OnePlus One gets official as the most affordable flagship ever
Apr23

OnePlus One gets official as the most affordable flagship ever

After months of intensive teasing, the OnePlus One has been officially announced today. This is the first smartphone made by OnePlus, a startup that was founded last year by a few ex-Oppo employees. OnePlus is based in Shenzhen, China, but it will sell the One to a much more global audience. In fact, sales will debut in 15 countries and territories, so this isn’t your typical Chinese smartphone maker we’re talking about here – only peddling its wares in its native country and, at most, a few others. The OnePlus One comes with top of the line specs and an incredible price. It has a 5.5-inch 1080p IPS LTPS touchscreen with Gorilla Glass 3, a 13 MP Sony-made rear camera with dual-LED flash, a 5 MP front camera, a 2.5 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, 3 GB of RAM, 16 or 64 GB of internal storage (though no microSD support), 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, and a 3,100 mAh battery. It runs CyanogenMod 11S, which is based on Android 4.4.2 KitKat. Its dimensions are 152.9×75.9×8.9 mm, and it weighs 162 grams. The OnePlus One has a magnesium chassis, an all-glass front, and a replaceable back cover. Many covers will be made available sometime after the launch of the smartphone. Spec-wise, the OnePlus One matches the Samsung Galaxy S5 in the chipset department, outshines it in RAM and the front camera resolution, though the Korean company’s beast has a higher-res main shooter. The battery in the One is bigger than every mainstream flagship out there save for the Sony Xperia Z2, though if you compare it to other phablets it does lose out to some. And the lack of microSD expansion will be missed by some, though if you go for the 64 GB version that probably becomes quite unimportant. And just notice that OnePlus is charging only a $50 premium for going from 16 GB to 64 GB, whereas the likes of Apple want no less than $200 for the same thing. The OnePlus One will initially be out in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, the UK, and the US. And the amazing specs aren’t even the best thing about this phone. The 16 GB version will be available in white and will be priced at $299 in the US, €269 in the Eurozone, and £229 in the UK. The 64 GB model (available in black) will retail for $349, €299, and £269, respectively. These prices are for unlocked devices. Now read that again. The OnePlus One is cheaper than the already insanely cheap LG-made Google Nexus 5. That’s… astonishing. It will become...

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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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Jolla phone will finally be released on November 27
Nov14

Jolla phone will finally be released on November 27

A few disgruntled MeeGo-loving ex-Nokians founded this company called Jolla and vowed to bring to the world the next smartphone based (loosely) on the OS that was once a joint-venture between the famous Finnish phone maker and Intel. And so the Jolla smartphone with Sailfish OS was born back in May, with shipments said to start before the end of the year. Here we are many months later, with that deadline fast approaching, and Jolla has finally revealed its launch intentions. The first 450 phones (yes, just 450 – no typo there) will go on sale on November 27 at a DNA pop-up shop in central Helsinki. DNA is a Finnish carrier, and one of the first companies to back the Jolla project, so this makes sense obviously. The aforementioned pop-up shop will only be selling Jolla devices for one evening, after which there will be a wider launch in early December, also through DNA stores (more of them, this time). Around 50,000 units of the Jolla smartphone are reported to have been pre-ordered, although an official number isn’t available. It’s unclear when exactly those people will get their handsets, but presumably the Finnish company will be in touch with each and every one of them. For now the Jolla device will only be out in Finland. More countries will probably follow, but details about such a rollout are still secret. The price of the phone will indeed be €399, as previously announced. Via...

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And the next Samsung Tizen based product is… a smart fridge
Nov14

And the next Samsung Tizen based product is… a smart fridge

The outlines of Samsung’s not so secret plan for Tizen world domination are becoming more and more clear. They know they don’t have a chance to break the Google’s and Apple’s dominance of smartphone market anytime soon. So Samsung is creating an end-run around it. Have Tizen run everything else, and with little time and luck smartphones may take care of themselves. They already started down this path with smart camera, are working on a smart TV, talking to car manufacturers about In-Vehicle-Infotanment systems, and will soon launch one more Tizen based product… A smart fridge. Yep. You heard it right. According to Korean DDaily, Samsung plans to announce its Tizen based Smart Refrigerator during CES early next year. The fridge will have a built-in PAD with big display, and will run on Nexell’s Application Processor with either 512 or 256MB of RAM, Wi-Fi b/g/n support and a few gigs of built-in flash storage. Why would you need such thing for your fridge? I’m sure Samsung will think of something. Streaming latest video news or YouTube clips during breakfast, reminding that milk is getting stale, or recommending interesting recipes, for starters. Or, maybe, just the bragging rights for the title of the biggest geek in the neighborhood will be enough for you to get...

