Intel-Processor-Powered Smartphones and Their Performance: A Short Preview

IntelIntel, as you well know, is the leading provider of microprocessors for all kinds of desktops and laptops out there, both Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac. However, the company fondly called Chipzilla, has never been in the top spot among mobile processors.

ARM Holdings has taken a lead in the mobile world with its microarchitecture for processor design, Cortex and its own instruction set. But now as the PC and laptop sales are slowing down and consumers are moving more and more toward tablets and smartphones, it is high time for Intel to make a strong entry into the mobile world.

There are a few smartphones that run Intel processors, and we have seen some of them last year. One of them is Motorola Razr i, which is the counterpart of Droid Razr M for the European countries. There are also some other phones.

Smartphones With Intel Inside

Here is a list of smartphones with Intel processors inside, categorized based on display and availability.

Smartphone Display Processor Availability
Acer Liquid C1

Acer Liquid C1

4.3 inch;
540×960 px
Intel Atom Z2420
1.2 GHz (single core)
Thailand
Lava Xolo X900

Lava Xolo X900

4 inch
1024×600 px
Intel Atom Z2460
1.6 GHz (single core)
India
Lenovo K800

Lenovo K800

4.5 inch; 720×1280 px Intel Atom Z2460
1.6 GHz (single core)
China
Megafon Mint

MegaFon Mint

4 inch Intel Atom Z2460
1.6 GHz (single core)
Russia
Motorola MT788

Motorola MT788

4.3 inch
540×960 px
Intel Atom Z2480
2 GHz (single core)
China
Motorola Razr i

Motorola Razr i

4.3 inch
540×960 px
Intel Atom Z2460
2 GHz (single core)
Brazil, France,
Germany,
Mexico, and the UK
Orange San Diego

Orange San Diego

4 inch
1024×600 px
Intel Atom Z2460
1.6 GHz (single core)
The UK and France
Safaricom Yolo

Safaricom Yolo

3.5 inch Intel Atom Z2420
1.2 GHz (single core)
Kenya
ZTE Grand X In

ZTE Grand X In

4.3 inch
540×960 px
Intel Atom Z2460
1.6 GHz (single core)
Germany, Hungary,
Norway, Austria,
Sweden,
Poland, Romania,
Greece, Slovakia
Asus FonePad

Asus FonePad

7 inch
1280×800 px
Intel Atom Z2420
1.2 GHz (single core)
The US, Europe
Lenovo K900

Lenovo K900

5.5 inch 1920×1080 px Intel Atom Z2580
dual-core 1.8 GHz
China

As you can see, Intel markets a few smartphones at various parts of the world. Most of these phones are not available in the United States.

Intel has a long way to go to get a foothold in the United States, where Qualcomm and NVidia are ruling mobile processors. Also, one of the largest smartphone OEMs, Samsung has its own processor family, Exynos found in Galaxy smartphones. Apple makes its own microarchitecture and uses Samsung’s fabrication facilities to manufacture its chips. It seems that nobody is approaching Intel to make their SoCs in the US.

Last year, there have been speculations about Apple opting for Intel to design its processors, since rivalry between Apple and Samsung has been intensifying. However, by the time iPhone 5 was released, Apple had come up with its own processor core design called Swift, instead of opting for ARM Cortex.

Intel Processors and Performance

Intel makes mobile processors under the sole brand, Atom. Various processors are there under this brand, but smartphone processors are distinguished by the Z-series, such Z2460, Z2760, etc. Most of the currently available Atom processors are single core. Although the clock speeds of up to 2 GHz are given by these processors, a quad-core processor with 1.4 GHz can perform better than a single core processor with 2 GHz.

We went ahead and fetched a few benchmarks for you to check out.

A more recent, Intel Atom Z2760 processor (dual-core 1.8 GHz) gives only 1355 points in Geekbench 2 benchmarks, while Snapdragon (quad-core 1.5 GHz) on Google Nexus 4 gives 2030 points. Samsung’s Galaxy Note II running Exynos 4412 quad-core 1.6 GHz processor has scored 1936 points. Apple iPhone 5 running A6 dual-core 1.3 GHz processor gives 1589 points.

