Technologies on Smartphones That You Should Look For

NFC

Near Field Communication has always been regarded as a cutting edge technology. You can’t throw a stone now without hitting an Android device with NFC technology. It is a secure way that devices can connect by simply bringing them together. Right now, NFC has yet to find applications in the current smartphone market. The technology is not new, although it has yet to have any big applications. However, NFC has its importance. It simply has to be present in your smartphone if you are buying it for the long run.

2. Appropriately Large Screen

You don’t need an ultra-large screen such as the one with Galaxy Mega. You don’t even need a 5.5 inch screen as in Optimus G Pro. All you need is a 5 inch screen that fits well in your pocket, such as the one Galaxy S4 has. Anything between 4.5 and 5.2 inches is perfect for a smartphone. Anything above that goes into the phablet family and should be considered a different kind of device.

If you are buying a phablet, be prepared to use it with a little bit of difficulty than a regular smartphone. Due to this reason, Asus’s PadFone and FonePad are not quite there with the customers. For a perfect combination of devices, you could have a regular smartphone, 5 inches; a tablet, 8-10 inches; and optionally a small tablet, 7 inches. A phablet is neither there nor here, and it is difficult to get by.

As we talk about large screens, so should we about smaller screens. iPhone’s 4 inch screen and BlackBerry Z10’s 4.2 inch screen are not quite there in terms of user experience. I am not saying they are bad. They are not as perfect as HTC One’s or Galaxy S4’s. For such smaller screens, a smaller price is appropriate, but that is apparently not going to happen.

3. Battery That Lasts

Right now, LG G2 comes with a 3000 mAh battery that can last days even with that huge screen.

LG G2

Apple iPhone 5S’s battery is only around 1500 mAh, and it is nothing compared to those on the Android devices we have. The battery is not going to give more than a day of usage, and it is just inconvenient to have such a puny battery, even with a device as light and thin as iPhone.

Apple could make iPhone a little heavier by including a larger battery and still it would be one of the thinnest and lightest smartphones out there. They obviously chose not to do that. In your upcoming phone, look for a large battery that can give you more than enough backup.

4. Fingerprint Scanner

As Apple has pioneered this, fingerprint sensors should be available on all other devices in the very near future. That is the trend. It is one thing that anyone could admire about iPhone 5S. The fingerprint scanner allows perfect security, and it is also appropriately placed for the most ergonomic use.

5. Optical Image Stabilization

This is something great on your smartphone cameras. As of now, only a few devices come with it, including HTC One, Lumia 920. Other phones, such as the iPhone provide a technology to stabilize the images, but that is not built into the camera hardware itself, and hence it is not that perfect. If you are looking for a perfect anti-shake smartphone camera, OIS is worth waiting for.

Also, if you are not quite looking for front-facing camera quality, start looking. Here is the table containing the best front-facing camera smartphones.

front-facing cameras on smartphones

 

6. Large Pixel Cameras

Once we spoke about the camera technologies, where we mentioned the race for megapixel count has ended for good. Right now, Apple has also acknowledged the fact that the larger pixels, not the larger number of pixels create better images. HTC One was the first ever phone to revolutionize the large pixel size through its HTC One. One has a pixel size of nearly 2 microns each, called UltraPixels. With only 4 UltraPixels, HTC One camera gives us better images than the 8 MP cameras most other phones have.

With iPhone 5S, Apple has also gone with slightly larger pixels of 1.5 microns. That size is still not quite effective though. We want really large pixels. One of the upcoming phones that will have this is HTC One Max which will sport 5 UltraPixel camera.

Conclusion

If you are looking for amazing smartphones, there are a number of things that you need to have on them. A few technologies were discussed in our previous article here. Some of them are discussed here as well. Unless you are getting a perfect smartphone, there is no point in spending too much money.

[Image: Time]

Why Apple iPhone Business May Die Soon?

