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Quad-core Phones – the New Era?

April 17, 2012 in Android, Slideshow

With 2012 projected to be the year of quad-core, for mobile device processors at least, I thought it would be best to recap on and do a comparison of what we are likely to see in the upcoming months. While HTC has been the first of the more recognized brands to announce their quad-core product, other less internationally recognized brands such as ZTE and Meizu have also stepped up their game and announced their quad-core phone counterparts in an attempt to grab a slice of the very lucrative smartphone market cake. So without further ado, here is a direct comparison (or face-off) of the quad-core smartphones that will have people talking, in areas where it really matters.

As a final note, this information is comprised entirely on phones that have been announced, so while the Samsung Galaxy SIII may very well have a quad-core processor with outstanding specs, up to this point there has been nothing but speculation surrounding the subject, and so I will not be covering it.

HTC One X vs. Meizu MX Quad-core vs. LG Optimus 4X HD vs. ZTE Era: Processor

Not all processors are the same; they are manufactured by different companies and can have a substantial effect on the overall performance of the phone, not matter how many cores it has. The LG Optimus 4X HD, HTC One X, and the ZTE Era all have the same line of the well-known Nvidia Tegra 3 processors (which has been previously mentioned before in our ASUS Transformer Prime review here). The Nvidia Tegra 3 also has, aside from the four cores, an additional fifth companion core for less demanding requests such as music playback or web-surfing. The processors of the 4X HD and the One X are clocked at 1.5GHz, while the ZTE Era’s processor is only a tad slower by 0.2GHz. The Meizu MX Quad-core, which was announced just two days ago, is set to be powered by Samsung’s Exynos A9 quad-core chipset, which is also rumoured to be the processor that will be used for Samsung’s not-yet-announced Galaxy SIII phone (yes, yes, no speculation, I’m sorry).
Winner: Results not clear enough yet.                                                                                                                                            HTC One X vs. Meizu MX Quad-core vs. LG Optimus 4X HD vs. ZTE Era: Dimensions/Weight/Display

  • LG Optimus 4X HD: 8.99 millimetres thick, 130 grams, 4.7 inch display, other statistics not yet confirmed
  • HTC One X: 8.9 millimetres thick, 134.36 millimetres long, 69.9 millimetres wide, 130 grams, 4.7 inch display
  • ZTE Era: 7.8 millimetres thick, 4.3 inch display, other statistics not yet confirmed
  • Meizu MX Quad-core: 10.3 millimetres thick, 121.3 millimetres long, 63.3 millimetres wide, 139 grams, 4 inch display

Winner: Based on the available statistics, it is apparent that the winner in this case depends on what one is looking for in a phone. The HTC One X is a clear winner if you are looking for a big phone with a wide screen, while the ZTE Era looks like the choice for people looking for a more compact, iPhone-like mobile.

HTC One X vs. Meizu MX Quad-core vs. LG Optimus 4X HD vs. ZTE Era: Camera

The four phones all have both back-facing and front-facing cameras, with the back-facing cameras shooting 8 megapixels with full 1080p video recording. The front-facing cameras in the LG Optimus 4X HD and the HTC One X shoot 1.3 megapixels, with the One X’s back-facing camera also being capable of shooting 720p video. The front-facing camera in the Era and the MX Quad-core are a lower standard VGA shot. An additional selling point of the HTC One X is the ability to record videos and take images simultaneously.

Winner: HTC One X, because of its ability to shoot 720p video with its front-facing camera and simultaneous video and image capture.

HTC One X vs. Meizu MX Quad-core vs. LG Optimus 4X HD vs. ZTE Era: Memory and Storage

Meizu MX Quad-core

Each phone has a different combination of internal storage coupled with microSD storage to give a relatively similar storage space: the HTC One X has 32GB of internal storage that is non-expandable; the LG Optimus 4X HD has 16GB of internal storage that can be expanded to 32GB; the ZTE has the lowest amount of internal storage at 8GB, which can however be bumped to 32GB using a microSD slot; but the Meizu MX Quad-core has the highest possible storage size with options of either 32 or 64 GB of internal storage. All four smartphones has 1GB of RAM.

Winner: Meizu MX Quad-core, because although it doesn’t have a microSD slot for expandable storage, it makes up for it with a more than generous 64GBs of internal storage.

HTC One X vs. Meizu MX Quad-core vs. LG Optimus 4X HD vs. ZTE Era: Operating System

All the handsets feature Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, with the main differences being the phones’ added skins. The HTC features a revamp of the iconic HTC Sense overlay, called Sense 4.0. Meizu has also revamped their unique skin, called the Flyme OS for the MX Quad-core, and so has LG.

Winner: Results not clear enough yet- tie.

HTC One X vs. Meizu MX Quad-core vs. LG Optimus 4X HD vs. ZTE Era: Release Date

For those dying to explore the power of quad-core processing NOW, you’re in luck: in everywhere except for North America, the HTC One X has already been released (anyways, North America’s HTC One X doesn’t feature a quad-core processor in the first place). The Meizu MX Quad-core and the LG Optimus 4X HD are both slated for a Q2 2012 release, with the ZTE Era expected to come out in the second half of the year.

