HTC launches the HTC One M8 In India – Hitting the Stores in May

HTC launched their much awaited flagship the HTC One M8, here in India today. They’ve priced the M8 at Rs. 49,900 and the phones should hit the retail shelves in the first week of May. The M8, which is the successor of the HTC One which launched last year, see a few upgrades from the predecessor.
HTC One M8 Front and Back
Let’s start with the specs of the HTC One M8:


  • Body Finish: The HTC One M8’s features a brushed metal body for a premium feel on the phone.
  • Dimensions: 146.36 x 70.6 x 9.35mm weighing at 180 grams
  • Display: 5.0 inches, Full HD 1080p with Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Processor: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 801 2.5GHz Quad-core processor
  • Operating System: Android 4.4 with HTC Sense 6.0
  • Memory & Storage: 2GB RAM & 16 GB onboard storage. According to HTC, you may get only around 10GB usable storage. You can opt to use an additional microSD card for more space on the phone.
  • Camera: The Rear Camera is a HTC UltraPixel™ camera, BSI sensor, pixel sensor size 1/3”, f/2.0, 28mm lens. They have a secondary rear camera which is used to capture depth information. The front facing camera is a 5 Megapixel shooter capable of capturing HD video
  • SIM: Nano Sim. If you don’t have one yet, you’ll have to as your telecom operator for a new SIM to use this phone.
  • Connectivity: 3.5mm Headphone Jack, NFC, WiFi, 4G LTE, 3G,MicroUSB & DLNA for wirelessly streaming media to compatible devices
  • Battery: 2600mAh battery rated for up to 20 hours of 3G talk time.
  • Colors & Finishes: Gunmetal Gray & Glacial Silver available during launch and the Amber Gold version will follow after the initial launch.

HTC is pushing hard with the imaging capabilities of the M8, with a dual camera & dual flash setup for the rear camera. With the secondary camera used for depth capturing, the HTC One M8 can take pictures like the Nokia Re-Focus app, which HTC calls UFocus. Ufocus snaps can be re-focused after you’ve taken your snap. The HTC one also offers Panorama modes, an “Always Smile” mode, and Video effects to help you capture the best of your moments.

Regarding the LTC capabilities of the HTC One M8, there are some reports that HTC will be selling the LTE version in India, which should get Indian LTE support after a software upgrade.

In the pricing section, HTC seems to have priced this flagship product below the Rs. 50k mark, bringing in a price war with Samsung’s flagship the Galaxy S5. There are reports already that Samsung has reduced their pricing already in response to this.

Let’s see how this competiton turns out in the market. I just hope that HTC learns from their past mistakes and makes this phone available properly through their retail networks.

Android Wearables, Drool-worthy Moto 360 – News Bits

Android for Wearables

Google announced Android Wear, which is described as “a project that extends Android to wearables”. Google states in their blog post that they’re working with various manufacturers. Chip makers and Fashion Brands are working hard to get these devices to the market. LG and Motorola have already announced that they’re working on wearables that will run Android Wear. If you check out the video from Google below, you’ll see that Android Wear is based heavily off The Google Now features and voice recognition input.

Read about this from Google’s Blog

Moto 360 – A Geek’s Droolware Smartwatch

Right on the heels of Google announcing the Android Wear, Motorola announced the Moto 360, the smart watch that has us Geeks drooling over it. It’s not too far out in the future as well, they say they’re launching in Summer 2014, which is just a few months away. All we can do is admire this product and send Motorola our email ids so they can get let us know when it’s available.

Check out the Moto 360

The All New HTC One to be available on launch day, in the UK at least

Android Central is reporting that certain stores of some UK retailers will have the all new HTC One for sale right on launch day, soon after the announcement. Now that’s the way it’s done Samsung and Sony.

Read

HTC Announces the new HTC One

HTC One
HTC hasn’t been having a good time of late. They’ve made good products, designed quite well with good build quality, but they just haven’t taken off. They had committed to streamlining their product portfolio in 2012, which they haven’t really stuck to (One X, One X+, One S, One V, One SV, etc). Well, they’ve now announced the new flagship One for 2013, and it’s called just the HTC One.