In addition, after the release of Motorola Razr i smartphone, GSMArena conducted a fewbenchmarking tests. Here are a few of those results for you.

Motorola Razr i benchmarking

 

Motorola Razr i benchmarking

 

Quadrant benchmark for Motorola Razr i

GSMArena has found that the JavaScript performance and the browser performance were relatively better with Razr i.

It’s quite clear that Intel’s processors are not performing up to the mark. While desktop processors from Intel are giving stellar performance, mobile processors are not. This is probably one of the reasons why Intel has decided to capitalize on markets other than the US. However, the recent announcement in the Mobile World Congress is a different story. Asus has partnered with Intel to bring out its FonePad device, which is a large 7 inch tablet with calling capabilities.

Intel’s Atom processors that we saw in the above table are codenamed Medfield. They are no match to the existing Snapdragon, Exynos, and Tegra devices in the market.

Intel’s 2013 Atom range includes processors like Z2520, Z2560, and Z2580, which are codenamed Clover Trail+ and they are based on a CPU microarchitecture that Intel calls Saltwell. Lenovo K900 will be a smart phablet to support one of these processors.

Conclusion

K900 is the only device with a high end configuration in the Intel range. Intel’s major advantage with the Atom processor design is that they are quite a bit less power-consuming than most of the other CPUs. However, in order to better compete with a world with such high-performance mobile processors as NVidia Tegra and Qualcomm Snapdragon, Chipzilla has to come up with much better options.

Is It Worth the Buy: Sony Xperia Tablet Z, the World’s Thinnest Tablet

Sony has been making and marketing tablets since . The Japanese tech giant made an entry into the Android tablet world with Sony Tablet S with the folded-newspaper design and Tablet P having two 5.5 inch displays.

The entry however has not been quite profitable for Sony. Here is IDC’s global market share of tablets up until the fourth quarter of 2012, and in the statistic, Sony doesn’t even have its name.

Tablets world market share

Apple and Samsung are the only OEMs turning any real profit out of tablet business. In these extreme conditions, Sony is coming up with a new tablet, Xperia Tablet Z. Xperia Tablet Z has been unveiled officially in the Mobile World Congress, Barcelona yesterday. Just as Sony’s upcoming flagship, Xperia Z smartphone, Tablet Z is also waterproof. Let’s check out the new tablet from Sony and see whether it can be a really good buy or not, based on the available data.

Technical Specifications

First of all, let’s check out the technical specifications of Xperia Tablet Z. Here is a comparison between Tablet Z and iPad 4th generation, the most ruthless competitor to the Sony tablet.

Tablet Sony Xperia Tablet Z Apple iPad 4
Display LCD TFT IPS 10.1 inches with Mobile BRAVIA engine 2 LCD TFT IPS 9.7 inches
Resolution 1920×1200 (224 ppi) 2048×1536 (264 ppi, trademarked as Retina)
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core 1.5 GHz Apple A6X (dual-core) 1.4 GHz
Graphics card Adreno 320 PowerVR SGX554MP4
Memory 2 GB 1 GB
Storage 16/32 GB; MicroSD up to 64 GB 16/32/64/128 GB
Camera 8 MP equipped with Exmor R sensor; 2.2 MP 5 MP; 1.2 MP
Operating System Android 4.1 Jelly Bean (4.2 available soon) Apple iOS 6
Battery Li-Po 6000 mAh Li-Po 11,560 mAh
Connectivity 4G LTE Cat 3 (100 Mbps download, 50 Mbps upload)
HSPA+ 42 Mbps
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
NFC
MicroUSB
LTE (73 Mbps download)
HSPA+ 42 Mbps
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
Lightning connector
Body dimensions Height 266 mm (10.47 in) Height 241.2 mm (9.5 in)
Width 172 mm (6.77 in) Width 185.7 mm (7.31 in)
Depth 6.9 mm (0.27 in) Depth 9.4 mm (0.37 in)
Weight 495 g (1.09 lb) Weight 662 g (1.46 lb)
The Price 16 GB $ 499 16 GB $499 (Wi-Fi) – $629 (Cellular)
32 GB $599 – $729
32 GB $ 599 64 GB $699 – $ 829
128 GB $799 – $ 929

Basically, the new Sony tablet can be regarded as one of the toughest competitors to Apple iPad. With its faster Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, 2GB RAM, slightly bigger screen, and bigger camera, it has what it takes to entice the current tablet buyers. Let’s check out the details of the tablet.

