Earlier this year we’d written about how Apple seems to keep veering back to “arch-nemesis” Samsung every time it found itself in trouble on the Supply Chain front.
It’s a funny relationship – highly publicised animosity, lawsuits that leapfrog one to the other, and products that are clear competitors to each other’s wares, yet ape each other unabashedly – and yet, Apple and Samsung seem to find the same bed in times of dire need.
First, Apple purportedly turned to Samsung for the OLED screens that are expected to glam up the upcoming iPhone 8, and now it seems Samsung’s going to be providing another key component of the same iPhone 8 – the solid state memory chips!
Well, the three new iPhones – the iPhone 7S, iPhone 7S Plus and iPhone 8 (which is what the blogosphere is calling them) – expected this fall, are rumoured to come with 3D NAND chips for storage.
Apple has been using that tech since last year’s iPhone and it is one of the many reasons that the iPhones 7 are so fleet-footed. Word now is that Apple’s suppliers have failed to meet the demand needed for this year’s production numbers. The technology is still fairly new, and the reasons for the delay are not entirely articulated by Apple or anyone else in the know.
Word also is that Apple is being forced to turn to Samsung, its fiercest market rival, for satisfying Apple’s 3D NAND chip thirst.
So you know and understand the implications, I must chalk up a quick Electronics 101 lesson.
NAND memory is a type of non-volatile storage technology that does not require power to retain data and is used in almost all forms of solid-state storage. NAND memory is the secret sauce that resides in devices onto which large files are frequently uploaded and replaced – like your MP3 players, USB drives and smart devices.
As with every other piece of technology, NAND technology too, is being improved year after year, to accommodate more storage capacity, faster transmissions and to reduce the voltage demands of the memory – which leads us to… 3D NAND technology.
3D NAND uses a method for packing a much higher density of transistors in a similar volume of space as the NAND, by stacking memory cells vertically in multiple layers. Obviously, the charm is that this tech allows more memory in the same footprint; with devices becoming more and more svelte, manufacturers (especially those form factor-focused ones like Apple) it’s obvious that such growth in technology be harnessed as quickly as it can be mass-produced.
If all this tech talk sounds like mumbo-jumbo to you, all you need to take away is that 3D NAND tech costs less per GB of storage, reduces power consumption, boosts reliability and provides higher data write performance, and all which are the functionalities you’d want in your next big flagship, especially if you’re Apple and even more so, if you’re trying to do something special on an upcoming Anniversary Edition.
Back to the story at hand, word is that Apple’s primary suppliers of 3D NAND chips, SK Hynix and Toshiba, have fallen short by about 30%, due to poor yield. With the expected launch of September getting closer and closer, a bottleneck on the supply front is certainly not desirable for the iPhone maker.
Turning to Samsung was the obvious choice.
No details about how many chips Samsung would be providing Apple with have been released yet. As per reports, Apple currently buys up around 18% of the world’s supply of NAND chips. And if the iPhone 8 turns out to be a success, this percentage could increase.
Good thing Apple has the money to secure supply, even when production is not going as smooth as everyone would like for it to!
However, Apple’s not the only on in a jam. The problem of acquiring 3D NAND chips will be an affliction even for other players in the market – such as LG and Huawei whose products are standing in line for their quota of synapses. The word is that vendors are struggling with a lack of 3D NAND flash chips globally, and the shortage is not expected to improve until 2018.
While all this sounds gloomy and forbidding, it’s actually a manna from heaven for Samsung.
Beleaguered by the hole in revenues caused by the Note7 implosion last year, billions of dollars lost in PR and brand image, poor customer confidence that spilled over to other products in it’s arsenal and most embarrassingly, corporate troubles, Samsung had been drowning under an unprecedented wave of dip in it’s fortunes. This was the shot in the arm that Samsung needed.
And they seem to have grasped this opportunity with both hands.
The humungous success of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, along with this surge in the 3D NAND chip demands for which Samsung is seemingly becoming the knight on a white steed, has helped Samsung refill it’s coffers and win back some bragging rights in the industry.
So if you’ve read about Samsung’s own estimation of a record quarterly operating profit for April-June, you know where a lion’s share of it came from. What’s even better is that analysts say that this revenue stream will continue to pad Samsung’s margins for the rest of the year.
At Chip-Monks, we applaud Samsung’s tenacity and especially love that Apple’s still got it’s humility about it, even if it’s all in the interest of profitability! Who cares? Partnerships that heal are inspirational.
Sony’s patented smart contact lens technology seems straight out of sci-fi movie!
A diminutive little device, but unbelievably capable, Sony seems to have cracked many difficult stumblers (that larger brands hadn’t been able to, so far), to come up with something that is as scary as it is exciting.
A contact lens that can be worn as a regular lens is, but it comes with the ability to click photos and record videos, instantly play them back, store them internally and even transmit them to a nearby device. All in transparent, practically invisible form.
Seven inventors at the tech pioneer’s Japan office, are the brains behind the new patent, through which, Sony is going to be able to muscle it’s way into a game that so far featured players as big as Samsung and Google, and other independent intelligent minds working in different nooks and corners of the world.
The contact lens from Sony will come with the functionality of clicking photos and videos with auto focus and zoom capability, along with the ability to store them internally and play them back.
To achieve this the lens will use a combination of sensors – a piezoelectric sensor, infrared sensor and an acceleration sensor. Working in conjunction, these small electronic sensors will measure changes in pressure, temperature, acceleration and force, which the device will measure and translate into control instructions.
There’s more: the contact lens could also be equipped with gyroscope technology to correct tilted images, get rid of blur images, and control aperture.
Got your attention yet?
As exciting as it sounds, we must pause and consider the challenges and the triumph of engineering this little busybody.
The lens will be an intricate assembly of many delicate components like the main control unit, a wireless communication processing control unit, image pick-up lens and unit, antenna, sensors and a storage unit.
Once again, all that in a nearly transparent, near-invisible form! Amazing!!
The piezoelectric sensors will convert the mechanical energy from movement-nuances like pressure and force of a movement, into electrical energy which will be used to trigger and operate the lens’ functionality.
The most important part though, is controlling the lens, with no outwardly visible physical control. Here’s another mind bending achievement – the patent states that the smart sensors embedded in the lens are able to differentiate between an involuntary blink and a deliberate blink.
“It is known that a time period of usual blinking is usually 0.2 seconds to 0.4 seconds, and therefore it can be said that, in the case where the time period of blinking exceeds 0.5 seconds, the blinking is conscious blinking that is different from usual blinking (unconscious blinking)”.
Now, let me explain how will the lens work in real life.
The wearer’s eye movements will be used to guide and operate the lens as described in the patent. The patent elaborates, “the time period of the eyelid closure is sensed in accordance with output from a piezoelectric sensor provided in the lens unit“. The display control unit thus, will control the display direction of the captured image according to the tilt of the lens unit sensed by the tilt sensor.
An image pickup unit is configured to capture an image of a subject which is then stored temporarily in the storage medium; the integrated transmission unit will then transmit the captured image to an external device.
Power you ask? Well, the lens will not derive power from batteries. The power source could be a hybrid of power being generated using movement and electromagnetic conduction (where power can be drawn via radio waves or electromagnetic field resonance).
Apart from Samsung (who have patented a smart lens that can project images directly into the user’s eye), Google’s been in the smart contact lens Frey too – it’s been actively working on it’s research around contact lenses that are capable of detecting the wearer’s blood sugar levels, designed to help diabetes patients.
Taking the research further, Google filed a patent application, published earlier this month, devising contact lenses that could be injected directly into the eyes of the users!
Thus it’s safe to summarise that research around contact- and wearable-lenses is clearly gaining momentum. Time will soon tell, what technology or functionality takes traction and comes out of the labs to the consumers. This innovation will also help augmented reality to take a quantum leap forward – and that may explain the ever-growing interest in this category of products.
Will leave you with one for the road – Patent Literature 2 from Sony proposes a thin image display device in which a display unit and a lens array unit are integrally provided on a curved surface, the thin image display device being shaped to be fully wearable on an eye such as a contact lens. So Sony’s very serious about this one!
I know all this sounds very complicated and perhaps a little scary (to have a powered gizmo sitting on your cornea) – but think about it, it’s the same reservation that must’ve been felt (and later conquered) by regular contact lenses too. So, there is hope, and given the popularity of contact lenses and ever improving nano technology, this could well be a reality soon.
Cyber criminals are paying a lotta heed to your Androids, which translates to some bad news.
Malware affects 9 out of 10 Android devices worldwide.
Thus, we urge you to look into your phone and give it a through check, including reviewing which all apps you’ve installed on your phone, and where you sourced them from (which is a critical element of security).
It’s not even been five full months in this year, and yet, notorious minds have managed to circulate a flashy number of 7,50,000 apps – all aimed to disturb your handsets. This number is set to escalate by the end of the year to a drastic 3 million+ apps!
By which time you would encounter around 8,400 freshly-served malware every day!
The problem that basically underlines this cancer, is the lack of updates.
Android 7 which has been available in the market since August 2016, has reached a mere 4.9% of all Android smartphones.
That’s an important factoid. We looked at the numbers and researched around online, to find the percentage of infected apps, by Android version. Ready?
• Gingerbread (versions 2.3 – 2.3.7): 0.9%
• Ice Cream Sandwich (versions 4.0.3 – 4.0.4): 0.9%
• Jelly Bean (versions 4.1.x – 4.3): 10.1%
• KitKat (version 4.4): 20.0%
• Lollipop (versions 5.0 – 5.1): 32.0%
• Marshmallow (version 6.0): 31.2%
• Nougat (versions 7.0 – 7.1): 4.9%
As you can make out versions 4 thru 6 are the bedrock of vulnerability.
Android gives complete independence to its developers and users to customise the platform according to their requirements. In the same vein, device manufacturers and carriers also have tremendous freedom to develop the ecosystem to suit their needs and preferences.
The big OEMs are also slow in releasing the updates, as they take time to add layers and layers of bloatware in the guise of customizing the OS.
Hence, either the updates provided are very late or they are not provided at all.
And therein, lies the rub.
Bogdan Botezatu, a senior e-threat analyst for security firm BitDefender had forewarned us of this problem in an interview with CNET way back in 2014. Commenting on the increase in the accessibility of malware, he’d said “no coding is required to bind Android apps with malicious programs“, and “people look at phones more like phones, rather than intelligent computers“, that is to say people need to understand that their smart-devices are prone to the same malware grievances if not more like their computers.
Google had in fact, taken a stand on the use of ancient Android versions in the current crop of smart devices. In the interest of culling the fragmentation of Android OS at the manufacturer-level, and to plug the gaps festooning older versions of Android, Google had declared that they would not approve access to Google Apps and the Play Store (which Google presides over more actively), to newly-released Android devices that carried OS versions that were older than the then-current version. Additionally any existing devices that carried an old Android version, nine months after the latest Android OS was released, would also not be welcomed on the Play Store or be able to get Google’s own apps.
Given the increasing usage of Androids in every of walk of life, Security has come to occupy the forefront. It is an issue that needs due attention to make everyday activity safe for Android users. But Google can’t combat this alone.
Has the situation become insurmountable, or is there hope?
Well there is plenty of hope to salvage the situation. It would need a little bit of alertness, intelligence and perseverance on your part, to maintain the safety of your device and restraint in its use. So what’ve you gotta do?
See, that wasn’t so difficult! Stay updated, and stay safe. Please exhibit the same caution as you do with your Debit Card and your personal safety!
Samsung Is Quietly Building An Immense Platform To Connect All It’s Wares
Samsung’s been around so long, and done so much in the field of consumer technology that we don’t really need to extoll the place it has made for itself.
The recent Samsung Galaxy S8 launch event however, provided a glimpse into the mega-brand’s long-term strategy, and we thought that you’d want to know about the behemoth’s gameplan.
Over the years Samsung has built an intriguingly wide network of tech consumer products. which includes smartphones, tablets, wearables, PCs, TVs and other such electronics that we end up using through our everyday lives.
Thing is, this array of products places Samsung in a unique position to build the most comprehensive web of connected hardware, of all existing brands and their inventories.
Up until now though, Samsung has not leveraged the power of this unique capability, and have largely focused on building new, independent product lines, and driving them into our homes.
That seems to be changing.
An example of this would be the new Samsung Pass, which moves beyond the simple (though critical) capability of digital payments offered in Samsung Pay, to a complete multi-factor biometric-capable identity and verification solution.
In addition, it also appears to be compatible with the FIDO Alliance standard for the passing of identity credentials between devices and across web services, which can be expected to be a critical capability in the future.
Another example would be that of the Bixby assistant on the Galaxy S8.
It does provide the assistant capabilities quite like the others on the market, but it also has potential ties in with other Samsung hardware.
Basically what we can see in the future is that you would be able to tell your Samsung powered Bixby to control your other Samsung powered devices without the need to go via a hub or ‘Google Home’ kind of middle-gadget.
This approach goes against what has been the traditional thinking within the tech industry so far – to build your own viable network, you must base it on an operating system of your own. Companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Google have successfully turned their OS offerings into platforms and then leveraging them to provide additional revenue-generating services, as well as control who could access the users of their platforms, and how.
There have been companies, like Blackberry, HP and LG (with WebOS), and even Samsung that have failed to replicate this OS-to-platform strategy.
Over the recent years, however, there also have been platforms that have been built without the base of an OS. This includes Amazon, which has built a network on the base of the capabilities of it’s own assistant called Alexa, and Facebook, which has been build on the base of its outreach.
Samsung’s attempts going forward might give these two some significant competition.
As I mentioned earlier, this is not the first time that Samsung is trying something of the kind. They did try to connect their gadgets and build a platform with their OS, Tizen, but that approach was quite similar to what others have been successfully doing.
In an already existing market of OS based platforms, Tizen didn’t quite take off as Samsung would have wanted for it to.
The renewed efforts, with this approach, could be expected to be more fruitful.
One could argue that Apple and Google are doing something similar. They too have a wide array of products, and most their devices are connected to each other, functioning quite like a platform. What would make Samsung different from Apple’s and Google’s platforms would be that unlike iOS and Android being the glue that connects all the products, Samsung’s world would not rely on the OS as being the base of it’s integrated platform.
However, building a platform of this kind cannot be done solely by one company, regardless of how big it is. Even though Samsung’s existing market share gives them a better-than-fighting-chance, they will need to be ready to work proactively with partners, and competitors, to make their connected device platform viable.
Given how Samsung has been working of late, they might already have reconciled to this reality, and seem ready to extend their network to cars. The recent purchase of Harman, a major automotive component supplier, could be the appropriate push into that space.
All said, it’s good to see Samsung make inroads into something that’s been a long-term dream of many a tech enthusiast.
We just hope they realise that TouchWiz either needs to be lent out to pasture, or else, needs a major run-in with some savvy developers, so that it’s fleet-footed and capable enough to be more than just a source of mirth.
Qualcomm is super, super, super-huge in it’s domain and even bigger in it’s influence over the smartphone industry. However the one thing it is not, is well-reputed.
The brand seems to be egotistic, almost neurotic when it comes to the control it wants to exert over the industry. I think this perhaps stems from being poor self worth.
Given it’s tech prowess, proprietary advancements and innumerable patents in the world of processors, Qualcomm has become the supplier choice for almost every premium brand out there. But… it’s proclivity to demand and enforce self-serving clauses in the agreements has been noticed by Trade Commission and Courts earlier. Now, it’s in a soup again, for the same self-serving and monopolistic restrictions placed within it’s agreements with Samsung.
Qualcomm has been accused by the Korean Fair Trade Commission of illegally blocking Samsung from selling its Exynos SoCs to third party phone manufacturers. However, no direct action is expected from Samsung against its ‘partner’.
Qualcomm and Samsung have had a symbiotic relationship for a couple of years now. This relationship while beneficial to both, has not really been a friendly one for either of the companies. Yet, given the fact that both these legal entities have leverage over each other, the ‘partnership’ shall remain existent until something of major consequence happens.
To understand why such an accusation has been made by the KFTC, acquainting oneself with a brief history about the relationship between both the companies becomes imperative.
Here is the whole timeline of events leading up to the current relationship –
Qualcomm is currently appealing the fine, and it seems unlikely that Samsung will take any direct action against it for the Exynos sales to third party OEMs.
This might however change, if the regulators bring down the 1993 deal, leaving Samsung with the opportunity to sell Exynos processors to other smartphones without the risk of compensating Qualcomm with a high licensing fee.
Samsung might even turn into a strong competitor, on par with MediaTek, given the fact that it could add other components like memory chips and displays to the SoCs, which Qualcomm would not be able to match.
Why wouldn’t Samsung want to take direct action against Qualcomm?
As mentioned before, Qualcomm had agreed to let Samsung use both the Snapdragon (a Qualcomm product) and Exynos (a Samsung product) SoCs in its devices. In case Samsung decides to stop using Snapdragon processors while using only the Exynos processors, Samsung would be costing its foundry its Snapdragon orders. Both, stock and flow of Snapdragon orders, would instigate unnecessary revenue cuts.
Given the fact that Samsung’s growth in mobile devices has been stagnant, this would be a business blunder.
The relationship remains symbiotic between these two companies, but any aggressive move is unlikely to be made by Samsung unless the 1993 patent deal is struck down. On the contrary Qualcomm’s reputation has been declining significantly given the fact that Apple, a longtime customer is suing it too, for lop-sided licensing agreements, along with many other smaller manufacturers.
There’s no other way to say this – Qualcomm needs to get real. The world today doesn’t suffer autocracy too well – and while Qualcomm may be whistling it’s way to the bank for now, however given that Apple, Samsung, MediaTek and Intel are all investing hugely in devising newer (and often better) chips of their own, Qualcomm may just have to use these agreements as packaging paper in a few years. With the Internet of Things well on it’s way, and Automobile Automation being the big ticket for the next decade, this mayn’t be the best time for Qualcomm to play the my-way-or-the-highway card.
It might just find itself on a rather desolate, lonely and barren stretch of road, with no place to go.
Phone Brands Shifting Focus To Brick And Mortar Stores In India – Here’s Why
The differences in the prices of smartphones between online and offline stores are expected to diminish soon, with the implementation of the Goods and Service Tax (GST) – which is due to roll out on July 1.
In preparation of this transition, smartphone companies such as Asus, InFocus, Xiaomi, Motorola, ZTE and Huawei have had to come up with a new and more efficient strategy to retain the demand for their smartphones, in the offline market.
Currently, when you buy a device online, you find it at least a couple thousand bucks cheaper than you would in a neighborhood store. For brands like Xiaomi, and Motorola, that have majorly stuck to online stores so far, this plays into their court; they already have comparatively lower prices, and they can sell their devices at a lower tax rate online.
Presently, online sellers based in areas like Bengaluru and Hyderabad sell smartphones at a lower VAT (Value Added Tax) i.e. 5%, than those who are based in locations where the VAT% on smartphone devices are much higher (usually in the 10-15% range).
The national average is about 12%.
It is this imbalance in the VAT levied, that will soon become uniform across the nation via the GST since it is a national tax, and not a state-drive one.
So, even though these brands have off and on, been working on their offline sales strategies, to sell to the larger group of Indians that are not online, their focus has been the urban educated buyer who is already online. A change in this focus seems around the corner now, but the reason might not necessarily be a want for further expansion into the market; the reason this time is the need to get a better grip on the offline market before the playing field is leveled.
These brands have chalked out some novel plans of action to enhance the sale of their devices in India’s challenging market. Direct distribution, a partnership with large-format retail, building separate models for the offline market, putting together their own stores, expanding marketing expenditure – are some of the ways in which the smartphone makers are planning their extension.
“There is a scramble amongst online smartphone brands to expand into offline retail. While a couple of brands like Xiaomi and Huawei are intensifying efforts, most others are making fresh attempts. With GST, the value added tax (VAT) advantage, which the online sellers enjoy, will disappear completely, making online and offline a much more level playing field”, announced cellphone retail chain Hotspot’s director, Subhasish Mohanty.
With the new approach that the brands are gearing up to adopt, they would directly sell the smartphone to the retail stores – not just any retail stores though – only stores that they have collaborated with.
Xiaomi, for the same, has recently collaborated with four of the major South Indian retail stores, namely, Sangeetha, Poorvika, BigC and LOT. The Chinese budget brand also plans to set up self-owned Mi Home stores in India, just like the ones they have in China.
Asus is another Chinese brand that has mostly had an online presence in the country so far, and is now planning on expanding into the offline market.
InFocus, a Foxconn-owned brand, which plans to invest big money in offline trade and marketing replicating the strategy of Chinese rivals, Oppo and Vivo, too, is re-launching its offline business and building a portfolio of models.
ZTE is also going into offline expansion, including expansion into smaller towns, and so is Huawei.
These changes are going to be interesting not just for the smartphones they bring, but also for the Indian e-commerce market, given that the business of smartphones is quite a chunk of it. It is because of that, that companies such as Amazon and Flipkart are drawing up plans to foray into the offline distribution of smartphones for brands like Coolpad, OnePlus and Lenovo.
This, altogether, could be an interesting change in the smartphone world. Bigger brands such as Samsung, LG, HTC etc., already sell through their offline stores heavily in India. Even Apple has third party reseller stores in the country and is soon opening up its own stores.
Thus, these “economical” brands might find it difficult to sink their teeth in to a market that is already quite populated, and to an extent, these brands may be outclassed by the larger ones.
On the other hand, they might also be welcomed open armed, given how well they’ve done through their online channels so far.
Bixby Voice Will Run To Catch Up With Samsung Galaxy S8 Later In The Year
Just a couple of days away from the much-awaited launch of Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, the new Samsung flagships, there’s some news that may drive you to grab a coffee and drink it in solitude.
You, like the rest of the world will have to wait a little longer to talk to Bixby, Samsung’s voice-enabled Artificial Intelligence-empowered assistant, that was going to be one of the highlights of the flagship devices.
While some features of the AI assistant Bixby, such as Vision, Home and Reminders, will be available on the devices starting April 21st, the company recently released a statement informing the world that the AI assistant will be released only later this spring.
“With its intelligent interface and contextual awareness, Bixby will make your phone more helpful by assisting in completing tasks, telling you what you’re looking at, learning your routine and remembering what you need to do. Key features of Bixby, including Vision, Home and Reminder, will be available with the global launch of the Samsung Galaxy S8 on April 21. Bixby Voice will be available in the U.S. on the Galaxy S8 later this spring“, the company said.
They did not give any reasons on why the full roll out of the Ai assistant is being delayed, but word has it that the software was still lacking in it’s English-abilities in the days leading up to the launch.
They had previously mentioned that Bixby might not come with the phones in certain countries, the U.K. being one of them, but now the South Korean megabrand is holding out on releasing the AI enabled assistant into other markets, including the U.S., as well.
The delay has only served to strengthen the speculation that Samsung’s voice recognition system in English is not nearly good enough and substantially lags behind Bixby’s performance in Korean.
In the light of their Note 7 fiasco, it is understandable that Samsung would be circumspect about half-baked products, and would want to put their absolute best foot forward. Customers are willing to love Samsung again, and their love would be immense, but the products have to be just right.
Bixby has been quite a big deal for Samsung, especially given the stiff competition that already exists for them in the market in this regard. Apple has their Siri, Google has its own voice-enabled Assistant riding on Android devices (the baseline OS that Samsung smartphones actually run on), Microsoft’s Cortana had its couple days of glory a little while ago, and there is Amazon’s Alexa that is making rounds now.
A lot of development has happened in the virtual assistant field, and there is a lot that Samsung will have to top to actually make its efforts noticed.
To be honest, they only gained enough confidence to enter the AI voice-enabled assistant battle after they acquired Viv Labs last October. Even then, Samsung is still quite behind in the game when it comes to AI voice-enabled assistants.
But if there are two characteristics that Samsung has demonstrated repeatedly, they’d be grit and determination. There’s not a bridge that Samsung has not overcome in it’s uncharacteristically tough journey in the forever-effervescent smartphones journey. And they’ve learnt the invaluable lesson of “product quality first, revenues later”.
So, while Bixby isn’t saying hello quite yet, we should take heart from the fact that brands that falter on product launches, and then have the gumption to pull them back post-launch (remember the Apple Maps bombshell?), do have the credo and the ability to resurrect and better themselves.
Bixby, we’re here for you. Whenever you’re ready!
A year back when the Galaxy Note7 was released, it was touted as a revolution in the smartphone market. However, with issues pertaining to batteries that would heat up very quickly coupled with some phones burning or even exploding, it turned out to be a tough year for the Korean electronics giant.
With the scheduled release of the new Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ backed by the assurances of a healthy battery along with each unit of the products put for sale in the market, Samsung has managed to regain its ground, at least when it came to creating a hype in the market.
But perhaps what is really getting the market riled up is an alleged leaked image of the new Samsung Galaxy Note 8 which is poised to release around September this year. The image gives us an idea of how it might look – and going by the alleged “leaks” the Note 8 does not seem to have too many visible differences from the Galaxy S8 or S8+.
The sole reason for coining it as a possible Note 8 is the fact that an S Pen can be seen lying beside the phone in the leaked image.
What the leaked image has managed to do is, set the fuse for speculation and guesswork (oops! pun not intended!!). Given the fact that the Note 8 has to both be physically and virtually different from the S8 duo, here are a few features that might define the Note 8’s exclusivity:
Overall, the Galaxy Note 8 would need to be solid package if it has to tear people away from the Galaxy S8+ and the iPhone 8, not to mention the Xiaomi Mi 6 and the such like.
On paper, basis the leaks and our conjecture above, the Note 8 does look like, a reliable, sporty and sleek phone that would certainly be worth buying. The only issue that can be foreseen is that the iPhone 8 might overshadow the Note 8 given the proximity of its release dates.
The features of the iPhone 8 ‘seem’ far ‘better’, however, do keep in mind, that neither of the phones have any official creds from their respective manufacturers yet. Also, that the Note 8 has generally been slightly cheaper than the iPhone, it might eke a little bit of headroom there.
We’re all going to have to wait on this one, to see how much Samsung is able to bring to the party, before we can really establish if the Note 8 has enough going for it to swing the deal.
AirPlay happened on Apple devices, then Chromecast arrived, then Apple launched Continuity and Handoff, which made Microsoft launch Continuum on their recent devices. Evolution clearly needed the next avataar.
Say hello to DeX, that comes as a sidekick to the new new Samsung Galaxy S8 and Samsung Galaxy S8+.
If you’re interested in accessing your phone on your desktop, or to use it as a demi-computer, the new Samsung DeX dock enables you to connect your prized new phablet to an external monitor, keyboard and a mouse and use it for a variety of purposes – full-screen entertainment, gaming and even computing.
The DeX dock is supported by a tweaked OS that drives the phablet. While the UI is very basic, but it allows the consumer to use a majority of apps in full screen mode. It has a lock screen, a desktop, and a Chrome OS-based taskbar that displays tabs for open apps. Clearly, this tweaked OS was built specifically for the Galaxy S8 and S8+ as a lot of the onboard apps have scalable interfaces that work on the phone as normal, but grow into full-screen, featuring desktop-like layouts and are resolution-optimised versions for use on larger screens. The tweaks to the OS also enable individual applications windows to be resized and minimized, much like you do on laptops and desktop computers.
The Samsung DeX comes equipped with an HDMI port, two USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity and a wired Ethernet jack as well, which is surprising given the fact that cell-phones are innately wire-less.
It is also rumored to be having a cooling fan which presumably will keep the phone cool, and enable a more efficient, desktop-like experience.
Gratifyingly, the list of apps that work with DeX is not restricted to Samsung’s own apps. Cannily, Samsung has partnered with Microsoft and Adobe to bring Microsoft Office and Adobe mobile apps to the DeX interface. The DeX is also compatible with virtual desktop apps like VMWare, Amazon, Workspace and Citrix.
Phone functionality will remain untouched with the Galaxy S8/S8+ doing its own work in the background with no intervention from the DeX interface. Hands-free phone calls and text messages can be facilitated through the desktop too.
What is the market for the Samsung DeX?
Targeted specifically towards business-oriented work, the Samsung DeX provides employees and businessmen with a secure access to their digital workspace, coupled with all their requisite business apps and data, right at their disposal.
This device actually addresses a common yet critical problem faced by consumers around the world. Much like WhatsApp Web catered to individuals who wanted to chat informally or formally while accessing their desktop, the Samsung DeX brings us one step closer to importing our favoured communications device into a work-compatible desktop platform.
And, the professional in you would agree – there’s potential in this market, because there is an immense need for such hybrid and integrated solutions.
However benefits come with a price. The Samsung DeX would have to be purchased separately for a pricey USD 150. When we add up the fact that the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ is already an expensive buy, the DeX may often be foregone at the altar of Budgets.
In the end, it becomes a benefit versus cost decision.
As a precedence, the Samsung DeX might not end up to amounting for a lot of sales in this year – a consortium of companies like Linux and Microsoft Phone have already developed similar interfaces which enable mobile phone applications to work on their desktops – but the results haven’t been favorable for their offerings, either.
Anticipating that, Samsung clearly devised this product for premium and enterprise customers (who can surely afford the accessory), and given what the DeX can do, it does amount to a good buy if you belong to the said group. But, in order to sustain good margins and sales, it would have to stimulate the DeX for budget phones as well, which may also help budget-Samsungs pull ahead of the competition in that price range too.
We consumers have become rather difficult to impress when it comes to smartphones now. Apple came through by removing the headphone jack from their iPhone 7. And Samsung too is making a lot of efforts to do something new, particularly after the Note 7 debacle. Rumors abound that Samsung might be launching a foldable smartphone soon. How soon, we don’t know, but what we do know now is that they’re about to begin testing a prototype for a phone that they’ve named Galaxy X for the time being.
Chip-Monks had begun talking about this super-secret project at Samsung way back in November 2015, when we’d heard they were testing two smartphones bearing different processors. Time passed and the phones didn’t make an appearance.
Then in December 2016, we wrote about the device again, since the wind had it that Samsung would be unveiling their miracle at the CES or MWC shows in 2017.
The world then heard about this when some other websites reported that Samsung had applied for the patents for their technology. We wrote about that in February 2017, and you can read that article here.
Well, it’s time for another update.
Keeping with our first report on the matter, there’s validation that the prototype will be a foldable smartphone, with a horizontal joint in the middle of the phone. This joint will make it possible for the phone to be folded up to 180 degrees after usage. The hinge will hold together two OLED displays of 5 inches.
It’s worth noting though, that this isn’t a completely original design. We know that devices actually in the market, like the Kyocera Echo and NEC’s Medias W N-05E, have had similar designs for their foldable smartphones.
But like Apple, Samsung seems to be veering towards “being the best, is better than being first”. This has been a long term project for Samsung, and they haven’t spared any expenses in growing the tech before they launch it to the world.
They have another advantage too – they own Samsung Display – their very on display manufacturing division that can back them on all the experimentation, testing and redesign – for as long as Samsung needs. Plus there are none of the perils of outsource their research and development to third parties.
The Investor, a South Korean publication, reported that Samsung has placed orders for the production of only a limited number of prototypes, 3,000 at the most. We can expect this to be completed by the first half of this year.
“Samsung seems to be testing the waters with the dual-screen device to gather ideas about its upcoming foldable phone”.
And this is the right move too. There are bound to be some potholes and cracks that develop during testing. After the Note7 dud, Samsung will be loathe to ensure this new tech is sweated properly and all defects and opportunities so revealed be corrected effectively.
This will also allow the company to test out the potential of foldable devices. If all works out, we might see Samsung’s “newest” invention in the market in the coming two years or so.
With LG’s rollable panels in the works and Samsung’s curved displays already in the market, the South Korean tech company doesn’t have a lot of time to achieve its ambitions. While we might be anticipating foldable phones with enthusiasm, their usefulness and lifespan is still a question. Samsung will still need to add some promising new features in these smartphones to gain attention in the market, other than the foldable “novelty”.
The company has seen quite a lot of ups and downs, and is still well above water, but with growing disenchantment with “gimmicky” features on devices, Samsung definitely needs to get this right, by ensuring that the new capability comes with some uses, and isn’t developed in version 2 or 3 (like they did by releasing Edge displays that hardly did anything on the 2014 Samsung Galaxy Note edge, and only began to justify their existence with the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge a full one and a half years later!)
