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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

If the Nexus 6 is anything like the LG G3, you’re going to want one

We have it on good authority that the focus of this week’s Google I/O 2014 event will be Android Wear. The company’s new smartwatch platform looks poised to bring us some of the most compelling wearable offerings ever, with devices to satisfy desires both subtle and gross. While I can’t wait to see what Google has cooked up for the wrists of the world, I also can’t help hoping that Wednesday’s announcements will bring us more news from the smartphone side of Mountain View’s portfolio. Specifically, news of the (possibly) forthcoming Nexus 6.

You’d be right in calling this expectation premature, even stupid. Nexus smartphone launches are typically an autumn affair, and I’m not seriously expecting a Nexus 6 to break cover this week. The reason this possibly-nonexistent smartphone is stirring my imagination on this day in particular is thanks to another device we’ve recently spent some time with: the excellent LG G3.

Based on past experience, there’s solid reason to think the Nexus 6, if built by LG, will hew closely to the design of the company’s newest flagship. In case you missed our coverage of that device, there’s an awful lot to like about it: I called it the most intriguing Android halo device the company has ever offered in our full review, and Taylor Martin backed me up in his review rebuttal, calling the G3 an exquisite take on the modern flagship.

The Nexus 6 may never arrive. If it does, it may not be made by LG at all. In fact, the entire Nexus program may well fall victim to Android Silver. But assuming the G3 does come to market as some kind of “pure Android” offering, whether as a Google Play Edition device or one of the above improbable scenarios, there’s good reason to get excited. Here’s three reasons why.

A Design That Actually Says Something

lg-g3-review-rebuttal-1

I’m not saying they’re ugly phones (so those of you who’ve already raced to the comments to defend your Nexus purchases can chill for a sec). Nevertheless, I’d argue that the Nexus devices of the past two years have succeeded despite, rather than due to, their looks. Of course LG and Google were constrained by price when designing and manufacturing the Nexus 4 and 5, and in the case of the latter, Google made a conscious decision to create the most minimal hardware possible in order to let the software shine. But in both cases, what resulted was a rather unremarkable slab.

That’s not the case with the G3, and if even some of its aesthetic makes it through the conversion process to a “Nexus 6,” we’ll have a brilliant looker on our hands. In my view, the G3 strikes an almost perfect balance between portability and beauty, with a lightweight chassis that’s comfortable to hold, but which also looks edgier and “faster” than any other LG smartphone. The edge-to-edge display, anchored by the modern, minimal chin down below, works together with the redesigned rear keys and the “floating arc” curve to give the G3 a very distinct personality. It feels like a very advanced piece of technology, but one that’s not so advanced as to seem showboat-y or inaccessible.

Expandability and Extensibility

lg g3 expandability

Sometimes beauty comes with a heavy cost in terms of extensibility and expandability. (That’s lame tech jargon for “sometimes pretty phones sacrifice power for looks.”) Not so with the G3. Despite its seemingly seamless construction, it only takes a thumbnail under a side-tab to pop the G3′s back cover loose, revealing a user-replaceable 3000 mAh battery and a MicroSD slot for up to 128GB of additional storage space. While these are becoming more prevalent additions to modern phones, they’re still rare finds on a good-looking flagship device –the HTC One M8 needs an embedded battery to preserve its aesthetics– and with a Quad-HD display soaking up a lot of power, carrying a spare battery in a side pocket might not be the worst idea for G3 owners.

Granted, it’s entirely possible these features would be intentionally omitted by Google if the G3 were ever to undergo a Nexus 6-type conversion. Google tends to favor pushing its cloud-based Drive solution over MicroSD, and the last two Nexus iterations have featured sealed-in batteries. Plus, it’s uncertain Google would retain support for awesome accessories like the Quick Circle case, which supports only LG-built apps. But in my book, even that would be an acceptable compromise with a Nexus-ified G3, because …

Stock Android Would Only Make It Better

kitkatUI2-1024x606

Of all the arguments in favor of a Google-sourced G3, this one is perhaps the lamest in that it’s the most predictable. The purpose of a mobile tech blogger, it seems, is at least partly to hate on third-party UIs while espousing the virtues of stock Android. And given our mostly-positive feelings regarding LG’s new Android skin for the G3, this seems like an even-less-necessary callout.