The Build

Xperia Tablet Z is simply the thinnest tablet in the world. At only 6.9 mm, it is thinner than the iPad Mini, which stands at 7.2 mm. It is slightly heavier than iPad Mini, but lighter than the bigger iPad. This makes Xperia Tablet Z an amazingly portable large tablet. Among large tablets, it is the lightest for the time being.

Xperia Tablet Z, just as most of Sony’s smartphones and tablets, is made from plastic and doesn’t inspire us in terms of build quality. In comparison to iPad, iPad Mini, and Nexus 7, Tablet Z would feel cheap in your hands. Build quality is one of the areas that Sony still has to work on. However, Sony insists the tablet is built from high quality materials and is one of the sturdiest they have ever come up with.

Tablet Z is waterproof and dustproof with Ingress Protection (IP) rating of 55 and 57. That means it has very good protection against dust (although not totally protected) and can be immersed up to about 3 feet under water.

Tablet Z in water

Sony doesn’t say anything about the protection on the front glass. It doesn’t mention whether it is using Gorilla Glass for protection or not. Sony, however, uses Gorilla Glass for protecting a few of the BRAVIA TVs it ships.

The Performance

The processor that comes in Tablet Z is Snapdragon S4 Pro, based on Qualcomm’s own Krait microarchitecture (based on ARMv7 instruction set, but different from ARM Cortex-A9 microarchitecture, which is found on other major tablet processors). Snapdragon has been benchmarked to be one of the fastest among tablet and smartphone processors. Qualcomm is also the leading provider of LTE baseband chips, and as we will see later, Xperia Tablet Z is LTE-capable.

The Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064 processor found in Tablet Z was announced way back in 2011’s Mobile World Congress. This SoC has successfully powered a number of devices in these two years, and some of them are Google Nexus 4, LG Optimus G, HTC Droid DNA, etc. This processor has scored above 2000 points in Geekbench results, and iPad 4’s Apple A6X CPU has scored only 1776 points.

The RAM is 2 GB, which is better than most of the tablets and smartphones out there today. This also adds to Tablet Z’s performance.

Tablet Z includes a smaller battery of 6000 mAh only. It doesn’t compare well with other tablets in the market, iPad with 11,560 mAh, Google Nexus 10 with 9000 mAh, and Galaxy Note 10.1 with 7000 mAh. However, Sony has an app running on the tablet called Battery STAMINA mode that Sony says will make all the difference.

Sony must have high hopes on the Battery STAMINA to ship such a small battery with such a big tablet. We will get to see how the battery performs once the reviews come up.

The Display

The display resolution of Tablet Z is 1920×1200, which at the size of the display gives 224 ppi of pixel density. iPad 4 on the other hand gives 264 ppi, which is better known as Retina Display. In this, Sony tablet is inferior, but the display on Tablet Z uses Sony’s trademarked BRAVIA engine, which is a high performance software renderer that brings out better quality pictures.

These images were found in a Sony blog talking about the BRAVIA engine 2.

Sony mobile BRAVIA engine 2

 

Sony mobile BRAVIA engine 2 comparison

In response to Apple’s Retina Display, Sony calls Tablet Z’s display ‘Reality Display’, which according to Engadget is pretty identical.

The same technology comes in other Sony phones as well—Xperia Z, Xperia ZL, etc.

Connectivity Features

Xperia Z has great connectivity features. It has both LTE and Wi-Fi versions, and LTE supports category 3 with maximum download speeds of up to 100 Mbps. Xperia Tablet Z should be the first tablet to incorporate LTE cat 3 connectivity. It is the same kind of connectivity features available in other major smartphones like iPhone 5, Lumia 920, and Samsung Galaxy S3. None of the other tablets have the connectivity features like Xperia Tablet Z.

