Mobile Technology – Cell phones, ultramobile computing, and more
New benchmark results suggest Intel may have a bright future in smartphones after all– and the first phone to show that is, appropriately, named YOLO. (though sadly it’s spelled “Yolo,” not “#YOLO”)
Low-end Android handsets in developing markets sell in the $70-200 range (without carrier subsidies). They’re typically equipped with processors from Chinese manufacturers like MediaTek, Allwinner, or Rockchip — often with anemic ARM11 performance in tow. Buyers wanting a smooth Android experience have to step up to more expensive phones.
Into this void stepped Intel, which announced its new Atom Z2420 processor at CES a few weeks ago. Formerly codenamed “Lexington,” the mobile platform features a single-core 1.2 GHz CPU with HyperThreading (a lower-clocked version of the 1.6 GHz Z2460 Medfield / Penwell chip in the Xolo X900), PowerVR SGX540 graphics, Intel XMM 6265 HSPA+ 3G radio (a variant of the XMM 6260 adding dual-SIM support– important for developing markets), MicroSD support, FM radio, and even Intel’s Wireless Display (WiDi) technology, which can stream 1080p HD video to Wifi-connected TVs. The chip supports up to 1.3 MP front and 5 MP rear cameras and can record and play back 1080p video.
As with Intel’s first smartphone processor, the new Lexington platform was accompanied by a “shipping quality” reference smartphone (“FFRD,” or Form Factor Reference Design) to help manufacturers get off the ground with its chip. Safaricom of Kenya and Lava Mobile of India are bringing variants of this design to market, as is Acer.
Today we have the first benchmark results from the Safaricom phone, dubbed “Yolo,” and they’re quite surprising. The 3.5″ HVGA (320×480) phone includes 512MB RAM, 4GB storage, 5 MP rear camera (no flash), MicroSD slot, and Android 4.0.4, and sells for 10,999 KES ($126).
Juuchini put the Yolo up against Samsung’s flagship Android phone, the Galaxy S III GT-I9300, packing an Eynos 4412 processor (quad-core 1.4 GHz ARM Cortex A9 with Mali-400MP graphics) and 1GB of RAM. As the results show, Intel’s phone comes pretty close to matching the almost 5x more expensive S III:
Antutu Benchmark (higher = better)
Vellamo (HTML 5)
Samsung Galaxy S III (GT-i9300)
Samsung Exynos 4412, quad-core ARM Cortex A9 @ 1.4 GHz, 1 GB RAM, 1280×720 resolution
Intel Safaricom Yolo
Intel Atom Z2420, single-core Atom @ 1.2 GHz with HyperThreading, 512 MB RAM, 480×320 resolution
Note: some versions of the Galaxy S3 (e.g. most of the U.S. versions) have a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor instead of the quad-core Exynos and will thus produce different benchmark results.
See here for a review of the Yolo. The phone will hit India shortly as the Lava Xolo X500, retailing for Rs. 8,999 ($167).
Intel doesn’t appear to be targeting the U.S. market with this, which is unfortunate, as we think a Yolo with a higher-resolution (e.g. 800×480) screen could do well as an entry-level smartphone (think free-on-contract). And maybe it’d sell even better if branded “#YOLO.”
Still, the Lexington platform’s performance in such a low-priced handset bodes well for Intel’s future in the smartphone industry.
Just hours after settling the FTC’s antitrust investigation of its business practices, Google has blocked all Windows Phones from accessing its Google Maps mobile site. The move represents the latest move in an escalating war between Google and Microsoft.
Navigating to maps.google.com on any Windows Phone 7 or 8 handset now redirects to Google’s homepage:
Google issued a response claiming that WP devices wouldn’t work because the Google Maps mobile site was only “optimized” for the WebKit browser engine used by Chrome and Safari, and not Internet Explorer [note: Gizmodo's assertion that the Google Maps mobile site has never worked on WP7/8 is incorrect]:
The mobile web version of Google Maps is optimized for WebKit browsers such as Chrome and Safari. However, since Internet Explorer is not a WebKit browser, Windows Phone devices are not able to access Google Maps for the mobile web.
This response is, however, problematic at best. Read on after the break to see why.
Russian developer Cotulla has managed to port Windows Phone 8 to HTC’s HD2, adding yet another OS to the legendary smartphone’s collection – which already included Windows Mobile 6.5 (which it originally shipped with), all versions of Windows Phone 7.x (7, 7.5, 7.8), most versions of Android, Ubuntu, other Linux distributions, and Meego,
For now it’s actually just a proof of concept.
