Nokia is Dead. Long Live Nokia!

It’s been an interesting 7 days when it comes to Nokia’s phone legacy. Last Wednesday, the 18th, Nokia announced it was going to license its name and IP to a new company called HMD to make Android phones together with Microsoft giving a similar deal for feature phones. Microsoft also announced they were selling the logistics side of the Nokia feature phone business to HMD’s manufacturing partner Foxconn. Then today, came the bad news that everybody saw coming. Microsoft is putting an end to the Lumia Windows Phone division it bought from Nokia just a couple of years back. We’ll talk about that first.

Under Nokia, the Lumia line was one of the most regarded lines of cell phones out there. Those who had one loved them and the there was a lot to love about Windows phone 7, 8, and 10. However, they never gained commercial success and Nokia agreed to sell its phone business to Microsoft for just over $7 billion in September of 2013. It only got worse from there with Windows Phone effectively a non-player. In 2015, Microsoft cut 7,800 jobs mostly related to the former Nokia properties and took a $7.6 billion write-off. Now they’re going for the rest. With another 1,800 jobs lost, 1,350 of those in Finland, and another write-off at just shy of $1 billion. It was Steve Ballmer’s last major move as CEO and to say it backfired is putting it mildly.

However, as I said in the opening paragraph, Nokia’s phone legacy doesn’t end with the death of the Lumia line. HMD will be designing phones and tablets under the Nokia name. Like Blackberry’s rebirth, the new Nokia’s will be powered by Android. The phones themselves will built by Foxconn. Nokia will not own a stake in HMD, but will has a presence in the company to ensure the devices coming out of the new venture reflect the Nokia brand.

There is no firm timeline when we will see the first HMD-designed Nokia device or whether they plan to enter the North American market. What is known that that Nokia branded phones will go on. At least for now.

source: Nokia, The Verge

HTC 10: It Looks Like the Best Android Smartphone Yet

HTC’s flagship line has been know as the One series. You’ve had the HTC One M7, HTC M8, and HTC One M9. Today, that title is getting shorted and the product title is simply know as the HTC 10. The title change kinda sums up the HTC in general, a flagship phone which dispatches a lot of bloat while adding useful features. Let’s take a look.

HTC 10 Specs

The HTC 10 is exactly what you’d expect from a flagship Android phone is 2016. The Display is 5.2 inches, a little bit bigger than the M8 and M9, and finally makes the jump from 1920 x 1080 Full HD to 2560 x 1440 Quad HD. Like Apple, HTC is still using a LCD variant, called Super LCD5, in lieu of AMOLED technology. At this point, LCD screens still have a few advantages over AMOLED, but that gap is narrowing every year. The larger display makes for a phone that nominally taller and wider, but its also thinner than the M9 and has a comfortable curved design.

The system on chip is the Snapdragon 820. Unlike the 810 used in last year’s flagships, the 820 is not a repackaged ARM reference design. The core is based around a quad-core Kryo CPU. Like the Krait in the Snapdragon 800 series, the Kyro is completely a Qualcomm design. It finally gives Android the power to hang with Apple’s latest A-series CPUs. The GPU, the Adreno 530, is also much improved.

The camera is 12mp with laser autofocus and OIS. That’s on par with its main competition, the Galaxy S7. The front is 5MP and also has OIS. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this may be the first time a front camera has been stabilized. The aperture both front and back is f/1.8. For video, the front camera is 1080 while the rear is 4k. If you’re looking to shoot video or photos, this looks like one really interesting device.

Rounding out the hardware specs, there’s about a dozen LTE bands, so it should be at home on any carrier. The LTE is also class 9 capable for speeds up to 450Mbps. I/O is what you’d expect with dual band AC wireless, bluetooth 4.2, NFC and a bunch of sensors. Physical connections are through USB Type-C at full USB 3.1 speeds. The SD Card slot stays and and take cards up to 2TB. Wirelessly, it supports not only the expected HTC connect, Google Cast, and Miracast, but very surprisingly Apple Airplay as well. That should be a great feature in if you’re an Android user in an Apple Household. Rounding out the spec sheet is a further Improvement on the front-facing Boomsound speakers called Boomsound Hi-Fi. Its also got a 24-bit headphone amp, so high end audio aficionados should be pleased.