Winner: HTC One X, if you’re all for getting your new phone ASAP.

Conclusion

While it’s still early days, you can see that it’s going to be very hard to separate these four phones holistically; each phone has its pros and cons, as well as its own unique selling point, and only time will tell whether these phones will come out being the greatest of 2012’s smartphone lineup.

Windows Phone: Samsung Focus Flash – First Impressions

March 17, 2012 in Slideshow, Uncategorized

Recently, I managed to get my hands on the Windows Phone 7 Samsung Focus Flash originally released in November 2011. After using it and getting a feel for it, I would like to share my thoughts on the Samsung Focus Flash and the Windows Phone 7 ecosystem in general. 

Samsung Focus Flash Windows Phone 7

 

Windows Phone 7 is Microsoft’s most recent attempt at entering the smartphone market. They have completely ditched Windows Mobile 6.5 and started from scratch. The dominant focus of the Windows Phone 7 is to have a touch friendly interface, allowing users to do more with their phones faster and with less errors. The Windows Phone 7′s slogan is to “Put People First.” The first set of advertisements for the Windows Phone advocated the fact that they allowed people to interact with others more rather than constantly interacting with the phone. The most recent advertisements are called “Smoked by Windows Phone”, and one of the videos is shown below:

 

… and here is the website for the Smoked by Windows Phone campaign.

For a general gallery of pictures of the Samsung Focus Flash, click here.

 

Specifications

Some of the more interesting specifications for the Samsung Focus Flash were:

  • Running Windows Phone 7.5 Mango
  • 3.7” Super Amoled Touch Screen Display
  • Both Front (VGA) and Rear (5MP) facing cameras
  • 4G capable

Link to list of full specifications from Samsung here.

And a list of full specifications from AT&T here.

The phone has 3 hardware buttons on the sides: one power button, one volume rocker, and a hardware camera button. On the front side, there is one physical start button, with two capacitive buttons on either side of the windows button: a back button and a search key. Next to the ear piece, there is a front facing camera. The 3.5” standard headphone jack is located at the top, and the microUSB hole to connect to the computer is located at the bottom. Located on the back side are the speakers, and a camera with LED flash.

The phone takes a regular sized SIM card.

 

Metro UI

Starting from the Windows Phone 7, Microsoft is also pushing for a new look: the Metro UI. Whilst the Metro UI started with the Windows Phone, it has now moved its way into the Xbox and also Windows. The newest consumer preview of Windows 8, released on February 29, features a Metro UI as the start menu, replacing the traditional start button.

Windows 8

Live tiles are also another innovating feature of the Metro UI. These allow users to view information that is given within an application without opening the application. Whilst people may argue that other phone operating systems also have badges that tell users when they have notifications, but Live Tiles are a lot more powerful. Besides notifying users, it can give live information to users. For example, the weather app displays the current weather on the application tile, and updates live on its own without user interaction. The live tile can also give very detailed information such as traffic congestion maps and more.

Windows Phone 7 Live Tiles

Another innovative difference that Microsoft made in Windows Phone 7 is the use of Panoramic menus. Instead of sub menus, Panoramic menus allow users to swipe sideways to go to another category rather than the method in iOS and Android, clicking into sub menu after sub menu after sub menu.

 

Camera

The camera on the Samsung Focus Flash produces crisp images on both the front and rear camera. The LED light also help improve pictures appropriately. However, the strength of the Windows Phone 7 camera is the easy access to the camera and the convenience to share onto a social network. Users can easily access the camera by clicking on the camera hardware button on the side of the phone.

Sharing on to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter is very fast due to the incorporation of social network into the phone. Instead of having to launch a separate application to share, the share button is embedded into the camera app.

 

App store

The app store, or Market Place on the Windows Phone, allows users to shop for apps, games, music and podcasts. Each category will enter a new marketplace for that category. The app store is really well organized making it very simple to find applications. The only downside at the moment is that there is a very limited amount of apps and games. However, this is suppose to change as Microsoft announced that there are lots of registered developers making applications. Furthermore, once Windows 8 comes out, even more developers will start making applications.

 

Other miscellaneous goodies…

Microsoft has also implemented Over The Air updates for the windows phone, something which was only implemented in iOS5 for the iPhone by Apple.

As a developer, Microsoft has made it very easy to get started. With one click, it is possible to download all resources and SDKs needed. Tutorials are easy to understand and follow. Microsoft allows multiple languages to be used to program for the phone, and the same languages are used to program for Windows and the Xbox. Developers would need to learn XAML and silverlight, or C# and XNA for games. All resources are available at App Hub. The pricing for being a developer is $99 per year, which is the same price as Apple, and the ratio of earnings is 70% to the developer and 30% to Microsoft, which is also the same as Apple.

The capacitive search button provides easy access to Bing search. Users can specify the method of search to typing, location, music, picture or voice. Location search allows users to search for places nearby. Music search uses the microphone to listen to music and helps identify the music. The picture allows users to take a picture of items or barcodes. Whilst other smartphones, such as Android or iPhone, require separate applications to be downloaded by the user, Windows Phone incorporate it all into the phone and does not require any separate application to be downloaded.

