Chip-Monks  ⁄  Nokia

Nokia is a global communications and information technology corporation that is headquartered in Espoo, Finland.

Historically, Nokia was one of the key innovators in the telecommunications space, and enabled telecom networks, wireless networks and mobile equipment across the globe. In the 1990’s and early 2000’s, Nokia was the world’s foremost mobile handset manufacturers. In fact, it’s market share almost singlehandedly overshadowed the marketshare of all other manufacturers, combined! However Nokia fell to some pretty hard times due to it’s glacial acceptance of the arrival of smartphones and capable tablets.

In September 2013, Nokia announced it’s landmark agreement with Microsoft entailing the purchase of Nokia’s Devices & Services business, signalling the end of an era.

Following the transaction, Nokia apparently plans to focus on it’s three remnant primary businesses, each of which is a leader in enabling mobility in its respective market segment: NSN, a leader in network infrastructure and services; HERE, a leader in mapping and location services; and Advanced Technologies, a leader in technology development and licensing.

That said, Nokia’s stint with Mobile ecology isn’t exactly over. Together with Microsoft, Nokia has been building Windows Phone OS into a global ecosystem that offers people a distinct and viable alternative to the duopoly of iOS and Android.

And in case you thought Nokia was “retiring into some indistinct corner of the annals of history”, it should be known that as of 2014, the Nokia Group employs approximately 93,000 people around the world; around 32,000 of which work in the Devices & Services business making mobile products. Nokia’s net sales in Q4 2013 were €3.5 billion, up 18% compared to Q3 2013!

Maybe Nokia isn’t ready to be dusted just yet. Here’s rooting for them!

  • A major contributor of the GSM network standard: The first ever commercial GSM call was made on a Nokia phone over a Nokia network!
  • Nokia owns about one-third of the patents essential to GSM standards and about one-fourth of the patents essential to WCDMA standards.
  • Launched it’s first mobile phone way back in 1982. It was called Mobira Senator and could only be used in a car. It used the NMT network.
  • The Nokia 1011 was the first mass produced GSM phone released by Nokia in 1992.
  • Nokia 232 was the first phone that supported data services, fax and SMS. It was released by Nokia in 1994.
  • Nokia 9000 Communicator was launched by Nokia in 1996. It was the first mobile phone to feature fax, calendar, email and Internet.
  • Nokia 6310 was launched in 2001. This was the first Nokia mobile to feature Bluetooth connectivity.
  • Nokia 3650, released in 2002 was the first mobile phone equipped with a camera that could record videos.
  • Nokia N95 was the first Nokia phone with GPS capabilities built-in. It was released in 2006.
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Updated: WhatsApp Withdrawing Support For These Devices

WhatsApp Withdrawing Support For These Devices Post 2016

This might come as bad news to some WhatsApp users, but the world’s foremost messenger application, with over one billion users worldwide has decided to withdraw support for some operating systems and devices on 31st December, 2016.

What this means is that the users of these devices will no longer receive any future software updates on the App thereafter, though WhatsApp will not be blocking services to the devices. So, WhatsApp will continue to run, but won’t get any more jazzy upgrades.

Well, since you are obviously going to be curious as to which these operating systems are, here’s the list that WhatsApp has published:

  • BlackBerry OS and BlackBerry 10
  • Nokia S40
  • Nokia Symbian S60
  • Android 2.1 and Android 2.2
  • Windows Phone 7.1
  • iPhone 3GS/iOS 6

This does not come as a fresh announcement as it is actually a reminder from their earlier announcement made on their blog back in February of 2016 (around the seventh anniversary of the application). The post had stated: “While these mobile devices have been an important part of our story, they don’t offer the kind of capabilities we need to expand our app’s features in the future. This was a tough decision for us to make, but the right one in order to give people better ways to keep in touch with friends, family, and loved ones using WhatsApp”.

The reasons stated for the withdrawal of support for these devices by the Facebook-owned company are simplified into – they believe that the messenger application and its features have grown far beyond the scope of these operating systems, which can no longer incorporate within them the latest features, in general, or those of security.
The technology over the years has obviously improved drastically, and these older operating systems, even logically speaking, would lack the capacity to withstand the changes.

The WhatsApp announcement post goes further, almost nostalgically explaining: “About 70 percent of smartphones sold at the time had operating systems offered by BlackBerry and Nokia. Mobile operating systems offered by Google, Apple and Microsoft – which account for 99.5 percent of sales today – were on less than 25 percent of mobile devices sold at the time”.

Updates to this Article:

In developing news, however, WhatsApp just launched a video calling feature on its application for all its users. Along with this new feature, it also decided to extend the support for Blackberry and Windows operating systems until July 2017, as of now.

This seems like a move planned as per the market, competing with a number of rivals such as Facebook’s own Messenger, Microsoft’s Skype, Apple’s iMessage, Google’s recently launched Duo, and independent similar applications like Viber, Line, and others.

WhatsApp has a dominant hand in the market, so, it would be wrong to state that WhatsApp is playing catch up with other applications, but what is certain is that WhatsApp is gearing up to retain its position in the market. These latest moves only serve to highlight that intent.

While WhatsApp, back in February, politely requested the users of these older operating systems (and of course, devices) to buy devices running on more recent OS before the end of the year, now, with their latest move they are extending the support for a few of these by six months.

But we don’t think they’re going to be providing any further extensions. So if you’re an avid chatter, on one of the devices on the endangered species list, we recommend you begin saving up and move out soon.

Update (on 8th June, 2017):

The six month extension that Facebook-owned Whatsapp had so zealously provided for the operating systems in concern has now come to an end. As of June 30th, the above mentioned operating systems will no longer receive support for the messenger application. The apps won’t die, they just won’t receive any more updates.

Whatsapp has been making a lot of changes to its ecosystem lately, with talk of bringing in unique features that will allow you to ‘recall’, or ‘edit’ a sent text. and with bringing in features like audio and video calls, stories, and working around the idea of a ‘status’. It is quite clear that Whatsapp is moving towards bringing in more and more features for its users in a crowded market. To keep doing that, it is important for them to invest their energy judiciously. The withdrawal of support for these operating systems is precisely that, a move towards judicious investment of energy.

Update (on June 23rd, 2017)

It seems like the end of life date for BlackBerry OS and Nokia S40 platforms has been pushed back again. WhatsApp, on their website, has reportedly confirmed the extension of its services for BlackBerry and Nokia S40 platforms till December 2017 and December 2018, respectively.

As per a report by Netherlands-based fan website WhatsAppen, WhatsApp for BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry OS7+ recently received an update that extends support for the platforms until December 31, 2017.

As far as support for Nokia S40 platform is concerned, the end-of-life date has been moved from December 31, 2017 to December 31, 2018.
This, however, gives a mixed message, given the extension is not being granted to Nokia Symbian S60 platform. There are very limited number of customers who use the Nokia S40 platform, but the news will be a relief to them nonetheless.

Head over to our D-wise Recommendation Section if you need help deciding on your next device!

 

Nokia 9 Hitting The Markets In August

Nokia 9 Hitting The Markets With A Bang In August

Like BlackBerry, Nokia has great survival instincts. Considering how badly Microsoft’s experiment with Nokia bombed, a lot of us were curious to know what would happen to the once-foremost mobile phone brand.

Well, it persisted, and was ultimately acquired by HMD Global.

Considering the amount of money HMD must’ve put on the table, it’s no surprise that it’d be in a hurry to bring out some new models and begin the long resurrection journey asap.
HMD recently launched the Nokia 3, Nokia 5, and Nokia 6 at the MWC 2017. The iconic Nokia 3310 is also made a comeback in a modernized avatar.

Now, rumors are circulating about a potential flagship phone, Nokia 9.

Based on the report from NokiaPowerUser, it looks like the Nokia 9 is going to be HMD’s big bang for this year. A premium smartphone that is said to be running on an Android version that is pure, it will prove a challenge to many a brand in the higher-mid-range bracket.

First up, surprisingly, Nokia-HMD seems to have been able to lay their hands on Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 835 processor (the same one powering Samsung Galaxy S8 & S8+ and Xiaomi’s much vaunted Mi 6; in fact the upcoming Sony Xperia XZ Premium is also going to be riding on the same top-tier processor).

Given the quantities that these three flagships are going to be demanded in, we know it couldn’t have been easy for Nokia-HMD to get their hands on this bad boy, so we shouldn’t really blame them for making us wait a bit (as the supply chain for the Snapdragon 835 will only roll around to Nokia-HMD’s needs after the first three top-tier devices’ orders have been met. It will be launched sometime in the third quarter of the year, which means we’re not seeing it before August, at the very least.

Moving on, the camera is most often the first thing people look for in a smartphone, hence HMD’s played it smart.
The Nokia 9 will most likely have a 22 megapixel rear camera, complete with Carl Zeiss optics. And that, is always indicative of a top-drawer device. Why? Well Carl Zeiss made the lenses that were used for capturing all that mind-boggling imagery in The Lord of the Rings.
Thus, software aside, there’s not much need for me to say anything more about its imaging potential. Since the software side of things will be handled by Android, you’re good to go on that front too.

Did I mention you’ll get all your selfies at 12 megapixels?!

This brings me to the thing that I am personally most excited about – the audio on the Nokia 9.

This is going to be the first smartphone that will have the Nokia Ozo technology.
I’ve seen its YouTube demo, and believe me when I say it – this technology will make your sound experience come alive. Each distinct sound from your surroundings would be audible, in crystal clear quality. 3D audio and an immersive VR experience will seal the deal!

The phone is actually a phablet that carries the now-mandatory 5.5 inch display, which will be a QHD OLED panel. From a data privacy and device safety standpoint, the Nokia 9’s iris scanner and fingerprint sensor should keep both secure.

There are rumoured to be 6 GB’s of RAM and 64 & 128 GB storage options, which make for high-end performance and ample storage. And the 3,800 mAh battery, coupled with the Quick Charge 4 technology, should mean that you never have to worry about your phone running out of battery!

It will be operating on Android 7.1.2 Nougat, and the device’s IP68 certification for dust and water resistance will help you enjoy the phablet in every possible situation, no matter the poor disposition of the climate and other environmental elements.

The price? Well, the Nokia 9 is expected to launch at USD 700, thus about INR 45,000, but we should all hold our thoughts till the device finally launches.

What more could you possibly ask for in a smartphone?

The Nokia 9 is sure to turn heads the moment it is launched. I am waiting with a bated breath!

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.

Samsung Lands Bang In The Middle Of A Legal Wrangle Between Nokia And Apple

Samsung Lands Bang In The Middle Of A Legal Wrangle Between Nokia And Apple

Legal battle and Apple – call it a houseful show.

This particular story started a year back, when the good old Cupertino technology giant Apple sued Nokia on the grounds of patent infringement.

Apple accused Nokia of intentionally removing certain patents from an agreement between the two companies. As per Apple, five of the removed patents were transferred to certain third party companies so that Nokia could ‘extort’ an excruciating amount of USD 100 million from Apple.

But then Nokia hit back at Apple with a list of accusations against the company. It alleged various instances of breach of patent by Apple. Nokia claimed that Apple has violated as many as 32 of Nokia’s patents in every iPhone following the iPhone 3GS.

That’s not all, a new twist in the case has made it all the more interesting.

Nokia has requested to be granted access to documents and deposition testimonies from the Samsung-Apple case which pertain to Samsung’s legal allegations against Apple on the issue of patents. Nokia believes these documents will be helpful to it’s patent related legal battle against Apple, and prove Apple’s culpability and repeated violations of patents.

As per Patently Apple, Nokia has requested a motion to be granted access to certain documents that can prove to be highly favorable to its position in the on-going legal conflict against Apple –
The Letter seeks documents and deposition testimony from Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., based in the Republic of Korea. The evidence sought by Nokia is highly relevant to the Investigation and unobtainable by other means”.

There’s not been a decree on this request yet, though, a favourable decision in this regard may actually prove to be an interesting wildcard in the Nokia-Apple fight.

Nokia's Android Smartphones To Be Made In India

Nokia phones to be made in India

The much beloved Nokia recently rose like a phoenix with a slew of Android phones, some of which have been announced, and some of which are still under wraps.