I honestly dunno how far it can goes forward; a lot of problems appear and not sure will be it’s possible to solve them.
And not only to solve them, but get an acceptable user experience :)
It was implied as “a crazy experiment” at the start up time
For now it’s implemented only few functionality like SD card, screen output, touch screen input.
All other things are not working. I won’t add “YET” it can be very hard to get some things to work.
and DFT didn’t yet decided about future developments in that direction.
Performance seems to be one of the biggest challenges. WP8 is based on Windows NT, which is much heavier than WP7.x’s WinCE roots, and possibly too much for the HD2′s three-year-old internals to handle smoothly.
But Cotulla’s results could answer a few questions: first, was Microsoft justified in not upgrading any WP7.x devices to WP8? Second, as Microsoft — particularly through Nokia — heads downmarket with WP7.x phones like the Lumia 510, will WP8 be a viable option for entry-level smartphone hardware anytime soon?
Microsoft just concluded the Windows Phone Summit, where it announced Windows Phone 8. The event highlighted only platform-level changes, not final end-user features, but there was still plenty to cover. Most significantly, Windows Phone is moving from the Windows CE kernel to the same Windows NT components underlying Windows 8. Windows Phone 8 features a revised Start screen with resizable live tiles, higher screen resolutions, support for removable memory cards, and more.
Like Windows 8, the new phone OS will feature background multitasking for apps like VoIP services (e.g. Skype) and turn-by-turn GPS navigation, along with native C/C++ code support and NFC.
However, all the changes mean that no current Windows Phone 7.x handsets will support the new OS. Microsoft will release a Windows Phone 7.8 update, though, to add the new Start screen to WP 7.5 phones.
Read on after the break for all the new platform features announced:
It looks like it’s not only Google that think the future’s in the Cloud; Baidu have recently unveiled their latest Cloud phone. As a Baidu handset, it’ll also include voice search, voice control, and other online services offered by the Chinese search company. Of course, its biggest feature is going to be cloud storage. It’ll feature 100GB of cloud storage, which means you can store a pretty huge amount of games, videos, photos and messages in the cloud.
If you don’t know what cloud storage is, think of Google Documents. (If you haven’t got Google Documents, then, do.) Google Docs is an online application which allows users to write text documents, spreadsheets and presentations, and then save them ‘online’. This means your document doesn’t take up any room on your hard drive, and it is, in fact, not even stored on your computer. You can access your Google documents on any computer in the world, as long as you remember your password and have an internet connection. Pretty neat, huh?
Cloud storage on phones is an even bigger deal; we all have a personal computer or laptop, which, let’s face it, is where we’re going to want to do all of our work, writing, editing, etc. With phones, however, there are plenty of reasons why you might want to access your files from a different device, without having to physically move it over first. Want to edit the photos you took yesterday or write up those essay ideas you typed on the bus? Just turn on your PC and access your documents from the Cloud.
Saving your stuff in the cloud is also even more secure than saving it on your gadget or gizmo, whatever that might be. You might think that since it’s just floating around the internet it’s potentially insecure, but provided you keep your passwords secret and obscure, there’s nothing that should make your cloud accounts any more difficult to get into than your bank account.
Cloud storage is also cheaper than physical storage. The Baidu handset comes with 100GB of cloud storage, though there have also been rumours of a 300GB version being made available. In any case, you wouldn’t find 100GB of physical storage on a smartphone these days, would you? That’s because in physical terms, it’s a huge amount to include on a tiny little phone, but in cloud terms it’s minuscule.
If you’re still not convinced, just wait until you get your hands on one of the latest HTC One range of handsets. Each HTC One phone comes with 25GB of Dropbox storage – which, by the way, is cloud storage – and as one of the first range of smartphones to utilise the cloud, it should be sure to recruit a few converts along the way.
Lava, a player in the Indian budget smartphone market, unveiled the Xolo X900, the first handset powered by Intel’s Medfield x86 chipset (formerly codenamed Penwell). The Xolo runs Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread on top of a 1.6 GHz single-core Intel Atom Z2460 (Medfield) chip. Screen size is 4″, with 1024×600 resolution, 8-megapixel rear camera with flash, VGA front-facing camera, NFC support, HDMI output, and a 1640 mAh battery.