As part of the Windows Phone operating system, users also have access to the Microsoft Office suite. Users are able to create and edit word and spread sheet documents, and view powerpoints. All the files are stored in the cloud through Microsoft Skydrive, which provide users with 25gbs of free space.

 

Summary and general impression

Overall, I was very impressed with the Samsung Focus Flash. The build quality feels strong and sturdy. The size is a nice fit in the hand. Camera quality is good. The only slight annoyance occasionally is the lag when more processor heavy tasks are done.

I believe there is a good chance that I would be able to keep using the Samsung Focus Flash as a primary mobile device.

 

The latest windows phone – Nokia lumia

One of the latest development in the Windows Phone sphere is the partnership of Microsoft and Nokia to create Windows Phones. Previously, Nokia always created phones and smartphone using the symbian OS, which does not have much of a fighting chance against other smartphone operating systems. Now, using the Windows Phone OS, Nokia is creating high quality phones yet again. This will give Microsoft the leverage to countries outside the United States as Nokia’s primary market is in Asia and Europe.

 

Overall Impression of the Windows Phone 7.5 operating system

I really liked the uniqueness and innovation demonstrated by the Windows Phone OS. It really makes some tasks, such as sharing, significantly faster. The keyboard also has a pretty smart autocorrect capabilities, making it easy to type with less errors. There also many capabilities that are incorporated into the OS allowing the apps to connect to more parts of the operating system. I look forward to seeing further development in the Windows Phone.

Apple vs. Samsung Patent War

October 16, 2011 in Android, iPad, Slideshow

Earlier this week, a US district judge in North California has ruled that Samsung Galaxy series was too similar to the Apple iPhone and iPad, and have infringed on patents held by Apple. However, the judge has not ruled to stop Samsung from selling its Samsung Galaxy series so far based off the patents, as Apple has demanded.

From since 2010, Apple has been at patent war with many companies. Samsung was caught in this war because Apple feels that the Samsung Galaxy series (both phone and tablet) looks too similar to Apple iPhones and iPads.

Interestingly, during the court proceedings, the judges held up a iPad and a Samsung Galaxy Tab and asked Samsung lawyers to differentiate between the two. According to a tweet of a court follower:

 ”Koh just held both tablets above her head, one in each hand, asked Samsung lawyers to identify which was which. Took them a while to do so..”

Apple and Samsung has always had a close relationship, Apple is Samsung’s biggest customer, with Samsung providing lots of the hardware inside Apple products. However, now Apple is saying to Samsung something along the lines of “Stop selling your products”. This would probably cause a strain between the relationship between Apple and Samsung.

Earlier in the year, Apple won a ruling of banning the Samsung Galaxy tab in the European Union. Therefore, if someone tries to sell a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the EU, they will be fined 250000 Euros, and be imprisoned for up to two years. Although this EU-wide ban was ultimately lifted for fears of forcing a worldwide ban, Germany (where the EU ban was ruled) is still banning the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Earlier this month, Australia has banned the Samsung Galaxy Tab temporarily as it has ruled that it infringed 2 patents whilst the decision is still pending on many other patents. Although the overall tablet consumer population is not high in Australia, Android is seen so far as the main competitor of Apple. And compared to other Android tablets, Samsung has the highest share of the Australian market.

Samsung is the largest Android manufacturer in the United States, if there is ultimately a sale block of Samsung Galaxy tab in the United States, the results can be devastating to Samsung.

Discussion: Thoughts on Google Android & Chromebooks [Video]

May 14, 2011 in Android, Main Blog, PC, Uncategorized

Google has pretty much filled this week’s tech news with their announcements from the Google I/O, held in Moscone West in San Francisco. In their 2 day keynote, they have announced an update to their Android OS Honeycomb (3.1) with new features like re-sizable widgets. They have also announced the next generation of Android called Ice Cream Sandwich. This OS is said to be universal and will run on both phone and tablet devices. On the same day, they have also announced their new cloud based music service, oddly name, Music Beta by Google. This allows users (invited users only at this point) to upload their entire music library onto their servers, and can access and listen to them from any computer, or from Android devices. Android@Home was also discussed where your Android device becomes the remote of home accessories, such as lights.

On the next day, Google has discussed about their Chrome OS. Chrome OS laptops, named Chromebooks, will be coming to the market on June 15th. The first manufacturers will be Samsung and Acer.

 

Here are my thoughts on Google Android and Chromebooks. We apologize for the mismatched syncing of audio and video.

 

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About the Author: Kenta Arai is a tech enthusiast who was born in the Kanagawa Prefecture of Japan. He passion towards technology began to develop as he grew up in Hong Kong, where technology had its solid place in the mass market. Arai became one of the most enthusiastic technophile student in his high-school, and was also well-known for consulting many of his school-mates when purchasing new computers. His expertise in the tech industry is focused on Apple Inc. and Google Inc.