Tag Archives: another

Blackphone vs BlackBerry, Galaxy Alpha, and another OnePlus screwup | Pocketnow Weekly 109

Updated with links to the high-quality version of the podcast below! Thanks for joining us for the live show, everyone, and enjoy the HQ downloads in the Links section.

One of the nice things about a mobilized mob of fanatics is … well, nothing. For the purposes of intelligent discourse and civility, there’s nothing cool or helpful about a bunch of heated fanboys rabidly denigrating a new product because it happens to threaten their preferred smartphone. We’ve talked about this sort of thing before, and now we’re talking about it again – this time in the context of Blackphone vs BlackBerry. But we’re not using this issue to harp on the dangers of fanaticism; rather, we’re seizing on the opportunity to learn something about mobile security.

There’s also plenty of news to cover in the mainstream smartphone world, of course: Samsung’s Galaxy Alpha is here and while it’s not packing a big spec wallop, it sure is pretty. Motorola’s broken our hearts with an ill-timed event invite. There’s new device coverage concerning HTC, Microsoft, Xiaomi, and others. And, improbably, OnePlus has found yet another way to piss off the world.

If that’s the kind of podcast that brushes your aluminum, then the Pocketnow Weekly is the show for you! Join us live on the air today at 2pm Eastern (click here for your own local time) for Pocketnow Weekly 109 (or download the high-quality edited version of the show down in the Links section) and shoot your questions to podcast [AT] pocketnow [DOT] com for a shot at getting your question read aloud on the air. See you then!

 


Pocketnow

Blackphone vs BlackBerry, Galaxy Alpha, and another OnePlus screwup | Pocketnow Weekly 109

Updated with links to the high-quality version of the podcast below! Thanks for joining us for the live show, everyone, and enjoy the HQ downloads in the Links section.

One of the nice things about a mobilized mob of fanatics is … well, nothing. For the purposes of intelligent discourse and civility, there’s nothing cool or helpful about a bunch of heated fanboys rabidly denigrating a new product because it happens to threaten their preferred smartphone. We’ve talked about this sort of thing before, and now we’re talking about it again – this time in the context of Blackphone vs BlackBerry. But we’re not using this issue to harp on the dangers of fanaticism; rather, we’re seizing on the opportunity to learn something about mobile security.

There’s also plenty of news to cover in the mainstream smartphone world, of course: Samsung’s Galaxy Alpha is here and while it’s not packing a big spec wallop, it sure is pretty. Motorola’s broken our hearts with an ill-timed event invite. There’s new device coverage concerning HTC, Microsoft, Xiaomi, and others. And, improbably, OnePlus has found yet another way to piss off the world.

If that’s the kind of podcast that brushes your aluminum, then the Pocketnow Weekly is the show for you! Join us live on the air today at 2pm Eastern (click here for your own local time) for Pocketnow Weekly 109 (or download the high-quality edited version of the show down in the Links section) and shoot your questions to podcast [AT] pocketnow [DOT] com for a shot at getting your question read aloud on the air. See you then!

 


Pocketnow

The future of the Lumia 1020 – another sidelined classic like the 808?

A little history

We saw this in action for Nokia’s N93 – the original ‘transformer’ Symbian phone that could look like a regular T9 clamshell or a consumer camcorder at will. It tested well amongst geeks and camera phone enthusiasts but made no mark whatsoever in the consumer marketplace of the time (2006). The best-selling N95 escaped the ‘camera-centric’ tag because it had so many other innovations, of course, the integrated GPS, the GPU, the high quality stereo speakers, and so on.

The we run forward to the Nokia N82, from 2007/2008, the first smartphone with a Xenon flash, very definitely a ‘camera phone’ first and foremost. And still a device with just about the brightest Xenon illumination in the world, even after 7 years. But, despite appearing in High Street shops, it didn’t sell in huge numbers.

Repeat the process with the N86, the first High Street smartphone with an 8MP camera and still unique in having variable aperture, the first to use intelligent digital zoom when capturing video and to use a digital microphone. So many innovations, yet the N86 also failed to set the sales charts alight, this time in 2009.

