is yet to be specified, the LG Quick Wireless Charging Pad is set for release in Australian, European, and North American markets later this month.

After the recent Galaxy Note7 fiasco, where its high-powered battery was deemed as one of the culprits for its takedown – the market may seem a bit cautious before considering such high-powered claims, or subjecting themselves to any risks associated with batteries and electricity and smartphones.

But the world will wait and watch – for risk is a necessary component in innovation.

Samsung And HTC Get The Android 7.0 Nougat Update

Samsung And HTC Get The Android 7 0 Nougat Update

Finally, it’s showtime for Android 7.0 Nougat!!

Officially announcements have been made for Nexus devices – Nexus 6, Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Nexus 9, Pixel C and Nexus Player have all been nominated to receive the update.

Additionally, Android One devices will also be receiving the update.

Android 7.0 Nougat packs new features like customizable home screen widgets, split screen multitasking, expanded emojis and smarter battery usage via the Doze feature.

Data conscious users have also been kept in mind and the update packs in a Data Saver feature that will block background apps from accessing cellular data, helping you reduce on the excess usage of your data plan.

Across the pond, T-Mobile recently revealed a list of smartphones eligible for receiving Android 7.0 Nougat update, a little earlier than expected. We’re listing T-Mobile’s plans here, as they are indicative of how the roll-out will happen to devices from these brands, and the same mantra usually applies across the globe.

The T-Mobile list of devices as of now is small and over time will expand to include more devices. The current list contains eight devices: Samsung Galaxy Note5, Samsung Galaxy Note7, Samsung Galaxy S6, Samsung Galaxy S6 edge, Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+, Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, HTC 10, and HTC One M9.
There is a possibility that more devices will be added soon in the second round. We say so because, initially HTC One A9 was to be there in the list and its presence was confirmed by HTC however we find it has disappeared from the current list.

In fact, as per other reports, HTC has already begun working on releasing the new update to some of its devices and the company plans to initially roll out the Android 7.0 Nougat on the HTC 10 in the fourth quarter of 2016, before seeding it to the One M9 (unlocked) and One A9 (unlocked).

Interestingly enough, it is not Google’s upcoming Nexus device but LG’s V20, which will be the first new smartphone to be shipped with Android 7.0 Nougat!

The LG V20, a new introduction, powered by a quad-core Qualcomm MSM8996 Snapdragon 820 processor, comes with a 5.7-inch main IPS Quantum Display and a secondary display. It boasts a dual rear camera with a 135-degree 8-megapixel lens complimented by a 16-megapixel 75-degree lens. The front has a 5-megapixel 120-degree lens for your selfies and video communications. You can read more about the LG V20 in our intro article here.

Despite the announcement, there are no exact dates that have been mentioned for the release of this update. However, it is speculated that devices from manufacturers other than Samsung and HTC will receive the update a little later while some will get it next year.

Introducing LG V20: The Torch Bearer Of LG's Next Generation

Introducing LG V20 The Torch Bearer Of LG Next Generation

Try, try until you succeed”.

This sure seems to be LG’s motto of late, as the company has decided to chance their arm yet again at making a successful modular phone.

Whether they are actually learning lessons or going into overkill after the debacle that was LG G5, isn’t clear at this time. While there are certain features on the LG V20, to be excited about, yet there is still a certain retentivity from their previous outings – both success and failures.

For starters. it would be a massive mistake to compare the LG V20 with the amorphous blob that was the LG G5! The angular metal body of the V20 is a leaps-and-bounds improvement from the previous rendition, in that respect.

The newest flagship smartphone is set to be launched on September 6 alongside what the company is prodding as ‘never-seen-before’ features. However, rumours indicate that LG hasn’t really learnt the lesson on battery life failure that plagued the LG V10, since they have apparently not upgraded the battery on the forthcoming V20.

On the ‘up’ side of things, the Korean electronics giant announced that the LG V20 will feature a 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC (digital to analog converter).

A DAC reprocesses audio content while converting it from it’s digital form (as it is stored or streamed by the parent device) into the analog beats played by the speaker/earphones.

LG said their DAC produces a crisp and clear sound reproduction that reduces ambient noise by up to 50%! The DAC being introduced by LG on a smartphone is also being claimed to be an industry debut.

As smartphones mature, we’re seeing more and more customers looking beyond just fast processors and big displays in their devices” said Juno Cho, president of LG Electronics and Mobile Communications Company. “Higher quality audio is simply the natural evolution of the smartphone, as the industry moves toward a more holistic multimedia consumption experience. We’re pleased to continue this long-term partnership with ESS and bring best in class audio to LG V20 users”.

This ground-breaking multimedia feature was brought to life through the partnership of LG and ESS technology.

We are extremely excited that our Quad DAC technology will be featured in the V20, LG’s latest flagship smartphone for consumers who demand the best media experience,” said Robert Blair, President and Chief Executive Officer of ESS Technology. “As a technology more typically available in high-end audio equipment, Quad DAC on the V20 will make users feel as if they are carrying around a professional home-audio system on their smartphone”.

In addition to its DAC, the LG V20 is also being touted to be the first smartphone to sport the new Android 7.0 operating system, known as Nougat. Typically, Google ensures that it’s Nexus line of devices lead the race on launching every new Android version, but this time, LG V20 seems to be getting to the launch podium first.

It is also being presumed that the LG V20 will be the second smartphone to adopt USB Type-C unlike the LG V10’s micro USB standard. Additionally, LG V20’s processor is expected to be a Snapdragon 820 or 821 with 4 GB of RAM.

So, the LG V20 has a lot going for it, but we’ll all have to wait and see what actually rolls out of the Stocking come launch date. Fingers crossed, LG would have hit a home run this time. God knows, they need one!

LG Announces The World's First Android N Device

LG Launches Its First Android N Device

Pride was obvious in LG’s stance when they announced their LG V20 smartphone would be the first smartphone in the world, to ship with Android 7.0 Nougat right out of the box.

LG has pinned down the final date – the LG V20 comes to San Francisco on September 6, 2016 in a four day event. LG however hasn’t shared the specifications or made any official announcements regarding the device.

With that LG outshone the soon-to-launch Nexus phone that was reported to pack the Nougat-y punch.

The new or unknown as we all know, generates a level of excitement and curiosity and same goes for LG V20.

Since V20 is a successor to V10, we can safely speculate that V20 may sport dual-screens. A main 5.7 inch, 2560×1440 pixels display with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection and a second Always-On 2.1-inches (1040×160 pixels) ribbon display at the top, which is for notifications and quick app access.

The phone might run on a Snapdragon 820 chipset, coupled with an Andreno 530 graphics processor and feature a finger print scanner.

There’s more.

The LG V20 will just enthral users with its rumoured 20 megapixel back camera paired with an 8 megapixel front camera.

Android 7.0 Nougat will pack new features like multi-window support, enhanced notifications, revamped doze, number blocking, and a redesigned Camera app. Other than that, the layout will get additional Grid options, and revive the manual exposure mode which was missed by a lot of people. Android Nougat will bring “Doze on the Go”, a feature that enables the phone to enter battery saving mode as soon as the phone’s screen is turned off. The notifications bar has also been refurbished to present a more minimalist and clean look.

All these features at an exciting price point of around IN 40,000!

We are excited to offer the first phone in the world to feature Nougat out of the box”, said Juno Cho, President of LG Electronics and Mobile Communications Company. “The LG V20 upgrades and extends its predecessor’s cutting-edge multimedia features a step further, providing distinctive mobile experience and sets a new standard for premium phones for consumers”.

The invitation for this unveiling of V20 comes with a colorful book which has a tagline ‘Play More’, hinting strongly at the smartphone’s capability to multi-tasking capabilities, and some functionality like the LG G5, since the company had introduced this tagline with its 2016 flagship earlier in the year.

LG G5 may have failed in the sense that it didn’t manage to grab attention and had weaker sales than the company anticipated, owing to its production difficulties.

LG V20 is the successor to the V10, which was launched in October 2015.
Engadget claimed the V10’s second screen was one of the best executions to date, with easy access to audio controls and a quick glance at an email thread. However, with two front cameras, V10 seemed to have gone overboard for users who may not need two lens options while clicking a selfie.

LG attracted focus on the company’s close cooperation with Google and we are assuming that this is the reason that is enabling LG to roll out an Android Nougat phone so early (with even a custom LG skin already created for it), while Google hasn’t yet even provided an official release date for Nougat on its own Nexus devices!

All this is vitally important for LG to boost its mobile business. Understandably, LG is upbeat about the forthcoming launch. In fact, LG is touting that the V20 is “expected to set new standards” for the premium phone market and it will be interesting to see the battle between LG V20 and Samsung’s Note7 as the latter is also round the corner.

The Tough Just Got Tougher: Introducing Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5!

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.

LG Stylus 2 Plus: Using The Stylus Has Never Been Simpler

LG’s smartphone outings seem to be a mixed bag. There is the forgettable LG G5 but then they also have the likes of Stylus 2, both of which catering to a widely different audience maybe but getting a completely different reception too. Now in an attempt to cash in on the popularity of Stylus 2 LG has brought out the Stylus 2 Plus, a follow-up to the original LG Stylus 2 launched back in February, but with some key components changed.

Juno Cho, President of LG Electronics and Mobile Communications, describes the product as follows:

“The LG Stylus 2 Plus offers users a spacious screen, powerful multimedia functionality and a writing experience at a competitive price. It’s just another example of the constant refinements we’re making to our mobile products to give LG customers a wide variety of features and designs to choose from.”

The LG Stylus 2 Plus is available now in Taiwan and will come to Asia, South America, Europe, and North America over the coming weeks. Just last month the device made it to the Saudi Arabian and Singapore markets.

A quick look at the specifications tells us:

  • Display:7-inch Full HD IPS Quantum Display
  • Chipset:4GHz Octa-Core
  • Camera: Rear 13MP, 16MP / Front 5MP, 8MP (varies by region)
  • Memory: 2GB, 3GB RAM / 16GB, 32GB ROM / MicroSD (varies by region)
  • Battery: 3,000mAh (removable)
  • Operating System: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Size: 155 x 79.6 x 7.4mm
  • Weight: 145g
  • Network: LTE / HSPA+ / GSM
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b, g, n / Bluetooth 4.1 / USB 2.0
  • Colors: Titan / Gold / Brown
  • Others: Fingerprint Sensor

Casting aside the potential camera upgrades which are also susceptible to regional markets, the only significant differences here are

  • the increase display resolution – the original featured a 5.7-inch 720p screen;
  • a slight increase in SoC performance – the original featured a 1.2GHz chip – and some extra RAM – the original featured 1.5GB;

The front camera can also be triggered by gesture recognition or voice recognition, which makes taking selfies a lot more fun. Both cameras come with handy features such as HDR and Film, which lets users see filter effects in real time.

It is slightly om the lighter side compared to say a Galaxy Note 5 (almost 30g lighter) and true to the LG stylus family phones (read: LG G4 stylus) it does not have buttons around the edges. Instead the rear, behind the front camera is where you find these power and volume switches.

The device is available in three colors: Titan, gold and brown.

The Stylus 2 Plus carries over the nano-coated stylus which facilitates the tangible feedback of a quality fountain pen when writing on the screen. The presence of UX features such as Quick Memo and Off Memo and Pen Keeper, which displays a warning when the stylus strays too far from the phone, or vice versa, has made the use of the Stylus even simpler for the everyday user. The stylus glides very easily over the LG Stylus 2 Plus’ screen, and it is also slightly pressure- sensitive.

The LG Stylus 2 offers powerful multimedia functionality and a new experience at a competitive price. The design team put forth claims that the phone possesses unique and innovative specifications suitable to all tastes.

At under $500 ($498), the Stylus 2 Plus is markedly cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 ($1,088), the go-to flagship phone for users who want a stylus.

LG Launches Four New X Series Smartphones

LG Launches Four New X Series Smartphones

LG after a noticeable absence from the market, is back with a bang.

Recently, the company announced four new smartphones that expand its X series. The LG X Power, LG X Style, LG X Mach and LG X Max are joining the LG X Cam and LG X Screen to bulk up the company’s mass-tier offerings.

These four smartphones are considered as the new affordable Android smartphones, which comes with its own specific features, which set them apart from one another.

Each new device in the X series has a unique feature which is made to match a specific user’s need or interest.

The LG X Power, is meant for those who need bigger batteries.
It has a 4,100mAh battery with Fast Charging. The company has clearly focused on the most basic and populous problem of today’s smartphone users i.e. the battery life of the phones. Even though it is 7.9mm thin, the X Power phone packs a massive 4,100 mAh super battery with fast charging.
X Power has a 5.3 inch 720p display, MediaTek MT6735 with 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB storage, 13 megapixel rear- and 8 megapixel front camera.

LG X Mach is for performance focused users as it has a 1.8 GHz processor, support for LTE data. As well as a QHD IPS Quantum display.
With this smartphone, the company’s focus on speed is clear, but they’ve also provided for better all round performance.
This device also comes with a rear camera with 1.5 μm sensor. The X Mach features 3 GB RAM, 32 GB storage, 5.5 inch Quad HD display, 12.3 megapixel rear with a larger sensor and 8 megapixel front camera and a 3,000 mAh battery.

The LG X Style touts design and hardware.
As the name suggests, the smartphone is the more stylish of the quad-bunch; with curving lines and an extra-slim body.
LG X Style is a mid-range handset with a 5.3 inch 720p display, Snapdragon 410 processor with 1.5 GB RAM, 16 GB storage, 8 megapixel rear and 5 megapixel front camera as well as a 2,100 mAh battery.

Last but not the least, the LG X Max has a significantly large display for an enhanced viewing experience.
LG have yet not provided much details on the X Max, but from the name, we can assume that it will most likely come with a larger display than the rest of the X series.

