Published on October 28 2015

Google Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X Review: Google’s Best Smartphones Yet

For years, fans of Google’s Nexus smartphones have raved about the phones’ affordability, their sleek design, and their lack of bloatware (which Samsung, LG, and others install on their Android handsets).

Still, Nexus phones have always had a couple of nagging problems — especially their subpar cameras — that have held them back. Google’s new Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X could change that.

Starting at $499 and $380, respectively, the 6P and 5X offer the same features that have made Google’s Nexus brand so popular, as well as two of the best cameras you’ll find on a smartphone. As a result, Google’s 6P and 5X aren’t just for Nexus diehards.

Attractive designs

The Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X are two very different devices, geared toward two very different types of people. The 5.7-inch 6P is built for buyers who want a premium, big-screen smartphone, while the 5.2-inch 5X is geared more toward those in the market for an affordable, easy-to-hold handset.

Outside, the Nexus 6P features an all-aluminum body that’s cool to the touch. Upfront, the 6P gets a pair of stereo speakers that manage to put most Bluetooth speakers to shame. Around back, the 6P gets a strip of clunky-looking plastic along its top edge that breaks up the handset’s otherwise slick metal frame.

Google Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X Review: Google’s Best Smartphones Yet

Below the camera is the 6P’s rear-mounted fingerprint reader. I was initially skeptical about its location, but it actually makes a lot of sense: My index finger naturally landed on the reader whenever I picked up the phone. With the Galaxy S6’s fingerprint reader, which is located on its home button just below its display, I regularly have to reposition the phone in my hand. With the 6P, that’s not the case.

Whereas the Nexus 6P is made of metal and glass, the Nexus 5X is built of lightweight plastics. Despite that, the handset feels impressively solid. There’s no creaking or flexing here at all.

Like the Nexus 6P, the 5X comes equipped with front-facing stereo speakers and a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. Unlike the 6P, though, the 5X doesn’t get that ugly strip across its camera.

Google Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X Review: Google’s Best Smartphones Yet

The big-screen Nexus 6P measures 6.3 x 3.1 x 0.29 inches and weighs 6.3 ounces, making it about the same size and weight as the 5.5-inch iPhone 6s Plus. Samsung’s 5.7-inch Galaxy Note5, on the other hand, is shorter and lighter.

Measuring 5.8 x 2.9 x 0.31 inches and weighing 4.8 ounces, the Nexus 5X is larger but lighter than the 4.7-inch iPhone 6s, but smaller than Samsung’s 5.1-inch Galaxy S6.

Bright, beautiful displays

The Nexus 6P’s 5.7-inch AMOLED display packs a 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution — the same screen setup found on Samsung’s Galaxy Note5. The iPhone 6s Plus, meanwhile, offers a 5.5-inch, 1920 x 1080 Retina HD display.

Google Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X Review: Google’s Best Smartphones Yet

All three of those handsets produce crisp, clear visuals. In terms of color quality, the Nexus 6P’s panel falls between the two other handsets: Its colors are more vivid than those of the iPhone 6s Plus, but a bit duller than the Note5’s.

Google’s smaller Nexus 5X comes with a 5.2-inch, 1920 x 1080 LCD panel that’s bright and clear but doesn’t pack as much punch as the 6P when it comes to colors. Competing phones like Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and Apple’s iPhone 6s offer far more dynamic colors.

Android at its purest

Ask Nexus fans why they prefer those phones, and they’ll invariably tell you it’s because Nexus handsets offer the purest Android experience of any smartphone. “Purest” in this case means Google has loaded the handset with the latest version of its Android operating system and nothing else.

Other Android smartphone makers put their own “skins” — unique combinations of interface tweaks and apps — on top of the Android OS. Those skins often bog down performance and can delay OS updates.

Google Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X Review: Google’s Best Smartphones Yet

By comparison, the Nexus 6P and 5X come loaded with Google’s newest Android 6.0 Marshmallow operating system, which includes a slew of new features, including Google Now on Tap, Android Pay, and Doze.

Google Now on Tap essentially extends Android’s Google Now app to third-party apps. So you could be listening to a song by Led Zeppelin in Spotify and ask Google Now — which you activate by holding down the Home button — the name and age of the lead singer. The app would pull up the answer while the song keeps playing.

Android Pay is Google’s answer to the Apple Pay mobile payment service. With the app you can use your phone to pay for items in stores with compatible NFC-enabled payment terminals. I’ve been using Android Pay for about a month now and absolutely love that I can pay for groceries after the gym without needing to bring along my wallet.

Unfortunately, as with Apple Pay, if a store doesn’t have an NFC-enabled payment terminal, Android Pay is a no-go.

Then there’s Doze. Designed to improve your phone’s battery life, Doze uses your handset’s internal sensors to determine when you’re not using it and puts any running apps and processes on hold, thereby cutting down on battery use. When you pick up your phone again, your apps will start running no problem.

Finally, good cameras

If there’s one area in which Google’s past Nexus smartphones have consistently fallen short, it’s been their cameras. They’ve simply never managed to stack up to the kinds of shooters found on the day’s leading handsets. But that’s finally changed.

Google has outfitted both the Nexus 6P and the Nexus 5X with the same 12.3-megapixel cameras. The tech giant says these cameras admit more light so that they can capture better images in low-light situations. The cameras also come with laser auto-focus, which should enable them to focus on subjects faster.

Google Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X Review: Google’s Best Smartphones Yet

During my testing, both the Nexus 6P and 5X captured extremely sharp, colorful images both indoors and outdoors. A shot of a multicolored plant looked excellent when taken with both handsets, matching shots taken by the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6s Plus.

In low-light conditions, though, the Nexus phones struggled without their flashes. In one test shot, of a water bottle, I saw artifacts and blurring. The Galaxy S6’s version of that image was clearer, but the iPhone 6s Plus’s was the best.