Software Less is More

Android’s biggest weaknesses have been fragmentation and bloatware. Honestly, it’s just confused and angered customers who, for the most part, have just used Google’s apps. HTC and its Sense launcher have been among the worse. For the 10, HTC has gotten rid of many of its own apps except when it adds to the feature set, like the camera. It makes for a much cleaner Android experience. However, it does offer an interesting new launcher layout called Freestyle. This phone puts the user first, make no mistake.

There’s also some software level improvements that give the phone up to 30% more battery life. With hardware and software improvements, HTC is advertising up to two full days of charge.

Pricing and Availability

The HTC 10 is available starting at $699 with pre-orders starting today. The phone itself will be released in May. There will be be versions for most carriers as well as an unlocked version.

Final Word

The HTC One-series was never lacking on design, but never managed to full catch on. That is also the question here. HTC has designed one hell of a phone, they did their job. Their marketing department has their work cut out of them and if they fail there may not be a HTC 11. If any device can unseat Samsung, its this one.

Source: HTC

#CES2016: Ford & Fiat-Chrysler Get on CarPlay, Android Auto Bandwagons

I’m not going to lie, the rollout of mobile car connectivity platforms Apple Carplay and Android Auto have been slower than I expected. They’ve been given a major shot in the arm for 2016 as the Ford Motor Company and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have both announced support for both platforms as part of their in-car entertainment systems. Both automakers had been long-term holdouts to the platforms. Let’s take a look at the details starting with Ford.

Ford’s implementation of Carplay and Android Auto will be part of their new QNX-based Sync 3 ecosystem. It will come standard on the 2017 version of Sync 3 with an update to 2016 MY vehicles coming later during 2016. Ford will take full advantage of Carplay enhancements in iOS 9 with not only touch control, but the vehicle’s physical buttons able to control the Carplay interface. The platforms are joined by additions to Ford’s own AppLink platform including a AAA app and in-car LTE internet support.

Not very long after Ford’s announcement, Fiat Chrysler announced its fourth generation of its Uconnect system. The new Uconnect will feature a 8.4-inch touch screen and also have Carplay and Android Auto support. The system will be available in the company’s Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, and Ram vehicles. Unlike rival Ford, FCA did not announce an upgrade path for older vehicles. They did, however, announce a special 12.1″ version of the Uconnect for first responders. The extra large version will be available on the Dodge Charger Pursuit police package and feature a resolution of 1024×768 compared to the 640×480 resolution of the 8.4″ version.

With Ford and FCA, almost every automaker will have both Carplay and Android Auto in their 2017 model year lineups.

Source: Ford, FCA

Samsung Announces Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ smartphones, Launches Samsung Pay

Samsung’s fall event has been traditionally been the big launch of the company’s big screen phones. This year did not disappoint with the launch of not just one, but two different phones. These phones build off the launch of the GS6 earlier in the year when it comes to styling with the metal frame and glass faces. Let’s take a look at the new phablets.

Galaxy Note 5

I’ll tackle the Note 5 first as many of the base specs are shared with the GS6 Edge+. The Note 5 is built around the same 5.7″ form factor as the Note 4 and also packs an AMOLED screen with a Quad HD 2560 x 1440 resolution. Where the screen may not have changed, Samsung slimmed down the casing around it. Its 2mm narrower and 1mm thinner than the Note 4 while maintaining more or less the same height. The sides on the back are curved for a more natural grip. Samsung want the Note 5 to feel like a smaller phone than it actually is. The phone itself look almost exactly like a larger GS6. With that it also has a fully sealed body. If you wanted a removable battery or mSD card, the Note 5 isn’t for you. Samsung has gone upmarket and plans to stay there.

