Monthly Archives: September 2015

Here’s why the Google Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X don’t feature wireless charging

Since the Google Nexus 4, Nexus 5, and Nexus 6 all feature wireless charging capabilities, we were expecting the new Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X to support this feature, too. However, they don’t – much to the disappointment of many Nexus fans. But why exactly did Google give up on wireless charging for its latest handsets? Well, this has a lot to do with a new feature that both the 6P and 5X are offering.

Earlier today, during a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) session, Google’s Hiroshi Lockheimer (who supervises Android development) took the time to explain why there’s no wireless charring support on the new Nexus family. The main reason is the presence of the new USB Type-C port, which, according to Lockheimer, lets users charge the Nexus 6P quite fast, from 1% to 100% in 97 minutes. Krishna Kumar, Product Manager for Nexus 5X, added that 10 minutes of charging provides up to 7 hours of battery life on the Nexus 6P, and up to 4 hours on the Nexus 5X. Plus, the fact that USB Type-C cables have reversible connectors eliminates a lot of the hassle that people had with older USB cables.

Another reason for not including wireless charring is that this would have added thickness to the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X (which are 7.3 mm and 7.9 mm thin, respectively). Reportedly, “overall thickness and feel in hand were important factors” in Google’s design decisions.

So, there you have it. These explanations make sense, but we’re pretty sure that there are still plenty of users out there who regret the fact that the 6P and 5X don’t support wireless charging.

source: Reddit

DxOMark says the Sony Xperia Z5’s camera is the best it’s tested so far

Earlier this month, when it announced the Xperia Z5, Sony said that the handset would come with “the best camera in a leading smartphone.” While we’ve yet to review the Z5 (the device hasn’t been released), the folks over at DxOMark – a website that’s well known for rating all kinds of camera sensors – have already tested the smartphone, not long after testing the brand new Google Nexus 6P.

As it turns out, DxOMark gave the Xperia Z5 the best mobile photo and video scores to date: 88 and 86, respectively, putting it slightly ahead of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (88 and 84, respectively) and the Google Nexus 6P (86, 79). DxOMark is praising the Z5’s rear camera for its “impressive autofocus in all conditions, the best tested to date”, as well as for its good detail preservation, good white balance and color rendering, and the low amount of noise in low light situations.

Needless to say, we’ll have to test the 23 MP rear camera of the Xperia Z5 for ourselves to see if it is indeed as good as DxOMark is saying it is. Sony should release the new handset starting the coming week, for prices starting at about €699 (in Europe). Stay tuned for our Z5 review!

source: DxOMark

Three new smartphones introduced by Sharp, including one Disney branded model

Sharp introduced three new smartphones today, all for Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo. The trio of handsets are built using the EDGEST design that minimizes top, bottom and side bezels. To prevent repeating ourselves, we can tell you now that all three phones are powered by the Snapdragon 808 chipset, containing a hexa-core 1.8GHz CPU and the Adreno 418 GPU.

The first model, the Aquos Zeta SH-01H, features a Gorilla Glass 4 protected 5.3-inch IGZO screen, with a fast refresh time. The resolution is 1080 x 1920 (FHD), which works out to a 416ppi pixel density. A fingerprint scanner is on board. 3GB of RAM is inside along with 32GB of internal memory. A 13.1MP camera is on back, with an aperture of f/1.9 and phase detection autofocus. A front-facing 8MP snapper is ready to shoot selfies, and handle video chats. IP certification of 55/58 means that the phone does offer a level of protection from water and dust. A 3100mAh battery keeps the lights on, and Android 5.1 is pre-installed. The device will be offered in blue, black and pink, and measures 7.9mm thick. The Aquos Zeta supports 4G LTE, 3G, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity. The handset will be available in November, although pricing is unknown.

The Sharp Aquos Compact SH-02H is a compact version of the flagship model, sporting a 4.7-inch IGZO display. With a 1080 x 1920 resolution, the pixel density is 469ppi. 3GB of RAM is inside, along with 16GB of internal memory. The 13.1MP rear-facing camera has the same features found on the back shooter on the full-size model, although the front-facing camera is 5MP on the compact variant. There is also a lower capacity 2810mAh juicer aboard, and an IP certification of 65/68 is present. This unit is a little thicker (8.9mm) than the Aquos Zeta, and also supports 4G LTE, 3G, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity. Android 5.1 is pre-installed, and the phone will launch this December in gray-yellow and blue-black.

