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Galaxy S8 to be on sale April 21

Galaxy S8 to be on sale April 21

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Latest news leaks report that the Galaxy S8 device line up will most likely go on sale sometime around April 21. We are unsure as to which regions will receive it first, nonetheless. This information was stated by a “higher up” official working for a certain mobile network provider. The announcement and presentation is expected on March 29 in New York city.

So far the information we have is basically the following:

The Galaxy S8 series will include the S8 at about 5.8 inches and the Galaxy S8 Plus will be 6.2 or 6.1 inches (rectangular or rounded). Based on speculation both models will have the Snapdragon 835 chips, 4GB of RAM and a 12 MP back camera (dual pixel) with an 8 MP front camera.

The iris scanner worked remarkably well on the Note 7 in our tests with super speedy performance. We are certain Samsung will include the iris scanner on the S8 devices. Water resistance is expected to be beefed up to IP68 compared to the Note 7 and S7 Edge’s IP 67.

There is possible S PEN compatibility with one or both of the model versions.

 

Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus specs Revealed

Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus specs Revealed

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With people clamoring for more details on the upcoming Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus models it seems like the famous Evan Blass has done it again. Ahead of the device’s announcement we witnessed a leaked Galaxy S8 Plus specification sheet.

According to Evan Blass the Galaxy S8 Plus will feature a 6.2 inch (Full rectangle) QHD+ display, a 12 megapixel dual pixel back camera (8mp front), IP68 dust and water resistance rating, 4 GB’s of RAM and 64 GB of expandable storage (via microSD). There will also be an iris scanner, samsung pay, wireless charging, and fast LTE speeds.

The missing specs are the processor (most likely the Snapdragon 835) and the battery size (we estimate between 3000 mAh to 3600 mAh).

Interestingly, the specs sheet also mentions an option for a 6.1 inch model with “Rounded Corners”. We are curious as to how much of a curve the device would receive.

As we know, Samsung is looking to removing their home button and replacing it to the backside of the device. The S8 and S8 Plus will be one of the most exciting releases of 2017 and perhaps another step forward into a future of new smartphone design.

Samsung Galaxy S8 Spec’s Revealed!

Samsung Galaxy S8 Spec’s Revealed!

The Galaxy S8 is a much anticipated smartphone that a lot of people are waiting for. Following the Note 7’s demise people are very much curious as to how Samsung plans to come back. So far all the leaked images and rumors, though cloudy, seem to promise something rather different and unique experience. The display choice and the removal of the home button are some of the biggest moves Samsung could make.

Today we would like to share another leaked image that has been going around since yesterday about leaked Galaxy S8 specs. Check it out below

 

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As we know, the Galaxy S8 can be debuted as early as April 21. It seems, however, that we will be seeing partial bits of the devices specs ahead of time. The Galaxy S8 will feature a 5.8 inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED display, 4GB’s of RAM, a new IP68 water and dust resistance rating, 12 megapixel dual-pixel camera on the back with an 8 megapixel camera on the front and an iris scanner. We are also seeing 64GB’s of expandable storage (with microSD support) alongside Samsung Pay, wireless charging and surprisingly, included earphone’s which are tuned by AKG.

Yesterday the specs sheet for the GALAXY S8+ was leaked. When we compared the two specs sheets we saw that the majority of the features were identical to one another (save for the display size). This is great news for those who prefer the smaller device of the two but want all the same features.

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The specs sheet does omit a few details we would like to know but we can take a wild guess. The processor included would most likely be the next gen Exynos 9 chip for international users and the Snapdragon 835 chip for the Americas. The battery size is estimated to be about 3,000 mAh.

On top of this we still believe that both the S8 and S8 + will feature edge to edge displays which also replace a lot of the top and bottom bezels with display space. The fingerprint sensor is most likely found on the back of the device.

We are also wondering what Samsung’s plans are for Bixby, their in house Artificial Intelligence. Also how will Samsung’s DeX feature operate?

The Unveiling of the new devices may come on March 29, so stay tuned.

What to Expect from MWC 2017

What to Expect from MWC 2017

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What is MWC?

For people who just love technologies such as smartphones and are looking into buying new devices should take a look at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2017. MWC is held every year, usually in February. During the event various tech companies will come and showcase their latest work and new devices which are expected to hit the market in the same year or whenever they plan. We will be seeing various smartphones, tablets, wearable’s and various other digital techs which really strive to define our technological future.

As usual we expect to see big name brands such as; Sony, LG, Huawei, and Samsung. Not only will these companies arrive but many other medium to small tech innovation companies will have their chance at showing off various products ranging from artificial intelligence, robotics and virtual reality.

Where is MWC?

MWC is hosted in Barcelona at the Fira Gran Via as the location. Other events also take place at the Fira Montjuïc.

