Samsung pulls an ARod, caught juicing its S4 benchmark results

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UpdateThe Verge reports that Samsung has responded with a semi-convincing case for how some of it may be innocent, but no comment on the more damning evidence of code referencing specific benchmark apps:

The Korean manufacturer says certain “full screen apps” (any app in which the status bar isn’t present) such as the camera, browser, video player, and benchmarking tools, are classified as requiring the highest performance available. Many games don’t require the maximum clock speed to run, the company notes. Samsung doesn’t address AnandTech‘s discovery of strings of code that implied specific benchmark apps were being targeted for higher clock speeds, but the site did note that other benchmark apps that are not explicitly mentioned in code were also behaving the same way.

For years now, people have been using benchmarks to analyze how devices compare to each other in terms of raw power. As most people know, however, benchmarks don’t usually mean much in terms of real world performance. According to a new report from AnandTech, Samsung has been performing some trickery to make its devices perform better during benchmarking.

Essentially, Samsung has set the GPU of the Exynos 5 Octa Galaxy S4 variant to run at a higher frequency when being benchmarked than during normal, day-to-day usage. AnandTech tested this and found that Samsung sets the device to run at 533MHz during benchmarking tests,  as opposed to the 480MHz during normal usage.

The same trickery also appears to be true when it comes to the CPU speed. While running the GLBenchmark 2.5.1, AnTuTu, Linpack, and Quadrant benchmarking apps, the device was set to use the Cortex A15 cores clocked at 1.2GHz. When using the GFXBench 2 app, which is apparently not subject to Samsung’s benchmark trigger, the device ran at  the lower 500MHz speed. Read more

Samsung’s Galaxy NX Android camera now available through UK retailers for £1299

tinhte_Samsung_Galaxy_NX_3-580x397Remember that new addition to Samsung’s NX camera family running Android that the company announced back in June? Today it finally becomes available, at least in the UK, with several UK retailers beginning orders for the device at £1299. That means the camera, which offers a full Android experience on a 4.8-inch display and 13 interchangeable lenses, will likely land in North America somewhere in the $1700 – $1900 range. It’s not cheap compared to other mirrorless competitors, but there simply isn’t a comparable experience that offers the power of a quality DSLR combined with a full Android environment, LTE and 1.6GHz quad core processor. The price tag will also get you the 18-55mm kit lens to start out. Wex and Jessops are currently accepting orders for the device, and Jessops lists it as being available for next-day delivery.

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Android 4.3 cures performance issues of 2012 Nexus 7

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While all eyes may be on the new Nexus 7, those with 2012 models may want to hold fire before handing over their cash for the shiny new model. AnandTech (via GigaOM) reveals that an upgrade to Android 4.3 could give the older model a whole new lease of life.

One of the common complaints late in the life of the original Nexus 7 was slow storage I/O performance, leading to an inconsistent user experience. After a fresh flash, the Nexus 7 was speedy and performant, but after months of installing applications and using the tablet, things began slowing down. This was a friction point that many hoped would be fixed in the new Nexus 7 (2013) model, which it was. There’s even more to the story though, it turns out Google has fixed that storage I/O ageing problem on all Nexus devices with the Android 4.3 update …  Read more

LG steals a trick from Samsung with QuickWindow case for G2

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Teasing is in. After HTC teased the One Mini so much there was little we didn’t know by the launch, LG appears to be following suit with the G2, the successor to the Optimus G.

First there was the news that it would be powered by a Snapdragon 800 processor, then the likely screen, the official name, and the glass back and rear buttons. We’ve had a series of leaked images and video, and now LG has shown us its QuickWindow case.

An opening or “window” on the cover of QuickWindow allows users to glance at various information displays without having to open the cover flap. With only a light swipe of a finger, the QuickWindow UX will appear in the window which users can view while on the go. Information that can be viewed through the QuickWindow cover include a clock, weather report, alarm, music player, incoming phone call details and incoming text messages …  Read more

HTC faces possibility of first loss in company’s history, missing even pessimistic analyst forecasts

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HTC has followed its disappointing Q2 results by issuing revenue and profit warnings for Q3 suggesting the company may make its first ever loss in its 16-year history.

  • 3Q revenue is expected to be in the range of NT$50bn to NT$60bn ($1.7 to $2M)
  • Gross profit margin is expected to be in the range of 18% to 21%
  • Operating margin is expected to be in the range of 0% to -8%

The forecast revenue is below the average of 22 analysts polled by Reuters, and its projected operating margin of between 0 and -8 percent falls below most of the more pessimistic forecasts. Operating margin is essentially net profit margin before taxes, interest payments and dividends. Its operating margin for Q2 was just 1.5 percent.

It’s an ironic position for the company to find itself in not long after launching what we consider to be the best Android handset on the market …  Read more

Guy Kawasaki posts picture of the X Phone in green, but that’s just one of the expected 25 colors

We are just a few days away from Motorola’s official announcement of the X Phone, but that hasn’t stopped the leaks from coming. This time, the leak comes straight from Motorola evangelist Guy Kawasaki. On Google+ (via: Droid Life), Kawasaki posted a picture from a Motorola campus party that clearly shows the much rumored X Phone in the same green shade that we saw in other leaked images earlier this month.  The white and black variants are also present, but we’ve seen them several times before.