But spend two seconds with the stock KitKat launcher on the G3, and you’ll see where I’m coming from. I used KK Launcher to simulate the experience for this editorial, and while it’s not a perfect substitute, it certainly offers a mouth-watering window into the possibilities once LG’s skin is out of the way. This is less an indictment of LG’s software design than praise for Google’s: as we said in our full review, stock 4.4 KitKat represents “the most responsive, attractive, and useful version of Android we’ve ever encountered,” and that’s even more evident on a 5.5-inch device that’s nearly all-screen. Sure, we’d like to see better support for the G3′s high resolution, but that’s something which would come with an official Nexus release. And replacing LG’s embryonic Smart Notice with one-swipe access to Google Now would eliminate the kind of redundancy that’s unavoidable when it comes to third-party UIs. As much as we like some manufacturer software, stock is usually still better.

lg g3 nexus 6 2

None of this is earth-shattering, and it’s likely that none of it will come to pass. In some ways, this is applying old-world thinking to a new Android model … one which will no doubt surprise all of us if and when it breaks cover. In the interim, though, it’s always fun to speculate on the geeky halo devices of tomorrow – so help us do that! Drop a comment down below letting us know what you’d most like to see from a hypothetical Nexus 6, and don’t forget to check out our newest podcast where we discuss the LG G3 in depth with none other than MKBHD!


Pocketnow

LG G3 press renders look like the real deal

With under two weeks to go until May 27, when LG’s got its press event that will almost certainly reveal the G3, the story on this smartphone is really starting to come together. In recent days we’ve checked out new pictures of actual hardware, as well as viewed an official teaser video from LG itself. Today we add to all that with the publication of some G3 renders, and these are either official LG creations or some of the highest quality fan renders we’ve ever laid eyes on.

The level of detail is impressive, allowing us to appreciate subtleties like button textures. Again, the phone’s face is depicted making incredible use of available space, with that 2K display really filling things out – we often talk about how thin we like our side bezels, but the real star might be just how little room is wasted above and below, as well.

A few G3 questions remain: is there any weight to those bizarre rumors of a laser hiding to the left of the rear camera, or could that oval conceal something as innocuous as an IR transceiver, just as found on the G Flex? And how will the phone feel? Because while it may have the look of brushed metal in many of these shots, sources have been claiming that the G3 will still have a plastic build. We can’t wait to find out.

g3-press-render-2 g3-press-render-3Source: phoneArena


Pocketnow

Those following the camera-centric smartphone path might like the Galaxy K Zoom

Published by at 9:27 UTC, May 2nd 2014

Forgive the jump in platform and pointer to climates new, but I do know that a fair number of people following the ‘All About’ sites are particular fans of Nokia as a manufacturer in general and its specialism for camera excellence, in particular, not least Xenon flash since 2007 and PureView zoom since 2012. Elsewhere in the smartphone world, there’s a reluctance to push the boat out in terms of camera hardware. With one exception.

You’ll remember the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom from 2013? 10x optical zoom and Xenon flash? I did a head to head between this and the Nokia 808 last year, concluding that the S4 Zoom won out by a small margin, but only at the expense of significant bulk.

Nokia 808 and S4 Zoom

I then threw the Lumia 1020 into the mix here, with the S4 Zoom just getting pipped at the post itself here, though in fairness there’s not a lot in it over all my various test cases.

But the S4 Zoom’s lens module protruded a good centimetre and snagged on every pocket it was inserted into – truly a compromised form factor.

Which is why I wanted to highlight the announcement, over in the Android world, of its successor, the Samsung K Zoom, with massively slimmed down optical zoom mechanism. The sensor’s the same, at 1/2.3″, as is the Xenon flash, so performance will be similar – but the crucial thing is the form factor. The first time I saw the K Zoom laid on a table, it immediately brought to mind the classic Nokia camera flagship form factor:

Nokia 808 PureView, Nokia Lumia 1020 and Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

The combination of large camera island, with large sensor, zoom and proper flash, allied to the gently rounded body and full hardware camera shutter button should make the K Zoom very competitive with the 808 and the 1020 in terms of pocketability, even if it is, necessarily, physically thicker.

Not that we’re recommending you jump platforms to get the K Zoom, but we thought you’d want to know about this competitor, at least. And, of course, we’re getting the K Zoom in on day one of availability, for direct still and video tests with both of the smartphones pictured with it above. Plus whatever else we’ve got lying around, no doubt.