Nokia N86 camera

Next in line, the aluminium-bodied N8, at the end of 2010, with 12MP and Xenon flash and a, for the time, huge sensor. Sales started off well, using the new GPU-accelerated Symbian^3 platform, but then Nokia’s Stephen Elop (prematurely) shot Symbian down on stage at MWC 2011 as part of the demonstration of support for Microsoft and Windows Phone, and the N8 never recovered.

Finally, on the Symbian front, we had the all-conquering Nokia 808 PureView, the result of five years of R&D, learning lessons from all the devices above, offering what’s still (by far) the largest camera sensor in any phone, with 41MP sensor into which users could ‘zoom’, digitally, without losing light or quality, and with hardware oversampling producing noiseless, pure images at lower resolution by default. Released in spring 2012, a full year after Symbian’s execution, it’s clear that the only reason this still made it to market was that so much work had already been done on the hardware and it would have been criminal to not at least shown it off to the world. At least, not without a Windows Phone version ready, something which was still a year away. As a result, in the world of 2012, with Symbian’s 360p screens seeming blocky compared to WVGA and 720p and with Android really taking off at the high end, and with Symbian utterly frowned on within High Street shops, the Nokia 808 PureView remained something of a cult hit only.

Lumia 1020 and 808 PureView

If there’s a common thread in all the above, it’s the inescapable conclusion that it takes time to create a really good phone camera. The space, weight and power constraints place extreme pressures on designers and in each case, by the time the phone hit the market, the underlying hardware was nearing the end of its relevance in the wider smartphone world. For example, the N82 was a full year after the N95 which had essentially the same internals, the N86 was a device and form factor from a bygone age even when launched, the N8 was legendarily delayed by up to a year, the 808 was borne into a completely hostile future.

And the same pattern applies to the Nokia Lumia 1020, headlined above. With ostensibly almost identical specifications to the mass market Lumia 920, it lagged the latter by almost a year. So, when eventually available, the chipset and internals were already nearing end-of-life, in terms of use in new devices. Again, the delay was almost certainly down to getting the camera working satisfactorily – again 41MP, like the 808, but this time doing everything in the main processor and an extra GB of RAM. The 1020 was well received by camera phone enthusiasts, and remains a benchmark device, though its shot to shot times are looking a little prehistoric in a world of 2.5GHz processors and monster GPUs.

Specs and the future

What, then, does the future hold for the Lumia 1020? There’s no doubting that it fared better, in terms of sales, than its Xenon-equipped, large-sensored 41MP ancestor, the Nokia 808, but with quite a few new software releases from Nokia/Microsoft explicitly saying that they’re only for the Lumia 1520 and 930, worries are starting to creep in for 1020 fans.

Let’s look at the hardware across the Nokia’s (now Microsoft’s) Windows Phone range:

Chipset Devices Specification
Snapdragon S4 Lumia 520, 521, 620, 720 Dual-core 1GHz Krait, Adreno 305, 512MB RAM
Snapdragon S4 Lumia 625 Dual-core 1.2GHz Krait 200, Adreno 305, LTE, 512MB RAM
Snapdragon 400 Lumia 630, 635 (etc) Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7, Adreno 305, 512MB RAM
Snapdragon S4 Lumia 820, 920, 925, 928 Dual-core 1.5GHz Krait, Adreno 225, LTE, 1GB RAM
Snapdragon S4 Lumia 1020 Dual-core 1.5GHz Krait, Adreno 225, LTE, 2GB RAM
Snapdragon S4 Lumia 1320 Dual-core 1.7GHz Krait 300, Adreno 305, LTE, 1GB RAM
Snapdragon 800 Lumia 1520, 930 Quad-core 2.2GHz Krait 400, Adreno 330, LTE, 2GB RAM

The Lumia 1020 does stand out a little, amidst its peers, by having the extra Gigabyte of RAM, needed to handle the processing of the (up to) 38MP full resolution bitmaps internally, but the RAM will hopefully come in handy in helping ensure that the 1020 is less likely to be left behind when it comes time to update the Windows Phone platform again.

