Apple explains how iPhone 7 Home button/trackpad works, screwing capacitive glove owners
Sep17

Apple explains how iPhone 7 Home button/trackpad works, screwing capacitive glove owners

I am seeing reports coming in that the new iPhone 7 Home button does not work with capacitive touch gloves or if your finger is covered with any kind of material. I think I know the reason. From what I remember about Tim Cook introducing iPhone 7, he said that now Home button works kinda like a track pad. You can swipe on it, and it does things depending on which way you swipe. Well, Apple did describe the process of turning a Home button into a track pad years ago in a patent application. And the way to do it – is to track the movement of a pictures TouchID generates real fast and infer an actions from that. Pretty cool, no? But, it means that for all the new iPhone 7 owners those capacitive touch gloves won’t work as intended on iPhone 7 for that additional trackpad stuff. iMore says it works OK for the old things. Btw, there are also tons of hints in that Apple patent article about what the next year’s iPhone may bring, and how the whole thing may work. Do check it...

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Intel unveils new mobile chipsets for 2014. 64-bit, LTE support, up to 2.33 GHz quad-core
Feb24

Intel unveils new mobile chipsets for 2014. 64-bit, LTE support, up to 2.33 GHz quad-core

Qualcomm isn’t the only mobile chipset maker that unveiled new offerings today – Intel did too. Intel has been trying to make a name for itself in the mobile space for many years now, yet its chips are still confined mostly to midrangers sporting brands most people outside of a few emerging markets have never heard of. That said, lately Intel did get Asus and Samsung to use some of its CPUs in some of their products, so the company nicknamed Chipzilla in the PC world is certainly persistent. And it will have two high-end chipsets out this year – both 64-bit, and both LTE-capable. First we’ll see Merrifield, which will come in two iterations: the Atom Z3460 and the Atom Z3480. The former will have a maximum clock speed of 1.6 GHz, and the latter will take that all the way up to 2.13 GHz. Both of these are dual-core parts. Merrifield will be available in the first half of the year, though that probably means it will be available to device makers in this time frame. Actual handsets powered by it may take longer to arrive. In some carefully selected benchmarks, Intel has shown the Atom Z3480 processor to outperform both the Apple A7 from the iPhone 5S as well as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 (though this is the original MSM8974 version, not the newer AB iteration or the Snapdragon 801). In the second half of 2014, Intel’s main offering will be Moorefield. This too shall come in two versions. The Atom Z3560 will be a quad-core 1.8 GHz part, and the Atom Z3580 will be a quad-core 2.33 GHz chipset. Via...

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Apple plans to re-launch iPhone 4 8GB for $244 in India, to gain market share
Jan14

Apple plans to re-launch iPhone 4 8GB for $244 in India, to gain market share

Apple is still struggling to gain any significant foothold in India with iPhone. No carrier subsidies and low average income means that their smartphones are affordable only to a very small subset of Indian customers. Late last year Apple had some interesting moves to tackle iPhone affordability problem in the country. One of the most successful – old smartphone trade-in program, that gives you $200+ discount from iPhone 5C sticker price, and got it moving in some serious quantities. Unfortunately, any gains Apple got from its iPhone 5C promotion efforts were brought to naught by the worldwide retirement of the old iPhone 4 8GB. It turns out that despite the old specs, this smartphone was really popular India and competed well with sub-$400 (Rs 30K)  offerings from Samsung’s and others. According to the executive in one top Indian retail chain: Apple’s iPhone 4 8GB model used to rank amongst the top three selling models by unit sales and fight neck and neck with Samsung, but with its exit the company lost much ground That’s why, according to Times of India, Apple decided to bring iPhone 4 8GB back to the country, and will sell it for a very attractive  $244 (Rs 15K) price (via trade-ins). It is not clear where Apple will get enough iPhone 4 units. They have discontinued the production last year and restarting it might not be feasible. One possibility is to collect all the unsold iPhone 4 inventories sitting  in partner warehouses around the world and bring them to India, but that’s just a speculation at this point. According to Times of India, iPhone 4 8GB slaes may restart as early as next week. Source: Times Of...

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Microsoft Surface Mini may have Kinect like somatosensory tech, Intel Bay Trail CPU and 8” 1080p display
Dec17

Microsoft Surface Mini may have Kinect like somatosensory tech, Intel Bay Trail CPU and 8” 1080p display

The smaller Microsoft Surface Mini tablet has been rumored for months. First we expected it to show up together with the second generation Surfaces.  Then learned that Mini has been pushed to spring 2014, because Microsoft had to pull tablet team members to finish the new XBox for Holiday Season launch. And now we may know why Microsoft had to transfer people from Surface Mini to do the XBox stuff. According to WP Dang, a Chinese website with a pretty good track record of Microsoft leaks, Surface Mini is getting Kinect like somatosensory technology. When released, the Mini will be able to recognize people’s faces, human hand movements, and should work much smoother than “Air Gestures” currently available on Samsung flagships like Galaxy S4 and Note 3. WP Dang also says that Surface Mini will come with 8” 1080p display and Intel Bay Trail CPU, so it should run full Windows 8.1. Though ARM based Win RT Mini version might be in the works too, similar to what Microsoft did with bigger Surfaces this fall. I am not sure whether Kinect like stuff is actually needed on a tablet. But you’ll never know before you try it. And Microsoft really needs to do something to set its slates apart from iPads and Androids. Who knows, maybe the face recognition and well working touchless controls will do the trick. Source:...