Google Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X Review: Google’s Best Smartphones Yet

(It’s worth pointing out, however, that the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6s Plus have optical image stabilization, which ensures images look clear even if your hand shakes while taking them. Neither the Nexus 6P nor 5X have it.)

No, the Nexus 6P and 5X don’t have the absolute best-in-class cameras. But they’re far better than any camera Google has ever offered, and they are among the best you can buy. Given that the two cost hundreds of dollars less than their nearest competitors, that’s pretty great.

One’s a beast, the other isn’t

The Nexus 6P comes packed with a high-powered 8-core processor and 3GB of RAM. To say this handset is fast is an understatement. I’ve been using one for more than a week, and nothing I threw its way slowed it down.

The phone’s fingerprint reader was equally fast. The second I put my finger against the reader, it unlocked my test phone without skipping a beat. My Galaxy S6, on the other hand, pauses for a second to register my fingerprint, which when you’re trying to update your fantasy football roster feels like an eternity.

Google Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X Review: Google’s Best Smartphones Yet

The base Nexus 6P comes with 32GB of storage space for $500. You can also get a 64GB version of the handset for $550, as well as a 128GB version for $650. Unfortunately, the Nexus 6P doesn’t come with a microSD card slot, so the amount of storage you get with the phone is the amount you’re stuck with.

The Nexus 5X, on the other hand, comes with a 6-core processor with 2GB of RAM. It’s certainly respectable, but I did run into some slowdowns when I was running a bunch of apps at once.

The base Nexus 5X comes with 16GB of storage for $380. You can also get a Nexus 5X with 32GB for $420. Since the Nexus 5X doesn’t have a microSD card slot, your best bet is to go with the 32GB version; 16GB of space isn’t a whole heck of a lot given all the photos, videos, and music we store on our phones now.

Google Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X Review: Google’s Best Smartphones Yet

As for battery life, the Nexus 6P will easily last you throughout the day without needing to be topped off. The Nexus 5X will also get you through the day, though you’ll definitely need to charge it every night.

The bottom line

Google’s Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X are fantastic smartphones for incredibly affordable prices. Between the two, the Nexus 6P is the clear winner, thanks to its gorgeous design, high-powered processor, and beautiful display. If, however, you’re not into a smartphone that’s the size of your head, the Nexus 5X is equally impressive.

All of that is to say, Google has finally made a pair of smartphones that everyone — except maybe Apple fans — will love.

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Published on October 28 2015

Microsoft delighting almost as much as Apple, study says

If there's one thing Apple has always owned, or at least claimed to own, it's delight.

With some justification, too.

So many rational tech minds have been twisted into a permanently frustrated state watching the Cupertino, California, company not always have the finest specs, yet being seen by real human beings through rose-tinted specs.

Suddenly, Microsoft is catching up. At least if you believe a study conducted by Argus Insights. Called "Battle Of The Brands 2015," it analyzes people's feelings about various tech brands and the products they sell.

Argus insists that since January, consumers' emotive areas have been positively twitching about Microsoft. The driving force behind this ecstasy is the Surface Pro 3 and Nokia phones, which are now being rebranded as Microsoft.

While Apple remains at the top of the Delight-o-Meter, the Redmond, Washington, company has closed the gap considerably.

"Unlike Google and Amazon, which offer inexpensive hardware offerings meant to entice more consumers to visit their gardens more often, Microsoft has focused on crafting new experiences built on solid hardware that is delighting consumers," the study's authors report. "Samsung, without a strong content play, is just leasing space in the gardens of other brands."

Some of the other tech brands are most notable strugglers. Google, for example.

"Consumers aren't thrilled with Nexus, Nest or Chromecast," the report said. In this comparison, Google's delight scores are far lower than any of the other main brands.

Perhaps that's why Google seems to spend far more money advertising its new Nexus 5X on TV.

Microsoft delighting almost as much as Apple, study says

The Delightometer looks good for Microsoft, not so good for Google.

Argus

Still, Google never quite presented itself confidently as a hardware source.

Samsung has most share of voice in this survey, which the surveyors put down to its vast array of products. However, while its tablets and phones are quite delightful, its smart home offerings and wearables are apparently not. Of Amazon, which occupies the middle with Samsung, the report says, "While users actually like Fire TV, they are grossly dissatisfied with the Fire TV Stick."

You'll be wondering what methodology Argus Insights uses. It claims that "through curated analysis of global consumer reviews and social media conversations, we provide comprehensive visibility at market, product, and attribute levels to determine what is delighting and disappointing the market."

It also claims "the ability to beat Wall Street estimates of smartphone demand almost every quarter for the past four years with methods that have been validated across multiple markets, including smartphones, tablets, wearables, home automation, consumer packaged goods, automotive and more."

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Published on October 28 2015

Xbox One's Big Windows 10 Update Arrives on November 12

Microsoft has a big update planned for the Xbox One next month. The software giant is planning to roll out Windows 10 to consoles on November 12th as part of a dashboard update that includes a number of new features. The new dashboard includes features that focus on speed and performance, and a design that’s a lot easier to use with a controller instead of Kinect. Microsoft has redesigned the Xbox One interface so you no longer have to go in and out of friends, party, and messages apps to access basic functions like inviting Xbox Live friends to a game.

Microsoft is also planning to add Cortana to the Xbox One, but the company is delaying that feature addition until 2016. Xbox One preview members will be able to test Cortana before the end of the year, and early glimpses show that it will be very similar to what’s available on Windows 10. Most of the focus on the initial dashboard update will ensure that it’s just faster to use than the current Xbox One UI.

Other additions include the launch of backwards compatibility for all Xbox One consoles. The new dashboard brings this beyond just preview members, and everyone will be able to play old Xbox 360 games. There’s still a limit on the amount of titles supported, but Microsoft is working to enable hundreds more in the coming months ahead. If you’re an existing Xbox One preview member then the update is already rolling out to systems, but for everyone else it will arrive on November 12th.