Bendable devices have been long time coming – with brands like Samsung, LG, Microsoft and even a little known brand, Moxi, rumoured to be readying various forms of smartphones and wearables.
Each of these brands obviously estimate that the Next Big Thing is going to be a device that can be folded or bent, to offer more utility and durability.
Now, some recent news on the matter is fanning the flames of the rumours some more. The rumour mill has it that Samsung has now developed technology to create a graphene-based storage chip.
This is an important milestone – because for a device to bend, all of it’s internals must support such adventure. Hence, each of these “internals” must be developed with that new personality in mind. And that will call for some innovative approaches and materials.
Most of us tend to think of memory as an abstract thing in most cases, not realizing that for the software on the phone to run, there needs to be a hardware component to enable the memory on which the software would run.
The current devices use what is called the flash memory, which is not made up of flexible material, and thus would not be well accommodated in a bendable device. Graphene is a flexible material and can bend as the phone bends, which makes this development key to the development of the impending bendable smartphones.
One of the most promising materials that will assist flexibility is graphene. We’d written an absolutely brilliant article explaining what graphene is, and I highly recommend you read it to fully grasp the concept.
Graphene being a strong conductor of electricity and given its bendable and flexible attributes, it is most likely to feature in the coming revolution of smartphones.
A Graphene based bendable memory chip not only provides the necessary flexibility, it also frees up some critical space for the manufacturer.
Given that its length is a mere 50 nanometers and its thickness is 8 nanometers, the chip will provide Samsung with a little bit more space to work with, and to shoehorn more battery or additional hardware.
But that’s not all! This hybrid oxide-titanium oxide memory chip only requires 5 nanoseconds to boot, write and read data. As smartphones use electricity to synthesize its processes, the graphene-based memory is ideally suited for them.
Given that Samsung has already made a strong investment in Graphene and has even been granted a patent for it, the previously-agreed partnership between Samsung’s Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) and Sungkyunkwan University is likely to bear fruit soon.
We can thus safely assume that Samsung plans to utilise this technology somewhere, sometime soon. If reports are to be given any cognisance then it is most likely that Samsung would release its first smartphone with a bendable display is 2019. Speculations have already been hinting that the smartphone is to be called Galaxy X and will most likely feature a flexible OLED display.
If this move is successful, it is bound to bring bendable devices closer to reality which might serve to be a breath of fresh air in the current market.
Meanwhile, back to our very straight and stiff devices for now! We’re crossing our fingers and hoping for Samsung’s bendable smartphones to soon be a reality!
Not all efforts yield the desired product – and Samsung’s clearly aware of that maxim. It might be feeling a little raw learning of it firsthand, after the discovery of numerous vulnerabilities in it’s proprietary mobile-device operating system, Tizen.
Samsung started working on Tizen around 2013, with visible sincerity. The open source mobile operating system was being created as an alternative to Android, given that Samsung wanted to limit its dependence on Google and also increase profitability by reducing licence costs.
Apparently, this reliance will not end anytime soon, as Tizen has proved to be the embodiment of code-related vulnerabilities, at the behest of amateurish coding.
An Israeli researcher, Amihai Neiderman revealed that he’d discovered as many as 40 vulnerabilities in the code base, which could easily be leveraged to enter into, and control Tizen-powered devices.
He said, “I found 40 bugs, and most of them look exploitable”.
At the Security Analyst Summit, Neiderman threw light on the issue saying, “It feels like 2005 in terms of the vulnerabilities I found”.
He kind of smashed another nail into the coffin when he added, “Tizen is not mature enough to be sent to the public like this. I found a few vulnerabilities in the first few hours of research. A dedicated Tizen researcher could find way more”.
Some of the code of Tizen has been taken from Bada, an older, more basic mobile operating system. Yet, the problematic code seems to have be written over the last two years and bears mistakes that the researcher says one could have expected ages ago.
Some of the issues flung at Tizen are that the communication setup is far from secure, data was found to have been transferred frequently without protection, and even the potential of hackers being able to wrest total control over a Tizen-powered TV via TizenStore.
That’s not the worst of it.
One of the major errors in code could allow an intruder to install malicious code via the inbuilt update mechanism. And this could happen despite a built-in authentication programme (which is supposed to prevent such a thing from happening in the first place).
Neiderman has shown that the authentication system can be overridden.
In an interview with Motherboard, Neiderman said it appears that the code has been written by an undergraduate who has overlooked all the important security features.
The scary part is that Tizen-powered phones Samsung phone have been sold in India since 2015. Not only that, they’ve also reached Bangladesh and Nepal. Neiderman claims that Samsung has already added language support for Sri Lanka, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Indonesia and Ghana. So there’s clearly a long-tail roll-out plan that Samsung has in mind for this platform.
Worse, Tizen already runs on around 30 million TV’s!
What’s Samsung doing about this?
Well, initially, Neiderman only received an automated email response from Samsung when he wrote to them with his findings. After the report appeared in Motherboard however, Samsung claims it is “fully committed to cooperating with Mr. Neiderman to mitigate any potential vulnerabilities”.
Clearly, Tizen is not ready to be a competition to Android. Until the code is fixed, Tizen is a hacker’s delight.
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.
Wearables may’ve dearly wanted this crown, as would have tablets, but if humankind was to choose one product that they just couldn’t live without, it just has to be smartphones.
Smartphones have been the torch of progress for humankind for almost all of the last decade.
And where there’s a flame, there’s attention.
Drexel Hamilton, an American analyst firm has stated that Huawei would almost certainly beat Samsung to become Apple’s main competitor in the coming years:
“I do expect the Chinese to knock off Samsung and that’s probably going to be Huawei,” he said. “I see it as a Huawei-Apple fight in the future, Samsung and probably some smaller competitors underneath them“.
It’s not surprising in the least too. Huawei’s been nipping at Samsung’s heels for a while now – entering every market that Samsung’s at, spending as much money on promotions as Samsung does, and in fact, releasing as many models as it can, to counter every tech innovation in the industry.
All these efforts, however, have strained Huawei.
China aside, Huawei has been working to make a niche in the burgeoning Indian smartphone market too. Their goal is to reinforce their business base and increase efficiency in their consumer services and operations. They are focusing on Indian consumers and trying their best to meet all of our diverse needs, and divergent price points.
Trying to honor the ‘Make in India’ policy of the Indian government, Huawei has set up a manufacturing branch in Chennai.
But these expansion efforts aren’t entirely risk-free, and they do cost the company, significantly. Its network equipment business is already at a low, and make be a casualty for a while.
Huawei, like other phone companies are now making preparations to accommodate the faster speeds of 5G in their devices, so they’ve begun to pull back their network rollouts.
So the question that comes to mind now is whether all their investment will ultimately bear fruit. It does seem at the moment like it could either make or break the company.
Huawei aspires to be the world’s biggest smartphone company in the coming six years. With their unique rotating-CEO mechanism, we can only imagine how much innovation is on its way to the market.
It would definitely be interesting to see how they impress their customers in a world where the smartphone market has become almost completely homogenous, and could well flat-line in the next 5-6 years.
That said, if there’s one company that could challenge Samsung to take second-from-top spot – it’s got to be Huawei. Xiaomi’s out from the pull till such time that they enter developed markets like the U.S., which they can’t do till they sort out their patent vulnerabilities.
Huawei’s sure to be seeing that as happenstance, and make the most of it over the next 24 months or so.
Unless you’re an avid watch collector you’d agree that wristwatches (in their current avatar at least) are living on borrowed time.
The wristwatch is one of the select few objects, that still lives in public memory and reality -despite courting obsolescence.
Yet, for their nemeses – smartwatches – one has to forgo the very question of pragmatism!
A smartwatch is still a template of privilege, one that thrives not on any distinct capabilities, but on how many devices it can emulate (read: copy), not replace.
It is hard to tell if this is a troubling prospect or an encouraging one – the timeline of progress dictates the old to make way for the new. But if the new arrival is just an amalgam of the old, then it is novelty, not progress.
Whatever popularity (can’t call it success, yet) smartwatches have experienced, is not because they’re ingenious as a product, but because they’ve been able to act as a probable all-in-one solution for modernism.
For now, a smartwatch can at best serve as a makeshift backup option. OK for something, but not good for everything.
And thus, the quest to find a smartwatch’s USP must go on.
Someone at Chip-Monks termed smartwatches as “razzmatazz – whose time has not come”. I tend to agree – the smartwatch may have some reason for existence in the future, but at the moment, it doesn’t really make a spot for itself in the world crowded with devices and wearable fitness trackers.
Consider this – they are threatening to act in the same manner as smartphones.
A smartphone replaces the need of a stopwatch, timer, wall clock, thermometer, weather map, GPS and what not. In turn, a smartwatch aims to replace the smartphone itself. But it seems highly improbable, till the solution of a flexible display is found.
Different companies are working to that end – LG, Samsung, Microsoft and even a little-known entity called the Moxi Group from China. Each have their own novel approach, use different materials and perhaps have different outcomes in mind.
Samsung is one of the companies that has been working on a flexible displays for the longest period. They’ve now come up with a new approach to a smartwatch, and the prospect seems to be workable, in theory. We heard about this approach through a patent application that Samsung filed, titled “Display Device And Smart Watch”.
What is interesting about Samsung’s proposed watch is that it is made up of not just one but two displays. The primary display, a round screen dispenses the generic functions, while the second display is built around the rim of the watch. This means that there’s no real bezel on the watch (scratch alert on!)
As per speculations, this secondary display will use it’s ribbon shape to carry specific information that doesn’t need to be portrayed on the main display.
The big benefit being that the user would not need to turn on the display to view critical information like the time – she could simply glance on the rim of the watch! Other information that could be displayed here may be about the weather, date or notifications.
I am reminded of the edge display that Samsung’s current flagship smartphones carry – this ribbon display could well carry similar intimation-related info, and not so much interactive information.
But, as we mentioned at the top of this article, this is seems like another attempt to mimic and replace the smartphone. But the intent is baffling, for most of the users consider the smartwatch as a device of respite, a step away from their phones. Adding more and more smartphone-specific features belies the minimalist benefits of a smartwatch – and may make the choice confusing. At best, it mayn’t serve that basic purpose of respite. Much like the Yotaphone with the e-ink screen at the back – while it did something new, it didn’t do anything that we really needed or wanted, or were missing. Hence it never really went anywhere as a product, and disappeared sooner than it appeared.
The secondary display is a novel concept, we cannot deny it. But in the end, it is just a concept. The patent has been filed, but it is highly possible that this concept might not be a part of the production process anytime soon. But it will be highly interesting for us to watch the trends, eh?
As the elder Wayne taught the not-yet-a-superhero Bruce, “Why do we fall?”, remember what he said said next?
”So that we learn to pick ourselves up”.
Well, someone has picked themselves again, kicking and thrashing their way to progress.
Just like Wayne Manor, Samsung was gutted with fire tests after Galaxy Note7’s volatile exit from store shelves across the globe. Then, with charges of nefarious involvements in South Korea, Samsung’s foundations were almost uprooted.
But now, with the release of it’s newest flagships, the Galaxy S8 and its bigger counterpart the Galaxy S8+, Samsung seems to have reinvented itself. While it did already seamlessly blend together technology and perfection, it’s added a new element into it’s wares – pragmatism.
The phones (they’re actually both phablets) don’t feel like run-on-the-mill phones. Both of them fill your senses like that supercar you dream about. Never before in the field of smartphones, has a phone been so beautiful.
On the “smaller” Galaxy S8 (we can’t really believe we’re using that adjective for a 5.8 inch screened device, either), a large Super AMOLED Quad HD+ display curves around the edges like a beautiful windshield meeting the metal sides, and then curving again, as the rear glass completes the device. It’s the same with the Galaxy S8+, the bigger brother of the two, with 6.2 inches of glass.
So proud is Samsung of these devices, and so sure of their identifiability that they’ve even foregone putting the brand name on the front of the device.
Interestingly, the biggest achievement from Samsung is that the some magic they’ve cast on the screens – a new aspect ratio (18.5:9) allowed Samsung to shoehorn in big screens into bodies the size of the Galaxy S7’s! The S8 is narrower than the S7’s, despite having a bigger screen! In fact the Galaxy S8+ is a complete shocker – it’s just about as wide as the Galaxy S7, but has a much bigger screen. Both devices thus tend to be taller than the outgoing glag.
As is usual with Samsung’s flagships now, they’ve decided to go with different processors in different regions. In Asian markets, Samsung is using its own Exynos 8895 chipset, whereas in the models headed to the U.S., they’re going with Qualcomm’s latest, the Snapdragon 835.
That said, the name don’t really matter – Samsung’s packed a tiger in the tank. The RAM is the same as on the Galaxy S7 – 4 GB; and both the new phablets come with 64 GB of internal storage that can be reinforced with an additional 256 GB of external memory.
The processors are going to be more efficient and kinder towards the battery as compared to other chips (since they’re made on the newer manufacturing process for chipsets).
The surplus battery can be used to power a desktop experience called DeX, which is basically a dock that enables the S8 duo to be used to power a monitor for a full-screen experience – much like Microsoft’s Continuum. The intent is to have this separately-sold dock convert the phone into a mini PC. Equipped with two USB-A ports and an Ethernet Connector, the experience is interesting.
Despite this piggy-backing by the screen and external keyboard etc., the processors allow no lagging to occur. Samsung’s apps too, resize according to your use between the phone and the monitor. If you are being adventurous, then you can stream your actual Windows desktop too! I won’t say that this can replace your desktop, but this is the best that stand in the middle.
As for hard external details, the visuals are eye-catching – the edges of the screen are almost invisible because of the borderless curved display. The fingerprint scanner is curiously placed next to the camera button from where you can comfortably smudge your camera again and again. So it might be tricky; but the facial and iris recognition are fast enough (more on that in our detailed reviews for the devices).
The phones come with IP68 dust and water resistance up to 30 minutes – so you can be a little cavalier with the handling, but don’t go deep!
I’m not going to cover every bit of the hardware and software mix that the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus carry – I’ll leave that to our detailed write-ups for the devices. I only want to let you know about the things that has the world worked up into a frenzy, at this time.
Apart from the details, the launch event for the phone left out two things – the prices and the availability dates.
Estimations are already rolling. In India, the phones can be expected to crank a mean INR 50,000 for the S8, and upwards of INR 60,000 for the bigger S8+.
The release date is supposed to be April 21st in the U.S., but India might have to wait a little bit.
We also don’t know if us Indians would get the Gear VR headset with Samsung’s new wireless controller and an Oculus game pack for free, as the preorders in U.S. are receiving, but I’m pretty sure, Samsung would have something fairly for for us, the world’s second largest smartphone market, too.
It is Samsun’g vehicle for their redemption – and no one is taking it lightly, least of all, Samsung.
From automobiles to smartphones, Microsoft has it’s fingers in all sorts of pies.
And it’s been picking up some new tradecraft too. As it expanded it’s footprint with its “Surface As A Service”, folks at Microsoft actually realised there was a play they could make in the retailing sector, that might benefit both, Microsoft and some of the world’s largest brands, no matter if they be competitors.
Clearly, this is a Nadella-pivot – I guess he knows better than anyone else the Windows Phone isn’t going to really be able to take off (not to stratospheric levels at least). So a couple of years ago, he’d (much like John Chen of BlackBerry) decided that if he couldn’t get the platform into people’s hands because of the floundering apps store on the Windows 10 platform, Microsoft may as well peddle it’s (fairly excellent) apps on Android and iOS, and make a dent in those universe.
Keeping with the SEI (a.k.a. Surface As A Service) model, the technology giant has reached an agreement with Samsung, to retail the Galaxy S8 and S8+ in Microsoft stores. Not only that, these devices will carry some prestigious Microsoft apps out for the box, and will actually be branded as Microsoft Edition models of the Samsung duo.
With that win in it’s hip pocket, and playing the poker face, Microsoft announced a deal with yet another company. You might have heard of this company in some corners – it’s called Apple Inc.
Yup, you heard it right! Microsoft and the Cupertino based monolith have struck a deal. While all the details of the deal aren’t yet public knowledge, the word on the street is that you’s now be able to get iPhones in the same Microsoft Stores as Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8+!
So, what does the deal imply? Obviously greater profit for Microsoft. And the unique honour of having it’s apps bundled on iPhones.
It is an honour – the last third party app that iOS had bundled on its iOS (other than Facebook and Twitter) was Shazam. So it’s no small feat for Microsoft to have eked out that privilege.
There’s something else that trade pundits are saying may perhaps be on the offing – a certain amount of Microsoft-oriented customisation. Per the pundits, if you want to swap Siri with Cortana or replace iCloud with OneDrive then you might actually be able to do that on this special-edition phones. But I’m holding my verdict on that conjecture, for the moment. I’m not sure why Apple would allow for something as basic as the Assistant to be replaced (especially since we’re also hearing of Siri playing a much larger role in the upcoming iOS 11).
On the swap-ability of the iCloud supposition – I can pretty much laugh that one out of the building – Apple would never let anyone tinker with something that’s become a critical backbone of the entire iOS ecosystem and even more critical to the user experience since it holds up central bridges like device backups, Continuity, Handoff, iMessage, iPhotos et al!
Back to the “why” of it. While some may think Microsoft’s biggest win for these will be profit from retail sales, however I believe it actually is the overnight windfall of millions of customers on the newest and most cherished flagships in the world that Microsoft is vying for. That, for me is the brilliance of this pivot from Nadella.
A Microsoft representative stated, “Our deal with Apple helps us provide customers with easy access to our services even if they choose a different mobile platform. We respect everyone’s decision to use Android or iOS, and this is why we’re trying to help them make no compromise. Bringing Microsoft apps on as many devices as possible is a priority“.
Some folks claiming insider-information have stated that the iPhones too will be labeled as Microsoft Edition, and might even sport a Microsoft logo on the back of the iPhone.
Personally, I find that hard to believe. For a brand as proud of their logo and as gritty about keeping their devices free of any other branding per se, I very seriously doubt that Apple would allow any form of additional graphics (dare I call it graffiti on their premium devices).
The Microsoft branded iPhones will hit the stores on April 1. We’ll know more then.
The traditional SIM card has been dying a slow death over the last few years.
The normal SIM cards (now called “Macro SIMs”) that seem from prehistoric times now, set the ball rolling for mobile telephony. Then we got to micro SIM cards as smartphones arrived. As devices became bigger, the real estate within them became even more at a premium, hence smartphone manufacturers hit upon nano SIM cards.
Now, it’s time for better the technology in an even smaller card – called the e-SIM.
In light of this changing environment, the GSMA (who represents carriers and mobile companies around the world), has announced the specifications for e-SIMs, that are expected to be used in smart watches, fitness trackers, and even tablets. These SIMs will allow users the freedom to activate the SIM embedded in those devices on any carrier of their choice, as well as bring in the convenience of switching carriers and devices without swapping SIMs.
If everything works out as planned, the team behind the development of e-SIM suggests the new technology will be rolled out by 2018.
For now, the leaders of the smartphone industry are in talks with American and British mobile carriers with the intent of making e-SIMs a reality in those regions.
Apparently, conversations are already on with AT&T, T-Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, Orange, Etisalat, Hutchison Whampoa and Teleónica – which are some of the biggest around the world.
The GSMA plans to roll out a similar standard for smartphones themselves in June, at which point the days of the SIM card could be numbered.
Since this specification is also backed by manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, BlackBerry, LG and Huawei! The freedom and convenience that this welcome ability of switching operators will bring is best understood by device manufacturers – it drives better customer satisfaction and it frees up the manufacturer from having to kowtow to operator-demands. It even helps them move inventory around more seamlessly, instead of suffering the logistical nightmare they currently face – the device is operator agnostic, but since it was packed with a specific-operator’s SIM (at the factory), the manufacturer can’t lift and shift the inventory to other regions/stores/operators at will.
Once implemented, this universal tech will allow users to add mobile devices to a single subscription, in turn allowing them to connect directly to any mobile network. No separate SIM cards, no phone-as-a-middle-man, just an embedded SIM in each device, programmed to connect to a network all by itself!
Not that the GSMA sees it that way. It says “the initiative does not aim to replace all SIM cards in the field, but is instead designed to help users connect multiple devices through the same subscription and will help mobile device manufacturers to develop a new range of smaller, lighter mobile-connected devices that are better suited for wearable technology applications”.
Some Reactions From The Smartphones Industry
“The technology allows an individual to have both, a personal and business number on a single mobile device, with separate billing for voice, data and messaging usage on each number. People can switch between business and personal profiles easily without carrying multiple devices or SIM cards,” BlackBerry India Managing Director, Sunil Lalvani said at as per Tech First Post.
Well, Apple has already explored with its own SIM cards that can swap networks on flights and lets users choose from three different carriers.
For what it’s worth, the first example of a programmable SIM card, is already out there are – notably in Apple’s iPads. But it wasn’t officially recognised by the GSMA.
The GSMA notes there recently announced specifications as “the only common, interoperable and global specification that has the backing of the mobile industry“.
So, the integration of the e-SIM into upcoming iPhones seems like the next logical step for the Cupertino tech giant.
The world’s other smartphone giant also has intentions of using this “programmable” SIM in it’s smartwatch line.
So this isn’t technology that’s a way off-you might be using it yourself by the middle of the year!
Microsoft’s New Patent Hints At A Communication Device That Can Be Folded in Half
A patent filed back in 2015 by the tech giant Microsoft provides a telling hint of the direction that the company’s phone division might be heading towards, for a new range of mobile products in the possible future.
The patent is for –
The points above clearly shed light upon the key facets of the patent and provides significant indication as to where Microsoft wishes to devote their R&D resources.
However, Microsoft is not alone in following this direction – there already are products that have hit the market like Lenovo’s C-Plus (a bendable phone that can be worn around the wrist like a watch), or are almost ready for launch – Samsung is also scheduled to introduce a new bendable phone in the third quarter, and LG has been known to be working on bendable OLED screens for a while now.
Perhaps, the only credible difference between the intention behind Microsoft’s patent, and what has already been released in the market, is the focus on the “obscurity” of the hinges.
The patent clearly states – “In order to reduce and/or obscure the visibility of a support structure for a display panel, the present disclosure provides example display devices including curved or otherwise bent regions for directing light to a user’s eye when the user’s gaze is directed to a support structure at an edge of the display panel. In this way, when a user is viewing a region occupied by the support panel, the user may instead see light from the display panel showing the displayed objects”.
While it all seems the same, in the world of technology, even the smallest of changes can lead to tectonic shift in the field. But, what is much more important is that the intentions behind the filing of the patent are exercised upon!
The document has been filed by Timothy Large and Steven Bathiche, two Microsoft employees, who have filed other patents as well. However despite being published, no significant progresses have been made on those patents, and in some cases, have been stalled.
Similarly, thousands of patents are filed every year by resourceful companies but are not exercised upon with the same zeal. So, the expectation that rumored device would definitely be worked upon, and that a tangible product would emerge in the near future, is still a question that is begging to be answered.
Go do it, Microsoft – get ahead!
Ever given a thought to what our lives would be like without any benchmarks? Hard to imagine, isn’t it? Everything that we do is measured by a set of standards – whether it’s our clothes, phones, laptops, or exam results, they are always up against certain expectations.
And in this world that’s brimming over with technology, in every facet of our day to day life, standards are a must-have.
GFXBench is one such benchmark that measures the performance of devices. A lot of companies run their upcoming devices through the tests to see how they rack up against their competition.
And a new Asus tablet has recently been noticed on their database.
According to the specifications seen on GFXBench, the tablet is 9.6 inches machine which boasts of a 2048×1536 resolution. The MediaTek MT8173 SoC CPU is complimented by a PowerVR GX6250 graphics chip from Imagination Technologies (the same folks who make the GPU for iPhones and iPads), supplemented with 4 GB of RAM.
Storage is a decent 64 GB and the cameras are fairly decent too – 7 megapixels at the rear, and 4.7 megapixels at the front.
Based on these specs and the fact that the new tablet operates on Android 7.0 Nougat, this tablet would probably be categorized as an upper mid-range product.
It sure is awesome, but don’t form an opinion just yet – because there’s some confusion around the processor that the tablet runs on – the GFXBench lists the MediaTek MT8173 as a dodeca-core processor when in fact other online resources indicate that it is a quad core processor.
The difference between the two is that a quad core chip has four different units for executing various processes, whereas a dodeca processor has twelve. Performance wise, a dodeca core chip is obviously better. But the website seems to have made a mistake, and now we’re left wondering which processor is actually being used.
Whether it turns out to be a dodeca core or a quad core, it has definitely given an aura of mystery to this new device. Too bad we’ll just have to wait and see.
I may be raining on your parade here, but all this excitement might be a little premature. Device specs are often changed before launch, and even then there is no guarantee that it will actually make the cut.
Regardless, you just rest easy – whether it launches or not, Chip-Monks will definitely keep you updated.
Demonetization taught India how to live with Digital Payments. And while Paytm made a strong case for onboard (digital) wallets, it was still a bit of a convoluted process to first upload money to it’s Wallet and only then be able to spend the money.
Uber and others did allow the addition of credit cards to their apps, but even those required an OTP or password to be entered, to be able to spend money.
All of that said and done, India tasted digital payments and wanted more. Life had suddenly become easier – the need to visit an ATM, or a bank, or ask Dad for a loan of currency notes, was gone. Every merchant large and small was suddenly amenable to digital payments.
Plus, with Apple Pay and Samsung Pay already thriving in international markets, it was just a matter of time before they arrived here.
Samsung today launched it’s payments tool, called Samsung Pay in India, beating Apple in the race to reach Indian consumers in this new, burgeoning space. And it’s exciting, because it simplifies life, and because it involves a bit of magic (you’ll see)!
What does it do?
Samsung Pay is a new digital payment service that absorbs all your credit cards, debit cards, and electronic wallets into one umbrella, which you can then use via your Samsung smartphone or smartwatch.
In simple terms, it replaces your plastic cards for transactions that you’d have made through swipe machines. It does not work for Online payments (i.e. websites or apps) just yet – though that is conceivably only a matter of time.
So, the obvious question is, how does it work?
Well, for starters, if your phone is one of the devices listed below, you will have to first install a service update which should be available over the air. Just head to the Settings section of your Android device and check for updates.
Here are the devices that are currently able to work with Samsung Pay in India:
Once your device is updated, you’ll be able to connect your payment method to the Samsung Pay application. This can be a card (credit and debit cards) or an electronic wallet (like Paytm) which will be saved to the device post verification.
No, really, how does it work? Won’t all merchants need new machines – which means that it’ll take 15 years for Samsung Pay to become usable?
A lot of things kill the acceptance of new services – complexity (during set up or usage), the need for new hardware (at the merchant or user level) and limited acceptability (remember how many merchants gripe when you want to use your Amex?).
In fact, the reason Paytm succeeded was exactly because it skated around all of the hindrances – it was ubiquitous, tremendously easy to use, and most importantly, because everyone was happy accepting payments through it.
There’s some magic in Samsung Pay!
Samsung has been truly brilliant with their approach. Knowing fully well that India (in fact almost all countries in the world) would take many years to change the current credit card machines to become NFC-capable, Samsung created and patented a technology that actually enables the Samsung device (smartphone and smartwatch) to mimic a magnetic card (like your credit or debit card).
Called MST (for Magnetic Secure Transmission) this patented technology replicates a card swipe by wirelessly transmitting magnetic waves from the supported Samsung device to a regular card reader. So, MST turns virtually every card swipe machine in the world into a contactless payment receiver, without needing any additional hardware or software upgrades!
Not only does Samsung Pay work with MST, it even uses the more advanced NFC protocol (when the device is placed near an NFC reader). Unlike MST, NFC works via Radio waves and requires a specialised “receiver” in the receiving machine,
They are both secure transactions, and both do not need any “physical” connection with the payment receiving machine.
Samsung’s ingenuity of allowing both, MST and NFC enables almost all merchants across the globe to accept Samsung Pay, thus making it one of the most accepted mobile payment services on the market.
So… you should be able to use your Samsung Pay-capable device anywhere you like in India (and 11 other countries) starting today (though some merchants may not be aware of it for a while). Expect stares, incredulous looks, double checks and many questions from bystanders too!
To use Samsung Pay, once the merchant has input the amount to be paid on his credit card machine or NFC terminal, all you have to do is swipe up from the bottom of the screen on your device, choose one of your saved payment instruments and then bring your device close to the payment machine. The phone should automatically connect to the merchant’s machine, and you should be able to see a prompt on your device, indicating the demanded amount. All you then have to do is enter your PIN as if you were swiping a card, and hit “Pay”.
The machine should start spewing out the paper receipt shortly (post approval from your card issuer). That’s it, you’re done!
Which all card issuers honour Samsung Pay in India?
The service will be available for users of Visa, Mastercard, Amex and Rupay payment cards, for now.
Banks wise, ICICI, HDFC, Standard Chartered, SBI, Axis Bank cards are already supported. As is Paytm!
We’re hearing that UPI (Unified Payments Interface) and Citibank cards will soon be supported too.
Thus, this should be quite a functional service in metropolitan areas in a country like India.
Why you should use it.
First, there’s no need of taking out your card (and inadvertently leaving it behind at the merchant’s location) or even showing it to the waiter/cashier (since your card’s security number is visible at the back).
Second you don’t have to carry your wallet everywhere.
Third, in addition to the ease and comfort, the service also offers promotions from banks on rewards points and offers from Paytm as well.
There don’t seem to any additional charges that Samsung is levying for using the service.
The application also comes in with built in support, in case you are lost or need help with the use of the service.
All this makes for quite a tempting package!
What’s in it for Samsung?
The launch of Samsung Pay at this time can be expected to give Samsung the first-mover’s advantage in the Indian market – a market that is the second largest smartphone market in the world, and where the South Korean megabrand already has been the leader for quite a few years.
The service was first launched in South Korea in 2015 and is currently available in 12 countries including the US, China, Spain and Australia.
Yet, (and I particularly love this part) it took the company about two years to bring the service to India, despite the leverage the Indian market holds for the company. This was perhaps because the Indian market is still pretty traditional in its actual workings, and so are the concerns of the possible Indian users.
“We focused mainly on the barriers which were holding back people from going digital. We picked up the key themes centric to the Indian consumers — technical issues, security concerns and the lack of acceptability presence, and then integrated mobile wallets, UPI (Unified Payments Interface) and debit cards to Samsung Pay. The idea was to make in India for Indian consumers,” said Asim Warsi, Senior Vice President (Mobile Business), Samsung India.
What is noteworthy is that Samsung has actually been stretching itself pretty thin for bringing this service to the Indian market. They have worked to include debit cards, and electronic wallets within the Samsung Pay ecosystem, where these are not options that are available on an international level. Clearly, these have been integrated specifically keeping the Indian user and our market’s dynamics in mind.
Now that the Samsung Pay genie is out of the bottle, the next few months should tell us how the Indian market responds to Samsung’s hard work!
Go out tonight, give it a try, once you’ve set up your Samsung device for this new service! Me, I’m off, hunting for a store that’ll swap my Windows 10 phone, for that delectable Samsung Galaxy S7 edge! Or should I wait for Apple? Hmm…
WikiLeaks Reveals The CIA Hacked Into iPhones, Android Phones And Samsung TVs
Last week Wikileaks dropped a dossier of documents pertaining to some surveillance programs running within the CIA. The documents provided some shocking insights – the most shocking of them pertained to surveillance through Samsung Smart TVs. Other devices also mentioned were Apple’s iPhones and Google’s Android phones.
While in the world after Snowden, revelation of such information is not the most unexpected thing to happen, yet this incident does raise a lot of concerns at the same time.
The documents, dating from 2013 all the way to 2016, describe the agency’s abilities to use software flaws to hack into and control devices like the iPhone, Android, and Samsung TVs, along with Skype, Wi-Fi networks, and antivirus programs.
The document dump also shows that the CIA possesses the ability to hack into devices and remotely activate cameras, microphones and even the GPS, to keep tabs on a person’s location and… their surroundings.
Per these documents, the technology that the CIA is said to possess allows them unprecedented access to the compromised devices, almost as if they had a clone of the device with them.
It gets worse.
This access even compromises private messaging conducted via apps like Signal, WhatsApp, Telegram, Weibo and Confide by hacking the smartphones underlying the apps, to collect messaging and audio data before encryption is applied.