These phones, while not top-drawer devices, still caught the fancy of millions of fans the world over. Built on Android (given that Windows Mobile is a dying platform), these smartphones are from the budget-range of the smartphone spectrum – but built solidly, priced well, and enabled with decent processing capabilities, they may just reestablish Nokia.

Now, word is that these new Nokia Android phones  – specifically, the Nokia 3, Nokia 5 and Nokia 6 will be manufactured in India!

The news comes from HMD Global’s India VP Ajey Mehta, who has reportedly said that the smartphones will be manufactured through Foxconn in India.

One could see this as a smart move to get the complete tax benefits in a country that already has quite a big audience for the said phones.

The phones are expected to be in the market by June, and if they are manufactured within the country then the company can avail the tax benefits for the same, and gain itself more return on each buck. “By June, these products will be launched globally and India will serve as a key market for us again. Our attempt is to source 100 per cent from the country because of tax benefits“, said Mehta.

Nokia, the brand, is now run by HMD Global. Constituted by ex-Nokia employees, HMD basically possesses the rights to use the brand name, while being an entirely different company.

Reading some of the assessments post the announcement of this trio from Nokia, one could believe that the trio has not received a very positive feedback from critics. They say that the market has moved on to bigger and better phones, while Nokia is grappling at the basics n all respects – but critics have been wrong before.

There are three facts no one can deny:

  1. App fatigue is a very real phenomena now. Most people have the need for less than 5 apps, so having an over-competent phone is like having a supercar in the crowded bylanes of Old Delhi.
  2. A lot of people are tired of having super computers in their pockets – costs, weight, pocket-ability, single-hand use and most importantly, the inability of today’s super-smartphones to retain battery charge long enough, are all big issues
  3. Not everyone needs super-smartphones – decent screens, mid-level processors, and the ability to install/uninstall apps from a resplendent app store, are often all that people look for, from their phones these days.

So, while Chip-Monks believes there’s a huge market for simpler phones like those that Nokia is trying to remind people of (and it would succeed over time), there is also an undeniable fact that competition in the market is brutal. So, for Nokia’s overly simplified phones to survive, they do, absolutely, need to be priced right and be able to meet the fundamental expectations of the masses.

In such a competitive space then, what might work out well for Nokia, is the nostalgia that is attached to the brand name. HMD has been smart is playing on to that, especially with the announcement that they will be bringing back to the market the quite beloved Nokia 3310.

Now that HMD Global has confirmed that the phones will be manufactured in India, one can be certain that their prices will be proportional to (if not lesser than), those announced for the European markets. One can also be certain that it is not only the brand that will enjoy the benefits of manufacturing in India, but the market as well – seeing how the additional costs of bringing the phone to an international market can be spared.

The devices will be hitting the stores in June this year, and we can be hopeful that Nokia-HMD play this one out intelligently!

Get Ready To See Some Nokia Smartphones At MWC 2017!

Will we see Nokia smartphones at MWC 2017

HMD Global, the Finnish company that now owns the rights to use Nokia’s brand name on phones and tablets has decided to make 2017 grand for all the Nokia fans, as it is planning to launch new devices at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) on February 26.

If you aren’t already excited, let me scale up the excitement for you, one of those four devices is the much loved Nokia 3310!

We make it sound as if it’s only about the Nokia 3310, however, that is not the case. There is an exciting line up of four devices which includes the global version of the now-successful Nokia 6.

The Nokia 6, if you recall, was launched exclusively in China on the 19th January and has enjoyed huge popularity in a short span of time.

Nokia 6, for the uninitiated, sports a 5.5-inch screen with Full HD resolution that’s protected by 2.5D Gorilla Glass. The device packs in a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor, X6 LTE modem, 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of internal storage, 16 megapixel rear camera with phase detection auto focus, 8 megapixel front camera, dual speakers with Dolby Atmos support, and Android 7.0 Nougat running the show, phew!

Nokia 6 has very evident signs of borrowing some features from Apple’s iPhone 7 like the 2.5D screen and the antenna lines on the back. The phone launched at a price of 1,699 CNY (approx. INR 16,500) saw an unprecedented 1.4 million registrations by interested buyers, so much so, there aren’t enough devices to supply by the manufacturer!

Now it’s not only Nokia 6 that is going to make its global debut, Nokia 3 and Nokia 5 are also making news. Evan Blass, the famous tech-leakster, brought it to everyone’s attention that HMD Global is likely to manufacture two Android 7.0 Nougat devices – the Nokia 5 and Nokia 3, along with the global version of the Nokia 6.

There isn’t much that is out as yet about these devices, but as per reports, Nokia 5 is being labelled as a diluted version of Nokia 6 in terms of its specifications. It is expected to sport a 5.2 HD (720p) HD display, 2 GB RAM, and a 12 megapixel rear-facing shooter and will be somewhere near € 199 (~ INR 14,000). Nokia 6 as mentioned above as well sports better specs and thus comes at a slightly higher price of €249 (~ INR 17,500).

Unfortunately, the only information that is out in the open related to Nokia 3, a no frills, entry-level Android phone, is its price tag of €149 (~ INR 10,500). No other specs have been mentioned and the only thing that one could be sure of is the fact that the device will pack in Android 7.0 Nougat just like Nokia 5.
Well it does have competition from the Motorola phones to overcome in this price range.

The part of news that would excite a millennial and a 90’s kid, is the possibility of the relaunch of the Nokia 3310 – the utterly robust, long battery life phone with drop-dead hassle free design. Like its predecessor, this one will stick to the basics and will be sold for €59 (~ INR 4,000), standing in direct competition to low-end Android smartphones.

Nokia’s comeback in the smartphone market is constantly under the scanner and with devices like Nokia 3 and Nokia 5 it can definitely make a difference in the mid-range smartphone section.

Nokia To Relaunch One Of It's Most Iconic Phones Ever

Nokia To Relaunch One Of It is Most Iconic Phones Ever At MWC 2017

To begin with, before getting to the locus of this article, I would like to say that I’m content with how 2017 has so far shaped up; as opposed to the ruthless year of 2016.

Mankind seems to toning down/up to its original pitch, the MUN (Model United Nations: the simulated academic competition that teaches students about diplomacy, international relations, and the functioning of the United Nations) is still going strong in the league and the world of tech is on the anvil of major change over the next few months (well, that’s just a subjective perspective).

But all of the aforementioned events collectively do not generate as much happiness to me, as to what I believe we’re going to witness in the upcoming Mobile World Congress, 2017!

The mecca of all things Smart Devices, the MWC will undoubtedly have a gaggle of next-gen devices and paraphernalia, however what’s got my heart singing a windsong is the prospect of Nokia returning to our lives!

If reports leaked by a tech website are to be believed, HMD Global Oy, the new owner of the Nokia brand name, is set to release a fleet of new phones including the new Nokia 6, Nokia 5, Nokia 3 and the re-launch of the… hold your heart, Nokia 3310 later this month at the Mobile World Congress 2017, in Barcelona

Yes, I’ll wait to let that sink in.

Released in the year 2000, the Nokia 3310 was a small little package that had the prestige of being one of the first few phones ever without an external antenna.

For most of us in India, it was our first phone back when cellular telephony was just about taking seed – you had to suck in your breath just before you got on a call, then speak rapidly without taking a breath, and hang up before the other person could respond or ask another question!

Back then, an incoming call cost you (the recipient) INR 16 per minute – outgoing calls were an extravagance that set you back INR 24 per minute. India discovered a new utility of missed calls thanks to such tariffs.

Anyway back to the Nokia 3310 – it had all the chops phones needed back then – small, sexy, robust and indefatigable. Most people who owned it, loved it. If you still don’t remember it, here’s a photo of the mighty giant.

 

Nokia-3310-1

Probably the most beloved handset ever, the Nokia 3310 was released in India as an affordable phone in 2000. It ended up changing the cellular telephony in India, and pretty much the world.

It was the dawn of change in the mobile industry in more ways than one.

Available in 6 different replaceable colour shells, the 3310 had the ability to become a new phone almost any time one wanted – blue to grey to red to black, all by switching Nokia’s Xpress On Covers. Unlike today’s phones which have endless number of features that could be used for advertising and marketing purposes, Nokia 3310 had its colourful shells to speak for itself.

Also, it may be worth noting that the 3310 did not have much competition because, as mentioned above, it was only the beginning of the curve that would eventually decide the trajectory of the Mobile Industry.

The Nokia 3310 had no real “fancy footwork” – all the features that Nokia 3310 sported were navigated and performed using the 16 buttons on the handset. There was no swiping or double tapping that was involved in this smart-for-its-time phone.

The best part? It was nigh near unbreakable!

I believe the 3310 was one of the most reliable and perhaps the most indestructible phones ever made in the history of mankind. I remember chucking it out of a moving bus one morning, in a fit of rage. It met a large tree, smack-bang in the middle and splintered into 5 different pieces. Friends frantically retrieved it, put it back together, breathlessly (it did cost INR 12,000 back in 2000, if memory serves me well).

Need I say, everything worked. The phone was unscathed (though we didn’t remember to check the tree if it needed first-aid, our bad).

What’s even more surprising is, that this was not a one-off case. This is what Nokia stood for. Almost every phone Nokia has ever made, could prove wrong, the dictum of “being stuck between a rock and a hard place…”. A Nokia device would just shrug off the dilemma.

Another wildly acclaimed and loved feature of Nokia 3310 was the surprisingly bizarre battery backup; and when we use the word ‘backup’, we think the phone did justice to it like no other mobile phone.
The four bars that indicated the percentage of battery remaining almost seemed painted on! They barely ever changed. Sometimes the phone used to go for about a whole week with one full round of charge.

It provided insane amount of talking hours and several 90’s kids are thankful for it. Why, you ask? Because even after spending 5 hours playing the historic Snake II game on the phone, all the battery lost was perhaps 14 microns of charge.

Snake II – Ah! The game was extremely popular – played everywhere and by all who could lay their hands on the 3310. It was so, probably as it only had one drill – to keep the snake moving, using 2, 4, 6 and 8 numbered keys, to its fodder.

Fun Fact – Nokia 3310 sported a 1.4 inch screen. To put that into perspective for the ones who aren’t good at maths, that is about half length of your pinky finger.

Unlike the smarter-than-humans phones of today, Nokia 3310 was not stuffed with too many features. It had a clock, 4 games, calendar, texting and calling – ideally what phones should be used for. The two other creative sides of Nokia 3310 were its customisable ringtones and extremely friendly welcome screen – both of which are usually missing from phones of today.

Come 2005, Nokia stopped making these phones. They did release a stat report – announcing that more than 126 million Nokia 3310 handsets had been sold in five years!

The whopping figure is not an overstatement given that there are still people who possess this handset, in working condition.

Back to 2017.

More information relating to the new 3310 would be given out at MWC 2017.

But, people can’t quell their pulsating hearts. To quote the happiness of a Twitter Fan, “For some reason, a part of me is in seventh heaven over the ninth cloud, What a time to be alive”. A bit of an exaggeration it may seem, but the joy and nostalgia attached to this iconic phone is real.

The problem is, that like the BlackBerry Classic found out, the 3310 will have it’s own very large shoes to fill. And that may just be ironic.

I wonder if the company would strike the right kind of feature-mix as the original Nokia 3310 flaunted. Sometimes, gushing folks like me want everything in a sequel and if HMD’s engineers overdo it, that might just ruin it all, including the memories.

More reports pertaining to the release, to follow.

Nokia Marks It's Return To The Smartphones Market With A Flash Sale In China

Nokia Marks It is Return To The Smartphones Market With A Flash Sale In China

It feels so long since we heard the name Nokia in the smartphone market. Having been acquired by Microsoft, the brand iconic Nokia, that used to once be synonymous with cellular telephony, had practically disappeared from the market.

Well, it finally has made its return with a flash sale in China.

Nokia released a new Android smartphone in China later last week, and reports say that the device sold out within seconds! They are calling it the Nokia 6, and it is the first phone to bear that name since 2014 when Microsoft took over Nokia.