Article Source: Xbox One's Big Windows 10 Update Arrives on November 12

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Published on October 28 2015

The iPhone 7 may have a bevel-less, top-to-bottom screen that mimics the defining feature of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. The edge-to-edge display rumor comes courtesy of the Taiwan’s DigiTimes, who reported that the Apple suppliers, such as Corning and Asahi Glass out of Japan, have been sending out touchscreen glass samples that would allow the iPhone 7 to have a bevel-less display.

Even more interesting is that these samples are glass-on-glass technology, a technology Apple used between 2007-2011 to design their iPhones. It works by sandwiching a glass touch panel between an LCD display and the actual iPhone cover glass.

Apple migrated from this technology for the iPhone 5 to save on space and allow for thinner carriages, adopting something Apple calls in-cell technology instead. This eliminated the top layer of glass and integrated the glass touch panel directly into the LCD display.

However, supply chain bottlenecks have been a recurrent problem for Apple with their in-cell technology and even led to massive worldwide shortage of the iPhone 6s Plus this last release cycle, especially with the Rose Gold iPhone 6s Plus.

The major advantage of glass-on-glass technology? Its ability to have better sensitivity around the edges, which is something Apple is surely looking into.

A designer in the Czech Republic by the name of Marek Weidlich has taken the liberty of creating a mock-up of what the iPhone 7’s bevel-less display could look like, and the results are fantastic. His idea incorporates the other iPhone 7 rumor of Apple taking advantage of their 3D Touch technology to eliminate the home screen button. If Apple decides to go that route, hopefully they’ll come up with a new way of soft-resetting the iPhone 7 as well.

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Published on October 28 2015

Is Samsung about to shake things up again? Following the complete redesign of its Galaxy S and Galaxy Note smartphones in 2015, a new report claims Samsung will now launch three variants of the upcoming Galaxy S7 – and all at the same time…

Picked up by the ever reliable SamMobile via Samsung’s famously leakyVietnamese supply chain, the report says Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge and Galaxy S7 Edge+ handsets will all be simultaneously released in early 2016.

In some ways this makes sense: Samsung would group its consumer devices altogether giving it a sizeable lead on the launch of the iPhone 7 in Q3. This would then allow it to focus the second half of the year on the Galaxy Note 6 as its differential business phone against the new iPhones. So far so good.

But here are my concerns…

For starters releasing this trio of phones would mean replacing the Galaxy S6 Edge+ within six months of its launch. That sends a worrying message to owners of existing premium Samsung handsets that there’s no good time to buy a Samsung phone: it could be upgraded at any time. A big part of the iPhone’s success is its dependable annual release cycle.

Surprise Galaxy S7 Leak Reveals Three New Models

Secondly a trio of Galaxy S releases with a single release later in the year doesn’t appear to fit with Samsung’s current strategy of splitting its releases into smartphones and phablets. Especially given the Note appeared to be deprioritised as its global availability was greatly reduced in 2015. Suddenly making it the entire focus of Samsung’s 2016 Q3-Q4 premium efforts would mark a U-turn after a U-turn.

Personally I do think Samsung should simplify things. Given Edge displays have proved extremely popular I’d launch the Galaxy S7 with only a curved display, call the phablet version the ‘Galaxy S7+’ and ditch the ‘Edge’ branding altogether. The Galaxy Note can then retain greater differentiation with its flat display, stylus and extra productivity software later in the year.

So what can we actually expect from Samsung in 2016? My hope is balance.

The radical overhaul of its smartphones and phablets in 2015 did much good (camera, build quality, performance) but they also compromised key Samsung strengths (practicality, expandability, durability, longevity). Attaining a mix of the two with next year’s devices must now be the top priority.

Article Source: Surprise Galaxy S7 Leak Reveals Three New Models

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Published on October 28 2015

‘Quality Not Quantity!’ has been the mantra iPhone and iPad owners have been shouting at Apple for quite some time as bugs keep multiplyingdespite the ever increasing speed of releases. But it appears Apple has no intention of listening…

Today Apple released iOS 9.2 to developers, making it the fifth version of iOS 9 in just 44 days – or, put another way, the fourth dedicated release of iOS 9 bug fixes in just 44 days.

How come? Because Apple appears to now be playing a little fast and loose with the historical significance of its iOS versions. iOS X.x releases are typically more significant feature-based updates while iOS X.x.x releases are house cleaning updates that focus on bug fixes and optimisation. It’s a simple but effective system, but Apple has now broken it for a second successive time.

Apple Reveals iOS 9.2, It's A Weak Release

Despite headlining its new emoji, the fact remained 11 of the remaining 12 changes in iOS 9.1 were major bug fixes and a number of those were only partially successful. It amounted to no more than what should have been iOS 9.0.3.

And this is happening again. Despite its significant ‘iOS 9.2’ moniker, the new release actually only does the following:

  • SFSafariViewController now supports 3rd party Action Extensions. Any Action Extension that works in Safari will also work in SFSafariViewController.
  • Long tapping the Reload button in Safari View Controller now gives options to Reload Without Content Blockers and Request Desktop Site, like in Safari.
  • iOS 9.2 Beta 1 resolves an issue where WebApps saved to the home screen would not respect the apple-mobile-web-app-status-bar-style meta tag.

Yes, that’s an iOS 9.0.4 feature set – at best.

Notably iOS 9.2 also includes no updates for the broken notifications which iOS 9.1 did a hit and miss job of addressing, nor for the POP email failures iOS 9.1 name dropped but singularly failed to fix. In addition there is nothing to address the isolated reports of problems iOS 9.1 introduced for some, including broken contact searches and personalised ringtones.