Here’s what the spec sheet looks like:

Processor:  Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 600, quad-core, 1.7GHz
Display: 4.7″ 1080p LCD
Storage: 32GB/64GB, No Expansion Slots, 2 GB RAM
Connectivity: WiFi a/b/g/n/AC, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC,  Quadband GSM, Quadband HSPA, DLNA, WiFi Direct
Software: Android 4.1.2 with the New HTC Sense
Imaging: HTC’s “UltraPixel” Camera, F2.0, 28mm lens, 1080p video with all the additional Sense features such as capturing full resolution images while recording video and HTC Zoe mode. 2.1 MP Front Facing Camera
Battery: 2300 mAh, Non Removable

It’s an aluminium uni-body device and if it’s anything like the One Xs Polycarbonate build, it’s something to look forward to, look and feel-wise at least. They’ve revamped HTC Sense too. Gone are the 3D widgets and transitions, with HTC Blink replacing one of the home screens (you should be able to remove it if you don’t want it). HTC Blink is a curated list of news and social updates, based on sources that you pick or you could just let HTC create a curated list for you.

The other thing that HTC has been harping about is the new camera. They’re calling it the “UltraPixel” camera. It’s a BSI Sensor with a resolution of 4MP, which has larger photosites, which technically allows for more light to be captured. It also has Optical Image Stabilization. We’ll have to wait and find out if it does any image oversampling like the Nokia 808 Pureview and if the OIS is as capable as the system used in the Lumia 920 (or even close to it).

It should be available soon, check the HTC Press Release for a list of all the countries and operators that will be carrying it. There’s no official word on pricing for India as yet.

Will this be the One for HTC? Will it really help turn the company around? We’ll know soon enough, but as was the case with the One X (read our review here), there is the looming spectre of the new Galaxy S device (as was the case with the One X before this).

You can check out more images and videos of the HTC one over at the Product Page, here.

You can read the full Press Release, here.

Is Mudslinging the New Mobile Marketing Mantra?

Has mobile hardware and software reached a stage where there’s nothing else revolutionary to make and market? Most new devices and platform updates these days are at best an incremental update from the ones already being sold. So how do you make the new phones and tablets stand out from the others?

Unique Features

One way to do that is to  dream up a great feature, add it to the device and market it via TV, magazines and social media. This gives the manufacturer a great lead in terms of standing ouside the crowd of devices flooding the market. People want that feature which gives them an edge over their friend’s devices for boasting rights.

Wireless charging, Fast Shot cameras, pushing the envelope on megapixels, faster processors and bigger screens are some examples where manufacturers have been able get one up over their competition. New and improved operating systems and good design and body colors with more bling are a good crowd puller as well.

Marketing & Buzz Words

Another is to hype up standard features with marketing buzz-words which catch the consumers fancy. This technique has been a tried and tested staple of Apple Inc (Retina Display, Face Time – do you want more examples). These buzz words seem to resonate with the consumers, and thrown in with a great marketing pitch, they drive up the hype about that device. Fans can’t have enough of it. But not all manufacturers have the perfected this technique.

Borrowing ideas

However much company folks and fan followings of each platform or brand cry hoarse, each platform has ‘borrowed’ features from the others. I won’t call it stealing, because sharing is a true part of innovation. Companies can go at each other’s throats with patent suits, but the fact still remains, unless key features make it to the other platforms, users on each platform end up  missing something or have to make do with a sub-optimal experience. Let’s not get into the who sued who and won news items which are a rage these days.

No, I’m not against the idea of patents, I’m just in the mindset, that given the pace of the technology industry these days, the current patent laws need drastic changes. Depending on the country you’re in, the patent term can range from 10-20 years. (Additionally, it takes upto 3 years from filing the patent application to getting the patent granted). That’s an eternity for today’s fast paced industry. Ideas and technology go obsolete in a year or two, and are considered ‘pre-historic’ if they’re more than 5 years old. So why can’t technology patents have a shorter term?

What else?

That’s one side effect of the frenetic pace of development of technology. Meanwhile, there are certain key areas that are struggling to catch up. People often complain about how battery technology needs to catch up and be ready for current portable device usage. Unfortunately, this isn’t an area where developments and innovations happen overnight; and even if they do, they aren’t usually ready for consumers for a long time! (As it currently stands, it takes around 15 years from the start of research on new battery chemistry to it being available for use in consumer electronics). OEMs are rushing to make other components more power efficient in the mean time, which leads to more power efficient processors and SOCs, displays and wireless radios.

Potshots

Since most high-end phones and devices have comparable processing muscle, the memory and storage, cameras and platforms, the marketing teams seem to be having a tougher time getting their products to stand out. How’s this affecting their campaigns?

Over the past few months the marketing muscles of some of the major players seem to be taking aim and taking shots at their competitors in advertisements, product launches, websites and social media. Now why is that? Have they run out of sellable and  hype-able features? Recently we had Apple denounce Android tablets during the iPad Mini launch and Amazon retaliating to thatSamsung taking poking fun of the iPhone 5 in their Galaxy S3 Ad and Nokia didn’t miss capitalizing on the Apple Map Fiasco. From the looks of it, everyone seems to be ganging up against Apple. But that’s changed – now we have infighting among Windows Phone manufacturers to deal with as well. This has become a mainstream markting activity as far as we can see this year.