It is then, not any particular messaging service or application on the phone that these programs seem to be attacking, instead they’re attacking the underlying operating system on which the phone runs.
“These are not hacks against those apps, but hacks against the underlying operating systems”, said security technologist Bruce Schneier.
The sentiment was echoed on Twitter by Edward Snowden, infamous for his NSA leaks of a similar kind back in 2013. Now known as the Snowden Leak, the leaks reported on mass surveillance programs run by the NSA.
While the information revealed in both the cases is alarming, it is important to note that these two leaks differ significantly. The primary distinction between the two is that Snowden’s leaks revealed mass surveillance techniques that could be used to keep tabs on anyone and everyone at the same time. On the other hand, the recent leak reveals the existence of tools for individual surveillance, that have to be applied to specific people.
One of the programs revealed is called Weeping Angel. This program in particular, has raised many questions and concerns, due to two reasons.
First, it came into existence as a result of a collaborative effort between United States’ CIA, and the United Kingdom’s intelligence service MI6.
Second, it revealed what had not yet been considered a verified legitimate concern – while the use of smartphones and laptops for surveillance is something that has been suspected for years and has been proven many times over, but this leak revealed that programs exists that can leverage devices as innocuous as Smart TVs and use them for surveillance.
The hack employed by the CIA allows them to put a Smart TV on what they call a ‘fake off’ mode. Doing that makes it appear as though the TV is off, while at the same time, the microphone on the television could be used to record audio babble and conversations happening around the TV even in this dormant state.
What is unsettling is that this is precisely what conspiracy theorists have been warning us about for years now – the idea of a Smart TV being turned into something one can listen through comes directly from George Orwell’s 1984. A lot of 1984’s readers’ skin crawled at the prospect, but what allowed them to subsequently sleep at night was the belief that this “power” would stay exactly there – in a fictional pondering.
There were some people though who did stay with this conspiracy theory, but most of us never took those guys seriously.
But with this leak, one can no longer be sure how much of Orwell’s forecast was fictional latitude and how much was a prophecy. Now, the conspiracy theorists’ words are searing through peoples mind, scaring them with the new reality.
Add to this, the fact that Samsung, in their Terms and Conditions, states: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition”.
Soon after this revelation was discovered in the Samsung policy, they changed it, making a public statement saying that their Smart TVs do not record any conversation. But this obviously leads one to ask: What exactly are you up to Samsung?
There’s somewhat of a saving grace that I should point out right now, to restore some calm in your mind – even though the possibility of a Smart TV being used for surveillance is now very real and very dangerous, this particular program has not yet achieved the expertise needed.
The mole that feeds this program needs to be installed on the specific TV via a USB drive, and it can be disabled simply by unplugging the TV set. That makes it unsuitable for mass surveillance, which is the scenario that we have all been concerned about. For surveillance of particular people though, the “hackers” have hit quite a jackpot.
So, unless you suspect you’d be on the CIA’s list of people to monitor, you’re kind of safe, for the moment, at least.
The companies involved, when contacted, emphasized consumer security and privacy, but confirmed little else.
Apple said that it had already fixed a few of the issues mentioned in the documents via the latest OS updates, and Samsung and Microsoft, both said that they were looking into the reports.
There has yet been no evidence that these tools were actually used. What the documents assert is that the CIA has the technology to execute the kind of surveillance the documents detailed.
Predictably, the Central Intelligence Agency has refused to confirm the authenticity of the documents.
A question however still persists: how dangerous are these existing vulnerabilities in our gadgets, and should agencies like CIA be allowed to use them?
Privacy advocates and those concerned with security would certainly have a lot to say.
As Chip-Monks, I’d say just two things: don’t let others handle your devices (no matter how innocent the need) and do not fall for “free” apps especially from unknown/small-time developers, to the degree possible. There will need to be more stringent measures you need to take, but that’s meat for another article.
Samsung’s Own Virtual Assistant, Bixby, To Power The S8. Should Siri Be Worried?
Apple had kicked off the Virtual Assistant craze through the launch of Siri (built into iOS 5) back in 2011.
Given it’s headstart, Siri ruled the space for quite a long time, standing alone as the Alpha.
But over time, Siri gained a lot of company – Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Assistant – all joined in the fray of Artificial Intelligence based assistants.
Soon, this clique of assistants will be joined by Samsung’s own Bixby.
Those of us who follow Tech, have known Bixby was coming for a while now, through rumours and industry-trend-watchers.
Finally, Samsung confirmed recently that an early version of Bixby will launch alongside it’s next flagships – the Samsung Galaxy S8 duo.
Samsung is expected to officially unveil the phones at an event on March 29th and it should start to ship in April. The phones will have Bixby software baked in, along with a rumoured dedicated button on the side of the device that would let you activate the service when you don’t want to use a voice command.
Of course, the Galaxy S8’s will also be running the Google Android software, which means that you can use Google’s voice services too. But Samsung is hoping Bixby stands out thanks to its integration with Samsung products and a few additional features including the ability to give you full control over apps that support Bixby.
Once an app is Bixby-enabled, Samsung says anything you could do with touch commands can also be accomplished by voice too! That’s a big promise.
That hyperbole aside, Samsung itself says that when the Galaxy S8 launches, only a “subset of preinstalled applications will be Bixby-enabled”, but the company expects the list to grow significantly in a short span of time as Samsung intends to release a Software Development Kit to help third-party developers add Bixby support to their software.
It is the kind of a giant move that would probably be doomed to failure if it were coming from a company other than Samsung – why would Android app developers add support for a virtual assistant from HTC, Sony, or LG when they could just tap into Google Assistant to enable voice support across a wider range of current and upcoming Android devices?
But Samsung is currently the world’s top smartphone maker, so the company might actually have the clout to pull this off.
On the other hand, Samsung’s past attempts to run its own app store, video store, and other alternative-to-Google features haven’t always been successes.
I personally think Bixby could go either way as a virtual assistance, and an Artificial Intelligence based tool, even more so, just has to do a lot to stay relevant and in the customer’s mind. It’s a well known fact that not only is app fatigue a reality now (where customers are using lesser and lesser apps), but with the passage of time, people are even using the newer features included in each OS upgrade.
Truth be told, virtual assistants haven’t yet found much uptake by smartphone users across the globe, so if Bixby doesn’t light the world, it may not be it’s fault entirely. Assistants still have to find their place in the world. Just like Siri itself is struggling to.
Sony recently took the world by surprise as it unexpectedly launched a new entry-level smartphone dubbed the Xperia L1 as the successor to the original Xperia L that was launched way back in 2013.
For those who follow the rumour mills though, the launch of this device isn’t completely out of the blue, as a Russian certification listing had pointed towards the release of this new device, a week before the launch of the Xperia L1, .
This new device keeps with the tradition of Sony’s design language of bezel-less displays and thus the Xperia L1 too, sports an almost edge-to-edge 5.5 inch 720p IPS LCD display.
Disappointingly though, it also means that Sony’s continued with the tradition of having pretty thick bezels at the top and bottom, much like in the newly launched Xperia XZ Premium and Xperia XA Ultra smartphones that were released last month, at the MWC.
Under the hood, the Xperia L1 is powered by a 1.45 GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6737T processor coupled with a Mali T720 MP2 graphics processor and 2 GB of RAM.
On the storage front, there is 16 GB of inbuilt memory which is expandable. The Xperia L1 runs on the latest Android Nougat software. What’s more, Sony has also added – to the budget smartphone, which adapts the device to your surrounding and predicts what you’d want to do or which app you’d like to use at that particular time.
For shutterbugs, the Xperia L1 carries a decent 13 megapixel rear camera with f/2.2 aperture and a 5 megapixel front-facing camera. Connectivity options on this dual-sim smartphone include, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, A-GPS, GLONASS, and USB Type-C for charging and data syncing.
The Xperia L1 packs Android Nougat but at the same time, disappointingly, is driven by just a 2,620 mAh battery. This battery is also supported by Sony’s proprietary Qnovo Adaptive Charging and for times when you are on the go and running low on battery, you can always switch to Sony’s STAMINA mode to make the most of your dying battery.
The interesting part on this recently-launched phablet is that while it shares it’s name etymology with a four year old model, it is not very similar as its predecessor. This of course is a win-win situation for users as no one would really want their 2017 device to have specs reminiscent from such an old model.
The Xperia L which came in with a 4.30 inch display size, was powered by 1 GHz dual-core MSM8230 processor coupled with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of internal storage. It was powered by a 1750 mAh battery (my garage door opener has more battery nowadays).
Well now you must be thankful that the Xperia L1 is a huge upgrade to the Xperia L and hasn’t really inherited any of the features from its predecessor!
Target segment wise, the Xperia L1 has been launched only in select markets in Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia, North America and Latin America, at the moment. Whether Sony decides to roll out Xperia L1 in Indian market is something which is uncertain presently and might also depend on the performance of this device in other markets.
The price bracket for this smartphone hasn’t been pinned down as yet, though the company has made it clear that the device will be an affordable one, saying the phablet will be available from mid-April at an “accessible price point”.
Following the reveal of some frightening security vulnerabilities in Android, a lot of smartphone manufacturers were quick to announce that they would be issuing monthly security updates to their devices, to ensure that their phones are constantly up to date against threats discovered in the interim.
The good news for Samsung owners is that if you live in the U.S. and you own an unlocked Galaxy handset, Samsung is committing to issue monthly security updates to your devices.
This isn’t to say that Samsung never cared about security, it’s just that their updates weren’t particularly frequent.
In a statement obtained by the folks at ZDNet, Samsung said, “Due to various circumstances, we have been releasing security updates for unlocked (open) Galaxy devices in the U.S. on a quarterly basis. However, we have now resolved the challenges; and we are committed to releasing security updates for those devices on a monthly basis.”
Clearly this is good news and for some Galaxy handset owners; further Samsung has also revealed that it’s March security update should be coming soon for unlocked handsets like the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge – though it remains to be seen if it will include the Nougat update with it.
It also remains to be seen if Samsung will really be able to keep to this schedule for real.
There are usually only two positions in a race that are the hardest fought – the leader’s and the one who comes in last. All others are relegated to various badges implying their role of “also-ran” contenders, except perhaps to their near and dear ones.
Since a leader’s always under threat, hence it needs to do everything to stay ahead – wake up earlier in the day, practice harder, find the right coach to mentor, and most definitely plan and execute beautifully.
That’s what Airtel does well. Always.
No wonder it’s India’s largest telecom operator. By a long margin. Because it does things differently, and it starts doing them earlier in the day, than anybody else.
Many of you may remember Airtel being the world’s first operator to do something as bizarre and unheard of, as completely outsourcing it’s telecom network and infrastructure! Well, that helped Airtel stay ahead of network demands, be extremely scalable while at the same time helping keep it’s bottom line firmly ‘in the black’.
Now, as the world begins to define 5G and how it could be leveraged, Airtel has already lined up to work with Nokia to prepare itself for the next generation of communication technology.
Chip-Monks had written about Nokia’s imminent foray into India for 5G back in June of 2016! You can read it here
Under a new agreement, Nokia and Airtel will collaborate to drive the definition and development of new services, with a focus on taking the path to fifth generation network connectivity.
Not only that, the Airtel-Nokia duo will also prep India for the full-form arrival of the Internet of Things (IoT).
There’s more. Nokia will begin helping Airtel strengthen its existing 4G network – in terms of efficiency, improve operations and driving overall cost effectiveness. This will help Nokia get an in-depth picture of the network & infrastructure that Airtel currently rides on, which will then help the duo ensure Airtel’s readiness for the rollout of 5G, whenever that happens.
Before we go further, I need to remind you not to expect 5G services anytime soon.
Still being defined, and the charter still being drawn up, the expected time-frame for the extravagant global launch of 5G is sometime around 2019-2020.
Some of you have asked us what 5G really means.
5G promises to enable dramatic improvements in data speeds, reduction of the latency in the network and allow more ‘agility’ – such as the ability to enable new capabilities like ‘network slicing’.
Recently, international headlines were about the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) agreeing on what the final specifications of 5G would look like. The minimum download speed offered on the 5G network will be 100 Mbps and would be capable of supporting of over one million devices per square kilometers of geographic area!
5G specifications are being finalised keeping in mind the future where electronic devices will talk to each other over wireless networks, forming what’s called the Internet of Things aka IoT.
So this new-age network will allow telcos to support a growing number of customers and potentially billions of connected IoT devices with consistent Quality of Service, laying the foundation for smarter cities and rural communities, connected vehicles, industrial automation, remote healthcare and a myriad of business possibilities.
Simpler English? 5G will be faster than today’s wired broadband, and yet it’s a mobile technology. It will become the backbone of all your, and your household devices’ internet needs.
“Why 5G Already? We’re barely on 4G!”
Another question we get asked regularly. And err… we agree. It’s too soon to think 5G, when most of us still haven’t boarded the 4G train. In fact we wrote a (rather) forthright article saying the same thing a few days ago. You should read that too. It’s available here.
We haven’t changed our opinion. Indian telcos still need to improve their 3G and 4G performance, but standing at the cusp of the IoT revolution as we are, we (the country) need to be ready. For the economy’s sake as well as for the sake of being future-proof.
While India is getting used to 4G LTE, telecom operators are leaving no stone unturned to make sure that they are ready for the 5G Networks. Even the Government of India is being very supportive to the effort.
The Telecom Ministry has expressed its interest in being an early adopter of 5G technology. One of the most spoken about telcos, and Airtel’s chief rivals, Reliance Jio is reportedly teaming up with Samsung for it’s 5G network planning, and has even claimed that they already have the fibber infrastructure in place to support it.
Nokia’s AirScale solution allows telecom services providers to scale their networks to freely add subscribers while keeping latency (connectivity to the backend servers etc.) at an imperceptible level. Airtel will make use of this technology from Nokia to stay ahead and deliver a class-differential in user experience.
Abhay Savargaonkar, Director, Network Services at Bharti Airtel, said – “Airtel has always been a pioneer in rolling out the latest technologies to deliver a superior experience to its customers. 5G and IoT applications have tremendous potential to transform lives and we are pleased to partner with Nokia to enable these future technologies for our customers.”
Sanjay Malik, Head of India Market, Nokia, said: “After our successful association with Bharti Airtel for 2G, 3G and 4G technologies, we are proud to partner to prepare for the future of mobile networks. We will leverage our global experience in 5G-related industry projects and collaborations to enable Bharti Airtel to prepare their networks for greater capacity, coverage and speed“.
It’s definitely interesting to see how the telecom operators in India are eyeing the next generation of communications, and gearing up for it.
We expect the rollout of 5G to be way quicker than the 3G and 4G services in India! We are cheeky, we know, but then that’s what drives brands to improve – aggressive customer expectations!
On a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is “Don’t give a darn” and 10 is “I could even ensure that if I have to”, how insignificant is the Terms and Conditions column for you (for any product you buy, or service you subscribe to)?
Your answer be 2 or 9 or anything else, by the time you finish reading this article, we’re going to attempt to turn you into a highly-alert commando who has a general mistrust of a T&C document and who won’t sleep too well, having passing over the terms and conditions section or anything hereafter!
The Internet might already seem like a crazy universe to you – full of fascinating stuff, inane stuff, and some downright absurd things too.. but you may have already heard that it also has its dark side.
The bad news is, our very very dear smartphones, too have a dark side!
Now a vital part of our life – right from waking you up in the morning to paying for your coffee, from sending confidential emails to making transactions worth thousands – almost everything is done via our phone.
And such a powerful device thrives thanks to the superpowers bestowed to it by apps that are built by the millions for any and every task. Thanks to the insane number of apps being used today, developers are the new messiahs.
But we need to address the elephant in the room – how safe and secure are these apps?
Amidst the ever-growing demand for freshly brewed apps and exponentially-inflating competition in the app-developer market, most developers are pressed for time and need to hit the Store shelves before competition beats them to the punch.
Thus, they often take the security feature of their application very lightly – intending to return to it later, but in this process, they jeopardise the device’s user.
Security is often not the primary concerns of the app developers, for a lion’s share of the apps available on Play Store, AppStore, and others, are click-bait content that often lures in their audience with fancy misleading information thrown in advertisements.
Often an average user, does not read the disclaimer that pops up before signing up for the product, thus missing out on the major chunk of the security and privacy breach warnings given out in a very subtle and placating format.
The bitter reality of the situation is though, that the user cannot contribute or enhance security of the app, even if they wish to. Thus, being cautious is their only option.
In layman’s terms, Apps are nothing short of helpers. By that very nature, they can get acquainted with your routine and empower themselves to derive information even without your knowledge. There have been cases of users’ personal data being breached – like their gender, age, phone number, location and other potential information – which is later collated and sold.
You shouldn’t be surprised to learn that in-app ads in smartphones are one of the key players in this harvesting of data.
There are many shady apps available on app stores, that are designed to retrieve the unique ID number of each phone. Eventually, personal information given out during registrations for apps is matched with the Unique ID thus compiling a full-fledged profile of the user is compiled, which is then sold to companies, for marketing purposes.
What makes this even more convoluted is that App developers voluntarily accept in-app ads, for monetary gains. Frequent usage of a particular app provides information about a user’s likes and dislikes, thus creating a bait for in-app-ad companies to advertise products in the likes of the user.
None of this is fair. And the fact that it is unknown to most users only makes the matters worse. Security should be the major agenda of any and all app developers.
Banking apps are often the favorites of any hacker. This is obviously, thanks to the financial gain at play. But those aren’t the only targets. There are many more.
Targeting of applications for data can be done in various ways.
One would be the example of WhatsApp, the messenger service run by Facebook that recently switched to a 256-bit encryption which promises 100% security to its user and the conversation made. The exchanges that happen over this supposedly secure system are backed up to a server online and reside there for a period much longer than they would in your device. This results in automatic storage of a user’s data on a server, which has it’s own security problems going on.
This kind of storage can also be on a cloud. One exhibit of this is the automatic storage of User’s data on iCloud (for iOS users) and Google platform (for Android users). Every scrap of information and data generated using the smartphone is automatically backed-up into these storage platforms.
However, these supposedly-safe platforms for the storage of data have been proven unsafe.. Take for instance the leak of private images of Actress Jennifer Lawrence from her iCloud account. Following the leak, a wave of such cases was reported and Apple had to take measures to make the storage platform more secure and strong.
A recent experiment by a team of experts at Jots, “tested 110 popular, free Android and iOS apps to look for apps that shared personal, behavioral, and location data with third parties”.
The results were quite alarming and bizarre.
73% of Android apps shared personal information such as email address with third parties, and 47% of iOS apps shared geo-coordinates and other location data with third parties. That is almost three-fourth of the android apps and about half of the iOS apps that have been caught adding to this menace.
Reports said that an alarming 93% of the tested apps were connected to a hideous domain, safemovedm.com. Chances are, these stats are the mere tip of the iceberg.
Apple maybe the epitome of quality and safety, but even with such advanced technology as Google may possess, there seem to be gaps. Compared to iOS, Google’s Play Store does not have an impressive track record – and that stems from the fact that unlike Apple’s grit and determine there have been no sustained steps or procedures on Google’s part to check the relevance and safety of Apps before making them available in the Google Play Store.
This could probably be because unlike Apple, Google does not have many filters or strict controlling system that app developers need to clear before officially having their app in the store. Android apps are available even on uncertified platforms. Since Apple’s App Store is a centralized point of distribution, it provides users with confidence that the apps they download have been tested, certified and validated by Apple. Therefore, Apple’s App Store is near-100% malware-free and invulnerable to viruses.
Perhaps you’d now ask how is all this not illegal, and how do they keep doing it? Well, it is not illegal as long as they (app developers) put their data sharing or data mining intent somewhere in the fine print of the Terms and Conditions of the application.
Yes, the same one we barely pay any attention to! So, even though we might love the idea of sitting back with the how could they do this attitude, the onus of it also lies partially on us, our choice to be ignorant, and letting ourselves be abused.
So I’m advising that you stop believing the poster-boy persona that these companies keep putting out, look past the gloss! Wouldn’t you rather be safe, and have your privacy, than be blissfully unaware?!
So, the next time, prior to downloading an app, remember to:
Samsung’s Oscars Ads Are Basically A Promise That Its Phones Won’t Explode Anymore
Samsung’s Galaxy Note7 debacle and the legal woes that have befallen some of Samsung’s executive management are something that will not be erased from the media’s or the users’ memory for a long time. But, it’s not impossible.
Samsung disappeared into it’s shell a long time after the debacle, with hardly any new releases over the last few months, and even the few that did get released rolled out to the public, did so with nary any fanfare.
Now, Samsung is starting to walk out to the sunshine again. It seems to be doing a lot of small and big things to explain last year’s disaster taking a vow of sorts, to never let that happen again. Clearly, it’s efforts are aimed at re-instilling a sense of faith among its users.
Part of this ‘disaster management’ effort, Samsung spent a lot of money advertising its products at the recent Oscars ceremony. In fact, three commercials were run during the Oscars.
Two 30-second advertisements focus on Samsung’s promise of quality and the fact that its devices undergo rigorous security checks.
The first ad emphasised on the point that quality devices is something that Samsung has a reputation for, and that the company is all set to stake its reputation, promising that forthcoming Samsung devices will not explode in users’ pockets.
“Our phones are extensively tested, retested, and then, tested again,” the first ad claimed. “Innovation is our legacy. Quality is our priority.”
To drive home those words, the commercial sported images of Samsung handsets being exposed to various torture tests. The battery seemed to be a sturdy unit as it was able to tolerate majority of it as the phone was shown being baked in an oven, pierced, dropped and prodded by several contraptions that replicate all sorts of abuse.
The ad sure must have sent home the right message to all the audience present at the Oscars.
The second ad, on the other hand, showcased Samsung’s eight-point battery safety check, which Samsung terms as its harshest safety check ever.
The short commercial though didn’t let out any specific details about the process or the kind of cutting edge technology Samsung has employed, to make all new Galaxy handsets explosion proof.
But the tests indicated in the commercial do speak a lot about Samsung’s priorities in it’s recently revised manufacturing processes.
The sad part of it all is that neither of these two ads include even a minute sneak peak of the much-anticipated Galaxy S8. The ad featuring the eight-point battery test used Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge as illustrations, which still sport a Home button unlike the Galaxy S8 which is rumoured to have embedded fingerprint sensor under the screen itself, instead of a physical home button.
Greedy me – I kept scouting for any form of a sneak peek at the upcoming S8!
A third ad was also aired, but it was slightly different – starring filmmaker Casey Neistat, one of the most popular YouTubers ever.
It showed Neistat standing in a tux as he narrates “The Rest Of Us”, clearly an ode to remind us that most YouTubers don’t have fancy professional cameras or big money to cover production costs, yet they manage to create video content just because they want the world to know their ideas.
“We don’t have big awards shows or fancy cameras, but what we do have are our phones“, Neistat says.
Once again, we got a lot of shots of devices like Samsung Galaxy S7 edge and the Gear 360, but still no Galaxy S8
The aim here seemed to be to strike a chord with the youth who thrive on neo-platforms especially social-media based ones, to present their creative content.
Neistat had played a major role in Samsung’s Oscars presence last year as he walked the red carpet with a prototype of the Gear 360 to demonstrate Samsung’s handheld VR camera to the world.
“Casey has been a partner of ours for some time“, said Samsung CMO Marc Mathieu in an email. Further, “he exemplifies our brand belief, which is ‘Do What You Can’t’. Today, empowered by technology and a can-do attitude, you can accomplish anything“, said Mathieu.
Samsung has lost a lot of goodwill (which is an even bigger hit than it’s USD 5.3 billion bleed) due to the Note7’s explosive demeanour – not many phones (or any other such consumer-level devices) have been banned on airlines, nor can I recall another incident of this magnitude that caused the eventual scrapping of a product altogether.
Samsung is recovering from a big hit to the solar plexus, and it’s recovery efforts seem will keep pecking at the subliminal message that Samsung devices can be trusted.
Mathieu says it best – “[There will also] be a focus on regaining consumers’ trust, reinforcing the role of our technology in their lives and successfully launching our next flagship devices, all anchored in placing the human—not just the product—first“.
Samsung will also place an increased impetus on customer care to “reinforce its emotional investment and commitment to consumers“.
“We are targeting this generation of doers, people who go out and make things happen“, Mathieu said. “Our goal is to ultimately empower consumers to realize their ambitions. If the phone in your pocket can do anything, so can you“.
Perhaps it is time to let Samsung out of the dog-house. Everybody makes mistakes, don’t they?
As Blackberry works to revive it’s once-legendary brand, it’s going down two different paths – letting out it’s legendary security platform to other enterprises, and embracing Android firmly, for what may well be it’s (BlackBerry’s) final salvo in handset production.
It’s this second initiative that has us interested. BlackBerry’s just released another device with it’s trademark QWERTY physical keyboard that used to once upon a time be synonymous with the Blackberry brand name.
Called BlackBerry KEYone, this new smartphone seems to be a combination of a big screen device (an ode to contemporary market trends), with a physical keyboard from BlackBerry’s old-school phones.
First up, you should read our write up about the device, available here.
Second, the verdict (since most of you will be eager to get to that aspect first) – the device is a fairly solid product, really!
The physical QWERTY keypad is brilliantly made – the keys are the perfect combination of soft, and tactile. The individual keys may appear to be a bit smaller than most would like, but that’s only a initial experience, during the teething phase. Once your hands settle in on the phone, your thumbs find their exact spots fairly quickly.
The phone comes with a 4.5 inch touchscreen display which is kind of a perfect in-between size (between a 4 inch small phone, and the 5.5 inch large-screen layout of most phablets).
The device is powered by a mid-level (but quite adequate) Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor with 3 GB of RAM. Smartly done, the KEYone runs on the latest Android version, the 7.1 Nougat.
Clearly, the KEYone has a screen larger than older Blackberry devices, which is kind of an experiment, I think – to find the sweet spot that BlackBerry is still trying to establish for it’s current line of “hybrid” phones.
Many sites belabour the fact that Blackberry’s place in the market has been on the way down over the past several years, to a point where it almost seemed dead. We have always differed.
If there is one thing that no one can ever, ever brand BlackBerry with – is helplessness. BlackBerry never sits in a corner, wringing it’s hands, or cowers away from trying new things.
One of the grittiest brands ever, BlackBerry has astonished many, many people with it’s desire to try and reinvent itself, and even attempting pivots – finding things in it’s immense arsenal, to bootstrap it’s way back to high ground, and to keep it’s hardware business going.
With this device, and the nostalgia that Blackberry seems to be trying to invoke, the company seems to be planning to return to branding their devices as business phones.
They’re positioning this device as easy to use, comfortable to type and scroll on, blessed with good battery life – all of it with the very famous security and privacy that no other company has been able to topple.
The company didn’t shy away from emphasizing the security of the device. “At BlackBerry, we live and breathe security. Security has been engineered into the entire manufacturing process, throughout the hardware and of course the software“, said Alex Thurber, the General Manager of BlackBerry’s Mobility Solutions unit.
What is perhaps noteworthy is that the Blackberry KEYone, even though under the Blackberry brand name, is not a device that has been designed or produced in-house by the Canadian company. Back in December, the company had announced that they were halting all in-house smartphone production. Subsequently they signed a deal with the Chinese electronics brand TCL, giving them the rights to produce devices under the BlackBerry brand.
As per the deal, Blackberry will stay in control of the security on the devices, as well as the software, while TCL will produce Android-run devices. The KEYone is thus, the first BlackBerry device that this combination has brought to the market.
“The new BlackBerry portfolio has a chance of success because few companies now offer BlackBerry-style design and features, and the productivity-focused smartphone segment is underserved“, said Ian Fogg, Head of Mobile at research firm IHS.
The phone certainly makes it feel like BlackBerry is back, and all set for the competition!
HTC has been in the news for quite long as there were rumours about the three U-series smartphones in its pipeline. Ahead its official launch on January 12, popular tipster and ROM developer @LlabTooFer made public, HTC’s codenames that were being used for the three devices which are HTC Alpine, HTC Ocean Note and HTC E66.
Now that two of these three smartphones have launched on January 12, we can put all the rumours to rest and see what all HTC’s offering through these new devices.
HTC Alpine a.k.a. HTC U Play
HTC U Play sports a 5.2-inch Full-HD display (1080p) with a MediaTek Helio 64-bit octa-core processor and 4 GB RAM. Memory is expandable up to a whopping 2 TB via microSD card. In terms of software, the device runs on Android Nougat with HTC Sense, offering Google Assistant as well.
For the shutterbug in you, the HTC U Play boasts of a 16 megapixel rear camera which comes loaded with BSI sensor, Phase Detection Auto Focus, Optical Image Stablisation and f/2.0 aperture. Further, it supports Full HD (1080p) video recording at 30fps.
The U Play caters well to selfie aficionados too, as it boasts of a 16 megapixel front camera that comes bundled with UltraPixel mode, BSI sensor and f/2.0 aperture. Just like the rear camera, the secondary camera also supports Full HD 1080p video recording.
The device is sustained by a 2,500 mAh battery enabled with fast charging support (5V/2A) that can offer up to 15 hours of talk-time and up to 427 hours of standby time. Cool!
The 4G VoLTE-enabled HTC U Play will hit the shelves somewhere in mid-March and the 64 GB storage variant will be available for INR 40,000 in Blue, Black, Pink, and White colour variants.
HTC Ocean a.k.a. HTC U Ultra
The HTC U Ultra sports a 5.7-inch Quad HD (2,560×1,440 pixels) Super LCD display along with a secondary 2-inch display with 1040×160 pixels resolution in the same manner as found in LG V20. The display is protected by Gorilla Glass 5.
Under the hood, the U Ultra is powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 chipset paired with 4 GB of RAM.
In India, the U Ultra has been launched in its 64 GB inbuilt storage variant and sadly there will be no 128 GB variant here. Just like U Play, the storage can be expanded up to 2 TB.
Camera-wise, the HTC U Ultra comes endowed with a 12 UltraPixel rear camera with 1.55-micron pixels, a BSI sensor, laser + phase detection autofocus, optical image stabilisation, an f/2.8 aperture, and dual-tone LED flash. For all your video chat needs, the device boasts a 16 megapixel camera with an UltraPixel mode, and a BSI sensor.
The 4G-enabled HTC U Ultra will be available from March 6 in Blue, Black, Pink, and White colour options for INR 60,000.
Things common to the U Ultra and U Play
Both phones come bundled with a one-year insurance that covers liquid as well as physical damage to the smartphones.
Both, HTC U Play and HTC U Ultra utilise USonic technology to deliver high quality audio. Additionally, the phones also pack a pair of USonic earphones, which can detect sonic pulses and adjust the audio accordingly to match each user’s unique ear architecture.
Another USP that the devices share is the Sense Companion feature, which is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) based system that, basis the user’s daily routine, figures out recommendations and suggestions. The voice-assisted virtual-assistant will in some ways, be similar to Apple’s Siri and Samsung’s S Voice.
But to delineate itself, HTC has gone a step ahead and has claimed that its virtual assistant has the potential to make suggestions just on the basis of user’s calendar or preferences.
HTC E66 a.k.a. HTC One X10
The HTC One X10 is the only smartphone that is still under a shroud of secrecy, since HTC hasn’t outed it yet.
Well, on the basis of previous reports and leaks, this is expected to be a phablet that sports a 5.5-inch display with a Full-HD resolution. Under the hood, the device is expected to be powered by an octa-core 1.9 GHz MediaTek MT6755V/C Helio P10 processor, supported by the Mali T860 graphics processing unit. On the storage front, this device is expected to offer 3 GB RAM coupled with 32 GB of built-in storage.
The cameras on the One X10 are expected to be 16.3 megapixel on the rear and an 8 megapixel unit on the front.
Details about the availability of One X10 aren’t out as yet but we do have a price group in which to place the device. This smartphone is rumoured to be about CNY 1,200 or INR 11,500 (approximately).
The pricing on this one places it in the mid-range smartphone bracket and it might be good enough to give a tough fight to similarly positioned offers from Chinese brands like Xiaomi and Meizu.
HTC struggled to leave its mark in the smartphone industry throughout 2016 despite delivering the HTC 10 which did decently well, but not well enough to dredge HTC out of it’s current slump.
All this clearly implies that HTC’s hopes are now hooked onto the U-series which might help it emerge victorious in this universe of Galaxies and Pixels.