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Samsung is working with Toyota and Jaguar/Land Rover to put Tizen in your car, and everywhere else
Nov12

Samsung is working with Toyota and Jaguar/Land Rover to put Tizen in your car, and everywhere else

While waiting for Tizen OS to appear in Samsung’s smartphones has been like waiting for Godot, Korean giant and Intel are quietly preparing to make everything else run on it. Yesterday we learned that Samsung has already announced its first commercial Tizen product – mirrorless camera NX300M. Tizen smart TVs are also on the way. Today, ET News reports that Samsung/Intel are now cooperating with Toyota and Jaguar/Land Rover  for Tizen based In-Vehicle-Infotainment (IVI) system. And they do not plan to stop there. According Mark Skarpness, director of Systems Engineering in the Open Source Technology Center at Intel: “Tizen is a platform capable of open scalability. As we are cooperating with Toyota and Jaguar in IVI, scalability to TV, camera, wearable devices and refrigerators is guaranteed. To further increase scalability, Tizen 3.0, to be released in Q3 2014, will cut the RAM and storage space resources in half. Tizen can be applied to devices with lower specifications.” Which sounds like a smart plan to battle the dominance Google and Apple in smartphone market. Both, Samsung and Intel know that they have no chance of changing current status quo in smartphones anytime soon. The incumbents are simply too strong, too entrenched, and Samsung makes way too much money from Android to risk openly alienating Google. But in all other electronic gadgets that are just getting connected to the Internet of Things – Android and Apple are just starting, like everyone else. If Intel and Samsung are able to create next generation connected embedded computing platform that opens up you car, your camera, fridge and your watch to the same app driven innovation explosion that propelled smartphone use to current heights – that might be disruptive enough to shake up things radically in the next few...

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ZTE exec compares China’s mobile sector to photovoltaic industry. Says it’s headed for a crash in 3 years
Sep26

ZTE exec compares China’s mobile sector to photovoltaic industry. Says it’s headed for a crash in 3 years

Domestic mobile device industry in China is booming. 4 out of ten top smartphone makers in the world – Lenovo, Huawei, ZTE and Coolpad/Yulong- come from China. New upstarts like Xiaomi and Oppo are flexing their muscles, showing global ambitions with innovative products and interesting business models. And localy focused companies like Meizu, TCL, THL, Neo, etc; are coming up with ever more interesting stuff, at ever more interesting prices. Give it a few years, and all this innovation should explode on a global scale, ushering in an era of Chinese dominance in mobile. Or not. ZTE’s Executive Vice President He Shiyou is worried that China’s mobile boom may not end well. And that the industry is headed for a crash within three years. He thinks that heavily promoted by carriers, China’s domestic phone industry has gotten too large. It now faces huge inventory and production overcapacity problems, which may become fatal soon. He Shiyou compared  domestic smartphone OEMs to once booming photovoltaic sector. With strong government support, China’s solar panel industry grew very fast for several years, and became a serious global player. Only to crash and burn after reaching unsustainable levels. ZTE EVP sees similar scenario, with a lot of contraction and company bankruptcies, playing out in mobile. To preempt future problems, ZTE is no longer focusing on market share growth in China.  It is getting out of the low end smartphones at home, and is now moving up-market with branded higher-end products...

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Tesco announces the Hudl Android tablet, a 7-incher with decent specs priced at £119
Sep23

Tesco announces the Hudl Android tablet, a 7-incher with decent specs priced at £119

Microsoft isn’t the only company announcing a new tablet today. For some reason, well known UK retailer Tesco also chose this day to make its first ever own-brand Android tablet official. It’s called Tesco Hudl, and it’s made by Archos. As such, it’s cheap just as you’d expect. The Hudl will cost only £119 when it becomes available on September 30 (initially in 1,000 stores). It comes with a 7-inch scratch resistant 1,440×900 touchscreen, a 1.5 GHz quad-core Rockchip RK3188 processor with Mali 400 graphics, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of internal storage, microSD card support for expansion, Bluetooh 4.0, dual-band Wi-Fi, GPS, a micro HDMI port, and 9-hour battery life presumably. It runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. The Tesco Hudl will be offered in four colors: black, blue, purple, and red. The price is certainly right here, and it’s important to note that Tesco Clubcard holders can get it even cheaper than the announced price. The Hudl is colorful and has decent specs, but whether or not it will trigger impulse purchases in Tesco’s customers remains to be seen. Tesco is even going to sell accessories for the Hudl. There will be soft touch cases in six different colors offered at £15 each, two choices of leather cases for £20, earphones, a screen protector, a car charger, micro HDMI to HDMI cable, as well as a bright bumper case and a pair of headphones designed especially for kids (whatever that may...