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Confirmed. China Mobile already has 45 million iPhones on its network
Dec16

Confirmed. China Mobile already has 45 million iPhones on its network

Apple’s China Mobile deal is as good as done. iPhone5S and iPhone 5C will launch on the world’s biggest carrier this week. Even without an official announcement, China Mobile has the new iPhone promotion/pre-registration page running for several days already. Why  is everybody making such a big deal about China Mobile iPhone? Because of the sheer size of it. In early September we told you that China’s biggest carrier already had 42 million iPhone customers on its network. None of those customers were able to access CM’s proprietary 3G TD-SCDMA, and had to rely on the slow 2G GPRS/EDGE or Wi-Fi to deliver their data. Now that number has been confirmed and updated by Reuters. According to the news agency, China Mobile now says that it has 45 million iPhone users. All of them still unofficial, stuck on GPRS/EDGE. How many of them, do you think, will rush to upgrade the first day iPhone 5S is offered by their carrier? Especially with those big subsidies we told you about last week. Most analyst estimates put the iPhone gains to around 17-20 million units from China Mobile deal. Which, to me, sounds way too conservative. Even if half of the current CM iPhone user base upgrades their handsets to 4G capable devices with in a year, we are already looking at 22.5 million new iPhone sales. Add the new customers heavy promotions and subsidies will bring as soon as China Mobile iPhone 5S is announced, and 30 million+ sold within next 12 months is a very real possibility. Via:...

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Samsung’s 10 million Galaxy Note 3s sold is another sign of a very challenging 2014 coming up
Dec10

Samsung’s 10 million Galaxy Note 3s sold is another sign of a very challenging 2014 coming up

Samsung shipped 10 million Galaxy Note 3 phablets in about two months, according to their official blog. Which is an impressive number, and trounces already great sales of its predecessor – Galaxy Note 2. There’s no question about it, after inventing the category 2 years ago, Samsung still rules the phablets with nobody else able to come close. On the other hand, there are some worrying signs that Galaxy Note 3 will follow the pattern of Galaxy S4 flagship. Which,  after initial sales surge, headed for a serious slowdown. The first two months after launch looked great for SGS4, too. Samsung managed to ship 20 million flagships between late April and July 2013. But if you look at the details, the sales slowdown was already apparent back then. While it took Sammy 26 days to ship the first 10 million units of SGS4, the second 10 million batch required 40 days, or 2 weeks longer. And we are talking shipments to carrier partners and wholesalers here, not the end user sales. Usually this distinction between end user sales and partner shipments does not matter much. Everybody, including Apple, reports shipments – not the end sales. Except in cases like these, when you have a really hot handset coming up, and every local carrier and reseller is begging for its share of new devices, and as many as early as possible. When forecasted end user demand doesn’t materialize, the OEM is in for some serious order revisions in the month #3 and onwards. This is exactly what happened to Samsung Galaxy S4. Rumors about flagship component order reductions started showing up in late June,  and were confirmed in October. By the time Samsung was able to report 40 million Galaxy S4s shipped, it was selling them at a rate of 5-6 million units a month. Still a very impressive number, but nowhere near the original internal projections. And, what’s worse, less than Galaxy S III at the same time a year before. Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is on the same trajectory. It took them about 34 days to report the first 5 million units shipped, and now its about 41 days for the second 5 million batch. The slowdown is not nearly as serious as with Galaxy S4, but its there nonetheless. And we are again talking about the shipments to carriers and wholesalers. At the height of Holiday Shopping Season, with most of pre-Christmas orders already in. Samsung has put on a brave face during investor and analyst day in November, leaking the plans to sell 360 million smartphones and 100 million tablets during 2014. But those plans have already been revised down...

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4G TD-LTE licenses officially issued by MIIT. Here comes China Mobile’s iPhone 5S and 5C
Dec04

4G TD-LTE licenses officially issued by MIIT. Here comes China Mobile’s iPhone 5S and 5C