When is MWC happening?

MWC 2017 starts on February 27 Monday running through March 2 Thursday.

However, we expect products to start being unveiled a day earlier on February 26 while big name products show cased prior to the event as well.

What to Expect at MWC

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More than 2,200 companies will be showcasing their products at the event. We will see the likes of Google, HTC, Huawei, Intel, Lenovo, LG, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung, Sony and much more. Mobile carriers also attend the event showcasing their services. The event is not limited to digital technology as well as we will also see automotive manufacturers such as Ford, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen.

There will be a ton of people (estimated by the GSMA to be more than 101,000 attendees at MWC 2017). There will be endless booths showing the coolest tech and lots of lectures and keynote speeches as well as round-table discussions with industry leaders. MWC 2017 will showcase Keynote speakers ranging from John Hanke (founder and CEO of Niantic (Pokemon GO)), Reed Hastings (founder and CEO of Netflix), and Rajeev Suri (President and CEO of Nokia).

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Samsung

We have seen various teasers in constant flow from big name manufacturers of their upcoming mobile handsets. Unfortunately, Samsung’s president DJ KOH, has announced that the Galaxy S8 will not be presented at MWC this year but at a later date. We do expect Samsung to unveil the Galaxy Tab S3 this year to rival the iPad. Samsung has been sending out invitations to a press conference on February 26.

Sony

Sony is reportedly expected to unveil 5 new smartphones at MWC. One of which is expected to have a 5.5 inch 4K display to optimize visibility for virtual reality.

LG

We also expect a new flagship from LG (the LG G6 which also may follow the trend of have a bezel-free edge to edge display). LG’s modular approach did not gain any traction and thus is expected to abandon that route.

Huawei

The new P10 smartphone is also expected to be showcased by Huawei as well. The P10 looks as though it will have a curved edge display (something like the S7 Edge’s current design). A dual camera LEICA setup was also leaked (just like the older P9 flagship). As with most manufacturers Huawei is expected to release two different sizes.

HTC

With the recent release of the HTC U Ultra (which HTC has stated is NOT their flagship device) we are expecting a flagship from them (a successor to the HTC 10) that runs Qualcomms newest top of the line processor, the Snapdragon 835. However, we are unsure if HTC will be releasing anything new at MWC, we will see.

Nokia

Nokia has made a triumphant return to the mobile market with the first android variant release, the Nokia 6. Now owned by a Finnish company, HMD Global, which outsources manufacturing to China via FIH Mobile.

Supposedly, Nokia is expected to release their biggest product ever at MWC 2017. A new tablet with an 18.4 inch display running on Android Nougat alongside a new portfolio of new smartphones.

There has been online excitement as well that Nokia may revive the famous “indestructible 3310”.

Other Products

Artificial intelligence, drones, virtual reality, augmented reality, robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT) and a whole range of technological trends have been growing and changing our world and how we live it. At MWC, be prepared to see all sorts of fantastic products in all these different categories. Attendees will be able to interact and try out a lot of these products which present new works in the industry. There will be a DroneZone for drone related demonstrations and for people to learn more about the latest developments in drone technology and much more.

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Xiaomi Mi 6 Coming in 2017

Xiaomi Mi 6 Coming in 2017

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One of the top contenders for the “Best upcoming Android smartphones” would be the Xiaomi Mi 6. Xiaomi is a Chinese based smartphone company who builds high quality handsets for a much lower cost compared to the likes of other major players in the smartphone field. The Xiaomi Mi 5 was their previous flagship device. It is a bit difficult to pick one of these bad boys up in America but one could purchase it 3rd party off of online sites or even on partner websites.

The Mi 6 is expected to be the first Chinese device to feature the Snapdragon 835 processor which runs on Samsung’s 10nm FinFETT processor.

The Mi 6 is also expected to have a edge to edge display with extremely thin bezels that one would be hard pressed to find. Alongside with the display prowess of Samsung, we expect Xiaomi’s Mi 6 to make the cut to the hall of fame. The display could be curved as some rumors assumed, but given the current direction our smartphone trends are going we would not be surprised.

Xiaomi Mi 6 Specifications:

  • QHD 2K Super AMOLED display
  • Qualcomm DecaCore Snapdragon 835 processor
  • 3 to 4 GB of RAM
  • Fast LTE x16 support
  • 3000 to 4000 mAh non-removable battery
  • 16MP & 12MP Dual Rear Camera and 13MP front-facing camera
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection (Ceramic Design)
  • Health-related sensors, Fingerprint sensor

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Galaxy S7 Edge Nougat Update Affects Battery Life

Galaxy S7 Edge Nougat Update Affects Battery Life

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At this time Samsung is still working on distributing their own  Android 7.0 Nougat updates onto the S7 and S7 Edge devices around the world. Despite the slow and agonizing wait process there already has been a good handful of people in certain regions who already received the update. Notably we saw updated benchmark test’s performed on battery life on an S7 Edge device before and after the Nougat upgrade. The good folks at GSMArena and PhoneArena did an updated test on Marshmellow and then Nougat to try and take into account the integrity of the battery (due to wear and tear). Overall it does not seem to look good. Here are the results:

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On the Galaxy S7, the Android Marshmallow OS battery life was rated at 397 minutes which is still excellent for a battery which must have seen degradation over the years worth of usage. Android Nougat, however, came to a close at 360 minutes instead which is noticeably less.