All four handsets have a dual SIM slot, 4G LTE support, Bluetooth 4.1, and expandable storage. They will be released in several markets across the globe later during June and July.

Juno Cho, president of LG Electronics and the Mobile Communications Company, stated, “Each X series smartphone pairs perfectly with its user by offering uncompromising quality and one truly outstanding feature that speak the user’s personal preference and lifestyle — all at a great value. The newly expanded X series demonstrates LG’s commitment to offering top flight performance with premium features at a satisfying price”.

The company has yet not confirmed the prices of any of the four smartphones, but going by LG’s history, they shouldn’t cost you any limbs.

LG Unveils Street Art Inspired Portable Speakers

LG Unveils Street Art Inspired Portable Speakers

However amazing your smartphone’s onboard speakers might be, they can’t be used to rock your party. For that, you definitely need Bluetooth speakers at least. Especially true of impromptu parties, Bluetooth speakers enable you to carry and rock your favorite music with you at all times without the bulk of stereo speakers.

And, what if your music comes from aesthetically tasteful speakers? LG has something of that sort, just to suit your individual style!

Launched in France, LG’s special edition street art-styled speakers were built in collaboration with the graffiti designer JonOne.

JonOne has made a mark worldwide in the field of art and especially in France as he was awarded with ‘Ordre National De La Légion d’honneur’ for his accomplishments and artistic vision by the Government.
He has earned a standing for novelty, combined with his open-ended approach to style and artistic innovation earning him a following around the globe.

Growing up in Harlem in New York City, JonOne was influenced by the freedom of the street art and graffiti tags that covered the city. His upbringing in America influenced his later work, leading to a strong emphasis on creativity and innovation.

JonOne in the official press release talked about his close involvement with LG in the making of these speakers. He said, “I have worked closely with LG at every stage of the design process, and I believe that these speakers act as the perfect medium for my artwork…Trumpeting the value of individuality and self-expression, LG’s latest portable speakers will inspire consumers to embrace their passions and live with more artistic intensity in their daily lives”.

LG’s street art-inspired portable speakers are available in three designs “inspired by art, culture and city life”, and are equipped with features otherwise found only in LG’s advanced wireless audio products.

These features combine to guarantee that LG Portable Speaker art series will go down well with those that value individuality in their music, art and life.

These speakers can be paired with a max of two devices via Bluetooth, and provide access to playback and voice controls OTA. Two internal speakers are used through Dual Play as true left and right stereo channels.

Initially, the speakers will be launched in France and would roll out to other European countries subsequently. The press release revealed no information about the pricing and availability of this device in countries other than Europe.

Art can take many forms, and LG seeks to smash barriers by helping consumers include trendsetting artistic design in their everyday lives”, said Park Hyoung-sei, Executive Vice President of the LG Home Entertainment Company. “The speakers we developed in collaboration with JonOne will encourage fans to apply innovation, style and art to everything that they do”.

Crystal clear sound with amazingly beautiful outer design makes these Bluetooth speakers by LG a must have for your next camping and bonfire trips.

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:

  • a fingerprint sensor,
  • an 18-megapixel camera,
  • 5GB of RAM,
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 830 SoC chipset integration,
  • a water-resistant IP68 rating,
  • a battery higher than 4,000 mAh,
  • 5G connectivity.

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.

 

Is LG Bringing Real Wireless Charging To Their Next Flagship?

Is LG bringing wireless charging to their next flagship

From the big fat plug in chargers, to portable power banks, to wireless charging, our method of charging our smartphones has evolved over time.

What hasn’t changed still is the very-exhaustible battery that powers our devices. No matter how big they make them, batteries somehow find a way to exhaust themselves. Add to that, battery tech hasn’t yielded any magic potion yet.

This is what is encouraging companies and developers to push the boundaries further and develop new, fast and effective methods of charging.

Wireless Charging has been there on the scene for quite a lot of time – Samsung and Nokia started employing magnetic induction standards such as Qi years ago.

But is wireless charging truly wireless in the sense of the term? Nope. You still need to plug in a wired object, and that object in turn has to be in contact with your phone. What fun!

What is it the ‘newness’ then that LG has come up with?

Well, as per BusinessKorea’s report LG has developed a device that charges wirelessly over the air using magnetic resonance. Instead of physically placing the device on a charging pad for the device to charge “wirelessly”, LG’s invention enables the phone to be charged from a distance of 7 cm (about 3 inches) away from the charging pad. It even increases the amount of power being delivered to the device to 7 watts.
The latter part looks particularly important as it finally means that wireless charging will also be able to deliver quick results.

We know, 7 cm isn’t that huge a distance, but you’d agree that this little distance indicates the miles that can be covered in the direction of wireless charging in the near future.

LG has finished developing the capability and the hardware but it hasn’t decided whether it will actually release it with the new phone or not.

It is reported that LG has been channelizing its efforts in this direction since March this year – when LG announced a new transmission module for wireless charging pads, which sees smartphones regain power at the same rate as a wired cable.

The South Korean company claims that this new wireless technology will even enable fully discharged phones rise back up to 50% in a mere 30 minutes!

We believe the new module will be entrenched into future wireless charging pads, with mass production starting later this year.

It’s a little peculiar though that LG’s latest flagship smartphone, the LG G5, doesn’t support wireless charging. We can only hope the next LG flagship, estimably, the LG G6 would come with it!

It’s worthwhile to note that LG isn’t the only company that is interested in developing magnetic resonance-based wireless charging. Chinese competitors like Huawei, Oppo and Meizu are all apparently eyeing this technology and might come up with devices in the near future. Apple might as well be gearing up for this new tech race as it has hired a bunch of engineers from wireless charging startup uBeam.

LG, however, has the upper hand because all these companies are still thinking of the solution,  or at best, are in the process of developing this technology for their devices, whereas LG has already finished developing it and could launch it in any of the new flagship devices this year itself.

Looking at the flipside of it, if the short-distance technology backfires and fails to impress the users, then interest in this feature might just vanish without giving it a room for improvement.

Phew, looks like a tricky situation but LG has never been afraid of pushing the limits of mobile technology before and might do just the same this time as well.

iPhones To Get Their OLED Display Panels From Samsung

Starting in 2017 Apple to get their OLED Display Panels from Samsung

Apple’s got a dichotomous reputation in the market – while some think of it as the world’s leading innovator and a proponent of new ideas, others think of it as merely a quick adapter of new trends and ideas.

The jury is still out on which claim is more legitimate, yet it is irrefutable that Apple, through its myriad movements and market achievements, has become one of those brands that is the swiftest and most receptive to change.
Sometimes they cause the change, at others, they embrace something that’s already out there in the marketplace – and juice it up to deliver an even better product than the original form.

One of the many talking points of Apple devices has been Apple’s insistence to continue using LCD panels on it’s iPhones and iPads. While the Android world is replete with OLEDs of every form and evolution, Apple has “lagged behind”, because of this affinity to LCDs. In fact, Apple’s eventual change to OLED that has been “predicted” many times over. Since it was something competitors were already doing so and also keeping in mind the advantages that OLEDs present compared to LCDs, it could very well be said that Apple was at a risk of falling behind.

That may be about to change as Apple seems to be making headway in that direction.

According to a new report from the Korean Herald, Samsung and Apple have signed a deal, basis which Samsung will supply around 100 million 5.5-inch OLED panels to Apple, starting 2017. The 3 year deal is said to be worth USD 2.59 billion.

Apple’s previous attempts at switching to OLEDs were thwarted by the lack of a manufacturer who could cater to the busy outflow of iPhones. This time, Apple is said to have approached both LG and Samsung to vie for a supplier contract for these displays.

That Samsung was able to secure the deal is perhaps more to do with its image as the market leader in OLEDs than its supply capabilities.

The deal also comes at the back of LG’s announcement in January that it will boost its production capacity for curved display panels in 2017. That was a follow up of its plans from the previous year to construct an advanced facility for OLED production.

Considering that Apple is expected to ship approximately 250 million iPhones annually over the next couple of years, it would come as no surprise if Apple decides to go for multiple suppliers. In the wake of recent developments, LG would be a frontrunner.

Long-time Apple partner and iPhone assembler Foxconn is also expected to enter the fray to win OLED supply contracts. The Taiwanese giant acquired Japan’s OLED-maker Sharp recently, and could leverage its healthy relationship with Apple as a viable means to attract the iPhone-maker into a contract.

The report does not speak of OLED displays for the smaller 4.7 inch phones; this only-5.5 inch OLEDs is a peculiar twist. We (at Chip-Monks) think that only the Plus variants will carry the new screen tech for the first year – so as to further differentiate the phablet version from the 4.7 inch sibling (as the camera set up and battery size does currently). So, the screen capability could perhaps further enforce demarcation between Apple’s high-end and mass-appeal phones.

The general belief is that that the 4.7 inch ones drastically outsell the 5.5 inch ones with the ratio being 2:1 in favour of the smaller ones. This could perhaps be attributed to the lower cost price of the 4.7 inch ones with features that could sustain if not overly entertain the everyday user.

The lure of OLEDs is the display offers quicker response time and brighter colours, as opposed to LCDs. Moreover, its effective battery consumption improves battery life. It is for anyone to see that Apple could be vying to boost the sale of its 5.5 inch higher end phones.

However this move could backfire since it could cannibalise sales of the smaller handset, adn also clear the way for some customers to jump ship and consider similar sized options among other brands at a much more reasonable price tag.

Back to the deal. Samsung’s supposed contribution of 5.5 inch panels disrupts the coherency with predictions from noted insider Ming-Chi Kuo, who last month said Apple would market a 5.8 inch AMOLED iPhone as part of next year’s lineup. Per the leakster, the 2017 handset would bear a “glass sandwich” design reminiscent of iPhone 4/4s, but with a curved front and back.

Kuo had said the 5.8-inch AMOLED model will either be tacked on to Apple’s existing 4.7 inch and 5.5 inch iPhone formats, or completely replace the 5.5 inch TFT-LCD model, depending on supply.

The so called “revamp” comes at the back of the somewhat underwhelming sales of iPhones that Apple has had to endure. Apple is also said to be considering adding wireless charging and biometric sensors to its new iPhone in 2017.

Well, we’ll all have to wait to see how things pan out, but one thing’s for certain – it’s going to be yet another interesting year!

Dolby Vision - A New Television Experience

Dolby Vision - A New Television Experience

For time immemorial, filmmakers have cribbed about not having a perfect TV to showcase their stories. Our blacks weren’t their blacks, their vivid colours they toiled to capture, reached us in obscurity.

The answer, as Dolby says. is here!

Unveiling its plans to launch Dolby Vision in India this May, the sound synthesising giant emphasised its latest array of technologies to bring “specially curated cinematic experience” to our home.

Okay, so, Dolby Vision is Dolby’s latest venture into the untrodden territory of video; and it uses an unique approach – an entire ecosystem of technology based on HDR, or High Dynamic Range. This approach enables the televisions to have brighter display and present more accurate colours at the pixel level.

Not every TV can support this type of technology though. The new Dolby televisions will be equipped with the high range 12-bit mastering technology to showcase content up to 10,000 nits (unit of luminosity). For comparison sake, normal HDR televisions with only 10-bits can showcase content with brightness up to 1,000 nits only.
Although Dolby’s technology is backward compatible for 10-bit TVs as well, however the real problem is its market demand and access.

The technology is being launched in India in collaboration only with LG, and will be launched in May 2016 at a price starting at INR 1,25,000.

The Dolby Vision range will comprise of both traditional IPS LED TVs as well as LG’s flagship range of OLED TVs.

In fact, Dolby Vision is said to work best on OLED TVs, since OLEDs produce deep blacks by using the technology’s ability to shut off every individual pixel that doesn’t need to be illuminated. This allows for a near-perfect reference point for the colour range and brightness and ensures a picture that can accurately handle both bright and dark regions of the frame without any trouble.

Despite its high price, Dolby has tied up with various film production houses to manufacture the tailor-made content necessary to popularise the new TV experience. A handful of streaming services have been roped in as well.
Services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Vudu have announced tie-ups with Dolby, and Netflix’s original show Marco Polo is already being streamed with both Dolby Vision and HDR10 support.
Currently, there are about 40 movie titles that can boast of having Dolby Vision, including heavyweights like The Martian And Star Wars.

For those who may be apprehensive of Dolby Vision’s potential bandwidth hogging abilities, the company has clarified that HDR streaming will not have a significant impact on the bandwidth required. Streams with Dolby Vision are estimated to use only about 10% more bandwidth than non-HDR content over the same resolution – so this new tech should have a minimal impact on streaming subscribers.

The technology being a stand-alone implementation, that is dependent on specific hardware, thus needs to be built into the TV at the time of manufacture. So, it isn’t possible to add Dolby Vision to your existing TV :-(

Oh well, we’re all going to have to upgrade our TVs at some point in the future, so the Dolby Vision-enabled experience might have to wait till your next TV acquisition.

Meanwhile, the filmmaker’s dream is now set. The audience has to just wait for the credits to roll – ‘cos Dolby’s name will be on the top.

LG G5, Does It Bring Anything New To The Table?

LG G5, Does It Bring Anything New To The Table

The LG G5 is LG’s fervent hope at cracking a respectable slot in the Premier Smartphones League.

Since it’s been out in the market for a while, it is now a good time to talk about all that makes it appealing; to that end, for once, there’s a lot to talk about!

LG has worked to make the phone unique in its own right, a proper flagship. The manufacturer divides the new features into three ‘elements’.

Element 1

Built for Play, refers to the phone’s awesome interconnectivity capabilities that allow you to control external peripherals directly from the LG G5 itself.

LG’s ‘Friends Manager’ app, built on the LG UX 5.0 provides a unified ecosystem for your accessories. It connects to the accessory camera module for enhanced pictures and videos controls, to your speakers for better sounds in addition to the virtual reality 3D pods, home security systems, headphones and more.