You may have read the previous post in which I mentioned what Apple as a company must do. They should have done a number of things with the iPhone to refresh the product line. However, they have released an iterative, slightly modified iPhone 5 with iPhone 5S.

It has virtually no improvement to speak about. You will have no idea how Apple is stealing your money with a substandard device, simply by looking at the new iPhone website or the presentation below.

Already you may be seeing a lot of criticism directed at Apple for being stupid about this product. Steve Jobs wouldn’t have liked this.

We have the technical specifications of iPhone 5S here, compared to iPhone 5.

Feature iPhone 5S iPhone 5C iPhone 5
Display LED IPS capacitive touch; 4 inches LED IPS capacitive touch; 4 inches LED IPS capacitive touch; 4 inches
Resolution 640×1136 (16:9); 326 ppi 640×1136 (16:9); 326 ppi 640×1136 (16:9); 326 ppi
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass Corning Gorilla Glass Corning Gorilla Glass
Storage 16/32/64 GB 16/32 GB 16/32/64 GB
Memory TBA although expected is 1 GB 1 GB 1 GB
Card slot NO NO NO
Camera 8 MP; 1.5 µm pixel size; dual LED flash for true tone 8 MP; 1.4 µm pixel size 8 MP; 1.4 µm pixel size
Video shooting 1080p HD @ 30 fps 1080p HD @ 30 fps 1080p HD @ 30 fps
Operating System iOS 7 iOS 7 iOS 6 upgradable to iOS 7
Battery 1570 mAh Li-Po 1510 mAh Li-Po 1440 mAh Li-Po
SoC Apple A7 dual core 64 bit
Apple M7 motion co-processor
Apple A6 dual core 32 bit Apple A6 dual core 32 bit
Processing power 1.7 GHz 1.3 GHz 1.3 GHz
Dimensions Height 123.8 mm Height 124.4 mm Height 123.8 mm
Width 58.6 mm Width 59.2 mm Width 58.6 mm
Depth 7.6 mm Depth 9 mm Depth 7.6 mm
Weight 112 g Weight 132 g Weight 112 g
Other features
  • Fingerprint scanner, known as touch ID
  • Siri
  • AirDrop
  • GPRS
  • EDGE
  • LTE
  • Nano-SIM
  • iCloud
  • GPS & GLONASS
  • Black/Slate, White/Silver, Gold color options
  • Siri
  • AirDrop
  • GPRS
  • EDGE
  • LTE
  • Nano-SIM
  • iCloud
  • GPS & GLONASS
  • Black/Slate, White/Silver, Gold color options
  • Siri
  • AirDrop
  • GPRS
  • EDGE
  • LTE
  • Nano-SIM
  • iCloud
  • GPS & GLONASS
  • Black/Slate, White/Silver, Gold color options

The prices of iPhone 5S and 5C are as follows.

5S: 16 GB version available for $199; 32 GB for $299; 64 GB for $399
5C: 16 GB for $99 and 32 GB for $199

Unlocked contract-free devices are priced thus:

5S: 16 GB at $649; 32 GB at $749; 64 GB at $849
5C: 16 GB at $549 and 32 GB at $649

I have never seen a bigger rip-off.

What’s In the iPhone?

The question that one should ask is this. Is iPhone the best smartphone out there that you can buy? The answer is No, it is not.

iPhone 5S in different colors

Apple iPhone used to be the best smartphone until iPhone 5 was released last year. After that, immediately enough, a number of Android devices and BlackBerry Z10 came up, and the most important and popular among them include Galaxy S4, HTC One, etc. These devices have great features and power and have managed easily to overshadow the iPhone. Since iPhone 4S, Apple has not done anything significant with the device, and it just is not the best device you can buy in the market today. It is still a great device if the price is appropriate. The current iPhone doesn’t have features to command a price over 400 dollars.

With contract, you can buy really great devices below 299 dollars, AT&T sells HTC One at only 199 dollars with 2 year contract. That phone can kick iPhone at the bottom any day. Also, there are a huge number of devices that you can check out in this page.