My shout out to the marketing folks out there – if you really have to stoop down to denouncing a competitor’s product in your marketing campaign, does that mean your product isn’t good enough to stand up on it’s own? If you need to belittle the competition in order to get your product up there, I don’t think you’re doing a great job at marketing in the first place, or is it that your product is just not good enough?

Image Credit - iStockPhoto

eBay India’s Battle of the Gadgets report shows interesting Online Sales Trends

eBay India had recently shared with us the Ebay India Battle of the Gadgets report for Q2 (April to June 2012), which is a quarterly report with highlights on the online gadget purchase habits in India. The report shows us some interesting trends across four gadget categories which are Laptops, Cameras, Mobile Phones and Televisions across India. Of course, the data is based on purchases which take place through eBay India only.

When we metup with Mr. Abhimanyu Lal, Head – Category Management: eBay India, last week. He did share some interesting tidbits about ecommerce trends in India and some specifically about eBay. An interesting point which he made was the 90% of commerce taking place in India is attributed to Travel. That’s a whole lot of people travelling in India and booking tickets online!

About the Battle of the Gadget Report he said, ” Gadgets have always been very popular on eBay India. With our extensive range of gadgets across brands, models & budgets which enable our consumers to get easy access to the best deals & widest selection online, we see a great demand coming from consumers across metros, tier II and tier III cities. Interestingly, non metro consumers are actually shopping for more gadgets than metro consumers”.

On an average day in eBay here’s how the sales look like:

  • A mobile handset is sold every 3 minutes
  • A laptop is sold every 9 minutes
  • One Digital Camera every 19 minutes
  • A TV every 54 minutes
Samsung tops the eBay India Battle of Gadgets Rankings, with top sales across all the four gadget categories. For this post, we’ll limit our post to the Mobile Phone and Laptop category. If you’d like to look at the entire report, there’s a link to download the entire report at the end of this post.

eBay Battle of the Gadgets Methodology

From their Press Release: eBay India Battle of the Gadgets April- June 2012 research findings were based on an analysis of all gadget purchases by Indians on eBay India between April 1, 2012 and June 30, 2012. The research report showcases interesting trends of India’s Top Gadget Cities, Models & Brands across 4 popular gadget categories of Laptops, Cameras, Mobile Phones and Televisions.

 Mobile Phone Category

In the overall numbers, Samsung retains the lead with 26% market share followed by Nokia in second place and Sony in third. Sony saw a 104% increase in mobile phone sales from the last quarter, with the Sony Xperial Ray being the phone model which was the most purchased in the quarter. Delhi topped the sales in this segment.

Smartphones

In the Smartphone category, Sony surprisingly beat Samsung and the gained the top position with 34% marketshare, followed by Samsung, Blackberry and Apple in that order. Sony phones captured all top 3 places in this segment.

Some interesting facts in the smartphone segment is that the sale of the Samsung Note and Samsung Galaxy S2 is more than that of the Samsung Galaxy S3. Even the HTC One X outbeat the Galaxy S3 in sales. That goes to show that pricing still does play a crutial role even in the top end of the smartphone segment. HTC with their new launches managed to increase their transactions by 10 times.

Dual Sim Phones

Samsung toppled Micromax for the top spot in this category. In terms of sales volume, the top 3 brands in this segment are Samsung, Micromax and Nokia, in that order. The top device in this category was the Samsung Galaxy Y Duos. In fact the Top 5 devices are dominated by Samsung and Micromax, with Nokia making an entry only in the 6th place with the X2-02

Value Phones

Nokia  topped the list here as the Top brand in sales volume followed by Samsung and HTC. The most purchased phone in this category was the Samsung Galaxy Y, surprisingly.

Laptop Category

Before we go into the numbers, one thing to note is that eBay India includes Tablets too in the Laptop Category. Apple is a clear winner here in this segment, with Bangalore topping the charts in terms of sales volumes. Tablets account for 62% of sales in this category they outsold netbooks in the quarter. This could mean that more people are looking at tablets as an alternate to Netbooks.

Tablets

Apple is the top of this heard with 17% marketshare, followed by Micromax and Aakash. The most sold tablet was the Micromax Funbook! The sales of tablets have increased by 90% in Q2 compared to Q1. This spurt of growth is fuelled by affordable tablets launched by Micromax, Karbonn and iBerry. 53% sales in this segment come from non-metro cities in India.