LG calls them ‘LG Friends’, which can be put to work in three easy steps: Find> Pair> Control.

Element 2

The enhanced and evolved visual experience via the camera with twin sensors. The camera specs aside, it is about how much fun you can have with it. The camera is a 16 megapixels, f/1.8 aperture shooter and comes with laser autofocus and optical image stabilization and 135-degree wide-angle view.

You have features like Autoshot for easier selfies, allowing you to release the shutter when you pose, while the Multi-view utilizes all the onboard cameras to capture every single angle in one shot and can also be worked with your LG 360 ‘Friends’ cam.

Pop-out picture and Film Effects also give you a variety of artistic combinations for your pictures to play with.

Element 3

The device being ‘Simple, Accessible, Intuitive’.

The phone, as the company says, has been streamlined to be more intuitive. The OS contains a new home area, which is single layered and gives you direct access to all your apps.
You can organize and delete apps and even recovered uninstalled apps with only a few flicks of the finger with the springboard approach. But don’t worry, if you like the older apps tray, you can always go back to it via Settings.

The phone has a newer version of LG Health, which studies your activity patterns and sets up a course for your physical activity, tracking your achievements to encourage you.

Another useful feature is the Smart Doctor, which works to keep your phone in top shape by identifying issues and optimizing them.

Add to that, a savvy data migration tool – if you’re just moving onto the LG G5 you can get all your personal data onto the new device, simply by holding your old phone under your new LG G5.
LG Backup (an LG app available on the Play Store) will transfer Contacts, Calendar, Bookmarks, Messages (SMS), Photo, Video, Music, Documents and Voice Memo for you, using NFC.

The phone can also boast of the various shortcuts built into the UI, such as the launching of a notepad, or the camera or other similar apps present on the phone.

Let’s talk about the competition now.

Since LG G5 is one of the flagships launched this year, it has got to capture space with a lot of others in the playpen. Also launched at the MCW 2016 (where LG G5 also made it’s first public appearance), was the Samsung Galaxy S7. It’s good to see, that the LG G5 fares quite well in comparison. The Always-On feature, which S7 boasts of, not only exists on the LG G5, it in fact, does better on the G5 because it displays the notifications in a more accessible manner.

The fingerprint scanner on the LG G5 is nifty too (some say even better than that on the Nexus 6P), it has a terrific camera and has a removable, battery to boot, giving it some major advantages.

The only one blemish that may hinder the LG G5 is something it can’t possibly shake – the maker’s badge it sports. A tad unfortunately, LG is a brand that’s struggling to convince people to take it’s smartphones seriously, and it isn’t being able to convert the cursory glances it’s products get in stores into more deliberate and (dare we say) lustful looks.

Well, hopefully the G5 and it’s other brothers will start to change the tide for LG.

LG Registers ‘G5 SE’ Trademark, Is It For A Smaller G5

LG Registers G5 SE Trademark Is It For A Smaller G5

LG’s CEO Cho Ju-no was apparently not at all impressed with Apple’s iPhone SE and publicly termed it as a product with the “same old technology and features”. Yet, LG’s latest step just might prove its leader’s change of mind.

It seems that LG has applied for the trademark of the name “G5 SE” in its home country, South Korea. While speculators immediately likened this step by LG as ‘inspired’ by the launch of Apple’s iPhone SE. But if one looks into the details more carefully, you’d find that there are actually four separate versions of G5 SE branding applied for by LG at the Korea Intellectual Property Rights Information Service (KIPRIS).

  • According to believable reports, two versions of the “LG G5 SE” were applied 8 days after the launch of the iPhone SE. One version was applied on 19th February while the other was applied on 30th December 2015.
  • The news of Apple coming out with iPhone SE started floating in January 2016. So it is highly unlikely that LG copied Apple this time. Though nothing can be said for sure, given the South Korean brand’s fame for filing trademarks of names very similar to other recently launched products of rival companies – be it the case of Samsung Edge or Android Pay and Samsung Pay where LG quickly came up with trademark for LG Pay.

To stay positive, the Android maker is perhaps planning a smaller version of its new LG G5 handset. As a matter of course,  LG does launches smaller version of its G-series smartphones, but it generally goes with the suffix ”C” like the LG G4 C.
Though these smaller models have failed to grab the attention of the users – one of the primary reasons being the lack of metal body stealing most of the model’s lustre.

The main task in front of LG will be to pack maximum possible hardware with contemporary specifications and technology at a minimum price tag. LG is also said to be working on a Lite version of the same G5 series. The Lite version recently passed Tenaa, a Chinese telecommunications certification authority’s certification where some specs were leaked.

The speculated details for LG G5 Lite are:

  • The processor has been downgraded from Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 to Snapdragon 652 with 3 GB RAM instead of 4 GB RAM
  • The device will adorn the Adreno 510 GPU to handle graphics.
  • It will have the same 5.3-inch QHD (1440×2560 pixels) resolution display, along with the 32 GB inbuilt storage.
  • 16 megapixel + 8 megapixel rear camera setup remains unchanged.

So now it’s time to wait and see whether LG actually comes up with LG G5 SE along with G5 Lite or it simply keeps the registered trademark.

LG G5: Redefined Flagship Device?

LG G5, Is it a redefined flagship device

LG, with the release of its flagship handset, the LG G5 at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) this February, seems to be taking a lot of punts.

The LG G series has up to now worked on standard designs that each model has carried forward with minor changes – every model has been only an upgrade to its predecessor. But with LG G5, the company seems to be working on changing a lot.

Clearly LG wants to hit the market with a hot product, and make a lasting impression across price bands.

The primary question is, how will the LG G5 make a difference?

The speculations are that the LG G5 model will look entirely different from the outgoing LG G4, and even the ones before that.

The company is seemingly going for a complete design overhaul. The most prominent of this is the replacement of the removable back cover with a sliding panel for the battery. Most phones up to now feature either a removable back cover or a non-removable back cover, but the phone battery has mostly been inside the back of the phone.
A slide-out panel for battery is not only curious in terms of its design, but also in terms of its functionality.

The signature rear-mounted volume buttons are also being moved to the side. Other than these design changes, there is also speculated an upgrade in the processor.

With the G4, the company initially went with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810. They had to later replace it with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 because of the 810’s overheating issues. Speculation now points to the company enabling the G5 with the upgraded Qualcomm processor – the Snapdragon 820.
Qualcomm, has said that the 820 version of Snapdragon is about 40% faster than the 810 version!
 This would mean that the phone would be a lot faster than its predecessor. It would also place the phone amongst the range of upcoming phones that use the most advanced of processors, like the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S7.

LG in the past has not really worked with biometrics in its devices. It ventured into the use of biometrics with finger-scanning in its late-2015 release of the LG V10.
Apparently the G5 will feature biometric scanning features too, though the what cannot yet be confirmed. Hopes are set on LG working with eye scanning now, which would be a step up from the finger-scanning in the V10, and a new venture for the company.
In the market, Samsung has worked with face recognition technology, which did not yield very successful results for the company. The Microsoft Lumia 950 brought eye scanning to the front recently.
Successfully pulling off the eye-scanning technology would put the phone a step up from its predecessor, and its competitors.

The LG G5 will also be getting an upgrade in terms of its camera. Blessed with a 21 megapixel camera instead of the 16 megapixel one that the G4 version featured, and a front camera with an 8 megapixel image sensor, are both good news. This comes with the possibility of LG adorning the phone with a selfie lens.

With Samsung releasing its Galaxy S7 at the MWC as well, the G5 stands in direct competition to the flagship Samsung device. The Samsung handset is expected in varying specs, multiple options for various performance needs.

The question at the centre for now is will the LG G5 be able to give the all-encompassing Samsung and its new flagship device a competition? With the releases so close to each other, the face off is unavoidable.

With a fresh design, completely different from the standard G series, with more power and possibly with new biometric tricks in its bag, the LG G5 could be the next big attraction in the market.

LG's About To Launch Rollable OLED Panels

Will LG Launch A Rollable OLED Panel

Back in July 2014, LG had announced that it was working on building an 18 inch OLED panel that would roll up just like a newspaper!

This year, LG seems all ready and set to show off this super sleek, ultra-thin beauty to the world at the CES, in Las Vegas. What’s more, LG says that this is just one of the many things that can be done with OLED these days.

The interesting thing is that several electronics manufacturers like Samsung, Sony, Sharp and Nokia have also been experimenting with foldable, rollable and flexible displays for the past couple of years. In fact were you visit a Tech show, you’d notice that such bendable, folding and curved screens are usually are the cynosure at every trade show.

Back in 2014, LG had mentioned that this rollable OLED will be 3 mm thick and would have a then-decent 1200×810 pixel resolution. There is no news on changes to this spec, but we should know more soon. We’ll keep you updated as information becomes available.

This rollable OLED could actually shape the future of technology. Imagine how cool it would be if you could have a digital newspaper that felt like an actual one and could be rolled up and carried just like a paper-based one!

LG is apparently also planning on showing a 25 inch ‘waterfall’ curved LCD screen installed inside a car at the Auto Zone section on the show floor. The company also plans on launching a 10.3 inch screen that can be operated even with gloves on.

There’s more – the South Korean giant also plans on launching a paper-thin 55 inch OLED TV and a 55 inch screen that can display different images on either sides simultaneously, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year.

Phew!

There’s yet more – LG’s also launching a range of Super UHD TVs which will be available in 55-86 inch screen sizes. The displays will sport advance picture quality, enhanced sound, high dynamic range, a super sleek design and expanded colour capabilities. The company is set to start shipping these TVs to the US by the end of this year.

Clearly, LG’s on a run and betting big on new screen technology. Looking at the investments it’s making, it undoubtedly  believes that rollable OLED devices could play a very important role in the everyday of people in the future and become a necessity more than a luxury.

Let’s see how this rolls out!

LG G4 Starts Receiving Android 6.0 Marshmallow Update

LG-G4-Starts-Receiving-Android -Marshmallow-Update

The LG G4 is expected to be the very first smartphone apart from Google’s own smartphone

Nexus and Android One devices to receive an update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow software.

Google released its latest 6.0 Marshmallow update this year on the 5th of October and LG is amongst the first manufacturers to deliver an update.

The update started rolling out for users in Poland followed by the Korea and will soon be available in Europe. Hopefully users in India should be next on the list to receive this update.

Some features of this cool new update, better known as ‘Android M’, include:

  • Refurbished versions of various apps with Google Now just a tap away (press the home button and hold it for a while to access it),
  • All-new Google Chrome feature will change the way we surf on Android devices with different ways to handle web links.
  • Android Pay would now be official on Android M
  • A new “Silent” feature for accessing the sound and vibrate mode
  • Do Not Disturb feature which will block away all sounds be it from an alarm or a notification and lets you sleep in peace! Seems like Android read my mind!
  • A battery saving feature called ‘Doze’ which helps you switch your Android device to a low power mode helping you save on power.
    So the next time when your phone is running out of battery be assured that it’s definitely going to stay with you a little longer than it did earlier before the battery completely drains out.
  • Other cool features include improved volume controls, notification slider on top of the screen etc.
  • Additional solutions for LG G4 software bugs – like touchscreen issues, lock-code issues, device security issues and more.

This update is like a box of goodies which brings about small changes in the functionality of LG G4 but the sum total of the changes will make life for G4 users a lot easier!

Now the downside – the update is heavy and comes as a 1.55 GB file. Having said that, we feel the space that the software update takes up in your smartphone should definitely not be a reason that keeps you from exploring it.

When the update is available on your phone, a notification will pop up on your handset. All you need to do is go into the ‘Settings’, then ‘About Phone’ and then ‘Check For Updates Manually’.

Remember to only download the update while on Wi-Fi!

Stay tuned and Chip-Monks will keep updating you with more news as soon as we hear anything more about this brand new super amazing update.

Samsung's Possibly Crafting A Tablet That Folds Up To Become A Phone!

Samsung Possibly Crafting A Tablet That Folds Up To Become A Phone

Samsung has made a name for itself, for it’s brilliant technology and manufacturing prowess. Of very recent years, it’s also been noticed for it’s R&D and some of it’s biggest innovations have come from it’s R&D labs.

While Samsung is becoming game-changer in the world of technology one also realises that innovation in the field of smartphones (and not only those from Samsung’s stable) has been slowing down for a while now. There is only so much that a phone can do!

Now, Samsung seems to be doing something to the basic concept of a smartphone that will help it get a new lease of life, and perhaps be able to do more.

Samsung seems to be creating a phone that you can fold in and out like paper!

A foldable tablet-cum-smartphone, actually a phablet in the truest sense of the word possible.

We hear that the device would be a 5-inch smartphone that could be unfolded into a 7-inch tablet whenever needed. That is all that is known about the device as of now since the company has not yet released any information on the specifics of it.

But since it is Samsung, we can expect the specs to the top notch, at least the display, the design and the camera. We can expect good RAM, around 3 GB hopefully, and a microSD slot as well. We can also expect it to run on the latest available version of Android operating system.

The battery though, is something that might not make one as happy, but it perhaps wouldn’t displease us either.

Regardless, these are only assumptions based on Samsung’s track record in its devices.

We do not yet know when this new device would be out in the market. The company had recently mentioned that they plan to bring to the market foldable device “soon”. How soon, though, is a question we can’t answer.
We don’t see it happening this year at least. So maybe we can cross our fingers and hope to have our hands on something of the kind in the first half of the next year.

It is going to mass-produce foldable display by the end of this year and is planning to sell Foldable Smartphones on markets starting from next year”, a Korean news site reported on 1st April.

If even more rumours are to be believed then SamMobile, a trusted rumour blog, reported that “anonymous sources claim the device is currently being tested in China”. The same source also claims that the device is being developed under the project codenamed Project Valley, in addition to claiming that he/she has great knowledge of the device itself.

Samsung has refused to confirm any of this information.