On the Galaxy S7 Edge, the Android Marshmallow OS clocked in at 403 minutes of usage in their tests still compared to 395 minutes compared to Android Nougat.

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The update brings a lot of changes on the software front of the s7 and s7 edge platform. Ranging from a new UI, camera app overhauls, power saving modes and many new Android 7 features as well. Unfortunately, the first adopters of this new OS update began complaining about a drop in battery life for their S7 and S7 Edge devices. Phone Arena performed an investigation on this and found that there indeed was a connection between the drop in battery performance and Android 7.0 Nougat.

The overall numbers show that the devices are under performing by about 10% compared to when they were on Marshmallow. To test this the team kept the screen brightness at 200 nits and performed average usage tasks on each handset (on Marshmallow first to test the battery life after 1 year of usage, then Nougat).

 

The reason why the team re did the test on Marshmallow was to relieve the growing concerns over the age of the batteries (about 1 years old). Batteries naturally face degradation and lose battery life over time. Regardless, it is confirmed that there were no noticeable differences in battery life from when they first tested this at the beginning of 2016. It was only after upgrading to Android Nougat that we found a drop in battery life of approximately 10%.

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The effects we see on battery life is all driven by the software. There were major changes and we assume there are still various bugs that will be squashed as we move forward. Samsung should be hard at work finding fixes and constantly pushing out proper updates to get rid of this strange phenomena that many see today. With proper optimizations to the software users should see a return to the glory days of long lasting battery performances in their S7’s and S7 Edge’s.

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Android Wear 2.0 Incoming – What to Expect

Android Wear 2.0 Incoming – What to Expect

What is Android Wear 2.0?

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You heard it, Google is soon releasing the next major overhaul for their Android Wear line up which they are calling “Android Wear 2.0”. In the past few years we have had a lot of different smartwatches released by a slew of manufacturers. Some people love wearing it everyday, while others, not so much. We know that our whole office along with many of our own friends do not actually wear them despite owning them. Even though these wrist watches have been available to us for 3 years or so the majority of the population simply did not find them as a necessity. With poorer battery life (for the high end models) compared to real watches and functions that can all be completed easily with higher visibility on your own smart phone, no wonder people tend to gravitate towards pulling out that classic smartphone instead.

Despite this Google was not discouraged but rather decided to push on to revamp the whole functionality of smartwatches. Manufacturers also did not stop but rather kept pushing out new models to sell. Google’s smartwatch development has yet to break out of the whole “wearable” niche and into the mainstream. Despite all of the various designs it just doesn’t seem to stick.

In light of all this Google went back to the drawing board and re designed what a smart watch should be. That is how they came out with Android Wear 2.0. With a more simplified design, new features, and a new way to have the watch operate independently from your smartwatch (most important point here) here we will look into the details.

2.0: Independent Smartwatch’s

The biggest and most important change we see in Android Wear 2.0 is the introduction of independent standalone apps. Gone are the days of having to always connect to your smart phone to function and in with the days you can perhaps truly walk around without your smartphone. Maybe we went too far there. Smart watches are still a little too basic to replace your smartphone entirely as there are still some apps that will need data syncing if there is something important to share between the two plat forms.

We are hoping that this big update will enable brand new ideas in how these smartwatches could be used and also usher in a new era of specializations.

Also included with this update, Google will be including the Google Play store to coming smartwatches running the 2.0 update. This enables users to browse and download smartwatch applications and install them directly. This eliminates the previous restriction of having to download a smartphone version on the smartphone first before transferring it to your watch.

2.0: New Watch Face Functions

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Another big change in Android Wear 2.0 is the Complication API. This enables developers to implement their data from other apps onto their watch faces. This would enable higher levels of customization on top of the time told by the watch face. This could involve weather information, flight information, sensor based information, and much more. Clicking on the data shown on the watch face would allow the user to access the information in more detail.

2.0: Google Assistant Added

 

Google Assistant will now be integrated into Android Wear 2.0. We have already seen what the Google Assistant is capable of in our own smartphones so this would be a welcome addition to the smart watch game. Now users would be able to update their calendars, schedules, shopping lists, ask questions, and the usual dandy things you can ask the Assistant to do.