Did you know the the iPad 2 actually outsold the iPad 3 during Q2 of this year?

Laptops

Dell, followed by HP and Apple top the laptop Segment, with the Apple MacBook Pro (MD313) topping the sales chart here. Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai are the top 3 cities purchasing laptops.

Netbooks

Acer has retained their lead here followed by Asus and Samsung.The top netbook in terms of sales was the Asus 1015CX. 59% of the Netbooks sold on eBay was to non-metro cities. Mumbai was the top city ordering Netbooks on eBay India.

It was great to see some of the interesting battles being fought and won by gadgets in the phone, laptop and tablet categories. Some of the trends do show that India is still a price sensitive market, this is obvious in the smartphone segment where HTC One X outsold the Galaxy S3, and the Sony devices which have a better price point rule the roost. For more details, pretty pictures, graphs and details of the Camera and TV segment, download this pdf more details from the Battle of the Gadgets.

Download Links:

[PDF] eBay Battle Of the Gadgets Q2 2012 Report

[DOC] Press Release -eBay India- Battle of the Gadgets-April-June 2012

About eBay India
eBay India (www.eBay.in), India’s leading eCommerce marketplace, is India’s No. 1 online shopping destination where thousands of Indian entrepreneurs list a wide range of products across Electronics, Lifestyle, Collectibles and Media categories. eBay India is a 100% subsidiary of eBay Inc.

HTC’s turn to imitate Siri

Siri – the popular voice application won accolades (and some criticism) from all around the world especially from the iPhone users. The luxury enjoyed by Apple iOS users has prompted many other brands. Samsung was the first to introduce the Siri-like application in the form of ‘S-Voice’.

Now, it is HTC’s turn in bringing its own version of Smart Personal Assistant which is likely to perform a similar kind of functionality as seen on Siri.

HTC has leaked some information about its secret project through its Twitter and Facebook presence. As of now, complete details are not revealed. But from the image revealed by them, we assume that they are developing a state of the art ‘voice personal assistant’ app, with a sense of humour.As a matter of fact, you can find scores of similar applications that are readily available for download from Google store. It is perceived that HTC would like to demonstrate its capability by bringing a unique and versatile voice application which will not look like the imitation of Siri.

Recently Samsung has introduced S-Voice application. Smartphones have also witnessed Quick Voice which was introduced by LG. Undoubtedly Apple has brought a new spirit by introducing interesting and innovative application, Siri. It is still the pioneer in its capabilities. Even though voice commands were present in various Android applications well before the launch of the Siri application, Apple was able to Market Siri as an integrated Personal Assistant when they launched it. It brought a level of comfort, flexibility and luxury for iPhone users. Siri was so popular that there were consumers who bought an iPhone just for the sake of Siri’s possession. The tremendous success of this innovative personal voice assistant has inspired all the other major brands including Samsung, HTC and LG. And, thus these are brands are launching their own versions to compete the Siri mania.

Most of the features presented by Samsung’s S-Voice application like sending messages, playing music, managing calendars, etc. resemble Siri. One remarkable feature from Samsung is the usage of voice command to wake up from the sleep mode. S-Voice is able to process natural voice commands. In terms of efficiency, the S – Voice will not reply back as you might expect from Siri.

The new image released by HTC might be in tune with its promotional strategy to increase its product penetration. The caption which says, “Your next one device won’t be interpreting Fido’s barks” gives indication that HTC is seriously working on voice application to entertain its customers. It is expected that a new voice application or tool will be released which can be deployed on some latest HTC Smartphones. As a matter of fact, the entire Smartphone market is waiting for useful voice driven applications. There is no clue about the release date or the name of the application. We also don’t have details on whether this will be available only for HTC users or other Android users as well. Let’s see what comes up from HTC.

Via – HTC twitter Account 

HTC One X: One Month Later

The HTC One X is HTC’s Flagship device for this year, and (along with the One S and the One V), is a device that HTC is betting quite a bit on. HTC hasn’t been the premier Android OEM for a while now; Samsung currently holds that spot, and with that, hasn’t had a very good couple of years, financially that is.

We’ve been using the Device for a little over 3 weeks now and here are our impressions of the device.
Before we move on, here’s a roundup of the Specs:
Processor: 1.5 GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 (International Version)
Display: 4.7″ 720p (1280×720) SLCD2
Storage: 32GB (~26GB available), No Expansion Slots, 1GB RAM
Connectivity: WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC,  Quadband GSM, Quadband HSPA, DLNA, WiFi Direct
Software: Android 4.0 with Sense 4
Imaging: 8MP Camera, 1080p Video Recording
Battery: 1800 mAh, Non Removable.

What’s in the Box?