The technology for such a device would of course not be easy to develop. Samsung has reportedly had to partner with domestic and foreign researchers as well as other companies to put this one together. The lynchpin of it all though, would be the foldable bendy plastic screen that’s been reported earlier as being developed by Samsung’s own display division.

The idea of a flexible phone has existed in the market for a while. In fact, another Korean company is Samsung’s biggest competitor in this budding field.

LG has already marketed a flexible phone which bends up to a certain point.

Additionally, LG recently showed off a working model of an 18-inch Ultra HD screen that used a special film instead of plastic as backing, thus allowing the screen to be rolled into a tight tube for transport, much like a sheet of paper! This was in 2014, and at the time, the screen was expected to be on devices in 2017.

Subsequently LG also debuted a concept they called the ‘Wallpaper TV’. In physical form, it is an ultra thin unit that is less than 1mm thick, and weighs only four pounds (1.9 kgs).
The TV is so thin that it can be attached to the wall only using magnets!
This however, exists only as a prototype at this time and is not expected in the market anytime soon.

But the key difference between LG’s offers and Samsung’s current novelty is that a foldable tablet-cum-smartphone needs to fold at a sharp angle of 90 degrees (and not bend marginally).
It would also need to be able to bear comparatively more wear and tear, and thus need to be much stronger.

While we’re talking about the phone, let us also discuss it in the context of the technology that already exists.

There are companies already working on phones with holographic displays that allow you to see your phone’s screen as a virtual image display above your phone. Similar to projectable keyboards that are fully functional and virtual, and have been around in the market for a while now. There are others working on creating phones that provide a true 3D experience

The question I always have, is around the utility and the product life of something niche – like a foldable phone (or any of the above experimental projects).

Could these possibly live a short-lived life in the fast-paced world of technology, and die out soon, like CDs, having lived only for a couple years did, when data and music went cloud?

The question of the market also stands. Will current users of tablets want the utility offered by a folding (and smaller) device, when they have easy and economical access to 9 and 11 inch products? Not sure.

Prolific smartphone users who yearn for larger screens and don’t want to be saddled with a huge device in their pockets (or belts), on the other hand, might be the target for such a phone than can turn into a tablet. But there are other issues related to longevity of the hardware, the hinges, and even the utility of a screen that’s cut down the middle (where most of the action is usually concentrated in movies and videos)

Regardless – we don’t yet know when can we expect it in the market.

One thing, however, is for certain. With Samsung working on it, and LG (as per some unsubstantiated rumours), also working on something similar, we can expect something out in the market soon.

Whenever it happens, it would be fun to watch LG and Samsung battle for the market of foldable devices, as whoever else bags it first will probably be the one folding a big piece of the market into their pockets!

Samsung Working On Creating Foldable Devices

Samsung Working On Creating Foldable Devices

As per a patent published by the USPTO on November 26th, Samsung is reportedly working on the next big thing – smartphones with foldable screens called the YOUM screens.

For your perspective, a foldable screen is a screen that can be bent in any direction by the user.

The exciting part is that unlike other patents that are at a conceptual stage, it’s not just the idea that Samsung’s got patented – it even had the technology itself patented. So that means the discovery of the ‘how’ is finished, perhaps prototyping too! So they’re close to commercialisation!

After having achieved success in creating and delivering curved devices, Samsung is on it’s journey of creating scrollable, foldable, super-cool devices for the next gen of screens and (hence) devices.

Samsung has been working on for the past nine years – and this all-‘new’ development of flexible displays is actually the fruit of constant R&D, innovation and lots of failed attempts.

But this innovation will open the Tech world to a whole new range of products and that has been something that a lot of us have been waiting for!

As speculated by tech blog SamMobile, Samsung is currently working on a phone that would include a foldable dual screen display. The effort is internally called “Project Valley” or “Project V” and the mobile phone is said to already be in the testing phase.

The name Project V, I’m guessing is because this is the shape the phone would make when it bends!

In fact the Koreans are speculated to be testing two foldable devices with different processors –Snapdragon 620 and the more powerful Snapdragon 820 with 3 GB RAM; obviously driving two high-definition screens will take quite a lot of juice – so we’re guessing that Samsung is trying to establish the performance vs. battery dynamic, so that they’re not ridiculed later for a device that just doesn’t last long enough on a single charge.

Samsung’s Galaxy Round (2013) with the curved-display was their first step in their evolution toward foldable phones. Samsung had then unveiled two working models of smart devices with bendable screens – one resembled a lady’s compact, which snapped shut vertically, while the second device when opened up twice, transformed into a tablet.

The fascination for curved screen is not new, LG had also unveiled their progress on using bendable screens in the Society for Information Display (SID) conference in San Jose earlier this year, where they rolled up an 18 inch screen into a 6 mm diameter without affecting the functionality of the screen.

Samsung is also believed to be working on a flip phone with a bendable screen, where the screen can be bent in either direction. The phone will resemble the erstwhile clamshell Motorola Razor; however will have a bendable fluid screen instead of a disjoint screen and keypad.

The Korean company is planning to have invested close to 6 trillion Won for the production of foldable, bendable, roll-able, scrollable OLED display screens by using graphene and plastic, which will enable them to make perfect high resolution, unbreakable, bendable/foldable screens.

While some people will believe that Samsung’s intent behind this whole new discovery would be to increase it’s market share by introducing expensive and niche smartphones so as to regain the smartphone market lost to it’s arch rival, Apple, I disagree.

Samsung and LG both realise that the applications and uses of bendable/foldable screens are many, and the winner will take all – not just smartphones and tablets, but every other gadget category too. So rivalry seems a petty cause, in this landmark windfall.

Curved and/or foldable screens, apart from adding to the aesthetic appeal of to phones would also add significantly the device’s functionality and any brand would be able to convince audiences to buy this phone based purely on functionalities and new capabilities.

So far only prototypes of the bendable screen have been seen, but rumour has it is that Samsung is planning to launch it’s first product with a bendable screen in 2016.

They haven’y made any public statements about this product or it’s availability, so far.

Nonetheless, I for one, am eagerly waiting to see what Samsung is going to surprise us with next and how this discovery might just change the way I use my smartphones (and of course every other device so impacted)!

LG’s New Phablet

LG New Phablet

LG could be launching a new phablet later this year, as a successor to the LG G4.

While the name of this “flagship” device has not yet been confirmed, speculations suggest LG G4 Pro or LG G4 Note are strong options being considered by LG.

The specs this phablet supposedly packs are so good that the device could give Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung’s Galaxy Note5 some serious competition.

Here’s what we’ve heard so far:

  • 5.8-inch Quad HD display with a pixel density of 506 ppi. This is a good spec scheme for the display – despite the increase in screen size, it retains the same sharp picture quality as the G4.
  • Powerful octa core Snapdragon 810 processor.
  • 4  GB, RAM, boosting its multitasking capabilities.
  • 32 & 64 GB internal storage space variants, with a microSD card to ramp-up to 128 GB.
  • The G4 pro could to have a dual camera setup with a 27 megapixel rear and 8 megapixel front camera.
  • 3,500-mAh battery
  • it could come with Android M (Marshmallow), and LG optimus 4.0 UI.

This list of features & specs of this product remains mere speculations, as the Korean giants haven’t confirmed them, hence do allow for a bit of alteration to the specs mentioned above.

It’s also rumoured that G4 Pro may pack a Snapdragon 820 chipset, instead of 810, but it’s highly unlikely however as a fingerprint scanner would be a valuable addition to this flagship.

The one thing that may make G4 Pro stand out is its camera. LG never disappoints in that sector, as seen in the G4, or even the G3.

In the G4 pro there’s might be an  additional secondary camera or have dual sensors, that can be used to read “the depth of field” in a picture and the speculative specs appear to be quite promising.

LG’s New Smart Sensor Will Imbue Your Current Appliances With Intelligence

LG’s New Smart Sensor Will Connect Your Appliances, And Will Make Them Intelligent

Two industries rely on the perpetuity of Wheel Of Time – Technology and Automobiles.

Nowadays, the Internet of Things, Smart Homes and Connected Devices are key buzz words that drive the affluent and the technophiles a-jitter. Consequently, consumer electronic companies are investing hand over fist, in the manufacture of smart home appliances.

Clear motive – sell new ‘connected’ products for a pretty, shiny penny; but the hidden motive – sell them at premium.

Price tags attached to such new-age products leave buyers poverty-stricken (okay, that’s an exaggeration, but you get the point).

The hidden by-product of this is that our old appliances being unproductive and unloved.

LG just took a contrarian approach to this philosophy. They just released a revolutionary sensor that can make your existing appliances smart!

Called the ‘SmartThinQ Sensor, the new device was unveiled at IFA 2015.

It’s a handy circular device can be connected to your traditional household appliances, be it a washing machine or refrigerator, and it will bestow them with a digital brain!

LG claims that the SmartThinQ sensor is capable of picking up vibrations and temperatures from the appliances, and transmitting the data to the user via Smart ThinQ smartphone app.
For instance, if you could connect the sensor to a washing machine; the machine’s vibration will be monitored and you will be notified when a laundry cycle is completed, whereas, in case of refrigerator, you will be made aware when a food item is about to hit expiry, or how many times the fridge door was opened during the day.

Additionally, the sensor will provide users with an option to remotely control the appliances, meaning, controlling the operating modes, and temperatures of various appliances through the same app.

How cool is that!

LG, also unveiled the new Smart Lightwave Oven, and a Smart Air Conditioner, that support AllJoyn.

AllJoyn, developed by Allseen Alliance, is an open-source software framework that makes it easy for devices and app to discover and communicate with each other.

The Smart Lightwave Oven, is basically a Wi-Fi enabled cooker, that will allow users to download and share recipes with a friend, to set a cooking mode on their app, as well as the cooking time and temperature for a dish.
The Smart Lightwave Oven can even perform self-diagnosis for any issues, and get repair information by contacting the LG service centre.

The Smart Air Conditioner allows users to control the temperature, and even the timing, through the app, and you will also be notified, when to replace the air filter.

It’s heartening to see a brand like LG launch such a range of common-sensical smart appliances, that promise to take technical convenience to another level, without making owners trade in their cars for collateral!

While the availability and price of the SmartThinQ sensor are currently still a mystery, it still has us excited!

LG Teases About Something New This September

LG Teases About Something New This September

The South Korean tech giant seems to be geared up for yet another smartphone launch at an event to be held in New York on September 21st.

Along with the “Something New” catchline, LG has included a teaser image of the back of a smartphone. Trade pundits believe that this one be called “LG Class” which implies a premium device expected to be packed with decent specifications, yet coming in at a mid-range price.

The device is expected to feature a large 5.7-inch full HD display, a 12 megapixel rear-facing camera and a 5 megapixel front-facing camera, will be powered by a 1.5GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor supported by 2 GB of RAM.

The design of the smartphone displayed in the teaser image is quite similar to most LG devices’ construct except for the attractive (seemingly) metallic finish. The back of the device sports a typical panel which includes the camera housing, volume buttons and the LED flash however, the rear-facing loudspeaker is unusually placed near the top of the device.

LG fans will need to hold their horses till September 21st to get to know the specifications, design details and price of the device. We’ll keep you updated if the smartphone’s worth your time.

Nexus 5 Releases in September

Nexus 5 Releases in September

There have been umpteen speculations when it comes to the LG Nexus 5 (2015). The latest being that Google will be unveiling the handset in an event in San Francisco on the 29th of September, and it will be made available for sale on the same day via the Google Play Store, and the retailers (after a short span of time).

Nexus worshippers are ecstatic after the date of unveiling two new smartphones from the Google stable is out and if the speculations are to be believed, the two smartphones – the LG Nexus 5 and the Huawei Nexus 6, will come pre-installed with the latest version of the Android OS, Android 6.0 – Marshmallow.

The LG Nexus 5 is expected to flaunt:

  • 5.2-inch Quad HD display with a 2560×1440 pixels resolution
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 64-bit hexa-core processor
  • 3 GB of RAM.
  • 13 megapixel rear camera with OIS (optical image stabilisation)
  • Fingerprint sensor on its rear case
  • USB Type-C connector for charging.

While a little has been discussed of the LG Nexus 5, nothing has been revealed about the release date of the Huawei-built Nexus 6.

The bigger cousin to Nexus 5 (2015), Huawei Nexus 6, could include:

  • 5.5 inch or 5.7 inch display
  • QHD resolution with 2560×1440 pixels
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box

Stay tuned in for further updates.

LG’s new Phablet - LG G4 Pro Or LG G4 Note?

LG new Phablet  LG G4 Pro Or LG G4 Note

LG could launch a new phablet later this year, supposedly, successor to the LG G4. The naming convention of this new “flagship” device is still unconfirmed, speculations suggest it’s going to be called either the ‘LG G4 Pro’ or the ‘LG G4 Note’.

The specs this phablet packs can give Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung’s Galaxy Note5 some serious competition. The specs include:

  • 5.8-inch Quad HD display with a 2560×1440 pixel resolution and 506 pixels per inch (despite the increase in screen size, it retains the same sharp picture quality like the G4).
  • Powerful octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor.
  • 4 GB RAM, up from 3 GB in the LG G4 . Expect better multitasking.
  • 32 and 64 GB internal storage variants, with a microSD card to ramp-up to 128 GB.
  • The G4 Pro could to have a dual camera setup with a 27 megapixel rear and 8 megapixel front camera.
  • 3,500-mAh battery
  • it could come with Android M (Marshmallow), with LG Optimus 4.0 UI.

The certainty about any features of this product remains mere speculations, as the Korean giant hasn’t confirmed any of them, hence please allow for a bit of alteration to the specs mentioned above.

It’s also rumoured that the LG G4 Pro may pack a Snapdragon 820 chipset, instead of 810, but it’s highly unlikely.  A fingerprint scanner is coming, though.

