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Sharp Aquos Crystal performance: benchmarks vs reality

By Nick Sarafolean

While the Sharp Aquos Crystal is intended to be a mid-range device, there’s no doubt that it’s aiming to be a great one that outshines the others in its area. As such, performance is a key factor. The Sharp Aquos Crystal has great design, but do its internal specs match up? We’ve tested it out in everyday performance as well as in the most common benchmarks and now we’re here to report back on how it did.

Benchmarks

Benchmark Test Score
AnTuTU 17518
Quadrant 8636
Geekbench 3 343 (single-thread) 1138 (multi-thread)
AndEBench Pro 3241
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited 4683
SunSpider 1.0.2 1684.8ms

All in all, the Sharp Aquos Crystal performs exactly as we’d expect from a device with a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor and 1.5GB RAM. Benchmarks aren’t the strong suit of a phone like this, so bear that in mind when considering the phone’s performance. What really matters is how the device performs in everyday matters, so let’s take a look at that next.

Reality

In everyday tasks, the Sharp Aquos Crystal performs beautifully for a mid-range phone. Scrolling is smooth and fluid with little slowdown or lag. Apps open quickly and load up in a surprisingly short amount of time. Switching through apps is a painless experience, again with little to no lag. Even with several things running, the Sharp Aquos Crystal clips along at a brisk pace.

Games are usually fine, though higher-intensity games might drop some frames. Overall, though, the performance is solid. We can’t find much to knock when it comes to the performance of the Sharp Aquos Crystal. The exceptional performance likely stems from both the 720p resolution display as well as the lack of custom software to slow things down. Those two facts help to greatly boost performance without sacrificing quality, so it was decision by Sharp. All in all, a solid thumbs-up for the Sharp Aquos Crystal on performance.

…read more

Source:: androidandme

    

State of the smartphone industry – Q3 2014

By Rob Triggs

iphone 6 plus vs samsung galaxy note 3 quick look aa (14 of 20)

The time has come for us to dissect our beloved smartphone industry once again, to discern who has won the hearts and minds of consumers and which companies are struggling to adapt to our increasingly demanding tastes.

On the broadest possible scale, worldwide smartphone shipments are still increasing. Global shipments reached 324.4 million units in Q3 2014, up 27.9 percent on the previous year and up 9.6 percent compared with the previous quarter. A total of 271 million Android handsets were sold between July and September 2014.

As we saw earlier in the year, most of this growth is coming from the Asia Pacific and Central & Latin American regions, with a 35 and 27 percent YoY growth rate respectively. Africa is also set to become an increasingly important market, with smartphone shipments up 76 percent compared with last year. Western European and North American markets continue to remain slow, with roughly 6 percent yearly growth in both regions. To summarise:

  • Smartphone shipments totalled 324.4 million units in Q3 ’14, up 27.9% YoY
  • Africa and Middle East shipments reached a new high of 24.5 million last quarter
  • Asia and Latin America are driving the majority of growth, at close to 30% per year
  • Growth in Asia is proving particularly beneficial to local manufacturers
  • EU and North American markets remain mostly flat, a tough environment for established OEMs

Last quarter, Apple pinned some hope on appealing to existing Android consumers with its larger iPhone 6 Plus, while Android continues to appeal to a broader range of consumers. Let’s take a look at how the year has played out for the big smartphone operating systems.

BlackBerry has faded into insignificance over the past 18 months and Microsoft continues to control only a small portion of the market. Apple’s market share is looking increasingly compressed over the past year and is now stuck in the 12 percent range. The iPhone 6 launch has yet to have had a major impact on the company’s global appeal. Instead, the fourth quarter is usually where Apple sees its market share jump following a product launch, but a leap back to the glory days of 20+ percent seem like a long shot at this point.

Android appears to be suffering from a similar plateauing effect as Apple, as the big transition from feature phones to smartphones has been over for quite some time. The market is starting to look rather set in terms of operating system percentages, with manufacturers left to compete with one another from within the substantial smartphone market. This is where the figures start to become interesting.