New for 2015, the Note 5 makes the jump to 64-bit with a new Octacore cpu with 4 high cores at 2.1ghz and 4 low cores at 1.5ghz. That allows it more power when it needs it, but the phone can also use its slower, but more power efficient cores to save battery life. The Note 5 has 4GB of system memory. It needs it as Samsung has backed in some hefty multi-tasking features centered around the updated S-Pen. The back camera is 16mp, same as the Note 4, but has improved software capabilities. The front part is upgraded to 5mp. The Note 5 doesn’t make the jump to USB-C, but it now features much faster wireless charging.

All in all, the Note 5 isn’t a huge jump over the previous generation, but its a nice evolutionary advance over what was a very nice device.

Galaxy S6 Edge+

Don’t let the GS6 name fool you, the GS6 Edge+ is basically the Edge version of the Note 5. The two phones share almost all features save the S-Pen on the Note and the dual edge screens on the Edge+ Without the need to stow the Pen, the Edge+ is even thinner and narrower than the Note 5. When it comes to the Edge screens, it not that much different than the GS6 edge other than the extra screen real estate.

Availability

The GS6 Edge+ and Note 5 will come in 32GB and 64GB variants in White, Black, Silver, and Gold. The phone will launch August 21st with pre-orders starting on the 14th.

Accessories

The most interesting part of the keynote may have been the keyboard over. This physical keyboard works much like the keyboards on the old school phones the Blackberry. It covers part of the screen, but is fully reversible to the back when not in use. It seems a little out of place, but call me nostalgic, I like it.

Samsung Pay

Samsung’s entry into the mobile payments arena, aptly named Samsung Pay, is ready to launch. In fact, the first users will see it launch in beta on August 25th with a full release set for September 28th. Samsung pay uses tokenization and fingerprint security like Apple and Android Pay, but has the ace in the whole of being compatible with with Magnetic secure transmission in additional to the NFC used by its competitors. It already has the support of all 4 major card issuers and several larger banks. It’ll work with the GS6 series and Note 5.

All in all though, Beyond MST compatibility, the Samsung Pay portion sounded a lot like what Apple and Google said months before. One thing is clear though, the Phone payments game is on and with the added security, hopefully consumers are the winner.

Source: Samsung 1, 2

Motorola Announces Moto X Style, Moto X Play, and New Moto G

Motorola has reemerged as a leding smartphone maker ever since the orignal Moto X hit the scene in 2013. The Second Generation Model in 2014 raised the bar even further. Now Motorola isn’t just breaking the bar, its shattering it with not just one , but a pair of new Moto X phones. They’re also bringing a brand new Moto G for the table with them. Let’s take a peak.

Moto-X-style

Moto X Style

If you wanted everything good about the 2014 Moto X in Phablet form with a QHD screen and 64-bit CPU, your wish has been granted in the form of the Moto X Style. The screen is a 5.7″ LCD display in 2560 x 1440 Quad HD. This is rather curious since previous Motorolas and the Moto produced Nexus 6 have employed Super AMOLED screens instead of LCDs. Powering the phone is a Snapdragon 808 MSM8992 CPU. This 64-bit SoC pairs two High end A57 Cores with four low end A53 cores. It also has Quadcomm’s Ardeno 418 graphics processor. Essentially its a Snapdragon 810 with two less A53 Cores. The SoC is paired with 3GB of ram The case is 153.9 x 76.2mm with a curved back from 6.1 to 11.06mm in depth. It weights 179 grams. The styling is very reminiscent of the previous two Moto X phones, but with more metal accents including a metal strip down the center and back for the camera and log. The phone also has a water resistant coating.

The most improved part other than the screen is the cameras. The back uses a 21mp sensor with a f/2.0 lens part capable of shooting 4k video at 30fps or Full HD 1080 at 60 frames. Its also capable of shooting 120FS slow mo and Video HDR in both 1080 and 4k. It also has a phase detect auto focus and dual color flash. If previous Moto cameras were lacking, this seems first class at first glance. The front camera is also rather impressive with a 5mp sensor with 1.4 micron pixels and also a f/2.0 wide angle lens. It also has a flash, slow motion, and a night mode. In man ways, the Moto X style’s front camera is more impressive than the rear camera on the original Moto G. Selfies and video chat is no longer a second class citizen. Sound is also upgraded with front facing speakers.