Generally, tablets come with only Wi-Fi connectivity, in which you have to connect the tablet to a nearby Wi-Fi hotspot in order to browse the Internet. A few of the tablets also come with data connectivity options like 3G, HSPA+, and LTE. Tablet Z has connectivity features like a smartphone. This is one aspect in which it is different from all of the other tablets.

Besides that, Tablet Z comes with NFC capability. You may have already read about the amazing applications of NFC, which will make this tablet special. Sony ships an app called One-Touch with Tablet Z; using this app, users can transfer media to other Sony devices that support NFC.

Also, it includes an Infrared Blaster, as found in Sony’s own Xperia Tablet S. Hence, controlling Sony’s TVs using Tablet Z as a remote control will not be a problem.

Android Jelly Bean & Multimedia Features

Xperia Tablet Z ships with Android Jelly Bean 4.1 preinstalled. Sony has given confirmation that the tablet will soon receive Jelly Bean 4.2 update. The latest available version of the operating system is 4.2.2 in Google Nexus devices.

Sony enriches the tablet with its own specific apps and multimedia features. Sony has told us the apps like Walkman, Movies, and Album will be available in Tablet Z. There is a feature called Music Unlimited that provides access to over 18 million songs, and another feature called Video Unlimited gives access to over 100,000 movies and TV shows. Integration to Facebook social network is also full-fledged.

Other Features

Sony ships two cameras with this tablet—main 8 MP and front-facing 2.2 MP. Both cameras are capable of capturing Full HD videos and images at 1080p. Sony has equipped the camera with its own trademarked Exmor R sensor. Exmor R is Sony’s CMOS sensor that makes the camera bring in more light to make the image pretty clear even in dim lit situations. Exmor R is the mobile-friendly version of Exmor, which is the CMOS sensor technology Sony uses on its DSLR cameras.

Remember that Sony Xperia Z smartphone uses a similar sensor known as Exmor RS, which is an upgraded version of Exmor R. Xperia Z smartphone should have slightly better camera performance than Tablet Z. As a side note, you should read about HTC’s One smartphone, in which HTC is coming up with a technology called UltraPixel that will bring in more light to the pictures. Another advanced camera in the mobile world now belongs to Nokia Lumia 920, which has PureView technology and is said to be the best camera in the industry.

There are two storage-based models in Tablet Z—16 GB version and 32 GB version. The price varies accordingly. 16 GB version is priced at 499 dollars, while the 32 GB version comes for 599 dollars, priced exactly like the iPad.

Tablet Z also has a MicroSD slot that can convert the storage to up to 64 GB.

Conclusion

Sony Tablet Z, as far as specifications go, is an amazing tablet. It is priced a little heavily at exactly the same price as Apple iPad. Sony Xperia Tablet Z has a better processor, much better form factor, slightly larger display, better connectivity options, better compatibility, better performance, etc., as compared to Apple iPad. iPad on the other hand has a well-established app ecosystem, much better build quality, and a super-fast operating system that works really well with its hardware.

Tablet Z in MWC

We will have to actually see Tablet Z in action before we can make a decision. For the time being, our recommendation is to wait till the device comes to the market (expected around ) and gets reviewed before making a purchase decision. We actually need to analyze these key areas—battery, camera, display, and performance. If they are also stunning, Xperia Z will be a really good tablet to buy.

[Image: Statista, Gizmag, Digitalversus]

Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 Tablet: Is It Worth to Buy?

;”>Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0
Right when you were confused as to which small tablet to buy, here is Samsung with Note 8.0, the mid-range S-pen-included version of the popular Note series. You probably know about Note II and Note 10.1, the other two in the Galaxy Note family. While Note II has carved a special niche for itself in the form of a phablet, Note 10.1 hasn’t quite been a favorite.

The specialty of Notes is the added S-pen for note-taking. Note 8.0 is no different. Also, with an 8 inch slim screen, it takes Apple iPad Mini head on; we were not fond of iPad Mini from the beginning anyway. Galaxy Note 8.0 was launched in the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Here is a look at the device, thanks to Engadget:

In this article, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of Galaxy Note 8.0 and see whether it is a good buy or not.