The phone is based on Intel’s Medfield reference design, which UK carrier Orange is also using for its upcoming phone, codenamed Santa Clara.
Pricing is unknown as of yet, but Lava says the Xolo X900 should hit the market — only in India — in April.
Hands-on videos with the X900 after the break.
HTC just announced its new One X superphone at the Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona. The Android-powered handset features HTC’s first quad-core processor, a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 running at 1.5 GHz. Other specs include a 4.7″ Super LCD screen with 1280×720 HD resolution, 32 GB storage, 1 GB RAM, an 8-megapixel camera with f/2.0 lens, Bluetooth 4.0, dual-band 802.11n Wifi, NFC, DLNA, HDMI via MHL (over the MicroUSB port), Beats Audio, and a 1800 mAh battery.
The One X’s camera seems to have been a focus area for HTC, which included HDR and the ability to take pictures while recording video (pretty cool). The phone is 9.27 mm thick, weighs in at 130 grams, and will ship with Android 4.0 running HTC’s Sense 4 interface on top.
In the US, AT&T gets its own version, the One XL, with an LTE radio built in. Since Tegra 3 doesn’t seem to play well with current LTE chipsets, the One XL swaps out Nvidia’s quad-core chip for a 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 from Qualcomm. With half the cores as Tegra 3, S4 may appear to be a step down in processing power, but reviews suggest Qualcomm’s Krait architecture may very well match or beat Tegra for mildly threaded apps (i.e. almost everything you can do on a phone except multitasking of several heavy apps).
One X is the hero phone of HTC’s new One line, which also includes the One S (a thin, dual-core phone slotting under the X) and the One V (the entry-level model).
The HTC One S features a svelte aluminum body, just 7.9 mm thick. It features the same dual-core 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 processor from Snapdragon, alongside the 8 MP camera, 1 GB RAM, Bluetooth 4, Wifi, DLNA, and HDMI. However, the screen drops to a 4.3″ QHD (960 x 540) Super AMOLED (with PenTile), internal storage is down to 16 GB, and the battery is 1650 mAh. In the US, the One S will be offered by T-Mobile.
The final member of the family, One V, resurrects the HTC Legend’s design from 2010 for an entry/mid-level Android offering. The phone features a 1 GHz single-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S2, 3.7″ WVGA screen, 4GB of internal storage, 512 MB RAM, 5 MP camera (with f/2.0 aperture, 720p video recording), 115 gram weight, and a 1500mAh battery.
A YouTube video posted by the Dark Force Team (DFT), a well-known smartphone hacking group, shows Windows Mobile 6.1 running within WML — some sort of emulator — on an HTC Windows Phone 7.5 handset. The old OS shows up just like an app, so you can use Windows Phone 7′s task switcher to switch away from it and instantly resume later. The emulator features on-screen buttons that simulate hardware buttons for Windows Mobile.
Despite WML being at an early stage of development, with no technical details provided, Windows Mobile seems to perform quite well in it — even games and full-screen movie playback work seamlessly. If DFT can give the emulator full functionality (like networking support), it could become very useful for anyone who wants to use legacy Windows Mobile apps — or just wants a stroll down memory lane.
No word on when WML will be available to download, but DFT says a version that includes the more touch-friendly Windows Mobile 6.5 is in the works.
Video after the break.
Is a smooth Android experience possible on a limited budget? We decided to find out by checking out the Huawei Ideos X5 U8800. At under $300 unlocked, unsubsidized, it’s one of the cheapest phones with an ARMv7 processor (needed for any semblance of smoothness in Android). The phone features a 3.8″ WVGA LCD, 800 MHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 512 MB RAM, 1500 mAh battery, and an MicroSD slot (4GB card included), and runs Android 2.2 (Froyo).
The results? Watch our full video unboxing and hands-on below the break to find out.
Nokia is set to launch its new Windows Phones at Nokia World next week, but some renders have leaked of the 800, formerly code named Sea Ray. The phone sports the Meego-based N9′s industrial design language, paired with a 3.7″ screen and Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango). It should be available in black, blue, and pink.
Some other findings from these images: Nokia has replaced Windows Phone’s default Segoe WP font with its own font, Pure, and the phone shows Nokia Music, so where will Microsoft’s Zune Marketplace go?
Rumored specs include: 3.7″ ClearBlack AMOLED screen, 1.4 GHz Qualcomm CPU, 16GB storage, 8 MP camera with Carl Zeiss lens, 1540 mAh battery.