Lastly, a version of the Sharp Aquos Compact is being offered for Disney fans. Called the Sharp Disney Mobile (DM-01H), the device carries the same exact specs as the SH-02H, but contains free Disney content and branding. It will be launched in January, available in Sparkle Blue or Sparkle Pink.

Thanks for the tip!

source: mobiletelefon.ru (translated)

Apple iPhone 6s Review

Apple iPhone 6s Review

Introduction

S-generation iPhones have always been slightly less exciting than their full-fledged, S-less brethren, but looking at the improvements Apple’s doing with this year’s iPhone 6s, we honestly don’t feel any less excited than when we first held the iPhone 6 in our hands at about the same time last year.

In fact, the iPhone 6s (along with the 6s Plus) has the potential to be the most disruptive piece of mobile technology to appear in recent years, as it aims to add a whole new dimension to the way we use our handsets. 3D Touch, as this new technology is called, is a big, bold undertaking by Apple. Perhaps more importantly, though – it’s an example of meaningful innovation; the kind of which we rarely see these days.

Apple iPhone 6s Review
Apple iPhone 6s Review
Apple iPhone 6s Review
Apple iPhone 6s Review
Apple iPhone 6s Review
Apple iPhone 6s Review

Along with the potentially game-changing 3D Touch, the iPhone 6s also brings a fairly long list of other improvements, such as faster processors, better cameras, more RAM, Siri and Touch ID upgrades, tougher aluminum body with stronger screen glass, more efficient wireless modem… Many of these enhancements may appear to be more or less trivial, but they help shape Apple’s newest phone up as a complete and enticing package – exactly the type of product Apple wants to have in this incredibly dynamic landscape.

With a strong hardware foundation and all the new features enabled by iOS 9, the iPhone 6s seems to be destined for success. Let’s see if it lives up to its promise!

Design

A year later, the iPhone 6’s appearance is just as attractive and enigmatic.

As you’d expect, the iPhone 6s keeps the same exact styling of its predecessor. In this case, that’s not a bad thing at all, seeing that it’s an exquisite design that is both attractive and practical. It consists of an aluminum unibody that holds all the internals in place, as well as an LCD screen panel that’s protected by an even stronger glass cover than before – one that is produced using — in Apple’s own words — a “dual ion-exchange process”. It sure sounds fancy and what not, but in reality, it’s believed to be none other than Corning’s Gorilla Glass 4. This particular bit of into isn’t official, but it has been proven that iPhones have been using Corning’s magical glass since day one, so chances are Gorilla Glass 4 is what’s protecting the display of the iPhone 6s (and 6s Plus) as well. Gorilla Glass panels usually aren’t unscratchable, but they sure aren’t easy to crack or shatter.

Back to that aluminum unibody for a second, it’s worth pointing out that Apple is now using a stronger, 7000 Series aluminum, which is promised to be considerably stronger than the one used in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Now, even if you accidentally forget your iPhone 6s in your back pocket and happen to put it under the pressure of your perfectly shaped butt, the phone should prove to be solid enough to retain its original geometry. Disclaimer: The last clause may not hold true if your name is Nicki Minaj.

The iPhone 6s has also kept the more controversial elements of the appearance of its predecessor, such as the antenna lines and protruding camera. And while we still aren’t into the idea of the camera jutting out from the surface of the back, the shapes of the antenna lines add an element of sophistication and artistry to the appearance. After all, can it be named real beauty, if its figure doesn’t carry a hint of strangeness – something to continuously draw your mind towards it?

Physically, the iPhone 6s is 0.28” (7.1 mm) thick, while its weight is 5.04 oz (143 grams). In other words, it has grown ever so slightly thicker and heavier than the iPhone 6 and its 0.27” (6.9 mm) thickness and 4.55 oz (129 gr) weight. And that’s about it when it comes to their physical differences.

All physical buttons of the iPhone 6s (volume rocker, power key, mute switch, and home), are located in their usual, easy to reach positions. They tend to feel just a tad softer when being pressed, compared to the keys of the iPhone 6 units we’ve tested, but this may be limited to our review unit. The 3.5mm audio jack and the Lightning connector are once again to be found on the bottom side of the handset, along with the single loudspeaker.

Apple iPhone 6sApple iPhone 6s

5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches
138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm
5.04 oz (143 g)

Apple iPhone 6s

Samsung Galaxy S6Samsung Galaxy S6

5.65 x 2.78 x 0.27 inches
143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8 mm
4.87 oz (138 g)

Samsung Galaxy S6

HTC One M9HTC One M9

5.69 x 2.74 x 0.38 inches
144.6 x 69.7 x 9.61 mm
5.54 oz (157 g)

HTC One M9

Sony Xperia Z5Sony Xperia Z5

5.75 x 2.83 x 0.29 inches
146 x 72 x 7.3 mm
5.43 oz (154 g)

Sony Xperia Z5

Apple iPhone 6s Review

Display

First ever pressure-sensitive phone display tries to convince us there should be more to a screen than simply tapping and swiping.