After months of waiting and dithering, China has finally entered 4G era. Today Chinese Ministry of Industry  and Information Technology (MIIT) has issued the first batch of 4G licenses to China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom. China Mobile got access to 130MHz of spectrum (1880 -1900 MHz ,2320-2370 MHz ,2575-2635 MHz), China Unicom will get 40MHz (2300-2320 MHz ,2555-2575 MHz) and China Telecom will also have 40MHz (2370-2390 MHz ,2635-2655 MHz) for their homegrown TD-LTE offerings. 4G licenses for FDD LTE services for China Unicom and Telecom will be issued separately. Why do we care so much about China’s 4G? Mostly because of iPhone on China Mobile, of course. The new 4G services should boost the sales of approved 4G handsets of all smartphone OEMs.  But it’s Apple who will benefit the most, finally getting world’s biggest mobile carrier  to officially promote the iPhone. According to some sources, there are 42 million unofficial iPhone users on China Mobile already. Due to the technological issues, none of them can access  operator’s 3G TD-SCDMA network, and are stuck with  Wi-Fi or slow GPRS/EDGE. When iPhone 5S/5C with TD-LTE support becomes available on China Mobile, there will be a pool of millions of customers just from those rushing to upgrade. Add to that  possible subsidies, other promotion activities, the upcoming Chinese New Year Gift Giving Season, and you can expect millions of additional iPhones sold in the next few months. There’s no official confirmation yet, but the general consensus is that Apple already has  a deal with China Mobile to finally start offering iPhone. But the companies have been waiting for China Mobile to launch its 4G network, with iPhone as a hero device showcasing the new services. The exact date for CM iPhone announcement is not known yet. It may be December 18th, when Chinese carrier holds its partner meeting day, and plans to announce its new 4G services brand. But yesterday China Mobile sort of already confirmed that they are getting ready for the iPhone 5S/C launch, doing a limited test run for Apple’s smartphone pre-order site. And with the 4G license in hand, the announcement may come earlier. Via: Tencent, Sina...

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Samsung starts work on 20 megapixel camera modules. Scheduled for 2H 2014 launch next to Galaxy Note 4
Dec02

Samsung starts work on 20 megapixel camera modules. Scheduled for 2H 2014 launch next to Galaxy Note 4

Smartphone camera megapixel race continues. According to Korean ET News, Samsung Mobile’s Advanced Development Team has started work on 20 megapixel camera modules with the goal to ship them in second half of 2014. Which is right about the time their flagship Galaxy Note 4 phablet is scheduled to come out and should be the logical device to show off new camera capabilities. Samsung decided to continue to increase its camera megapixel count as the main differentiating feature,  after they failed to include Optical Image Stabilization function for its next generation 2014 flagships. Samsung expects that 25%, or 90 million of their smartphones in 2014 will be equipped with high end 16 megapixel camera modules. However, due to limited supply of some parts like autofocus actuators, those cameras won’t have OIS. Thank’s to the huge volumes of flagship devices they ship, Samsung expects 16 megapixel cameras to become a new standard in high end devices next year, with pixel count moving to 20 million in 2015. Source: ET...

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Android 4.4+ KitKat ships without browser app. OEMs have to license Chrome or build their own
Nov21

Android 4.4+ KitKat ships without browser app. OEMs have to license Chrome or build their own

Interesting newsbit about Android 4.4 KitKat just popped-up on Twitter today. According to Android developer and author Maximiliano Firtman, he just got official confirmation that KitKat “… doesn’t ship with any browser, just the WebView. The emulator has it but not real devices. It’s up to each vendor to create a browser app using the WebView (such as Samsung) or to get license to preinstall Chrome.”   So, what does it mean for Android device users? Probably not much. Most OEMs license full Google Apps suite for their smartphones and tablets, and they take Google’s Chrome for Android or the stock browser, as well. And those who do not, like Amazon, are perfectly able and ready to build their own browser apps too. The decision to ship open source part of Android  without a browser is probably another part of Google’s strategy to take back the control of Android.  But it may also give an opening for other browser makers such as Firefox. Source: Maximiliano Firtman 1, 2 Update: Yes, it is an option for OEMs to use the old stock AOSP Android browser. Just like there’s an option to use old Gmail, GCal , GSearch, etc; You are always welcome to stay with Android 4.2 or 2.2 apps, when we move on to Android 6.x with fully licensed Google Play stuff…...

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Cyanogen has a new hardware partner. Will announce it in a few weeks
Nov21

Cyanogen has a new hardware partner. Will announce it in a few weeks

Cyanogen Inc. is one of more interesting new startups in a smartphone platform game. Founded by the team behind CyanogenMod – one the most popular Android ROMs, they recently received some serious venture backing, and now are trying to build their own version of smartphone OS based on Android . And, for a few month old startup, are moving pretty fast. Cyanogen has already released their ROM launcher/installer to Google Play, announced a hardware partnership with Oppo – fast rising Chinese OEM, and will soon have another smartphone maker to ship a device with CyanogenMod on board. At least that is what they hinted  on their official Google+ page yesterday: Who is this new Cyanogen hardware partner? Your guess here is as good as mine. HTC has been rumored to work with them at one time. Oppo may actually form a separate company to focus exclusively on Cyanogen  phones. Oppo’s VP quit this week and may have his own Cyanogen focused startup in the works. Huawei is hinting about its plans to launch a separate Internet smartphone line to take on Xiaomi. The possibilities for speculation at this point are endless. With Android smartphone spec sheet loosing its differentiation value, and vendor customized Android launcher failure to improve things, OEMs are looking at new ways to make their phones stand out. A line of pure Cyanogen smartphones may be a good way to do...

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