So, why is the iPhone costing as much? Simply because Apple has its ego and it cannot ever command a low price for its creations. In 2007, when Steve Jobs released the iPhone, it was the best smartphone you could buy in the world. It used to be that awesome on all subsequent versions and iterative updates, tagged ‘S’ for ‘Speed’—iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone4S, iPhone5, and now iPhone 5S. The tradition stopped at around the time when iPhone 5 was released with a small screen, processor, battery, etc., to compete with smartphones eons ahead of its time.

In 2012 and this year, we have seen such a great development with Android that iPhone can no longer stay strong without some significant innovation. New operating systems have emerged; Windows and BlackBerry still hold a very low percentage of the smartphone market. At this point, coming up with a substandard device is going to kill Apple’s credibility.

64 Bit, A Marketing Hype?

If you ask the straightforward question, whether 64 bit computing incorporated in iPhone 5S is a marketing hype or has some level of significance, the easy answer is it is just a marketing hype. It has absolutely no significance whatsoever, in the current market, that is.

Let me clarify.

Apple iPhone 5S is the first ever smartphone to introduce 64 bit computing. What about Android? Android OS, the current Jelly Bean and upcoming Kit Kat are still in 32 bit edition. You will not be seeing an Android 64 bit any time soon. Samsung has already announced an upcoming 64 bit smartphone right after Apple iPhone 5S launch.

What is 64 bit computing? In desktop computing, we started off with 8 bit systems, and then moved on to 16 bit, and then 32 bit, and now 64 bit with almost all desktop operating systems. In 2005, Microsoft upgraded the OS to 64 bit, and Apple changed the Mac OS X to 64 bit in 2009. This is an upgrade to the basic computing architecture in which the computing power can be enhanced significantly by incorporating more resources, such as RAM.

However, the catch is the applications running on the operating system should also be capable enough to take advantage of the architecture. In the current app market, and also in the foreseeable future, there is no way you will be inundated with 64-bit apps. You are going to take advantage of and use only 32 bit apps until developers have managed to create 64-bit versions.

Apple A7

In such a world, Apple’s A7 processor is not going to bring you any computing advantage. You will of course see a speed boost in loading your 32 bit regular apps because this A7 processor is 1.7 GHz dual core as compared to 1.3 GHz A6 on iPhone 5. However, the Android competitions, HTC One with Snapdragon 600, LG G2 with Snapdragon 800, Galaxy S4 with Exynos, will continue to overwhelm you in performance. There is no way Apple iPhone 5S is going to match the performance benchmarks of those devices.

Also, Android is soon going to upgrade to 64-bit computing in the very near future. In such a time, what Phil Schiller said about the architecture is mindless marketing gimmick at best.

Other Stuff

Apple has the other stuff on the iPhone, including the iPhone’s touch ID sensor. It is a clever implementation of fingerprint security. It is one feature that is worth bragging about. It makes the device be tied to your bioinformatics, making it ultra-secure. And they have implemented it perfectly too, by putting it right behind the home button at the bottom of the phone. This is something that we will get to see on upcoming Android devices.

Camera on iPhone 5S is another thing that they bragged about in the keynote, given below.

The camera in fact is not that advanced as compared to the shooters on any other device, such as HTC One or Galaxy S4. The camera uses the larger pixel concept revolutionized by HTC One. iPhone 5S camera uses 1.5 µm pixels, while iPhone 5 has pixels as large as 1.4 microns. HTC One is still the king in pixel size with nearly 2 micron pixels.

With other major features, including Optical Image Stabilization, HTC One’s camera is far superior than iPhone 5S’s. Also, it has to be mentioned that the best camera in the market today has 41 megapixels. It belongs to Nokia 1020. Other devices, Lumia 925, 920, etc., also have better cameras than the existing iPhone 5. iPhone 5S does not improve a lot on the camera side, although Apple makes you believe it does.