On the surface, it may seem like Apple hasn’t changed much in the way of display technology, but this is not entirely true. The screen size of the iPhone 6s remains the same – 4.7 inches, while the resolution is also unchanged – 750 x 1334 pixels. This may not seem like much, compared to the 1080 x 1920- and 1440 x 2560-pixel screens used by some Android phones, but in reality, it leads to a pixel density of 326 ppi, which is still a very high number even by today’s computing standards. Thus, the iPhone 6s’s display delivers fine details, a nice and clean image that is easy to read and view. Going forward, we can see the slight benefit of the resolution eventually being cranked up to something like 1080 x 1920 pixels, but at the time being, it’s probably wiser to stick with 750 x 1334 for the power efficiency and performance benefits.

Interestingly, the Apple iPhone 6s’s maximum brightness has suffered a bit. While last year’s model could crank it up to the excellent 600 nits, the 6s “only” reaches 550 nits. Well, that’s still a great result which makes it relatively easy to view the display even under bright sunlight, but we know it can be even better. Meanwhile, pulling the brightness slider all the way down gets us to the reasonable 6 nits. At such a low level, the screen is easy on the eyes when viewed in the dark, though it would have been beneficial if it could go even lower than that, like some of its rivals, such as the Galaxy S6 (goes down to 2 nits), or the G4 (also goes down to 2 nits). The automatic brightness control option works very well, as it manages to pick the optimal brightness level in almost any situation.

The iPhone 6 had very good color balance, but there was definitely room for improvement. With the 6s, we’re glad to see Apple moving forward: screen color temperature has improved from around 7150 K in last year’s model to around 7050 K in the 6s. With the ideal value considered to be around the 6500 K mark, we can see that the iPhone 6s still shows a slight tendency towards a colder image, but overall, it’s among the best in this respect. Going forward, we expect Apple to get rid of the excessive blue in the next generations of the product. At present, due to slight bluish tint, the Delta E grayscale value stands at 3.23, while relative color accuracy, reflected in the Delta E rgbcmy value, is the splendid 1.47. If you aren’t into the advanced terminology, these numbers simply mean the display is very accurate when it comes to color reproduction.

The screen’s average gamma reading is as good as it gets: 2.21, with no artificial contrast boosts detected. This ensures the correct brightness and detail preservation of all images that will be displayed.

Display measurements and quality

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display’s color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The ‘x: CIE31’ and ‘y: CIE31’ values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. ‘Y’ shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while ‘Target Y’ is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, ‘ΔE 2000’ is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal’s CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display’s measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal’s CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal’s CalMAN calibration software.

View all

3D Touch (hardware)

There really are two aspects to the new pressure-sensing 3D Touch technology that is now built into the display. We’ll look at it from hardware and software perspective.

Apple iPhone 6s Review
Apple iPhone 6s Review

From hardware standpoint, 3D Touch doesn’t interfere with the screen’s visual characteristics in any way. Instead, it relies on 96 pressure sensors (in 8×12 grid) built into the backlight panel of the display to detect the level of force with which you press on the screen. These sensors detect the microscopic changes in the distance between the display’s cover glass and the backlight, and work in concert with the touch sensor and the accelerometer, in order to determine the exact point and level of force application. The iPhone 6s recognizes two levels of force beyond the simple tap/touch.

But in order for the user to feel exactly when they have applied enough force, Apple had to implement an improved version of the vibration motor, which it calls Taptic Engine. While, Apple says, the typical vibration motor of a modern smartphone takes about 10 oscillations to reach full power, the Taptic Engine does so with just 1 oscillation, allowing for a faster and tighter response to the user’s actions. This response materializes in the form of two slightly different haptic feedback events: a ‘mini’ tap (lasting 10 milliseconds), and a ‘full’ tap (lasting 15 milliseconds). The mini tap, as you can guess, is felt slightly lighter, and is used to indicate the Peek gesture, while the full tap is engaged together with the Pop gesture. In reality, the difference in how mini and full tap feel doesn’t seem to be that profound.