Technical Specifications

 

Here are the announced tech specs of the device. When it actually comes out, the specifications could change. Here I have, a comparison of Galaxy Note 8.0 with the competing tablets—Apple iPad Mini and Google Nexus 7.

Feature
Galaxy Note 8.0

Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

iPad Mini

Apple iPad Mini

Nexus 7

Google Nexus 7

Display 8 inch LCD LCD IPS 7.9 inches LCD IPS 7 inch
Resolution 1280×800 px; 189 ppi 1024×768; 162 ppi 1280×800; 216 ppi
Processor Samsung Exynos
quad-core1.6 GHz based on ARM Cortex-A9
Apple A5 (dual-core) 1 GHz based on ARM Cortex-A9 NVidia Tegra 3 1.3 GHz (ARM Cortex-A9)
Operating System Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean iOS 6 Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean update available
RAM 2 GB 512 MB 1 GB
Camera 5 MP; 1.3 MP 5 MP 1.2 MP
Storage 16/32 GB 16/32/64 GB 16/32 GB
Battery 4600 mAh 4440 mAh 4325 mAh
Connectivity Wi-Fi & 3G (HSPA+ 21 Mbps);
3G model not available in the US
Wi-Fi & cellular separate versions Wi-Fi only
Other connectivity features Bluetooth 4.0
USB 2.0
NFC
Lightning connector with USB adaptor
Bluetooth 4.0
Bluetooth
Micro USB
NFC
Body Dimensions Height 210.82 mm (8.3 in) Height 200 mm (7.87 in) Height 198.5 mm (7.81 in)
Width 134.62 mm (5.3 in) Width 134.7 mm (5.3 in) Width 120 mm (4.72 in)
Depth 7.62 mm (0.3 in) Depth 7.2 mm (0.28 in) Depth 10.5 mm (0.41 in)
Weight 337.35 g (11.9 oz) Weight 312 g (11.01 oz) Weight 340 g (11.99 oz)

 

As per the technical specifications, Galaxy Note 8 is clearly ahead of the competition in the form of Asus’s Nexus 7 and Apple iPad Mini.

The Design

 

I don’t know if it is due to the lawsuit between Apple and Samsung, which caused Samsung to design Galaxy S3 differently (for humans), that the design of Note 8 also looks weirdly similar to S3, a slightly larger S3 to be exact. It still has the rim-width resembling the iPad. The design is not quite different from the existing tablets. The robustness of the body is only on the top of the display, which is covered with Corning Gorilla Glass 2.


[Short Update]

We had a comment from one of our readers about the presence of Gorilla glass on Note 8. We inquired Samsung itself about this, and got the confirmation that Note 8 (N5110) does have Gorilla Glass. Here is the tweet from Samsung support:

 


 

The back is made by Samsung’s “trademarked” cheap plastic.

Although the tablet has the largest display of the three mentioned, it weighs slightly less than Google Nexus 7, and it is a good thing. With wider rim, it is easier to hold without blocking the display. All in all, there is nothing awe-inspiring about this tablet. It is just your regular note, only in a medium form.

The Performance

 

Exynos is a power-packed processor. It is one of the best among the tablet processors out there today. Nexus 10 tablet running Exynos 5 performs better than Apple iPad 4, which has Apple A6X SoC (based on Swift architecture). Current Note 8 probably has Exynos 4412 SoC that comes on other devices like Galaxy S3, Note 10, etc.

However, on Nexus 10, Samsung has included the more recent power-packed processor, Exynos 5 (5250). It performs like a stud, and comes one notch above iPad (4th gen).

In Geekbench benchmarking results, Nexus 7 (with Tegra 3) gets scores above 1400 and Apple iPad Mini (which includes the A5 chip based on Cortex-A9 that shipped with iPad 2) has scores in 750 range. Galaxy Note 8, which includes the same processor as Note II, is expected to score nearer to 2000 points.