As you could have probably guessed, despite all its recent financial issues Samsung still remains by far the largest individual smartphone manufacturer. Sales have seen a slight uptick in the third quarter of 2014, due to the launch of the well reviewed and recieved Galaxy Note 4. It is a little early to call an end to Samsung’s recent woes though, as this upturn will have to be sustained well into the New Year.

Apple’s slow upward trend continues. However, its small product portfolio still has a heavy influence over its cyclical sales and the peaks appear to be becoming more difficult to surpass as times goes on. The iPhone 6 is going to have to quickly prove more popular than the last generation if Apple hopes to avoid looking stagnated.

Samsung has seen its US market share decline from 37 to 26% in a single quarter

In the US, a particularly strong market for Apple, the company managed to pinch top spot from Samsung last quarter, which has seen its market share in the region decline from 36.8 to 25.9 percent in a single quarter. Apple’s share increased from 23.4 to 28.1 percent, suggesting that Samsung is not only losing ground to Apple in the US, but is also losing out to other Android manufacturers. Interestingly, LG shot up from 13 to 18 percent of the US market in the space of Q2 to Q3 2014.

Other large smartphone OEMs appear to be holding global shipments steady, but this means that many of them are missing out on the huge rates of growth to be had in Asia and Latin America. Alcatel, Lenovo, and Micromax are showing upward shipment trends, while brands like HTC and Sony look less exciting.

However, Xiaomi is this year’s big success story, appearing out of apparently nowhere at the end of last year to storm into the top 5 largest smartphone vendors in the world. As you may have noticed, the Android marketplace is more diverse than ever this year.

The chart above tracks OEMs “larger than HTC”, which I consider to be a rather crude but surprisingly well suited benchmark of whether or not the company is a major player. Over the past 18 months the Android market has become increasingly competitive, with much of the new handset sales being split up between new nimble companies that have been quick to adapt to more local demands. The chart above neatly shows the increasing number of sales being eaten up by smaller companies, while Samsung is gradually being pushed into a smaller role.

A greater number of OEMs shipped more than 5 million units in Q3 ’14

Overall shipments are up, but it is the smaller brands that are growing the fastest. The last quarter, particularly, has seen more OEMs than before surpass the 5 million units shipped per quarter mark.

If we turn to the fastest growing regions, such as Asia and Latin America as you can see from the first graph, we can see exactly where a lot of these smaller OEMs are picking up large smartphone orders.

Compared with North America, which is virtually …read more

Source:: android authority

    

Alcatel Onetouch Hero 2 review

By Gary Sims

Hero-2- (8)

The Bottom Line

PROS
  • Bright, vibrant display
  • Stylus
  • MagicFlip covers
  • Camera
  • Expandable storage
CONS
  • Battery life
  • 6 inch phones aren’t for everyone
  • Non-removable battery
7.9

Alcatel OneTouch has produced a fantastic phone in terms of its design, display and functionality. However the battery life might not be good enough for some.

With the huge success of the Galaxy Note, which is now in its fourth iteration, and the arrival of the Nexus 6, it seems that devices with 6 inch (or thereabouts) displays are becoming mainstream. But the Galaxy Note 4, Huawei Ascend Mate 7 and the Nexus 6 (all winners of our Editor’s Choice Award) aren’t the only 6 inch phones around. One very interesting alternative is the Alcatel Onetouch Hero 2.

The Alcatel brand is best known in Europe, mainly because it originates from France. In 2004 Alcatel entered into a joint venture with TCL, a Chinese electronics giant, to create Alcatel Mobile Phones. In time Alcatel sold its part in the venture, however the name lives on in Alcatel Onetouch.

The Hero 2 was announced in September of this year, it has a 6 inch full 1080p HD display, a 13 megapixel camera, 2GB of RAM, a 3100 mAh battery, and comes with a stylus. I received a Hero 2 a few days ago and I have been playing with it ever since, this is what I discovered.