More Microsoft Lumia 950 and Microsoft Lumia 950 XL images leak; new NYC store to open October 26th

Earlier today, we showed you images of the Microsoft Lumia 950 and Microsoft Lumia 950 XL that were mistakenly published on Microsoft’s U.K. online store. The leak not only included pictures of the phones, it also revealed some of the specs for each model. Now, some more images of the two Windows 10 Mobile phones have been leaked, which you can view in the slideshow at the bottom of this story.

Microsoft is expected to introduce the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL next Tuesday, October 6th. That event will take place in New York City and will probably include the Surface Pro 4 and the Microsoft Band 2.

In addition, Microsoft’s first flagship New York store is opening at 677 Fifth Avenue, where a Fendi store closed. The date of the opening is October 26th. The five story location offers 22,269 square feet, and consumers will reportedly be able to go hands-on with the new Lumia handsets and the Surface Pro 4 inside the store, when it opens.

Will the new devices launch on October 26th as well? That remains to be seen.

Thanks for the tip!

source: Microsoft, TechTastic (translated) via TheVerge

Google and Microsoft Bury the Patent Hatchet

Apple Distributes iOS 9.0.2 and iOS 9.1 Beta 3

Google Picks Up Jibe Mobile, to Expand RCS Within Android

Facebook Takes Steps to Improve Mobile Profiles

Camera head to head: Lumia 930 vs Moto X Style

Moto X Style and Lumia 930

Moto X Style versus the Lumia 930

With a Snapdragon 808 chipset, 1/2.4″ sensor and large f/2.0 aperture, plus phase detection auto-focussing, the Moto X Style camera would seem to have a slight edge on the 18-month-older Lumia 930 (and 1520), but there’s the presence of OIS on the Windows Phone, plus more mature imaging algorithms. In short, pros and cons, meaning that this should be a battle royal.

Whatever, the outcome, from a Windows Phone perspective, I much prefer the Lumia Camera interface, and I love the way the Lumia Moments (/Photos Ad-in under Windows 10 Mobile) function lets auto-taken 4K video bursts be frame grabbed to 8MP in a very intuitive and surprisingly fast interface, while the Moto X Style and Android doesn’t have anything comparable – you have to resort to a third party utility such as AndroVid.

Comparing the Moto X Style and Lumia 930/1520 cameras turned out to be relatively straightforward in that both produce 16MP photos in 16:9 format. Of course, the Lumia also/alternatively (depending on exact version of the Camera application and OS version, though this will be tightened up) produces a shareable 5MP version of each shot, and with oversampling to help this be ‘purer’, but I wanted to look here at the full resolution output (the default under Windows 10 Mobile Camera), because of the chance to compare like for like, pixel for pixel. Fight!

The crops below are all at 1:1 as usual. I’ve deliberately put in an emphasis on tricky subjects or conditions, to push the camera phones to the limit.

Test 1: Landscape, sunny, no HDR

My default test across suburban gardens, aiming at a roof with loads of detail and texture, in sunshine. Here’s the overall scene, for context:

Overall test scene

In case you want to grab the original images to do your own analysis, here they are, from the Lumia 930 and Motorola Moto X Style, click the links to download. And here are detailed 1:1 crops, just wait to make sure the page has fully loaded and then use your mouse or trackpad pointer to compare the images:

Lumia 930Motorola Moto X Style

If there’s any theme to this comparison, it’s that there’s a law of diminishing returns at work. For most conditions, for most subjects (as here), there’s no appreciable difference in the photos captured. The Moto X Style’s image does look more processed, though with truer colours, while the Lumia’s looks more natural but with over-saturated colours. Honours even overall.

Test 2: Landscape, sunny, HDR allowed

The exact same scene and conditions, but this time turning on HDR (‘Rich Capture’ in Lumia parlance), i.e using an image composited from a number of auto-bracketed shots. Here’s the overall HDR scene, for context:

Overall test scene

In case you want to grab the original images to do your own analysis, here they are, from the Lumia 930 and Motorola Moto X Style, click the links to download. And here are detailed 1:1 crops, just wait to make sure the page has fully loaded and then use your mouse or trackpad pointer to compare the images:

Lumia 930Motorola Moto X Style

The same remarks apply to the non-HDR scene – the Lumia’s image is more natural, but not naturally ‘sharp’, whereas the Style’s looks crisper but is somewhat artificial. 

As ever, I’m going to have to push the lighting envelope in order to really start scoring points in either direction.