Hence, in terms of performance, Galaxy Note 8 should be the best of the three. Here is a Geekbench comparison chart between some major tablets:

Tablet and processor Geekbench score
Google Nexus 10 (Exynos 5250 Cortex-A15) 2433
Samsung  Galaxy Note II (Exynos quad-core 1.6 GHz) 1924
Apple iPad 4th gen (Apple A6X dual-core 1.4 GHz) 1775
Asus Nexus 7 (NVidia Tegra 3 Cortex-A9) 1481
Apple iPad Mini (dual-core Apple A5 1 GHz) 755

 

Another important aspect about Note 8’s processor is that it still is based on Cortex-A9 microarchitecture, which has recently been replaced by Cortex-A15. The upcoming processor, NVidia Tegra 4 and Samsung’s own Exynos 5 will include Cortex-A15 core. It is hence a disappointment that Note 8 still has Cortex-A9, while Samsung’s own Nexus 10 has a Cortex-A15 processor.

Other Aspects

 

The display of Note 8 is regular LCD backlit with probably the Super PLS technology Samsung has been promoting on other devices, Note 10 and Nexus 10. Samsung hasn’t supplied Super AMOLED on a screen larger than 5.3 inches yet. The display should be comparable to LCD IPS on iPad Mini and Nexus 7, although the iPad Mini has a ridiculously low pixel density out of the three tablets.

Note 8.0 runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean operating system. As you can see Nexus 7 is already leading with 4.2.2 version. Since Nexus is a Google tablet, the latest version of the operating system is naturally available to it first. Samsung has implemented the TouchWiz overlay on Note 8, and it involves better multi-tasking features.

Note 8 also includes the largest of batteries among 8 inch tablets. With that 4600 mAh battery, you can probably keep the charge longer than the other tablets.

As usual, Note 8 comes with the S-pen, Samsung’s own note-taking pen that comes with all of Note devices. Note II with the S-pen have in fact been one of the favorite devices out there, although we mentioned earlier that you should wait till a better upgrade gets released.

An improvement in Note 8 is that the S-pen can now operate the menu buttons at the bottom. The tablet has a number of apps to take advantage of the pen, and you may know them if you are familiar with other Notes. Air View, S Note, Easy Clip, Idea Sketch, Shape Match, etc., are some of them.

Air View on Note 2

 

Galaxy Note 2 Popup Note

 

Another aspect is connectivity. If you are expecting to insert a SIM into this tablet, you should be in the right country. In the US, only Wi-Fi version is available.

Also, the current Note 8 doesn’t include LTE capabilities, and it has no tie-up with Qualcomm that manufactures LTE baseband for other Samsung devices like Galaxy S3. The 3G version with only 21 Mbps download limit is available in other countries, where the LTE is probably not popular.

Build Quality

 

Build quality of Samsung devices has not been great. A fall from a feet above ground could break them. In our list of most durable phones, none of the Samsung devices were featured due to this. Note 8 is no different. It has regular plastic back and thin Gorilla Glass protection on the front screen.

It is however not ideal to compare build quality of tablets, which you are less likely to drop than a smartphone. In build quality, Nexus 7 and iPad Mini are better than Note 8.

The Price

 

We don’t know the price yet. However, in order to compete in the market with other low-cost tablets, and the awfully pricey and yet popular iPad Mini, Galaxy Note 8 has to be perfectly priced.


[Update]

Galaxy Note 8 has been released to the US market for a starting price of 399 dollars for the 16 GB version. The device has been found in Best Buy, Amazon.


 

Note 10 had received positive reviews, although when it came to sales, Nexus 10, which has an amazingly better performance, did take the lead. In a world with two almost similar tablets, who do you think will come up on the top? Only the better performing one (excluding all Apple products, of course).

In this comparison between 7 inch tablets, price is an important factor. People purchase medium tablets if the price is right. iPad Mini is the only device that doesn’t honor this philosophy. It is priced anywhere between 329 to 659 dollars based on the configuration. This is ridiculously higher than Nexus 10, which starts at 399.

There is nothing in iPad Mini’s hardware to justify that kind of price.

When it comes to pricing, there are two major competitors to Note 8—Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD, both of which retail at around 199 dollars. Note 8 definitely has better features and hardware specs than Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD, but it has to work on the pricing to come on top. The failure of Note 10 was only due to the price, which at around 550 dollars was slightly higher than Nexus 10’s.