So far we’re seeing no device left behind by Microsoft, thanks in part to Windows Phone’s comparatively low hardware requirements – most of the work is in finishing code, adding functions  and fixing issues and compatibility, all without adding much to ‘bloat’. As a result, even the lowest Lumia 520 is getting the full Windows Phone 8.1, though some of the higher end camera-related functions are starting to come with some hardware requirements. Historically this has been done according to RAM, though with 2GB on board the Lumia 1020 should be good in this regard for another year or two at least.

Processor and GPU speed are more of an issue, with the latest features in Nokia Camera/Storyteller being limited to just the Lumia 1520 and 930 – at least in theory. ‘Living Images’ worked pretty well under the original Nokia Camera Betas on the 1020, so maybe these can be worked in again, in an update?

Certainly Nokia seems to have standardised on a ‘good enough’ 20MP cut down version of the PureView technology. Which is fair enough – and results are good – but it doesn’t stop the cameraphone geek in me wanting a third in the 41MP series. Is it just me?

OS updates

What of the core OS though – at what point will Microsoft start lopping off device compatibility? Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1, rumoured to roll out to developers for early testing later this month (July), for eventual release over the air to consumers in November/December, is supposed to be a fairly minor update (by comparison to 8.0 to 8.1) and should also be available for all devices. 

Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2 is scheduled to be available for testing around the end of 2014 and is likely to include new features to support new hardware, and I’d expect much of the lower end of the current Lumia range to get this update but not the full feature set. 

Whatever comes after that is pure conjecture (Google ‘Threshold’ if you want more on the rumours) and depends very much on Microsoft’s ongoing plans to unify its platforms, but it’s a fair bet that Windows Phone 8.2 (or Windows Phone 9, or whatever it ends up being called) will be optimised for the Snapdragon 800 and higher. Will the Lumia 1020 be updated for this release? My guess is ‘no’, but with the extra RAM, who knows? It might go down to the wire and depend on how many 1020-owning enthusiasts there are in early 2015 at Microsoft!

Of course, it’s not all about the operating system and there are other ways for a classic smartphone to get sidelined. It happened to the Nokia 808 and it’s happening now to the Lumia 1020. First, sales of the device stop – it becomes harder and harder to find one for sale – perhaps to replace a broken or stolen device? And accessories become harder to find – in the 1020’s case there’s the Qi charging back shell and Camera grip. If you have a 1020 and want either of these, then you’ve probably already put things off too long. [In the 808’s case it was mainly the BV-4D battery, original replacements for this were/are like gold dust.]

Lumia 1020 in Camera Grip

So – the Lumia 1020 stands a chance of being updated for longer than its older sister devices, the 920 and 925 – but only a slender one. Having said that, the 1020 will, by the time WP9/Threshold/whatever hits, be two years old and will have enjoyed updates freely throughout that time, adding significant extra general functionality that certainly wasn’t there when customer bought the device.

Classic of tech engineering

The Lumia 1020, like the 808 before it, still has unique selling points (in terms of photo quality, reframing/zooming flexibility and low light shots of people), and it seems that we still have at least another year of updates ahead. So celebrate the 1020 and don’t give up on it. 

And don’t you dare sell the Lumia 1020. Those who sold on the Nokia 808 PureView have bitterly regretted it – these devices are classic of modern tech engineering.

1020 and 808, all in white!!


All About Windows Phone

The future of the Lumia 1020 – another sidelined classic like the 808?

A little history

We saw this in action for Nokia’s N93 – the original ‘transformer’ Symbian phone that could look like a regular T9 clamshell or a consumer camcorder at will. It tested well amongst geeks and camera phone enthusiasts but made no mark whatsoever in the consumer marketplace of the time (2006). The best-selling N95 escaped the ‘camera-centric’ tag because it had so many other innovations, of course, the integrated GPS, the GPU, the high quality stereo speakers, and so on.

The we run forward to the Nokia N82, from 2007/2008, the first smartphone with a Xenon flash, very definitely a ‘camera phone’ first and foremost. And still a device with just about the brightest Xenon illumination in the world, even after 7 years. But, despite appearing in High Street shops, it didn’t sell in huge numbers.