2.0: Mobile Payments Added

Keeping with the times with Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, Android Wear 2.0 will enable smartwatches to make payments as well. The hardware requirement would be an NFC Chip integrated into the watch. This system would utilize Google’s Android Pay in this case.

Using this system is very easy. All the user needs to do is hold the watch close to the payment terminal and NFC will take care of the payment. Transaction details will be view able on the watch itself.

2.0: Material Design Reintroduced

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Google is keeping up with it’s Material Design styling in the UI. However, this time it has been brought over to the Smart Watches. Of course, the company has kept the optimizations good for the small display’s of the watches. For example, a new “curved layout” launcher rearranges the UI to fit a circular smartwatch and offers a circular scrolling and gesture experience.

The navigation drawer is available at the top of the screen and enables users to navigate between apps. The action drawer is available at the bottom of the screen and enables users to make different actions associated with the app opened currently. Buttons on the side of the smartwatch would present your apps in a sort of an arc. You can rearrange apps on this arc as well.

New rotational input support should help a lot in terms of comfort and well, it just makes plain sense for a round display.

2.0: New Notifications UI

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Notifications have also received an overhaul in 2.0. Google has redesigned this so that notifications no longer cover up your watch’s screen and cause a sense of clutter. Rather, with a contextual color in the background (depending on the app opened) users should experience a bit more of a flow when receiving notifications while using an app on their watch. For example, the application; Hangouts, would cause the notification to be green. The UI uses darker colors now which should help with battery life (especially on AMOLED displays). A small notification is shown on screen. Raising your watch would enlarge the notification to full screen from which point you can swipe up or left and right to interact.

2.0: New Fitness Data Handle

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Smaller and cheaper fitness trackers have stolen a lot of the spot light smartwatches offered. In light of this, Google worked hard to improve the capabilities of Google Fit. Their new Activity Recognition API enables the watch to detect activities such as walking or biking and then activate the associated fitness app based on the activity.

Google has given third party developers access to fitness data stored within the smartwatch. This should help out a lot in app content and variety on the Play Store. Specialist apps can now communicate with one another and keep everything (theoretically) flowing for fitness folks. Keeping progress an easy thing to track over a wide variety of activities.

2.0: Messaging and Input Overhaul

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Owners of smartwatches today have the ability to send out messages or reply to messages by using voice input or actually typing on the tiny device screens. It may be more or less of a hassle for many. In 2.0 Google strives to make this experience a lot easier. With new support for handwriting, keyboard input, and a Smart Reply feature Google hopes this assists in faster responses during messaging.

Google implemented their Google Machine learning Algorithm to give users three quick response answers based off of the message. Because this is a machine learning system it learns from you over time which means improved responses the more you utilize this.

Apparently, in 2.0 Google also brought over the entire Android input method framework. We look forward to what developers will be able to do in creating their own custom input methodology as well as improving already existing methods of usage.

Upcoming watches and Updates

The next smartwatch that comes with Android Wear 2.0 will be the LG Watch Sport and Watch Style. Both of these watches will feature NFC mobile payments, Google Assistant, and standalone data capabilities with a built in 3G/4G modem.

Look out for more smartwatches on their way from companies such as Huawei, Asus, Motorola, and especially Samsung.

Sony’s Current Flagship the Xperia XZ

“Sony Xperia XZ” Sony’s Current Flagship Model

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The Sony Xperia XZ is a premium smartphone which offers many specifications one should expect from a “flagship model”. If you are a newcomer to the realm of Sony this may be a good purchase, but if you already own a Sony device, it may not be compelling enough to buy.

Quick Take-Away Specifications:

  • Display: 5.2 Inch Full HD Triluminos IPS LCD
  • Processor: Quad-Core, 64-bit Snapdragon 820
  • Graphics: Qualcomm Adreno 530
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Storage: 32 GB (single SIM), 64 GB (dual SIM model) +microSD support up to 256 GB
  • Dimensions: 146 x 72 x 8.1 mm
  • Weight: 161g
  • IP rating: IP65/IP68
  • Main Camera: 23 MP with triple image sensing, predictive hybrid autofocus, 5-axis stabilization
  • Front Camera: 13 MP
  • Battery: 2,900 mAh, Quick Charge 3.0, Qnovo Adaptive Charging, USB Type-C
  • Fingerprint sensor: Yes, (outside of U.S.)
  • Connectivity: A-GNSS (GPS+GLONASS), Wi-Fi Miracast, Bluetooth 4.2

Pros

  • Refined Design
  • Strong improvements on camera
  • Waterproofing
  • Speedy performance
  • Hi-Res Audio Support
  • Vibrant Display
  • MicroSD Slot
  • 3.5mm Headphone Jack
  • Comfortable in hand
  • Great Camera Features

Cons

  • Fingerprint scanner not available for US models
  • No Nougat yet
  • Display is running FHD
  • Design may be feeling aged for some
  • Speakers are underwhelming
  • Expensive

The Sony Xperia XZ is the fourth flagship within the last two years. After the death of the Xperia Z line up Sony is beefing up its X series. Their latest and strongest offering is the Xperia XZ.