The one thing that may make LG G4 Pro stand out is its camera and LG never disappoints in that sector, as seen in the LG G4, or even the LG G3. In the G4 Pro there’s also a chance of an additional secondary camera or have dual sensors, that can be used to read “the depth of field” in a picture and the speculative specs appear to be quite promising.

Tête-à-Tête With The Apple Watch

Apple Watch (2)

This is going to be a long read. Grab your coffee before you sit down with this.

To make things somewhat easier, we’re going to split this article (or an epic, some might say) into sections, to tell the story at our pace.

 They Aren’t New

A smartwatch is a wristwatch bestowed with capabilities additional to just keeping time for you. But it’s not as simple as that. The expedition to make watches smarter commenced in early 1972 with the unveiling of the Pulsar Watch, conjured up by Hamilton Watch Company (now owned by Seiko). It had an elephantine memory bank of 24 characters.

Since then, many, many manufacturers campaigned the same trekking path, producing more watches with similar data-bank capabilities – you might remember some models from Casio – in fact, one of the most notable range came from them.

The next evolutionary jump happened when GPS was integrated into wrist pieces, along with advanced sensors to measure temperature, pressure, depth, altitude and a plethora of futuristic features. This evolution made them valuable companions for outdoor trips.

 2015

Fast forward to today. With smartphones becoming integral cogs of our rather busy lives, it was but inevitable for smartphone-features to spill over into wristwatches of today.

Samsung, LG, Motorola and Pebble have all released smart wearable devices, to varying degrees of acceptance and affection from Connected Citizens. While these smart wearable devices (of which smartwatches are but a subcategory) have all delved into similar consumer needs, some have sunk and some have shone bright.

Yet a lot of the Connected Citizens have been waiting for Apple to unveil their smart wearable device for years now. Fuelled by swirling rumors, supposed photos, articles that hypothesized and theorized, ad nauseam – very reminiscent of the state of affairs in the run up to the launch of the original iPhone back in 2007. They waited and waited for a launch. Then the clamor reached a crescendo since Apple’s Apple Watch announcement in September 2014. The wait since has seemed interminable.

Finally, the day has come for the Apple Watch to meet the curious humans.

Apple Watch, designed by Jony Ive and Marc Newson, has just been released amongst four tons of fanfare and more than a handful of slick adverts.

Apple Watch

While the literature capturing the curiosity of many, post-launch, the Apple Watch has earned a mix bag of accolades and brickbats from early adopters, fence sitters and critics.

Let us explore the Apple Watch for ourselves, to see where we at Chip-Monks stand.

 Apple Watch Defined

As always, Apple Inc. created a buzz with their attention to detail, the design and most importantly, the materials used for their products. Such a mix has always allowed Apple to position their devices in the Premium segment.

Apple watch crown

The Apple Watch is a square watch by design and will come in two sizes – 38mm and 42mm.

 

Apple watch model

It will have three models differentiated basis materials used. Construct though, is common across all models:

  • Apple Sports Watch made of aluminum, price starting USD 350;
  • Apple Watch made of stainless steel, available starting USD 550;
  • Apple Watch Edition with real gold in, and on it. Should we even mention the price?

The options don’t end there – the three variants come in 9 models, 6 different types of bands and 19-color variations for you to choose from!

All three watches have extremely intricate finishes, right down to the laser-etched crown, but the materials used for each set them apart.

Apple watch sports

APPLE SPORTS WATCH 

Apple Sports Watch uses anodized 7000 series aluminum, aluminosilicate glass screen and has removable rubber straps making it the lightest of the three siblings.

You will have two colors to choose from – Silver Aluminum and Space Grey.

Apple watch1

APPLE WATCH

 Apple Watch uses stainless steel and comes in glossy metal – available in Stainless Steel or Space Black finishes. This variant has a sapphire crystal screen unlike the Sports version, making it a more durable screen.

 Apple Watch Edition

APPLE WATCH EDITION

Apple Watch Edition has caught the eye of many, and rightfully so. It comes with an 18 carat gold case in two colors of gold – Yellow Gold and Rose Gold. Both come with matching color bands in leather or fluoroelastomer plastic.

These smart timepieces will set you back by USD 17,000.

To add to your customization neé personalization experience, Apple has created several proprietary bands for each variant, all of which can be swapped extremely easily.

Apple watch bands

The ‘Link Bracelet’ and the ‘Milanese Loop’ are both in stainless steel, the ‘Leather Loop’ and ‘Classic Band’ in leather, along with numerous colored fluoroelastomer bands.

Apple hopes that you’ll go ahead and stack up the bands, given that the bands are easy to change with just a click of the button – literally.

 Apple Watch – In Use

Once we moved past gawking at the watch, we wanted to put it to test. And we were enthralled.

The Watch is definitely not an iPod scaled down to strap onto your wrist!

Apple Watch allows you to see time, monitor your fitness, enjoy your music wirelessly, use Apple Pay and communicate via messages, phone calls and notifications amongst other functionalities.

You’ll appreciate Siri even more – with her residing on your wrists and assisting you night and day. Simply raise your watch and say ‘Hey Siri’ to issue commands.

Testing Siri was fun, till I realized that I was flicking my wrists way more than I should and talking to my watch way more than I should – well you get the drift.

Another indulgence I succumbed to was taking photos. The Watch thankfully does not come with a camera on board – we really see no point in that save for FaceTime calls! The Watch instead acts only as a remote trigger for your phone’s camera, with the Watch’s itsy-bitsy screen doing a great job as a viewfinder. So, place your iPhone on a sold surface, and go join the group and smile! The Watch will help you click a selfie without your arms outstretched or your backs arched weirdly. A function, which will be worshipped by the “Selfie” addicts.

Accessing the functions of the smartwatch – was a valid concern of all prospective buyers, especially ones with broad fingers.

Apple watch close-up detail

Apple’s design team came up with an ingenious solution of using the crown to scroll and select Apps and functions on the watch.

Apple watch Interface

Interface wise too, the Apple Watch received a lot of thought and research. It has a carousal of icons which change in size and placement enabling the Apple Watch to accommodate more apps directly on one screen while retaining ease of access for all finger types.

The user winds the crown for scrolling, selecting and zooming and a new ‘forced press’ interaction to access secondary functions.

There’s a second button, beside the crown that can be used to access Apple Pay or quickly get to your contacts list.

Thankfully the Apple Watch is not festooned with buttons all over it’s existence. Instead it has just two, discretely placed but craftily empowered buttons. The Watch overall looks gob-smackingly beautiful!

Next, we tried the calling from the Watch and surprisingly, the recipient of the call could not differentiate if it was from a phone or the Watch! That said, holding your hand up to talk into your wrist can be tiresome and plain weird for people who haven’t yet been sensitized to a smartwatch.

The Watch itself communicates with you via notifications from your phone, seamlessly and discreetly, using a ‘Taptic Engine’.

Located at the top right corner of the Watch, beneath the screen, the Taptic Engine is a small mechanism that vibrates to notify the user-using minute, customizable vibrations.

Apple watch notification

Apple has currently included notifications relating to messages, phone calls, calendar, news, mail and the Activity app. There are more in the works, I’m sure, as are notifications from Third-Party app developers.

In addition, using the Taptic Engine and the heart rate sensor on the watch, one can send their heart beat rhythm to a fellow Apple Watch user.

While not extremely useful, however intimate couples might appreciate the feature.

Another feature which is a boon for the frequent flyers and nomads is the Wallet, which allows you to store and seamlessly use your data regarding travel, boarding passes, airline loyalty cards and tickets in addition to your credit cards, debit cards and even store loyalty cards!

So, you can have your financial information at your wrist at all times, making purchases without taking out your wallets.

With all loyalty card information in your Wallet app – you no longer need to stack your wallet with numerous physical loyalty cards.

One question crossed my mind though – with people now carrying lesser physical cards and currency, will the crime by mugging and stealing reduce?

A new technology included in the watch is the ‘Force Touch’. It’s an intriguing and interesting new technology. It allows different functions to be activated on the Watch, basis the intensity of force applied while touching the screen.

The technology allows the screen to differentiate between a light flick, a light touch (like a regular touch on your iPhone) and a hard press, thus allowing them to be allocated different functionalities.

Just to clarify, this is different from ‘Multi Touch’ – that’s the technology that allows user to interact with a device using more than one finger simultaneously (think of the two-finger pinch or zoom).

‘Forced Touch’ enables the user to access far more functionality via the itsy-bitsy touchscreen on the Watch than otherwise possible. The functionality is experienced while setting clock faces, messaging, clearing of notifications, while searching for a location on the map, in the music app to shuffle between music source, working the alarm and in accessing the details of your calendar!

One major drawback we came up against was the battery life of the watch. The Apple Watch has a 205 mAh, non-replaceable battery that Apple claims lasts 18 hours of mixed use. This duration can be stretched a tad bit by putting the Watch to sleep when not in active use. This ‘Power Reserve Mode’, as Apple calls it, puts all other functions to sleep, allowing the watch to function only as a humble wristwatch for the coming 72 hours.

However, our active fingers fueled by curiosity ran through a complete charge in less than 10 hours and we were not happy at all!

So if you have an active lifestyle where you exercise for an hour using the heart rate monitor and then get on calls post that, you will get to be intimate buddies with your Apple Watch’s wireless charger. Which is another peeve altogether – there’s yet another form of charger that Apple’s introduced. And with the paltry battery life, you’re going to have to carry it around too *frown*.

The ‘silver lining’ just to be slightly generous to Apple, is the Watch’s ability to charge to 80% in just 90 minutes, and to completely charge in 150 minutes.

Apple watch uses an inductive magnetic charger (designed along the same line with their Mag Safe notebook chargers) for charging wireless.

 Making The Watch Your Own

Our fascination with customizing our Apple Watch kept us awake well past midnight, and we kept shifting between the nine watch faces Apple has pre-loaded.

Apple watch Edition Size

While the ladies and the kids liked Mickey tapping, I preferred the simple modular watch face with adequate displays of notifications, battery life and calendar.

Customizing was easy – just Force Touch the screen and swipe to see different watch faces and choose. Going forward, we hope the next OS update allows the third party watch faces (Apple is currently blocking all third party watch faces being installed on the Watch) and also allow us to set pictures from our own photo gallery as wallpapers.

Is It Just A Glorified Fitness Tracker?

Late night to early morning was a very short time. We allowed the Watch to charge and a little before sunrise I strapped the Watch and got my rather out-of-shape self to put the fitness functions to test. I’ve not included a picture, lest I get hounded for scaring our readers with a weak heart.

Apple watch fitness

The Watch does not discriminate – at least in functionality with the fitness levels or the lack thereof and tracks all manners of data diligently. Fortunately Siri knows her place, and made no bones about my bones.

The Watch pairs with all iPhones starting from the 4S, so most of you would be good to pair up with the Watch right away.

Interestingly, it’s worth a mention that the Apple Watch does not retail under the health and fitness equipment as it hasn’t yet cleared the Stress and Blood Pressure monitoring benchmarks set for certification of devices.

Having said that, Apple watch was pretty accurate when we put it to test.

Ideally, you should not compare the Apple Watch to advanced fitness trackers from Garmin, Fitbit or Polar, as those are specialty devices aimed at measuring just your basic exercise parameters. Apple Watch is a wearable device that brings basic health functionalities along with mobile communication capabilities. That said, the Watch’s price does make you question it.

Moving on, the Watch did coax us to keep moving. Like the Nike Fuelband, Apple aims to connect you to people around you and motivate you to start moving in step with a global community. The community is at your fingertips – you can communicate with them, while the fitness trackers track our individual data and performance in isolation. There’s a minimal sharing of data.

The Watch also tracks and notifies you of inactivity for an extended time period, using sensors that monitor the movements (steps, stairs climbed, runs, aerobics and a range of outdoor and indoor activities), heart rate, movement, exercise and even just standing up. All this pairs up and feeds into the Health App on your iPhone too!

I’d been reading about the concept of standing desks at work and even standing meetings – where just basic standing is promoted; guess what – your Apple Watch will also prompt you to stand for at least a minute for every hour.

It even has a workout app which tracks and notifies you of your milestones achievements and shortfalls. Another interesting feature I found was the ability to set goals based on distance (for outdoor activities), time or calories (allowing us to focus on the exercise and have a satisfying notification of burning the set amount of calories). The Watch uses distance, pace, speed, calories burnt and time to report the workout metric – both on the watch and on your iPhone. You can further add to the functionality of the watch with Bluetooth enables add-ons.

Did We Like It?

To change that question slightly, ‘was it worth it – the wait, the hype, the cost?’

Well, let’s put it this way – Chip-Monks sees, experiences, tests and validates new devices every singly day. Some are good, some outright excellent, while few catch our imagination any more though.

Not only did the Watch keep me up late at night, for a quite a few nights, it took over my days too.

It took me a quite while to come out of my mesmerized awe to objectively gauge the relevance of Apple Watch in my life.

It is not about what it measures, but how the watch reports and displays the information, allowing you to view, act, (more importantly) ignore, and share stuff that prompts you appreciate this device.

It may not be a complete health device, but unless you are an Olympian, the watch will serve you well, albeit the battery – and the wireless charger will become your next best friend.

All said and done, the Apple Watch is worth it, especially since you leave your phone in your pocket a lot more, and spend way more time away from fiddling with it. And Day 3 onwards, you stop fiddling with your Watch too, and leave it be, to let it do what it’s designed to – intimate you, intimately. And become your ubiquitous, subservient buddy.

An Accessory Brings Virtual Reality to LG G3

An Accessory Brings Virtual Reality to LG G3

LG is collaborating with Google to bring its own Virtual Reality experience known as the VR for their LG G3 smartphone users, who should be able to get their hands on it in March.

It is an introductory device in the thrilling, though underdeveloped VR universe.

The phone can be attached to the VR for G3, turning it into a display for the headset with the users experiencing the virtual reality experience on the G3’s screen – overall looking very similar to the design of the Google Cardboard.