Apparently over 100,000 units of the Nokia 6 were sold in the flash sale. The device, for now, is priced at priced at RMB 1,699 (~ INR 17,000).

The phone is a 5.5 inch budget phablet with average features. It has a Snapdragon 430 processor, 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage.

When you start comparing it with the rivals in the same price bracket, especially Moto G4 Plus, the phone won’t really hold much of your attention.

So, it seems like it was the brand’s iconic status that created the hype and caused stocks to sell out in a minute, rather than peoples’ preference or appreciation of a well-organised and well-endowed smartphone.

What is also worth noting that even though the phone is a Nokia phone by name, it is actually produced by HMD Global, a Finish company with the rights to use the Nokia name for its mobile devices. The licensing deal lasts for the next ten years and is ostensibly a bid by the company to capitalize on the brand familiarity and nostalgia of the Nokia name.

The phone, for now, is available only in China, but leaks have shown that HMD Global might have plans to release it in Europe soon. “The decision by HMD to launch its first Android smartphone into China is a reflection of the desire to meet the real world needs of consumers in different markets around the world … it is a strategically important market”, HMD said in a statement prior to the sale.

A word of advice for HMD Global, and Nokia – if it really wants to stay settle into this customer-driven market, it will need to be a lot more competitive.

HMD Global has already announced that it will be present at MWC 2017 in Barcelona next month. Rumours say that they might be unveiling more smartphones there, more than one, and this might include the Nokia 8, which is expected to belong to the high-end segment, featuring a Snapdragon 835 processor, 6 GB of RAM, and QHD display among others.

Nokia D1C, A 13.8-Inch Android Tablet From The Nokia Stable

Nokia D1C  A 13 8-Inch Android Tablet From The Nokia Stable

We’re excited about Nokia, after a long, long time.

We wrote about the rumours around the the release of three smartphones by Nokia – two high-end flagship phones and one mid-range affordable device dubbed as D1C, last week.

Well, we were wrong. We aren’t wrong too often, but even though we are this time, we don’t really mind.

Not only us, but many tech enthusiast and industry specialists have been toying with this presumption for a quite a while. Yet, it turns out, that Nokia is not making its comeback to the smartphone market with a smartphone!

Well, do not be disappointed with this news because on the other side of the coin – the Finnish tech company is returning to the market with its D1C Android tablet (suggested previously as the smartphone).

Earlier, benchmark listing websites GeekBench and AnTuTu had reports mentioning the release of a smartphone called D1C running on Android 7.0 Nougat and Snapdragon 430 octa-core processor coupled with 3 GB RAM, however the recent updates by GeekBench, posted by famous leakster Steve Hemmerstoffer, make it evident that D1C is, in fact, a tablet having a huge 13.8 inch screen with 1080p resolution.

Other features on the Nokia D1C include an 8 megapixel 1080p selfie camera for your beatific video calls along with a 16 megapixel 1080p rear camera.

In line with the previous reports, the Nokia D1C will run on entry-level Snapdragon 430 chipset (8x Cortex-A53, Adreno 505), Adreno 505) and have 3 GB of RAM with 16 GB storage running Android 7.0 Nougat out-of-the-box.

The Nokia D1C is being seen as a competitor to Samsung’s 18.4 inch Galaxy View tablet and Alcatel’s Xess. Expected to be priced at the same bracket as the Samsung Galaxy View (expected price INR 35,000) and thus more expensive than the Alcatel Xess (expected price INR 29,999.

However, it should be kept in mind that the speculations about the price are entirely based on rumour and leaks, and nowhere near sanctimonious fact.

Other details about the upcoming Nokia Android tablet are not available yet.

Now, the question that arises is “Is Nokia making a right move by launching D1C?

With D1C, it seems that Nokia is perhaps aiming at an Android-based home entertainment device.
And on the other hand, a very strong belief that Nokia seems to bank on is that it enjoys a strong sense of nostalgia attached to its brand name and it’s proven track record with durable and solid devices.

Given that tablets aren’t doing well in the market at this time, least of Android ones, it seems like a good place to enter, if the product is right and positioned correctly.

A home entertainment product is a niche of sorts, but Nokia will be up against Apple’s vaunted iPad Pro (12.9) and Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4, so it should be ready to get some differentiators going!

On another note, Nokia is also expected to unveil two high-end flagship phone having a 5.2 and 5.5-inch Quad HD displays with the Snapdragon 820 processor, a 22.6 megapixel rear camera, and 4K video recording support.
Both these devices might have AMOLED displays with Nokia’s Z-launcher flavored Android Nougat, Snapdragon 820 SoC (which we are hoping Nokia pushes up to Snapdragon 821 chipset).
As far as the build and design are concerned, the phones might come with an all-metal body and IP68 Waterproof and Dustproof protection, making the phone sturdier like its ancestors.

Till Nokia comes out and announces things officially, all we can do is hang around with the rumors and wait for the official release.

Nokia About To Introduce Three Android 7.0 Nougat Smartphones

Nokia About To Introduce Three Android 7 0 Nougat Smartphones

Nokia has witnessed one heck of a roller coaster ride in terms of its business in the past couple of years. Be it the acquisition by Microsoft in 2013 or the re-acquisition by HMD Global this year. Adding fuel to ignominy, Nokia’s sales saw an all-time low in 2013 as it struggled with its once-preferred Symbian OS and even Android-OS based-smartphones.

However, it seems things are getting back on track for Nokia, as after a very long time there are reports floating around about the release of three smartphones by Nokia – two high-end flagship phones and one mid-range affordable device (a new addition).
Not just that, these phones will run on the latest version of Android, Nougat.

Now this looks like an interesting and powerful comeback!

The Mid-Range Affordable Smartphone – D1C

If a benchmark listing on GeekBench is to be believed, then the (internally captioned) Nokia D1C would run on Snapdragon 430 octa-core processor, with an Adreno 505 GPU, and is coupled with 3 GB RAM and Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box (and we really hope that Nokia does not add a skin and keeps it close to stock Android for a better and richer experience, unlike last time).

This benchmark listing didn’t provide an information about the display size or resolution of the screen, nor the cameras; but the mere fact that Nokia is being loyal to its roots and is working on a budget smartphone is a delight in itself.

As you may know, the Snapdragon 430 SoC runs on eight Cortex-A53 cores clocked at up to 1.4 GHz and the chipset is capable of supporting display resolution up to Full-HD, so this is something which can be expected out of the phone in correspondence with the display size.

This further implies that a 21 megapixel camera (tops) could find its way on the phone as 21 megapixel camera modules are supported with 1080p 30FPS video recording.

Also, this would be the first Nokia smartphone that would roll out under the HMD Global and Foxconn (FIH) partnership.

Connectivity options on D1C are said to include dual-SIM 4G LTE support, dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1 LE.

Another benchmarking site, AnTuTu has some more masala to add to the saga of speculations as it revealed that the phone will come with a 13 megapixel primary camera with flash and an 8 megapixel front-facing camera. The optics are thus expected to be good. It is being speculated that the phone will have 32 GB internal memory which is expandable via microSD card.

Since D1C is a mid-range phone therefore high-quality lenses Carl Zeiss and Pure View won’t be making their way into this smartphone.

In keeping with the previous Nokia phones, it is expected that the exterior of the phone will be tough and durable. The company might also bring out a thin device to keep up with the existing trend. But expecting a superior battery life would be too much on this device.

Probably, Nokia is saving a host of specifications and internals for the two high end phones.

Two Anonymous High-end Flagship Phones

There are said to be two phones in the mix at Nokia, with different specifications and at different price bands. Some of the expected and rumoured specifications include 5.5 -inch 2k HD display in the larger model vs a 5.2-inch 2k HD display in the smaller model. Both these devices might have AMOLED displays.

Both the phones might have Nokia’s Z-launcher flavored Android Nougat, Snapdragon 820 SoC, which we are hoping Nokia pushes up to  Snapdragon 821 chipset.

As far as the build and design are concerned, the phones might come with an all-metal body and IP68 Waterproof and Dustproof protection, making the phone sturdier like its ancestors.

The phones might also come with fingerprint scanners, 32 GB & 64 GB internal storage options.

The price bracket that is being pinned down by the rumours is in the bracket of USD 400-500 for these high end phones.

Well, only time to come will tell what solidifies and sees the day of the light. Till then, we can just hang around with the speculations and wait for the official release.

1 Terabit Per Second Data Transfer Speed Achieved - A Feat By Nokia

1 Terabit Per Second Data Transfer Speed Achieved - A Feat By Nokia

Nokia may have been away from the limelight for a while, but assuming that it has been wilting away or even sitting idle would really be undermining the actual chutzpah of the Finnish major!

They’re doing some remarkable work, and we thought to shed some light on one of their breakthrough projects.

Last year, Nokia acquired Alcatel-Lucent which also meant an addition of Bell Labs (now Nokia Bell Labs) to the Nokia family.

Quick facts: Bell Labs was founded in 1925 by Alexander Graham Bell who invented the first working telephone.

Nokia Bell Labs, together with the Technical University of Munich and Deutsche Telkom T-Labs, has been working on a network speed enhancement method. Dubbed as Probabilistic Constellation Shaping (PCS), the technique has already bagged the Bell Labs Prize and is capable of transmitting data over a Google Fiber connection at 1 Terabit per second!

This scientific breakthrough could extend the capability of optical networks to meet the ever-increasing data traffic demands of consumers and businesses.

Marcus Weldon, President, Nokia Bell Labs and Nokia CTO, said “Future optical networks not only need to support orders of higher capacity, but also the ability to dynamically adapt to channel conditions and traffic demand. PCS offers great benefits to service providers and enterprises by enabling optical networks to operate closer to the Shannon Limit to support massive data center interconnectivity and provide the flexibility and performance required for modern networking in the digital era”.

The Shannon Limit is the theoretical limit coined by Claude Shannon in 1945, for the maximum information transfer rate of a channel. And all technology up until this time has been much lower than the glass ceiling implied by the Shannon Limit.

This research is being conducted under SASER (Safe and Secure European Routing) project. It is being claimed that during the experiments done over the Deutsche Telekom’s fiber network, a 1 terabit/sec speed was observed,  which was almost close to the Shannon Limit of the channel.

This collaborative research was presented at the ECOC 2016 in Düsseldorf, Germany on September 19.

Information theory is the mathematics of digital technology, and during the Claude Shannon centenary year, 2016, it is thrilling to see his ideas continue to transform industries and society”, added Professor Gerhard Kramer of the Technical University of Munich. “PCS, an idea that won a Bell Labs Prize, directly applies Shannon’s principles and lets fiber optic systems transmit data faster, further, and with unparalleled flexibility”.

To guarantee a high customer experience for future services we need optical transmissions with increased capacities, reach and flexibility over deployed fiber infrastructures”, said Deutsche Telekom CTO Bruno Jacobfeuerborn, in a statement.

At present, Google’s 1 Gigabit per second Fiber network offers the best speeds to home users,  but once this new technology by Nokia is made available commercially, then Google’s service will seem pedestrian! No disrespect intended.

A TUM blog post explains “The trial of the novel modulation approach, known as Probabilistic Constellation Shaping (PCS), uses quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) formats to achieve higher transmission capacity over a given channel to significantly improve the spectral efficiency of optical communications.” While explaining the role of Probabilistic Constellation Shaping (PCS), the blog reads, “PCS modifies the probability with which constellation points – the alphabet of the transmission – are used. Traditionally, all constellation points are used with the same frequency. PCS cleverly uses constellation points with high amplitude less frequently than those with lesser amplitude to transmit signals that, on average, are more resilient to noise and other impairments. This allows the transmission rate to be tailored to ideally fit the transmission channel, delivering up to 30 percent greater reach”.

This new technology is believed to have practically attained a round trip speed of 1 Tbps between the cities of Stuttgart and Darmstadt in Germany. This is amazing!

The potential of 1 terabit per second can be realized to boost the core network infrastructure for FTTH connections to fulfill the rising data needs due to increasing adoption of streaming and cloud services. In addition to this, as per the spokesperson at Nokia, the technology can be put to use in wireless networks at the current point in time.