Repeat the process with the N86, the first High Street smartphone with an 8MP camera and still unique in having variable aperture, the first to use intelligent digital zoom when capturing video and to use a digital microphone. So many innovations, yet the N86 also failed to set the sales charts alight, this time in 2009.

Nokia N86 camera

Next in line, the aluminium-bodied N8, at the end of 2010, with 12MP and Xenon flash and a, for the time, huge sensor. Sales started off well, using the new GPU-accelerated Symbian^3 platform, but then Nokia’s Stephen Elop (prematurely) shot Symbian down on stage at MWC 2011 as part of the demonstration of support for Microsoft and Windows Phone, and the N8 never recovered.

Finally, on the Symbian front, we had the all-conquering Nokia 808 PureView, the result of five years of R&D, learning lessons from all the devices above, offering what’s still (by far) the largest camera sensor in any phone, with 41MP sensor into which users could ‘zoom’, digitally, without losing light or quality, and with hardware oversampling producing noiseless, pure images at lower resolution by default. Released in spring 2012, a full year after Symbian’s execution, it’s clear that the only reason this still made it to market was that so much work had already been done on the hardware and it would have been criminal to not at least shown it off to the world. At least, not without a Windows Phone version ready, something which was still a year away. As a result, in the world of 2012, with Symbian’s 360p screens seeming blocky compared to WVGA and 720p and with Android really taking off at the high end, and with Symbian utterly frowned on within High Street shops, the Nokia 808 PureView remained something of a cult hit only.

Lumia 1020 and 808 PureView

If there’s a common thread in all the above, it’s the inescapable conclusion that it takes time to create a really good phone camera. The space, weight and power constraints place extreme pressures on designers and in each case, by the time the phone hit the market, the underlying hardware was nearing the end of its relevance in the wider smartphone world. For example, the N82 was a full year after the N95 which had essentially the same internals, the N86 was a device and form factor from a bygone age even when launched, the N8 was legendarily delayed by up to a year, the 808 was borne into a completely hostile future.

And the same pattern applies to the Nokia Lumia 1020, headlined above. With ostensibly almost identical specifications to the mass market Lumia 920, it lagged the latter by almost a year. So, when eventually available, the chipset and internals were already nearing end-of-life, in terms of use in new devices. Again, the delay was almost certainly down to getting the camera working satisfactorily – again 41MP, like the 808, but this time doing everything in the main processor and an extra GB of RAM. The 1020 was well received by camera phone enthusiasts, and remains a benchmark device, though its shot to shot times are looking a little prehistoric in a world of 2.5GHz processors and monster GPUs.

Specs and the future

What, then, does the future hold for the Lumia 1020? There’s no doubting that it fared better, in terms of sales, than its Xenon-equipped, large-sensored 41MP ancestor, the Nokia 808, but with quite a few new software releases from Nokia/Microsoft explicitly saying that they’re only for the Lumia 1520 and 930, worries are starting to creep in for 1020 fans.

Let’s look at the hardware across the Nokia’s (now Microsoft’s) Windows Phone range:

Chipset Devices Specification
Snapdragon S4 Lumia 520, 521, 620, 720 Dual-core 1GHz Krait, Adreno 305, 512MB RAM
Snapdragon S4 Lumia 625 Dual-core 1.2GHz Krait 200, Adreno 305, LTE, 512MB RAM
Snapdragon 400 Lumia 630, 635 (etc) Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7, Adreno 305, 512MB RAM
Snapdragon S4 Lumia 820, 920, 925, 928 Dual-core 1.5GHz Krait, Adreno 225, LTE, 1GB RAM
Snapdragon S4 Lumia 1020 Dual-core 1.5GHz Krait, Adreno 225, LTE, 2GB RAM
Snapdragon S4 Lumia 1320 Dual-core 1.7GHz Krait 300, Adreno 305, LTE, 1GB RAM
Snapdragon 800 Lumia 1520, 930 Quad-core 2.2GHz Krait 400, Adreno 330, LTE, 2GB RAM

The Lumia 1020 does stand out a little, amidst its peers, by having the extra Gigabyte of RAM, needed to handle the processing of the (up to) 38MP full resolution bitmaps internally, but the RAM will hopefully come in handy in helping ensure that the 1020 is less likely to be left behind when it comes time to update the Windows Phone platform again.