The rest of the IO is up to date with 802.11AC with MIMO, NFC, and Bluetooth 4.1 LTE is up to cat6 and the phone supports up to 14 different brands. In fact, Moto says the Pure Edition of this phone will work with every carrier in the US. There are two disappointing aspects of the Moto X Style. First, while there is an ultra fast charging mode called Turbo Charging, it still uses a Micro USB connector instead of USB-C. Second, despite Google adding native support in Android M, there is no fingerprint sensor in the Moto X Style.

Pricing & Availability

The Moto X Style in its pure addition form will ship this September for just $399. It will come in two standard models, 18 different Moto Maker backs, and 7 different accents. This version will come with pure Android and Motorola has promised you can use on any carrier, not just the two GSM carriers AT&T and T-Mobile. It’ll come in 16, 32, or and 64GB versions, but you can also add up to 128GB of MicroSD. Pricing for carrier versions was not disclosed.

Moto-X-Play

Moto X Play

The Moto X Play is the midrange option. It features a 5.5″ 1080 display though Motorola does not disclose wither its LCD or AMOLED. The phone borrows much of its look and features from its badder brother. The Chip is powered by two quad core 64-bit CPUs in a Mid-Low configuration with two sets of A53s and 1.7 and 1.0 ghz. It has 2GB of ram and Qualcomm’s Adreno 405 GPU. It has the same 21mp camera as the Style, but without 4k capability, and also a 5mp sensor up front, though not with the bells and whistles. It also features NFC, AC Wireless, and BT 4.0. LTE is provided on 10 bands. Like other Moto phones, the Play has a pure Android experience.

Pricing & Availability

The Moto X Play will be available pretty everywhere other than the United States. Not initially at least. Curiously that also includes Canada whose wireless networks are designed for interoperability with the US. It’ll come in 16 and 32GB version and like its big brother will also handle up to 128GB of mSD expansion. Motomaker versions will have 14 different backs and 7 accents. Colors will depend on market.

Moto-G-2015

Moto G 3rd Generation

The third announcement is Motorola’s step up from entry level, the 2015 version of the Moto G. While its a very affordable phone, its got some features that were high end not long ago. It features a 5″ 720 HD screen, again Moto doesn’t say which type. At 294 PPi, this is very close to being a retina-type display. The phone is featuring a 64-bit Snapdragon 410 SoC with a quad core A53 CpU at 1.4ghz and a Adreno 30 CPU. The phone features a camera similar to the other two Motos in features, but with a 13mp part instead of 21. The front camera is 5mp and is also feature packed. Its even more water resistant than the others with a IPX7 rating. The Moto G now features standard LTE in 6 or 7 bands depending on the mode. What it is missing are the front facing speakers, NFC, and AC Wireless. Despite that, this is a lot of phone for the money.

Pricing & Availability

The 3rd Gen Moto X is $179.99 and shipping now. It comes in the black/ white standard colors and is now open to Moto Maker. It’ll come in two sizes: 8GB with 1GB of ram and 16GB with 2GB of RAM. Both can take up to 32GB of mSD storage.

Source: Motorola
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Samsung Announces Incredibly Thin and Light Galaxy Tab S2

A couple years back, Samsung released the Galaxy Tab S, a tablet that offered a little more style and flair than their typical tablet offerings. Since then, style has become more part of their line and they’re ready to try again with the Galaxy Tab S2.

Galaxy Tab S2 Features

The Galaxy Tab S2 can justly be called samsung’s new flagship tablets. They’re stylish and packed to the gills with features. The tablets are based around a metal frame that is just 5.6mm thin, even thinner than the 6.1mm iPad Air 2 or 7.5mm iPad Mini 3. The Tab S2 also backs that up by being light, with a weight of just 392 grams for the larger model and 272 for the Mid-sized version. The styling of the device is classy, but also very Samsung.