However, it is important to note that the technology is still in its Lab-Only stage and is far from it’s market-ready state at this time.

Before we end this one, it’s also very interesting to know that despite working at the fringes of unbelievable technical capabilities, the Finnish corporation is neither the pioneer, nor the only one striving to bend technology to bust these limits. Earlier this year, researchers at the University College London were able to achieve speeds of 1.25 Tbps in their optical breakthrough!

But that’s another story for another day.

Till then, Nokia, blaze on!

Nokia Announces Its Return In The Market With Two Android Phones.

Nokia Announces Its Return In The Market With Two Android Phones

Just when you thought that Nokia had been KO’d out of the smartphone business, it brings out it’s “Comeback Guns”.

Nokia has gone through yet another ownership change (a lot like Motorola’s run with repetitive acquisitions) and is now owned by HMD Global, a Finnish company that since May 2016, has started to manufacture smartphones with Nokia’s brand name itself!

While rumors about new Nokia phones in the making have been in the wind for quite a while now, HMD Global is reportedly planning to launch two new Nokia smartphones that are based on Android OS and are rumoured be called Nokia 5320 in some form.
Nokia already had a smartphone named “5320” –  back in 2008 there was the Nokia 5320 XpressMusic, so, the Nokia 5320 in all probability will have another name.

It is rumored to have a 2.27 GHz quad-core processor (presumably) Snapdragon 821 chipset. In a recent, secret benchmark test, the phone scored 494 points in single-core performance and 1531 points in multi-core performance; and according to the Geekbench scores, the Nokia 5320 runs on the old Android 4.4.4 KitKat OS and has 2 GB RAM.

Another model, currently called Nokia RM-1490, was also spotted recently, and surprisingly, this model has an AMD A8-5545 single-core hyperthreaded processor clocked at 500 MHz, 2 GB RAM and runs the old Android 4.4.2 KitKat OS.
This seems along the lines of being more a capable-feature phone than a smartphone.

Here’s the official line from HMD on what’s happening:
HMD has been founded to provide a focused, independent home for a full range of Nokia-branded feature phones, smartphones, and tablets. To complete its portfolio of Nokia branding rights, HMD announced today that it has conditionally agreed to acquire from Microsoft the rights to use the Nokia brand on feature phones, and certain related design rights. The Microsoft transaction is expected to close in H2 2016. Together these agreements would make HMD the sole global licensee for all types of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets. HMD intends to invest over USD 500 million over the next three years to support the global marketing of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets, funded via its investors and profits from the acquired feature phone business”.

Microsoft’s Nokia “thing” ends in the second half of 2016, leaving the market wide open for new Nokia handsets.

The composition of the HMD is odd, to say the least. Nokia will not be investing any money in the project but it will receive royalties and sit on the board of HMD’s directors with quite a few of Nokia’s old top brass returning to the fold as well.

This agreement will give HMD full operational control of sales, marketing and distribution of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets, with exclusive access to the pre-eminent global sales and distribution network to be acquired from Microsoft by FIH, with access to FIH’s world-leading device manufacturing, supply chain and engineering capabilities, and its growing suite of proprietary mobile technologies and components”, said HMD in a press release.

What this means is simple. Nokia will return with Android phones and tablets, as well as Wearables off the back of its Withings acquisition. No doubt we’ll be hearing more about this and the future of Nokia in the coming weeks and months.

The Telegraph ominously put it: “The smartphone market, now bereft of innovation, has become ruthless, with profits difficult to come by. One suspects Nokia has missed its opportunity. We should wish it all the best, but the odds are stacked against it“.

Nokia's Launching A Wearable!

Nokia's Launching A Wearable!

Nokia is ready to launch its new smartwatch.

Yes, you heard it right. Not only is Nokia not dead yet, it’s actually working really hard to enter some new playgrounds.

Ever since the sale of its mobile phones business to Microsoft for $7.7 billion, the company has been focusing on its telecommunications infrastructure business, and now we know – on quietly diversifying further.

Known as the Withings Steel HR, the smartwatch is the company’s first new smartwatch since it bought Withings in April 2016.

It is a continuation of Withings’ Steel series smartwatches, known for their ultra-minimalistic look.

This is also the first watch in the Steel series that comes with a heart rate monitor and a bunch of other features that are attributed exclusively to Nokia’s proprietary technology.

The Withings Steel HR looks quite like an everyday analog watch, with a stylish sleek design, stainless steel casing, chrome hands, and sport-friendly silicone straps. It even features a head dial like a regular watch, and a sub-dial that features a dynamic digital screen that is used to display health data and smartphone notifications.

This display can show you health-related data like like calories burned, daily steps, distance, sleep duration, and regular notifications like text messages, e-mails, calls, or events.

The headline feature of the watch is the heart rate tracking mechanism, which works through a technology called Photoplethysmography (PPG).
The PPG tech allows the watch to monitor your heart rate using green LED lights that detect variations in the levels of blood in your wrist. You have the option to start the monitoring manually, or the watch will automatically initiate the measurement when you start physical activity of any kind. In addition, the watch will also monitor your pulse when you are asleep, to help you track your sleep-health better.

While the standard watch batteries have been used to power previous Withings watches, they needed to be replaced after several months of use. This time around Nokia’s playing it very smart – you have rechargeable batteries, that Nokia claims have a 25-day battery life! Not only that, they’ve even included a power-saver mode that automatically shuts down under-utilised functionalities of the watch a few days before the battery is about to exhaust it’s charge. Smart!

So how does it figure on the fitness-tracker front? Connect the smartwatch with the Withings Health Mate app on your smartphone, and that there’s your solution to your tracking and monitoring woes.
The app will give you heart rate summaries, daily timelines, personalized advice, and advanced food logging, enabling you to live a healthier lifestyle. It also allows you to share data over social media in addition to over 150 other health and fitness applications.

Whether you’re an athlete or simply trying to lose a few pounds and get a better handle on your health, knowing your heart rate can help you better understand your overall health and reach your fitness goals. With the wealth of insights it provides and the extended battery life for a health watch of its type, Steel HR truly is the first of its kind‘, said Cédric Hutchings, CEO at Withings (now, VP Digital Health at Nokia), at the product’s launch.

The watch shouldn’t come as a surprise since Nokia is a 151-year-old company and while it’s current masthead asset is it’s vast network of telecommunication infrastructures, but a history steeped in technology development and licensing, the smartwatch is an excellent road to start on, this early in it’s product lifecycle.

You really should check out our article about Nokia’s history so far. It makes for very interesting reading! You’ll be surprised many times over.

More than 90 mobile network providers across the globe are using Nokia’s mobile data networking technology. Recently Nokia announced that they are bringing 4.5G Pro, a mobile data network that would bring a speed ten times better than that of 4G. Bringing us a step closer to 5G, the company hasn’t yet announced a date for this roll out, but it can be expected in a few months. The company might also be returning to the mobile phone market in partnership with HMD Global, later this year, or early next year.

The launch of this smartwatch might function to make the Nokia name into a household entity again.

Next Generation Is Faster: Is 5G Coming To India?

Telecom gear manufacturers Ericsson and Nokia have begun talks with Indian telecom operators and policy makers for possible engagements around fifth-generation (5G) technology, which is still in the standardization phase and is likely to be ready for commercial deployment in 2020.

“It would be good for Indian operators to invest in 5G and offer in the market,” Magnus Ewerbring, chief technology officer of the APAC region at Ericsson said. Both Ericsson and Nokia have also begun engagements with government officials and policy makers to push for regulatory framework, including identification of relevant spectrum bands.

“It’s important to start to think about it now and ensure that step by step we are prepared for it both from network and regulatory perspectives.” If Ewerbring is to believed there already exists a decent understanding of 5G in India.

To the uninformed, why all this hoopla about 5G exists is because besides enhancing mobile broadband speeds, 5G will also support industrial internet, which will lead to higher uptake of Internet of Things (IoT) and related applications. Milivoj Vela, technology vision lead for MEA/India at Nokia Networks, said 5G technology will guarantee delivery of 100 megabit per second speed at homes and will be capable of handling 1,000 times more data traffic when it will be commercialized by 2020.

5G standards won’t be completed for first commercial deployment until 2020 though many operators in the US, South Korea and Japan are preparing to pilot or try out 5G in 2016 and commercially launch the first 5G solutions from 2017 onwards.

The problem with that, at least in India, is that telecom operators have not been able to fully achieve 4G network on a scale besides still being in the process of deploying networks that are focused on urban and semi-urban areas (India is lagging behind the developed nations in achieving 4G networks, which are being deployed in urban and semi-urban areas), as well as expanding their 3G footprints in the country.

“If a country uses a band which is very common with the rest of the world, there will be more focus and technology will come out much quicker. It is better for India to be on the same balance as the rest of the world,” Ewerbring said, adding that the regulatory side has something that needs to be paid utmost attention to.

“Spectrum is the important element for 5G. India has to come up with those rules and terms. They (policymakers) can look around the world and see examples on allocations. It’s important India gets good allocation of spectrum.”

Ewerbring said 5G requires very high bands and every telecom company should have at least 100 Mhz each for 5G, considering what they have in India today. A number of telecom companies in matured markets are looking at bands around 3.5 Ghz and 4.8 GHz.

“If you go higher around 28 Ghz, there is also lot of interest,” Ewerbring said. South Korea’s Samsung is working with the likes of SK Telecom and US’ Verizon for 5G tests in 28 GHz for 5G services. At present, spectrum bands between 700 Mhz and 2.6 Ghz are available for mobile services in India. Wi-fi services are generally used between 2.4 Ghz and 5.9 Ghz.

“I can’t say when will Indian operators start, but India is a huge country and can start very early with a limited deployment,” he said, adding that possible 5G trials in the country could happen around mid-2018.

5G is bound to reach the Indian shores someday or the other. The proactive-ness of the authorities and home based telcos will determine how soon and how effective that will be.

Nokia Inks A USD 1.5 Billion Cloud Network Deal

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Nokia, the seemingly almost-dead Finnish Telecom company just entered into a major deal with China Mobile, a state-owned telecom company in China that provides mobile voice and multimedia services throughout the world’s second largest country.

To first clear up the primary concern ‘wasn’t Nokia under Microsoft?’, I’d like to mention that Microsoft had only bought out the Mobile Phones division of Nokia back in 2014, and the rest of the company had still remained intact under their CEO Rajeev Suri.
Microsoft struggled with Phones business too, and recently sold it off to Foxconn.

Meanwhile, Nokia’s Suri focused the residual company towards the more profitable Network Equipment Division of Nokia Networks.
Nokia Technologies too, got attention as it works on developing and licensing technologies to clients all around the world. And it’s still quite a bread earner.

The current deal with China Mobile involves the cloud networking division of China Mobile. As part of the deal, Nokia will provide the Chinese company with infrastructure and equipment for operating a cloud network. This will include a new type of 5G-ready base station enabling numerous radio technologies to function at the same time as well as support various connection speeds at the same time.

Just so you know, China Mobile and Nokia actually have a longstanding history – in fact, they’ve also been working together on projects since 1994! The last deal that they worked together on was in 2014, and was worth USD 970 Million.

The current USD 1.5 Billion deal with Nokia is expected to bring China Mobile quality infrastructural support and equipment, which is absolutely vital to any cloud networking provider’s long term aspirations.

While the deal is slotted only for one year, but since it is aimed at “seamless connectivity that will more efficiently meet the ever-growing data demands”, as said by the Nokia spokesperson, we can expect that it will last longer as China moves even deeper into the Digital Age.

Nokia May Be Easing Back Into The Orbit Of Smartphones

Nokia Back In Orbit Of Smartphones

Probably furthur fuelled by Microsoft’s announcement that it will cut nearly 8,000 jobs from its smartphone division, Nokia has apparently confirmed that it will return to the mobile phone market.

Nokia has stated though, that it will commence such work only when their binding agreement with Microsoft ends, saying that “it’s complicated“.

We’d reported earlier, that Nokia had clear intentions of staying out of the mobile handset marketplace itself, but it’s experiments in the Android world lend some credence to back chatter of resurrection.