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.
Apple’s iPhone hasn’t seen any major design changes since the iPhone 6 (released three device cycles ago) and anticipation for Apple’s next avant garde design has almost reached a crescendo.
iPhone fans might soon have something exciting to look forward to, as it is believed that Apple’s 2017 iPhone (which for the moment is being dubbed as the iPhone 8), will give the users a major reason to upgrade.
Rumours floating for quite some time now imply that Apple’s next iPhone might sport curved OLED displays instead of the flat-plane LCD panels of previous iPhones.
Of course, Samsung has had OLED panels on the now-defunct Note7, current superstar Galaxy S7 edge and is expected to continue that with their next, ‘Galaxy S8’) that has helped it significantly differentiate its devices in the market for quite some time now.
While Apple’s done wonders with their LCD panels and has proven to the tech world that LCD still has the juice to stay relevant, however if Apple does want to up it’s game, OLED is one of the paramount changes that they ought to bring in. And they seem to be in concurrence with that assessment.
These rumours of the iPhone 8 having OLED displays, started to look more substantial when The KoreaHerald reported that Apple allegedly bought 60 million OLED display panels in a multibillion dollar deal from Samsung Display.
This clearly indicates that Samsung might end up being the primary supplier for iPhone 8 displays, and the primary beneficiary of a major lump of change!
Apple’s adaption of OLED displays is certainly an exciting move because not only are OLED displays extremely thin and light but also offer amazingly rich, vivid colours making any visual treat for the eyes. Additionally, OLED displays are much more energy efficient in comparison to the LCD ones.
However, OLED display panels come with their own setbacks for any manufacturer, as they are expensive to manufacture and fairly iffy to produce.
The bills of these 160 million OLED displays purchased by Apple reflect this – the first deal of 100 million OLED displays apparently cost USD 6.96 billion, while the second batch of 60 million units apparently cost USD 4.35 billion.
*cough* That’s a lot of revenue that Samsung’s generating courtesy Apple.
I know this looks like too much math, but chill we are there for all the brainstorming.
In case you’re wondering, each curved OLED screen, going by the calculation above, would cost Apple over USD 70 apiece (~INR 5,000). These numbers fall in place with another rumour that states that the iPhone 8 would cost over USD 1,000 (~ INR 67,000).
But it should be kept in mind that no official sources have confirmed this news (before your hopes are dashed!).
Cowen & Company analyst, Timothy Arcuri analysed that Apple’s decision to choose OLED panels on the iPhone 8 would have a significant impact on the company’s precious profit margins. In fact, Arcuri conjectured that Apple, during the March quarter will have to incur around USD 50 million more in expense, as a result of its OLED-based iPhone design.
All the math and expenses aside, the observation that arises is now that Apple is also almost surely, a curved-screen client. Samsung phone’s would thus lose that ‘edge’ in the market (ooh, that pun just happened, believe me).
But if you look at it from business point of view, then Samsung’s important rival will now be their customer, once more. And truth be told, these guys have been frenemies so long, they sure have made peace with each other’s existence and threat.
And we, the customers have benefited from those battles, haven’t we!
There’s no question about it. Wearables are poised to become the next big thing in the consumer-tech industry. But it’s not because they’re a new must-have breed of gadgets that people are yearning for whimsically. There’s more to it than idle hankering.
In fact, there are plenty of good reasons, most of which aren’t yet expressly known even to the yearners.
Human life is changing. Caught in a constant flux, people are always on the go. And no, it doesn’t have to do with vocational pressure or the desire for material gain. Its got to do with being the target (or recipient) of a constant, unending stream of updates, notifications, alerts, calls and email dings. Consequently, we’ve all got a new perpetual appendage. Our smartphone(s), and every single person in the modern world is suffering fatigue from it.
Fatigue of a nature that’s never been seen, felt or even estimated earlier.
People are already suffering notification-fatigue, with countless apps, social networks and emails constantly bubbling through the day – even day seems like a constant stream née barrage.
Phones don’t leave hands, and if they do, its only because they’re sucking in more juice because the battery’s running out, not because we decided to put it away voluntarily.
Many suffer mental fatigue. There’s always so much going on, that there’s a dullness in the mind. Constantly. Even at 10 am.
The thing is (and most people don’t realise this intuitively) – a notification is not as innocuous as it sounds. It’s actually the sound of the opening of a vortex.
Picture this: You have a vacant half hour in an otherwise busy day. You plan to grab a bite before the next meeting. You hear a ding, you drop the sandwich, grab the phone, check the notification, then the next one, and then remember you had to text someone. You do that and then there’s the mailbox you want to peek at in case you got something new. Nothing new? Well, looking at the unending list in the mailbox, you remember a mail you wanted to action – suddenly you’re pecking away a response. Then you realise that the reason you hadn’t responded earlier was because you needed to check a factoid with a coworker before penning the response – so a quick call to the coworker, back to the email. As you do that, someone WhatsApp’s you, you shoot off a quick emoticon.
Look at the watch, 42 minutes gone. You’re now late for the next appointment.
The sandwich lost its place in your day. And you’re going to have a rumbling tummy that speaks out exactly as you enter the meeting room and commence your apology speech.
Here’s another challenge – recall, immediately, didn’t you just check your phone to see how much battery you had left on it? Be honest – a minute ago, ten? Bet I’m right. We’re so paranoid now, that we’d be cut off if the phone dies, we’re on tenterhooks all the time… subconsciously waiting for the phone to buzz (just so that we know its alive and well) that even silence unsettles us!
Its a crazy world to live in. And its not going to get any easier.
Yet, there’s something we can do about it. Something that’s a little weird at first mention. But bear with me…
Much as I painted a forlorn picture about devices, the solution I’m about to recommend is actually going to be a more of the same!
Come a day that you have the money, get a wearable – for the 2-3 top activities you do on the phone. Let me explain.
If you want to get on the exercise bandwagon (to watch your weight, to pump your arteries, or simply because you like being limber), get a fitness band and leave your phone at home as you exercise.
If you want music when you walk, get an iPod.
If you want to know about your Facebook feed, or know when an email comes in, or just to stay aware of whats going on, on your phone, get a smart watch (something nominal will do too).
Why? Because without really knowing it, you’re getting a little tired of carrying your phone(s) around everywhere, or holding it constantly, in order to monitor it. You need a break, and a well-equipped wearable is going to help.
It’ll monitor what it needs to, apprise you as needed, and do only a few things, but do all of them discretely. And, it’ll only notify. Which means it’ll grant you an option – to register the cause of the alert and either just tap it away or run a quick acknowledgement to the sender/app and continue enjoy what you were doing. It’ll simplify your day, and handle some of the mundane things that you needn’t worry about just yet. And maybe, just maybe the vortex will close down for a bit, till you’re ready to be sucked in again.
Important Disclaimer: While there are a million manufacturers making all sorts of wearables these days, most wearables are still at version 1.0 of their evolution. So if you’re smart you should buy something basis functionality, not price, nor brand and definitely not basis colourful ads. Go easy on the pocket right now, and get the crackerjack version a year or two later. By that time kinks would’ve been ironed out, and you won’t need to buy disparate hardware for different tasks/purposes. Wearables, like all other equipment before them, will reach their zenith in future evolutions, and will amalgamate such that only the fittest will survive. Wait out for Mr. Darwin’s theory to strike the usual death knell. You’ll be the richer for the savings.
Chip-Monks has been researching wearables for a while now, and we’ve collated a great list here. Head over, check it out and get something that meets your needs.
But as we sign off, here’s some more sage advise from the ‘Monks – Get off your phone! Look up! There’s a whole world out there – with birds, and flowers and the setting sun, people and smiles, an elder who needs help crossing the street, a huggably cute puppy, perhaps a new dress in a shop window and (as in my case) a child whose chattering away to you, believing you’re listening to every word.
Listen. Enjoy. Live a little.
Get off your phone, get a wearable, ‘cos you aren’t getting today back.
In what may become as a major blow to Samsung, South Korea has tightened battery safety regulations after the Galaxy Note7 fiasco. This will certainly add to the woes of the company (and other brands from the burgeoning economy), given that Samsung is still on its self-apology tour round the world after the Note7 debacle.
The news is especially aggravating since the South Korea is the home country of the company.
On 6th February, the South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy issued a statement highlighting its intent to provide more testing around the ubiquitous technology.
“We ask that the industry shares the view that making efforts to ensure safety is equally as critical as developing new products through technological innovation”, Vice Minister Jeong Marn-ki said in a statement .
The South Korean government published the results of its own investigation into the explosive phone, according to the The Korea Herald. Like Samsung, the state-run Korean Agency for Technology Standards too, concluded that the Note7’s volatility stemmed from its battery.
So, the government’s announcement of new, stronger regulations for smartphone battery safety issues could conceivably stem from it’s findings of the investigation.
The Agency tested 14 overheated Note7s, 46 stable phones and 169 batteries provided by Samsung over a three-month time frame. The tests concluded that the batteries exhibited “factors that cause explosions“, but said there were no flaws with the Note7 smartphones themselves. In other words, it wasn’t the phone that has caused the trouble, but solely the battery.
The South Korean government now plans to rejig a current law, which earlier only required the batteries to be inspected once before mass production. The revision, which should be in place this July, will require tests every two years.
A revision of the Phone Recall Process is on the anvil too. The intention is to empower the government to be able to issue cautionary advice to consumers against buying a certain product even before an official recall is instituted by the company in question.
The safety standards are now in line with those of the International Electro Technical Commission and European Union – but sources claim that in the near future, the country’s government will be adding new procedures to mimic the standard procedures of Japan and the U.S.
Also, the new measures will include requiring manufacturers to issue a certificate of the safety of Lithium-Ion batteries, that will be newly manufactured by a new process that doesn’t have the same errors as the previous one.
To me, all this sounds good. While naysayers may claim that government oversight will hamper the growth of the company that was quickly conglomerating itself into a new tech giant, I differ.
The best that these regulations have to offer is that they shall weed out unwanted developments that hinder consumer efficiency and threaten her safety.
While Samsung’s Galaxy Note may have put a dent in the trade reputation of the country which till now has been considered as a safe haven for companies, governmental interest in restoring (and thence, maintaining) the world’s respect and confidence in the nation’s products, is an excellent statement of intent and promise, by the South Korean authorities.
Last month, Samsung announced that its energy storage subsidiary, SDI, was working on a next-gen battery for electric vehicles that would allow for a range of up to 372 miles on a single charge. Being a well wisher of the company, we sincerely hope that these will be tested thoroughly before they find the vehicles reach roads and citizens around the world.
If rumours are to be believed, Samsung may finally bring out a foldable phone sometime this year. The Korean megabrand has been working on the concept for a couple years now, and new reports seem to suggest that the company may bring out a commercial product by the fourth quarter of this year.
The new reports come on the basis of a patent’s filing information that was recently leaked. According to recently submitted patents, dated 31st January 2017, Samsung is working on a flexible display device that folds in the middle. It would give the phone a book-like shape, allowing for the users to open the device up to make it larger.
This is not the first foldable phone design we have seen from Samsung. Earlier last year, Samsung was working on a similar design, going for a tablet that folds into a phone (which honestly seemed like a better idea than a simple folding phone).
Earlier designs for the foldable phone have rather been on the lines of the impractical, and the otherworldly. Samsung, at one time, explored quite an unusual design idea, that included cylindrical shapes, from which the display rolls out like a window blind.
Most recent designs however have been far more practical, and quite similar, seemingly inspired from the old flip phones from back in the days when Motorola was the class. In fact of late another concept of a foldable phone from Samsung was spotted, in exactly that shape – a flip phone from yesteryear.
A book-like design makes a lot of sense, when one does think of it. While on the one hand, the cylinder with a roll-down screen would be quite a novelty, the practicality of it simply does not exist. There are quite many components in a phone that will not, and cannot, fold, and they need to be housed somewhere. With a book-like design, there is ample flat space to house those.
The logistics of hardware however are not the only obstacles the company will have to tackle.
What one also needs to question with ideas of this kind is their practicality, and the market they might be appealing to.
While the ideas seem quite novel, the market for something of this kind, quite like the Blue Ray’s that lasted only a couple years after the floppies, can be quite short term and limited.
A fancy phone is a good show off and a play thing – but for how long before people tire of it and move on to the next?!
What can perhaps be an appealing idea can be a phone that can be unfolded into something else, like say a tablet. That can only function if the book-like phone does not need to be opened again and again to be used, instead it can be used as a phone when closed, and as a tablet when opened. For something of this kind there still might be a market, but if this turns bulky and heavy, one shouldn’t lay too many bets on it either.
Samsung is not the only brand to be working on something of the kind. LG has already marketed a flexible phone that bends up to a certain point. It also recently showed off a working model of an 18-inch Ultra HD screen that used a special film instead of plastic as backing, thus allowing the screen to be rolled into a tight tube for transport, much like a sheet of paper! This was back in 2014, and at the time, the screen was expected to be on devices in 2017. We however don’t have more news on it, yet.
Rumours about Samsung’s foldable phone have existed since late 2015, when the market was expecting a groundbreaking device in 2016. But as the year has shown, the company has simply not been ready for something of the kind to hit the market yet, and the Note7 disaster which simply won’t go away is not doing the company any more favours.
Bringing tech of this kind is quite obviously going to be an arduous task for Samsung. The project has been facing multiple issues, in the three years that it has rumoured to have been in existence. These include issues like not having the resources to mass-produce flexible displays, or finding ways to make essential components flexible.
With the rumours making the rounds again, we might be able to see something in the latter part of the year. Though, the truth is that even if we do, and even if Samsung goes ahead and brings the genie out of the lab, and launches it commercially – the feasibility of which has been under much debate – we probably won’t be laying hands on it until well into 2018.
We shall, however, keep an ear out for the news.
Samsung’s Galaxy S8 Could Come With Wireless Headphones, But Will Also Have The Jack…
It was previously rumored that Samsung would be announcing an AirPods competitor with the announcement of their next flagship, the Galaxy S8.
Looking at the renders of the upcoming Galaxy S8 though, we’re delighted to see that Samsung has retained the 3.5 mm headphone jack (unlike Apple, in their iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus), giving users the option to adopt a wired or wireless headphone setup – whichever one suits them.
As far as the wireless headphones go, the company could be prepping a product to go with the Galaxy S8 announcement, however no one’s really sure if Samsung’s product will be competing against Apple’s AirPods.
These headphones are expected to feature active noise canceling technology, which is always a welcome feature when you want to experience nothing but the audio pulsating in your ears.
They earphones are expected to come in Black, Green, Red and Silver colours, providing users a whole palette to chose from, a choice Apple users do not have.
Unfortunately, these premium wireless headphones might also carry an expensive price tag, as they are expected to retail for 130 Euros, which translates into nearly USD 140 (~ INR 9,000)! Yet, that’s still cheaper than what the AirPods are currently retailing for.
Samsung may incorporate its own technology, that should help with mundane things like proximity-based pairing, as well as the activation/deactivation of the earphones depending on whether they’re in use or not.
The Galaxy S8 is expected to be introduced to the world on March 29, so we’re excited to hear of another product that’s going to be showcased with the flagship.
For now, take this info with a pinch of salt; you cannot believe everything that you hear, but we’ll keep you updated regardless.
Apple Refocuses On Artificial Intelligence, Having Dropped Its Foray Into Automobiles
Apple, the world’s tech giant has been trying to shift its focus to Artificial Intelligence (AI) for a while now – from hiring new talent to shelving their long-rumoured foray in automobiles, the company seems to be going all-in for AI.
One of the first major things that Apple did was to practically kill its much-talked-about Project Titan, scaling back on the long-rumored and totally not-top-secret plan of bringing self-driving car for the masses.
While the company did instead start working on a self-driving system – rather than the whole car, a system that can be sold to carmakers for use in their own vehicles – a significant number of people were taken off of the project and reassigned to other parts of the company’s business.
In addition to that, the remaining Titan team was asked to produce something feasible by the end of 2017 (to justify their own existence, I guess), dropping quite a bundle of pressure on them – to deliver, or be busted out.
Rumours of the ‘Apple Car’ have been in the wind for a couple years now, but the truth of the matter is that there didn’t seem to be a tangible outcome that would be out anytime soon.
Behind-the-scenes rumours of the project claim there was mostly chaos and not much direction (which might be stemming from the lack of progress/achievement in the necessary research and prototype), and various reports quoted unnamed sources stating that the project was an “incredible failure of leadership”.
It was only when industry stalwart Bob Mansfield came over to lead the team that the project began to take better shape. It was he who reportedly proposed and internally sold the idea of not building a Tesla-competitor, instead concentrate on a creating technology platform that could be sold to third parties.
One the other hand, Apple’s accomplishments in the AI world have been far more successful.
A fairly-everyday manifestation of their AI work is personified by their personal assistant Siri, that comes installed on all Apple devices, and has become almost a part of many users’ everyday lives.
When it came to the world, back in 2011, Siri was groundbreaking and ahead of its time, but over the years it has not been able to stay upto speed in certain areas. One of the debatable reasons could have been of Apple not putting in enough research, manpower or even being able to bring on the best of the talent on board.
But then the time came and Apple heard criticism of Siri harking that it (Siri) has fallen way behind other automated assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana and Google’s Assistant.
Apple geared up to change that fast. Not a brand that is known to shrivel away from spending on the best of the talent, Apple recently hired Russ Salakhutdinov, a Carnegie Mellon University professor, to head up a team working on artificial intelligence. He is a hugely respected expert on Deep Learning and is exploring smart ways for computers to learn about the world.
His research work over the years has been funded by Google, Microsoft, and Samsung.
One of Apple’s other significant steps towards shoring up it’s AI initiative was highlighted when it acquired Seattle-based machine-learning company Turi for USD 200 million.
Turi specializes in machine-learning and is likely to boost its product’s AI capabilities. It is unclear for now what Apple is doing with Turi, but the Turi’s resources and expertise could help boost Siri and it’s intelligence significantly.
In addition to these, Apple just also joined Partnership on AI, an artificial intelligence research group that includes Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft.
Formed in September, last year, the group was intended to be a means of supporting research, establishing ethical guidelines and promoting both transparency and privacy when it comes to AI studies.
With these milestones, Apple, a company that is known for its closed doors culture and secretive plans, seems to be showing signs of opening up in the name of improving research efforts around machine learning.
What is quite clear at the moment is that when Apple looks at the automobiles market, it has two questions to answer: what role does it exactly see itself playing? And how much auto industry know-how does it need to succeed?
The field is quite new for Apple. What then, can be useful to look at is how Apple has entered new fields before.
With the iPod (music) and the iPhone (cellular), it hired a bunch of people with extensive subject knowledge, yes, but it also relied heavily and quite smartly (one must say), on partnerships.
Should Apple consider having a car-making partner then? Or like Mansfield seems to be thinking, will establishing a technology platform that can be sold to third parties, be the path to follow?
I, for one, can’t say. I know there’s focus on AI from every part of the tech world, and I’m sure that technology will make that climb to that stratosphere soon. But the one thing I do know, is that whenever Apple enters a market place, it brings it’s absolute best game (or it doesn’t enter it at all), and that forces every other organism in that space to up it’s own game too, or be drowned out.
And Apple does things ethically, with you and me in the center of their thought process. With IoT and connected devices in the mix, and AI and Deep Learning thrown in too, our personal information and our lives’ stories should not be put on the auctioning table. Apple’s own approach (and inputs to the Partnership on AI) will help ensure that, to the maximum degree possible.
So, it’s a good thing then. Apple, AI on!
The VR platform everyone had been waiting for is finally open to all developers. As of this week, any developer can make an app for Google Daydream.
Google had been arguably a little late to the VR party, but when it did arrive, it did not bring a device – it brought an entire ecosystem instead, something from where devices can be powered.
Google Daydream has been the center of curiosity of the many, ever since. Here’s a quick read, that should explain what Google Daydream is about.
The platform was announced back in May 2016 and has been live for a few months now but was only open to apps by a select few developers. For starters, the company was still in the process of testing the platform. Secondly, to ensure that the users appreciate the experience, Google had been quite particular about maintaining a quality standard for apps that were allowed to be available on the platform.
Limiting the number of developers they worked with allowed Google to work in close collaboration with partners and thus carefully curate, and manage, content for their new platform. But it of course also had a downside. It severely limited the number of apps one could download for the new headset ecosystem through the Google Play store. So while the experience was supposedly good, the variety was quite limited. Now that the platform is open to all developers, that is bound to change.
It would be interesting to see what this new move brings to the platform.
It would be interesting to see what this new move brings to the platform. While there are obviously many skilled developers waiting who have been waiting for the platform to open so that they can present their apps.
Similarly, of course, there also are many low-skilled developers who might end up pushing incomplete and low-quality apps onto the platform. Filtering then, in this new environment, would be an interesting task. Apps can be submitted through the Play Store, much like any other Android app is submitted at the moment.
Google, however, is still being very particular about the quality standard on its platform. The company has published a set of requirements for apps that can be published onto the VR platform. All developers must follow these requirements while submitting the apps, and the company expects to hold the standards high. These requirements include certain unique assets, such as 360-degree photosphere, a VR icon, and Motion Intensity Ratings.
This move has the capacity to dramatically shift the momentum in mobile VR. Especially given that the company is competing with the likes of Samsung Gear VR, which recently announced that they sold about 5 million VR headsets and Facebook’s Oculus.
Both of these have already made their way into global markets, and everyone has been wondering where Google’s Daydream is headed.
The apps on Daydream have been showing comparatively smaller download numbers. With more apps which can be expected to be available now, this can be expected to change, as users would have more options to choose from.
Google also announced Daydream View, a Daydream-compatible VR headset that was designed by Google, in October last year. The VR headset, Daydream View, for now has a limited availability, within the US. It is available at Verizon, Best Buy and the Google Store in the US.
As the ecosystem grows, more and more headsets and phones can be expected to be compatible with it. Even though that sounds like a given thing, the catch is that curation in VR is quite tricky, especially given the fact that design problems and slight glitches don’t just mean a broken app on your phone, these could leave the users feeling ill, and with severe nausea, headache, and the likes. It is therefore important to get it just right, even if it means stalling the process a wee bit longer.
The move to open to platform to all developers is not really an unexpected or surprising move; it was a logical step that everyone had been waiting for. Google had previously indicated that it would be opening the platform to all developers in 2017. The move, nonetheless, is quite welcome.
Towards the end of last year, Qualcomm announced that it’s next prime jewel was going to be the Snapdragon 835. It also said that it’s new, next-generation smartphone processor chip would be built using 10nm FinFET process node in collaboration with Samsung. But that’s where the details halted and nothing else was made known to the world.
That announcement had it’s effect – curiosity and conjecture ensued, mulling the whats and hows of the Snapdragon 835 processor.
Then, at the recently concluded CES 2017 event, amid the unveiling of a lot of new cool gadgets, Qualcomm announced more details about the Snapdragon 835.
The company dwelled on some details regarding the forthcoming chip, shedding light on the clock speeds, core designs and upgrades on top of Snapdragon 820.
The official word is that the Snapdragon 835 will feature the Kryo 280 CPU with four performance cores running at up to 2.45 GHz and four efficiency cores running up to 1.9 GHz. The newest chip will feature LPDRR4X (a type of LPDDR4 developed by Samsung that uses 0.6V for I/O voltage (Vddq) instead of the standard 1.1V.
“The combination of the CPU, GPU, DSP and software framework support in the Snapdragon 835 offers a highly-capable heterogeneous compute platform,” the company said in a release.
In terms of connectivity, the Snapdragon 835 processor comes with “an integrated X16 Gigabit-Class LTE modem, with integrated 2×2 802.11ac Wave-2 and 802.11ad Multi-gigabit Wi-Fi, making it the first commercial processor equipped to deliver Gigabit-Class connectivity at home and on the go,” Qualcomm said.
To provide you with some concrete figures, the processor is claimed to offer 20% performance gain, and 25% faster graphics rendering.
The hardware-based user authentication on this new chip makes the smartphone eligible for uses like enterprise access, users’ personal data and mobile payments which are the need of the hour, all thanks to Demonetisation (in India).
The Snapdragon 835 is clearly aimed at supporting next-generation entertainment experiences and connected Cloud services for premium consumer and enterprise devices, including smartphones, VR/AR head-mounted displays, IP cameras, tablets, mobile PCs and other devices running a variety of operating systems, smartphones, VR/AR head-mounted displays, IP cameras, tablets, mobile PCs and other devices running a variety of operating systems, including Android and Windows 10, with support for legacy Win32 apps.
“Our new flagship Snapdragon processor is designed to meet the demanding requirements of mobile virtual reality and ubiquitous connectivity while supporting a variety of thin and light mobile designs,” said Cristiano Amon, Executive Vice President, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., in a statement.
The Snapdragon 835 also incorporates the new Adreno 540 GPU and Qualcomm Spectra 180 image sensor processor (ISP), taking your travel photography game to the next level with its amazing camera capabilities. This latest Qualcomm flagship processor can support up to 32-megapixel single and 16-megapixel dual-camera setups.
What’s more, the Snapdragon 835 is packed with Quick Charge 4 that can fill juice in the device for up to 20% faster charging and up to 30% higher efficiency than Quick Charge 3.0.
This clearly implies that the users can play more games and watch movies for a longer period of time on their smartphone without worrying about the battery. Additionally, there is word that the mobile platform has been shrunk and is 35% smaller in package size, thereby consuming 25% less power in comparison to its predecessor, which means longer battery life and thinner designs.
The improved performance on the newest chip is owed to the gains in the clock speed and not really any crucial micro-architectural changes. Most of us are aware of the fact that smartphones rarely run at their top frequencies for any length of time due to aggressive power management. If the new 10 nm chip is able to hold higher clock speeds than its 14nm predecessor, then it can definitely lead to better results in terms of performance.
This kind of rise fails to be prominent at times, simply because thermal and power envelopes limit their applicability to specific applications or workloads, and because efficiency improvements have naturally diminishing returns.
In addition to providing details about their latest processor, Qualcomm, in partnership with ODG, also launched the first devices powered by the Snapdragon 835 processor – ODG R-8 and R-9 AR/ VR smartglasses.
The processor is expected to be shipped in commercial devices in the first half of 2017, in fact some rumours suggest that Samsung Galaxy S8 might pack in this latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor.
I know that was a lot of technalese back there, but it’s hard to talk English when you one’s listing specs! Check back at chip-monks.com to know more as 2017 unfolds, and devices bearing this new benchmark of processing power, release to the world at large.
Three terms that all of India, and nigh almost every Indian got a crash course on in recently – demonetisation, cashless economy, and digital payment solutions; have become an intrinsic part of our new lives in the cashless economy.
December 2016, demonetization in India saw both, a lot of support and tons of criticism from the masses.
But the one industry that witnessed a hitherto unbelievable trajectory (post demonetization) is that of Digital Payment Solutions – where cash is transferred virtually, especially via mobile devices.
As digital payment becomes popular amidst users in India , there is word that Google may soon back this burgeoning technology.
In his latest statement, Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai stated that the company was thinking of making such a move and that Google would work hard on offering some of its services on top of the Unified Payments Interface.
For the uninitiated, Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is India’s intrepid project to make person-to-person and e-commerce transactions easier and more efficient.
The UPI is a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank), amalgamating several banking features, uninterrupted fund routing and merchant payments under one umbrella.
UPI is built over IMPS (Immediate Payment Service), which makes the transfer of funds even easier than the new and revolutionary IMPS.
Like the IMPS, UPI’s new payment interface will still need payee details like bank name, branch, IFSC code and full name to be entered; the only relevant thing here becomes the Virtual Payment Address (VPA) which enables the user to send and receive payments.
Currently, UPI is only enabled on Android-based apps, without any information about its debut on iOS. Given the fact that Android is the most extensively used platform in India, Google’s move towards introducing a UPI-based payments solution definitely constitutes a sagacious move and is expected to relieve hassled consumers.
Already, some of the major UPI apps in usage include ICICI Pockets, Canara Banks’ ‘epower’ etc.
In fact, the Indian government has also taken steps in this direction and launched a common UPI app, called BHIM.
Talking about UPI, Pichai said in an interview, “I think it’s a bold and courageous move and it is a platform shift for the underlying economy to try and digitize how cash moves around and we are excited by it“, also adding that such moves work out “gradually”.
Currently, in India, the dissemination of bank accounts, and by extension, debit cards and credit cards remain fairly low. With UPI, the Indian government is trying to bring banking and financial services accessible for its entire population.
Another program called Aadhaar by the government seems to be an initiative to make it easier for the users to have one set of information work across abundant services.
“Maybe we will bring services from Google that will work on top of UPI which will make things work better for users in India“, Pichai said in the interview, adding, “We are working on it hard. Anything we can do to make payments easier for users in India. So we are trying to understand UPI stack, to bring some services, which will make things better for Indian users in terms of digital payments”.
This clearly implies that Indians will soon be able to enjoy Google-powered payments solution just like Apple Pay or Samsung Pay which could be either voice or biometric authentication-based.
Pichai’s comment gains perspective, when the fact that the Indian government has held talks with Google, Apple, and Microsoft to bring Aadhaar-enabled authentication system to their respective mobile operating systems is brought into the purview. Though at that time, the companies didn’t accede to the proposal.
Mr. Pichai showed his confidence in India being a global player in digital economy. “I think I am absolutely, with full certainty, convinced that India will be a global player in digital economy and it will be competitive with any country in the world in the digital economy. We have all the foundation“.
Google is also working on numerous projects like ‘Internet Saathi‘ to educate people on Internet and to get more people online, particularly in rural areas. Google was working on making its services available in as many local Indian languages as possible.
Pichai is of the view that, “English is spoken only by a small segment of the overall population. So just getting Google to work in other languages is a big focus. We have made progress today in Android, with search, we support many languages but we want to do all that better so that it works even in rural situations with the right dialects and so on”.
Google seems to have picked the right and most lucrative vein in India and is ready to make the most of this cashless era.
What comes to your mind when you hear the term “Beast Mode”?
In most cases, it evokes images of the complete utilization of whatever that it is, with brute force thrown in for good measure.
You must be wondering in what context is all this relevant?
Well, Samsung recently got the term “Beast Mode” trademarked in the European Union.
Discovery of this trademark set the rumour mill abuzz, with lot of them mentioning that the South Korean tech giant is probably planning to introduce this feature on the next Samsung flagship, the Galaxy S8 that is expected to release sometime in the first quarter of 2017.
Although Samsung has made no official announcements about the specifications on the Galaxy S8, there are rumours that the phone might feature Qualcomm’s most powerful processor the Snapdragon 835, which, Qualcomm is believed to be working on in collaboration with Samsung.
There is also a possibility that some regional variants of the Galaxy S8 might house Samsung’s own next-generation Exynos processor as well.
Interestingly enough, both the processors are built by utilizing the 10nm process.
If you’re trying to recall where you’ve heard of the 10nm process, you probably heard of if being incorporated in the upcoming iPhone 8 set to release in 2017.
Coming back, in the context of the current article, it is in the processor arena that the alleged Beast Mode fits in.
Trademarked in December 2016, the term “Beast Mode” is explained in the trademark application to imply that it is supposed to cover all of Samsung’s devices including “…Smartphones; Mobile phones; Application software for smart phones; Computer software; Notebook computers; Computers; Tablet PCs; Portable computers; Netbook computers”.
There is no official word explaining the implications of this Beast Mode but as rumors suggest, it is possible that by turning on the Beast Mode on the Galaxy S8, the processor will be able to work at its maximum power.
This is to say that the processor would be able to realise its complete potential.
This further looks like an extension of Android Nougat’s Performance Mode whereby the users are given the options of four presets of high performance to choose from. Android users are now getting used to different modes on different smartphones like “Gaming Mode”.
It seems valid that by switching on the Beast Mode, the users won’t be able to use the Power-Saving mode, meaning that users will have to barter longer battery life for maximum results of the processor.
If Samsung Galaxy S8’s Beast Mode is for real, then it seems the upcoming iPhone 8 is in for a great competitor. History has it, the Galaxy Series by Samsung has never been able to outshine iPhones by Apple, perhaps Beast Mode by Samsung is the key to achieving this.
On another side of possibilities, the Beast Mode could also help gear the Galaxy S8 towards VR.