But what Apple does have in its favour is time. iOS 9.1 broke Apple speed records for testing a release (not necessarily a good thing) going through five betas in just 42 days, whereas it is common for Apple to take twice as long to do this. Still it means there should be at least another 42 days for the company to fold extra features and fixes into iOS 9.2.

The good news is Apple does have some precedent of this, but the bad news is the core release tends to make up the major elements. So let’s hope Apple is going to repeat its recent record of breaking from tradition and throw the kitchen sink at iOS 9.2 because, as things stand, it does nothing to deserve the name…

Article Source: Apple Reveals iOS 9.2, It's A Weak Release

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Published on October 28 2015

Chinese smartphone maker Huawei is well on its way to shipping 100 million devices for 2015, with another 27 million shipped in Q3.

Chinese hardware manufacturer Huawei has announced its results for the third quarter of 2015, with its Consumer Business Group reporting total shipments of 27.4 million smartphones for the three months to September 30, a jump of 63 percent year on year.

The company attributed its rise in smartphone shipments to increased interest in mid- and high-end devices, which accounted for 33 percent of total shipments -- an increase of seven percentage points quarter on quarter.

"This quarter's results clearly showcase the continued success of our growth strategy," Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer, said in a statement.

"We are especially proud of the stellar growth we've seen outside of China and the increased demand for our mid- to high-end devices. At this rate, we are confident in our ability to reach our smartphone shipment target of 100 million units by year's end."

The Chinese manufacturing giant was forecast in July to ship 100 million smartphones by the end of 2015, and has been edging closer to this each quarter.

By comparison, Huawei rival Xiaomi shipped only 18.5 million smartphones over the same quarter -- 8.9 million fewer than Huawei. Xiaomi had targeted shipping 80 million smartphones worldwide for 2015, but has shipped only 53.2 million handsets for the year as of September.

Xiaomi is "under tremendous pressure to keep growth as an international player as it is slowing down in its key home market", according to research firm Canalys.

Huawei smartphone shipments to Europe almost doubled, growing by 98 percent year on year, with the company's smartphones now holding 12.4 percent overall market share in Spain; 45.7 percent market share in Spain's high-end device sector; 10.9 percent overall market share in Italy; and 27.9 percent of high-end smartphone market share in Italy.

The Middle East and Africa region saw a substantial increase of 70 percent in shipments, while Chinese shipments grew by 81 percent year on year, holding 15.2 percent market share in China -- the number one position in the country.

Huawei's global market share had reached 9.5 percent as of the end of the quarter, placing it in the top three smartphone makers worldwide during January to August.

Since their respective launches, total shipments for the Huawei Mate 7 have reached 6.5 million units; the P7 has shipped 7.5 million units; and 4 million Huawei P8 smartphones have shipped. The high-end flagship Mate S, launched in September, is now available in 48 countries worldwide, including China, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Spain.

The Huawei-built 5.7-inch Google Nexus 6P will also likely achieve a higher penetration rate for the company, with the smartphone available for pre-order now and set to hit store shelves in early November. The 6P was launched at a Google event in September.

The full-metal 6P sports a 5.7-inch 1440p display; an eight-core 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor with 3GB of RAM; a 3450mAh battery; a 12.3-megapixel rear camera; and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera.

Huawei in July announced fiscal results for the first half of 2015, generating revenue of 175.9 billion yuan ($28.3 billion), a year-on-year increase of 30 percent, with operating margins of 18 percent.

The company said all three of its business units -- enterprise, consumer, and carrier -- experienced growth in the six months until June, with mid- and high-end smartphones again carrying the company over the line.

"Huawei's mid-range and high-end smartphones ... have made solid progress, helping us guarantee quality and sustainable growth in the consumer business," Huawei's chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou said at the time.

"Thanks to the extensive application of our cloud computing, storage, agile network, and other flagship products and solutions in the smart city, finance, education, and ISP markets in and outside of China, our growth in the enterprise business began to pick up in the first half of this year."

The Shenzhen-headquartered company said it also invested in research and development for software-defined networking, cloud computing, and 4G network construction throughout China. It also plans to launch its 5G network by 2020, which will be 100 times faster than speeds reached on 4G.

Last year, Huawei shipped 138 million devices, including 75 million smartphones, a 7.8 percent increase over its 2013 results.

Apple on Tuesday evening announced its own results for the quarter ending September 30, revealing iPhone sales of 48.02 million, an increase of 18.4 percent from the 39.2 million unit sales during the same quarter a year ago.

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Published on October 23 2015

Samsung Galaxy S7 To Launch In January: 4K Display, Dual Camera, Exynos 8890 Processor Detailed

Samsung is preparing another duo of Samsung Galaxy S7 flagships

Oh, mobile tech launch cycle, for all the advanced, progressive technology you produce you are such a predictable old fuddy-duddy. It more-or-less goes like this every year folks; September sees IFA happen in Berlin where Sony and Samsung launch new devices, notably including the Galaxy Note, then Apple launches the new iPhones. Google is a little later than expected this year launching new Nexus hardware, but that's coming at the end of the month rather than during June/July as it normally does. Then we'll get some more new iPads in October/November...then pretty much nothing will happen until January, when CES will happen quickly followed by MWC in February/early March and THAT is when, as with most years, Samsung will launch a new Galaxy S flagship. Or probably two, as seems to be its MO these days.

Yes it's that time again. We've had the debut of the Galaxy Note 5 just ahead of September and Apple's new crop of iPhones inside September itself, so now apart from eagerly awaiting the next Nexus from Google it's time to start looking forward to early 2016 - and that means a new Samsung Galaxy S flagship! Let's do it all over again!

Samsung Galaxy S7 To Launch In January: 4K Display, Dual Camera, Exynos 8890 Processor Detailed

The rambunctious rumour mill seems to often pipe up very early these days; we're frequently seeing rumours of next-gen devices appear before a new generation of that model is even released. We've been seeing murmurs of the iPhone 7 months ahead of the recent iPhone 6s launch, for example. A similar thing happened with the Galaxy S7 too.