Watch this space. And comments welcome. Do you think the K Zoom is a spiritual successor to Nokia’s camera flagships and vision, the 808 in particular? You can’t help but spot certain similarities…

PS. You can find out more about the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom here. Oh, and there’s the traditional launch promo video:

Filed: > >

Platforms: General, Symbian^3, General, Windows Phone 8
Categories: Link of Interest, Hardware
 

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All About Windows Phone

Amazon’s rumored smartphone sounds like a gimmicky mess

Among the usual spread of device rumors, such as this year’s iPhone handset, there is yet another unusual device frequenting headlines from an unlikely manufacturer: Amazon.

We laughed at the thought of an Amazon-made tablet back in 2011, now the company has seven tablets in its arsenal. Now Amazon is rumored to be creating a smartphone. And despite Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shooting down the rumors back in 2012, the Amazon phone is looking more and more likely.

Two weeks ago, BGR leaked some photos of the alleged smartphone. One week later, it detailed some of the inner workings of the phone and its operating system. And just days ago, it leaked even more information about some perks of the phone’s service plan.

Like Amazon’s other Android-powered Fire tablets, the smartphone will likely feature software which is heavily centered around the Amazon experience, meaning it will not come with access to the typical swath of Google apps and services – Hangouts, the Google Play store, Gmail, etc. Instead, like we’ve seen for the last year and a half, the phone will come with Amazon’s fork of Android. For better or worse, it will be centered heavily around Amazon Prime services, like the on-demand Instant Videos services, its e-commerce store, of course, and Amazon’s own Appstore for Android.

You can't get this on a Nexus...

Like Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets, which are powered by Android, the rumored smartphone will also come with an Amazon-centric interface.

None of this comes as any surprise. It’s all the yawn-worthy information we would safely assume about the long-rumored Amazon phone.

Far more important questions about this purported phone exist and, for the most part, we can answer them with a fair amount of certainty, assuming BGR‘s reports are true. What does this phone entail? What does it look like? Why should we care?

The specs sound fairly modest and average. It’s said to have a 4.7-inche 720p display, 13-megapixel rear camera, 2GB RAM, and a Snapdragon SoC. Based on the leaks and rumors, however, Amazon is shooting for value adds in other places.

In the images BGR leaked two weeks ago, the alleged Amazon smartphone’s frame and design were obscured by a dummy shell. In the shell, though, it bore a striking resemblance to an older device out of Nokia’s lineup, the Lumia 900, except for one, pretty significant detail: it appears to have five cameras fixed to its face. This matches up with other rumors, suggesting the phone would come with a total of six cameras.

What could all these cameras be for?

According to BGR, this unique sensor arrangement will help power the glasses-free 3D interface and extensive gesture controls. One front camera, of course, is a standard image sensor used for taking pictures and video chatting. The other four (one in each corner on the face of the phone) are low-power infrared cameras. These will be used to measure the relative distance and track the user’s face during use so the phone can “make constant adjustments to the positioning of on-screen elements, altering the perspective of visuals on the screen,” says BGR‘s Zach Epstein.

amazon-phone-1

You can see the five camera sensors on the face of the device, despite the dummy housing.

This glasses-free 3D interface is supposed to create a more elaborate shopping experience. Epstein explains, “By shifting the position of the phone, users are able to see three-dimensional product images at different angles to reveal surfaces that cannot be seen in 2D photos.” Also, moving the phone in the maps application will also change the perspective of the maps.

Tilting the phone is also said to trigger various gesture controls, such as revealing the purpose of non-labeled buttons in the calendar app or revealing Yelp ratings after searching for a restaurant in the maps application. Epstein also says the various menus and settings will be accessed by tilting the phone to the left or right.

Finally, it’s said this purported Amazon phone will come with a unique data plan named “Prime Data“. Though the finite details are still a mystery, there are several ways Amazon could offer an advantageous data package to buyers. For instance, Amazon could offer free access to various Prime services – shopping, Instant videos, Kindle book downloads, etc. Some speculate Amazon may be creating a MVNO for its mobile devices to operate on, but BGR‘s sources all but shot those rumors down.

amazon-boxes

At the end of the day, the Amazon phone is only about one thing: encouraging more sales.