The volume and power buttons location on the bottom of the G3 add to the ease, with the smartphone’s powerful 1W speaker and quad-HD display (that very few phones offer), the device seems to be perfect for using with a VR headset. VR-compatible apps and games can be downloaded from the Google Play Store allowing the users to experience the world of virtual reality first hand and transport themselves to another world.

Making their first move in March 2015, when the VR for G3 units become available, LG began sharing some units with existing owners of the LG G3.

If you’re looking for one, you could be in luck. All you need to do is to go to their Facebook page and respond to LG’s tantalising question: “If you could explore any place in the world, what would it be? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook for a chance to win a free virtual reality headset to use with your LG G3 smartphone……”.

Selected new purchasers of the LG G3 handset will be presented with a bonus VR headset gift (if they buy the device through selected partners).

As of now, the company does not seem to have plans of offering the accessory as a stand-alone purchase, however, LG has confirmed that additional details on distribution would be announced in the upcoming weeks.

LG has offered stiff competition to its Korean rival Samsung, which revealed Gear VR in 2014, utilizing the Galaxy Note 4 as the display device. LG has included a ‘neodymium ring magnet’ attached on the side of the headset, which with the help of the built-in magnetic gyroscope sensor allowing the users to scroll through the menus and choose the applications without even touching the display!

LG’s offering their VR for G3 for free with every new flagship device purchased is indeed a sweet deal. Granted, LG’s VR for G3 is not very fancy and the estimated price for the manufacturers is only USD 30 compared to the high-priced headsets offered by its rivals, Samsung and Oculus; but unlike the (as some would say,) overpriced Samsung headset (priced at USD 310), LG’s offer is a far more accessible accessory for their premier smartphone,

One of LG’s executives has stated that “VR for G3 is just the beginning of the virtual reality movement, which until recently was expensive and inaccessible to everyday consumers”.

If LG’s VR offering will redefine the price point without compromising the VR experience is yet to be seen.

Meet LG's New Urbane Smartwatch, Now With LTE Connectivity

LG unveils Urbane LTE

LG just unveiled the fourth smartwatch at the Mobile World Congress (MWC), 2015. The webOS-powered variant of Urbane, known as the LG Watch Urbane LTE, is a definite step away from it’s predecessor

This is the first smartwatch that’s blessed with the ability to connect to a high-speed 4G wireless network .

Not only that, LG, in the Urbane LTE is choosing to go with its own webOS operating system for this device instead of the established Android OS.

The company’s motive seems clear with the use of its proprietary operating system (after acquiring it from Hewlett-Packard in 2013) – LG is going to leverage it’s own Wearable platform to power multiple products, rather than to splinter it’s wares across competing platforms.

There’s obviously another reason – to reduce the dependence on Google and its Android OS.

I’d put it another way, to make it easier to comprehend LG’s motives – LG, while maintaining the tie-up with Google, is strengthening an alternative platform that is versatile according to its own needs.

The Urbane LTE sports the same 1.3-inch 320×320-pixel Plastic-organic-light-emitting diode (P-OLED) circular display with a 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor and 4 GB of memory.

Unlike the Urbane, the Urbane LTE is blessed with the ability to make and receive calls and text messages, and also to check emails, all by itself.

There is an interesting walkie-talkie like feature too, which lets the wearer connect to multiple people at the same time, without the use of a smartphone!

Oh! Almost forgot, the device is also enabled to do humdrum things like tracking the activities of the user.

The battery stands more powerful at 700 mAh (as compared to LG’s earlier smartwatches, including the recently released LG Urbane), thus improving the standby period.

The device can also be used as a voice translator with the built-in voice translator app, and also as a mobile wallet able to pay at NFC-enabled registers, with the new NFC chip introduced. The wrist-wallet can be used to pay for everything ranging from clothes to public transport. The device is also dust- and water-resistant, with an IP67 rating.

There is also the presence of three physical buttons on the right side of the device – the top button for accessing the settings, the center button for switching between the watch and apps, and the lower button to act as a back function. Safety signals can be sent to the preset emergency contact by holding down the back button, which when pressed down sends your location to the person you’re calling.

In a press release, LG President and CEO, Juno Cho said “The LG Watch Urbane LTE is an example of the kind of innovation that’s possible when you’re the industry leader in LTE technology“. This shows the confidence of Mr. Cho for the model packed with diverse features looking to break away from the smartwatch pack.

In terms of the look, it is larger than the other variant. The watch case is extended to house the 700 mAh battery which can be a challenge for those with smaller wrists, but not an insurmountable one, and most people should get used to the extra heft over time.

The strap is a rugged-feeling rubber strap, cutting the profile of an expensive watch.

The device is available only in Silver colour, unlike the Urbane which is available in both, Gold and Silver.

LG G Flex 2 - Does It Flex It For LG?

LG G Flex 2 - does it flex it for LG

LG, the South Korean smartphone manufacturer tried to gain popularity and prominence with its first-ever curved phone LG G Flex but ended up suffering a lot of criticism in regard to its screen size, screen resolution along with poor internals.

With its new flagship device, the LG G Flex 2, LG is once again looking to make a name in the market with a new device which is prettier in design comes with enhanced performance specifications and a superior battery life. All this, sweetened by a marked down price in contrast to its predecessor the LG G Flex.

LG seems to have got their ducks in a row and have rectified previous screen concerns; the 6 inch screen size is brought down to a 5.5 inch unit, after it being criticised as a two-handed device.

The screen resolution is now a 5.5-inch curved P-OLED 1080p unit (with 403 ppi pixel density) and is protected with what LG calls “dura-guard” glass (their version of the Gorilla Glass 3, post a special proprietary treatment), claimed to be 20 percent stronger than the Corning Gorilla Glass 3.

The innovative self healing plastic case is retained and is able to heal small scratches and bruises in less than 10 seconds.

On the inside, the device is fitted with Qualcomm’s all new Snapdragon 810 processor, a 64-bit octa-core chipset, with Adreno 430 graphics and features up to 3 gigabytes of RAM.

The main camera, a decent 13 megapixels, features a dual-LED flash for close-ups and comes with image stabilization and a laser-guided autofocus system enabling sharp picture quality.

Sadly, the secondary camera is just 2.1 megapixels, and in the buyer’s mind, it will be subjugated by its competitors’ higher-capability front cameras.

The device is powered by a 3,000 mAh non-removable battery with quick charge capability, promising around two days of general use.

As far as the software and UI (user interface) is concerned, the device is optimized with Android Lollipop 5.0.1, without manipulating LG’s existing UI which retains its flat “Material-like-Design”.

The “Glance View” of LG’s UI is quite enthralling and introduces a mini notification window when the screen is off. The device can be secured with “Knock Code” security which allows the user to set an unlock pattern via taps rather than pins. The “Smart Lock” feature is also added with Lollipop, which recognizes trusted faces and places to unlock the device.

LG has been pushing this well-specced phone with the curve being the dominant feature, which they believe makes it a more comfortable and attractive smartphone (reminds me of the Nokia 7110). From protecting the screen from cracking to improving the video quality, the benefits of the curved display, are many.

Initial speculations suggest that there is a 3 dB improvement in the volume of the microphone which supposedly picks up audio better when the phone is held against your face.

With all such improvements packed into this “curved” phone, the phone cannot be categorised as just another eye-catching novelty and has the potential to stand up against the likes of Samsung Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9, finding a special place on the shortlist of the masses.

LG Unveils Urbane

LG unveils Urbane

LG finally unveiled its next wearable device, the LG Watch Urbane, at Mobile World Congress, 2015.

There’s only one word for it – extraordinary

The smartwatch proves to be a perfect device for those wearers who look to add sophistication as well as high-tech blaze to their trending lives.

While the LG G Watch R, LG’s first smartwatch (released in October 2014) featured a full circular Plastic OLED display and was aimed at Active users, the recent launch is more formal with elegant design making it quintessential for both the genders.

LG combines the aesthetic design with ingenious features, thus raising the already high standards set by its predecessor.

The Android Wear-powered LG Watch Urbane seems to be made for the luxury class as all the premium materials have been used by the company. The all-metal luxury Android Wear device is purely designed for an elegant and well bred wearer that expects exceptional technology and performance.

The display is much alike the LG G Watch R with the same 1.3-inch full circle P-OLED display, but the minimal bezel surrounding it gives it a more classy look. The body is made of stainless steel available in polished silver and gold finish. Keeping the screw out of sight, the beautiful stitched leather strap which can be replaced with any 22 mm wide band depending on the occasion and the wearer’s mood, makes the watch exclusive, and customisable.

The smartwatch is also compatible with all the smartphones running Android 4.3 and above, adding to the universal appeal of the watch.

The device also includes a photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor that can measure a wearer’s average pulse and heart rate during exercise. The time is displayed at all the times with the always-on ambient mode, thus saving the battery life. Speaking of which, the battery standing at 410 mAh is pretty decent.

The device sports a 1.2 GHz processor manufactured by Qualcomm – Snapdragon 800, which runs on the Android Wear operating system.

The President and CEO of the LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company, Juno Cho has said that, the LG Watch Urbane’s classic design and smart features make it the perfect smartwatch to complement the G Watch and G Watch R, which were designed as more casual and active devices. He also added that the LG Watch Urbane is an important part of the company’s strategy to develop wearable devices that are worn and viewed as everyday accessories, not electronic gadgets.

The smartwatch seems to be impressive and would be picked by the cosmopolitan wearers to add sophistication to their stylish lifestyle. Also, the innovative features of the device, will make the wearer’s life easier.

LG G Flex 2 – We Answer Your Reservations

LG G Flex 2 – what does it bring to the customers

As the notion of curved smartphones is gaining popularity, quite a few manufacturers are putting in determined efforts to build a viable curved device.

LG and Samsung had started the trend having built a pair of curved phones in late 2013, and tried to market curved phones as “the next big thing”. However, neither the LG G Flex nor the Samsung Galaxy Round did any significant business in the market.

LG kept at it, and has released a second attempt at it, hoping to build a niche for it’s new LG G Flex 2 – by making it sleeker, smaller and also prettier than its predecessor.

Let’s be fair. The first avatar, the LG G Flex actually was an enthralling phone as the curved screen of the device was stunning and it was built well. Despite it’s curvature the screen could also take a lot of abuse.
The rear was built to resist scratches and also heal itself from mild surface abrasions.

Good Stuff About The LG G Flex 2

LG has tried to improve its latest flexible flagship, LG G Flex 2, over its predecessor in almost every way that matters. The smartphone now offers a dramatic design refinement with some internal overhauls making it a gaming and video performance beast.

Unlike its predecessor, the new LG G Flex 2 has a removable rear cover – to allow users access the SIM and micro SD card slots. However, owing to the curve, the 3,000 mAh battery is not a single block now and has been made non-removable. The back cover also comes with an improved anti-scratch coating with more effective self-healing capabilities.

The camera has also undergone an overhaul compared to its predecessor and the battery performance has been enhanced enabling the battery to be charged at faster with a user friendly screen size.

The Flex 2’s edges seem to be completely empty with the exception of the microphone, headphone jack, a micro-USB port and an IR blaster up top.

The company has packed the volume and power buttons onto the phone’s back for the second time, below the main 13-megapixel camera and laser autofocus module.

Cons

LG has made some software changes to the OS which have left it devoid of some of the stock Android Lollipop’s features. LG’s custom-built user interface is a bit slower and dulls the user experience.

The front-facing camera also lacks the punch.

Overall, the device has a lot to offer to the huge smartphone user base with enhanced hardware features and a stunning design and display.

Although the phone has some not much needed software tweaks, the G Flex 2 is a radical change to the previous G Flex, a thoughtful refinement of everything that led to the failure of the predecessor, and is probably the best curved smartphones available in the market.

For the people who believe that the curved screen concept is a publicity stunt where the functionality has been compromised for the sake of a gimmick-enhancing design, we urge you to try an hand-on experience and then take a call.

LG Has Three New Smartphones For India

LG Has Three Smartphones For India

LG recently announced that its working towards launching three new smartphones in India.

While they may have abstained from providing much information about the devices, however online leaks and a sneak peek that arose thanks to an import tracking website, have provided some idea of what’s on the anvil.

The first device dubbed as the LG F 60 has a 4.5 inch WVGA display with 800×480 resolution, running on Android 4.4 KitKat OS and powered by a 1.2 GHz Quad core processor. It has a 5 megapixel rear camera and a VGA front facing camera, with 1 GB RAM and 4 GB internal storage which can be expanded with a microSD card and is said to support LTE.
This phone directly competes with devices like the Moto E, Micromax Unite 2, Samsung Galaxy Star Advance.

The second device the LG X147 features a 4.3 inch WVGA display, Android 4.4 KitKat OS, and is powered by a 1.3 GHz Dual Core Processor. It has a 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of internal storage and is packed with a 1,700 mAh battery.

The third device that is LG X132 is said to fall in the budget phones section. It has a 3.5 inch WVGA display and runs on Android 4.4 KitKat OS. The device is said to be powered by 1 GHz Dual Core processor, has 512 of RAM and 4 GB of internal storage and a 1,540 mAh battery.

The three devices are said to be launched in India in the coming few months and would be vital to LG retaining their market share against new competitors.

What Is Wireless Charging And How Does It Work?

Nokia-wireless-charging-plate-1 (1)

With everything (keyboards, mice, earphones, headphones et. al.) moving towards wireless –  how can chargers be left behind? Chargers after all are by far the most fundamental appendages to our devices!

Wireless Charging commonly known as Inductive Charging, is a way of charging your device without the hassle of tangled wires or USB cords.

In simple terms, Wireless Charging works using magnets. There are 2 magnetic coils involved – one in the charging plate and one in your device. Energy transfer occurs with the help of an electromagnetic field created between the two coils due to mutual ‘coupling’. All you really need is two pieces of hardware with compatible technology – the Qi standard for example. Armed with that technology, all you really need to do is place your device on the charging pad and it should start charging!