Other rumored specifications on the Samsung Galaxy S8 are wireless earphones, the absence of a physical home button and the embedding of the fingerprint sensor under the screen itself (a la the rumoured iPhone 8), with a 6 GB or 8 GB of RAM.
Perhaps, Samsung is trying to mitigate the Samsung Galaxy Note7 disaster by overcompensating.
However, it will be idealistic to assume that this “Beast Mode” is going to do all things good for a company like Samsung that is still dealing with the Note7 debacle. Odds are that the same Beast Mode could also overwork the processor in turn leading to more heat and higher battery temperatures.
And of course, no one would want their precious smartphones to explode. (Just saying!)
There are tons of productivity apps available on Play Store, that are aimed at helping users minimise their work load substantially while also helping users plan their lives better.
Some of the most popular productivity apps are Evernote, Outlook and Google Drive.
There’s a new one on the Store, which is a smart time-saving app released by Samsung.
Called Samsung Focus, it is an all-in-one productivity app, designed largely for the needs of business users who virtually spent a lot of time doing their share of labour on different apps. Focus brings together a lot of these complementary things like email, memos, calendar and contacts under one roof, enabling the user through a hassle-free, streamlined experience.
We’d written about Samsung Focus as far back as May 2016 when we’d heard it was coming to the Note 6 (which was before Samsung leapfrogged the numbering chrono for their Galaxy Note series and went directly to Note7). Well, we were right about the call.
Focus sports a lot of features including a tabbed interface, support for multiple accounts, even honours keywords, and does smart things like prioritising your notifications.
To start with, unlike other productivity apps, Focus is not complicated, nor complex-looking. The app flaunts a simple yet appealing and un-congested design. The main screen shows all of your upcoming events as well as some recent emails.
You can add calendar entries and manage invites, create memos about important tasks and more, right from there. The app has tabs that carry information which are synced to each other via a tabbed interface.
There is a universal search tab option available, that primarily is a search engine which exultantly digs out information from related parts of the phone.
As I used the app, I realised that Samsung has spent quite some time understanding the nuances of work life. In fact, the next feature of Focus I’m about to showcase clearly validates it.
Considering the widespread Notification Fatigue on smart devices today (thanks to the hundreds of apps, social platforms and increasingly-mobile-first nature of business), Focus helps reduce the clutter.
Focus actually provides a summarised list of your major notifications in an easy-to-read card-like UX that can be customised to your preference and whims. You can customise the notifications according to what you wish to see, and who from.
Your VIPs (bosses, customers and the spouse) can be flagged as Priority Contacts. Notifications of activity from these VIPs can be set to different alert levels and tones.
You could even choose to be notified only about the emails from contacts you’ve flagged as important, fencing yourself from all the unwanted mess of commercial publicity emails that amass every other minute. However, it is worth noting that only Exchange ActiveSync (“EAS”) IMAP/POP3 email addresses are supported by Focus.
Another smart feature in the app is the Keyword Setup. This feature essentially lets you choose a few keywords around which the notifications of emails revolve.
For example, if the desired keywords you’ve set are “important”, “meeting”, “trip”, you’ll receive specific notifications of emails carrying those words.
Essentially, it is just another way to prioritise your alerts, this time with Keywords.
While the primary/normal view of the app notifies you of you upcoming tasks, appointments, messages, it also does something else that most other apps don’t – helps you set up a conference call with an email. Conference calls can then be easily joined simply by clicking a single button.
Given that it has access to all this information about you, your preferences and importantly, your work, Samsung has been smart to ensure that the Focus app saves all the data it gathers/uses about your life on your device itself, and does not transmit it to any Servers or external repositories.
Samsung also clarified that Samsung Electronics never shares any User Data. “Samsung Focus does not operate any cloud servers. It connects only to the actual mail servers. It stores your account’s data on the device, and Samsung Electronics never access any user data“, the company clarifies in a note in the app’s Google Play Store listing.
Okay, if you’re wondering if the app is supported on all Android phones… well, the name is a dead giveaway! The app is only supported on Samsung phones – that too, only on those that run Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow) or above, as their operating system. Bummer! Well, another reason for you to upgrade, I guess!
Some say Focus is an app that Samsung sought inspiration from the BlackBerry Hub. Fortunately enough (for Samsung), it’s not an outright copy – the BB Hub is mostly about messages (emails and texts), whereas Samsung Focus appears to be emphasising on all things “productivity”.
But I’ll admit, it does look a little familiar (*halo shining*)
While the roll-out of Android Nougat 7.0 is still underway, Google has already started rolling out the beta version of Nougat 7.1.1 for certain devices.
The Nougat 7.1.1 version was put out in the developer preview in November, and was subsequently released for the Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Nexus 6P, Google Nexus 5X, Google Nexus 9, Google Pixel tablet, the Nexus player and other General Mobile 4G (Android One) devices.
With the Nougat 7.1.1 update, Google is interestingly bringing some features that were initially seen only on the Pixel devices to the Nexus devices.
While Google has moved on, most other non-Google brands are still yet to roll out the Nougat 7.0 version entirely.
As budget smartphone brands, most of them Chinese, have been climbing up the charts for their products’ specs and capabilities, they all use heavily personalized versions of Android, to distinguish their products from the rivals in the market.
What this basically means for the users of these devices is that brands such as Huawei, Lenovo, Xiaomi, Gionee, Oppo, Vivo, Coolpad and LeEco, are almost always among the very last to roll out updates to their respective devices.
This time around, however, with Nougat 7.0, things seem to be a little different.
And it is good news, as Android Nougat brings several improvements over the older versions of Android for the users.
All this is very impressive. Android has historically be infamous for the glacial reach across brands. With the 7.0 update in the market for over a month now, and the 7.1.1 version already starting out, it stands to reason that updates should be rolling out even faster, as more and more companies seem ready to bring it to their devices.
For more information on if the update is yet available on your device or not, check for the update on your device, or stay tuned for more information.
2017 looks like a year that will have bezel-less smartphones pouring in!
What’s more, even the next iPhone from Apple is expected to abandon the physical home button for a fingerprint scanner embedded within the screen itself.
Back in October 2014, Synaptics acquired fingerprint ID provider Validity for $255 million, giving it an entry into the fingerprint identification market that had, for years, suffered in relative facelessness.
Not complete anonymity though. It was with the launch of iPhone 5 in September 2012, that biometric sensing to unlock the phone via fingerprints suddenly became the hot new thing. Once Apple did it, everybody else did it too. And devices changed forever.
Keeping in line with these rumours is the actual news of a new model of an optical fingerprint scanner called the ‘Natural ID FS9100’ by Synaptics.
Synaptics claims it to be the industry’s first optical-based fingerprint scanner for smartphones and tablets where the fingerprint scanner can be placed under a covering glass including a 2.5D glass that rides atop the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge etc.
This is quite a big breakthrough.
A fingerprint scanner that can work without a physical button, under glass, is a big deal as it can completely eliminate the space-hogging bezels above and below the screen, and make the face of the phone one complete sheet of glass. What a beauty the device would be!!
Additionally, eliminating cutouts and shaving of glass around the cutouts would result in cleaner industrial design and significantly reduce the amount of glass wasted due to cracking during production.
Synaptics elaborates on the functionality of its new fingerprint scanner on its website: “Under cover glass biometrics eliminates button cut-outs and glass thinning processes required by capacitive under-glass sensors, leading to glass yield improvements. The highly reliable FS9100 optical solution excels with wet finger performance, and being protected by glass, is durable, scratchproof, waterproof, and eliminates ESD concerns”.
Now you know what the FS9100 is capable of!
This is not all for the new-age sensor, though.
The company also highlights the fact that the sensor is equipped with PurePrint anti-spoof technology, which does the job of examining the fingerprint images through artificial intelligence, thereby enabling the sensor to distinguish between fake and actual fingerprints.
Just so you know, Synaptics is not the pioneer in the field of optical sensor technology. Earlier, Qualcomm had introduced Sense ID, which works primarily through glass, sapphire, aluminum, stainless steel, and plastics. The recently launched Xiaomi Mi 5s can be considered amongst the first wave of smartphones to feature Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sense ID fingerprint sensor under glass.
Back to Optical Sensing Technology.
Les Santiago, Research Director for IDC elaborates upon the benefits of Optical sensing technology: “Optical sensing technology, which is very high performance and widely proven in other markets, has many advantages such as durability, scratch resistance, and resistance to ESD, but optical has not been widely adopted in smartphones and tablets due to form factor and power consumption limitations. Synaptics is enabling the elimination of the home button which is a critical next step to full top-to-bottom, edge-to-edge smartphone and tablet displays”.
“By bringing optical sensing technology with the right form-factor and power consumption envelope to smartphones and tablets, Synaptics is enabling the elimination of the home button, which is a critical next step to full top-to-bottom, edge-to-edge smartphone and tablet displays“, said IDC Research Director Les Santiago in a press release.
The fingerprint sensors will go into the mass-production phase in the second quarter of 2017, which almost overlaps with the current rumors of Samsung going bezel-less in its flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S8, which is expected to hit the shelves late-March 2017 after being officially disclosed at the MWC 2017, in February.
If Samsung indeed chooses to opt for Synaptics’ optic-based fingerprint sensors, then it could kickstart a new trend in the smartphone industry and bezel-less phones imply a farewell to physical buttons on smartphones.
The rumours around the ‘iPhone 8’ also picking up steam are implying that Apple too, is opting for the fingerprint sensor to be directly embedded within the screen.
Synaptics first launched what we now call touchpads in 1995, and its capacitive touchpad technology is now used by most notebook PC manufacturers. However, with the announcement of FS9100 now, it seems that the company is inching closer towards its dream of being the independent supplier of fingerprint recognition technology to the remainder of the industry, as professed in 2014.
Samsung has been hounding the headlines almost through the entire annum of 2016 – be it for excellent product design, battery explosion incidents or upcoming launches, the South Korean mobile manufacturer has consistently grabbed attention.
Samsung is now making waves with news relating to its plans to introduce foldable smartphones by early 2017.
Samsung, has joined hands with numerous manufacturers including its own display manufacturing unit, Samsung Display, to launch a foldable smartphone.
Renowned as an innovator, Samsung has launched plenty of new tech and hardware in smartphones – improved RAM, storage, battery and many other mind-blowing features, but a foldable smartphone from the company could be a drastic first-mover advantage in the crowded smartphone industry.
The South Korean giant, has been developing the foldable-screen technology for the past ten years and it seems to have finally taken a step into the future, by nearing the public release of a foldable smartphones, soon.
Following several rumours, leaked designs, teaser videos regarding the device with a foldable screen, the company seems to be following through with the plan. ET News has in fact now reported that Samsung’s working on a ‘two-track strategy’ which implies a possibility of two separate dual-screened variants, expected to be released early next year.
According to ET News, the company will bring the ‘dual-screen’ smartphone to the market before it announces the foldable designs.
A dual-screen device implies one that has two different flat displays on either side of the device. According to the report, Samsung will go ahead with the foldable smartphone launch only if the dual screen device is a hit among the masses and hence will be manufactured in limited quantity.
They added that the initial foldable design will be launched in 2017 and another single flexible display smartphone will come forth in 2018.
The dual-screened smartphone is expected to be unveiled at CES or MWC in 2017.
According to a recently published patent, the tech giant appeared to have been planning for a new smartphone which can fold in half near the middle. The Samsung smartphone could also be one that folds like a flip phone of yesteryear, yet one could see a secondary display which works even when the device is folded.
In 2013, the company had had a limited launch of the Galaxy Round which had a curved OLED display. Then it announced the Galaxy Note Edge which took the market by storm as it was the first to have an edge display. The recent Galaxy S7 edge followed with a dual curved display.
This progression is indicative that Samsung has the resources and technology to bring in a foldable device.
Apart from Samsung, Lenovo too, is reportedly working on foldable smartphone prototypes as it had showcased a few at the Tech World conference this year; however, the company has not yet published a plan on bringing those devices to the market anytime soon. LG too is working on foldable screens, but there’s no news of them having attained the concept for smartphones yet.
So… Samsung clearly has an advantage and should be working to launch this killer feature at the soonest possible.
Quite high up on the list of significant things that happened this month is the formation of the Global Virtual Reality Association.
Founded by notable virtual reality companies: Acer Starbreeze, Facebook’s Oculus, Google, HTC, and Samsung, the mission of this organization is to promote the development of Virtual Reality globally, in a responsible manner.
In the light of announcements of such new associations, one usually questions the need for an organization of this kind?
Well, for starters, the world of Virtual Reality is quite disorganized at the time, where there are cardboard boxes, on the one hand, being used as tools of VR, and on the other hand are high-end devices costing over USD 1000 a piece.
The technology is available only in a very limited manner and it is quite the more confusing for the intended audience than it is entertaining for them.
What is then important to note is that the GVRA is not an organization meant to bring cross-organization compatibility, or sharing of technology, or making sure that every manufacturer is keeping up to the same standard. It is not a regulatory body, nor the body to set standards of any kind.
Instead what it is, is an Industry Promoter Group, working towards stoking awareness of, and creating interest in Virtual Reality, not only among customers but also among governmental agencies, educators and researchers, alike.
“The goal of the Global Virtual Reality Association is to promote responsible development and adoption of VR globally”, said the group in a release. “The association’s members will develop and share best practices, conduct research, and bring the international VR community together as the technology progresses“.
Most significant industries have bodies of this kind, meant for promotion and lobbying, and working towards ensuring that the size of the pie is expanding. Companies from the entire industry come together for common causes like this; while they can be fierce rivals on the shelves, they need to have each other’s back with the rest of the world.
In this early stage of development, the organization and its participant parties can be expected to concentrate on the development of the hardware. As far as software and content are concerned, for now, there is a very limited existence of the two of those, primarily owing to the very limited targetable audience. There is a lot of scope for the development of that, but that is a rather long term idea, instead of a short-term one.
What needs be developed at this time, is a sustainable VR hardware standard, like we have for smartphones, and tablets, and computers – most of which in the market, are quite similar and quite comprehensible to an average man.
At this time in the device market, the scope for Virtual and Augmented Reality market is valued in the ballpark of $5.2 billion. By the year 2020, the expected growth of the market is at least a dozen folds, with the revenues expected to be in the ballpark of $160 billion!
Add to that, that the potential for application of VR and AR is very wide ranging – from arts to entertainment, to science, to healthcare, to real estate. With this amazing a scope, the industry is actually faced with nascent problems, like content development, and solutions for things like motion sickness that can be a result of experiencing virtual reality at times.
Most of the VR industry has until now been led by companies that were start-ups, that were subsequently acquired by big industry players. GVRA should bring them some kind of stability. While the startups will always have a space to disrupt the market, the GVRA should bring a platform for them to all come together and open up to the much-needed conversation in the regards to VR, helping the market, in the end, grow for everyone.
The battle lines between Samsung and Apple have been drawn ever since the smartphone market began to take form, but the heat got turned up when the squabble over smartphone patents went to court in the U.S.
There were several rounds of suits and counter suits, dragging the matter all the way into 2016. Apple seemed to be winning for the most part, but recently there was a twist in the tale; and an interesting one at that, which sets an important precedent for in an effervescent space.
In the first week of December 2016, the United States Supreme Court favoured Samsung’s plea, when it ruled that Samsung did not have to pay the USD 399 million penalty ascribed by an earlier Appeals Court ruling, awarded to Samsung’s American rival, for supposedly copying their iPhone designs.
Some background. The battle had begun in 2011, when Apple sued Samsung, stating that the rival South Korean brand had stolen Apple’s technology, and iPhone’s trademark appearance.
Consequently, in 2012, Apple Inc. was awarded a sum of USD 930 million in damages, following a verdict that Samsung had infringed Apple’s iPhone patents and mimicked its distinctive appearance in their own Galaxy- and other similar devices.
After that, in May 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington upheld the verdict however, additionally stated that iPhone’s appearance could not be protected by trademark law. This led to the damages to be paid to Apple to be reduced by USD 382 million. Hence, Samsung, back in last December, paid up USD 548 million to Apple in damages.
Since then Samsung has been fighting the case, looking to get a chunk of their money back. They took Apple back to the court, stating that they should not have had to make the USD 399 million of that payout for copying the patented designs.
The patent designs in question are iPhone’s rounded-corner front face, bezel and a colorful grid of icons that represent programs and applications.
Apple argument this far has been based around their design, stating that their unique design and features enable them to have the position in the market that they do, and further argues that other companies have been indiscriminately adopting these designs into their products, endangering Apple’s customer base, and thus their position in the market.
On the other hand, Samsung did not base its argument on completely denying adopting any of Apple’s designs, instead stated that if they did copy Apple’s designs, they applied those elements with a combination of others and that they contributed only marginally to a complex product with thousands of patented features.
That seems to have held water with the apex court. Thus the latest ruling.
Another important point that the latest decision holds up is that a patent violator does not always have to fork over its entire profits from the sales of products using ‘stolen’ designs if the designs covered only certain components and not the whole thing.
This brings the law regarding damages for infringement of design patents into a new area of uncertainty and might have bigger implications for designers, especially in the light of the fact that design copyrights and patents are very expensive and cumbersome to get in the first place.
Given this new ‘loophole’ or in other words ‘dilution’ of rights that the creators may have over patent design/innovations, this has not have gone down well with some experts.
“That rule was designed to make sure copyists didn’t just treat the possibility of a lawsuit or payment of damages as an incidental business expense”, stated Susan Scafidi, the academic director of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University School of Law, believing that this was definitely a victory for those who steal ad copy designs.
“Now, with damage awards limited to the percentage of profits attributable to the copying, design patents are much less valuable to creators. Not only are the potential awards or settlements lower, but the costs of calculating and litigating the amount of damages are higher”.
With this latest ruling, pretty much backing Samsung, what the apex court did was that it gave Samsung the chance to get a chunk of the punitive payout back.
We can close with an interesting fact that the Supreme Court in the U.S. hardly ever hears on patent battles and that it hasn’t done so in over the last 120 years. The very fact that, that’s where this battles has reached speaks volumes for how big these seemingly small ideas of patent infringement and supposed stealing of designs can get, especially when the parties involved are the likes of Apple and Samsung.
The case, however, is not over yet.
The judges, in an 8-0 vote count, sent the case back to a lower court for further proceedings, having repealed one particular ruling. What this means is that the battle still continues on whether the “article of manufacture” involved is the entire smartphone or just certain components, and then to determine what Samsung owes.
Apple, for now, has stated that its case “has always been about Samsung’s blatant copying of our ideas, and that was never in dispute”. It went on to add, “We remain optimistic that the lower courts will again send a powerful signal that stealing isn’t right”.
HTC had released the HTC Bolt exclusively on Sprint in the United States.
Now, they’ve announced the HTC 10 Evo, which is the same phone as the Bolt, but one that will be available for the U.K. and other regions.
This HTC Bolt has been the talk of the town for quite a while, for it’s specifications and setup.
The HTC 10 Evo is wrapped in a full metal unibody which is water-, splash- and dust-resistant, all credits to the IP57 ratings. However, this is a notch below the protection offered by Samsung on its Galaxy S7 and S7 edge with the IP 68 ratings or the IP 67 rating offered on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.
The 5.5 inch, 2560×1440 pixel screen is protected by Corning’s latest Gorilla Glass 5, which as per HTC is meant to provide protection to the device against various phone drops and smashing.
In fact, the Evo looks a lot like the HTC 10. The difference being that the newer device comes with a flat back instead of a curved one, simply because the larger framework was necessary to house the bigger, 5.5 inch Quad HD display, which in turn, provided HTC more room to pack in all the necessaries.
For the shutterbugs, the rear camera is a 16 megapixel camera with optical image stabilization and phase detection autofocus. And then there’s also a Manual mode which allows for complete control over your shots and provides you with an option to save the resultant file in a RAW format.
To serve all your selfie needs, there is an 8 megapixel front camera with an auto HDR mode. The physical home button on the HTC Evo serves as a fingerprint sensor which is claimed to unlock the device in a mere 0.2 seconds .The device houses a fast-charging 3,200 mAh battery to sustain all the functionality on the HTC 10 Evo.
HTC Evo runs on Android 7.0 Nougat out-of-the-box and thus is capable of performing functions like split-screen view, free unlimited photo storage with Google Photos app, and inbuilt Google Duo video calling app.
The only decision made by HTC that looks a little surprising is the use of the dated Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 under the hood. While this is the version 2.0 or the Snapdragon 810 that was notoriously famous for heating issues with many smartphones, Qualcomm has fixed that issue in version 2.0 chipsets. Other than that, the device packs 3 GB of RAM which can be expanded up to 2 TB via microSD card.
Audio on HTC smartphones has always been a USP. This time, it seems HTC has also taken the hot controversial route of dropping the 3.5 mm audio jack and utilising the USB Type-C port instead to plug in the supplied earphones. In case of HTC Evo, the phone comes with a pair of BoomSound Adaptive Audio earphones that are capable of adjusting the sound being played according to various factors around you such as the structure of your ear or the environment that you currently inhabit. For instance, if you are travelling on metro and surrounded by a lot of noise of fellow passengers then these smart earphones will detect it and play back 24-bit hi-res audio files. Cool right?
HTC has always made audio a selling point of its phones, but like Apple, has taken the controversial decision to remove the 3.5mm headphone socket. This means utilizing the USB Type-C port to plug in a pair of supplied headphones, buying a new pair with the right connection, or choosing to go wireless with a set of Bluetooth headphones.
Just like the HTC Bolt, the HTC 10 Evo will be available in three color variants – Gunmetal, Silver, and Gold. The device is now available to pre-order in Taiwan from the HTC’s e-Store.
Fun Fact: This is the first time that HTC is selling the device online only. This in itself is quite a daunting task for a company like HTC which has benefitted from its relationship with carrier partners in the past.
The HTC 10 Evo has been priced at TWD 17,990 (approximately INR 38,500) for the 32 GB variant while the 64 GB variant has been priced slightly higher at TWD 19,900 (approximately INR 43,000).
The company website confirms that the HTC 10 Evo will start shipping in Taiwan from November 28. However, for all those in India who are eagerly waiting for the arrival of this smartphone there is no word regarding when and what price the smartphone will be available in India.
We’ll let you know as we hear more about this device.
Huawei is said to have been working on P10, the much awaited successor to it’s P9 flagship for a while now.
The Huawei P9 turned a lot of heads and landed in many hands this year.
A few days ago some photos were spotted floating on the internet, that teased us with the supposed P10, and, one can safely say that it certainly comes with distinct changes.
Huawei, a Chinese brand that not many had really heard of in the International waters, has made quite a name for itself in the smartphone world in the last couple of years. It has done so by offering devices with premium build quality and some great specs, for rock-bottom prices compared to it’s many competitors.
All this has enabled Huawei devices to garner serious consideration with lesser post-purchase dissonance.
The company usually announces it’s incoming P-series flagship smartphones in April every year, and the Mate-series in the last quarter of the year. With the last Mate launch out of the way, all eyes are now on the P10 launch.
Can The Success Of P10 Be Predicted Based On The Performance Of Its Predecessor, The Huawei P9?
Some images recently appeared on Weibo, showing what they claim are an engineering sample of the Huawei P10 in a Rose Gold colour.
While it seems to have features similar to P9, there seem to be some changes.
One significant change would be the fingerprint sensor. The Huawei P9 has its fingerprint sensor mounted on to the back, however the alleged leaks show that the P10 might have a front-mounted fingerprint sensor just below the screen, where the usual home button is on most phones.
What might also be interesting is that it is speculated that this ‘home button’ for the P10 might not function as a physical home button, but mimic a capacitative home button (like on the iPhones 7). Huawei did put a fingerprint sensor on the front in their special edition Mate 9 Porsche Design model, perhaps to test the waters out for the P10.
The leaked photos also show that the Huawei P10 might also have a dual curved display, a design that looks quite similar to the Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design unit, and Samsung’s Galaxy S7 edge.
Will the P10 come in two variants; one of them a regular flat screen while the other boosting a dual-curved screen? Tough to say, at this time.
Leaked renders do present a flat solid metal unibody design with a dual camera setup on the rear and as with the P9, the camera sensors and flash seem to be positioned at the top within the antenna band. Details about the camera are not too clear yet, however we have our ear to the ground and will keep you posted.
The Huawei P10 is rumoured to have a 5.5 inch quad HD display, with the Huawei Kirin 960 SoC processor, 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB/256 GB of storage. On the software side, the handset will be running Android 7.0 Nougat (maybe even 7.1) with the Huawei-personalised interface EMUI v5.0 running on top.
Given the Huawei brand, we can also expect lower priced variants of the device, with lesser RAM and storage to be released over time.
Going by the release schedule Huawei resorted to in 2016, we can expect the device to be out sometime in April 2017.
We will keep you posted on the specs as we gather them, do read our articles on all the other smartphones to be launched in 2017. It promises to be a busy year.
As devices and hardware reached a plateau of sorts in 2016 (and we hope that this levelling out is only in preparation of a great jump-off point for the next evolution of the devices), the focus saw some tilt from hardware to software and services.
The next evolution on the anvil seems to be the on software running the phones’ cameras and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Artificial Intelligence, a term used for the ability of a machine, computer or system to exhibit humanlike intelligence, and is widely expected to represent the next frontier of computing.
With that in mind, AI-powered voice assistants have suddenly become all the rage, offering a hands-free and more natural way to ask questions, find information and manage tasks to enable our busy lives.
Google has long dominated this sphere with Google Now, and took this up a notch with the launch of Assistant with its Pixel smartphones.
It looks like Samsung is up next with its own virtual assistant. Samsung had already confirmed earlier that the upcoming Galaxy S8 will feature an AI assistant. Sam-mobile has now reported that that the company will use its new virtual assistant, called Bixby, in mostly all the native apps that will come pre-installed in the Galaxy S8.
The announcement from the South Korean consumer electronics giant comes a month after they revealed their plans to acquire the artificial intelligence startup behind Viv, a voice assistant that aims to handle everyday tasks on its own.
Viv Labs, a US-based artificial-intelligence software company concocted Viv after developers at Viv Labs helped craft Siri, Apple’s voice-based digital assistant.
Clearly Samsung would be hoping that the digital assistant will help it rebound from the public relations and business nightmare created by the recalls and cancellation of Galaxy Note7, and also help Samsung devices stay relevant at the top-end of the smartphones mountain.
As a side note, last month, Samsung’s Mobile Division, the division responsible for the Note7, reported a decline in operating profit of about 96% – its lowest in nearly eight years.
The news about Bixby was conformed by Reuters when they reported conjecture indicating that Samsung plans to incorporate the platform into its line of Galaxy phones, home appliances as well as wearable devices.
It was further reported in late November that Samsung’s AI assistant will have male and female voice called Bixby and Kestra, respectively.
Samsung will replace S Voice with the more powerful, intelligent assistant and the new Viv-based voice assistant will try to go toe to toe with Google’s Assistant and Apple’s Siri with a system-wide reach and an API open for third party developers.
For example, it might prove handy inside the Gallery app where you can ask Bixby (or Kestra) to show you pictures and videos that satisfy particular criteria (similar to Google Photos and or Apple’s Photos app in iOS 10).
Clearly, in order to incorporate Bixby more cohesively into user-flows, Samsung will also update its native apps with a new UI.
According to the most recent rumor, the Galaxy S8 may pack a whopping 8 GB of RAM, using Samsung’s 10nm process. While the LeEco Le 2S may beat Samsung by introducing a smartphone with 8 GB RAM in the coming year, but this is still a huge endowment and will help power new interactions and apps that are more resource hungry and always-on apps.
Additional rumours suggest the Galaxy S8 may ditch the 3.5 mm jack and may integrate an optical fingerprint scanner, among other things.
Get ready for 2017, it’s going to be an interesting year! And maybe, we’ll get to a point where your phone will understand you when no one else seems to.
What comfort! Now, if only it’d brew a cup of Hot Chocolate of it’s own accord…
Samsung has been in the electronics business for eons, and now, with it’s pole position as the world’s foremost smartphones manufacturer, most people forget that Samsung makes a whole lot more than just phones.
Well, Samsung never forgets. Least of all, it’s own it flourishing tree of products and product lines. Samsung is now all set to expand the spread of the tree.
The South Korean megabrand recently bought the American audio company Harman, in a cash deal worth about USD 8 billion. The acquisition is the largest that Samsung has ever done, and successfully places the company in the vanguard of the automotive industry.
But how? Audio company-electronics-automotive industry?! Doesn’t make sense!
The space of infotainment technology has been catching the interest of tech companies over several years now – as cars become more connected. Cars now not only have audio players, and surround sound, but screens, bluetooth, all kinds of devices, internet connectivity, and more. Gone are the days of listening to the busted radio!
Well, Harman has been supplying the biggest automotive companies with the infotainment technology for years now. You might be more familiar with the names like Harman Kardon, AKG, JBL – all of which are owned by… Harman.
So, with one acquisition, Samsung has all of these prestigious name under it’s umbrella; it is thus sitting on one of the most potentially viable resources in the infotainment space!
Harman’s appeal to Samsung may come from the connected car business of the company – this would include the operations that supply navigation services, onboard entertainment systems, and connectivity to cars across the world. But that is not all.
Of course, no deal is one sided. Harman is expected to double its revenue over the next five years. The firm recently struck large deals with conglomerates including Fiat Chrysler and General Motors, and as of June 30th last year had a backlog of orders worth approximately USD 24 billion.
The premise clearly is that Samsung’s expertise in displays, user interfaces and semiconductor technology would help Harman with its auto-parts business.
Samsung’s component businesses also stand to gain from the transaction, as connected cars are likely to increase demand for displays, memory and microprocessors. It could also help Samsung outside of just the numbers.
Samsung’s software engineering capabilities might get an enhancement, to some extent, as Harman has a team of roughly 8,000 software engineers who are working on cloud-based consumer and enterprise experiences, as well as end-to-end services for the automotive market.
“Harman perfectly complements Samsung in terms of technologies, products and solutions, and joining forces is a natural extension of the automotive strategy we have been pursuing for some time“, said Samsung’s CEO, Oh-Hyun Kwon. “[This acquisition] immediately establishes a strong foundation for Samsung to grow our automotive platform“.
The deal, which is expected to close mid-2017, could make Samsung a permanent in the automotive electronics market.
This comes at a crucial time, as Samsung looks to diversify revenues, when its bread-and-butter smartphone business has has been taking hits across the globe, putting the parent brand under immense pressure.
The deal marks the latest ambitious foray of a name that’s changing it’s focus from the developing generation of smart objects onto new arenas, like cars, that it could now monopolise.
And Samsung’s not alone in sensing this opportunity. Not too long ago, Qualcomm, the company that makes the processors that your phones run on, announced the acquisition of NXP Semiconductors, which would enable it to make a new generation of smart chips for smart cars.
This could well be the beginning start of what could turn into an industry-wide boom. Google, Uber and (reportedly) Apple are all jumping in the automotive fray – and we all know what these brands can do when there engines start growling at full throttle! Yet, even though much of the Silicon Valley’s focus so far has been on self-driving cars, outfitting vehicles with more prosaic connected technology could be more immediately lucrative.
Samsung is gearing up to tap into precisely that. Bring it on!
With the clouds of the Note7 storm seemingly ready to make way for some light, Samsung has finally launched their first new smartphone after the Note7 was officially declared dead.
Samsung Galaxy C9 Pro, the South Korean tech megabrand’s first major phone with 6 GB RAM is here. This is 2 GB more than even the last flagships of the company sported, including the Galaxy Note7, Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S6 Edge+. That is something that sounds promising, so let’s see what else the device has been empowered with!
The phablet comes with 6-inch Super AMOLED 2.5D curved glass screen with a Full HD resolution of 1080p, which quite certainly classifies it as a mid-range phablet.
However, the phone is aimed at providing an alternative for those who look for good features on their device but live within their means. The phone has a metal body, and is available in Gold and Rose Gold colour variants.
For the processor, the phone runs on a Snapdragon 653, which is a Qualcomm-made octa-core processor that manages a clock speed of 1.44 GHz. For the OS, the Galaxy C9 Pro has Android 6.0.1. Marshmallow, which is not the best on the market (after the release of Android 7.1 Nougat), but is admittedly quite impressive anyway.