The X Phone is expected to be available in at least 25 different color options and sold built-to-order via an online portal. While we know a lot about the device already, Motorola should announce all the secrets this Thursday during its press event.  Read more

Report: Android tablet shipments dominate iPad in Q2 2013

Strategy-Analytics-tablets-Q2-2013Research firm Strategy Analytics has released a report today on worldwide tablet market share for Q2 2013 highlighting how Android has seen a significant increase in market share during the quarter. Not only did it manage to capture 67% of the 51.7 million units shipped (up from 51% of the market last year), its increased market share came at the expense of a decline in tablet sales year over year for Apple.

Android is now making steady progress due to hardware partners like Samsung, Amazon, Google and White-Box tablets which, despite the fact that branded OEMs are lowering price-points and putting pressure on the White-Box manufacturers, are still performing well,” King added, “Apple iOS shipments were 14.6 million iPads in Q2 2013 which declined 14 percent annually.  In the same quarter a year ago the first Retina display iPads were launched which could partly explain the decline as there were no new models in this quarter.  However, to compensate that, iPad Mini which was not available a year ago, now freely available was expected to take the figure higher than 14.6 million”

Compared to Android’s 67% of total shipments, the report puts Apple at 28.3% of the market during the quarter, down from 47.2% a year ago, and Windows at 4.5%.

As always with these reports, there are a few things to keep in mind. Stratgey Analytics tracks shipments to retailers, not sales. Its numbers above also factor in White-Box tablets– those usually inexpensive, unbranded products that we never really get real sales figures for. Remove White-Box tablets and you get around 36.2 million total units in Q2 2013, up around 47 percent since last year. That would put Apple’s 14.6 million tablets sold during the quarter at a much higher market share in Q2, around 38%. Read more

$30 discount on the new 1080p Nexus 7 tablet at Staples, 16GB: $199, 32GB: $239

From 9to5Toys.com:

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Hot on the heels of Google announcing early availability for the new Nexus 7, we’re getting our first discount on the brand new tablet. For the next two days (or until sold out), Staples is offering the 16GB version for $199 and 32GB for $239 when you enter coupon code 41178. Both deals include free shipping and tax is added where applicable. This deal is the only current discount available for the new Nexus 7. Read more

U.S. Government proposes new privacy ‘rules’ for apps

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Image: technotin.com

App developers may soon be asked to tell us what data they collect, and how it is used, under a set of government proposals released today (via TNW). 

The US government’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration today issued its first draft of what will be a mobile apps code of conduct intended to better protect consumers and their privacy. If made final, policy states that publishers must provide consumers with “short-form” notices in multiple languages informing them of how their data is being used [...]

Just so that there’s no doubt about what “data” means, the government entity specifically says it includes biometrics, browser history, phone or text log, contacts, financial info, health, medical, or therapy info, location, and user files …

There is rather more doubt, however, about how effective the proposals might prove …  Read more

Google prepares for living-room push as 4k support added to Android 4.3

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Google is clearly serious about its intentions to make a sizeable push into the living-room market, as Android Police spotted a small clue revealing that Android 4.3 has added support for 4k displays.

Google has added a new DPI category to Android: XXXHDPI. This is for screens with an approximate DPI of six hundred and forty. Did you think we were stopping at 1080p?

Android engineer Dianne Hackborn is quoted as confirming the intent behind this:

A typical use of this density would be 4K television screens — 3840×2160 …  Read more

Samsung officially reports $8.5 billion in revenue for Q2, warns investors that smartphone growth may slow

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After releasing its earnings estimates earlier this month, Samsung has just posted its full report for Q2 2013. The company reported profits of around $8.5 billion, up $2 billion over Q1′s $6.4 billion profit and about $51 billion in revenue. While both of those numbers are records for Samsung, they fell short of Wall Street expectations.

The mobile department of Samsung increased its profits nine percent in Q2, which the company attributes to sales of the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 8.0. Samsung did note, however, that its mobile department may not be able to keep up that pace forever and a slight drop in growth may occur.

Going forward, Samsung plans to focus on “offering differentiated smartphone displays…including flexible display technology.”  Read more

Google reportedly working on new Android-powered set-top box with motion sensor and video camera

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Hot on the heels of the Chromecast being announced yesterday, the Wall Street Journal is now reporting that Google is planning yet another entry into the living room market. The publication says that Google has been secretly working on an Android-powered set-top box, similar to the Roku and Apple TV. Googler Andy Rubin allegedly showed the device off at CES 2013 earlier this year, highlighting the Android operating system and video-chatting via Hangouts feature. In addition to the camera, the device also had a motion sensor similar to Microsoft’s Kinect.

We reported earlier this year that Google was in talks with cable companies for a new service for internet TV streaming, so it’s possible that the two rumors are related.

While similar to the Chromecast, this set-top box is supposedly much more independent and does not require another device to power it. The device will be able to run a plethora of Android apps, including Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, and the Play Store.

The people briefed on Google’s plans said the set-top box Google showed off in January had a broader set of features. One of these people said the device allowed people to stream YouTube videos, watch TV shows or movies from the Google Play digital-programming store, and access Android apps such as videogames or, potentially, digital media services such as Netflix and Pandora.

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