Conclusion

 

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 will be released to a great competition. There is a rumor of iPad Mini 2 that may include a Retina display. Price is an important factor that decides the success of Note 8. On any day, Note 8 will be a better purchase than Apple iPad Mini. Our recommendation, hence, is go ahead, buy Note 8 when it comes to the market by April-June time.

[Image source: AndroidTapp, AllThingsD, TechnologyTell]

You Can Now Install Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview on Android Nexus Devices

Ubuntu devices

You have probably read about Ubuntu for smartphones in our earlier article about it. This is a groundbreaking new operating system that comes to smartphones from Canonical (the maker of Ubuntu). Ubuntu is one of the most popular of Linux distributions out there, among desktop computers. Now the platform is coming to smartphone world with the release of Ubuntu smartphones.

Yesterday, as expected, the developer preview of the OS was made available, with the source code and details of installing it on your phone. The version currently available is known as Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview. And this is important—Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview is only for developers and Ubuntu enthusiasts who want to try it out in real. It is not for an average smartphone user who doesn’t have good working knowledge of mobile operating systems.

Supported Phones & Tablets

Currently, Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview is supported only on Google’s Nexus line of devices, specifically Galaxy Nexus (Samsung), Nexus 4 (LG), Nexus 7 (Asus), and Nexus 10 (Samsung).

In order to install Ubuntu on your Android device, follow the steps and guidelines given at Ubuntu Wiki. Also, if you need to get Android OS back into the phone, you should have the appropriate image handy. Images can be found here.

What Do You Get?

Ubuntu is pretty limited in smartphone interface. It doesn’t have the capabilities like Android, and also it doesn’t have many apps for you to work with. This Developer Preview is intended only for Ubuntu developers and hard-core Ubuntu enthusiasts. If you install the OS, you get the following:

  • OS shell and basic apps
  • Phone-specific functions—connection to the operator, SMS, networking, & Wi-Fi
  • Working camera app for the front-facing and main camera
  • Accessibility through Android Developer Bridge

Thanks to QBKing77, I was able to get this video:

Conclusion

Ubuntu is highly enthusiastic about their move to the smartphone world. Canonical’s founder Mark Shuttleworth was quite a bit excited to share the news with the world. We have got our hands on the first of Ubuntu developer devices now, and we will soon see where the platform heads and how many apps it will gather. Competition is not easy now with BlackBerry 10 and upcoming Tizen.

Whether-or-Not-to-Buy: HTC One (M7) Smartphone

It was touted to be HTC M7 everywhere. I did a tiny research as to where the name came from. On Nov 29 last year, Taiwanese news channel, Focus Taiwan published a story in which was mentioned about a flagship HTC phone to be released in the first quarter of 2013, before the launch of Samsung Galaxy S IV. They called the device M7.

Later on, we identified M7 could just be a codename for the smartphone within HTC circles. During the time when the launch date was confirmed (Feb 19), there were news about the actual name of the phone to be HTC One. No, not One X, just One!

HTC One was released yesterday in an event by HTC in Taiwan. We will check out the details of HTC One and see how great a buy it is.

Technical Specifications

Here are the basic tech specs of HTC One.

Feature HTC One
Display 4.7 inch SLCD 3 FHD (1080p); 468 ppi
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core 1.7 GHz
Operating System Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2
Camera UltraPixel with 1080p video & image capture
Battery 2300 mAh
RAM 2 GB
Storage 32/64 GB
Connectivity HSPA/WCDMA (Europe & Asia edition)
Dimensions Height 137.4 mm
Width 68.2 mm
Depth 9.3 mm
Weight 143 g
Other features Optical image stabilization (see Nokia Lumia 920)
NFC depending on the carrier and location
HTC BoomSound and Beats Audio
HTC Sense UI 5
apt-X audio codec
HTC Blinkfeed customizable home screen
HTC Zoe photo gallery application
25 GB Dropbox account for 2 years

HTC One comes with amazing build quality, with aluminum unibody design and Gorilla Glass 2 for screen protection.