The box contains the basics; A USB wall wart, data cable and a pair of ear buds. The cable of the ear buds seem to be durable and they’re flat, but the buds themselves aren’t the in-ear type! It’s such a shame HTC didn’t bother bundling proper in-ear headphones (and no, Beats Headphones do not count).

First Impressions

The device is made out of machined polycarbonate, just like the Lumia 800 & 900. What does that mean? The build is absolutely solid. The screen, which is slightly curved outwards in all directions, is crisp, with good colour reproduction and is really sharp all around. The device itself doesn’t feel big, and I’ve had a couple of people ask me if this was the same display size as the Samsung Galaxy SII. The one area of concern was the Camera, with protrudes from the rear, with the lens flush against the metallic ring.

Hardware

The build of the One X is top-notch. The front is dominated by the curved Gorilla Glass that protects the huge display and the three capacitive buttons. Unlike the previous generation devices, these buttons map to the Ice Cream Sandwich softkeys: Back, Home and the Multitasking Key. On the Galaxy Nexus, these are on-screen keys, which has both advantages and disadvantages. One of the disadvantages faced by HTC’s decision is about software, which we’ll discuss in the next area. The front also has a 1.3MP camera, which was okay for Skype and Hangouts (or Tango).

The top houses the Power Button, the 3.5mm Headphone jack, a secondary noise cancellation microphone and the tray for the Micro-Sim. The bottom has the primary microphone. The left side just has one slot for the Micro-USB port, which thankfully support MHL (which means you can use an MHL adapter for HDMI output). The right side has the volume rocker, which is just slightly raised from the body itself, and that’s a bit of an issue because it’s hard to distinguish the buttons. The phone feels like a HTC device, just better.

Software

The device runs Android 4.0 with HTC’s Sense 4 on top (and deep inside). It isn’t a “Vanilla” Android Ice Cream Sandwich device, which led a lot of people to scream “Blasphemy”. Honestly though, which Ice Cream Sandwich has done a lot towards “beautifying” the stock Android Experience, this time, Sense does make sense. I have not been a fan of HTC Sense; Sense 2 added a lot of features that were sort of missing from Android at that time, but Sense 3 and 3.5 just got bloated, with over the top animations and effects that didn’t add anything to the experience. Sense 4 is slimmed down, and honestly, this is the first time I haven’t used a launcher to remove the stock feel (like I have done with TouchWiz before). There are no “3D Carousel” effects, which honestly was headache inducing.

Even the app drawer has an almost stock ICS feel (without the transition effects); you have access to the Play Store on the top right corner, the drawer is horizontal and not vertical like in earlier HTC devices, and the tabs at the bottom which provide shortcuts to the whole tray, favourites and downloaded apps can be edited and removed. A few things that Sense does add include Skydrive, Dropbox and Flickr integration, which is a nice touch. You also get 25GB of Dropbox Storage for 2 Years, which is a really nice touch.

Among all the bundled apps, the ones I found most useful were the Tasks & Notes apps; the Tasks app works perfectly with Google Tasks, and the Notes apps syncs with Evernote. The new HTC keyboard has pretty decent autocorrect, which helps, because I managed to type this segment using the keyboard on the Notes app. You can also use the voice dictation service directly from the keyboard; just tap the mic icon.

The accuracy of text input via voice is going to vary from person to person of course; it worked about 50% of the time when I tried using it. Sense 4 also has a different approach to the multitasking list; instead of a vertical overlay, where you can dismiss apps with a swipe to the side on stock ICS, you get a different screen with a Horizontal list, and you need to flick apps upwards to get rid of them. It isn’t that much of a difference in general use though.

The overall experience is only marred by the three small dots that pop up for apps that aren’t optimized for ICS; this is the legacy menu button for old apps, which, in stock ICS on the Galaxy Nexus, would pop up along with the on-screen soft-control keys. HTC has had to tack this on (and it does feel like it was tacked on), and it does detract from the overall experience in apps that haven’t been updated.

We tested the device on Software versions 1.26 and 1.28. There should be an update rolling out now to version 1.29, which should make your general experience snappier.

Battery Life 

The phone has an 1800 mAh battery, which is non removable. Couple this with the fact that it has a quad-core processor and a huge, high-resolution LCD display, and you’d expect pretty pathetic battery life. With normal (Moderately Heavy) use though, we were pleasantly surprised as it almost managed to make it through a day. Check out the screen shots below. This was with Sync on for 2 Gmail Accounts, an Exchange account, Twitter, and many more services running in the background. With really heavy use, it managed to get to half this time before it died out, which is not bad at all.