Spec sheet

Display 6” Full HD IPS 1080 x 1920 pixels, Dragontrail glass
Processor 2.0GHz, octa-core Mediatek MT8392, Cortex-A7
RAM 2GB
Storage 16GB, microSD card slot, up to 32GB
Camera 13.1 Megapixel Rear Camera with Optical Image and Video stabilization (OIS+EIS), 5MP Front Camera
Battery 3100 mAh
Connectivity NFC, GPS, microUSB 2.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth
Networks GSM, 3G, 4G LTE
Software Android 4.4 with Google Play
Dimensions 160.5 x 81.6 x 7.9 mm, 175g
SIM slots 1xMicro SIM

Design

The design of the Hero 2 is superb. From its aluminium body to its vibrant 6 inch display, the Hero 2 feels slim, stylish and friendly. Personally, I didn’t think I would ever say that about a 6 inch smartphone. For me a phone with a 5 inch display has always been the limit, I could accept a 5.5 inch display if pressured, but I was comfortable with 5 inch display devices. However the Hero 2 has gone a long way to convert me. The bezels and the top/bottom spaces are minimal, which means there is as much room as possible for the display.

The device has some pre-installed apps which are designed specifically for the stylus.

The sides of the phone are aluminium while the back is made of plastic. On the right side is micro SD card tray, the volume rocker and the power button. On the bottom edge are two speaker grills, the micro USB port, and the stylus holder. There is nothing on the left hand side save for the SIM card tray. On the top is the headphone jack and the IR blaster. The left hand side is intentionally sparse as it leaves room for the MagicFlip covers.

On the back is the slightly protruding camera lens, the flash and a special connector for the MagicFlip covers. The back of the phone doesn’t attract fingerprints, however if your fingers are at all greasy then smudges can appear.

The stylus is easily accessible and works well with the display. The device has some pre-installed apps which are designed specifically for the stylus, including Sketch Mate and Fast Maths. The former is a note taking app and the latter a kind of calculator that recognizes handwritten sums.

Several different covers are available for the Hero 2. Known as MagicFlip covers they come in two categories, dumb and smart. The dumb ones are simple flip covers which use a magnetic to clip onto the left side of the phone. The smarter covers use the same magnetic clip mechanism however they all use with the special connector. This connector allows the phone to interact with the cover. For example, one cover has a LED display which shows the time and various notifications.

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Display

The display on the Her0 2 is a pleasure to behold. The TFT, full HD, IPS display has a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels. This translates into a pixel density of 367 ppi. The colors are vibrant and the display is bright. The display is built using a One Glass Solution (OGS) which helps make the Hero 2 thinner than I was expecting. At just 7.9mm, it is 2.2mm thinner than the Nexus 6. The display is protected by Dragontrail glass which allows the glass to be as thin as possible while offering scratch resistance and hardness. The glass is coated with an Oleophobic layer to reduce fingerprint marks.

Performance

The choice of the MediaTek octa-core MT8392 is interesting for this device. MediaTek’s octa-core range is often found in low- and mid-range phones due to its price/performance ratio. The MT8392 houses 8 Cortex-A7 cores and a quad-core Mali-450MP GPU. Clocked at 2.0Ghz, the MT8392 is probably the fastest Cortex-A7 …read more

Source:: android authority

    

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Lollipop leak shown off on video

By Dima Aryeh

By now, it’s no secret that Samsung has been working on Lollipop for its recent devices. We’ve already seen a few older Samsung devices running the new operating system, but now it’s the Galaxy Note 3′s turn. The year-old device still has plenty of life in it, and SamMobile is showing off a new build of Lollipop for it.

With Lollipop comes a somewhat new aesthetic and some fresh new animations. Samsung’s styling has long been vaguely similar to Material design, with the bright colors and fairly flat look. But now it’s upgraded to Material styling, and it looks pretty nice, despite not being anywhere close to AOSP. And the addition of all the fancy new animations is a nice touch and something I’m excited for.