HTC One also sports other features like apt-X audio codec for better compression, BlinkFeed (a home screen app that makes the home screen like Windows Metro UI, and a photo gallery app called Zoe

About the display, 468 ppi is a little bit overdoing it, although it is pretty much necessary if you want full HD in 4.7 inches. What HTC could have done is making the display bigger, to about 5 inches. That would still make a good phone to carry around. With its slightly curved back, similar to Windows Phone 8X, One is amazingly easy to handle.

HTC One is a fully power-packed phone. If you have read about our review of Snapdragon 600, you may know it is one of the fastest upcoming mobile processors.

Benchmark scores in Geekbench ranks shows the following results. LG Google Nexus 4 with Snapdragon S4 Pro (quad-core 1.5 GHz) scored 2027 points, while Samsung Galaxy Note II (Samsung Exynos 4412, 1.6 GHz quad-core) scored 1936. Clearly the Qualcomm Krait CPU of Snapdragon is miles ahead of the competition (processors based on ARM Cortex-A9).

Snapdragon 600 will come with much better performance than S4 Pro.

The Camera

There is a specialty with the camera of HTC One. It is only about 4 megapixels. Weirdly retrograde, don’t you think? It will be a misnomer if I said ‘megapixels’; the camera is actually 4 UltraPixels. That is definitely a new marketing term that HTC invented. However, it has some important technical aspects to it.

UltraPixel is a physically larger pixel. In HTC One’s case the size of the pixel is said to be about 2 microns. This is as opposed to iPhone 5’s 1.4 micron pixels. The significance according to HTC is that this UltraPixel camera can capture light much better than regular camera, and thus it produces more lively images (like the HDR images; HDR [High Dynamic Range] is a technology by which images are combined together to form a better one).

It is late, but HTC is actually embracing the correct notion here. Larger megapixel count doesn’t give better quality image. 8 MP is the maximum you may ever require. Smartphone manufacturers were locked in a predicament for some years by the consumers who were after high-MP cameras. HTC is the first to end the frenzy with One. Note that a few months back, we saw Nokia PureView 808 that sported a whopping 41 megapixel camera. The images taken by that camera would be unnecessarily enormous.

UltraPixel technology

On the other hand, UltraPixel technology will provide regular images with better light capture. We will see how the camera performs in real life conditions and how it competes with the best cameras among smartphones today—Nokia Lumia 920, iPhone 5, Galaxy S3, etc.—in the coming days.

The Sound

 

Beats Audio

With One, HTC is coming up with a new trademark, BoomSound. The front speaker arrangement on HTC One is charming. HTC scores handsomely on the design front. The speakers are equipped with their own internal amplifiers and are said to deliver amazing quality sound.

We know about HTC’s long-standing relationship with Beats Audio. In 2010, HTC acquired a chunk of Beats Audio shares and remains as the top investor in the company. This was before the launch of Beats Audio equipped handsets, Sensation, Incredible, One X, 8X, etc.

Beats Audio on various HTC phones has received great reviews for its sound quality.

[Update: ]

You can get a $100 cashback on your purchase of a brand new HTC One, wen you exchange an older HTC phone. Details can be found in this HTC website.

All you need to do is send in your old HTC phone (whichever phone it is), and you can make at least 100 dollars, as HTC gives back either the value of your old phone or 100 dollars, whichever is greater.

All you need to do is buy and activate a new HTC One phone before , and send in the old HTC phone along with the proof of purchase of the new One before .

Conclusion

HTC One is a flagship model for HTC, and it will be the one they are betting on to compete better against Samsung Galaxy S3 and also S IV coming in a few days. In terms of build quality, HTC has always been great. This phone is no different. Also, another attraction of HTC One is that you will be getting 25 GB storage on Dropbox for two years (not available in China).

One downside of the phone probably is that it has a smaller display than the competing devices like LG Optimus G Pro and Samsung Galaxy S III. Upcoming S IV is expected to get even larger display. Another thing is the battery, which is 2300 mAh, which is only slightly better than Galaxy S III and slightly worse than upcoming Sony Xperia Z. Overall, HTC One is one of those quiet and yet brilliant products that you can purchase when it comes to the market.

Buy HTC One from Best Buy or Amazon.

[Image: HTC, TechRadar, Slashgear, Ars Technica, Mashable]