Some Features

  • Fingerprint sensor is fast (only available on some markets)
  • Water Resistance is back (IP68 Rating)
  • Users can enjoy PS4 games on the Xperia XZ display

The XZ is a combination of all of Sony’s developed tech. Water resistant designs make a return this time around along with speedy finger print scanner (but not for all markets). Users can also play PS4 games on your device.

Sony had a lot of fun with adverts showing their tablets and devices being water resistant in the shower and various other scenes. This has returned with the XZ. Users will not have to worry about a bit of water splashing on your beloved device.

The XZ holds a higher water resistance standard than the S7 Edge and the iPhone 7 Plus with the IP68 rating. As with any water resistance, it is always warned to never keep phone’s submerged for long periods of time (usually 30 minutes in about 1 meter depths of water). The device uses a 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB-C port which are both opened. Despite the open design the phone is water resistant to a higher degree.

The finger print reader was included on the model for some markets only. In the U.S. this feature is not available. The Fingerprint scanner is located on the Power Button which is found on the right hand side of the phone. This is a perfect position as your thumb is usually resting there. The sensor is also extremely fast working instantaneously as soon as you hit your power button.

PS4 Remote Play is also included into the package. User’s can play PS4 games on the Xperia XZ over the same Wi-Fi network the PS4 is on. This is only useful under a handful of circumstances such as; when someone is using the TV or when you need to keep it on the down low.

This brings us to the…

Display

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The Sony Xperia XZ has a 5.2 inch display integrated. It is also worth noting that we do not see a QHD display here, rather a FHD (full HD display). The display is still bright enough and looks great, nonetheless. FHD should help with battery life as it does not have as many pixels to operate compared to the S7 Edge (from Samsung) running a Quad HD display. The XZ may not be the best choice, however, for VR as it only contains 424 ppi (Pixels per Inch). Usually in VR situations users would want the highest ppi density available for a more enjoyable visual experience. (Compare 424 ppi to the Galaxy S7 Edge’s 534 ppi).

Moving on to the…

Design

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  • New high quality materials used on the back of the phone
  • Feels comfortable
  • Looks good

The design language has not change much over the course of the years with Sony phones. This is not necessarily a bad thing at all. It does mean that Sony is very consistent with their design and customers can identify a Sony phone from all other devices a lot easier compared to comparing the iPhone 7 with the iPhone 6S.

The build quality is premium. Sony calls the materials used “ALKALEIDO”. In practice, you won’t really see anything drastically different compared to other metal phones. However, the feeling of the device is different. It also looks a lot better than the glass window panel found on the Xperia Z series. The device, unfortunately, is still prone to finger prints.

The phone is easiest to hold in your hand compared to all other Sony devices put out into the markets. The boxy design remains but Sony has cut the corners a bit to give it a bit more of a rounded edge (not much though). We believe all of this helps to contribute to an overall more comfortable usage experience.

The top and bottom edges of the device are flat. This is unique compared to many flag ship phones out there with curved sides. This enables the XZ to stand up literally on its own.

The 3.5mm head phone jack is found at the top of the phone and a USB – C slot at the bottom of the device. MicroSD support is available with the tray found on the left hand side. This doubles as a SIM tray.

On the right hand side we find the power button (doubling as the speedy fingerprint sensor array / * Only found in some markets) with the volume button rockers a bit below that. Then we find the camera key. The camera key is uniquely useful when trying to take pictures. A lot of smartphone manufacturers have long since compromised by key mapping the shutter button to other buttons such as the volume or other available buttons on the phone. However, the placement of the camera button on the Xperia XZ is what makes it quite nice to have.

Multimedia

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  • Speakers are weaker than expected
  • 32 GB of storage + 256 GB microSD support
  • Powerful processor for gaming
  • Android 6 with Android 7 (Nougat) coming up
  • UI is clean

Sony is one of many manufacturers who are opting for a more Google-esque look. We all know what Google’s stock Android UI looks like. Some love it, some hate it. We love the diversity of Android UI’s and creativity founded upon an open sourced spirit. With that aside we have noticed the awkward duplicated apps of (Sony Messages, Phone, Contacts). We wish they can remove Google apps that make a lot of their own Sony Designed apps repetitive.

Sony also included Playstation, Xperia Lounge and Movie Creator. You can download PS4 Remote Play from the Google Play Store. Bloatware includes an AVG app, Kobo app, and Amazon app.