The heart is the tablets is its screen and the Tab S2 look to have a good a good one. The Tab S2 comes in two sizes, 8.0 and 9.7″ at 2048 x 1536. Yes, if this does seem familiar, it’s the same resolution and 4:3 aspect ratio as the current iPad line. Samsung has traditionally made its tablets in 16:9, but 4:3 is more preferred by consumers as its better for reading digital media and eBooks. Samsung admits as much and you’re seeing more Android devices adopt it. It’s definitely not the same panels as the iPads though; Samsung is using their own Super AMOLED technology. It features adaptive technology is make up for some of the disadvantages of AMOLED screens and there’s even a dedicated reading mode.

The Tab S2 features a Twin Quad-Core CPUs in its SoC in a high-low configuration at 1.9ghz and 1.3ghz speeds. That should give users power when they need it and save battery power when they don’t. The CPU is paired with 3GB of memory. Storage is 32 or 64GB and unlike some of their recent smartphones can be expanded with up to 128GB of mSD storage. The cameras are good for a tablet at 8mp rear and 2.2mp front, but don’t really offer anything to differentiate themselves. I/O is top of the line with Bluetooth 4.1 and 802.11AC wireless. It’ll come in Wi-Fi and cellular versions with at least 8 bands of LTE for worldwide coverage. Like the GS5/6 and Note 4, the Tab S2 has Samsung’s built-in fingerprint sensor. However, one apparent omission is NFC support. Software is built upon Android 5.0 Lollipop and feature’s the multitasking functions you’d expect to see in a Samsung tablet. Using Android’s built-in pointer support, there is a very Microsoft surface like smart keyboard coverage available as an accessory..

Pricing and Availability

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is TBA on price and still no word on exact market availability. The general availability date is August.

Final Word

This is undoubtably Samsung’s best tablet yet. It borrows quite a bit from both Samsung’s other tablets and the iPad, but the specs and features. look very compelling. We’ll find out if it lives up to its promise in a month or so.

Source: Samsung
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Tech Hangout #68.99 – Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich

Introduction

  • Andrew Rouch
  • Paul Gans
  • Patrice Brend’amour
  • Ben Roethig (Host)

Topic

Google Announces Lollipops, Nexus 6 & 9… no I’m not kidding.

Samsung profits drop 60%

Ireland to close double irish dutch sandwich

GTAT, the gift that keeps on giving

Use your iPhone has a sleep tracker

Apple event tomorrow

Picks

Tech Hangout #64 – The IFA Recap

Introduction

  • Kelly Guimont
  • Hal Sherman
  • Paul Gans
  • Andrew Rouch
  • Patrice Brend’amour
  • Ben Roethig

Topic

Samsung announces Note 4, Edge, Gear VR

2nd Gen Moto X, G

More Smart watches then you throw a stick at

Sony turns your phone into Mirrorless camera

New (underwhelming) Nokias

Acer Announces $149 full Windows tablet.

Drone video of Apple’s white building in front of Flint Center

Apple: Test Flight and new iTunes Connect released before Tuesday event

Picks

Tech Hangout #56 – Google I/O edition

Introduction

  • Andrew Rouch
  • Hal Sherman
  • Patrice Brend’amour
  • Paul Gans
  • Ricardo Garza
  • Ben Roethig (Host)

Topics

iPod Touch Price Drop

Apple cuts iPod touch price

Apple stops development of Aperture

Apple stops development of Aperture

Google I/O

Supreme Court

Picks

Tech Hangout #55 – New moves from the Uncarrier

Introduction

  • Andrew Rouch
  • Ben Roethig (Host)

Topics

Amazon Fire phone

T-Mobile UnCarrier 5.0/6.0

New low end iMac

Amazon launches Android appstore on Blackberry

Samsungs releases updated version of GS5, regular GS5 a flop?

Microsoft goes pay for play on IE