Comparing the One X against the HTC Sensation, their previous flagship device, here are a few of the differences.

  • Screen Size/Display – As you can see in the image below, the One X, while having a bigger display, is just a tad taller than the Sensation.  There’s pretty much no comparison here; the 720p SLCD2 display on the One X is miles ahead of the qHD SLCD display on the Sensation.
  • Processor/Memory – The Sensation had an 1.2 GHz dual core Snapdragon and 768 MB of RAM, which was a snappy setup that was completely destroyed by the heavy Sense 3 Framework (Skin). The one upside though, was the expandable Micro SD slot. The One X’s Tegra 3 processor, along with the relatively light Sense 4, makes a huge difference, although I would attribute it more to the software than the hardware on the One X.
HTC have come a long way from the Previous Generation devices, with much better build, and more importantly, improved software.
Now, a fair comparison in terms of screen size would be against the Samsung Galaxy Note (Read our review here).
  • Screen Size/Display: The 5.3″ 1280×800 Super Amoled Display is quite brilliant, with really vibrant colours. The 4.7″ 720p display on the One X on the other hand, has much better colour reproduction (and higher pixel density).
  • Phone Overall: After using the Note for an extended period, pretty much every other device feels small. The Note does have the S-Pen which does provide a pretty decent On screen writing/drawing experience, thanks to the Wacom Digitizer, and this still is a standout feature, apart from the overall size that is.
  • Battery: Here’s another place where the Note managed to do really well, the battery life is quite good AND you can replace the battery, which is a HUGE plus.
  • Processor/Memory: The 1.4 GHz Exynos processor (pretty much the same one used in the Galaxy S2) along with the software optimizations done made for a really smooth experience while using the Note. The One X though, is on a different level in terms of smoothness though. It’s much better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imaging 

HTC has been pushing the Imaging capabilities of the One X (and the One Series in general), and there’s a lot of talk about their Image Sense. There are a few add ons to the camera that are quite good, including the ability to take HDR shots, and having access to effects while shooting. The biggest add-ons though, are the Burst Mode; just hold down the shot key, and you’ll capture full frame images at upto 4 fps, and it’ll keep capturing up to 99 photos at a stretch, and the ability to take photos while taking videos; all you have to do is tap the photo capture key while shooting a video. There’s no mode shifting, etc; you have access to everything on the main screen. Here are a few screenshots of the camera interface.
HTC has also added some editing capabilities from the gallery, including adding filters, and tweaking the colours, sharpness, contrast and more. Here are a couple of examples:
Normal Shot

 

With Filters and Additonal Tweaks
HDR Shot
HDR Shot with Filter and Additional Tweaks

Final Impressions

Is the One X the “One” for you? Well, that depends on your budget.For the price, you get brilliant build quality, a really good screen, a good (if not exactly great) camera, and decent battery life. This is, by far, the Best Android device I’ve used so far! There is the looming specter of the Samsung Galaxy S3 of course.

And the Ice Cream Sandwich wheels starts rolling…or so we thought (updated)

We’ve all been waiting for it, to see some of our beloved Android 2.3 Gingerbread devices get some tasty updates.

Sense 3.6 OTA update
HTC Sensation Android 4.0 OTA update

It started with HTC secretly rolling out their updates for the Sensation and Sensation XE in Nordic countries, these lucky devices have received the much awaited Sense 3.6 served on top of a slice of Android 4.0. This update was first reported over XDA by some folks taking part in the HTC Elevate program, but later we heard from users there not in the program that they too were receiving the update. The HTC Headquarters soon confirmed “broader availability later this month”.

It wasn’t long after this before another big name jumped on the Ice Cream Sandwich update wagon though.

ICS update for SGS2
Official Android 4.0 update for i9100 announced by Samsung

That’s right, March 10th and the date is set. Samsung have said it will only be a matter of days before Samsung Galaxy S II owners get there well deserved Android 4.0 – TouchWiz UI styled – available through Kies and FOTA, but it’s only going to be ready on the i9100 (international version) for now. Some things to take note of in the release notes is that the update will include Face Unlock (as expected), Android Beam, data usage monitoring, and multitasking and some applications have been improved. We’re sure there are more features not noted, but strangely the site specifies that because of “ICS OS Feature”, Flash and Bluetooth 3.0 HS is not supported.

The update is to come to the many SGSII variants and their individual carriers in due time, but not without plenty of testing on their end first. At least this and HTC’s rollout of Sense 3.6 to the Nordic countries today means that the ICS train is finally gaining some momentum. For readers out there with i9100, check out the link below to Samsung’s site for more information and instructions on the update.