Robert Morlino, a spokesman for Nokia Technologies, said in a blog post: “It’s not surprising that today the question comes up all the time: will Nokia return to mobile devices? The answer is: it’s complicated. If and when we find a world-class partner who can take on those responsibilities, we would make an effort to work closely with them to guide the design and technology differentiation, as we did with the Nokia N1 Android tablet”.

Thus, Nokia is unlikely to release any new mobile phones any time soon, however, Morlino points to a late 2016 return.

We will look for the right partner who can take on the heavy lifting and work closely with us to deliver a great product. As we agreed with Microsoft, the soonest that could happen is Q4 2016, so it’s safe to say Nokia won’t be back (at least in phone form) before then“, he said.

This follows earlier comments from Nokia chief Rajeev Suri, who hinted at the firm’s intentions to make a comeback in the market. Suri expanded on previous hints that the days of Nokia Mobile aren’t over during an interview with German publication Manager Magazin.

Microsoft makes mobile phones. We would simply design them and then make the brand name available to license“, he said, expressing a desire to seek out suitable partners. These comments came as former Nokia Mobile boss Stephen Elop, who went to Microsoft to head up the Phone Division, was dethroned last week, with Microsoft OS boss Terry Myerson taking direct control of all the things in a new division called the Windows and Devices Group.

The purchase of a hardware business hasn’t gone well for Microsoft. Last week the firm announced the culling of a 7,800 roles from its Nokia division, in addition to the 18,000 Microsoft cuts already made last year.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said: “We are moving from a strategy to grow a standalone phone business to a strategy to grow and create a vibrant Windows ecosystem including our first-party device family. In the near term, we’ll run a more effective and focused phone portfolio while retaining capability for long-term reinvention in mobility.

Nokia also announced that it is acquiring Nakina Systems, a Canadian software company that offers unique vendor- and technology-agnostic capabilities that allow operators to monitor, control and audit security. The company hopes that this acquisition will help it bolster its security efforts.

Nokia Continues Foray Into The Android Ecosystem

Nokia Continues Foray Into The Android Ecosystem

Nokia, a former world leader of the mobile handset industry, is all set to enter the smartphones market yet again. This time they’re riding the Stock-Android gravy train!

While Nokia-loyalists may have a reason to rejoice, yet it’d be understandable if they remain sceptical for a bit, as a similar approach in the form of Nokia X and Nokia XL had failed terribly in providing an Android “like” experience to their users.

The acquisition of its “Devices and Services” division by Microsoft left the company mandated that Nokia couldn’t manufacture mobile phones till the 4th quarter of 2016, nor can they use the famed Lumia brand (as they’ve parted with that too, as per a subsequent deal with Microsoft). Nokia’s found a way around – announcing its re-entry to the lucrative smartphone market through brand licensing deals, earlier this year. The Nokia N1 tablet introduced this year was conceptualized on the same lines with the major partner being Foxconn. In layman terms, Nokia will let its partner do all the grunt work from manufacturing to selling and maintaining the devices. Nokia will licence for a fee, thereby reducing the risk, cost and effort involved in manufacturing and yet keep its own name alive in the market, yet not breaching their contract with Microsoft.

The Nokia N1 was a huge hit in China, actually selling out its stock faster than Dhoni scoring his belligerent fifty! It arrived in India in the second quarter of 2015.

Back to Nokia’s current foray, if rumors are to be believed, having succeeded with their Android launcher called Z Launcher (released with the Nokia N1), Nokia is gearing up to launch a completely Android-based smartphone, the Nokia C1. The concept phone is said to be stock Android, free from any Microsoft influence unlike its predecessors X and XL.

Speculations about Nokia C1 reveal:

  • A sleek design with on-screen navigation buttons resembling a smaller version of the N1.
  • A 5-inch HD display with 1280×720 screen resolution,
  • An intel Atom chipset, paired with 2 GB of RAM,
  • An 8 megapixel primary camera coupled with a 5 megapixel front facing camera.
  • Running on Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS

Chip-Monks Assessment: It seems apparent that even if Nokia doesn’t plan on bringing high-end devices to the market just yet, it definitely has its eye set on the mid-range ones. The road is not going to be easy for Nokia as they will have to compete with giants like Apple (who have a lion’s share (nearly 90%) of the smartphone industry’s profit and have learnt the value of retaining some budget phones in their “India portfolio”), Google, Motorola, Samsung along with other prolific local players.

Nokia will have to overcome the “out-of-sight-out-of-mind” rut they’re going to find themselves in due to their absence from the market for so long. That said, the features that the Nokia C1 concept phone is expected to carry, shows that Nokia is here to play the game and aim win it too.

Nokia's OZO Camera - A New Reality?

Nokia’s OZO Camera – Will It Set New Benchmarks?

The emergent question on a lot of peoples’ mind regarding Nokia’s future may finally have been answered at a recent event in Los Angeles.

The Finnish behemoth revealed that it is working on a Virtual Reality camera that can capture 360-degree panoramas.

After the acquisition of the Devices & Services division of the company by Microsoft in 2013, a lot of us questioned how long Nokia would last, and what would save it. Well, the folks at Nokia have obviously been using their smarts.

Instead of creating a new things from scratch, Nokia’s been looking into it’s cupboard of patents and technologies, and has moved to creating novel products from stuff it’s already innovated.

So, they’ve repurposed camera technologies that had originally developed (but didn’t use) for their Lumia range of smartphones (that they subsequently sold to Microsoft).

Some interesting tech and innovation has been repurposed for use in Nokia’s new OZO camera. Nokia collaborated with a VR production company Jaunt Studios and has now moulded and developed the technology specifically for use in the movie industry.

Nokia OZO 1

As reported by BBC, the spherical OZO camera is fitted with eight lenses and eight microphones, that enables it to record 360-degrees of both stereoscopic video and sound.

You can imagine how amazing the panoramas this device would be able to produce, especially since there’s high-quality audio going along!

Virtual Reality headsets can be used to view the content created by the innovative device – you could see the entire panorama just by turning your head as you normally would and yet, also experience the sound change while doing the same.

Imagine watching a VR scene of you standing by a river and looking up to see a flock of birds fly past, chattering excitedly. You’ll be able to enjoy that moment in time in all it’s splendour thanks to Nokia’s brilliant technology.

Ramzi Haidamus, President of Nokia Technologies, stated, “We’re thrilled to introduce OZO to the content creation world, and to define a completely new category of virtual reality capture and playback solutions. OZO aims to advance the next wave of innovation in VR by putting powerful tools in the hands of professionals who will create amazing experiences for people around the world”.

He excitingly added that, “We expect that virtual reality experiences will soon radically enhance the way people communicate and connect to stories, entertainment, world events and each other. With OZO, we plan to be at the heart of this new world”.

The device could prove to be a great asset for the filmmakers who can view the live footage of what the camera is shooting by connecting a VR headset. After recording, the captured content can be replayed very rapidly, which gives the device an edge over its rivals.

Chris Green, a VR expert, who is a consultant at Davies Murphy Group, has said, “Nokia has a great deal of experience developing not only camera technology, but also the portability of camera technology. The company was putting in high-end cameras on very small mobile phones and producing exceptional image results years before other manufacturers.”

Nokia ozo 3

Ranging from the ability to work with a range of third-party apps to the integration into the existing production channels, OZO promises to become one of the foremost solutions for all the digital media issues of the users.

The device makes use of the standard tripod mount which outputs the video in conventional formats, making it easier to be viewed in a VR headset as well as allows the videos to be uploaded to YouTube.

The latest announcement by Nokia Technologies shows the increasing appeal which the virtual reality experience is offering to the tech firms. Numerous tech giants including Samsung, Google and Facebook have been working to launch their first-ever VR headset.

And we can’t wait much longer to see how the world really feels virtually!

Nokia’s N1 Android Tablet Could Be Headed To India

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Continuing from Rahul’s brilliant article in November 2014, outlining how Nokia was licensing its brand to Foxconn to manufacture it’s N1 Tablet, we now believe that the Nokia N1, the first device released by Nokia post-Microsoft’s buyout could be headed to India.

Confused? Well, here’s a quick recount of the Microsoft-Nokia deal. Microsoft bought Nokia’s mobile devices business, and the agreement apparently only entailed Nokia’s mobile phones (feature phones) business and not even the smartphones. It was later extended to Nokia’s Lumia i.e. Smartphones portfolio too. However this agreement didn’t include Tablets.

So, Nokia, in order to keep its brand alive quick marched their way to producing a tablet. Lo, the Nokia N1, manufactured by Foxconn, was born.

Released in January 2015, the Nokia N1 is an Android-based tablet that features a 7.9-inch screen and a powerful Atom processor from Intel.

The N1 is apparently already a huge hit in China – a country which doesn’t even support the Google Play Store! Read our previous article to see how China reacted.

According to several rumours, Nokia are now finally ready to launch the device in the Indian subcontinent.

Hardware wise, the N1 is fairly competitive. An IPS LCD capacitive touch screen with an impressive 2048×1536 resolution and a pixel density of 324 ppi, a contemporary 64-bit Intel Atom processor clocking in at 2.3 GHz with 2 GB of RAM backing it.

The Finnish giant, apart from providing Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the box (wrapped under Nokia’s Z Launcher), also offer 32 GB internal storage in this tablet. Other features include an 8 megapixel rear camera, a 5 megapixel front shooter, a 5300 mAh battery and connectivity options such as WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0.

Expected to be priced at around INR 17,000, the Nokia N1 could face serious competition in the Indian market from devices such as Apple’s iPad Mini 2 ( the one with Retina display), Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 (8), Dell Venue 8 Pro, Samsung Tab E, Asus Tablet MeMO Pad 8, Huawei Honor X1 and the vintage Google Nexus 7.

And this is not all, the Nokia team has been busy readying to announce OZO, their virtual reality camera for professional content creators in the next few weeks. Check back in for more.

Nokia Ends Speculation About Re-entry Into Mobile Manufacturing Any Time Soon

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Rumors start anywhere. All it takes is a fertile imagination, and access to the internet.

Rumors of Nokia reentering the mobile manufacturing business began swirling around in the beginning of April. As the snowflake became a snowball, Nokia was forced to issue a statement. A post appeared on their website on 26th April, laying rest to the conjecture – “Nokia reaffirms it currently has no plans to manufacture or sell consumer handsets”.

Microsoft had completed acquisition of Nokia’s mobile manufacturing division in April 2014, for USD 7 billion. This acquisition came with a clause that Nokia could not enter the mobile device market on their own till 2016. The agreement does allow Nokia Technologies, a division which is retained by Nokia, to license their patents for manufacture and may currently be exploring product development. There’s no concrete news on that though.

Back to Nokia:

So, with Nokia clearly not being in a position to enter the OEM market this year, they’re going to have to look elsewhere in their kitty. Will they use their existing telecom related patents and enable others via licenses thus making inroads into the big-bad-cut-throat world of mobile device manufacturing? Or will they also leverage their other intellectual properties and applications?

Well, there are already some answers out there.

Nokia has not been sitting idle since the sale. The telecom major has taken concrete steps to rebuild their flagging brand. They have been focusing on their telecom business (which deals with carrier-grade equipment to support telecom and communication networks). Earlier in the month, Nokia confirmed the acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent, a French telecom company for a little over USD 16.5 billion.

Nokia may also look at putting their popular map app “HERE” out there. HERE has already gained significant traction in the Samsung Galaxy Apps Store, Windows Store and even Amazon’s Fire OS, however, it has not yet left any viable foot prints on the Google Play Store.

Will Nokia use their tried and tested “partnership” model to push their app? The app is said to have captured some interest and few potential users could be Uber and Facebook.

While time will indeed tell, we know for sure, that Nokia is one resilient brand and it has many, many avenues for revenue generation. They’re sure to pull out many rabbits from their hats in the coming months and years.

Stay tuned.

India-Launch Of Lumia 640 And 640 XL Slated For 7th April

India-Launch Of Lumia 640 And 640 XL Slated For 7th April

It still feels weird referring to the Lumia series sans the “Nokia” tag… Anyway, now under the helm of Microsoft, the new Lumia 640 and 640 XL (surreptitiously similar to Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices) announced in MWC 2015 are being launched.