The UK is not getting the Galaxy Note 5 for the foreseeable. But there is some good news on the horizon, as it looks like Samsung will launch its Galaxy S7 handset earlier than expected.

“Samsung could launch its new Galaxy S7 smartphone in January, bringing it forward a month compared to its usual launch date in an effort to get the jump on Apple, its competitor in the high-end smartphone market,” reports The Independent. “As reported by South Korea's Electronic Times, insiders in mobile phone component industries have said that Samsung is planning to launch the new flagship phone in January.”

This is a move no doubt intended to counter the HUGE effect Apple’s iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are wreaking on the mobile space at large. Apple has sold in excess of 15 million handsets in a very short period of time and no one looks like it can stop the company. Can Samsung do what it did a few years ago and topple Apple once again?

Samsung has had a pretty turbulent couple of years. Back in 2012/13 it looked unstoppable but in 2015, largely due to the success of the iPhone 6, Samsung’s sales and profits and market share began to tumble. The Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 EDGE were designed to correct this but failed to deliver the goods with respect to overall sales. Apple’s iPhone 6 dwarfed Samsung’s flagships throughout 2015 and resulted in Samsung experiencing a HUGE 38% drop in operating profit for mobile in Q2.

Samsung blamed the lacklustre sales on not being able to produce enough Galaxy S6 EDGE units. Analysts, however, had other ideas and pointed towards a more sinister problem: long standing Android users defecting to iPhone. Throw in China for good measure, a market Apple smashed in 2015, and you have a recipe for bad earnings calls. With all this in mind, it’s no wonder Samsung has fast-tracked development of the Galaxy S7, the handset that will do battle with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.

“There will be just one "edge" handset released by Samsung next year, and it will be part of the Samsung Galaxy S7 line. Samsung put the change into motion this year, when it decided to use the Galaxy S6 for its curved screen devices. There seems to be some truth to this as rumors have already circulated about two different versions of the Galaxy S7 that are currently being tested. One has a 5.2-inch screen, and the other carries a 5.8-inch display. The latter would probably be the new curved screen model for 2016,” reports Phone Arena. “If this is true, and Samsung drops the smaller screened "edge" model, it leaves just one question. Will it call the device with the 5.8-inch curved glass the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, or the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge+?”

Initial rumours of the Samsung Galaxy S7 emerged far too early to be all that believeable (although the idea of a new model being worked on at that time was entirely plausible and, in fact, likely), surfacing very soon after the announcement of the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge. Those devices have been around for a while now though, and as we head towards Christmas and the new year, Samsung's usual flagship bracket inside Q1 is also nearing at a pace. Meaning, of course, that Galaxy S7 rumours from here on out could carry a bit more weight.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Release Date

Long-time readers may remember way back, a few years ago, Samsung showed up at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas with several flexible OLED smartphone prototypes that wowed onlookers with promises of a foldable touchscreen smartphone future. Thus far, that future has failed to materialise, but things might be set to change in early 2016 and Samsung may be leading it, according to new reports.

Samsung has made no bones about the fact that it has been working on flexible display panel technology for some considerable time, even occasionally publishing concept videos, such as the one embedded below, showcasing what a working product might look like and how it will change our relationships with our tech.

Most recently that technology has manifested in commercially released products; the Galaxy S6 edge, for example, except in these instances the application has been implemented in the only way anyone (mostly LG and Samsung) has been able to get it to work so far -- a flexible display curved into the desired shape (ie: curved edges) but then fixed in place with a rigid (though also curved) glass display panel on top. In other words, it doesn't actually flex, it just has a fixed, curved shape.

Now though it seems Samsung is finally making plans to introduce genuine flexible devices inside 2016, January, in fact. The word comes via sources on Chinese network Weibo, which claims a so-called Project V or Project Valley is being tested with an aim to release in January. Samsung has previously released concept videos for flexible devices and during the Spring of 2015 did say it intended to introduce flexible devices to market next year.

It's indicated as with previous revelations from Samsung's working prototypes that the handset will involve the use of flexible plastic panels over the flexible OLED rather than using glass, which of course makes sense because glass doesn't flex!

It also seems this model sees a genuine practical application of the flexible display as it appears to follow a sort of more traditional flip-phone or clam-shell form factor but with a touch display, meaning it can have a large-ish display panel but a smaller size in the pocket when folded.

Samsung Galaxy S7 To Launch In January: 4K Display, Dual Camera, Exynos 8890 Processor Detailed

The report claims that several prototypes are being tested with both Snapdragon 620 and Snapdragon 820 processors, but that both have 3GB of RAM, microSD support, and a sealed battery compartment.

Samsung Galaxy S7 To Launch In January: 4K Display, Dual Camera, Exynos 8890 Processor Detailed

As you can see from Samsung's internal desgin documents and some patents unearthed by Patently Mobile for a "a mesh type textile sheet is attached as a cover of a foldable display apparatus. The display sits on top of this material." This was patented back in 2014, so it seems Samsung has carried on developing the tech since then.

Samsung Galaxy S7 To Launch In January: 4K Display, Dual Camera, Exynos 8890 Processor Detailed

How will Project V fit into Samsung's product portfolio? Will it be a new Samsung Galaxy S7 flagship variant like the edge category? We're optimistic that it will. This all has, after all, been a long time ambition of Samsung. Hopefully we'll be hearing a lot more between now and January so stay tuned.

Samsung Galaxy S7 To Feature ClearForce Pressure-Sensitive Display?

Oh, it seems it might be happening. Remember the iPhone 6s? That launch which happened only very recently? If you do then chances are you also recall that a big feature of the iPhone 6s is the pressure-sensitive 3D Touch display panel, which allows users to perform different actions depending on how hard they press the glass.