Samsung Update Details

XDA: ICS HTC Sensation Update

UPDATE: Samsung’s official Twitter account has gone back on the words written on its official website. Samsung says that the March 10th date was a mistake posted by its Filipino website and that the actual upgrade date has not yet been established.

Android Releases at MWC 2012

As is usually the case at Major Tech Trade Shows, there was a huge number of Android Devices announced or showcased at Mobile World Congress 2012. There were a few interesting ones showcased though, and we’ll try to cover that in this post.

Image Via: Official Google Mobile Blog

HTC

HTC hasn’t really been able to hold onto their top position as an Android Device manufacturer (Android was launched on a HTC Device, the G1, as was the Nexus Program, with the Nexus One). Part of this was attributed to the number of devices they launched, the other part being attributed to HTC Sense. Sense was a big add on initially when Android as such wasn’t fully featured, but later versions were clunky and slowed down the phones. HTC has acknowledged both these issues and their response at MWC was the HTC One series, with Sense 4. There’ll be fewer devices released with the focus being on Quality. Thus far, the One series consists of just 3 devices, the One X, One S, One V. Thankfully, all of them run Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich.

One X

 

The One X is the flagship device. It’s a unibody Polycarbonate device (like the Lumia 800/900), has a 1.5 GHz Quad Core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, a 4.7″ Super LCD2 720p Display and a 8MP f2.0 Camera. HTC’s trying really hard to sell the cameras on the One series; the camera starts up in 0.7s and A/F takes 0.2s. To do all this, the phone has a separate image processor. You can record video at upto 1080p at 30FPS, and take photos while recording videos. Oh, and there’s Beats by Dr. Dre audio. The LTE version (US only) will be sold with a Dual Core Snapdragon S4 Processor.

One S

The One S is the Midrange Device here, which should work well for people who don’t want a massive screen. It’s got a 4.3″ qHD  display, the same BSI 8MP camera as the One X, a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual core processor, and has a Ceramic Metal outer shell that’s made using a process called Microarc Oxidation. And Beats by Dr. Dre Audio.

One V

 The One V is the “Low End” device. It’s based on the design of the HTC Legend (which a lot of people loved). There’s a 3.7″ WVGA display, a 1GHz single core CPU, a 5MP BSI f2.0 Camera. Yes, it has Beats by Dr. Dre Audio.

All the HTC phones should be available worldwide by April this year.

LG

LG hasn’t been doing well either (by any stretch of the imagination). They were the first to launch a Dual Core Device, the Optimus 2x (G2x in the US), but that didn’t do too well. Their UI was cartoonish and their update schedules were way off. They showcased a whole bunch of devices at MWC, but there’re two that kinda stood out (for better and for worse).

Optimus 4X HD

Image Via: Clove.co.uk

The Optimus 4X HD is the sequel to the Optimus 2x (obviously), and as the name implies, has a 1.5GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 Quad Core Processor and a 4.7″ 720p IPS display. It has an 8MP rear camera and a 1.3MP front facing camera. Thankfully, it’s running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and an updated UI which doesn’t look all that cartoonish. Clove reports that it’ll be out by June.

Optimus Vu

 The Optimus Vu was the other LG phone that stood out, though not necessarily in a very good manner. It’s another Phablet, similar to the Samsung Galaxy Note. However, the 5″ display 1024 x 768 display has a weird 4:3 aspect ratio, making it wider and shorter than the Note. It has a 1.5 GHz dual core Qualcomm Processor, an 8MP rear camera and a 1.3MP front facing camera and 32GB of storage. It also has a stylus, but unlike the note and it’s Wacom digitizer, the Optimus Vu just utilizes a standard capacitive stylus. Oh, and it’s running Android 2.3.

Asus

Padfone

The Asus Padfone has been in the works for over a year now. It’s been showcased before, and people thought it would turn out to be just vapour-ware. Well, it’s finally out, and this is the wackiest device there ever has been (and in a very good way). What it is, is a phone that goes into a dock that becomes a tablet that goes into a dock that becomes a netbook like the Transformer.  It’s got a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual core 1.5GHz processor, a 4.3″ qHD Super Amoled Display and an 8MP f2.2 Camera. As you can see in the Image Above (and the video below), it goes into what they call a “Padfone Station”, and that turns it into a 10.1″ 1280×800 display Tablet, which also has a battery. The Station is just a tablet shell. The Transformer bit doesn’t end there either; there’s a keyboard dock, just like the Transformer, which the Station goes into. And now you have a netbook. With even more battery (gotta have more battery). Oh, that’s not all either. There’s a stylus (just another normal capacitive stylus) that doubles as as bluetooth headset when the phone is in the station! Now that’s a true transformer. It’s running ICS, but there’s no mention of availability or cost.