One thing that I have to mention is the dual LEDs on iPhone 5S camera that help in maintaining proper lighting on poorly lit scenes. It is a perfect improvement over iPhone 5 camera. It does indeed help in making the images better when the LED flash option is turned on.

iPhone 5S camera flash

Another improvement is the new processor supplement known as motion co-processor, M7. It is also a clever way iPhone 5S can measure and adapt to motion. This co-processor is a weak supplement to the A7 chip that measures just the motion data, from such sensors as the gyroscope, accelerometer, and compass. Since these sensors are controlled by M7, A7 is not engaged to rotate the display and measure the distance traveled when running. This helps you run fitness apps better on iPhone 5S.

Conclusion

Other than a few minor improvements, Apple has done nothing with iPhone to be able to command a large price tag. In essence, it is a substandard phone by today’s standards, and it deserves no attention from the consumers. This is a faltering step by the company, and if it doesn’t remedy immediately by bringing out an innovative device sooner, Apple’s iPhone business may soon be in jeopardy.

Microsoft to Unveil Surface 2 and Pro 2: What You Need to Know?

Surface tablet

We did a short review on Surface RT tablets earlier in the blog. We also checked out Surface Pro, and their performance. Also, Surface RT is a tablet quite different from what you expect from a Windows tablet, and as a result they failed in the market. With these said, Microsoft has sent out invitations for an event in NYC on , where they will unveil the next generation of the tablets—Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2. Let’s check out what you can expect from these tablets.

Also, there is the rumored Surface Mini that may be unveiled too.

Basically, a few things that we have been able to confirm about these tablets are these: NVidia Tegra 4 processor on RT; Intel Haswell processor on Surface Pro 2; 1080p HD screen; two-step kickstand that helps maintain orientation on uneven surfaces; a battery-powered keyboard cover, known as power cover; an upgrade to RAM to about 4 GB or so; Windows RT 8.1 on Surface 2 tablet.

What’s Wrong With Surface RT?

Earlier when Surface RT was released, it had Windows RT operating system, and that was one of the prime reasons why the tablet failed. The problem with Win RT is that it is a special tablet operating system without the capability to run any of regular desktop Windows applications. Windows 8 that comes on Surface Pro is the regular Windows desktop operating system that is capable of running any Windows application that works on other versions of Windows, such as Win 7 and Vista.

Dell XPS 10 and Surface RT are two of the tablets that run Windows RT. The problem with Windows RT is that Microsoft doesn’t have enough apps to support the platform. The manufacturers like Asus are not enthusiastic about the platform and they have decided to stop creating tablets based on Windows RT.

In order to find the number of apps on Windows RT platform, you can go to the Metro Scanner. Right now, it is showing 115,863 apps. This is an improvement from about 44,000 apps in February this year. However, considering Android and iOS have nearly a million apps, this is not commendable. Also, Windows RT platform has all sorts of crappy apps there are.

Also, Microsoft is not being honest and clear about their products and operating systems. Microsoft’s website on Windows RT and Windows 8 for instance shows up all kinds of tablets. It is extremely useful if you are getting a tablet with Microsoft Windows 8 operating system, the desktop version. Some of these tablets include Acer Aspire R7, latest Asus Vivo Tab, Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga, HP Envy Touchsmart Sleekbook, Dell Latitude 10, and Surface Pro. However, in a Microsoft website, these tablets are shown along with Windows RT-based Surface RT and Dell XPS 10. It is a tricky way that Microsoft is trying to sell off the remaining uncalled-for Surface RT tablets.

Make absolutely sure that you buy only Windows 8 tablets, and not Windows RT tablets.

Let me say again this: Surface Pro is a good tablet to buy, in fact one of the best. Surface RT is a bad tablet to buy, in fact one of the worst. You will not find it clear by simply visiting Microsoft’s website, okay? So, beware!