Well, apparently, Samsung may have a similar trick in store for the Galaxy S7, according to sources on Chinese social network Weibo. It's claimed that Samsung plans to use what's called ClearForce display technology to offer similar pressure-sensitive activation, however, this tech, it's said, may offer even more complex control input than Apple's 3D Touch, including variable speed scrolling and specific touch input tailored for gaming.

Samsung Galaxy S7 To Pack Exynos 8890 Processor, 3GB/4GB RAM AND Dual Camera?

Rumours circulating as of October 8 indicate that there may be as many as three processor variant models for the Galaxy S7. The word comes via reputable source SamMobile, which claims that there will be Exynos 7422, Exynos 8890 and Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 variants of the device. The report suggest the 7422 model will retail in India, the 8890 will retail in Asia and Europe, while the Snapdragon 820 model will be in North America.

According to reports from September 14, Samsung may be prepping a new Exynos processor for use inside the Samsung Galaxy S7. However, with that said there are multiple reports of Galaxy S7's being benchmarked with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chip, so it appears it is a return to Samsung's old model of a Qualcomm-based version for North America and Europe, while Asia gets the home-grown Exynos hardware.

"The Galaxy S7 is codenamed Project Lucky internally," reports Sam Mobile, "but the company is referring to these devices as Hero and Hero2. It is expected to be released in two variants, one with an Exynos 8890 processor and the other with the Snapdragon 820 SoC. Qualcomm has already shipped a newer prototype of the Snapdragon 820 chipset to Samsung, and it appears that this new chipset has better performance than the previous prototype."

Still, the Exynos hardware has shown up via new Geekbench benchmarks where previously the Snapdragon 820 was spotted in multiple testbeds, including AnTuTu. The database lists a "Project Lucky-LTE" and a plain ol' "Project Lucky", both using the Exynos 8890 chip, codenamed Mongoose. Curiouser and curiouser, it seems the non-LTE model packs 3GB of RAM while the LTE-enabled variant (using one of Samsung's own LTE modems) has 4GB.

Meanhwile, a slightly earlier report from September 11, coming via Korean source MK.co.kr, claims that Samsung will begin ramping up Galaxy S7 production in January 2016 ready for a reveal in February. Lastly this rumour also claims Samsung is toying with the idea of an HTC One M8 style dual-sensor camera, although there are no further details about this at present.

Samsung Exynos 8890 Benchmarked At 2.4GHz Yields Impressive Results - DOUBLES Galaxy S6 Exynos 7420 Score!

The Exynos 8890-equipped Galaxy S7 has already been benchmarked before, but notably at some fairly low clockspeeds. Now, however, it has rocked up in Geekbench clocked at 2.4GHz, the highest speed so far. This was unearthed by a prominent Weibo-based processor-focused leakster and what's really exciting is the result scores, which for both single-core and multi-core tests are pretty much double the scores of the impressively fast last-gen Exynos 7420 found inside the Galaxy S6 and its stable-mates.

Samsung Galaxy S7 To Launch In January: 4K Display, Dual Camera, Exynos 8890 Processor Detailed
Two Samsung Galaxy S7 Devices In The Works

As of September 9 (that's iPhone launch day, for those who didn't know!) a new report has emerged claiming that Samsung is at work on two Galaxy S7 models, one with a 5.2in display, and the other with a 5.8in screen; meaning it's more of a phablet really. The source is quoted by Korean publication Asia Times as having claimed the 5.2in model will be the "standard" Galaxy S7 version, though that's not exactly surprising to be honest.

The other titbit of info mentions a 4K display, however, it isn't specified if this is the 5.2in version, the 5.8in, or both. Either way it seems Samsung is trying to beat Sony's Xperia Z5 Premium at its own game, which, if taken literally, could hint at the phablet being the UltraHD monster as that's certainly the case with Sony's offering as the largest in the group, but even there it's only 5.5in, which isn't really THAT big these days.

Also of note is the claim of 4GB of onboard RAM for the Galaxy S7 (presumably both versions?), meaning Samsung's recently revealed 6GB RAM hardware isn't getting a look-in this time round.

A benchmark for what is claimed to be the larger variant of the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S7 has leaked online. Originally found by Telefoonabonnement, a Dutch webiste, the leaked AnTuTu benchmark appears to detail some key elements of the upcoming Galaxy S7 flagship, as you can see below:

Samsung Galaxy S7 To Launch In January: 4K Display, Dual Camera, Exynos 8890 Processor Detailed

Obviously NONE of this can be taken as gospel, but AnTuTu has proved a pretty reliable source for decent leaks in the past, so we’re prepared to give this one the benefit of the doubt. All in all, the specs are what you’d expect: a slight bump up from the Galaxy S6, though interestingly the handset is labeled as rocking a Snapdragon 820 CPU.

Lastly, there is one snippet from this report which casts the whole thing in a suspicious light, that is the claim that Samsung plans to launch the Galaxy S7 by the end of 2015 rather than waiting for its usual Q1 slot in the new year. Colour us skeptical.

Samsung Galaxy S7 With FOLDING FLEXIBLE OLED TOUCHSCREEN?!

Ok, so yes this may be a bit way out there but bear with us a second. It's a well known fact that Samsung has been working on flexible OLED technology for years, with the ultimate goal of bringing us flexible screen smartphones and other mobile devices that fold. This is known because Samsung itself has been very vocal about it all, publishing concept videos and attending expos with working prototypes for several years now.

Samsung has been making progress with the tech. So far this has only materialised in a few specific forms, however, namely the Samsung Galaxy edge series devices with curved display edges, including the Galaxy S6 edge, Galaxy S6 edge+ and Galaxy Note edge. LG's also been working on the same tech and produced the LG G Flex and LG G Flex 2. In all cases they use flexible OLED screens but in a fixed curved form factor layered over with rigid glass - you get a curved display, but not one that actually flexes much, if at all.