Samsung

Samsung’s been going strong of late, and while they had previously launched both the Galaxy S and the SII at MWC, they didn’t have a massive presence this year. The rumoured Galaxy SIII wasn’t announced there, but they did showcase a few tablets and phones. Two stood out though.

Galaxy Beam

By itself, the Beam is a standard mid-range device (oh how the mid-range definition has changed over the years). It’s got a 4″ WVGA screen, a 1GHz dual core processor, 5MP camera and runs Android 2.3. But it does have an LED Pico Projector built into the phone. It isn’t the first phone with a Pico Projector that Samsung has released; the original Beam was launched in 2010 and ran Eclair (Android 2.1).

Galaxy Note 10.1

The Note 10.1 has a 1.4 Ghz Dual Core Exynos Processor, a 1280×800 screen, and a Wacom Digitizer. It’s basically, the Galaxy Note with a larger screen. And it’s definitely a Tablet. Again, thankfully, it runs Android 4.0 (but has TouchWiz). It’s also got a HSPA Radio (3G), upto 64 GB of storage with Micro SD expansion, and has  Adobe Photoshop Touch and Adobe Ideas optimized for use with the S-Pen, bundled in.

Huawei

Huawei is currently in the position HTC was in a few years ago; Moving from an ODM to a Brand. As such, they’re pushing really hard with their new Android 4.0 Devices. They’ve also worked on their own processor, just like Samsung, and they say it’s the fastest Quad-Core device around.

Ascend D Quad

The Ascend D Quad (and the XL) is their brand new Flagship device. It’s got a 4.5″ 720P screen, Huawei’s own Quad Core Processor at 1.2/1.5GHz, 8MP BSI camera and runs Android 4.0. The D Quad has a 1850 mAh battery (the XL has a 2500 mAh battery), but Huawei says their proprietary power management system increases battery life by upto 30% compared to industry average by adjusting power consumption according to usage needs. That’s something that needs to be tested in real life use. There’s no mention of shipping, availability or pricing as of now, but it does look like a good device.

 

So that’s it for now. We’ll have more MWC posts once we get our photos and videos up. Meanwhile, check out our other posts from MWC 2012, here, here and here.

 

HTC Edge – World’s 1st Quad-Core Tegra 3 SmartPhone

The number of smart phones that are being used in the world is increasing day by day. However, of all the options out there only a very few use dual-core processors and it took me by surprise when Pocketnow announced HTC is working on a brand new handset called the Edge which features a quad-core Android and Tegra 3 processor. This handset is expected to overtake Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus as a leading Android device. The features of this smart phone are jaw dropping.

 

 

Let’s start with the screen, it’s been told by BGR that this display is supposed to be one of the best displays in the world with a 4.7 inch high definition 1280×720 pixels adopting a S-LCD 2 technology with optical lamination.

Not too long ago, we started hearing rumors of the next generation of  mobile phone processors, i.e. quad-core processors. With mobile App developers and game developers looking for more power to run their apps and games, quad-core powered phones will be a hit in the market.

This processor has been unveiled by NVDIA with the name NVDIA Tegra 3 which was initially named as project Kal-El. This processor will bring the consumer more power, less battery consumption and more effective work load distribution. The quad-core processor clocked at 1.5 GHz should absolutely fly with 1GB RAM back-up. There has been no information about the GPU (Graphics processing unit) yet.

Some other cool features of this smart phone tentatively include Android 4.0 with Sense UI 4.0, a unibody design that is 8.8mm thin, 32GB internal storage capacity, Bluetooth 4.0 and supports 21Mbps HSDPA. The 8 Mega pixel camera with backside illumination has a possibility of using an f/2.2 lens and is similar to the HTC Titan and HTC Sensation XL with a 1080p video added to it.

I fully support the use of Beats audio integration as one can get a decent set of ear buds that is included in an expensive smart phone package. And not to mention the presence of NFC (Near field communication) which allows transferring data between devices quickly and more securely. This is often initiated by a deliberate tapping of the phones.

This smart phone is expected to see improved HTC’s content services which includes HTC play, HTC listen, HTC read, HTC watch (a new movie store). However many feel that this smart phone is similar to another HTC’s recently debuted smart phone which goes by the name Rezound.

HTC logo

It is believed that this smart phone will hit the market by March or April 2012. Though some argue that this may not be the first quad- core smart phone as Samsung, LG and Motorola have already adopted this processor for designing smart phones; HTC’s Edge will be the first of the kind to be released at CES and MWC in the coming year. I can bet that this phone is going to get all attention in the coming months