Another shady approach from Microsoft at besting iPad: In this page, Microsoft is comparing iPad 4 with Windows RT tablets, including Surface RT. This is a classic example of how companies only compare the features that they have got better on their products. The comparison takes only a few aspects—display size, thinness, presence of a keyboard, battery life, cloud storage given, price, presence of Microsoft software, and weirdly enough printing.

Click to enlarge iPad comparison

In those aspects, Microsoft’s Surface RT is slightly on par with iPad, while other tablets in the range that run Windows 8 operating system are on par or better. The comparison does not mention any other aspects, such as the awesome app store of Apple where there are a million apps for iPad, the Retina Display that is much better than Surface RT’s regular display, the lightning fast Lightning connector, 3G/LTE capability, Apple’s specially made A6X CPU that adds to the performance, and the highly secure iOS 6.

On any day, iPad is a better product than Surface RT. However, if the competition is with Windows 8 tablets, iPad will fail bitterly. Hence, if you are trying to buy a good tablet, I would suggest you go with one that runs Windows 8. iPad could be a second choice.

Upcoming Surface

With the upcoming Surface 2 tablet, Microsoft will not be using the ‘RT’ trademark. It will be called ‘Surface 2’ only. The issue is that this will further confuse the customers. It is fortunate that other manufacturers are not supporting the Windows RT platform. While Microsoft has a way to make the desktop operating system work on tablets and a third operating system to work on mobile phones, there is absolutely no need for RT.

Windows Phone operating system already has over 170,000 apps, and they are useful on your Windows smartphone. Windows 8 has its own applications for the desktop, and they are all useful. We know it because we have been using them for nearly two decades. Windows RT neither has the apps nor the necessary support. It is hence not required in today’s market. What Microsoft should have done is not refreshing the Surface RT line at all.

Speaking from a consumer’s point of view, Windows RT is not an operating system with a bright future as Windows Phone’s. It is bound to die out. Also, creating inconspicuous campaigns to sell off remaining Surface RT tablets along with regular Windows tablets will create lack of confidence among customers with Microsoft products. This is going to be bad for everybody.

Upcoming Surface 2 is not a substantially good upgrade to existing Surface RT considering the available specs. Talking about Surface Pro, however, it is going to contain a latest Windows 8 OS, possibly with the Blue update. The Power Cover that comes as an accessory will enhance the battery life of both tablets.

Power cover on Surface

Another news given by WSJ is that Microsoft is working on a mini version of Surface, known as Surface Mini. It is expected to take on Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HD, and iPad Mini.

Conclusion

For the next Surface line, I strongly suggest you look for Surface Pro 2 and see if it is priced right for purchasing. If a tablet is running Windows RT, you are better off not thinking about it twice. Price is another important concern. Surface RT is good for a purchase for a price point of let’s say 299 dollars.

[Image: Neowin]

Antivirus and Internet Security Software for Apple Macintosh

Mac affected by virus

Are you a fan of Apple Macintosh computers? Do you run Mac OS X Lion or Mountain Lion? Are you planning on upgrading to Mavericks? You should be wondering about the viruses, malware, and Internet security on Apple Macintosh systems. It is appalling to know that there are many threads online talking about antivirus on Mac, and some so-called ‘experts’ say there is no need for an antivirus on Macintosh.

They couldn’t be more wrong. Although there are very few viruses affecting Mac in comparison to PC, there are. Viruses and malwares are increasing in the Mac domain as well, and Apple is getting concerned about them quite a bit. Hence, it is imperative that you install an antivirus and Internet security application on your Mac computer. Recently, NYTimes Bits posted about widespread virus attacks on Macintosh.

Here is an image showing the major malware and viruses on Mac.

virus and malware distribution on Mac

 

In this time, you very much need to get a very good antivirus and Internet security application for Macintosh. One of the best out there is Intego Mac Internet Security 2013 .