Now, however, there are rumours that Samsung may be making breakthroughs with the technology, so much so that it may, if the whispers are accurate, be aiming to produce a flexible OLED phone by early 2016, something it has publicly stated an ambition to do before. It just so happens that early 2016 is also when new Galaxy S7 models are also rumoured to arrive.

The word comes via sources on Chinese network Weibo, which claims a so-called Project V or Project Valley is being tested with an aim to release in January. The report claims that several prototypes are being tested with both Snapdragon 620 and Snapdragon 820 processors, but that both have 3GB of RAM, microSD support, and a sealed battery compartment.

Multiple patents and internal Samsung design documents have also emerged showing some of the innovative folding designs, specifically showing Samsung experimenting with flexible mesh designed to avoid deterioration of the display panel at the folding point.

None of this is conclusive evidence that the Galaxy S7 will feature a folding form-factor and flexible OLED, of course. However, what is important to note is that Samsung has got into the habit of introducing special variant models to debut its flexible OLED technology alongside more traditionl models already; again you only have to look at the Galaxy Note edge and Galaxy S6 edge launching alongside their non-edge counterparts to see this. Could this mean that in early 2016 we see a Samsung Galaxy S7 accompanied by some special folding Galaxy S7 variant with a tweaked name? We are hopeful.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Details Emerge

The last time we heard a mention of the Galaxy S7 was in relation to Samsung developing its own CPU core for use inside its next flagship. According to that information, plans are afoot at the company’s Korean HQ to develop its very own custom processor core, meaning no more stock ARM Cortex CPU cores.

But we'll come back to that in a bit.

Another bit of info from the rumour mill came from Digitimes and Korean news source Newsis, the latter of which claimed to have heard from its insider sources that Samsung has plans to launch the Galaxy S7 during the second half of 2015, rather than waiting until early 2016 as many expected.

But according to a subsequent statement from Samsung itself, that's all a load of complete gumpf, hokum, twaddle, or whatever you like to call it.

A Samsung marketing spokesperson explained to MobileBurn:

"The company remains committed to launching products in pre-determined launch windows, which includes the S series."

Or in other words, it's sticking to a 12 monthly cycle with an early year launch, probably at MWC like last time, so look out for MWC 2016 in late February/early March.

Still, as we said at the start of the article, you can rest assured there is definitely a Galaxy S7 in the works, it just won't come until 2016.

What about that processor architecture rumour?

Apple has been doing something similar for a while developing its own Cyclone processor cores. Ditto Qualcomm with its Krait and upcoming KRYO setup. The benefits of such an approach are myriad; firms have more control over APIs, performance, functionality and efficiency.

A move such as this was always on the cards. Samsung has been investing heavily in its chip-making arm, so it stands to reason the company would want to begin developing its own, bespoke custom processor core just like its now arch-rival Qualcomm.

“Samsung is almost ready to finally release its own processing core next year,” reports Phone Arena, “perhaps in time for the Galaxy S7.

Samsung's System LSI Division has been working on a proprietary 64-bit core for four years and will no longer be using the default ARM Cortex designs, according to a reports from Korea.

“The current Exynos 7420 in the Galaxy S6 is plenty powerful, but still, in its single-core performance, it is no match for the proprietary Apple A8 chipset, despite the latter being clocked at much slower speeds,” the report added.

Qualcomm is set to debut its new KRYO core later on this year. At the time of writing there is no solid information about the roadmap for Samsung’s solution, save for the nod to its inclusion inside 2016’s Galaxy S7.

According to a report from April 27, more details have emerged regarding Samsung's custom "Mongoose" cores. The word comes via KitGuru, which has identified some interesting titbits in ARM' latest developer toolset for ARM core architecture, allegedly as well as containing support for ARM A17 and A72 cores, it also supports a "Samsung Exynos M1" core, aka "Mongoose". Not a great deal is known about the core architecture other than allegations that it is a Heterogeneous Sytem Architecture.

A new set of information circulating as of August 11 suggests that the Galaxy 7 may pack Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 processor, or at the very least there may be a variant which does. The word comes via Chinese social network Weibo, where a leaked document details some goings on inside Samung. According to this, a "Hero" device (ie: a flagship) will be equipped with a MSM8996 processor - aka the Snapdragon 820. There is also mention of what's believed to be a new Android build, probably Android M, codenamed as "Jungrau" - a name already associated with the Galaxy 7 in earlier rumours.

Article Source: Samsung Galaxy S7 To Launch In January: 4K Display, Dual Camera, Exynos 8890 Processor Detailed

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Published on October 23 2015

Credit where credit’s due, Apple has been uncharacteristically forthcoming about the myriad of iOS 9 bugs since its release in September. Now with the launch of iOS 9.1 Apple has again gone on record with revelations which show just how troubled the software has been…

In contrast to Apple’s past tradition of sliding in crucial bug fixes and hoping no-one notices, iOS 9.1 spells them out:

  • Fixes an issue that could cause Calendar to become unresponsive in Month view
  • Fixes an issue that prevented Game Center from launching for some users
  • Resolves an issue that zoomed the content of some apps
  • Resolves an issue that could cause an incorrect unread mail count for POP mail accounts
  • Fixes an issue that prevented users from removing recent contacts from new mail or messages
  • Fixes an issue that caused some messages to not appear in Mail search results
  • Resolves an issue that left a gray bar in the body of an Audio Message
  • Fixes an issue that caused activation errors on some carriers
  • Fixes an issue that prevented some apps from updating from the App Store
  • Improved stability including CarPlay, Music, Photos, Safari, and Search
  • Improved performance while in Multitasking UI

In short that’s problems with: Calendar, Game Center, app updating, app content, messaging, carrier data and email viewing, downloading, sending and search. In addition to this there’s recognition that CarPlay, Music, Photos, Safari, and Search have been unstable and multitasking sluggish.