So what can we make of all this?

At first glance, some of the technology and alleged offers sound intriguing, like they could offer some benefit to buyers, particularly those heavily invested in Amazon’s various services. In the same vein, it sounds like a lab experiment gone wrong; it sounds like a horrible bundle of gimmicks.

A gesture-based OS doesn’t sound all bad. BlackBerry 10 and webOS beautifully incorporated gestures, and the minor gestures in Android and iOS are, personally, some of my favorite features.

Tilt gestures, on the other hand, are often wildly inaccurate. Being an integral part of navigation and basing the some of the core interactions with the phone on these tilt gestures sounds like a nightmare waiting to happen.

Do you recall Samsung’s tilt gestures? On previous versions of TouchWiz, you could long-press and icon on the home screen to move it around. Once in “move” mode, simply tilt the phone to move from home screen to home screen. You could also touch the screen with two fingers and tilt the phone forward to zoom in or back to zoom out. Though quite intuitive, neither of these were useful in practice, as accuracy was an issue.

It also poses a question: how does one tilt to access these menus without accidentally throwing the phone into an alternate orientation. I accidentally switch my phones to landscape without tilt gestures. I can only imagine how frustrating this would become by using gestures which encourage tilting your phone from side to side.

And 3D. Need I say more? The ability to view rendered products in 3D does sound like a cool novelty, but two-dimensional 3D renders have served me quite well over the years. 3D has cropped up in the mobile space once before, and it died practically overnight. A four-camera rig seems a bit extensive for a parallax effect, no?

Prime Data, while still mostly a mystery, will likely be little more than a cleverly-worded feature that sounds a lot cooler than it actually is, that only benefits your interaction with Amazon services, not the rest of the Internet. That’s pure speculation, but these promotional or “freebie” data packages are rarely worth bothering with if you’re anything more than a basic user.

kindlefirehd

If Amazon’s existing hardware is any indication, the Amazon phone won’t be much to look at either.

Call me jaded, but Kindle Fire products have not moved me since the original Kindle Fire, which I sold just weeks after buying. The Amazon interface is geared too much towards Amazon’s own agenda to truly prioritize a great user experience; it creates app gaps other Android devices don’t have (unless you’re into side-loading tons of apps); and it causes a lot of unnecessary ambiguity in navigation and use.

That alone turns me away from Amazon’s mobile products, yet none of the supposed standout features of the Amazon phone do anything to offset that.

Granted, I’d like to see Amazon break into and disrupt the mobile space, to create some much-needed competition. Unless the Amazon phone is introduced at a killer price point (equal to or below that of the Moto G), though, I can’t see it making much of an impact. A few parlor tricks that make your Amazon shopping experience marginally better won’t change that.


Pocketnow

HTC’s focus on mid-range devices like Desire 210 might save the company

by our Indian correspondent – Asif Shaik

everyone wants desire 210 – yang

There have been many articles discussing how HTC is failing in spite of  the company releasing great devices like HTC One M8. But almost nobody is talking about how HTC can prevent itself from failing with the right focus on the mid-tier smartphone segment. Quite a while back,  during the initial launch of One series, HTC CEO, Peter Chow, stated that his company will only focus on the high-end One series devices like HTC One X and HTC One S. But lack of focus on its mid-range Desire series smartphones cost HTC heavily as its cash flow became  heavily eroded.

HTC seems to have learnt its lessons in the past two years and at an event earlier this year [2014], HTC announced its plan to launch multiple smartphones in the $ 150 – $ 300 price segment.

This will help HTC in gaining a stronghold in the booming mid-tier smartphone market in emerging countries like India which is set to become the largest mobile phone market in 2014.

Even though Samsung launches many high-end smartphones like Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 3, a large part of its business anchors on mid-tier smartphones such as Galaxy S Duos 2 and the Galaxy Grand 2.

Earlier this month, HTC launched the Desire 210 and the Desire 816 in India. Both are mid-tier priced smartphones running Android operating system and featuring dual SIM card slots.

In in India, the HTC Desire 210 is priced at INR 8,700 while the HTC Desire 816 is priced at INR 23,990 on MySmartPrice.