Out of the box the XZ runs on Android 6.0 (Marshmellow) but we know that Android 7.0 Nougat is coming soon to many users.

Multimedia Continued…

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The Full HD display is bright and it is big enough (somewhere between small and too big). User’s will be able to enjoy the fast processing speeds provided by the Snapdragon 820 processor when working with multimedia apps. The Adreno 530 GPU on board also provides huge boosts in graphical performance in games and other media.

The speakers on the phone, however, feel a little underwhelming. The highest volume feels weak when directly compared to other high end mobiles. Sony included their own Music app which has an interesting integration with Spotify or Google Play Music. On the bright side the XZ supports Hi-Res audio files such as FLAC, ALAC, DSD, and LPCM. The audio system can also upscale a compressed music file to present a more vibrant sound. You can hear this difference with a good set of head sets.

32GB is not enough. The size of the apps on Android are ever increasing and the extra storage space that apps take (Kakaotalk, Spotify… etc) become enormous (upwards to a few GB’s due to images, videos saved, cached files, offline music). But Sony does include a 256 GB microSD support slot.

Performance and Specs

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The Xperia XZ uses the Snapdragon 820 processor alongside 3 GB’s of RAM. The performance is reliable. The 820 processor is one of the best on the market as of this moment still (Until the 835 comes out). You are hardpressed to find lag, performance issues with any games you play, or apps you run. Everyday tasks are also reliable and quick. The phones were also difficult to heat up to high levels. They do get warm but nothing that causes concern.

 

Battery Life and Camera

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  • Non- Removable 2900 mAh battery
  • Great camera but not the best of the best
  • 23 MP Rear sensor
  • 5-axis Stabilization is software based

If you take a look at all the camera modules installed in all the smartphones around the world you would find that the majority is manufactured by Sony themselves. Unfortunately, Sony does not seem to have their own camera modules perfect compared to other flagship devices released thus far. Albeit there has been a lot of improvements made to their camera systems embedded into the XZ and all other X series and Z series Sony phones but there are still a ways to go for them. There is a new sensor in the Xpera XZ along with a 23 MP resolution the new sensor enables a software based 5 axis stabilization system. There is also a new auto focus sensor, RGBC-IR focus system to capture better white balance in varying lighting conditions.

Unlike Sony’s flagship cameras such as the A7 mark II or the A5000 APS-C camera the Xperia XZ smartphone does not have any moving parts for its 5-axis stabilization system. It is all purely software based. The stabilization activates when the user records up close or takes macro shots. All other shooting situations uses its 3-axis stabilization instead. From tests we found that images and recordings were extremely stable and we were hard pressed to see any warping or distortion in our footage.

The Front facing selfie camera is a 13 MP sensor. A lot of details and colors are captured easily with this system and the front facing camera also enables zooming and cropping shots.

The app behind the camera is very simple. You have Superior Auto, Manual, Video Recording, AR Effect, Sweep Panorama and the usual Time Shift (or Hyperlapse) video recording / photography options. It is a straight forward app with lots of functions you can have fun playing around with. The only issue we found was that the HDR mode was found only deep within the apps settings and was usable only during Manual Mode.

The dedicated camera key we mentioned earlier comes with its pros. With one click of the button we can instantly launch the camera and take quick snaps of the life that goes on around us. The image quality was found to be pretty good. For a smartphone the images are very sharp and detailed and colors are a little more truer to life. To track movement of objects Sony implemented a predictive hybrid auto focus system which is also found in many other smart phones. As long as objects move across your sensor at reasonable speed the image should be quite sharp.

In low light situations we still see a fair amount of details. Images have somewhat lower amounts of noise but we found that the camera overexposes its shots. The camera is sometimes very slow at taking a picture when there is not enough light.

Conclusion

We like this phone. It is a great step for Sony and provides some of the best that Sony has to offer till now. If you already own a Sony product we aren’t quite sure if it is enough of an upgrade for you. Perhaps wait a bit to see what else Sony has planned in a year or two. However, if you are someone who is in need of a smartphone soon (and not currently living in the U.S.) we do recommend the Sony Xperia XZ. It has good camera capabilities, vibrant and bright display, strong performance with up to date internal hardware, and a cleaned up UI to enjoy. Android 7.0 should be in the works and soon released as well for the rest of the market.

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The New Qualcomm Snapdragon 835

Introducing the New Qualcomm Snapdragon 835

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Qualcomm in conjuction with Samsung announced the creation of their newest silicon called the MSM8998 Snapdragon 835. It replaces the Snapdragon 821 and will offer significant improvements to speed, performance, and efficiency. Based on an advanced 10nm FinFET process (thanks to Samsung) we can expect to see a boost in performance and efficiency. Since last years 16nm SoC we can see a 35% reduction in processor size which in turn uses approximately 25% less power compared to previous designs. Qualcomm advertises this feature to provide exceptional battery life on your devices.