Intego has a number of products to protect from viruses, malware, and web-based attacks—Internet Security Suite (involving antivirus), Family Protector, and Virus protector for iPhone’s iOS, etc., are a few.

The application supports Macintosh systems, OS X 10.6 or later (Snow Leopard or later). Needs 1.5 GB of hard disk space and installs in French, German, Japanese, and Spanish besides English.

The application should be updated frequently over the Internet as well.

Mac Internet Security is also available as a free trial option.

Features

 

The application provides protection against not only Mac viruses, but also Windows viruses, Trojans, Worms, hack tools, spyware, adware, keyloggers, and fake security applications.

Since it detects and prevents Windows viruses as well, it prevents your Mac from being a carrier of Windows viruses and thus infect other Windows computers that connect to it.

Other standard features of the application include scheduled scans, real time protection, frequent virus updates via the Internet, scanning options on file attachments on Mac mail, etc.

There is a special iOS edition of the antivirus, that can be installed to your iPhone or iPad to protect them from viruses and malware.

It can work exactly like an Internet Security suite on Windows and can scan all the installed programs on your Mac and find out any suspicious application behavior. This keeps a log of rogue applications, if any, and keeps monitoring all installed and new applications to make them work properly.

Conclusion

 

Intego has a number of personal and business security products priced very reasonably. If you have a Macintosh computer, you are fortunate that you won’t have too many viruses or malware. However, this is no consolation at all. Every day Mac is getting more and more popular, and hence virus coders and hackers are getting interested in the OS.

They have been successful in finding several security holes on the OS. Hence, it goes without saying that you should secure your Mac operating system with an antivirus.

Parts of the Upcoming Apple iPhone 5S: A Gallery

Popular tech blog BGR has recently shared with us the images of certain parts of the upcoming iPhone 5S, the next iterative (probably not!) update to iPhone.

Since that day in 2007 when iPhone got a cult following, people like us in the tech world have been watching Cupertino from every corner. This is the result. Thirsty geeks always get leaked images through some means. While we don’t know the origin of these images, we have asked BGR about it. Let me show you these images.

1. Speaker Bracket

 

iPhone 5s Speaker bracket

 

5s Speaker Bracket

 

2. Wi-Fi Flex Cable Ribbon

 

iPhone 5S Wi-Fi Flex cable ribbon

 

3. iPhone 5S Vibration Motor

 

5s vibration motor

 

4. Sim trays

 

iphone 5S sim tray 1

 

iphone 5S sim tray 2

 

iphone 5S sim tray 3

 

In another recent development, iDownloadBlog shared what is supposed to be iPhone 5S assembly line images. Here they are.

Apple iPhone 5S in factory

 

iPhone 5S in factory

 

assembly line of iPhone 5S

 

assembly line images of iPhone 5S

 

Over the last few days, there have been quite a number of rumors regarding this upcoming smartphone. How great iPhone 5S will be, only time will tell. Since iPhone 5’s Maps debacle, the then chief of design, Scott Forstall had to resign from Apple. He used to be the head of development in iOS and close to the former chief, Steve Jobs. After his departure, the hardware design chief of Apple, Sir Jony Ive has been given reins of the software design as well.

Since Apple iPhone, the original, its design has been inspiring people all over the world. All those designs, also those of the iPad, iMac, iPod, and all other iDevices, came from Ive. Since he is heading iOS design also now, we will not only get to see a revamp in the hardware, but also in the software. iOS has long been regarded as stale and uninspiring after Android OEMs like HTC and Samsung have developed their own skinned OSes.

In Conclusion

 

We cannot expect to see the next iPhone any time soon, as it requires a lot of design and development in software side as well. Those assembly line images that cropped up may or may not belong to 5S. The World Wide Developers Conference of Apple (WWDC) is slated to start on June 10th. This is one event we need to look forward to. Also, in the WSJ All Things Digital’s D11 conference that kicked off yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook shared some information about the upcoming plans.

We will get to know only when the device comes to the market.