The Desire 210 comes with a 4 inch WVGA screen, 1 GHz dual-core processor, 512 MB of RAM, 4 GB of internal storage, 5MP camera, VGA front camera, dual SIM card slots and a 1300 mAH battery.

Jack Yang, President of HTC South Asia stated that the Desire 210 is the phone that everyone would want due to its amazing technology at the entry-level as well as due to the user experience it provides at that price range.

The Desire 816 is equipped with larger 5.5 inch HD screen, 1.6 GHz quad-core processor, 1.5 GB of RAM, 8 GB of internal storage, 13 MP camera and 5 MP front-facing camera along with dual stereo speakers on the front with dedicated amplifiers. It also comes with dual SIM card slots, NFC, Android 4.4 KitKat and large 2600 mAh battery.

Its other mid-tier smartphones like Desire 700 and Desire 500 are already selling decently well in India and the upcoming Desire 210 and Desire 816 will further enhance its position in the segment.

Although there are similar offerings from Motorola (Moto G) and Samsung, chances of HTC’s success are higher because Motorola lacks any presence in the offline retail market and people have grown bored of Samsung’s repetitive design and plastic build.

With the focus back on mid-range smartphones, HTC will experience better cash flow which could in turn lead to better marketing and better sales which is enough for HTC to survive from the sales drought.

Asif Iqbal Shaik is a consumer electronics expert and computer science graduate turned technology Blogger. Asif is obsessed with gadgets, games, internet and technology brands. He is known as ‘gadget guru’ amongst his friends. He works for the Indian mobile phone price comparison web site, MySmartPrice.com.


GoMo News

NVIDIA Tegra Note 7 tablet gaining LTE option, still sounds like a tough sell

2013 was the year when NVIDIA’s efforts to remain relevant in the always-changing smartphone and tablet industry hit a brick wall: OEM interest in the Tegra 4 seemed practically nonexistent, and it wasn’t until NVIDIA started designing hardware of its own (incorporating its SoCs, naturally), that many consumers even saw Tegra 4-running devices become available. First it revealed the NVIDIA Shield gaming system, followed late last summer by the Tegra Note tablet. The latter was an interesting concept, with NVIDIA providing the silicon and the basic design, but letting other companies manufacture and sell the device. Still, we haven’t exactly heard about it flying off the shelves. Could a little cellular connectivity be just what the doctor ordered? NVIDIA sure seems to think so, and today announced three such new versions of the Tegra Note 7.

That means one edition with US-friendly LTE bands, another with EU LTE support, and a third that’s 3G only. Look for cellular connectivity to add about $ 100 on to the base Tegra Note 7 price, meaning that these new versions should start right around the $ 300 mark.

It’s nice to have the option available, but this feels a smidge “too little, too late” to really help Tegra Note sales any. Sure, it will be a bit cheaper than the 32GB LTE Nexus 7, but that 1280 x 800 display can’t hold a candle to the 1080p panel on the Nexus tablet.

Source: NVIDIA
Via: Android Central


Pocketnow

NVIDIA Tegra Note 7 tablet gaining LTE option, still sounds like a tough sell

2013 was the year when NVIDIA’s efforts to remain relevant in the always-changing smartphone and tablet industry hit a brick wall: OEM interest in the Tegra 4 seemed practically nonexistent, and it wasn’t until NVIDIA started designing hardware of its own (incorporating its SoCs, naturally), that many consumers even saw Tegra 4-running devices become available. First it revealed the NVIDIA Shield gaming system, followed late last summer by the Tegra Note tablet. The latter was an interesting concept, with NVIDIA providing the silicon and the basic design, but letting other companies manufacture and sell the device. Still, we haven’t exactly heard about it flying off the shelves. Could a little cellular connectivity be just what the doctor ordered? NVIDIA sure seems to think so, and today announced three such new versions of the Tegra Note 7.

That means one edition with US-friendly LTE bands, another with EU LTE support, and a third that’s 3G only. Look for cellular connectivity to add about $ 100 on to the base Tegra Note 7 price, meaning that these new versions should start right around the $ 300 mark.

It’s nice to have the option available, but this feels a smidge “too little, too late” to really help Tegra Note sales any. Sure, it will be a bit cheaper than the 32GB LTE Nexus 7, but that 1280 x 800 display can’t hold a candle to the 1080p panel on the Nexus tablet.

Source: NVIDIA
Via: Android Central


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