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Those rumors about Samsung Galaxy S5 running Tizen OS? They are nothing more but wishful thinking
Sep19

Those rumors about Samsung Galaxy S5 running Tizen OS? They are nothing more but wishful thinking

During the last few days, a rumor has been slowly circulating around Chinese sites, and now it is spilling into the English Web, courtesy of IBTimes and CNet UK. It says that Samsung may launch its next flagship – Galaxy S5, in two versions- one running the latest Android, the other with a homegrown Tizen OS. Getting its own Galaxy S5 flagship heavily promoted by Samsung, would be a wonderful thing for the prospects of Tizen. Unfortunately, it will never happen. As far as I could find, this rumor is completely baseless, with originating sites not even trying to claim “sources in the know”, “people who have seen the device”, “industry insiders”, or anything that would give it even a semblance of truth. The only reason to even talk about Tizen Galaxy S5, was SGS4 developer unit with Tizen on it, which prompted speculation that Samsung may put it on SGS5 and make it a real deal. Then other fans picked this speculation up, ran with it and eventually transformed it into the “reports from China indicate…”   Could Samsung make Tizen Galaxy S5? Sure. Will it? No way. Galaxy Sx series are reserved for Samsung Android flagships, with the latest and greatest tech Samsung has access to, packed inside. Samsung will not dilute this brand with a buggy first or second generation device on an unknown and untested OS, even if it owns the platform. And it will certainly not put “Galaxy” or  “Sx” name on it. The best Tizen can expect when it finally ships on commercial Samsung device, are somewhat high end specs circa Galaxy S4. And even that is unlikely, since Samsung is aiming Tizen towards mid to low end of the smartphone market. Could there be a Galaxy S5 development device running Tizen 4 or 5? I am sure there will be, OEMs love to test their stuff on all kinds of equipment they have. Would such device become something more than development prototype? No way, at least until Galaxy S5 is a year...

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Yulong Coolpad is working on a smartwatch, too. Should launch CWatch in a few weeks
Sep18

Yulong Coolpad is working on a smartwatch, too. Should launch CWatch in a few weeks

Smart watches able to connect to your phone via Bluetooth have been around for several years now, though very few people were interested in them. But ever since the first rumor that Apple is working on a watch of its own appeared, they’ve become a really hot item. Now everyone is working on one, trying to figure out what it needs to do to become a truly needed item. Hot Chinese smartphone maker Yulong Coolpad plans to get into a smartwatch game without waiting for Apple, too. And, according to some of its executives who took to Weibo microblogging service to drop some hints, they are about ready to release their own Coolpad CWatch in a few weeks. Coolpad smartphone will come with 1.2” 120x120px display, and in addition to displaying time, it will tether to your smartphone to show missed/incoming calls, SMS, calendar reminders, health and sports management app notifications via Push messaging. It will not support live call features  due to the battery constraints. From the looks of it, Coolpad should be a pretty basic smart watch, with nothing much going for it, maybe except price. With all the hype around smart watches these days, I wonder whether it is a genuine new trend, or one of these hot topics that come and go every few years? And whether anyone will figure this one out before Apple is ready to unveil its iWatch, hopefully next year. Samsung seems to be on the right path with its Galaxy Gear, but they still have ways to go before they make Gear into something more than niche/enthusiast device. Smart watches today are like smartphones back in 2006, before iPhone came along. Kinda hot, kinda cool and sort of useful, but in need of radical re-think to break into mass market. Via:...

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Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong see most high-end smartphone sales per capita
Jul29

Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong see most high-end smartphone sales per capita

Smartphones are everywhere nowadays, but have you ever wondered where in the world they’re most expensive? Or which countries see the highest sales of premium smartphones? Well, we now have the answers to these questions and a few others, thanks to a report over at Yonhap, the South Korean news agency. It turns out that smartphones (and high-end smartphones) in Europe or Russia aren’t that expensive after all. However, in South Korea and Japan the story could be different. The average selling price of a mobile phone in Korea was $415 last year, compared to $390 in Japan, $350 in Canada, $323 in the US, and $281 in Norway (all prices are in US dollars). The worldwide average was $166. According to Strategy Analytics, the average selling price will be well over $400 in Korea until the end of 2017 at least. This data shows that people in Japan and South Korea buy more high-end smartphones than those in other parts of the world, since we are talking about a general average selling price – that goes up the more high-end, high-price devices are being sold, and goes down when there are more sales of cheaper units. Image via Paperblog In terms of average selling prices of just high-end smartphones, Hong Kong leads the pack with a value of $814. It’s followed by (once again) South Korea, with $643. After that come Taiwan with $625, the US with $523, and Poland with $510. While this obviously reiterates the fact that people in South Korea (and Hong Kong as well) tend to buy more high-end smartphones compared to those in other places, we can also infer that smartphones are priced higher in these nations and territories based on their extremely high average selling prices. This isn’t something that’s been specifically covered by the data, though, so don’t take this conclusion for granted. That Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong are the first in terms of high-end device sales per capita is really not surprising, considering that these two countries and one territory have always had great mobile networks, and also excel at internet connection speeds in general. Furthermore, South Korea has among the highest device replacement rates in the OECD, as carriers over there throw extreme subsidies at the market (and have been fined numerous times for that by the state regulator). 28% of mobile phone users in Korea replace their handsets every year, compared to just an 18.1% average replacement rate in seven nations including the US, Australia, Canada, and Japan. Smartphones account for 74% of all mobile handsets in South Korea, and there are already 23 million subscribers...

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