The devices are set to hit the Indian markets starting April 7. While these aren’t Microsoft’s first phones post-acquisition, however it sure feels like it. There’s a lot riding on them – Microsoft needs to establish itself as a manufacturer, reach the right audiences and then begin the arduous task of competing with the Big 2.

Consequently, Microsoft is definitely looking to gain some serious traction in the Indian market through the launch of the Lumia 640 and 640 XL. The phones are already on pre-order in Europe, hence this is a positive sign for Microsoft.

If Microsoft markets their mobile ecosystem smartly, they could enjoy the benefit of an in-house OS ecosystem like Apple, allowing the user a seamless integration between their mobile and computing devices.

As an example of the issues faced by splintered ecosystems, BlackBerry is already facing the heat, leading to the decline in their user base – most of whom have been opting to move to Windows.

Specifications wise, the both the Lumia 640 series are dual SIM Windows phones with 8 GB RAM.

The Lumia 640 comes with a 5 inches IPS screen while 640 XL boasts of a bigger 5.7 inch IPS LCD, with both screen sizes riding on the ClearBlack technology and being protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3.

Lumia 640 Dual SIM phone is powered with a 2500mAh battery, has a quad-core Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 400 processor running Windows 8.1 with Lumia Denim. The main camera has a f/2.2 lens with a 4X video zoom. For serious users the device allows them to link to all major email clients, communicate on Skype and work on their documents and spreadsheets using Microsoft Office right out of the box. You get a 12 month Office 365 Personal subscription as well as 30 GB storage on OneDrive built in free with the purchase of the device.

Lumia 640 XL on the other hand, comes with a 5.7 inch with a resolution of HD720 (1280 X 720). Along with all the goodies included in the Lumia 640, the 640 XL boasts of a bigger battery at 3000mAh, which allows it to have a 39 day standby. The Lumia 640 XL also has NFC, Orientation Sensor and Low Power Mode which is absent in Lumia 640.

Some other differences: We were surprised to find that the Lumia 640 XL comes with a lower aperture at f/2.0. Further, while the Lumia 640 contains up to 55% recycled materials, the 640 XL  has only about 20%, making the Lumia 640 a more eco-friendly phone.

Expected Prices: The Lumia 640 is expected to be priced at about Rs. 10,000 in India while the Lumia 640 XL is expected to retail at Rs. 14,000.

Newsflash: Nokia N1 A Sellout In China!

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Like many others, Chip-Monks too, was caught unawares by the “new” Nokia. And pleasantly surprised.

When Microsoft announced its acquisition of Nokia’s mobile business, the finer points were lost on the majority – almost all of whom assumed that Nokia had bitten the dust.

And the ensuing silence from Nokia was so resounding that most of us even forgot to keep an eye on them.

Well they’re back. And we love what they’ve done. Allow us to explain.

The “new” Nokia is a far cry from the “old” Nokia.

  1. The world’s largest manufacturer of phones, no longer makes devices. Instead it gets them made. A la Apple, Nokia now designs the device and its surrounding experience and then passes it to a specialist to create and manage the device. In this case, Foxconn. Read all about that in our earlier article: Nokia Licensing Its Brand To Foxconn To Manufacture N1 Tablet.
  2. Nokia now makes Tablets. A product line it never cared much earlier. It just launched the Nokia N1.
    Since the Finnish company is restricted from producing mobile phones till 2016, per their deal with Microsoft, they chose the next hottest consumer product on the planet.
  3. Nokia practically put Symbian on the map, at one stage riding exclusively on that platform. And then Windows Mobile happened.
    Gone are the days. In with the new. The Nokia N1 runs on a custom-built “Z Launcher” that sits on top of an Android platform.
  4. Market: Contrary to earlier protocol, Nokia decided to land in China first, to attract the massive customer base there. European, Asian and American markets are planned as subsequent releases.
  5. Once the king of brick-and-mortal based retail supply, the “new” Nokia imitated the Online-only, sales strategy of Xiaomi – a flash-sale-only marketing approach, coupled with limited stock.

If online reports are to be believed, the Nokia N1 tablet when tested using unofficial industry-standard AnTuTu and GFXBench tests, actually fared better than the iPad Mini 3 – especially in the CPU efficiency and Image processing tests!

And it all seems to have worked. The sudden switch of Nokia from Windows smartphones to Android tablets, from awaiting customers to having them queue up, it all seems to have  yielded phenomenal results in the market.

From the day the tablet first hit the huge Chinese market via online stores , the device has consistently been marked as “out of stock”. The first batch of 20,000 units was launched on January 7 in China, and it sold out in just four minutes and two seconds! The second lot went on sale a week later, with 32,000 units – lasting a little longer for about eight minutes.
Subsequently, the third and fourth weekly batches too sold out pretty quickly.

The Nokia N1 tablet is valued at 1599 Chinese Yuan (around INR 17,000), which is a fairly modest price-tag given the specs that the N1 boasts of. Read more about them here.

This accounts for the high demand in the market as the tablet offers very impressive features at a humble price.

The unexpectedly great market response has left the developers dumbstruck and the limited stock has compelled them to plan the next sale one whole month later, to allow for the supply chain to catch up.

Having tasted huge success and remarkable sellouts in the Chinese markets, Nokia is now setting its sights on the burgeoning customer base in India and then the European markets (that have generally been kind to its homegrown celebrity).

Well, Chip-Monks for one is tremendously happy to see this happy turn of events for Nokia, to see the brave “new” Nokia make such a splash. Now we wait for them to land here!

Microsoft Dumps Nokia - Its Official Now

Microsoft dumps Nokia - its official now

With the acquisition of the Finnish giant Nokia in 2013, Microsoft had clearly announced its interest in the super-heated smartphone industry.

Subsequently, Microsoft confirmed that Nokia’s premium (and largely the only successful  smartphones line from Nokia) Lumia series will be relaunched under the Microsoft brand name and thus the Nokia tag will be severed from all current and future Lumia devices.

Why?

Well, Nokia had been fairing pretty badly against its competitors from the Android and iOS worlds – its global market share being a thin red line just about touching the 2.5% mark.

Microsoft is looking to stem some of the bleeding by disassociating the troubled manufacturer’s name, and replacing it with some (hopefully) positive sentiment by attaching its own, somewhat  more popular (OS) brand.

The American multinational corporation seems to be angling to hit two targets with one swing – give their ‘new’ baby a lease of life and also get a running launch into the smartphone world for the “Microsoft” and “Windows” brands.

This didn’t come as a bolt from the blue, as Microsoft had already dropped a few hints prior to officially confirming the brand shift with the official website for Nokia mobile being redirected to the new mobile website for Microsoft.

In the recent months, several applications in the Windows play store including Treasure Tag and App Social too, have been using Microsoft Mobile as the official name against the former Nokia Mobile.

In another development, Nokia had scaled down the production of phones at their Chennai plant in India, indicating, that they might be looking to shift their focus on networking, mapping and licensing businesses rather than manufacturing smartphones and tablets.

Nokia France will be the first to mark the shift from the Nokia brand to Microsoft for the Lumia devices on its Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts. Nokia France on its Facebook page mentioned that, “In the coming days, you will receive a Facebook message regarding the change of name of this page”.
They also hinted that the upcoming Lumia series is well-set to take on the Microsoft brand of identification.

Microsoft disclosed its intentions to expand their mobile business with the launch of the Microsoft Lumia 535, the first Lumia smartphone not attached with the Nokia brand name. The smartphone will initially be launched in China, Hong Kong and Bangladesh and then gradually percolate to other nations.

Priced at a modest USD 110, Microsoft looks forward to occupy a prominent position in the industry esp in the developing nations, thus increasing its share of mobile devices in the global market.

As far as the Nokia brand is concerned, they will continue their mobile device business by producing mobile phones, with a very limited range of devices being launched in this category. The existing devices in the market with the Nokia brand name will however continue to roll out until they are totally replaced by the new models.

Microsoft Abandons Nokia Asha

Microsoft Abandons Nokia Asha

Microsoft has been in the news for the past few days, about it’s journey in restructuring itself. In this process they have already cut jobs of around 18,000 people out of which 12,500 are from Nokia.

According to their revised market strategy, they have decided to abandon the Nokia Asha and Series 40 phones, with the Android based Nokia X becoming a Lumia product.

The head of Microsoft’s phone business, Jo Harlow said that they clearly want to focus on their Windows Phone, also stating that there will be no new features or updates to service any Mobile belonging to this particular series.

Microsoft will support all existing customers and within the next 18 months will ensure proper shutdown of the services.

Other excerpts from his email state that they plan to changeover developer efforts and investments with focus on the Windows systems all in all trying to improve the company’s financial performance, that being a major reason behind them abandoning the Nokia X, Asha and Series 40 apps.

At the end of his memo Satya Nadella also mentioned that Nokia’s Android phones would see their end soon.

Microsoft plans to focus on Windows Universal Apps and since Nokia phones ran on a broad range of operating systems the current situation was not helpful to Microsoft’s brand as the Asha operating system lacked features like use of the mobile version of Office Apps and the GPS mapping.

The company had announced the Nokia deal last year and it is very sad to see that Microsoft will not be chasing the Android market however reviewers state that this move will have an enormous prospective advantage for Redmond and Windows Phones.

An email to the company from Microsoft CEO stated that they will make Nokia X phones however they will be remade to run on Windows Phone instead of Android.

What Is Wireless Charging And How Does It Work?

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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.

Nokia XL Launched In India - Priced Well, Too!

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The Nokia XL Dual SIM, that was announced alongside Nokia X and Nokia X+ in March, is now available for ordering at the company’s online store.

Priced at INR 11,400, it is the most expensive member of the Nokia X family; yet, it is still one of the cheapest smartphones offering a 5 inch touchscreen.

While Nokia XL sports a sleek design and displays excellent construction quality, it seems like that’s one of the very few things it has going for it.

The X series marked Nokia’s foray into the world of Android apps and running on Android OS, 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. In terms of features, there seems to be little difference or improvement in Nokia XL, in comparison to Nokia X – other than some minor tweaks and adjustments despite being priced nearly INR 3,000 higher. Further, while one can download Android apps onto the device from third party sources, the Google Play Store still remains elusive.

Nokia XL comes equipped with flash and a front camera, unlike its predecessor Nokia X. The camera bears a 2 megapixel increase in resolution and showcases excellent photographic detail. The software is a slightly improved version of the one available in Nokia X, bearing the same signature notification tool Fastlane.

With respect to hardware, there is a meagre increase in RAM from 528 MB to 786 MB, though the processor used is the rather old Qualcomm Snapdragon S4, which runs at 1 GHz.

Interestingly, given the features and specifications of Nokia XL, it seems to be competing with the similarly priced but more powerful Nokia Lumia 630, putting it at a disadvantage on the home ground.

Popular Android phones Moto E and Moto G are also providing stiff competition to it, making one wonder if a price cut is coming somewhere down the line.

Windows Phone 8.1- Anything New?

Windows 8.1 news 3

When Microsoft announced Windows Phone 8.1, not long ago, it definitely turned a lot of heads. It seemed that they had finally caught up to Android and iOS. We wrote a great article when Microsoft began rolling out the update to devices a few weeks back. You should read that too!

Now that it’s in the wild, we’re here to ask the big question – has Microsoft truly achieved a feat? Is Windows Phone 8.1 really as good as people said (and wanted it to be)?

Windows Phone 8.1 brings several new things to the table, all of which were required for a while now. Not only by users, but by Windows & Nokia, in order to compete with the likes of Android and iOS.

We’ll be talking about each of these newly added features in detail, in this article.

Getting right to it, the Start screen. Windows Phone 8.1 brings a very organized and systematic approach to design your home screen, or Start screen, as the folks at Microsoft like to call it. The Start screen is the most crucial screen on your Windows Phone, really. It’s where all your tiles are positioned as per your wish. It’s your shortcut to launch any app or program in the blink of an eye.

What changes in Windows 8.1 is that you can now put more tiles on the screen. It is also possible to add a background picture/image to make your Start screen look more attractive. Swiping to the right still reveals the similar single-file list of apps that many people love and some others loathe.