Aside from the impressive RAM, the phone has 64 GB on-board storage, which is expandable up to 256 GB via microSD. For a fuel cell, the C9 Pro is blessed with a massive 4,000 mAh battery, that, admittedly, is not quite common in mid-range devices on the market.
It offers support for 4G LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2 and USB-C. Being a Chinese variant, there is also dual-SIM connectivity as well as a fingerprint scanner.
For it’s eyes, the Galaxy C9 Pro has something unique to offer. It brings to you 16 megapixel front camera and rear cameras! Both lenses have the same aperture of f/1.9, but it is only the rear snapper that ships with a dual-tone LED flash. The camera is obviously above average, and on paper beats the 12 megapixel + 8 megapixel combination that has been seen ever so often this year. However, the actual performance of the camera needs to be judged.
The latter portion of the year has been pretty hazy for Samsung, after their Note7 devices started combusting spontaneously. The company earned a lot of bad presss, a lot of losses, and an altogether unhappy situation after that. With those wounds so new, it would interesting to see if users actually flock back to Samsung for this device, or not, especially in a market where competitors are fast filling Samsung’s shoes.
The phone is currently only available in China, where it can be pre-ordered and will start shipping on November 11. It’s difficult to predict when the phone could be expected to hit the international markets, but we can certainly expect it to be soon, that is it all goes well with the phablet.
It is priced at CNY 3,199 (~ INR 30,000) at the moment.
Huawei on November 3rd launched two of its Mate 9 variants in Munich – the Huawei Mate 9 Porsche design and the pure Mate 9.
Well, Huawei believes that with the Mate 9 Porsche Design, the customers would in for a refined, luxurious user experience.
First, let me just break the price of the Mate 9 Porsche Design and then go on to the features that make it ‘amazing’. The limited edition, designer smartphone will be available exclusively in a Graphite Black colour and is priced at EUR 1,395 (roughly Rs. 1,03,000).
Richard Yu, CEO, Huawei Consumer Business Group, also quoted while launching both the new devices (though his comment was mainly for the Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design smartphone), “We identified a new type of luxury consumer is emerging. One who needs a smartphone that matches the special demands of their successful, global lifestyles. Porsche Design is synonymous with excellence in innovation, unique design and perfection. The Porsche Design Huawei Mate 9 sets a new benchmark in design and performance and delivers a revolutionary smartphone experience that will enhance even the fastest-paced business and personal lifestyles”.
Let’s see what he’s on about.
The specifications on the Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design are evidently superior and more powerful than on the vanilla Huawei Mate 9. The Porsche Design sports a 5.5 inch QHD display with a resolution of 2560×1440 pixels and a pixel density of 534 ppi as opposed to the larger 5.9 inch Full HD display with a pixel resolution of 1920×1080 pixels and 373 ppi pixel density on the Mate 9.
The internal memory on the Porsche Design is a gargantuan 256 GB which is way more than Mate 9 at 64 GB. The RAM in Porsche Design is of 6 GB which is powerful enough to support a mini-server grade PC.
There are a lot of similarities between the two devices too.
Huawei Mate 9 and the Mate 9 Porsche Design use the Hisilicon Kirin 960 octa-core processor and same Mali G71MP8 graphics processor. Both the smartphones come with the same Android version – Android Nougat. Both come with a fingerprint sensor.
In fact, if one sits down to write out the common specs on both the devices a lot of the spec sheet would look identical. Even the battery that sustains them is exactly the same – a 4,000 mAh unit with a fast charge feature that supports quick charging in limited time.
The star highlight on this Mate 9 Series duo is the dual camera setup which is a pretty common feature found on high-end phones these days. That said, the cameras in Huawei Mate 9 duo are fairly top-end. The rear camera with 20 megapixels is the primary camera which comes with a monochrome colour sensor though the secondary rear end camera is a 12 megapixel shooter and can support the RGB colour spectrum. The cameras come with Leica Optics and support Phase Detection Auto-Focus, laser auto-focus, dual LED flash, and multiple other smartphone photography modes. The front camera for the selfies is an 8 megapixel unit.
Huawei Mate 9 is available in an abundance of colours: Space Gray, Moonlight Silver, Champagne Gold, Mocha Brown, Ceramic White, Black and is priced at Euro 699 (~ INR 51,266).
There is no official news about the Indian launch date of these devices. In fact, when one reflects upon the kind of limited elite niche users that the phone targets, it is highly unlikely that Huawei would launch its Mate 9 Porsche Design costing over 1 lakh in India, anytime soon.
On the launch of these devices in Munich, Richard Yu, Chief Executive of Huawei’s Consumer Business Group, expressed his desire to become the world’s second-largest maker of smartphones in two years. In the third quarter of 2016, Huawei was the world’s third-largest smartphone maker with 33.6 million shipped devices that constitutes a 9% market share as per research firm Strategy Analytics.
If this tremendous performance is taken into consideration then definitely Huawei is on its way to become the world’s second-largest maker of smartphones in two years.
Not just that, Huawei also intends to compete with Apple which is currently ahead with 45.5 million devices. “We are going to take them (Apple) step-by-step, innovation-by-innovation“, Yu said, adding that he expected to improve Huawei’s position along the lines of technology shifts.
With the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge garnering rave reviews from all and sundry, and having the launch of the much-awaited Galaxy Note7 to look forward to, the first half of the year went quite well for Samsung. They seemed poised to have another brilliant year.
Then, quite unexpectedly, things went asunder towards the end of 2016 and the rug was pulled from under Samsung.
The Note7 phablet, launched in August, showed tendencies of battery-related volatility, and even the exercise of replacing the batteries of affected devices did not rid the Note7 of its curse. Samsung was forced to issue a total recall and simultaneously ban the Note7 from the market.
Feeding further misery, the entire process of recall wasn’t smooth, and the estimated losses for the company were in the ballpark of USD 15-20 billion.
To add to ignominy, the brand was recently hit with another one hit – right in the face, literally; the company had to issue a recall of 2.8 million ‘exploding’ washing machines in North America. This happened following injuries, including a broken jaw, from the top of some washing machines coming loose at the wrong time.
Mind you, this ‘exploding’ is different from the Note7, which was catching fire; with the washing machines, the parts are just coming loose. 34 models sold between March 2011 and November 2016 are affected by this recall.
Scrambling to save face, Samsung has enabled multiple options for the recall – from discounted purchase of different and newer models, to issuing a full refund.
The recall is already in full swing and will undoubtedly cause Samsung even more hits to it’s bottom line.
Back to the Note7 recall: The beleaguered model was officially put to rest about a month ago, but the recall has not yet completed yet. “We are 80 percent (of the way through the recall)”, Samsung Electronics’ North America CEO Gregory Lee told AT&T Mobility CEO Glenn Lurie at the GSMA Mobility Live conference in Atlanta.
“Our employees have been working 24/7 for the last 50 days to try to make this happen”.
The Note7 disaster has fed into the coffers of other companies that shrewdly rushed in to quickly fill the gap.
While there is, of course, Blackberry and Google (with the Pixel and Pixel XL duo) amongst the bigger players, and Xiaomi amongst the budget players (their Redmi Note 3 to fill the gap), Apple is the one that’s seemingly reaping the most profit without doing anything in particular.
The Silicon Valley megabrand reported 103% profits for the third quarter (the quarter presumably positively affected by the Note7 disaster), while other competitors like HTC and LG have reported significant losses in the same quarter. Samsung while still barely profitable, with 0.9% profits, is clearly reeling.
And the reason’s fairly clear. The smartphone (and tablets) market have forever been a duopoly between Apple and Samsung. Over the years, both of their products have ebbed as the other’s have troughed. Samsung benefited with the Antennagate and Bendgate fiascos that plagued iPhones for a while, and now, people are moving to Apple in the aftermath of the Note7 recall.
There is no question that Samsung makes quality products, not just with smartphones.
Their electronic products – from home appliances, to entertainment, are known for being decently reliable; amongst the more fun products, their Gear VR headset is one of the best that exists, and their Android smartphones, aside from this Note7 case, have arguably been the best Android phones on the market.
Samsung clearly will have to take corrective actions and fast.
“We are looking at every aspect of the product, the process, to make sure that we can say with total confidence we know exactly what the problems are, and how to prevent the problems going forward”, Lee added. “We are going to work very hard to regain consumer, customer, carrier and government trust to rebuild our brand“.
The question is – will the customers stay loyal?
Surveys show that almost 77% of surveyed folks stated that they wouldn’t want to change to a different brand just because one phone went wrong. The very fact that many customers chose to move to the Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 edge instead of switching brands, is indicative of the fact that all is not lost for Samsung.
Talking about fans, we also have some superfans that are holding onto their Note7s!
Now doing that is a good idea or bad can’t be said, but it certainly screams volumes of their dedication or is this a smart move to pawn them in later years as only a few pieces of the said device with such a colorful legacy are available in the market?
With the controversy now mostly (and hopefully) behind it, the company is working on damage control – trying to restore the glory that it once had. This involves doing everything in their power to bring back customers, and win back their faith and confidence in not just their technology but their brand as well.
The truth of the matter is, regardless of how good that goes, Samsung’s brand did take a beating with the Note7 disaster and the subsequent fiasco in the white goods space in the US did not help. While that is going to be a smudge on the company for a while, at least yet Samsung as a brand has a lot going for it, and it shouldn’t be too difficult to get back in the game.
But they need to learn from this – haste does indeed make waste – the Note7 financially cost Samsung a lot more than it would have ever made in revenue/profits from that device. And all because they wanted to launch the device before Apple launched theirs. So much for that!
Therein lies another lesson – consumers today expect world-class quality from even the paper bags that they carry their groceries home in. Samsung needs to realise that quality is a customer promise – one that speaks more about the Brand than does the Balance Sheet.
After several legitimate cases of Samsung Galaxy Note7 catching fire came to light, airlines took measures to ferry the devices (and the passengers) safely by introducing fire containment bags specifically for the Note7. This was followed by Samsung replacing the affected devices, till all hell broke loose and a total recall of the devices was ordered by Samsung.
The Note7 has since been officially discontinued for its explosive temperament and found its final resting place – it is now no longer in the hands of commercial users.
Samsung has updated the Always On Display (AOD) feature on the Galaxy S7 with functionalities imported from the Note7.
This update was reported by a user on the XDA Forums wherein Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge models will see an update notification (tagged v1.4.02) on the Galaxy Apps store with a new calendar option, a new digital clock with customizable customer text signature. The package isn’t complete as yet as the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge owners will also be able to view the currently playing music track using the Always On Display.
A word of caution before you run for the update – the user on the XDA Forums also cautioned other users that the new AOD software update has reportedly broken (rendered unusable) older, existing features that were part of the original feature set of these two devices.
Users have reported that notifications from the Samsung e-mail app do not show up on the S7 and S7 edge. Also, the distinguishing experiences that relied on the S-Pen on the Note7 aren’t present in this port-over as neither of these devices have the S-Pen functionality built in.
The biggest benefit of this update for the S7 and S7 edge users will be that the updated Always On Display will henceforth consume less than 1% of battery every hour, which is quite good!
Is Samsung trying to make an effort to console users who have switched from Note7 to move to the Galaxy S7 or S7 edge instead of jumping ship to another brand’s flagship? Perhaps. It may be a last-ditch effort to keep a small legacy of the Note7 alive and flickering till the Note 8 is introduced (if at all).
Samsung is going to really have to do a lot of thing to rebuild its credibility of being a tech mover-and-shaker by fixing the bugs and better incorporating the features to enable their users, who are sensitive to even the minutest of errors.
Also, when viewed in terms of competition, this strategy by Samsung looks like a smart move as it will help its remaining two flagships survive in the face of launch of competing top-drawer devices like the Google Pixel and Pixel XL earlier this month.
Though the fiery Samsung Galaxy Note7 is making headlines right now, it’s hardly the first phone to have caught fire. In fact, exploding phones have even allegedly killed people. But we get ahead of ourselves.
2004 was the year when it all started – Nokia began recalling it’s Bl-4C batteries that had gained a notoriety for catching fire. By 2009, it had recalled 46 million phone batteries that were at risk of short-circuiting.
No brand or model is necessarily safe: for instance, the Nexus 6 suffered issues with it’s battery with the back cover even coming undone because of the expanding battery, early in 2015.
Even some unlucky iPhone owners allegedly suffered nasty burns from exploding devices in 2015 and 2016.
Other Samsung phones have burst into flames too, like the Galaxy Core that allegedly burned a 6-year-old child earlier this week.
So now, when Galaxy Note7 after having been banned from all airlines is officially dead – we will scrutinize its short flight.
What Went Wrong? Did They Make The Mistake Of Thinking That Their Product Was Too Big To Fail?
Even Achilles was only as strong as his heel.
Well, the explanation isn’t exactly rocket science stuff – on the contrary, its pretty simple. Much like the infamous exploding hover-boards, phones use lithium ion battery packs for their power, and it just so happens that the liquid swimming around inside most lithium ion batteries is highly flammable.
If the battery short-circuits, say, by puncturing the incredibly thin sheet of plastic separating the positive and negative sides of the battery, the puncture point becomes the path of least resistance for electricity to flow. It heats up the (flammable!) liquid electrolyte at that spot and if the liquid heats up quickly, the battery can even explode.
But, Why Only Note7?
It’s the damage the affected phones can cause, and the frequency with which they were causing damage, that made the Note 7 dangerous. While others usually hear about a few cases of explosions per year, the unfortunate galaxy had over 112 such cases in just one month after sale. The frequency of the explosions spelled trouble for the company.
What Happened To The Note7, Specifically?
According to a unpublished preliminary report sent to Korea’s Agency for Technology and Standards (obtained by Bloomberg), the Note7 suffered from a manufacturing error that “placed pressure on plates contained within battery cells“, which “brought negative and positive poles into contact“.
“The defect was revealed when several contributing factors happened simultaneously, which included sub-optimized assembly process that created variations of tension and exposed electrodes due to insufficient insulation tape“, a Samsung representative told CNET.
According to another unnamed Samsung official who spoke to Yonhap News, the Note7’s manufacturing defect affects less than 0.01% of all Note7 handsets sold.
Some quick back-of-the-envelope math, and there are potentially fewer than 1,000 defective phones. “It is a very rare manufacturing process error“, a Samsung rep told CNET.
While the jury is still out on the accuracy of the estimated number of affected phones, yet the stringency of testing standards by Samsung is clearly a labeled as a culprit in the whole mess.
MIT Materials Chemistry Professor, Don Sadoway explains that today’s cell phone batteries are made by literally pressing together a stack of battery components – and that battery companies are under pressure (no pun intended) to cram in as much battery capacity as possible.
Sadoway has two theories: perhaps Samsung simply pressed so hard that the positive and negative terminals poked right through the separator and managed to touch or perhaps it’s the sponge-like separator itself that got squished. Normally, says Sadoway, the separator allows the liquid electrolyte to pass through pores connecting the negative and positive sides of the battery, even as it keeps the two terminals separate. “If they press really hard, they constrict the pores, the resistance goes up and you generate more heat“, says the professor.
But there’s another, more interesting theory: perhaps Samsung’s batteries are skewering themselves on their own tiny spears. Sadoway has a theory – albeit one without proof. What if only part of the battery was squished improperly, so that the phone couldn’t tell when it was 100% charged, and kept on charging the cell?
When lithium ion batteries are continually trickle charged, the lithium ions can start to cover the surface of the negative contact in a coating of lithium metal through a process called “plating.” And in extreme conditions, that lithium metal can form tiny spikes (called “dendrites”) that can poke right through the separator, creating – you guessed it – a short circuit.
So Why Do These Companies Keep Using These Batteries?
Because the batteries are so much smaller and lighter than than less-destructive chemistries and the Lithium ion batteries do pack a punch, for better or for worse. And the fact that, currently there is no better form of current storage than Lithium Ion (or Lithium Polymer) that is commercially viable and producible in the huge quantities as required for today’s burgeoning electronics market.
Another point to consider is that the world doesn’t actually run on Murphy’s law.
Well, Samsung’s Grand Slam device for 2016 is officially dead now, so there is not much to do except write a sad report on it. Which is what i am doing here.
RIP Samsung Galaxy Note7.
The only thing that we wonder (along with the rest of the world) is, does this spell the beginning of the end of Samsung? We sure hope not… but it’s going to be quite a big crater for Samsung to crawl out of.
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.
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.
After all the ruckus that it has cause, Samsung has finally decided to discontinue their Galaxy Note7. The move of course, has been a hit to the company and their equation with most of their loyal customers, but as they saying goes, you have to sometimes cut the arm out to save the body.
On October 11th, the company announced that they are pulling the Note7 device entirely, stopping all production and sale. It was subsequently announced that the devices that have already been sold are without exception to be returned, for cash, or replacement devices.
The company said: “We are working with relevant regulatory bodies to investigate the recently reported cases involving the Galaxy Note7. Because consumers’ safety remains our top priority, Samsung will ask all carrier and retail partners globally to stop sales and exchanges of the Galaxy Note7 while the investigation is taking place. We remain committed to working diligently with appropriate regulatory authorities to take all necessary steps to resolve the situation. Consumers with either an original Galaxy Note7 or replacement Galaxy Note7 device should power down and stop using the device and take advantage of the remedies available“.
Hopefully this is a concluding piece to the horror story that has been going on for about two months now. Back in August some customers claimed of their Note7 devices exploding, within the first ten days of the start of the initial sales.
The company concluded that the problem was with the batteries, recalled the devices, and “fixed” them up with batteries from a different supplier.
All of this took about a month and bought them more than their share of bad press.
But the flood gates exploded when even the replaced devices started exploding (a noteworthy one was of a customer boarding a Southwest Airlines plane). Their solutions had failed.
But why? And how could such an advanced company fail to fix a problem that quite prominently seems to be one of battery?
Well the answer to that lies in the fact that the company and their engineers have reportedly not been able to replicate any of the explosions themselves even once; when they haven’t even seen the phone explode themselves, how are they going to go about fixing it?
Anonymous sources from within the South Korean company have reportedly told of this fact to Wall Street Journal and NY Times.
I wouldn’t say that the total recall of the device marks some kind of precedent within the smartphone industry, but it is definitely very rare. In fact without a thorough hunt, I can’t name one smartphone that was launched and recalled within a period of three months by any company in the past decade.
This has however happened in past with cars, and home appliances, even with furniture, when IKEA had to call back a couple million sets of chest of drawers just last year.
The customers with Note7 devices in certain areas also received ‘return kits’ from the company. This ‘kit’ includes a static shielding sleeve and three different boxes, the last of which is lined with fire retardant ceramic fiber paper. This incidentally is the same material that is used to line ovens, because it can stand temperatures over 2300 degree F. the company seems to be taking all possible precautions to avoid any further incidents.
And then there is the question: will there ever be another ‘Galaxy Note’ smartphone?
A good move for the company would be to answer that with a ‘No’. Protecting the market image should right now be the prime objective of the company and if killing a line of devices does it, then so be it for them. They anyway always have their Galaxy S series to fall back on, which any way does better than Galaxy Note by a ratio of 3:1,
Let’s talk money.
It hasn’t been too long since Samsung called the USD 1 billion cost of its first “recall” of the device “overwhelming”. And of course it is so. The estimate right now is that the entire Note7 fiasco is going to cost Samsung about USD 16-20 billion, many folds the amount they first anticipated.
What is noteworthy is that this estimate not just includes the amount that the company is losing with their devices, but also the market value that the company is losing, with its shares falling terribly after each announcement.
To give you some perspective on this, let’s talk about the loss from only the production and replacement of the Note7 in the last three months.
It is estimated to be at a USD 2.8 billion, which would be enough to wipe out the entire mobile division’s operating profits for the fourth quarter.
The Final Word.
How soon the company will come back from this blow can’t be speculated. For starters, they are facing an immediate and substantial financial blow, along with one to their brand image, and reliability.
Not only are their other products in question, but competitors are rushing to claim these upset customers; retaining them might prove to be a challenge for the company.
Regardless of whatever the device has done for the company, rest is assured that the customers won’t have to pay the price for it. The company has brought forward not only compensations, and refunds for the device, but at places even for the additional accessories.
Some dealers are also offering store credit along with those two. So if you have a Note7, you will get back all that you paid for it, and maybe even a tad bit more.
But the first thing you should do is, switch it off, and take it back to your nearest store. Today!
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.
At its hardware launch event in San Francisco today, Google unveiled its new Chromecast Ultra, a streaming dongle that pairs with your phone and plugs into your TV to deliver 4K video-content.
The successor to last year’s 2nd Generation Chromecast, the new Chromecast Ultra also supports high dynamic range (HDR) and Dolby Vision output, so you should see improved contrast and lighting effects in videos!
The Chromecast Ultra will be released in the US in November 2016 at $69, double the price of its predecessor and will thereafter be made available in 15 countries around the world.
The Chromecast Ultra will be able to stream 4K content from YouTube, Netflix, and Vudu at launch, with films from Google Play Movies gaining support in November.
HDR content — both HDR10 and Dolby Vision formats are supported by the Ultra.
Google says the Ultra is its fastest Chromecast, regardless if you have a 4K TV or not and thanks to improved Wi Fi connectivity, loading videos 1.8 times faster than the standard Chromecast. The company is also including an Ethernet port on the power adapter for users whose Wi-Fi connections may not be able to handle 4K streams.
The design of the Ultra is very similar to the standard Chromecast – a flat hockey-puck design however with the ” G” logo instead of the Chrome badge, and a small attached HDMI cord allowing the device to easily hide behind your TV.
You can still mirror content from your Android phone and laptop, it will work in concert with Google Home. As mentioned earlier, and it bears repeating, the new Chromecast Ultra has an Ethernet port integrated into the power adaptor for increased connectivity options.
The device can be controlled hands-free when paired with the company’s Home voice-activated hub; you can fire up YouTube and (soon) Netflix content just by asking for whatever you want to watch, or check out photos from your library.
On the whole though, we at Chip-Monks think that the new device will be a hard sell, given that the only real upgrade that the Chromecast Ultra brings is higher resolution output. For that price, you can score Xiaomi’s new 4K-capable Android TV-based streaming box, which not only includes a full OS that supports a range of interactive apps, but also comes with a handheld remote that accepts voice commands.
And of course, there’s Apple’s new Apple TV out there, that’s got a lot of people interested.
That said, Google has reach. It’s sold more than 30 million Chromecast devices since they first launched, so obviously, they have quite a following of their own.
It will be very interesting to see how the latest addition does.
Any which way you look at them, Samsung is a huge, huge, huge company – with influence over the world’s lives, one way or another.
In fact it’s a bit of an iceberg – there’s 90% more to Samsung and it’s influence over the electronics world, than we’d ever know.
So far most of us know that Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821 (powering even Google’s new Pixel phone) is the latest and greatest mobile chipset from Qualcomm. But seems like, this is going to change soon as reportedly the company (Qualcomm) is already readying it’s Next Big One, the Snapdragon 830 in collaboration with (read this slowly)… Samsung.
And we’re fairly certain about it.
The internet is already talking about in spots and in forums, but we’ve been digging around, and have found more than a spadeful of traces of this rumour’s legitimacy.
Qualcomm could have counted on Samsung for Snapdragon 830 for two reasons.
First things first, Samsung is already manufacturing the Snapdragon 820 for Qualcomm. They seem to have an effective working equation and naturally Qualcomm would also want to maintain the status quo in case of its next-generation mobile processor.
Secondly, Samsung is probably thinking of using the same old strategy that it employed in case of the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge models – which is that the Galaxy S8 model released in the U.S. will get the latest Snapdragon 830 chipset while the version released in other countries would get Samsung’s own Exynos 8895 built into the new Galaxy S8 device.
According to ET News, this kind of a situation is a happy medium for both the companies, as, “When Samsung decided to use its own chipsets instead for the Galaxy S6, Qualcomm reported a 4.5% decrease in year-to-year earnings. Samsung decided to employ Qualcomm’s chipsets again this year with the Galaxy S7 because Qualcomm agreed that the 14nm chipsets will be manufactured by Samsung… The production of Snapdragon 830 chipsets will be under similar conditions”.
So, let’s add a third reason: Samsung probably has the best proven capability, hardware and scale to produce this chipset in the gargantuan quantities that will be needed by the devices world in the next 12-18 months.
There are very few other plants and manufacturers who have the creds and crews for something this mammoth.
If reports are to be believed then this latest Snapdragon 830 chip is being produced using the 10nm process.
To explain, this refers to the semiconductor fabrication that employs process technologies between 10 and 20 nanometers. This when compared to the Snapdragon 820 is quite advanced as it is rolling out of Samsung’s facilities through the second-generation 14nm LPP FinFET node.
There is a lack of information about how fast, better or efficient Snapdragon 830 is as compared to its predecessor. But, a reflection on the change in adopted frequencies for the manufacturing of chips might prove useful.
The move towards 10 nm definitely marks Samsung’s aim at higher frequencies. As per report from SamMobile, Samsung’s Exynos 8895, which is also said to be using the same 10nm process, has registered 4 GHz peak speed on the Mongoose core, so that its Cortex A53 core achieves 2.7 GHz.
To save you the effort of googling that technical mumbo jumbo, this simply means that at least 30% improvement in performance can be expected out of this process!
What’s even more interesting are the reports which allege that Qualcomm and Samsung have collaborated on a technology dubbed as Fan-out Panel Level Package (FoPLP) technology.
Again simply stated what this technology does is that it renders the printed circuit board for the package substrate obsolete.
Rings a bell?
This is somewhat similar to TSMC’s Integrated Fan Out technology found in Apple’s A10 chipset.
A lack of clarity regarding the same leads to difficulty in pin-pointing exact details about the processor chip. However, some bits of reports mention that this could possibly help in decreasing the production cost and would enable a better integration of the I/O ports which further implies a thinner package.
Apart from possibly packing in the latest Snapdragon 830 microchip from Qualcomm, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is expected to pack a lot more exciting features like a 4K Edge display, a dual camera set-up similar to those on the iPhone 7 Plus and Huawei P9, and Google’s Android Nougat operating system.
The phone might see the light of the day at Mobile World Congress 2017.
Now it’s important to remember that no official sources have so far confirmed these speculated features and news about the collaboration between Samsung and Qualcomm so it’s wise to not take these speculations as set in stone. At the time of release, things might appear differently.
Samsung is all set to unveil the Galaxy S8 to the world in a few months. And, like it is with every new launch, there is a lot of gossip around the device and what the “upgrade” would entail.
Let’s help you get some clarity around what the most popular campfire talk is, at this time.
Following the hot trend of 2016, it seems that Samsung will ditch the 3.5 mm headphone jack on its Galaxy S8. Another interesting piece of conjecture that has been circulating regarding the S8 is that the company will bid farewell to the physical home button and instead go for a fingerprint scanner embedded into its new RGB Super AMOLED Quad HD display. There’s also talk of the USB Type-C making a return to Galaxy devices.
That’s quite a bunch of new functionality on the Galaxy S8.
Over the years, Apple and Samsung have dominated the smartphone market and it seems that both the companies have mutually encouraged each other. Very recently, Apple added a new water-resistant feature to its new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, this feature as we all know has been there on its flagship Galaxy S series from the past few years.
No 3.5 mm Headphone Jack
This time Samsung seems to have drawn inspiration from Apple and others like LeEco and Motorola that have dropped the 3.5 mm audio jack as there are rumours that on the new Galaxy S8, there’s no 3.5 mm audio jack port, perhaps in order to make space for a larger battery and to free up space in the smartphone to accommodate more components.
This move will also obviously push users to switch to wireless audio.
However, this is slightly ironical because if you recall the Samsung launch event of Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, then at that event Samsung took a dig on Apple’s decision of ditching the 3.5 mm audio jack as Justin Denison, Senior Vice President of Product Strategy and Marketing, Samsung said , “Do you know what else it (Galaxy Note7) comes with? An audio jack. I’m just saying”.
Embedded Fingerprint Sensor To Replace Home Button
There have been rumours that the Samsung Galaxy S8 might have a near-bezel-less display, especially with minimal bottom bezels. One thing led to the other, and there were reports that the company will abandon the physical home button and the fingerprint scanner will be directly implanted into the screen.
Synaptics, one of Samsung’s suppliers of fingerprint scanners recently announced a new model of optical fingerprint scanners which according to Synaptics is suitable for “placement under the cover glass, including 2.5D glass, located in the front, bottom bezel of devices”. The Samsung Galaxy S8 with all the rumors and reports seems to fit this bill and you never know, the new optical fingerprint scanner might make its debut on the S8.
You might be wondering what’s such a big deal with the new fingerprint scanner?
The answer is that a tiny scanner can bring a lot of changes. The new sensor can work with wet fingertips, also making it waterproof, scratch-proof (unlike previous Galaxy sensors) and extra-durable because the sensor will be concealed behind the glass of the smartphone, while sidestepping electro-static discharge issues at the same time.
This also signifies a major change in terms of display as by increasing the screen-to-body ratio with minimum physical buttons impeding the spread of the display.
Since Synaptics has already made a lot of ground-breaking work in the field of optical scanner technology and it will be a welcome feature on the Galaxy S8 rather than employing a totally newer technology; however who’s to tell if Apple’s already signed on with Synaptics and thus taken it out of Samsung’s grasp?
However, there is a catch here. Synaptics has said that it will begin the mass production of the new sensor in Q2 of 2017 whereas Samsung is expected to unveil the Galaxy S8 in late February, 2017. This means either the S8 announcement will be pushed as far back as April or Samsung might employ its own line of in-house capacitive scanners in the S8.
Additionally, there are also reports regarding the fact that Samsung is planning to change to RGB Super AMOLED Quad HD display from its Diamond PenTile pixel arrangement that it has used on its current and previous handsets. This change to the display will provide sharper images and thus improved media quality.
The difference between the two displays can be indicated by producing some simple numbers that point out the superiority of RGB display between the two.
The Diamond PenTile layout used on the Galaxy S7 Edge comes in at 7,372,800 pixels, while an RGB arrangement will produce 11,059,200 pixels on the Galaxy S8. Keeping this in mind, it seems that Samsung will stick to 2K Quad HD screens on the Samsung Galaxy S8 as opposed to the rumoured 4K display.
USB Type-C Port To Make It’s Comeback On Galaxy S8
The Note 7 was launched with Type-C Port and this has also fired rumors that the Galaxy S8 might also abandon the micro-USB 2.0 port in favour of USB Type-C Port. This will of course enable quick charging, faster data transfer and make it compatible with the company’s latest Gear VR headset.
As for other exciting news regarding the S8, the front camera on the S8 is also rumoured to feature autofocus functionality as per a recent trademark filing. Samsung is also gearing up to compete and will strive to launch the Galaxy S8 VR compatibility out of the box.
The smartphone will come with 6 GB RAM and Qualcomm Snapdragon 830 or Samsung Exynos 8895 SoC.
There are no reports regarding the price of the device and it is expected to launch at a press event in late February 2017 as Mobile World Congress kicks off.
This year Samsung has rocked the Indian market with its budget smartphones like Galaxy J5 (2016), Galaxy J7 (2016), Galaxy J2 (2016), Galaxy J Max, Galaxy J5 Prime, Galaxy J7 Prime, Galaxy J2 (2016), and the Galaxy On5 Pro and Galaxy On7 Pro. Phew! It seems like Samsung has carved out a whole genealogy of budget smartphones in just one year!
Anyway a new addition to this ever-growing list is the new Samsung Galaxy On8, which was teased by Indian retailer Flipkart a few days ago. The teaser, however, didn’t give the game away as there was no actual name on the device, but the Big Billion Day sale event page termed it as Galaxy On8.
The Galaxy On series, to remind you was launched in India last year, in order to mainly compete with the online-only sales model followed by Chinese manufacturers.
Finally, now, all the speculations about the Galaxy On8 have been put to rest as Samsung launched the Galaxy On8 in India. The smartphone will be sold exclusively via Flipkart during the popular Big Billion Sale which begins on October 2 at 11.59 p.m. and the device is priced at INR 15,990.
Commenting on the launch, Manu Sharma, Vice President, Mobile Business, Samsung India said, “The Galaxy On8 is the perfect smartphone for consumers seeking an optimal mix of style, portability and powerful performance. The device not only looks stylish but also packs a punch with a superior consumer experience with powerful processor and vivid display. We are extremely pleased to announce the new Galaxy On8 exclusively on Flipkart’s Big Billion Day Sale“.