Test 3: Extreme HDR

Deliberately seeking out an extreme of lighting difference – bright sun and dark shade, here’s the overall HDR scene, for context:

Overall test scene

In case you want to grab the original images to do your own analysis, here they are, from the Lumia 930 and Motorola Moto X Style, click the links to download. And here are detailed 1:1 crops, just wait to make sure the page has fully loaded and then use your mouse or trackpad pointer to compare the images:

Lumia 930Motorola Moto X Style

The faster chipset in the Moto X Style (a Snapdragon 808) probably helps a lot with HDR compositing, though I do feel the algorithms in Lumia Camera here on the 930 really let it down. The difference is dramatic. The new Lumias being announced next week have Snapdragon 808 and 810 chipsets, mind you, so I’ll be very interested to see just how good a job they do with ultra-burst and bracketed shots like this one.

Test 4: Low light macro

Looking for a dim corner (dimmer than it looks in the photos), I selected one of my favourite DVD box sets and specifically focussed on Martin Sheen, the President. Here’s the scene, for context:

Overall test scene

Now, obviously, I’m photographing a printed item, in this case a DVD sleeve, i.e. something whose images are composed of tiny coloured dots – so what I’m looking for here is accuracy in showing these – we’re not expecting perfect photos of the faces, etc.

In case you want to grab the original images to do your own analysis, here they are, from the Lumia 930 and Motorola Moto X Style, click the links to download. And here are detailed 1:1 crops, just wait to make sure the page has fully loaded and then use your mouse or trackpad pointer to compare the images:

Lumia 930Motorola Moto X Style

The Nokia algorithms do a pretty good job of showing the dithered dots in the printed photo, while the Moto X Style’s sharpening and noise reduction algorithms produce ‘streaking’ and small diagonals which really aren’t there in the original DVD sleeve.

Test 5: Low light still life

A typical indoor still life. I won’t try and do my moving-person ‘party shot’ test, because both phones would produce blurring – there’s simply no point. Here’s the still life scene, for context:

Overall test scene

In case you want to grab the original images to do your own analysis, here they are, from the Lumia 930 and Motorola Moto X Style, click the links to download. And here are detailed 1:1 crops, just wait to make sure the page has fully loaded and then use your mouse or trackpad pointer to compare the images:

Lumia 930Motorola Moto X Style

The Moto X Style photo looks sharper – and it is, but honours even overall, since what you’re seeing is the result of noise reduction and then artificial sharpening, whereas the Lumia 930 image is more as-is. What’s fascinating though is that the Moto X Style shot was 1/30s – any longer and hand movement would have caused blurring, yet the result is still pretty good, thanks to the sensitivity of the 2015 sensor used. While the Lumia 930’s OIS meant that the shot was taken over 1/10s, three times as long, yet there’s still plenty of noise down at the pixel level.

Which speaks well of the capabilities of the imminent Lumia 950 and 950 XL, both with OIS and a 2015 sensor. Will these devices topple the mighty LG G4? I think they just might.

Test 6: Night time

The Moto X Style includes a special ‘night’ mode, used here – combining pixels, PureView-style, outputting at 4MP. Here’s the still life scene, for context:

Overall test scene

In case you want to grab the original images to do your own analysis, here they are, from the Lumia 930 and Motorola Moto X Style, click the links to download. And here are detailed 1:1 crops, from the 4MP image in the Moto’s case, and from a rescaled version in the Lumia’s, to match the framing. Just wait to make sure the page has fully loaded and then use your mouse or trackpad pointer to compare the images:

Lumia 930Motorola Moto X Style

Despite the ‘night’ mode downsampling trickery in the Moto X Style (a common feature in the Android world), the physical OIS in the Lumia 930 makes a world of difference, enabling the shutter to be open for twice as long and with no movement in that period, outputting at full resolution. A clear win for the Lumia, and even more when you consider that in practice you’d probably be using the 5MP oversampled version (which would be even ‘purer’).

Verdict

There’s clearly not that much in it with top tier, or even upper middle-tier smartphones these days – for umpteenth time I find myself pondering the day when I can stop producing camera head-to-head articles because all phone cameras do a great job in all light conditions. We haven’t quite got there yet, though the Moto X Style from the Android world does a pretty good job – the virtually two year old Lumia 930 still has it beat.

Next week then – the 950 and 950 XL look to build up on the basic PureView idea, on the OIS and algorithms, mate these up with a 2015 sensor and produce phones with the best cameras in the world. Well, that’s the theory anyway – I’ll be here to test them shortly afterwards on AAWP.

PS. What of the 1020, not mentioned above? Yet again, that’s a special case, though I’ve got an editorial coming up next week in which I declare both LED AND Xenon flash obsolete. Watch this space!