So far we’re seeing no device left behind by Microsoft, thanks in part to Windows Phone’s comparatively low hardware requirements – most of the work is in finishing code, adding functions  and fixing issues and compatibility, all without adding much to ‘bloat’. As a result, even the lowest Lumia 520 is getting the full Windows Phone 8.1, though some of the higher end camera-related functions are starting to come with some hardware requirements. Historically this has been done according to RAM, though with 2GB on board the Lumia 1020 should be good in this regard for another year or two at least.

Processor and GPU speed are more of an issue, with the latest features in Nokia Camera/Storyteller being limited to just the Lumia 1520 and 930 – at least in theory. ‘Living Images’ worked pretty well under the original Nokia Camera Betas on the 1020, so maybe these can be worked in again, in an update?

Certainly Nokia seems to have standardised on a ‘good enough’ 20MP cut down version of the PureView technology. Which is fair enough – and results are good – but it doesn’t stop the cameraphone geek in me wanting a third in the 41MP series. Is it just me?

OS updates

What of the core OS though – at what point will Microsoft start lopping off device compatibility? Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1, rumoured to roll out to developers for early testing later this month (July), for eventual release over the air to consumers in November/December, is supposed to be a fairly minor update (by comparison to 8.0 to 8.1) and should also be available for all devices. 

Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2 is scheduled to be available for testing around the end of 2014 and is likely to include new features to support new hardware, and I’d expect much of the lower end of the current Lumia range to get this update but not the full feature set. 

Whatever comes after that is pure conjecture (Google ‘Threshold’ if you want more on the rumours) and depends very much on Microsoft’s ongoing plans to unify its platforms, but it’s a fair bet that Windows Phone 8.2 (or Windows Phone 9, or whatever it ends up being called) will be optimised for the Snapdragon 800 and higher. Will the Lumia 1020 be updated for this release? My guess is ‘no’, but with the extra RAM, who knows? It might go down to the wire and depend on how many 1020-owning enthusiasts there are in early 2015 at Microsoft!

Of course, it’s not all about the operating system and there are other ways for a classic smartphone to get sidelined. It happened to the Nokia 808 and it’s happening now to the Lumia 1020. First, sales of the device stop – it becomes harder and harder to find one for sale – perhaps to replace a broken or stolen device? And accessories become harder to find – in the 1020’s case there’s the Qi charging back shell and Camera grip. If you have a 1020 and want either of these, then you’ve probably already put things off too long. [In the 808’s case it was mainly the BV-4D battery, original replacements for this were/are like gold dust.]

Lumia 1020 in Camera Grip

So – the Lumia 1020 stands a chance of being updated for longer than its older sister devices, the 920 and 925 – but only a slender one. Having said that, the 1020 will, by the time WP9/Threshold/whatever hits, be two years old and will have enjoyed updates freely throughout that time, adding significant extra general functionality that certainly wasn’t there when customer bought the device.

Classic of tech engineering

The Lumia 1020, like the 808 before it, still has unique selling points (in terms of photo quality, reframing/zooming flexibility and low light shots of people), and it seems that we still have at least another year of updates ahead. So celebrate the 1020 and don’t give up on it. 

And don’t you dare sell the Lumia 1020. Those who sold on the Nokia 808 PureView have bitterly regretted it – these devices are classic of modern tech engineering.

1020 and 808, all in white!!


All About Windows Phone

Nokia scored another patent win against HTC in Germany

Nokia scored another patent win in Germany against HTC, for a total number of four, out of which three only in the past two months. On Friday, the Mannheim Regional Court found HTC to infringe on Nokia’s patent EP1579613 referring to a “method and apparatus for enabling a mobile station to adapt its revision level based on network protocol revision level”, basically enabling “modern mobile devices to work in older networks”.

HTC will have to pay damages to Nokia, but the amount due will be determined with the occasion of additional, upcoming proceedings. The court has also ordered an injunction in the case.