The most talked about and striking feature of the Galaxy On8 is that it comes with a classy diamond cut frame and a brushed metal finish. The phone will be available in Gold, Black and White colors. This phablet features a 5.5-inch Full HD (1920×1080 pixels) AMOLED display which was being teased about frequently prior to its launch.
Running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the Galaxy On8 is powered by an octa-core processor clocked at 1.6 GHz coupled with 3 GB of RAM. The Galaxy On8 offers 16 GB of onboard storage which if required can be expanded up to 128 GB through a microSD card.
The device also packs a 13 megapixel primary camera and a 5 megapixel front camera for selfies. Both the primary and secondary camera have a f/1.9 aperture and LED flash. Usual connectivity options like dual-SIM support, 4G LTE support, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth find their place on the Galaxy On8. A battery of 3,300 mAh sustains the device.
Interestingly enough, the only feature that is now a days common with smartphones in this price category and is missing on the Galaxy On 8 is fingerprint scanner.
The smartphone has obviously been manufactured under the ‘Make for India’ initiative and has the UDS (Ultra Data Saving) and S-Bike mode. The UDS mode, to refresh your memory, was introduced first in the Samsung Galaxy J2, and it is claimed to deliver up to 50% data saving while freeing up RAM by 11% at the same time. The S-Bike mode was introduced with the Samsung Galaxy J smartphone, earlier this year. The feature works with an NFC tag that can be stuck on one’s motorbike.
If looked at closely, the Samsung Galaxy On8 looks like a rebranded Galaxy J7 (2016) with almost the same features. But with the diamond cut frame and a brushed metal finish, a phone that is “always on” and is meant for people who are always online, it’s worth a try.
With new problems arising with the replacement phones, it seems like Samsung’s Note7 nightmare is not yet over. The South Korean company’s latest flagship smartphone Galaxy Note7 had caused a great deal of angst for the company when suddenly the batteries in the devices started exploding.
A recall was made for the devices that had been sold, and the company lost billions in value.
Now, about a month after the recall was made, the company has finally started providing users with replacement Note7 devices. But, there have been complaints that even the replacement phones’ batteries were reportedly overheating, and draining too quickly after use.
The reports come from YTN, a Korean TV news network, in Samsung’s home country.
Regarding these rumours, a spokesperson for the company confirmed to CNNMoney that the problems were not at all correlated to the earlier battery explosion problems, but were isolated cases that were a result of production issues.
A global recall of the smartphone was announced by the company on September 1st, due to the reports regarding batteries of the device turning to flame while charging. Around the world, about two dozen explosions were reported by customers of the new smartphone, within the first month of its launch.
Sources in the company had earlier reported that the phones with faulty battery are less than “0.1% of the production”, yet it is a major cause for concern. About 2.5 million devices were recalled, with the company not taking any chance with any of them. The company’s recall of the devices became a point to be played upon in the market.
A jibe was taken at the company by its fierce competitor LG. This was in the Indian market, that company’s customer care department seems to be randomly sending messages to users ahead of the Diwali festival with a friendly, stating “Heard the news of exploding products? At LG, our products go through multiple tests to ensure the safety of our most valuable asset – YOU. Have a safe Diwali with LG“. This is ahead of the LG V20 being ready for sale this month, with hopes that Samsung’s screw-up might give them more customers.
LG has not been the only one to take a jab at Samsung. In September, Motorola, now owned by Lenovo, had its own jab to take. Motorola offered free Incipio offGRID Power Pack with every Moto Z-Droid purchase with a quote that read “At Moto, our priority is safety first. Unlike some manufacturers, we adhere to the highest standards in quality and testing of all our batteries“.
One of the lighter puns on the company came from the popular video game Grand Theft Auto 5. In a video moderated version of the game, done by someone a modder known as HitmanNiko, a funny thing was recently spotted.
The game’s sticky explosives have been replaced with Samsung Galaxy Note7 devices, playing at company’s remarkable problem.
The problem, however, was, of course, being worked on by the company.
“Our highest priority is our customers“, Tim Baxter, Samsung Electronics America President and COO, had said in an apology video that was published by the company a couple weeks ago. “With battery cell defects in some of our Note 7 phones, we did not meet the standard of excellence that you expect and deserve“.
The company has taken their time with the device now, and hopes are that the replacement process will go relatively smoother. While it has already begun in certain parts of the world, it is expected to begin in most places within the first week of October.
The phone, in places that it is back on shelves, seems to be flying off of them now. The Korean Herald reported that over 30,000 devices were sold in the first two days of their return in South Korea. This is good business, given that a sale of 10,000 devices qualifies for above-average business on a regular day.
People’s appetite for Samsung devices still seems to be running pretty high.
What is to see now is how the company is able to deal with any new arising issues.
Life’s unpredictable, and unforgiving. When you’re in the public’s eye, even more so.
One misstep and years of euphoria vaporises.
Samsung announced the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge in March 2016, and received oodles of praise for design, powerful specs and great camera, when people got their hands on the device. Samsung had pulled off another coup d’etat. Then, as has happened for years now, Samsung followed it up with it’s left jab – the introduction of the Note7 in August. Ordinarily the Note series has been Samsung’s “serious” platform, which not only caters to the business folk, but to tech aficiandos, showcasing what power and utility really means on a handheld device.
But the Note7 crashed and burned (literally) so badly, that it’s left even the staunchest of Samsung loyalists shaken.
Undoubtedly Samsung would like to wake up from this awful dream, and put it behind them once and for all. Well, they seem to have taken the first step to move on – speculations of their next in the Galaxy S series have germinated.
Surely, they realise that the next Galaxy S device will be more than just an annual upgrade of the existing series, it will also be saddled with proving that the Note7 fiasco was an one-off blip and not a testament of any “waning” of Samsung’s technological innovativeness.
If Samsung follows previous release patterns, chances are we will see a Samsung Galaxy S8 launch at Mobile World Congress next year. The show takes place from 27 February to 2 March 2017, which would mean the potential launch date for the Samsung Galaxy S8 could be 26 February. There had been suggestions that the launch could be brought forward to regain consumer confidence after the issues with the Note7.
Time will tell.
The bigger question is, what will the S8 (if thats what it will end up being titled) host, to put Samsung back in the race?
The Samsung Galaxy S7 and the Galaxy S7 edge followed their predecessors closely when it came to their design. A couple of refinements were made, which included reducing the rear camera bump in comparison to the S6 and S6 edge however, on the whole, the new flagships were similar to their predecessors. We’d expect the Samsung Galaxy S8 to change things up a little bit more in the design department.
What design change would those efforts culminate in, is difficult to predict as of now, however we could share what we would like to see included.
As USB Type-C was missed off the S7 and S7 edge spec list, we’d expect to see it on board, which will also help the Galaxy S8 and S8 edge (if there is one) improve their audio capabilities. LG and HTC, both have made moves in this area so it would be an obvious feature for Samsung to focus on, to stay with the competition.
We’d love to see the S8 slim down a little and it would be interesting to see what an all-metal build would do to Samsung’s standing, instead of the current metal and glass concoctions. With the S6 edge, Samsung had finally relented and moved to more upmarket materials in their devices (thank the Lord for that!).
The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge both offer Quad HD displays with pixel densities of 575 ppi and 534 ppi, respectively. The S7 has a 5.1-inch size while the S7 edge has a 5.5-inch size and, if there are to be two separate phones again, we wouldn’t expect this to change for the S8, at least not by much.
That said, we’d love to see the screen to body ratios improve slightly, but in terms of overall size, we’d expect no change.
With VR becoming more and more popular, higher resolution displays are more important. The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium might be expensive, but if you’re into smartphone-controlled VR, its 4K display offers a great experience, and as Samsung is already in the VR business, it would make business sense to offer a compatible device with a higher resolution display for the Gear VR or any further VR devices. Chinese blogging sources suggest the company has shown off a 5.5-inch 4K AMOLED display offering a pixel density of 806 ppi, but whether this will appear on the S8 remains unknown for now. Fingers crossed.
To introduce a cat amongst the hypothetical pigeons, a leaked set of specifications now claims that the Galaxy S8 would offer a 5.2-inch display with a 4096×2160 pixel resolution. This would not only make it slightly bigger than the current Galaxy S7, but it would also put its pixel density at 891 ppi.
So it seems that the resolution is most probably getting a bump – the question remains though, do our eyes even recognise these high-resolutions? So is it worth it? Well, if we get it for free, then that’s just as well, we only hope that if the resolution is indeed increased for the S8 and S8 edge, it’s doesn’t come at the cost of battery life!
On the cameras front, the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge feature a 12 megapixel rear camera with an aperture of f/1.7 and larger 1.44µm pixels. The front-facing camera is 5 megapixel, also with an f/1.7 aperture.
Rumours suggest the company is working on a new 1/2.3-inch sensor with an f/1.4 aperture allowing for even better low-light photography capabilities than the current flagships cover. Samsung is speculated to deliver a 1/1.7-inch sensor eventually. Claims also suggested the Galaxy S8 might appear with an 8 megapixel front camera accompanied with a dual rear camera, with two different sensors – one at 12 megapixels and the other at 13 megapixels, something we have already seen on the LG G5, Huawei P9, and more recently, Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus.
Contradicting these speculations however is another, claiming the Galaxy S8 will have a 30 megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilization, coupled with a 9 megapixel front-facing snapper.
Whichever way this particular set up is delivered, one is fairly sure that Samsung will deliver a killer punch as far as cameras go. They are the current benchmark in the Android world, with the spectacular concoction they delivered in the Galaxies 7
Processors: Ah! Samsung’s fiefdom this! The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge arrived in two models – one sported the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, while the other had the Exynos Octa 8 chip inside, both with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB or 64 GB of internal storage with microSD support for further storage expansion. There is a 3,000 mAh battery inside the S7 and a 3,400 mAh battery inside the S7 edge.
With every new flagship, comes new hardware. A faster, more powerful processor will certainly be on board the Galaxy S8 and S8 edge, and possibly a jump in RAM – 8 GB? The Samsung Note7 was rumored to have 6 GB of RAM however only 4 GB was offered, so perhaps the increase will come in the S8 instead. According to one leak, we should expect a 3.2 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 830 chip, supported by 6 GB of RAM.
Personally, I think this last bit of conjecture is the most compelling and plausible. But hey, if any one can solder on 8 GB of RAM onto a circuit board, it’s Samsung. So, I’ll be happy to be proven wrong!
Samsung will keep microSD support on board, as it didn’t go down well when it was removed for the S6 and S6 edge, though it has been claimed it would be offered in 64 GB and 128 GB models. This suggests the company still won’t offer support for Marshmallow’s Flex feature, allowing users to combine the phone’s internal storage with the storage of the SD card. Galaxy S8 could have a 4,200 mAh battery – a bigger battery capacity is always welcome, however we’d like to see software improvements to help with power management, along with predicted fingerprint and retina scanners to enhance security.
Vanilla Android will probably never happen and that’s okay, but it would be great to see the best of TouchWiz on top of a close to pure Android experience.
HTC launched it’s latest flagship with a refined version of Sense over Android and it works well, delivering a cleaner experience with less duplication. We’d love to see Samsung do this too for its next flagships. And w’d love to see some restraint from Samsung, for once. There’s no real benefit that most users see from Samsung’s “bloatware” that comes bundled with every one of their phones. So, if the customer doesn’t want it, why push it, Samsung?
What else will appear on the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 edge? Who knows at the moment! We have months of wait ahead of us but it would be interesting to see a change in design for one, along with improvements in camera capabilities and software refinements.
Last words: Currently Samsung is the world’s #1 Android manufacturer, but the Note7 has left a gaping hole, and there are consequences of it that even the S7 and S7 edge are paying for the Note7’s temperamental nature. Samsung too, seems to be looking a little beleaguered these days. To top it all, there are at least a dozen manufacturers out there who are capable of as good devices as Samsung is, and they’ve all already laced up their running boots and hit the tracks. So, while the S8 may be a very good device, don’t be surprised if you find that it’s not the best, nor does it create quite the furore it’s forbearers did. A year is a long time in technology and Samsung might just learn that first hand.
Google’s upcoming Pixel phones are touted to be the fastest Android smartphones in the world, all thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor.
Will they be fast enough to challenge the new iPhones too?
For those who are unaware of the existence of “Pixel” phones, they are the next in line from the erstwhile Google’s Nexus lineage.
After the explosive launch of the Galaxy Note7 (pun surely intended) and the huge global recall that followed, other smartphone makers can now fish millions of potential customers ripe for their taking. Both Apple and Google will undoubtedly capitalize on this.
That said, Google’s Pixel phones shouldn’t be taken for lightly, as they clearly have the potential to take the Android space by a storm. This is because phones made by Google – the almighty of all things Android, will naturally leave people intrigued, starting with the cost of the devices.
David Ruddock, Android Police’s Managing Editor, took to Twitter to unveil information about the Pixel phones. “By the way, as far as I can tell, the Pixels will by the first US devices with Snapdragon 821 by a long shot. No one else is using it”, he said.
This chip is claimed to be 10 % faster than the Snapdragon 820 with support for Virtual Reality (VR). Interestingly enough, the new Snapdragon 821 processor was supposed to be a part of the Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe, but the company launched the phone in India with the older 820 chip. Curious.
Ruddock also highlighted the fact that the OEMs might be avoiding the new Snapdragon 821 chipset because Qualcomm is charging “an arm and a leg” for the SoC.
This cost transferred to the customers results in higher prices.
While talking about the prices of Pixel phones, Ruddock said, Google “is getting out of the ‘cheap phone’ business at this point”, he said. “This one is more hearsay: price point being thrown around for Pixel XL is USD 649. Not clear if that’s 32 GB or 128 GB. Pixel phones will have exclusive Google support, exclusive software features, and exclusive financing options”, he also noted. “Google is going for it”
“So, if you’re the person who wanted Google to ‘really get out there and market their phones,’ you may finally see your wish granted”, Ruddock added.
Speculations regarding specifications of the phones have it that one of these Pixel phones will have a 7-inch screen with AMOLED qHD display, 4 GB RAM, 12 megapixel rear camera and 8 megapixel front snapper.
Both, Pixel (Sailfish) and Pixel XL (Marlin) are believed to have the same 4K video recording capabilities. Also expected with the handset is the USB Type-C port with a massive battery (about 5,100 mAh) and running on Android OS, 7.0 Nougat.
“I think we’re going to see Google do with Pixel what they have so long hesitated to: take the gloves off and compete with Android partners”, Ruddock clarified in a tweet, highlighting the ambitions of the team that’s developing this phone.
Rumors regarding the Pixel phones show a phone complete with not so appealing rear design and a Google branding on the back.
With the prices now in the vicinity of Apple iPhones, the Pixel devices will leave the earlier playing field of Android phones and will showcase themselves with the likes of Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxy S Series – will they hold up is yet to be seen.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note7, launched in New York on August 2nd, amidst great fanfare, was supposed to go on sale in India on September 2nd.
Now, from the looks of it, the flagship for the South Korean megabrand is headed to a very rocky life.
The Galaxy Note7 bears a lot of firsts for the company – it is the first Galaxy Note phone to feature a USB Type-C port along with their first ever Iris Scanner and Gorilla Glass 5 protection. The phone features a dual-edge 5.7-inch QHD Super AMOLED display running on the latest version of Android Marshmallow 6.0.1.
The phone is water and dust resistant and comes with a 3,500 mAh non-removable battery, which supports fast charging with both wired and wireless chargers. It also has a fingerprint scanner for biometric security, in addition to the Iris scanner.
Given all the above features, the phone was all set to be the next big thing in the market.
The dates for the India sale had been announced. Priced at INR 59,990, the pre-bookings for the device were to begin on August 22nd through to August 30th.
It would have been available in Gold Platinum, Silver Titanium, and Black Onyx color variants albeit the Blue Coral color variant, that is available in other countries.
But the company has posted a delay in the sale of the devices in India due to battery fire issues that have been reported for more that twenty occasions across the globe. Sources in the company have reported that the phones with faulty battery are less than “0.1% of the production”, yet it is a major cause for concern.
Around the world, customers of the new smartphone reported about two-dozen explosions, within the first month of its launch.
The company announced a global recall of their smartphone on September 1st. “We will share the findings as soon as possible. Samsung is fully committed to providing the highest quality products to our consumers,” the company said in an accompanying statement.
The shipments that are still in transit, like those headed for India and South Korea, have been delayed for security checks, and replacement of the batteries planned, if needed.
The devices that have already been sold have been recalled. The company is offering different options to the customers in different areas – In the U.S., one can either turn in their device and choose to wait for a return once the battery issues have been dealt with, or one can choose to opt instead for a Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge and get a refund of the difference in the billing amounts. The accessories will also be replaced.
To find out what the options in your country/area are get in touch with the retailer from who you ordered or reordered your Note7.
Some other problems with the smartphone have also been noticed and reported. Reportedly some users experienced ‘bricking’ whereby their phones would freeze during usage and then shut down and reboot, and this would happen once every few minutes, leaving the phone next to unusable.
Others have complained that the left and right sides of the apps, and the top and bottom of widescreen videos, are distorted because of the ‘edge’ on the left and the right side of the screen. A similar ‘edge’ is present in the Galaxy S7, but no such issues have been reported there.
People have also found the iris scanner of the phone an almost redundant feature. The phone has both, a fingerprint scanner and an iris scanner. Between the two, the fingerprint scanner found on the home button does not need any kind of ‘aiming’ to unlock the phone, thus is faster than the iris scanner and makes for a more convenient biometric authentication option.
Among other complaints were those around the durability of the phone.
Samsung refuses to give the phone a metallic body, which means that all the glass involved simply makes it very prone to damage even with a single fall. Lack of scratch resistance has made a lot of users quite unhappy. Users were also unhappy with the plastic construct of the S-Pen which takes away from the premium feel of the device altogether.
There has also been the argument that the phone is outrageously pricey, when compared to the other Chinese manufacturers of which Samsung is one.
However, running a comparison with the other recent devices in the market, say, for example, the OnePlus 3, highlights the question. The OnePlus 3 has the same specifications, more or less, and storage but with 2 GB more RAM, better software, and durable metallic body, and it costs about USD 400 less!
In the light of the above revelations, one has to question if Samsung Galaxy Note7 is indeed all the ‘promised land’ that it was supposed to be.
Did Samsung slip up, desperate to keep its numero uno (based on sales) position in the market?
From where I stand, the phone seems like a desperate attempt to ‘break ground’ which went horribly wrong. A lot will depend on how they handle the aftermath, which according to financial pundits can cost Samsung in the neighborhood of a USD 1billion.
Finally, it’s showtime for Android 7.0 Nougat!!
Additionally, Android One devices will also be receiving the update.
Android 7.0 Nougat packs new features like customizable home screen widgets, split screen multitasking, expanded emojis and smarter battery usage via the Doze feature.
Data conscious users have also been kept in mind and the update packs in a Data Saver feature that will block background apps from accessing cellular data, helping you reduce on the excess usage of your data plan.
Across the pond, T-Mobile recently revealed a list of smartphones eligible for receiving Android 7.0 Nougat update, a little earlier than expected. We’re listing T-Mobile’s plans here, as they are indicative of how the roll-out will happen to devices from these brands, and the same mantra usually applies across the globe.
The T-Mobile list of devices as of now is small and over time will expand to include more devices. The current list contains eight devices: Samsung Galaxy Note5, Samsung Galaxy Note7, Samsung Galaxy S6, Samsung Galaxy S6 edge, Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+, Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, HTC 10, and HTC One M9.
There is a possibility that more devices will be added soon in the second round. We say so because, initially HTC One A9 was to be there in the list and its presence was confirmed by HTC however we find it has disappeared from the current list.
In fact, as per other reports, HTC has already begun working on releasing the new update to some of its devices and the company plans to initially roll out the Android 7.0 Nougat on the HTC 10 in the fourth quarter of 2016, before seeding it to the One M9 (unlocked) and One A9 (unlocked).
Interestingly enough, it is not Google’s upcoming Nexus device but LG’s V20, which will be the first new smartphone to be shipped with Android 7.0 Nougat!
The LG V20, a new introduction, powered by a quad-core Qualcomm MSM8996 Snapdragon 820 processor, comes with a 5.7-inch main IPS Quantum Display and a secondary display. It boasts a dual rear camera with a 135-degree 8-megapixel lens complimented by a 16-megapixel 75-degree lens. The front has a 5-megapixel 120-degree lens for your selfies and video communications. You can read more about the LG V20 in our intro article here.
Despite the announcement, there are no exact dates that have been mentioned for the release of this update. However, it is speculated that devices from manufacturers other than Samsung and HTC will receive the update a little later while some will get it next year.
Assumptions have a tendency to go wrong, and the tech world is not insured from this maxim.
Contrary to popular belief, a new study has found that Android devices have been outperforming iPhones in terms of failure rates. This is a sharp jolt, to the prevalent myth that iPhones are more efficiently build in terms of application development.
The data was compiled by Blancco Technology Group in the third quarter of 2016. It discovered that 62% of iOS devices experienced a failure of some sort over the last three months compared to just 47% of Android devices. Before we go any further into the findings of the report, we must establish the meaning of the word “failure” as used by Blancco.
The failure of a mobile, refers to an all-encompassing variety of problems that impedes the user from enjoying the full potential of the device. It pertains to any number of problems, including and not limited to, instances of apps crashing, connection difficulties and overheating.
Taking a deep dive into the report, one finds that not every application works in similar preconditions. This is where the difference in the site of crashing lies; For example, iOS devices running social-oriented third party apps such as Instagram and Snapchats were more likely to crash than their Android counterparts. On the other hand, Android devices were more likely to crash when running more basic system apps such as the Address Book and Google Play Services.
The report says that “apps crashed on 65% of the iOS devices tested in Q3 2016. This is nearly triple the rate of crashing apps on Android devices – 25% – in the same period. It’s also a considerable increase from the rate of crashing apps on iOS devices in the previous quarter (50%). In contrast, the rate of apps crashing on Android devices didn’t increase as significantly as it did on iOS devices.”
This news certainly isn’t favourable to the tech giant, but the timing of the survey includes the period when Apple launched iOS 10. In turn, it stands to reason that users who updated their iPhones and iPads to iOS 10 were more likely to be running outdated applications more prone to crashing.
Also interesting is the breakdown of failure rates across iOS devices, with the iPhone 6 taking the top spot with a failure rate of 13%, followed by the iPhone 5s and 6s which tied for second with a failure rate of 9%. Following that, the iPhone 6 Plus and the iPhone 6s Plus experienced failure rates of 5% and 4%, respectively.
With respect to the types of problems iOS users were more likely to experience, Blancco’s research reveals that 17% of device failures involved a device overheating, followed by crashing apps at 15% and headphone problems at 11%.
Interestingly, if we look at iOS device failures in North America exclusively, crashing apps accounted for 72% of device failures with Wi-Fi associated issues pulling up the rear with 10%.
On the Android side of the equation, most devices had a rather good showing. Across handset manufacturers, Samsung devices experienced the highest failure rate at 11% followed not too closely behind by Xiaomi, Lenovo, and Sony which had failure rates of 4%, 3% and 3%, respectively.
As for the types of issues affecting Android handsets, the most common points of failure for Android devices involved USB issues, carrier signal issues, camera problems and battery charging difficulties and screen abnormalities.
So, one could reasonably argue that these afflictions are far more serious than the types of failures affecting iOS devices.
This is not to belittle the problem that the Android users are facing but in order to put in limelight the truth regarding the hype about iPhone’s efficiency.
After all, truth finally persists, right?
Google’s casual stroll in the Alphabet stream has now stumbled upon the letter N.
Android N, also known as Nougat is now among us, albeit a little sooner than what most expected. Sony Xperia users were one of the first to try the Android N preview build that was released in March 2016!
But preview builds are often sweet distractions, riddled with bugs and other faults, which is why not everyone who was an Xperia user jumped the gun.
When the official launch came about on August 22, it was earlier than Google’s estimated September launch and naturally took a large part of its audience by surprise.
Usually, the launch of a new software benefits the launch of new devices and the ilk, since they possess more compatible hardware and thus this becomes the reason why a lot of the older, already existing devices miss out on a new software update.
This is one of the prime reasons why Microsoft released Windows 10 to their existing user base for free, allowing users to update from Windows 7 or 8, provided they were using a legitimate, licensed version of the software.
The prime earning source of earning from a new software is the collaboration when launching new devices, which is also the reason you do not have to pay to avail every new system update on your phone.
Now, we know that the range of smartphones under Google will be the first to try their hands at the Nougat pie but does the Nougat comes compatible with all devices in the Sony Xperia line?
Let’s have a look.
Sony published on their blog that they will be releasing Android 7.0 Nougat for a number of their devices. Here are the phones that will be getting an update:
Now the time that it might take for the update to reach these devices is a peculiar case. The Marshmallow update took 5 months after launch to reach most Sony devices. Nougat is expected to follow a similar trajectory provided the operator and market don’t play spoilsport.
So it seems like the Sony users will have to wait atleast until next year to get their day under the sun with Nougat.
It’s been a sore point for a while – at Samsung, and with it’s users.
Apple has iCloud, Windows has OneDrive, and until now, Samsung users were dependent on either Google Drive, or third-party cloud storage services like DropBox, Box, Mega, and even OneDrive (since it is also available as an app across different operating systems).
Samsung Cloud, is, as the name suggests, a cloud storage service for specific Samsung Galaxy devices. While it is currently restricted to the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge, it’s a safe bet to make, that all Galaxy devices going forward, will enjoy the Samsung Cloud’s company.
It currently offers 15 GB of free storage space, beyond which it becomes a paid service (a lot like Apple’s iCloud – which gets you 5 GB of free space, and then becomes paid). Once connected to a compatible Galaxy device, it backs up your documents, pictures, files, and other sorts of content on its own. It also backs up some native apps including Contacts and Calendar and certain third-party apps.
Undoubtedly, the Samsung Cloud is an extension of the company’s Smart Switch service, which is meant to enable users to easily switch data from one device to another. Take note though, we mean another Galaxy device. Samsung’s site clearly states: “Samsung Cloud can only back up, sync and restore data across compatible Galaxy devices and cannot be used to transfer data from non-compatible devices“.
Users basically have the most recent copy of their data on the Cloud, which can be used as storage, or as a medium to transfer the data onto another device. This is where the additional features kick in when you try to transfer the data onto a new device. The home screen and user settings, including layout settings and shortcuts, are also backed up, which means that when you log into the new device, it feels familiar instantly. Your photos will sync, with notes, calendar, contacts, everything you can need, will sync with the new device!
One of the best features of Samsung Cloud (much like with the iCloud and OneDrive), the same Samsung Cloud account can be used with and connected to multiple devices. What this basically means is that all your data is collected in one place, and can be accessed easier, as long as you’re using the same Samsung Cloud account.
There is also an Auto Back-up feature, which enables automatic upload of the device’s state through a Wi-Fi connection every 24 hours. To ensure that this doesn’t hamper your usage of the device, this happens only when the smartphone’s screen is turned off and it has been charging for at least an hour.
One wouldn’t really say that something called Cloud Wars exist, mostly because there is simply no way to be the best Cloud storage unit. Some of the offerings are partially free, some entirely free, while some are completely paid. Most Cloud storage units are linked to certain brands and work as automatic out-of-device storage units, or backup storage units for them.
In such a scenario, what highlight a Cloud storage facility is the features it provides, and the pains it takes away.
This last bit, is where it becomes easy to say (and justify the lack of a clear winner) – there is no single service that currently exists that does everything well, across OS’, to be called a Winner. Each of the services we (Chip-Monks) has tested and experienced falter or have some lacunae or the other.
Samsung Cloud storage is for now, being appreciated a fair bit, with most critics and reviewers stating that it is “how an Android backup and restore system should be done”. Given all that Samsung has to offer, that sounds about right; but in the extremely restricted space of two compatible devices!
Samsung Cloud was introduced along with the unveiling of Galaxy Note7 last month. It is available on Note7 and users will be able to use it right out of the box.
Industry conjecture claims that people can soon be expected it to be made available for the Galaxy S6 series, and the Note 5 as well, however we at Chip-Monks read things differently.
We really doubt Samsung is going to extend this backwards – since it is an extremely potent tool to convince customers fence-sitting their upgrade decision currently, to finally make the jump. Why squander that trump card?
Update: The update for the S7 series – which brings them the Samsung Cloud – weighs about 150MB, and started rolling out in Italy first. The update also brings in a new Gallery app along with August security patch, as well as some performance and power consumption-related improvements. The update also includes fixes for cover recognition and flashlight/torch-related issues, in addition to these.
Recently, the update has reportedly started rolling out in India as well, starting this week. As it happens with every OTA, it takes a while for the roll out to entirely happen, but just in case you get impatient, you can always check for the update via your Settings menu.
An Affirmation Of Minimalist Life – Samsung‘s Tizen Based Z2 Released In India
One can’t help but yearn for times when things were simple, given this rampantly fast paced world where every next device seems to be bending the Time Theory with it’s immense computing ability, in a form factor slightly larger than a bar of soap!
Okay I know that didn’t make altogether complete sense without preamble. Let me try again.
Many of our readers admit to missing a life less complicated by brilliant colourful screens, and information of every form coursing through our conscious mind every second of the day. Many yearn for phones that were smart, yet not as smart!
That said, there are plenty of people in India who are still on those basic feature phones that have no semblance of ‘smarts’. Neither can they afford any form of smartphones nor are most of the features our (your and my) phones attractive to them. But there’s opportunity – for India to grow, for masses to be empowered, and for the economy to leapfrog into the next echelon of growth – through the dissemination of information and bringing these grassroot users ‘online’.
So, we can’t help but marvel and be excited by Samsung’s Z2.
The Z2 is a straightforward play to attract the country’s grassroot level smartphone-desiring users. It costs INR 4,590, or around $68 (just two dollars less than the average price of a mobile phone in India) and is powered by Tizen, Samsung’s home-grown mobile OS and is the first Tizen device to support 4G.
Let’s be clear. The Z2 is not a powerhouse – not with a 1.5 GHz processor, 1 GB RAM and 8 GB of internal memory, but it does provide an inexpensive way for consumers to get more out of their mobile phone. Since it is 4G capable, Reliance’s Jio has seen the opportunity it presents and has seized upon. it – the Z2 comes with a 90-day free trial for various entertainment apps from Jio. Users get free access (including data) to video calling, on-demand movies and TV shows, and a music streaming service.
Jio is presumably hoping that once customers are hooked on 4G content, they’ll start paying for the network themselves.
The Z2 runs Tizen version 2.4, and the user interface consists of multiple home screens along with an App Drawer that can be accessed by swiping up from the bottom.
At any time, the 8 most frequently used apps will rest comfortably towards the bottom on the home screen and you can manually change apps that show up there. Even when you pull out the app drawer — that houses all your installed apps — this frequently app window stays put, but moves up to show rest of the apps.
While in the Android ecosystem you can manually add custom apps and widgets to the home screen, in Tizen, the operating system does most of that work for you where the most used apps are right there on your main screen, always!
On the software front, the Ultra Data Saving mode claims to save up to 40% on Mobile Data with the help of data compression and the automatic blocking of apps that are deemed as not required to be running in the background. The OS even comes with default apps like My Money Transfer that is a payment system with support for all the major banks, enabling people make the move towards digital and cashless payments.
“We are delighted to roll out Samsung’s much-awaited launch in one of the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market. The new Samsung Z2 will add significant value to the multiple exciting smartphone offerings available to Paytm users. With the reach that the Paytm platform enjoys, with a base of 130 million customers, the partnership allows consumers across the country to effortlessly shop for their favorite Samsung smartphone in a few easy clicks”, added Amit Bagaria, Vice President, PayTM.
In fact, this smartphone is selling for as low as INR 2,990 at this moment. However the current buyers are reportedly not the intended first-time smartphone users, rather are people picking up their second or third device, which they intend to use as a WiFI hotspot to benefit from the cheap data, or as an emergency device they leave in their bags.
But the target audience will respond, as Samsung’s vaunted Marketing machinery gets their might behind the effort.
In closure, the Samsung Z2 is an affirmation of minimalist life – once a person realizes that she can’t use more than 25 apps and doesn’t always need flagship models, such simpler phones and devices become more attractive.