Truth be told though, technically the term ‘wireless’ is a bit misleading since this entire process is not truly ‘wireless‘. There still needs to be a cable to plug into the mains power supply and the device still needs to be left alone and can’t be charged while in your hand! The reason the term ‘wireless’ is used is because there isn’t a wire connecting the charger and the device.

Some major advantages of wireless charging include ease of charging, no trouble of wires at all, lesser wire-breakage due to fatigue (especially in the case of Apple’s iDevices, where the wires are notorious for tearing apart with no abuse or misuse by the user)! Then of course, the durability of your device itself increases since there’s no repeated plugging and unplugging of wires. Additionally, there are large-size charging pads that accommodate simultaneous charging of multiple devices.

There are several cons too unfortunately. This mode of charging comparatively takes more time than the normal way of charging devices via a wire. Another disadvantage is that you cannot use your phone freely while it is on charging, which is not the case with wired-adapter-charging, since your phone can be moved within a respectable range. Lastly, inductive charging pads currently cost a lot more than an average charger.

Despite these limiting factors, major manufacturers like Nokia, LG, HTC, Samsung and Motorola recognise the potential of wireless charging and have already begun incubating it in their premium devices.

Just like Remote Unlocking became a norm in automobiles owing to clearly apparent benefits, there’s no question in our minds that all phones and tablets and add-ons will incorporate this mode of charging. Its just a matter of time.

LG G Pro 2 Launched In India

LG G Pro 2

February marked the official debut of the LG G Pro 2, a phablet (a mobile device that combines functions of a smartphone and a tablet). LG has launched its large screen (5.9 inch) device in the Indian market at a whopping price of INR 51,500.

LG G Pro 2 runs on Android 4.4 KitKat with an LG proprietary UI, featuring a 5.9 inch Full-HD IPS display. The phone sports a slim bezel, has a 2.26 GHz quad core Snapdragon 800 processor with 3 GB RAM and is powered by a 3,200 mAh battery. The phone includes a 2.1 megapixel front facing camera and a 13 MP rear camera with optical image stabilization which supports 4K Ultra HD recording, Magic Focus, slow motion videos, natural flash, flash for selfies and Burst Shots.

LG G Pro 2 is available in Silver, Titan and White and comes in two storage variants 16 GB and 32 GB.

The new feature that has been added to it repertoire is the Knock Code, which LG claims is an evolution of the KnockON feature that was introduced in the LG G2 previously. The user can now unlock their phone by having the unlock code as knocks or taps.

LG G Pro 2 competes with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3, which costs around INR 47,900 in the Indian market.

During the India launch, the Managing Director of LG India, Soon Kwon, commented saying that after the favourable launch of the LG G Pro, they decided to launch the G Pro 2 with enhanced features based on customer feedback. He added that 2014 is going to be an eventful and exciting year as LG plans to roll out a string of groundbreaking devices that will capture the imagination of users. So much so, by the year-end LG aim to capture 10% share of the Indian smartphone market.

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:

GMS Timelines

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!

HTC Announces The New HTC One Ahead Of The Samsung Galaxy S5

HTC one new

HTC recently announced the new HTC One, called the HTC One M8. Folks are already considering the new device to be good enough to become the top-dog in the Android market.

Aimed to please the end user, while the features may not be that significantly different from last year’s model however the looks have been refined to quite a degree, and HTC says there are major changes in its software too.

The HTC One M8 remains stunning in it’s design and no other company has been able to yet match the look and feel of the predecessor, the HTC One M7.

The HTC One M8 has a 5 inch display with a 1080 pixel resolution. Under the cover is a 2.3 GHz Snapdragon 801 quad core processor with a 2 GB RAM, which should allow the user to breeze through all the tasks that she can throw at it.

The device comes in storage options of 16 GB or 32 GB, which can be further augmented by an additional 128 GB thanks to a microSD slot.

If things could not get better – Google is giving 50 GB of cloud space on it’s Google Drive for two years!

For your entertainment the HTC One M8 has a 5 megapixel front camera and a HTC UltraPixel-enabled rear camera, which should provide the user superior picture quality, capturing depth information with a wide array of special effects to photos.

The device has another “camera” like sensor in the back and it is called a “Duo Camera Array”, where the second sensor is not a camera but a depth sensor. This addition allows the user to significantly modify the photos and successfully blur the backgrounds post clicking the photo.

The flagship feature for entertainment purposes, the front facing speakers, have been upgraded too. The HTC team has placed the speakers differently, and even redesigned the inbuilt amplifier to belt out richer sound.

A sizeable 2,600mAh battery keeps the phone going for a good 20 hours of talk time and now also has a new “extreme power saving mode” enhancing the standby time to 40 days.

HTC is also offering a new case, the Dot View case which is a cover made of perforated rubber enabling the user to view notifications through this case, displayed in a dot matrix style point. It looks different but the enhancement to our phone-experience is brilliant!

But it’s not an easy spot to land.

Google’s Nexus 5 released last year has gained tremendous success in the market, and Samsung’s own flagships, the Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy S5 will definitely prove stiff competition with regards pricing and features.

Reviewers have been questioning whether the HTC One M8 will be worth the money and if it would provide and edge with its new features. The answer is a “Yes” – so far, as it has emerged to be more capable than the Nexus 5 and the Galaxy S5!

It has outshone the Nexus in almost all of the features – be it the camera, the software or even the design.
The only drawback versus the Nexus 5, could be the HTC One M8’s size, as the Nexus is more manageable, allowing the user to use the phone with one hand, while with the HTC One, the user would have to stretch out their thumbs to reach the top left of the screen.

Between the three said phones, reviewers have quoted them to be as “M8 boasts of Luxury, Nexus 5 has practicality and the Galaxy S5 plays catch up”.

HTC was able to get the One M8 into the market before Samsung S5, which is yet to hit the stores. HTC pulled a fast one by keeping the launch and sale date the same for this device, and making it available worldwide with 230 operators in over 100 countries!

The price of this flagship phone doesn’t come as a bolt from the blue; with the latest technology under its cover it definitely commands its price tag. This phone is going to retail for USD 650, unlocked.

So, in conclusion we can say that this phone is being considered to be one that will create a lot of divide with users and their opinions. That said, the LG G3 and the iPhone 6 cannot be left out of consideration as they are both brilliant in their own rights. The only thing that puts them on at a disadvantage is that they are yet to be announced.

So for the moment, the fight remains between Samsung, Nexus and HTC One, and we think we know which one’s ruling people’s mind at this time!

LG Unveils The LG G Pro 2

LG G Pro 2

The official debut of LG G Pro 2 phablet has finally happened. A sneak peak of the phone was unveiled in Korea a little while ago, however a full hands-on experience of the phone was officially provided during the Mobile World Congress.

This device seems to be an upgrade to its predecessor the Optimus G Pro phablet.
Just to explain that term, a phablet is a class of mobile devices designed to combine the functions of a smartphone and a tablet; they are easily recognizable by their large screens. The Samsung Galaxy Note is been credited as being the pioneer of the phablet market with its launch in 2011.

The LG G Pro 2 runs on Android 4.4 KitKat, armed with a 2.26 GHz quad core Snapdragon 800 processor and has a 3 GB RAM. The phablet has a huge 5.9 inch Full HD display, a powerful 3,200 mAh battery, a 13 megapixel camera with Optical Image stabilizer and is available in three colors Silver, Titan and White.

The manufacturer is also boasting about the device’s improved sound quality, which as per LG, gives a 30% improvement in its sound output.

The new LG G Pro 2 also has a few design changes – the buttons have been moved around and are now placed just beneath the camera, which works out very well as the fingers are placed very naturally onto them, allowing this device to be used single-handedly while also giving the LG team space to enlarge the screen’s size.

Since large screen smartphones are competing fiercely in the effervescent market, most companies have come up with a competitor to the Samsung Galaxy Note, but only a few have been actually worth considering.

So we’ll need to wait and watch to see if the LG G Pro 2 does really meet the standard of the end-user’s desires or if it’s just another wannabe device.

Watches – The Next Device To Get Telephony Capability

Watches-–-The-Next-Device-To-Get-Telephony-Capability-2 (1)

Factoid: the maximum use of a mobile phone is to check the time.

The above fact is perhaps a clear indication that the watches would be the next device category to be affected by the growth of the mobile devices (we have already seen GPS manufacturers being affected significantly by the commonplace integration of GPS into most smartphones).

As the war on who will launch the next smartwatch with telephony capability heats up, Apple has filed for a patent in Japan for its “iWatch” (as people are assuming it’ll be called).

One of the first watch-phones to come out was from Samsung – Samsung SPH-WP10 in 1999.

Many manufacturers have since forayed into combining watches with mobile telephony capability:

Radar-watches-with-telephony-21

LG (LG GD910)

Radar-watches-with-telephony-31 (1)

Hyundai MB-910

Sony-smart-watch

Sony Smartphone watch

Sony has launched a waterproof watch, which will act as peripheral device connecting to a phone via Bluetooth.

Despite quite a few manufacturers having attempted creating a product like a smartwatch, none of them have been able to create something truly disruptive or even anything that people’s attention or stoked their imagination.

Now with biggies like Apple and Samsung seemingly working to launch their own attempts at truly smart, good-looking and wearable watches, the interest in smartwatches has seen a resurgence.

Both these manufacturing majors have taken off their gloves and are clearly competing to launch their our attempts at usable and attractive smartwatches, in the coming year.

Apple is rumored to be aggressively developing one, while Samsung has had one in the pipeline for about a year now.

With the companies now filing patents for curved screens, flexible screens, curved batteries, to name a few – it seems assured that the race for the smartwatch is on the clock.

Watch this space to stay abreast with news, launches and reviews on Smartwatches.

The LG G Flex Is All Set To Hit European Markets This February

LG G Flex all set to hit the European market

The LG G Flex has had its moment of fame, but only in a certain part of the world. It is planning to extend its reach to 20 European countries (Austria, UK, France, Germany and Italy included) in February 2014.

The LG G Flex sports all sorts of curves and a mystical self-healing back but is a little steep in the price department.

The Flex’s U.S. price currently stands at USD 300 on-contract through carriers like AT&T and Sprint. The Carphone Warehouse has an on-contract offer that starts at £50 for the device with a GBP 57 monthly subscription in the U.K.

Amazon (UK) is settling for orders at GBP 590, Amazon (Germany) at €850, Amazon (France) at €750 whereas Expansys (online electronics seller) at GBP 690.

While LG really has tried to stand out by introducing the G Flex, the usability and practicality of the smartphone is yet to be determined on a global scenario.

LG G Flex: A Self-Healing Phone

LG G Flex self healing 2

Consider the starfish, yes the fish, starfish.
Regeneration is one of the most fascinating features about this specimen apart from the spectacular star-like physique.

What’s that got to do with technology? Well, technology has often sought inspiration from Nature, borrowing from it’s rather gargantuan playbook.

With the advances in technology and learning from nature, some genius scientists have figured out a way to bring regenerative capabilities (of sorts) to our handheld devices.

Pioneering such a fusion of regenerative materials and technology is LG’s latest smartphone aptly called the LG G Flex.
LG is chest-thumping their unique accomplishment in marking “done” in the check-box next to “Self-Healing Capabilities” in its spec-sheet. That’s a box that’s been previously vacant because all the manufacturers had to turn a blind eye to it, given the constraints of technology and materials.

Well, LG has cracked it. And now, you can bet your screen protector that others will promptly “learn” from the G Flex and conveniently plagiarise it, in the coming months.

A bigger question is though: Will this spell doom for the phone accessory industry?

The reality is, over time daily usage takes a toll on anything, especially devices. They face mechanical stresses and physical damage, directly or indirectly.

To improve the lifetime of their products, smartphone manufacturers have experimented extensively with materials used for phone exteriors; producing strengthed-glass backs, plastic backs, metallic backs while some boutique add-on manufacturers have gone the way of using wood and leather! However, most have held on to plastic being the basic material used for the back, sometimes being layered over to make it more appealing and durable (for example, the Nexus 4 back is composed of glass layers over a basic plastic base giving it a shimmery look).

Yet, none of them have really worked at something that fixes itself.

Reason?

Economics has it, that brands make the most money from two things: accessories (or add-ons) sales and secondly, servicing their products. That’s why manufacturers invest so much more money in establishing service centers and launch refurbishment plans, to “conveniently” replace damaged, ageing and fatigued parts, at an extremely lucrative (for them) cost.

However, disruptive technology like regeneration will drive a huge jackhammer through the after-sales revenue for manufacturers of devices as well as accessories. Simply because devices made of self-replenishing materials would be rectified sans human intervention and at no cost, the ideal rainbows-and-unicorns scenario.

Blue-sky dreaming… What if we could have a polymer that can change color when damaged and then go ahead and heal itself while becoming stronger under stress – this wish list could be a commercial reality soon.

A study at Duke University started developing a new type of plastic which responds to mechanical force called “Mechanophore”.

A scientist’s explanation would be: This plastic material is made of a Carbon backbone interspersed with Bromine atoms. However unlike other plastics and polymers, the carbon atoms in the backbone form a triangular ring instead of a straight chain, and thus any deforming force will break the ring to give a longer chain.

This rupture in the bond structure would appear as a scratch on the surface. When such a polymer is subjected to an external force, such as mechanical stress, temperature, pressure etc., the bond structure alters and deforms the polymer (this appears as scratches/cracks on our phone backs made of polymeric material).

However in some cases, the polymer deforms into its monomers, which links back up to reform the polymer chain by giving the initial polymer synthesising condition, such as heat or pressure.

Forming these new bonds is the sign of self-replenishing capabilities, which will prove to be extremely valuable once integrated with smartphone exteriors, medical and architectural equipment.