Qualcomm’s interest in the AR / VR market is clearly shown in the SD 835 as well. The processor is now optimized to take advantage of all the rigorous requirements that VR and AR applications demand which ranges from highly advanced camera systems to extremely fast Gigabit Class download speeds.

The Snapdragon 835 is the new processor that will be found in most 2017 flagship devices going forward. We expect Samsung to include this in their upcoming Snapdragon 835. The new chip is much smaller than a penny and contains 3 billion transistors. Due to the chip being 1000 times thinner than a strand of hair we expect devices to have bigger batteries, notable efficiency improvements and longer battery life.

Features

The Snapdragon 835 contains an octa-core (finally!) set up compared to last years Snapdragon 820/821. They are calling each core the Kryo 280. Clock speeds reach up to 2.45GHz. An octa – core cpu is actually a QUAD core cpu on top of another Quad core set up. Utilizing the big.LITTLE architecture enables the processor to utilize the faster 2.45GHz quad core when needed then to take it easy with the more efficient 1.8 GHz quad core’s also available.

The SoC also includes a newer Adreno 540 GPU on board which is said to be 24%  faster in graphics rendering with half the power consumption compared to the Snapdragon 801 while still giving a 20% performance boost over the relatively new Snapdragon 820.

Cristiano Amon, executive vice president of Qualcomm stated: “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”.

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Battery Life

Qualcomm gave us a list of battery life figures as well. It is as following:

  • 1+ day talk time
  • 2+ hours VR gaming
  • 3+ hours continuous 4K video capture
  • 5+ days music
  • 7+ hours 4K video streaming
  • 11+ hours 4K video playback

Battery life is a huge topic in any conversations regarding smartphones. They are mobile and we expect them to stay mobile without being tethered to a wall or charger for as long as possible. Qualcomm’s statement of better battery life may be exaggerated as many manufacturers tend to do but we have high hopes for this processor. We can tell, on paper, that the Snapdragon 835 has the ability to be the most efficient processor to date.

The 10nm FinFET Process has a part to play in this. Utilizing Qualcomm’s Symphony System Manager the processor directs tasks to various parts of the chip in an efficient manner (Cpu, Gpu, DSP, Isp etc.)

On top of this we see the introduction of Quick Charge 4.0 coming into play. Qualcomm claims that users can charge for 5 minutes for 5 hours of use. This is a huge improvement from the 30 minutes of charging = 5 hours of use days (QC 2.0) and QC 4.0 is still faster than last years QC (Quick Charge) 3.0 by 20%.

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Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

A huge talking point for Qualcomm is in the realm of AR and VR. They decked out their chip with various features to meet the specifications demanded by applications found in this market. We are talking about live entertainment, 3D Video recordings, communication in AR/VR and of course gaming. Thanks to a faster GPU, CPU and support for 4K UHD Qualcomm aims to deliver a jitter free display.

The processor is claimed to be able to render 60 times more color compared to previous generations and also generate true-to-life sounds using an integrated 3D positional audio. Qualcomm states that the Snapdragon 835 also totes superior signal to noise ratio and support for DSD format which should provide high fidelity in the audio section. Qualcomm states the chip is capable of 15ms of MTP latency (motion to photon latency) which is a 20 percent reduction from the past on top of 6 degrees of freedom for precise and intuitive motion tracking. The chip can support Daydream as well.

Qualcomm states that this is made possible by isolating each section of the chip via a heterogeneous computing approach. The audio, video, and motion functions are designed to deliver their best on their own which should all come together to provide a fantastic experience.

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Image Processing

The chip is what also controls how your camera captures the world around you. The SD 835 improves on image quality compared to previous generations. Qualcomm included improvements to zoom and stabilization’s for images and videos utilizing optimized algorithms to toggle between the Qualcomm Spectra 180 ISP, Hexagon 682 DSP, and Adreno 540 GPU to create a smooth zoom experience. They implemented a new generation of video stabilization that they call the EIS 3.0. This is engineered to provide 4K video stabilization through advanced yaw and roll. They claim that this should also reduce rolling shutter issues.

Of course, improvements have been made to auto-focusing, and they’ve included support for a new feature called the Dual Photodiode (2PD). Qualcomm Clear Sight is found in the chip again which enables improved sharpness and noise reduction.

Connectivity and Network Performance

Qualcomm improved on last years connectivity functions as well. Including the new Snapdragon X16 Gigabit LTE modem and support for 802.11ad multi-gigabit alongside the 2×2 11ac MU-MIMO Wi-Fi users can experience 10x faster than first-generation 4G LTE devices. This means that a 4K movie which is approximately around 100 GB in average size could be downloaded in about 13 – 15 minutes. Anything smaller (such as a Blu-ray movie) would be completed within a fraction of that time. It is good to know that we have chipsets that support such massive speeds, but it is ultimately up to your network provider to provide said speeds. These speeds are not yet available everywhere and only in certain regions of the world.