But now, you can easily place pretty much anything you like from that never-ending list onto your information-rich Start screen. You have a choice of three sizes for each tile, obviously the larger the tile, the more information it can display directly on the Start screen.

Android has a similar thing going with Widgets, but it gets a little irritating when you have to swipe through multiple screens to access information as basic as News headlines, for instance.

Windows 8.1 wins? I certainly think so!

Do the phrases ‘OK Google’ or ‘Hello Siri’ seem familiar to you? These phrases are commonly used to activate personal assistants on Android and iOS respectively, namely Google Now and Siri.
Microsoft have waited long and hard before unveiling their very own Personal Assistant that goes by the name ‘Cortana‘. Cortana is now the key to using a Windows phone.
Cortana can help you with everything under the sun, from setting an alarm in the morning, to making a restaurant reservation. All of this is powered by Bing and can be accessed by a simple tap on the device’s search button.

Although Cortana requires basic customization, much like Google Now, it has definitely brought Microsoft right back in the race! With a big, big twist.

To retain trust with users, a clever Notebook feature allows you to choose what Cortana knows about you; your habits, your contacts, your interests etc. So it’s not snooping where don’t want it to go.
I’m not saying Google snoops, but it’s good to be able to see, choose and instruct a device as personal and as integral as a smartphone.

Windows 8.1 wins? Tadaa!

Moving on, there’s a new WiFi Sense app that is constantly looking for and automatically joining open WiFi networks without bothering you about it. There’s also Data Sense, which tells you how much data you’re using and lets you set a limit.

Another useful app is Storage Sense, which makes it easier to free up space or delete unnecessary files. There’s also Battery Saver, which tells you about the apps that have been killing your battery.

Finally, Microsoft’s new Word Flow keyboard lets you tap on each letter or swipe between them to type. Though this keyboard shows elements of Swype and SwiftKey, it’s something that was needed and gives Windows Phone enthusiasts something new to boast about.

Another crucial feature that took it’s time to come to the Windows platform – the Action Center.

Based on the idea of the Notification Center on Android, the Action Center lets you access your notifications and toggle key settings by simply sliding down from the top of the screen. Although, at the moment, you can’t interact with the notifications in any other way apart from opening them, that’s something that should evolve with time.

Also, ‘Quick Actions‘ can be used to toggle only a handful of settings at the moment like WiFi, Bluetooth, Brightness, Airplane mode, Internet sharing etc. A neat feature is that all the tiles on your Start screen are automatically refreshed when you access the Action Center. This makes the whole OS feel faster and more responsive. Kudos, Microsoft!

The Action Center must definitely improve with time. But it’s nice to see Microsoft realize the importance of a slide down menu, more so since something of this sort already exists on most other platforms.

Microsoft have attempted to give the likes of Apple and Google some competition, to say the least, but they are far from giving them a run for their money.

What Microsoft have brought to the table has been around for some time now.

They need something revolutionary on their side, and soon! Neither iOS nor Android have many stand-out exclusive apps but they have established themselves as the fore-runners in the business, and that’s a huge plus in an industry that’s constantly evolving.

Summarizing:

Windows Phone 8.1 update is something that was needed for a while now, to bring the OS at par with Android and iOS. The update should be well received in the market, as far as Windows phone users are considered. But I’d say, it’s only brought Windows to the same park, but not yet given it any bragging rights or much of a reason for a swagger.

Microsoft (and even Nokia) need to do quite a few more things under the hood, with their devices and towards getting hundreds of thousands of developers pecking away, creating new, revolutionary ways to leverage the Windows USPs. So, its not a job completely done yet. There’s more to do!

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!

Nokia’s Android Venture

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Nokia may release its first Android operating smartphone this year with a unique interface and a body similar to the Nokia Lumia series.

Rumours are up and about on Nokia’s “Normandy”.

Nokia has faced a huge downfall in the recent past leading up to Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia. While Android and iOS smartphones took over the mobile communication field, Nokia allied with Microsoft to create the Windows Phone, which did not do as well as intended.

Nokia’s rough patch however isn’t the only reason it’s attracting attention.

The air is abuzz with rumours regarding Nokia’s first Android smartphone that will probably hit stores this year. If certain leaks are to be believed, it looks like Nokia has retained the Window’s phone looks and interface while integrating the android operating system into the tiles.

The project is currently designated the name “Normandy” and the product looks similar to the Nokia Lumia series.
It is speculated that the device would feature a 4-inch display screen running on a Qualcomm S4 processor with 4 GB storage plus RAM. When the guesswork on the latest from Nokia began a while ago, there were some suggestions that the device may have a dual boot with option to run on Windows OS and Android OS. But there’s nothing new to substantiate or refute that, yet.

The @evleaks team shared an interesting fact, when they took our attention to the double SIM capabilities of the phone; the phone seems to be aimed at the large fertile Asian markets and the developing nations.

This will be a two-prong benefit for Nokia as they can penetrate the new Android markets to grow their market share and also not eat into their existing markets in Europe. Microsoft is said to be courting HTC to get their Windows OS included as a second operating system (dual booting) on their Android devices, a strategy they think can get them back in the game. For all of you who did not know – HTC was the first company to make phones for both Android and Windows OS!

It is also a rational thought that the Nokia team could just be launching their “Asha” line with Android; inexpensive phones with a decent build quality running on android; not a bad move to bit into the Android market share.

It seems very vague to guess the true attributes of the “Normandy”, however Nokia’s smartphone does propose something in the pipeline worth waiting for.

Lumia 930 Embodies The Best Of Microsoft And Nokia

Nokia 930

Get ready for the flagship embodiment of Windows Phone 8.1, this is one smartphone that should set the market on fire! The Windows Phone platform that has been bubbling under for the last two years, is now set to surface with this phone. What’s amazing is how all of this remarkable next-generation technology is wrapped up in an aesthetic package with just as much innovation and design excellence. 

Here are some key features of this much anticipated phone:

  • 20 megapixel PureView camera with ZEISS optics and advanced Rich Recording, delivering a flawless video and imaging experience with new Living Images innovation.
  • Stunning design combining elegant metal and vibrant polycarbonate with a 5 inch ClearBlack screen for unmatched viewing capability of all your media content and a near 180-degree viewing angle
  • Powerful 2.2GHz Snapdragon quad-core processor delivering more from content like apps, games, the Internet and integrated Microsoft services like OneDrive and Microsoft Office.
  • 1080p Full HD display (1920×1080; 441ppi) that comes with Gorilla Glass 3 protection and super sensitive touch. Built in NFC capability and Wireless Charging (Qi Standard).

The Nokia Lumia 930 is expected to roll out globally in June starting with Europe, Asia, Middle East and India. The expected price in India is about Rs. 42,000.

Microsoft Rolls Out Windows Phone 8.1 With Aplomb

Microsoft Rolls Out Windows Phone 8.1 With Aplomb

Eighteen long months since its last major update, Microsoft has finally rolled out the highly anticipated Windows Phone 8.1 update, sending the tech community into a frenzy.

For registered developers, the update is already available for installation; however, for those who aren’t developers and cannot wait to get their hands on Microsoft’s new baby, fret not, for one can easily sign up for the Preview for Developers program to avail it.

With Windows Phone 8.1 comes the fabulous new Notification/Action Centre, arguably something that has been sorely missed by Windows users. You’re now only a swipe down away from getting all your notifications in one place!

At the same time, productivity and interactions commoners like toggling between Wi-Fi, data, Bluetooth and lock rotation are right there – making this addition an extremely useful and handy one.

Shadowing all other tweaks and additions by comparison, is Microsoft’s very own voice-activated digital assistant Cortana, ready to join the ranks of iOS’s Siri and Android’s Google Now. From what we hear, she’s imbibed the best of both predecessors, and bested them.

In addition to these, you can now type messages using swipe gestures through a fancy Microsoft-developed keyboard, set a background image for the start screen which would be essentially reflected on the live tiles thus heralding a welcome change from the current monochrome standard.

And if these weren’t enough, there’s a whole load of improvements to apps such as Skype, Calendar, Battery Saver, Wi-Fi Sense and even (finally!) separate volume panels for media and ringer/notifications and who knows what else Microsoft has in store for us!

It’s the buzz around town, and we hope Windows Phone has finally come of age.

Microsoft's Purchase Of Nokia's Phone Business Gets Chinese Approval

About a month back there were reports of concern from Samsung and Google, over the Nokia-Microsoft deal.

The tech giants had approached the Chinese regulators and the Ministry of Commerce to conduct an anti-monopoly review, specifically in regards to patents related with wireless technologies.

Nokia has received an approval from the Chinese authorities to go ahead and sell its mobile phone business to Microsoft Corp., and there have been no request for it to change its patent practices. The deal was struck for $5.4 billion euros, however the Finnish company held back its patent portfolio as they are a promising source of future growth.

After the approval coming through from the Chinese regulators, the European Commission and the US Department of Justice and other jurisdictions; the price of Nokia shares rose by 2.9%.

Microsoft now enters a new era with its first Microsoft branded Nokia advertisement and coming together will surely bring to its portfolio, family devices and services leading to loyal customers.

In today’s world, Windows Phone has gained appreciation in the market and it is the fastest growing system in the smartphone market (this could also be because they have negligible market share at the moment and any gain seems to double their market share).
According to the IDC, Windows Phones hold one of the top-three positions among smartphones.

And now with Nokia mobile phone business, they will be targeting the affordable mobile device category too.

According to the deal, Nokia will see the end of production and will be focusing on networks, mapping services and technology development and licenses.

It has been reported that two Nokia plants will not be part of the deal.

Nokia’s former Chief Executive, Stephen Elop is said to become the executive vice president of the Microsoft Devices Group which will be in charge of the Lumia smartphones and tablets, Nokia mobile phones, the Xbox hardware, Microsoft Surface (they are a series of tablets created by Microsoft) and Perceptive Pixel (PPI) products (Perceptive Pixel Inc was a company that specializes in research, development and production of multi touch interfaces).

This deal will enable them to make affordable devices running on robust OS, as they now have in their repertoire, a deeper understanding of hardware and software, thus strengthening the demand for Windows devices worldwide.

Microsoft said that with purchase of Nokia, the end-user can expect better devices.

Google And Samsung Concerned About Microsoft/Nokia Business In China

Google And Samsung Concerned About Microsoft

When Microsoft acquired Nokia’s hardware business, little did they know the panic waves that it would send across the telephony world!

It’s not so much the consternation around the hardware business being sold (since Nokia’s never really gotten both feet onto the smartphone wagon), but it’s what’s left out that has people worried.

Per the deal, Microsoft is leaving most of the wireless patents under Nokia’s control.

And ailing tigers aren’t reliable. They’re hungry and mostly desperate. Leaving them the keys to the larder may not make too much sense. And that’s got other manufacturers worried.

I’d perhaps make more sense through an example. Everybody knows that Microsoft loses a ton of royalty/revenues because of the pirated copies of it’s software being freely circulated. Yet, they don’t do much about enforcing recriminations. The buyers of the pirated software though, live in fear of that enforcement, because they could lose a lot should Microsoft decide to invoke it’s rightful privileges.

Patents are granted for the companies to protect their innovations, for exactly this reason.

Nokia has one the largest and singularly most vast repository of patents related to wireless technologies. Do you know that Nokia has spent more than USD 60 billion on R&D and have nearly single-handedly built wireless technology from scratch.

Now, back to the story. Google and Samsung (who having the largest shares in the Chinese markets), have expressed deep concern to the Chinese regulators. They, and other local manufacturers have joined hands to request the Ministry of Commerce to conduct an anti-monopoly review, which essentially means that the regulators could set conditions on the Microsoft-Nokia deal to make sure that all licensing fees on the existing patents for wireless technologies are not increased.

Thus it seems a little hypocritical – the fact that this concern is lead by companies that are undisputed leaders in their own right, and own several patents of their own, and also operate near monopoly margins themselves.
Google leads in operating systems penetration (Android is owned by Google) with more than 75% market share and Samsung leads as a manufacturer in China.

Increase in license fees can however be a bit of a hiccup for manufacturers – large and small – as it will automatically hit either their bottom lines or market prices.