The company has cast the bait, and the consumer base is busy sniffing, while some are nibbling on it. Will you get there? Let us know, when you make the jump!
Barely has Samsung launched their Galaxy S7 series of smartphones, and already, there is conjecture in the wind regarding the next phone in the Galaxy series – the Galaxy S8.
Unofficial reports point to the South Korean megabrand being amidst testing of a new chipset, which is touted to be the heart of the next Galaxy phone.
This new chipset, Exynos 8895 uses 10 nm-manufacturing process and it would be the first time Samsung has used this process commercially. The current chipset that the company uses on its flagship devices, the Galaxy S7 and the Note7 is the Exynos 8890 which uses a 14 nm manufacturing process.
The Important Question:
How would this chipset affect the functioning of the Samsung smartphone?
Well, the sleeker 10 nm manufacturing process would allow for more transistors to be put into one chip, thus yielding better performance and power efficiency.
Samsung has reportedly achieved clock rates of 4 GHz with this new chipset, which would be 30% more efficient from what the company is using now. The chipset is likely to be limited to a lower clock rate when it finds its way into a launched device, to further enhance battery uptime.
To Bring You Onto The Same Page:
Processors work in two ways – low clock rate & high instructions per cycle units, or high clock rate & low instructions per cycle units.
Opinions in the tech industry vacillate about which one performs better and the topic is quite debatable.
Intel, for example, has had great success with a higher number of instructions per cycle processors. One can judge Samsung’s choice only after analyzing the option that they are going with, for which more information would be needed.
This, however, is not the first time that information regarding this new chipset has surfaced. Earlier, in July, a chipset of the same name was spotted on an Indian import/export tracking site Zauba.
The chipset should not be expected in the market before 2017. Going by past market trends, one would logically expect the chipset to be launched with the next Samsung flagship device, and that should be the Galaxy S8 at the Mobile World Congress in 2017. These are largely just ‘logical’ speculations rooted in market history. The company has not yet confirmed the existence of the chipset.
Given how Samsung’s hurting after the Note7 issue, one can safely assume that the company would not only need a major booster with their next big smartphone release, but would strive really hard to execute it to perfection!
So what if the Galaxy S8 is not being introduced by Samsung at the Mobile World Congress on February 26, there is something else that is! One wouldn’t expect the tech giant to not unveil anything in Barcelona now, is it?
Turns out, Samsung has sent out invites for its MWC Press Conference where it will apparently tease a device which netizens are saying will be a device with model number SM-T825. Some listings that mentioned this device with model number SM-T825 also mentioned that the device belongs to the “tablet” category running on Android 7.0 Nougat. Conjecture expands to say it might just be the all new Samsung Galaxy Tab S3.
Just when some people might have thought that Android Tablets were dying off, Samsung seems ready to introduce the world to a new tablet. Which is surprising, given slacking tablet sales.
The Galaxy Tab S3 would succeed the Galaxy Tab S2 that was launched way back in 2015. As is with any new launch, there have been a lot of rumours and speculations.
Galaxy Tab S3 is expected to be Samsung’s first tablet with Android 7.0 Nougat, that brings the ability of native split-screen support to Android. Samsung has been constantly trying to bake in a custom-rolled split screen solution for some time now, but Google’s standardised API which the developers are actually expected to support was playing truant and acting as a hindrance.
The Tab S3 is expected to sport a 9.6-inch display with a 2048×1536 pixel resolution, though there are also rumours that the Tab S3 will be launched in two variants – an 8-inch and a 9.7 inch screen size, similar to the Galaxy Tab S2, launched back in 2015. Under the hood, the Galaxy Tab S3 might run a Snapdragon 820 SoC clocking 2.1 GHz coupled with 4 GB RAM. For shutterbugs, the Tab S3 is expected to feature a 12 megapixel rear camera and a 5 megapixel front shooter for all video calling and pouty-snaps needs.
There is word that Samsung might launch the device in two additional variants – one of them being an LTE model and another being a Wi-Fi only model (following Apple are we now, Samsung?).
The Tab S3 will apparently first hit the shelves in home country, South Korea at a price point of around USD 600 which more or less translates to INR 40,000. Customers in the United States will be able to purchase the Wi-Fi only model from Verizon and US Cellular. Availability of the device in other countries will be made clear once the device is officially announced by Samsung. In due course, the device will make its way to other markets around the globe as well, though no timeline has been unsealed as yet by Samsung.
The highlight on the 2015 Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 was it’s lithe form factor (being thin at 5.6 mm and light device at 392 grams). It seems that Samsung is going to continue to use the thin body of the device as its USP. The device is expected to be less than 5.6 mm thick and lighter than its predecessor. This of course has its own added advantage of making the tablet like a feel good handheld and an immensely portable device.
There’s a problem with a thinner body though – as it can imply scrimping on the battery’s size, which is not a welcome prospect for any user!
The Galaxy Tab S3 seems to have been enhanced from its predecessor in the RAM department though – RAM has been upped from 3 GB to 4 GB. The megapixels on the camera have also scaled up as the primary camera has gone up from 8 megapixels to 12megapixels.
However, these are not the only changes that can be noticed on the Galaxy Tab S3. We are referring to the absence of a separate slot in the device for the stylus, the S Pen. The S Pen on the Tab S3 will be sold as a stand-alone accessory for which you will have to shell extra bucks. Additional accessories like Book Cover case for the tablet and a Keyboard Folio too, will need to be bought to improve the functionality of the device.
There was conjecture earlier that the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 might ditch the physical home button (as is said to happen on the Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone) but with the invites that have been sent by Samsung for Mobile World Congress, it is apparent that the Tab S3 does have a physical home button.
The question we’re all left with is – is a tablet really something we’d get excited about? Is Samsung really licking it’s chops that bad after the Note7 fiasco that it’s holding off the (far more exciting) smartphone launches for the time being?
“Try, try until you succeed”.
This sure seems to be LG’s motto of late, as the company has decided to chance their arm yet again at making a successful modular phone.
Whether they are actually learning lessons or going into overkill after the debacle that was LG G5, isn’t clear at this time. While there are certain features on the LG V20, to be excited about, yet there is still a certain retentivity from their previous outings – both success and failures.
For starters. it would be a massive mistake to compare the LG V20 with the amorphous blob that was the LG G5! The angular metal body of the V20 is a leaps-and-bounds improvement from the previous rendition, in that respect.
The newest flagship smartphone is set to be launched on September 6 alongside what the company is prodding as ‘never-seen-before’ features. However, rumours indicate that LG hasn’t really learnt the lesson on battery life failure that plagued the LG V10, since they have apparently not upgraded the battery on the forthcoming V20.
On the ‘up’ side of things, the Korean electronics giant announced that the LG V20 will feature a 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC (digital to analog converter).
A DAC reprocesses audio content while converting it from it’s digital form (as it is stored or streamed by the parent device) into the analog beats played by the speaker/earphones.
LG said their DAC produces a crisp and clear sound reproduction that reduces ambient noise by up to 50%! The DAC being introduced by LG on a smartphone is also being claimed to be an industry debut.
“As smartphones mature, we’re seeing more and more customers looking beyond just fast processors and big displays in their devices” said Juno Cho, president of LG Electronics and Mobile Communications Company. “Higher quality audio is simply the natural evolution of the smartphone, as the industry moves toward a more holistic multimedia consumption experience. We’re pleased to continue this long-term partnership with ESS and bring best in class audio to LG V20 users”.
This ground-breaking multimedia feature was brought to life through the partnership of LG and ESS technology.
“We are extremely excited that our Quad DAC technology will be featured in the V20, LG’s latest flagship smartphone for consumers who demand the best media experience,” said Robert Blair, President and Chief Executive Officer of ESS Technology. “As a technology more typically available in high-end audio equipment, Quad DAC on the V20 will make users feel as if they are carrying around a professional home-audio system on their smartphone”.
In addition to its DAC, the LG V20 is also being touted to be the first smartphone to sport the new Android 7.0 operating system, known as Nougat. Typically, Google ensures that it’s Nexus line of devices lead the race on launching every new Android version, but this time, LG V20 seems to be getting to the launch podium first.
It is also being presumed that the LG V20 will be the second smartphone to adopt USB Type-C unlike the LG V10’s micro USB standard. Additionally, LG V20’s processor is expected to be a Snapdragon 820 or 821 with 4 GB of RAM.
So, the LG V20 has a lot going for it, but we’ll all have to wait and see what actually rolls out of the Stocking come launch date. Fingers crossed, LG would have hit a home run this time. God knows, they need one!
Samsung introduced the Galaxy Note 7 to the world at their Galaxy Unpacked event in New York on 2nd August, with much fanfare.
Their flagship phablet was announced in India a few days later, with the promise that the device would become available here from 2nd September, and would be priced at INR 59,900.
Colours? The Note7 will be available in Gold Platinum, Silver Titanium, and Black Onyx color variants, however the Blue Coral color variant available in other regions, hasn’t been launched in India, at this time.
The Indian version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 will have the hybrid dual-SIM feature, whereby one of the SIM slots could also be used for a microSD card (up to 256GB) instead of the second SIM card.
An Iris Scanner that will allow you to unlock the phone and also secure the folders through the iris pattern. This is part of the Knox Security suite on the Note 7 which leverages biometric authentication through both the Iris Scanner and fingerprint scanner to make the device impenetrable.
Samsung has made claims that its new Iris Scanner is safer than fingerprint sensors found on many Android smartphones, though we will have to wait and watch on this one.
The new Secure Folder associated with biometric security houses selected apps and their data in a secure, separate location and even allows the users to have two instances of the same app on the smartphone.
Apart from the security measures, the Galaxy Note 7 boasts of a dual-edge 5.7-inch QHD Super AMOLED display with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 and comes with an IP68 rating, making it water- and dust-resistant.
Samsung at the time of global launch of the device said, “With the peace of mind that IP68 water resistant provides, the Galaxy Note 7 S Pen lets users jot down their thoughts without interruption, even when the screen gets wet“.
The phablet runs on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with Samsung’s own skin atop. The variant launched in India is powered by a Samsung Exynos 8890 Octa SoC (four cores clocked at 2.3GHz and four cores clocked at 1.6GHz), coupled with 4 GB of LPDDR4 RAM, however, it has been reported that some regions including the US will receive a variant powered by the Snapdragon 820 SoC (two Kryo cores clocked at 2.15GHz and two Kyro cores clocked at 1.6GHz).
The device comes with 64 GB of inbuilt storage, expandable up to 256 GB via microSD card. A 3,500mAh non-removable battery powers the Note 7, which supports fast charging with both wired and wireless chargers, considering that the device is compatible with WPC and PMA wireless charging standards.
As for the shutterbugs, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 sports a 12-megapixel rear camera with Dual Pixel technology enabling you to take better pictures in low-light and features phase detection autofocus (PDAF), optical image stabilization (OIS) with an f/1.7 aperture, dual-LED flash, and Auto-HDR feature. The front camera comes with a 5-megapixel sensor while it retains the f/1.7 aperture.
Not sure whether it caught your attention, however it did catch ours that Samsung has skipped a number in the naming series of the Note device from Note5 to Note7. In case you are wondering why, this move comes in the wake of unifying the whole product portfolio, to gel in all their devices together.
“There are a couple reasons why. First, the Galaxy Note7 will complement our Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, and unify our product portfolio. Second, the Galaxy Note7 will minimize confusion about the latest mobile technology from Samsung, and provide full alignment with Galaxy S smartphone“, said the company.
The S Pen has also seen a lot of improvements including the ability to now create GIF image animations from videos using the Smart Select feature, apart from new Air Command functions to magnify and translate. The S Pen also provides easy access to Samsung Notes, a new unified app for writing notes, drawing, or editing memos, with the device having the capability to translate in 71 languages, including 11 Indian languages! Additionally, the S Pen just like a real ball point pen now has a smaller tip (0.7 mm, to be precise) than the previous one (1.66 mm), which in turn enables improved pressure sensitivity.
At the global event, the company also unveiled the new Samsung Gear VR, Gear IconX wireless earbud and Gear Fit 2 wearable. The Gear VR has slightly changed in design with a wider 101 degrees field of view. The device includes a USB Type-C port in addition to a micro USB port for compatibility with other Galaxy devices.
Pre-bookings for the Samsung Galaxy Note7 start from August 22 through till August 30, with the company having already made it clear that the units will be available in limited quantities during this period. So if you really want this phablet, be quick with your pre- bookings!
An added incentive to acquiring Note7 in the pre-booking offer (up till August 30) entitles the users to get the new Gear VR at a discounted price of INR 1,990 only.
To make the deal even more tempting, the company is also providing interested users an opportunity to avail of the Reliance Jio Preview Offer, which comes with voice and data benefits for 90 days, alongside access to the Jio Digital Life content service.
Pride was obvious in LG’s stance when they announced their LG V20 smartphone would be the first smartphone in the world, to ship with Android 7.0 Nougat right out of the box.
LG has pinned down the final date – the LG V20 comes to San Francisco on September 6, 2016 in a four day event. LG however hasn’t shared the specifications or made any official announcements regarding the device.
With that LG outshone the soon-to-launch Nexus phone that was reported to pack the Nougat-y punch.
The new or unknown as we all know, generates a level of excitement and curiosity and same goes for LG V20.
Since V20 is a successor to V10, we can safely speculate that V20 may sport dual-screens. A main 5.7 inch, 2560×1440 pixels display with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection and a second Always-On 2.1-inches (1040×160 pixels) ribbon display at the top, which is for notifications and quick app access.
The phone might run on a Snapdragon 820 chipset, coupled with an Andreno 530 graphics processor and feature a finger print scanner.
The LG V20 will just enthral users with its rumoured 20 megapixel back camera paired with an 8 megapixel front camera.
Android 7.0 Nougat will pack new features like multi-window support, enhanced notifications, revamped doze, number blocking, and a redesigned Camera app. Other than that, the layout will get additional Grid options, and revive the manual exposure mode which was missed by a lot of people. Android Nougat will bring “Doze on the Go”, a feature that enables the phone to enter battery saving mode as soon as the phone’s screen is turned off. The notifications bar has also been refurbished to present a more minimalist and clean look.
All these features at an exciting price point of around IN 40,000!
“We are excited to offer the first phone in the world to feature Nougat out of the box”, said Juno Cho, President of LG Electronics and Mobile Communications Company. “The LG V20 upgrades and extends its predecessor’s cutting-edge multimedia features a step further, providing distinctive mobile experience and sets a new standard for premium phones for consumers”.
The invitation for this unveiling of V20 comes with a colorful book which has a tagline ‘Play More’, hinting strongly at the smartphone’s capability to multi-tasking capabilities, and some functionality like the LG G5, since the company had introduced this tagline with its 2016 flagship earlier in the year.
LG G5 may have failed in the sense that it didn’t manage to grab attention and had weaker sales than the company anticipated, owing to its production difficulties.
LG V20 is the successor to the V10, which was launched in October 2015.
Engadget claimed the V10’s second screen was one of the best executions to date, with easy access to audio controls and a quick glance at an email thread. However, with two front cameras, V10 seemed to have gone overboard for users who may not need two lens options while clicking a selfie.
LG attracted focus on the company’s close cooperation with Google and we are assuming that this is the reason that is enabling LG to roll out an Android Nougat phone so early (with even a custom LG skin already created for it), while Google hasn’t yet even provided an official release date for Nougat on its own Nexus devices!
All this is vitally important for LG to boost its mobile business. Understandably, LG is upbeat about the forthcoming launch. In fact, LG is touting that the V20 is “expected to set new standards” for the premium phone market and it will be interesting to see the battle between LG V20 and Samsung’s Note7 as the latter is also round the corner.
Those of you who’ve been waiting on the Note7, or even those who’ve been happy with their current device, yet are feeling the itch, get ready for the 11th of August!
Samsung’s Galaxy Note7, the South Korean megabrand’s newest flagship which is seemingly is all set to rock the world gets out to the crowded Indian market in just a few days. The device comes after the much-loved Galaxy Note5, stampeded through the Indian business and professional-users’ market.
In order to keep symmetry in the nomenclature of their devices for the year, and to stay in line with the Galaxy S7 series, the successor is called Note7.
The device is a lot of firsts for the company. Here are just three of the significant changes:
Before we delve further into these, let’s quickly discuss the specs of the smartphone, shall we?
The phone features a dual-edge 5.7-inch QHD Super AMOLED display, which is in line with other flagships from the year, including the company’s own S7 edge. The display is, thus, amazing. The phone also features an ‘Always On’ functionality that allows you to see information like the date, time and notification icons onscreen even when the phone is locked or in sleep mode.
The Note7 runs on the latest version of Android Marshmallow 6.0.1, again a standard for the flagships this year. It also comes with a promised update to Android N soon, whenever that’d be out in the market, though.
The device is powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor, which, again, is a standard for the flagships this year since it is arguably the best one out there as of now.
As for storage, the phone features a 4 GB RAM, 64 GB storage, and one can use a microSD card instead of a second SIM in the dual SIM slots.
For the camera, there’s a 12 megapixel & 5 megapixel (front) combination, with the 12 megapixel rear camera featuring Dual Pixel technology.
The back camera works well with low-light photography, along with phase detection autofocus (PDAF), optical image stabilisation (OIS), a f/1.7 aperture, dual-LED flash, and Auto-HDR feature. As for the front camera, it sports a f/1.7 aperture, which should be good enough.
All in all, the cameras are good, quite good for your everyday use, but it’s nothing that another device might not offer you. In fact some say the Galaxies S7 perform better on this front, than their more serious cousin.
The phone comes with an upgrade S-Pen and associated functionality; plus it is water- and dust-resistant. It comes with a 3,500 mAh non-removable battery, which supports fast charging with wired and wireless chargers. It also has a fingerprint scanner for biometric locking, along with the much-expected Iris Scanner.
Let’s talk about the Iris Scanner for bit. The idea altogether, of having an iris scanner on your phone seems quite compelling. The reality of it might not be the same, however.
While one must certainly appreciate the technology that brings an iris scanner to a smartphone, the idea of using fingerprints for your biometric security just feels easier.
The fingerprint scanners are embedded in the home button, and have been in use in Samsung devices for a while, and thus are tested and well equipped. They respond fast, and swift, as one would want for them to. With an iris scanner, however, this might not work that well, because, for starters, you have to aim for the reading to happen, and scanning a thumb or finger is much easier than scanning ones irises.
The fact of the matter is that critics have said scathing words about the iris scanner, calling it redundant. But for someone who is excited about the idea and the new technology, it might be an exciting thing.
As for the other ‘firsts’, the Gorilla Glass is just better protection and better display, and the USB Type-C port is just keeping in line with the future of technology.
Before we forget, one of things we at Chip-Monks are really excited about is the dual-edge display. Like in the Galaxy S7 edge, this device all has a curved ‘edge’ screen that displays your notifications, and it has the displays on both – the left and the right edges, and not just one (like on the S7 edge).
Some users have complained about it not going too well for them. If having the ‘edge’ on two sides is any better from having it on one is something we’ll have to leave to the users to decide.
On the face of it, the smartphone does sound like The Next Big Thing that Samsung is ready to bring out, and it seems more than equipped to meet the pent up expectations of the Samsung fan club, and more.
Look out, Apple!
Google Play, the tech giant’s app store, will now only display the true size of the application, enabling you to manage the space within your device effectively. What this will help you with is ensuring that you have enough space for what you’re downloading and that you can free up some space beforehand, if you’re downloading something bigger in size, like say a heavy game or VR experience.
What Was The Scene Before?
Previously, you could only see the size of the APK file on the Google Play Store. So, presume the APK file displayed is at 50 MB, the size of the actual update could be more, sometimes even double the size displayed.
For example, if you’re downloading an update to an app, and the size shown on the Play Store is 3.12 MB, then Google will now ensure that that is the correct size of the update and that what you download is only 3.12 MB, and not more.
Other Related News
In other news, Google has also tweaked its Play Store algorithm, to make app updates smaller in size.
How app updates work is that Updates only download the changes to their APK files when you update them, and those new files merge with the old ones.
What the new algorithm will do is make these updates up to 50% smaller. Now instead of downloading the entire APK files again, the Play Store will only download the changes to the files and merge them with the already existing files on your phone.
While this change does not feel significant at all, it could matter a lot when it comes to big files such as that of games.
Who Is It Going To Matter To?
A big file (like that of games, or even a nice, well-endowed, self-contained App) can weigh a healthy 2 GB on an average. With this new algorithm, Google would help reduce the size of these big files by about 10-12%.
An obvious question is ‘who is this going to matter to really?’ Well, in all frankness, it probably won’t make much of a difference to someone with a high-end Android phone (space wise), but it could be a boon for the budget smartphones flooding the market, with most budget phones being on Android OS.
Another segment that it will affect positively are the users operating on Mobile Data and not broadband powered Wi-Fi. Mobile Data packages are higher in cost and have daily usage caps, which means that a big download in a day could affect the user’s internet usage over the time. Smaller sizes mean they don’t have to sweat it that much anymore
Back in May, when at the Google I/O Conference, a slew of new developer features were unveiled, something like this could be seen not too far away.
Smaller file sizes will enable user’s devices to run smoother, and better, enhancing not only their experience with the phones but also with the applications in concern.
The change is already in place at the Play Store since the news went big in the last week of July.
Samsung’s Turbo Speed Technology To Make Their Mid-Range Phones Feel Faster
Samsung released a video on its Samsung Mobile India page explaining a new feature, the Turbo Speed Technology (TST), included in their Galaxy J2 Pro 2016 smartphone.
TST is supposed to enable a fast, fluid and smooth smartphone experience for the users.
Samsung highlighted how the brainiacs behind this technology started with a fresh canvas to come up with software and hardware improvements aimed at improving smartphone experience even on a device that doesn’t have a cutting-edge processor or tons of RAM (why does this remind us of Apple devices which do the opposite?).
Some companies feel that having the latest processor on board makes their devices smarter and gives them a lead, others feel that additional RAM enables better user experience, so much so that Chinese smartphone maker LeEco is rumored to be working on a smartphone with an insane 8 GB of RAM.
Samsung, in the past has been no different – always promoting individual specifications on their smart devices, while the users shot them down for the experience while using said devices.
Through the TST-armed Galaxy J2 Pro, Samsung intends to send out the message that mid-range devices can be very powerful without packing high-end specs.
So you know, the Galaxy J2 Pro sports 1.5 GB of RAM (which is half of what the normal Samsung tribe carries today) and 8 GB of inbuilt storage and sits at an INR 9,890 price point.
In fact, if you ponder, the USP of mid-range smartphones is the mere fact that they are easy on the pocket. Addition of more RAM or a better processor simply implies a hike in the price, cancelling its membership of the mid-range phone club.
To support this cause of proving speedy experience irrespective of device, Samsung has rewritten some of the most used smartphone apps like Contacts, Gallery, Camera and Text Messages, others have been shrunk, to consume less RAM while in use. The aim of this project was for applications to load up to 40% faster than on a smartphone with double the memory capacity.
Turbo Speed Technology also includes a “Proactive App Management” feature that lets the phone automatically kill apps that aren’t being used much in the background so as to free up more RAM (why does this again remind us of Apple devices?).
Besides this, an “Intelligent Memory Control” feature is meant to rearrange and de-clutter the RAM, to make more RAM available when it’s required (now I cannot get Apple devices out of my mind, seriously).
The TST feature meanwhile is available only on the Galaxy J2 Pro, but it is expected to arrive on other Android smartphones from Samsung in the near future.
As an aside, wouldn’t Turbo Speed Technology coupled with 6 GB RAM and an inherently fast processor on the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note7 be an interesting fusion!
The only question that arises is that if Samsung is capable of delivering amazing performance without bumping up processor speed or adding more RAM, then why does it keep doing the same with every new Galaxy S and Galaxy Note model it launches? Oh, the irony..!
The idea for using your smartphone as a laptop is not a new one. What’s new is the inexpensive solution to do that.
Microsoft has been the most visible proponent of this idea in recent months; its Continuum feature allows Windows Phones to run a lightweight version of Windows 10 when plugged into a display dock.
The problem, in a nutshell, is that masses are not swayed towards buying Windows Phones.
Before Microsoft, there was Ubuntu. It struggled long and hard to gain traction with similar promises, dating back to its failed Edge project in 2013.
Before even Ubuntu, there was Motorola, with its Atrix phone that worked much the same way, but its laptop dock cost USD 500, the software you used with it was half-baked, and the phone was only “strong” by 2011’s standards. Again, few people cared as it did not seem viable.
Andromium, made its first attempt at a fully functioning phone-based workstation in 2014. Plugged into an MHL-compatible phone, it gave users the ability to connect an external monitor, keyboard and mouse. Although it had potential, backers apparently weren’t keen on a connecting various peripherals via a tangle of USB and HDMI cables, and the Andromium Dock never reached its funding goals.
Andromium took note and now has ditched all its peripherals and commenced a new project. Taking the idea of “democratization of the laptop” to a certain new level, the team at Andromium has started a crowdsourcing campaign to launch the Superbook – a USD 99 laptop dock for Android smartphones.
Aesthetically, the Superbook is a convincing Apple MacBook Air 11-inch clone. The device offers an 11.6-inch, 1366×768 LCD panel, what appears to be a full-size island-style keyboard and a large gesture-capable touchpad with a built-in battery that Andromium claims will last eight hours.
Outside of that, the Superbook is an empty shell, just waiting for you to hook up your Android phone via the USB Type-C or micro USB port.
Download the Andromium app on a device running Android 5.0 or later, connect the device using either a micro-USB or USB-C cord, and the laptop shell will power on mimicking a laptop.
Imaginatively, you’re not limited to any particular model of Android smartphone, but the company points out that the phone should have at least 1.5 GB of RAM, a dual-core chip, and Android 5.0 or higher. It also has to support the USB-OTG standard, but that shouldn’t be an issue for the vast majority of devices.
The idea, as it’s always been, is to leverage your phone’s power with a laptop’s form factor. In Andromium, buying a new phone then becomes akin to buying a new laptop. Some specs will get bumped up as stretch goals get surpassed, the USD 500,000 goal takes the battery up to 10 or more hours of use, for example.
Andromium is offering a whole bouquet of perks to get the project funded adequately.
So far, the project has raised more than USD 700,100 on Kickstarter, comfortably outdoing the initial USD 50,000 goal with 26 days remaining!
The most basic Superbook pack, which includes a Gold laptop, a USB-OTG cable and wall adapter, is at the USD 99 pledge level, but jumping to USD 159 will get you a Superbook in Blue or Gold, a universal smartphone mount for the screen-edge and a wall charger.
If everything goes to plan, shipping should start in February 2017. The Kickstarter funding for the project ends on August 20.
Ready to book yours?
FutureBrand just announced Apple as the world’s favorite company.
FutureBrand takes a look the world’s 100 largest companies and conducts an annual survey of about 3,000 consumers and industry professionals to rank them on the basis of a range of elements such as Personality, Consistency, Trust, Innovation, Price Premium, Resource Management, etc.
After providing them attributes to rank, the respondents are then asked to place the company on the basis of personal preference that ranges from Distant and Passionate at the extreme ends of the rung, with Indifferent, Close, and Admiration in between.
With Google’s reorganization, only parent company Alphabet has made it large and was able to make it onto the top 100 shortlist and Google itself didn’t even qualify.
Last year, the FutureBrand rankings had Google, Apple, Microsoft, Walt Disney, AbbVie, Gilead Sciences, Samsung, MasterCard, Celgene, SABMiller as the top 10 rank holders.
The two most likeable feelings that respondents showed toward Apple were passion and admiration. Apple was ranked highly for its attributes like individuality, authenticity, innovation and thought-leadership.
The remainder seven positions read like this:
We spy some lesser-known names and this clearly indicates the significant role that industry professionals play in the rankings.
Both Apple and Microsoft have risen higher in the ladder as they have jumped a place from last year’s rankings to stand 1st and 2nd, with Samsung jumping four places from last year to advance ahead of tech industry giants like Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com, Inc.
When asked where the respondents saw Apple three years from now, more than 75% believed that Apple has a linear progression and they expect it would continue to do so in the future. Half of them were ready to buy Apple’s devices and many of them were ready to work for the company. These views reflect on the high regard with which Apple is seen among industry professionals.
Coming back to Alphabet, it managed to bag the 21st place in the list probably because of the lack of brand awareness as Google. It could also be for the fact that since the company is so varied (businesses range from Android OS, to Phones, to Networking, to Search Engine, to their Special projects like Loon, Jacquard, etc.) that it was difficult for the respondents to assign the attributes to it and reflected in the response that they had.
While 25% of respondents said that they felt ‘close’ to Alphabet, the rest on the other hand felt indifferent and only 20% said that they admired Alphabet, with a minority of them feeling passionate about it. The two strongest attributes associated with the company were a sense of purpose and the quality of its people.
Apple definitely is stealing the show this time at the FutureBrand Index 2016. Apple seems to be the current favorite of many as it last week it sold its billionth iPhone.
The company is close to celebrating its 10th anniversary next year with major upgrades and overhauls.
This one goes out to all my clumsy comrades who keep dropping their smartphones from new heights and of course, to all you other more sapient creatures who’d like to know just how sturdy the next generation of touchscreen iPhones is going to be.
Corning is coming up with the King Kong of tough glass material, the “Gorilla Glass 5”.
Established in 1851, Corning Inc. is a veteran in the glass and ceramics manufacturing industry with the experience of over a century and a half under its belt, and the credit for developing the ion exchange and fusion process to make toughened glass – a kind of shatterproof glass with a high resistance to physical and thermal pressure. It is used everywhere from automobiles to buildings to cookware to bulletproof windows and even space shuttles!
Corning Gorilla Glass has been used on more than 4.5 billion devices worldwide, including more than 1,800 product models across 40 major brands! Some companies that use Corning Glass in their products are: Acer, Asus, HP, HTC, Lenovo, LG, Motorola, OnePlus, Samsung, Micromax and Huawei.
A standard feature of any smartphone worth its salt, Corning’s Gorilla Glass is a similarly toughened glass made especially for electronic devices and displays. Interestingly, it was used for the very first time in the first generation of iPhones that was launched in 2007 – months before Corning made it available on the market. While thin and lightweight, it is highly resistant to the battery of scratches that befall a smartphone on a daily basis.
Vice President and General Manager at Corning Gorilla Glass, John Bayne, states on Corning’s website that the new product will secure Corning’s position over those of its competitors.
According to a recent global study, over 85% of smartphone owners have dropped their phones at least once per year and 55% have dropped their phones three times or more. Additionally, more than 60% of smartphone owners reported dropping their devices between shoulder and waist height.
In addition to the ability to withstand unfortunate falls, the tougher glass promises an unmatched clarity and sensitivity while being thin enough for your smartphone to look as slim and slick as ever.
Mobile devices are the primary tools consumers use to capture, view, create, send and consume digital content, and the cover glass is the interface for touching, typing and swiping that content. Consumers count on their cover glass to deliver damage resistance, optical clarity, touch sensitivity, and protection from drops.
Gorilla Glass 5 is a marked improvement over its previous iterations. Where Gorilla Glass 4 could only survive falls of up to 3.2 feet, the new one can survive those of up to 5.2 feet. With more than half of all smartphone users dropping their cell phones at least thrice each year, and with most of those falls occurring from shoulder or waist height, the new glass is a much-needed advancement in prolonging the lifespan of our precious devices.
There has also been some speculation, ever since the launch of the iPhone 5 in 2014, over whether Apple might choose Sapphire glass, a harder material made of Sapphire crystal, over Corning’s Gorilla Glass. However, Apple has consistently refused to use it on its displays and with good reason.
Sapphire is costlier and bulkier than glass. It is also less transparent, which means that more light must pass through the display for it to be bright enough, putting a strain on battery life while making the iPhone bulkier and costlier. Sapphire is, however, practically immune to scratches and which is why Apple uses it on the camera and home button/fingerprint scanner of the iPhone 6.
In all probability, the upcoming series of iPhones will feature Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5. Not only would this be in line with Apple’s plan to make a stronger build of the iPhone after the “Bendgate” fiasco, but it would also make sense given the fact that each successive generation of the iconic phone has used Corning’s high strength glass.
Even though Corning and Apple work in a rather clandestine fashion, and there has been no official statement on the matter, it would be rather safe to make that prediction.