Head ringing now?

Well, in English, it means : The material is smart enough to heal the little nicks and dents on our phone so our device can remain looking new. All this without even telling you. Yippee!!

There is another breed of polymers being worked upon, that change color on deformation. Soon we could have our phones change color when they get dinged, telling us to be careful and then magnanimously forgiving our carelessness, heal themselves and revert to their original state.

Using this capability and building on this feature of polymers, LG has incorporated this feature in the G Flex. Scratch marks vanish magically, thus preserving an ever-lasting unblemished look to the phone.

The LG G Flex, already released in Korea and a few other corners of the globe, (running Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2, with 2 GB RAM powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core chipset) has astounded the technology market with its 6-inch curved Plastic OLED display and self-healing coating at the back.

The curved design has significantly shortened the distance from mouth to ear and has contributed in improving audio qualities by three decibels. The curved display has also improved the gaming and video playback perception by giving a minor 3D effect in landscape orientation. The plastic OLED has been strategically used to inculcate three sub-pixels in each pixel on the screen to provide a brighter view.

The main question echoing everyday before the launch of the Flex was how would LG stand against all the promos, and what more would it have to offer, other than the curved screen (which was the feature most promoted in the initial promos)?

The self-heal capability is truly a solid breakthrough and effectively answers that question. Videos displaying the famous replenishing tricks of the latest gadget have positively gone viral.

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Experimentalists are seen brutally carving the back of the phone using anything they find handy – pocket knives, metal brushes and car keys et al, just to see if the mumbo-jumbo actually works and how long it takes for the phone back to restore itself.

Most experiments have been promising and have shown that the phone successfully eradicates all everyday marks. Deeper marks take longer to normalise, and with the right external conditions, complete healing is definitely a possibility. Rubbing (and hence providing heat to) the damaged area has proved to be a favorable condition that speeds up the healing process allowing the polymer to return to its original shape faster.

With all the Iron Man-inspired inventions (Leap motion controller, Meta, Google Glass etc.) slowly becoming reality, Wolverine can’t be left far behind.

Clumsy users can now sleep in peace. Dropping your phone accidentally is not all that dangerous now and the palpatations you experience before picking it back, well hopefully those will be replaced by a broad smile and a word of thanks to the scientists, and to Nature (try and recall the starfish too)!

AT&T To Install Lookout Security App On All Android Phones

ATT-Lookout (1)

One of the biggest names in mobile security, Lookout has recently struck a deal with AT&T (which makes AT&T the third of four major U.S carriers) to sell it’s Android devices with the Mobile Security app pre-installed. This agreement is indicative of a clear acknowledgement of the rising vulnerability (and hence customer’s rising insecurity) of the Android ecology, to viruses and other malware.

Lookout’s mission statement is to tackle the most important mobile security issues, from identifying emerging threats to preventing fraud and fighting cyber crime.

While Google has always claimed Android is a self-sufficient operating system when it comes to securing personal data or preventing unwanted malware from affecting the device but that has never seemed to convince even the most loyal of its users.

Yet, a few months ago, Google quietly started incorporating some strengthened defence mechanisms through the Android Device Manager.

Being open source ought to have some disadvantages too, right? All those unauthorized APK’s [an APK is an Android Application Package file… like a zip file, used to distribute and install applications onto devices running Android operating system] that we come across on the web can often get your phone in trouble before you realise it.

Other anti-virus giants like Symantec have also been raising alarms about growing threats to Android users, making them insecure and look out for reliable security solutions.

Lookout Mobile Security

Other than virus and malware protection, Lookout also enables Android users to locate their device in case of theft, ring the device on full volume irrespective of its sound profile, lock their device and even erase all data with a single click, should the need arise. Lookout has a 4.5/5 rating on Google’s Play Store and has over 50 million downloads. Now, that’s a lot of downloads!

Back to the deal with telecom providers in the US, this deal enables the providers to pre-load the Lookout app to every Android phone they sell, and to charge customers for the app.

Normally customers are usually wary of apps that come pre-loaded with their mobile devices, commonly referred to as ‘Bloatware’ – the undesirability for such apps is induced by the fact that they can not be uninstalled or modified until the user ‘roots’ or manually tinkers with their device. These applications take up memory, slow the phone down and most often serve no practical purpose whatsoever. However, with Lookout we might be seeing a change in attitude towards pre-installed applications since it is a utilitarian software and quite effectively allows users a safer mobile experience and more piece of mind.

AT&T is currently shipping Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with Lookout, it’ll be interesting to observe how the present climate of opinion transmutes.

Curved Screens – The Next Tech Milestone In Mobile Screens

Curved Screens – The Next Tech Milestone In Mobile Screens

The race to introduce a bestseller curved smartphone screen is officially on, with Samsung unveiling their ‘Samsung Round’ to the world.

While Samsung-manufactured Google Galaxy Nexus (released in 2011) was probably the first phone with a curved screen, however that wasn’t a true curved screen in the parlance that has developed since.

Samsung and LG have been known to be actively experimenting on curved screens for some of their upcoming smartphones and have slotted their launches in the near future.

Samsung is working on a horizontally curved screen, while the supposed images of the LG G Flex has it with a vertical curve. The LG model is reportedly showcasing a 700mm radius of curvature and a panel running 6 inches diagonally.

Research and development of curved screens has been primarily aimed at:

  1. Reducing the screen thickness
  2. Increasing the screen size
  3. Reducing the screen fragility
  4. Modifying the shape of the screen

We are yet to see a viable and radical screen technology that succeeds in reducing the screen’s power consumption at an effective cost, thereby relieving you from constantly glancing at the battery icon on your screen.

I can safely assume that the battery icon (battery percentage) is probably the most glanced-at icon on your phone, even though there may not be any viable research to confer with this belief, yet.

Back to the topic, let us understand screen technology and what would all needs to be done to curve it.

LCD’s (Liquid Crystal Display) are older technology than OLEDs (Organic Light Emitting Diode). But that doesn’t mean that the technology is obsolete or ageing. Conversely, LCD technology is very versatile and still walks shoulder-to-shoulder with newer kids on the Technology Block. As testament to that, you should know that Apple uses LCD technology on their iPhones and iPads (a.k.a. Retina display) to this day, and no one can deny the clarity they offer their users.

LCD variants can be Active Matrix LCD, Passive Matrix LCD, LCD + TFT, LCD IPS and Super LCD!

If your device has an LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) screen, then it will have liquid crystal material sandwiched between two glass sheets. A light-emitting source behind the glass will send light through one sheet, then through the “liquid crystals” and then out through the other glass sheet.

Manufacturers can curve the glass sheets; however they have to take extreme precaution to ensure that the curvature of both the screens remains identical to an extreme precision, failing which, light will escape along the gaps and also the gaps will make the display susceptible to blurry images, or worse, breaking.

Another concern would be the increased risk of breakage due to the curvature, especially since glass is more vulnerable to break on the concave side (the side where the glass bends inward).

A variant called “Willow Glass” has been developed that is more forgiving as compared to regular glass, allowing it to be bent, or curved.

If your device has an OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) screen – most phones do, then its screen will have a layer which acts as a ‘substrate’ which can be composed of glass or plastic, coated with a thin film of organic molecules (called ‘organic light emitting diodes’). This organic layer generates light when electricity is passed through it.

OLEDs have only one substrate [per Google: substrate is a layer of base material which provides the surface on which something is deposited or inscribed, for example the silicon wafer used to manufacture integrated circuits] and are hence easier to curve into a different shape.
Most manufacturers often add another layer for protection over the substrate, thus making the screen a little less flexible while making it more robust against everyday bumps.

OLED screens can have variants like: AMOLED, Super AMOLED and Super AMOLED Advanced.

Back to the original story, both LG and Samsung are attempting to use OLED screens on their mobile devices with curved screens. They use the variant, the Super AMOLED (OLED combined with the TFT screen to bring faster responses to their users, as OLED screens may be prone to ‘ghosting’ i.e. shadows and blurs when displaying fast moving images).

While both the brands are hard at work, and soon one (or both) of them will commercially launch products with curved screens, there are still considerations towards all this investment of time and effort.

Curved screens don’t really imply any direct added-benefits to users, plus they increase cost (due to wastage during manufacture). So, why the curved screen?

We urge you not to confuse the “bendable screens” with “curved screens”!

LG has claimed that the curved screens make the screen looks wider and delivers a more realistic experience; but taking into account the size of screen on your mobile device screen (6 inches on a mobile device vs. 55 inches or greater on a television vs. an IMAX screen), we wonder whether the usefulness of a curved screen has been slightly exaggerated.

Consider even smaller screens (like that of a watch) however, and this may once again become a factor. When the screen is about 2.5 inches across, every fraction of an inch matters, and thus while we are somewhat cynical about the usefulness in smartphones, the real application of this technology may just be in wearable devices.

We have some questions that only time and real-world experience could address:

  1. How will the screen perform while viewing from different angles (taking into account reflections from the curved edges of the screen)?
  2. How will they counter the normal everyday stress on the curved frame when we store them in our pockets / purses / bags and especially our back pockets?
  3. How is the experience while reading a book or any other text on a curved screen, for long durations
  4. How will zoom perform on a curved screen?

While the launch of curved screens are a small step into the future of development of bendable screens – it may not yet be a large leap for mankind, or devices that it uses.

Self-healing Polymers Now Not A Myth

Self Healing Polymer

We’ve been tracking advancements in devices, apps and inherent mobile technology for a while now. At Chip-Monks, we thought to take some time out to check out advancements made in the techniques, technologies and materials used to make shells and frames for mobile devices.

Apple was the one to get us interested in the materials used to construct parts of their devices. It started with the bright, moulded plastic for its iMac, and then the aluminium shells used to construct the MacBook. When they started using strengthened glass (a.k.a. Gorilla Glass) to protect the touchscreen on their iPhones and iPads, we were enthralled.
While they were rumoured to be contemplating the use of Liquid Metal in their forthcoming devices this year, we don’t really think that’s going to happen.

Not that exotic materials aren’t used in such consumer electronics. Far from it!
in fact, Nokia paved the way for such implementation. It was amongst to first to use steel and then Titanium (Nokia 8800 and 8910) in producing their feature phones.

To make this interesting, and educative, let us explore the evolution of materials used to construct our beloved devices.

Let’s start our journey with plastics.

The first man-made plastic, Parkensine, was the invention of English scientist Alexander Parkes (1862). Plastics improved over the years with the addition of modified natural materials like rubber and collagen. Then came the fully synthetic polymers widely known as polycarbonate (PC). PC is widely used as a production material in the mobile industry even today.

Plastics are the most common used material, as the material is lightweight, has excellent resistance to 
wear and tear, lesser impact of vibration, superior sound absorption capability and good insulation to electricity with a production cost about a 1/10th of a metal.

Even today, scientists are working on Plastic to improve its strength and environmental friendliness. They’ve even developed ways to make plastic materials from Soy and Corn amongst other raw products!

The intent is to enhance the biodegradability of plastics while also allowing producers to use less base material to make the plastics.

Plastics can be generally categorized into General Plastics, Engineering Plastics and Thermoset Plastics. Of these, the usage of Engineering Plastics is most rampant and continues to increase year on year. Hence the continued focus and emphasis on the research going into improving the humble plastic.

More exotic materials?

From plastics the industry moved to steel, then aluminum and titanium.

Once Apple showed the world that aluminium based devices could be mass produced (in millions of units), everyone got on the bandwagon and almost every single manufacturer out there today uses aluminium in their premium devices.

However, despite all the good stuff that aluminium brings to the device – lightness, solidity, beauty – it suffers the same Achille’s Heel that all metals (and almost all regular metals, alloys, and other solid materials) do – dings and scratches, permanent ones.

To be able to crack that fallibility appears to be the next bastion of engineering and research, in so far as building materials go.

The time has come to check out a future building block that can go beyond our conventional needs and more towards our aspirational needs – a material, which can heal itself!

Scientists have developed a prototype polymer, that can heal itself in a matter of minutes after being hurt, or even cut in half!

The new polymer achieves about 97% healing in about two hours, and the point where ‘healing’ occurred remains strong enough to not come apart even under considerable stress.

The Researchers have dubbed the material as ‘Terminator‘ polymer, an ode to the shape-shifting ‘T-1000’ from the movie ‘Terminator 2 – Judgement Day’.

 

Self-healing polymers

 

The research was published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Materials Horizons, where they pointed out that this material shouldn’t be hard to produce. They’ve added that the polymers with similar properties are already in use in the industry; hence it should be a seamless integration into production methods when the new material is available in the market.

From our everyday experience, it kind of reminded me of clay we used to play with and chewing-gum; both of which can be broken and joined seamlessly, repeatedly.

While we can say that research in self-healing organic polymers has grown recently, but one simple self-healing mechanism from more than 60 years ago has been nearly forgotten until now.
Using a mechanism called “siloxane equilibration” scientists have demonstrated that silicone rubber that has been cut in half with a razor blade can completely repair itself through heat-activated reversible bonding.
The self-healing mechanism could have applications in a variety of areas, such as for designing self-healing surfaces of vehicles and electrical devices.

With this underway, another big ticket item – flexible screen is the next big moonshot.

Flexible displays feature energy-efficient organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) that are extremely compact and can be deployed on flexible materials such as plastic or polymers. Samsung has begun testing the new devices with flexible displays. Sony, Nokia and LG have also developed prototype flexible displays for mobile phones; however, they have not yet succeeded in mass production of devices.

Experimentation with new materials and technology often become breakthroughs that have a major impact in advancing the fields of materials and applied sciences.

Given the progress made on these polymers and flexible screens, the day that these polymers encase your device is not too far in the future. Till then, stay careful!

[R]evolution Of The Stylus

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.

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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.

The Comeback

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.

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 Samsung Galaxy Note with its dedicated Stylus [S-Pen]
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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.

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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.