Apple iOS 9.1 Release Admits To Serious Problems

Yes iOS 9.1 has a big job on its hands, but it has long been said that the first steps towards fixing problems is recognising you have them. Whether this remains true for iOS 9.1 remains to be seen as (just like iOS 9.0.1 and iOS 9.0.2) initial reports of its success are hit and miss.

Record Rush

Of course what both pleases, but also creates doubt, is the speed with which Apple has brought iOS 9.1 to market. With no less than 5 betas and the final release done within 33 days it shatters the typical 60-80 day testing period Apple usually takes, as illustrated by the excellent ThinkyBits iOS development tracking blog:

Apple iOS 9.1 Release Admits To Serious Problems

Whether this inspires pride or anxiety will likely depend on whether or not you’ve been on the receiving end of previous iOS bugs. I’ll be taking a deeper dive into what iOS 9.1 successfully solves and where it comes up short in my upgrade guide later today.

On the plus side, it is also worth pointing out that iOS 9.1 has a couple of useful, non-bug fix related useful improvements: WiFi calling has been brought to Sprint and motion tracking added to Live Photos so it no longer records you putting your iPhone away. If you’re an emoji addict, there’s also 150 more of them now.

But far more importantly, my hope is this more open and faster moving Apple proves to be a good thing long term. Right now it doesn’t equate with iOS 9’s troubled beginnings and iOS 8’s troubled entire lifespan, but if Apple can hit a few home runs then it can dispel the feeling “It Just Works!” has devolved into beta testing on the public.

Article Source: Apple iOS 9.1 Release Admits To Serious Problems

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Published on October 13 2015

Microsoft is back in a big way. The company that was once about as hip as your father’s geriatric accountant has just taken the wraps off of a gaggle of cool new gadgets. So impressive, in fact, they might just cause Apple’s Tim Cook to lose sleep.

Surface Book

Let’s start with the big news: Microsoft is making its very first laptop … kind of. Called the Surface Book, this 3.34-pound Windows 10 laptop features a 13.5-inch display with a ridiculously high 3,000 x 2,000 pixel resolution. That means images and videos will look incredibly crisp.

And if you just want to relax and watch a movie, you can pop that big, beautiful 1.6-pound display right off of its 1.7-pound keyboard base and hold it in your hands. That’s because the Surface Book is not really a pure laptop, it’s laptop-tablet hybrid.

Microsoft Unveils Its First Laptop, the Surface Pro 4, and New Smartphones

Semantics aside, Microsoft says the Surface Book will be an absolute powerhouse. It comes with Intel’s latest 6th-generation Core i-series processors, and can be equipped with up to 16GB of RAM.

Inside the keyboard base, Microsoft has outfitted the Surface Book with your choice of a standard Intel graphics chip or a high-powered Nvidia chip. When you plug the Surface Book into the base, you should be able to run graphic-intensive programs like video editors and even play some high-end games.

The Surface Book won’t be cheap, though. A base model will set you back $1,500 when it goes on sale Oct. 26th, or $200 more expensive than a similarly configured MacBook Pro. That said, with its detachable keyboard and the ability to use Microsoft’s new Surface Pen with the Book (more on that later), it might be worth it.

Surface Pro 4

In addition to the Surface Book, Microsoft also unveiled its new Windows 10-powered Surface Pro 4. Billed as the tablet designed to replace your laptop (as long as that laptop isn’t a Surface Book), the Surface Pro 4 comes with a larger 12.3-inch display, up from 12 inches, and Intel’s latest 6th-generation Core M and i-series processors.

Despite its increased screen size, Microsoft actually managed to shrink the 1.63-pound Surface Pro 4’s footprint, albeit ever so slightly.

Microsoft Unveils Its First Laptop, the Surface Pro 4, and New Smartphones

The Surface Pro 4 also gets a new Type Cover keyboard, with improved backlit keys, a more responsive touchpad, and a fingerprint reader.

Like the Surface Book, the Surface Pro 4 can also use Microsoft’s new Surface Pen. The stylus offers 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, which means it can sense when you are writing with a light touch and when you are really pushing down hard.

Microsoft also said that the Surface Pen’s battery will last a whopping 1 year before giving up the ghost. The Surface Pro 4 hits also stores Oct. 26th and starts at $899.

Lumia 950 and 950 XL

Beyond its two new Surface products, Microsoft also revealed its first true Windows 10 smartphones, the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL.

Microsoft Unveils Its First Laptop, the Surface Pro 4, and New Smartphones

The Lumia 950 sports a 5.2-inch OLED display, while the 950 XL gets a larger 5.7-inch OLED screen. Inside, the Lumia 950 gets a 6-core processor, while the 950 XL gets a more powerful 8-core processor.

Both phones come with 20-megapixel rear cameras featuring optical image stabilization, so your photos will turn out clear even if your hand shakes while taking them.

Continuum Mode

But what really makes the Lumia 950 and 950 XL special is that they include something called Continuum Mode. Microsoft’s Surface and Surface Book also have Continuum Mode, but in those devices, the feature lets you switch between using Windows 10 with a tablet- or desktop-centric interface.

With the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, however, Continuum Mode lets you plug your handset into a special adapter that connects to your desktop monitor and lets you use the phone like a regular PC. It’s crazy, it works, and it’s the future of consumer electronics.

The beauty part? It’s like you’re just looking at a bigger version of your phone’s display. Continuum Mode actually creates a full-on Windows 10-style desktop you can navigate using a full-size keyboard and a mouse. Unplug the handset, and it’s back to looking and acting like Windows phone.

There are some caveats, though. To use Continuum Mode, you have to buy one of Microsoft’s $100 adapters. What’s more, any apps you want to use have to be universal Windows 10 apps.

Still that’s some impressive stuff.

Article Source: Microsoft Unveils Its First Laptop, the Surface Pro 4, and New Smartphones

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