Of course, with Lollipop come massive changes below the skin. A new camera API, tons of new features and a complete redesign of many staples of Android-like notifications. This build isn’t downloadable at this point, but it’s great to see what it’ll look like and how close to finished it is. We can’t wait until it’s released to the public; it looks pretty close!

…read more

Source:: androidandme

    

Leaked screenshots show off HTC’s Android 5.0 update

By Nick Gray

htc-android-5-sense-6-multitasking

The HTC One (M8) will be the first device in HTC’s lineup to updated with Android 5.0 and the latest version of Sense. We know the update will be released before the end of January, but leaks gives us a taste of what the new update will actually look like.

The images below show that the main UI elements in Sense will remain the same. HTC is updating the multi-tasking view, notification shade, quick settings and lock screen notifications to mirror the new functionality that Google made available in the Lollipop update. We’re pretty sure there will be a few more UI tweaks sprinkled throughout the OS, but don’t expect any dramatic changes to the core elements of HTC Sense until HTC unveils its next flagship smartphone in 2015.

Gallery



htc-android-5-sense-6-multitasking

htc-android-5-sense-6-notifications

htc-android-5-sense-6-settings

If you simply can’t wait that long and want a taste of Lollipop the way Google intended, you can always convert your HTC One (M8) to a GPe software and grab the Android 5.0 update when it drops on Friday.

…read more

Source:: androidandme

    

CASUALWear Watchface app template helps make custom Android Wear watchface apps easy

By Joe Hindy

CASUALWear Android Wear

In the world of Android theming, developers like to help each other out sometimes. There is no better example than the icon pack template that is currently maintained by the1dynasty. It allows icon pack themers to focus more on their art and makes the development and distribution of it much, much easier. Now, that same kind of template is available for Android Wear watch face themers.

Adam Ouler and Daniel Ortiz have collaborated over at XDA-Developers to bring us the CASUALWear Watchface app template. The idea is to have a stable and reliable template for Android Wear watch face themers so they can create their own apps. They simply have to make the graphics, put it into the app, and rework a couple of things. Then they have an app.

In the CASUALWear Watchface thread, you can find a step-by-step guide on how to download the source code and port it into Android Studio. Adam and Daniel go a step further and explain what libraries they used along with the basic ins and outs of Android Wear development and that includes information about APIs, the difference between analog and digital watch faces on a code level, and the relationship between the mobile app and the Wear app.

If you want to see how it all works, Adam has released a reference app which you can download by clicking here and, if you want to donate, the paid version is here. It gives you an idea of what kind of stuff you can do with the template and it actually works and looks pretty good.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can find the template, instructions, source, and information in this XDA thread. We’ve no doubt that this project will lead to more (and hopefully better) watch faces in the Google Play Store and that’s never a bad thing.

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

AT&T wants the NSA to have a warrant when asking for location data

By William Neilson Jr

NSASpyingACLUBigBrother

thelibertarianrepublic

For years now, AT&T, Verizon and other telecom companies have handed over customer information to the NSA whenever asked. Even today, AT&T and Verizon are still being asked to hand over massive amounts of customer information. During the first six months of 2014, Verizon and AT&T were asked to hand over customer information a total of 265,000 times by law enforcement.

Now, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that AT&T may in fact tell the NSA that in the future if the government agency wants a cellphone users’ location, they will need to get a warrant. At the moment, the NSA legally is able to request location data on a customer without a warrant (though they still do need a judge’s permission) due to a past Supreme Court case which was written in the 1970’s and says that “phone records” were business records held by the phone companies and not private documents.

But AT&T filed a brief on Monday in an appeals-court case and stated that the previous Supreme Court case did not apply to today due to the vast difference in technology from the 1970’s to today. The case specifically involves the question of whether investigators properly obtained cellphone location data on a person.

“Nothing in those [prior court] decisions contemplated, much less required, a legal regime that forces individuals to choose between maintaining their privacy and participating in the emerging social, political, and economic world facilitated by the use of today’s mobile devices or other location-based services,” – AT&T Court Document, WSJ.com

Just last week, the Wall Street Journal wrote about a secret Justice Department program that used devices on airplanes which collected data from cellphones of people on those airplanes.