 

 

 

Long Term Review: Apple iPhone SE

Long Term Review: Apple iPhone SE

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We are revisting an Apple product that we feel was one of the better devices amongst smartphones released. The iPhone SE. This fantastic device falls somewhere between High end and Mid range in terms of specs but the majority of it (from the build to the hardware) is very high end. This phone uses body of the iPhone 5S device but contains the more powerful iPhone 6S hardware. Because it uses the iPhone 5S’ body we find it to be the perfect phone if you want a smaller device but that still uses powerful specs. This phone is for smartphone users who want a smaller foot print.

Features:

  • 4 Inch IPS Retina Screen
  • iOS 10 (latest)
  • A9 Dual-Core processor
  • 2 GB RAM
  • Touch ID fingerprint sensor
  • 1624 mAh battery
  • 16 or 64 GB storage
  • 12 MP rear camera
  • 1.2 MP FaceTime Front facing camera
  • Live photos
  • Relatively cheap ranging from 200 – 400$

The iPhone SE is not the newest device out there today (2017 January) but it still deserves a lot of credit. Today Apple totes their newest iPhone 7 and 7 Plus smartphone devices. Despite the fancy new devices pumping out each year we found that the iPhone SE is the unsung hero. The iPhone SE has a three year old design (due to it using the iPhone 5S’ body) but sales for these devices did not slack due to its powerful hardware. It supports Apple pay and is as fast as last years iPhone 6S.

Design, Screen and Audio

Many people do not fail to mention that they would like to have a smaller device. Even in our own office we have some who would love to ditch the trend for larger screens and go for a high end but small screen, small body device. Enter the iPhone SE. A fantastic choice for anyone who wants just that. The iPhone SE comes in standard colors of white and black but this time it includes the iPhone 6S’ Rose Gold colour model. The cut edges of the body show matte rather than a shiny chrome. The iPhone 5S’ design is very iconic and used for so many adverts and graphic designs. It is the design that everyone is familiar with. The brushed aluminium back is cool to the touch, the buttons are premium, and the device is small enough to be used one-handed.

After so many cycles of giant screened smart phones people would have a bit of a hard time getting used to the small screen again. The keyboard is smaller, the options and buttons are a lot smaller and require more squinting and close ups with your eyes.

Some aspects about the design is a bit out dated and may not be the best over time. This includes the sharp edges of this boxy device. Over time it can feel a bit too edgy compared to the rounded, curved edges found on today’s flagship models. Since this was a few years ago as well the screen technology and trend for bezeless displays were not in force at the time. This means the iPhone SE has rather large bezel’s for a small screen. The screen resolution is a 1136 x 640 with a sharp 326 ppi (pixels per inch). This screen, however, does feel out dated compared to AMOLED displays. Despite these little issues the display is bright and sharp.

There is a headphone jack, 2 speaker grills at the bottom and the lightning port. As usual the sound quality is decent. The audio of the head set is great as well. Good call quality, loud ear speaker and good noise cancelling on calls.

Camera

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The Camera on the iPhone SE is fantastic. Especially because the SE costs a lot less than the iPhone 6S.

The front camera, however, seems to drop the ball. It uses a 1.2 MP sensor compared to the 5 MP found on the iPhone 6S. Megapixel’s are not everything but when it comes to details and quality they can matter at such a difference between the SE and the 6S.

The iPhone SE does have the Retina Flash feature. This lights up your display 3 times its brightness a few times to light up your face for a selfie.

Performance

The iPhone SE uses a dual core A9 processor with 2 GB of RAM included. On benchmarks it doesn’t sweat at all beating many of its competition. It uses the identical processor found in the 6S so it can blast through hardcore gaming without any issues.

The device has a small screen which enables higher framerates as it taxes the cpu / gpu a lot less. The device doesn’t get too hot and you wont find any stuttering. We give props to the optimization process that Apple demands all apps strictly adhere to.

The A9 processor also includes an M9 co-processor which kicks in as a lower powered processor for lower end applications and jobs. This saves a lot of power. The SE does last a long time in terms of battery life.

The iPhone SE lacks the 3D Touch feature which enables additional options when pressing with varying pressures on the phone screen.

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Should I buy the iPhone SE?

For those in need of a smaller phone that is usable with one hand but also not wanting to compromise on specs this is the phone to buy. We recommend getting the 64 GB model instead of the 16 GB as iPhone’s cannot use microSD to expand memory and 16 GB is just not enough at all. The performance is solid, build quality is great and camera works great (except the front facing selfie camera). We highly recommend this device if you are considering it.