As FOSS Patent reports, HTC already has the proper license to use Nokia’s Standard Essential Patents, but, the patent in this case is not one of that kind. “This judgment enables Nokia to enforce an injunction against the import and sale of all infringing HTC products in Germany, as well as to obtain damages for past infringement. This is the fourth patent found infringed with injunction awarded in Germany”, said Nokia in a statement.

Source: FOSS Patents


Samsung & LG take another bite out of Apple

Latest Netbiscuits Global Web Trends report

Samsung and LG gain ground as Apple stagnate, while BlackBerry mobile web usage nose dives and Nokia consolidates

Consumers show an appetite for bigger screens, as ‘mobile for everything’ philosophy starts to influence leading vendors’ design strategies

China iPhone launch can’t come soon enough for Apple, as Samsung, LG and local brands dominate consumer web usage in Asian market

Press release

January 29th  2014. Netbiscuits, has released its latest quarterly Web Trends report, revealing big mobile traffic gains for Samsung and LG year-on-year, as Apple device usage stagnated and BlackBerry dropped to its lowest levels to date. The report, based on a sample of over a billion web hits per month rather than device sales figures, also revealed that consumers turned to devices with bigger screens in 2013, placing more pressure on brands to deliver consistent web experiences to an increasingly fragmented market.

Consumers look for more diversity as Apple stagnates

Netbiscuits report showed that Apple’s share of traffic fell slightly to 35.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2013, while Samsung showed the greatest gain, reaching 31.6 per cent and LG climbed 2.4 per cent from the third quarter to 4.9 per cent.

Across the top 100 devices on the Netbiscuits Platform, Apple commands a 40.6 per cent share with 10 devices. Samsung captures 32.9 per cent but requires more than double (22 devices) to achieve this, with many more local country variants and screen sizes.

Size matters as consumers show an appetite for larger screens

As BlackBerry disappeared from Netbiscuits top ten device list, so too did representation for smartphones with screens under 3 inches.

All screen sizes above 4 inches recorded a significant increase in traffic, while the biggest loser was the 3 to 3.9 inch segment, demonstrating how consumers are turning to bigger screens on mobile devices to carry out everyday tasks.

This screen size shift means that the average screen size within the top 10 devices has increased from 3.9 to 4.2 inches.

Local preferences prevail

Apple’s greatest share of web traffic unsurprisingly remains in North America, where its share tallies a solid 44 per cent.

In Asia, Apple enjoys strong representation in markets such as Singapore and Australia but, overall in Asia, it trails its rival Samsung with a 29 per cent share, compared to 39 per cent for Samsung.

Samsung’s broad appeal across all regions lies in its ability to offer a multitude of devices that match the preferences of each market.

For example, Asian markets often prefer larger screens but these markets are also more price sensitive. Samsung’s large product range enables it to cater for markets with more specific requirements.

Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is intending to release a 4.5 and 5 inch variant of the iPhone later this year, suggesting the larger screen is now a key consideration for device manufacturers.1

Michael Neidhoefer, CEO, Netbiscuits said, “With such fierce vendor competition and the seemingly-endless emergence of new devices, consumers have never had such a great choice of devices through which to engage with the mobile web.”

“Consumers are also expecting more and more from their mobile experiences, leading them back to bigger screens which allow a better experience to play games, watch movies or interact with activities, such as mobile internet banking.”

“While this choice is a great thing for consumers, it does mean that brands must work even harder to understand how customers are accessing their mobile content.”

“In 2014, we’re sure to see these companies try to get to grips with deeper mobile web analytics tools that give insight, not only into the type of devices customers are using, but also the context in which they are engaging with the mobile web, such as current bandwidth and battery life – these factors will determine the type of mobile experience customers are served up.”

To download the full Web Trends report go here.

About Netbiscuits

Netbiscuits is a global leader in software solutions for mobile web experiences. The Netbiscuits Cloud Platform helps reduce the cost, time and risk involved in developing mobile web applications that deliver a customized, superior mobile user experience across all connected devices.

Notes

1. The Wall Street Journal, Apple iPhones to Come Out With Bigger Screens, January 2014.


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