It seems likely that the issue will be headed to the Supreme Court in the near future.

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

T-Mobile releases Stateside International Talk plan for affordable global calling

By Nick Sarafolean

T-Mobile has announced a new international calling promo in time for the holidays. Dubbed the Stateside International Talk plan, the new offering includes unlimited calling to landlines in more than 70 countries for an additional $5 per month on a Simple Choice plan. And it should be noted that adding the Stateside International Talk plan to a Simple Choice plan covers all of the lines on that Simple choice plan, rather than just one like many competitors.

Want to call mobile numbers? T-Mobile has an option for that too. For $10 each month, you get unlimited calling to landlines in more than 70 countries, unlimited calls to mobile phones in more than 30 countries and 1,000 minutes of calling to mobile numbers in Mexico. The Stateside International Talk Plan will be available to add to your Simple Choice plan through the end of 2014, but once you add it to your account, you’re locked in for life unless you choose to drop the service. It should also be remembered that this is in addition to the unlimited international texting that comes as part of a Simple Choice plan.

Are any of you planning to take T-Mobile up on this offer?

…read more

Source:: androidandme

    

Qualcomm and Ericsson test 450Mbps Cat10 LTE speeds, destined for SoCs in 2015

By Rob Triggs

Qualcomm MWC 2013 - 1

Qualcomm and Ericsson have made a joint announcement to proclaim that they have successfully achieved Cat10 LTE speeds of 450Mbps with their latest hardware.

This breakneck speed was accomplished using Qualcomm’s fifth-generation LTE multimode solution, which combines its Qualcomm Gobi 9×45 modem, and second- generation Qualcomm RF360 Envelope Tracker. The 9×45 modem is the first Category 10 LTE cellular modem to support carrier aggregated LTE connections for download speeds of up to 450 Mbps and upload speeds of 100 Mbps.

The modem supports 3x 60 MHz carrier aggregated downlink connections and two 40 MHz uplinks. Carrier aggregation essentially combines multiple signals over multiple frequency bands in order to increase the bandwidth available for downloading and uploading. The 9×45 works with a range of cellular standards, including DC-HSPA, EVDO, CDMA 1x, GSM and TD-SCDMA, and is also 30 percent smaller than Qualcomm’s previous generation.

Ericsson provided the infrastructure to test out Qualcomm’s latest chips, using their RBS 6000 family of base stations for macro and small cell networks. This means that the test was only conducted over short distances and isn’t yet representative of something you’re likely to find in the real world. Still, this chip is capable of some impressive speeds when the rest of the technology catches up.

For a little comparison, current Cat6 LTE speeds that can be achieved through the modem in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 805 SoC tops out at 300Mbps, connection permitting of course. The more commonplace Cat4 LTE standard reaches 150Mbps, still ludicrously fast but only a fraction of this new technology.

Qualcomm’s latest networking products are currently sampling with customers and are anticipated to be commercially available in 2015. This suggests that these modems could be including in Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon processors next year, although Qualcomm hasn’t officially stated or listed any compatible SoCs yet.

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

Samsung launches Milk Video to help you find the most viral videos

By Nick Sarafolean

Samsung is today launching a new app into its own suite of apps, dubbed Milk Video. Milk Video is essentially a curation service for viral videos. It locates the most talked about or most quickly spreading videos on the web and recommends them to you so that you can keep up with all the happenings. As you continue to use Milk Video, it will learn from what you’re watching and sharing to better deliver customized content to you.

Samsung has also said that it will be partnering with companies like Vevo, Red Bull, Funny or Die and Condé Nast to deliver interesting, and often exclusive, content. Milk Video is currently a U.S.-only service and is compatible with the Galaxy Note II, Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy Note Edge, Galaxy Mega, Galaxy S III, Galaxy S 4, Galaxy S 4 mini, Galaxy S III mini and Galaxy S5.

…read more

Source:: androidandme