Smaller manufacturers who haven’t really heeded the import of patent infringement in high regard while designing and manufacturing their products, may be gravely affected if the legal team at Nokia started to cite the infringements against their patents in China.

Concerns of Microsoft getting a boost in the smartphones market was already voiced in December 2013 – Microsoft faced union trouble in the European markets, but it did manage to pull through the Nokia deal as the Commission in Europe felt that the transaction would not raise any competition concerns.

Following regulators in Europe, US and India have already cleared the deal. Russia, Turkey and Israel have followed suit and cleared the merger.

We will have to wait and watch to see if the Ministry of Commerce in China approves the deal and whether they stipulate that the company ensures no hike in patent fees, or not.

Transfer files over Bluetooth on your Windows 7 Phone

Transfer files over Bluetooth on your Windows 7 Phone

The most basic feature, file sharing over Bluetooth was not available for Windows Phone 7.5, which really disappointed many users. Then came Windows Phone 7.8 and the most useful feature that rolled in with the update was Internet Sharing and Bluetooth File transfer. Bluetooth file sharing was done by an app called Bluetooth Share which was later launched for Windows Phone 7.5 as well.

The app description in the Marketplace reads- With Bluetooth Share you can send and receive image and audio files between your devices. Switch Bluetooth on anytime you want to send or receive files, pair your devices, and start using Bluetooth Share.

Bluetooth share works completely like a normal integrated Bluetooth system in both Windows phone 7.5 and Windows Phone 7.8.

New Lumia Black Update Starts Rolling Out!

Lumia black is here

If you are using a Nokia Lumia (Windows Phone 8), expect the Nokia Lumia Black update coming your way shortly.

Following the Windows Amber update, the Nokia Lumia Black update combines the launch of a host of new features and apps, improvements in imaging and also app updates from Microsoft+Nokia to make your smartphone experience even better!

Here are some of the great new features that you can look forward to with this update:

A brand new App Folders feature that makes your Lumia experience even more fluid by giving you an option to further personalize and organize your Start screen.
With App Folders you can group apps and settings into one folder (tile) on your Start screen. This is something that has been available to Apple iOS and Android users for a while; and it’s about time it came to Windows Phone!

Improvements to the Nokia Glance screen now help you track information in real time so all your important notifications are just a glance away! These could be notifications pertaining to text messages, email, Outlook, calendar and even social apps such as Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp.

The popular Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) will now be enabled across the full Windows Phone 8 Lumia range for compatible gadgets like the Adidas MiCoach accessories. This should result in a noticeably better battery life for all of you using any Bluetooth accessories on a regular basis.

In addition to the new features mentioned above some of the apps have got an upgrade as well and have improved functionality post the update.

Nokia Beamer: This app is no longer restricted to just photos! You can now beam documents, presentations… practically anything you like to a web browser on any computer or device by simply scanning a QR code on the Lumia Beamer website (https://lumiabeamer.com).
It’s coming to all of the phones with 1 GB or more of RAM .

New Lumia Black Update Starts Rolling Out

 

Nokia Storyteller: This app debuted on the Nokia Lumia 1520 and Lumia 2520 late last year. It now comes to other Lumia smartphones.
The app arranges your photos for you, by date and by place, making it easier to tell the stories behind your pictures, and give extra context through the close integration of interactive maps.

Lumia-Black-Update-5 (1)

 

Nokia Camera: The Nokia Camera app now combines Nokia Pro Camera and Smart Camera to simplify the photo-taking experience and to ensure you get the perfect shot every time. The app has been available for Lumia PureView smartphones since last year, but it’s now coming to the rest of the Windows Phone 8 Lumia range.

Lumia-Black-Update-3 (1)

 

Nokia Refocus: This amazing app introduced a whole new dimension to photography and comes to some more of the Windows Phone 8 Lumia range. All Lumias that have 1GB or more of RAM are getting this one (head to our devices section to see your phone’s specs).

The Lumia Black update also brings a series of much-awaited enhancements from Microsoft for Lumia users. These include a Safe Driving Mode that cuts out unnecessary distractions when you’re on the road, and the ability to assign different ringtones for different contacts. Things like closing apps within the multitasking view and being able to lock the screen rotation also just became a reality!

How do you update?

The Lumia Black update has already begun rolling out now for Lumia 1020 and Lumia 925 smartphones, with other models in the range following in the coming weeks. For more information go to http://www.nokia.com/global/support/software-update/wp8-software-update/.

Do you need to keep checking online? Well, no. Your Nokia Lumia smartphone automatically checks for updates every week, and will notify you when it finds one. In case you’ve disabled this, remember to go to Settings -> Phone update and check for yourself. If Lumia Black is ready for your phone, you’ll be able to download and install it straight from that screen.

Enjoy the new stuff!

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!

Smart Sensors That Enable Communication Without Using A Power Source

Smart Sensors - Battery Less Communication

A group of researchers from the University of Washington published a paper earlier this year on a project that aims to revolutionize communication, as we know it. The project led by Shyam Gollakota, a UW Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, aims to develop a means of communication through sensors that require absolutely no batteries (or tiresome wires) to run.

Is it possible to generate power without batteries, you ask?

Based on the project, the answer may just be yes. The team of researchers has developed a wireless communication system that allows sensors to transmit and receive data; pulling power from radio waves in their environment. The devices operate using these ambient signals, also called ambient backscatter, to utilize the already present broadcast transmissions for communication instead of generating their own radio waves. Thus, not only do these devices use stray radio waves for their power, but also act as a medium of communication of information, while being power independent that are amazingly, power efficient.

According to the paper, one major problem that the team faced is that the radio waves available as ambient backscatter are largely uncontrollable, and for the most part, already encoded. Their receiver thus had to not only decode these electromagnetic waves, and convert them into electric signals and do all this with minimum usage of power. It doesn’t sound simple, and its a lot tougher to achieve too.

Which is precisely what the researchers managed to do.

According to the team, these smart sensors could be built and placed permanently inside nearly any structure, then set to communicate with each other, something currently not possible due to the difficulty of changing the batteries of sensors kept in hard to reach places.
For example, such sensors placed in a bridge during it’s construction could monitor the health of the concrete and steel, and then send an alert if one of the sensors picks up a hairline crack.

But in world full of smartphones hungry for power, this technology might just see application a lot closer than your nearest bridge. An average smartphone now comes with a large number of sensors built in, ranging from accelerometers to GPS to proximity sensors, each draining your battery more than the last.

This is one of the greatest hurdles for mobile technology today – battery technology just is not able to keep up with the amazing speed at which the integrated circuit technology seems to be moving.

While the technology to produce much better phones is already available, the lack of a befitting power source makes most of this technology unviable at the current time. Thus, batteries/power sources are limiting such advanced mobile and other technologies from being commercially available at the moment.

Battery-less sensors may prove to be the solution. Put a sensor in your general household items, such as your keys, and you might never have trouble looking for them again. Everyday objects could be enabled with battery-free tags to communicate with each other. A couch could use ambient backscatter to let the user know where his keys were left.

Pushing the idea a step further, Nokia is trying to use this ambient backscatter to not just save your smartphone power, but act as the power source itself.  Nokia says it’s developing technology that could draw enough power from ambient radio waves to keep a cell-phone handset topped up.

Markku Rouvala, a researcher from the Nokia Research Centre, in Cambridge, U.K., says that his group is working towards a prototype that could harvest up to 50 milliwatts of power–enough to slowly recharge a phone that is switched off. He says current prototypes can harvest 3 to 5 milliwatts, but that they will probably hit their targets within the next two to three years.

Another application these sensors may find in smartphones, would be to enable the devices to send or receive messages even after the phone has ‘died’ due to a drained out battery.
Using a communication network set up around these new sensors, phones would be able to transmit information using the same principle these sensors do, thus eliminating the need for the phone to be charged to stay communicable.

It is difficult to predict where exactly this technology might go, or what form it might eventually be used in, but at Chip-Monks, we strongly believe that it will gain importance in the years to come.

One concern that has been voiced is that the usage of ambient radio waves by all these sensors may affect the quality of signal when it comes to its intended purpose. That is, if all the phones in an area are using TV Broadcast signals, will this affect my TV signal?
Time will tell though. These amazing scientists are already way ahead of the curve, I’m sure they’re accounting for this concern too.

All said an done, exciting times ahead. Watch this space!

Slow Progress On Windows Phone Affecting Nokia

Released almost a year ago, Microsoft’s Windows 8 Phone made promises to bring something new and innovative to mobile technology.

However nine months later, it seems to have distressed Nokia, one of its leading manufacturers.

Nokia insists futuristic promises aren’t enough. Nokia moved from Symbian platform to Windows; but the move may not be as smooth as they had envisioned. For Nokia, whichever way you cut the mobile platform pie, both Symbian and Windows platforms are lagging by considerable numbers when compared to iOS and Android platforms.

Windows 8 has been competing in the market with other high-end operating systems and lately, upgrades and bug fixes seem to have reached a standstill. This has been a major drawback, setting sales down, not a good sign for an erstwhile market leader trying to hold on to their market place.

Though the last few months have shown a little progress, Microsoft has raised expectations by declaring it’s “Blue Update” (featuring VPN support, better notification center and multitasking) which will reach our handsets by early 2014.

In the immediate future, updates would include small changes such as restoration of the FM radio feature, a data compression app to increase data available for browsing on your phone (will depend on your carrier), and provisions to set a Lens app as your default camera.

User complaints are on the rise and 2014 seems too far away (when we see what the Android and iOS have in store for 2014, the Windows launch may not have all that bang).

Nokia will take things into its own hands. Relying on the “Blue Update” due next year is not an option, as it may jeopardize sales. In an interview with International Business Times, Nokia VP of App development, Bryan Biniak, said that the Finnish smartphone maker is “trying to evolve the cultural thinking [at Microsoft] to say ‘time is of the essence.”

To minimize the losses, Nokia intends to release a software update introducing the energy efficient Bluetooth 4.0. This feature would do well with the line of accessories Nokia plans to release. Rumor has it that this update will reach Lumia 520, Lumia 620, Lumia 720, Lumia 820 and Lumia 920.

nokia-lumia-520-mobile-phone-large-1

To attract more users, updates from Microsoft need to be up and running in due time, or else Nokia may suffer on the Windows Phone front.

Get The Perfect Group Photo With The Nokia Smart Camera!

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Nokia has an app called the Nokia Smart Camera which is undoubtedly one of the best camera apps out there.

What makes it different? Well, to begin with, the Smart Camera app includes several imaging features such as Best Shot, Change Faces, Action Shot, Motion Focus and Remove Moving Objects. But its the fundamental functionality behind the app that is its trump card. The Smart Camera shoots a sequence of continuous images out of which you can choose your best shot or apply any other feature.

Here’s an example that’ll resonate with most of you, I’m sure.
You’d agree, when you’re taking a group photo, the probability of everyone looking at the camera and smiling at the perfect time is very, very low. But with the Nokia Smart Camera, when you press the camera shutter key your smartphone captures a series of 10 photos within two and half seconds and then presents you with all the photos for you to scroll through to the Change Faces option. You’ll have 10 different photos of a person’s face, of which you can select the perfect one.

Once you’ve selected the appropriate face it gets put back in to the original photo with absolutely no ‘blending’ issues and no one with ever know the difference!

How cool is that!! Go on, get started with the app and discover a new way of improving your photos, and your memories, of course!

[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.

PDA-Stylus1 (1)
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.

Galaxy-Note1 (1)

 

 Samsung Galaxy Note with its dedicated Stylus [S-Pen]
Samsung-Galaxy-Note3-black-front (1)
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with the updated S-Pen

Other giants have also been paying attention to Samsung’s exploits with the stylus and have begun their journeys to revive the stylus with their own styles. HTC came out with its tablet devices, the Flyer and View with a dedicated Stylus each, which it called the ‘Scribe Pen’.

The stylus enabled users to do things like photo editing and drawing with pinpoint accuracy with such ease and simplicity that the Stylus (the modern stylus, of course) was back in the game.

HTC-Flyer-Tablet1 (1)

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.