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Sony Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact rumor roundup and preview: more of the same?

Normally, we’d not even dare tackle potentially game-changing Android devices such as Sony’s Xperia Z2 and Z1 Compact sequels collectively, in just one preview post, sending the message they’re not really important as standalone products. No matter how little we know (as in truly know) about them, and how distant their releases may seem.

Xperia Z2 Z1 Compact

After all, the Z1 Compact remains to this day the single most disruptive mini-flagship the mobile world has ever seen, and the Z2… oh, if only Sony had launched it earlier. Wider. With stronger marketing.

But sadly, based on the fairly credible rumors floating around these past few months and increasing in intensity the last week or so, I’m afraid the Xperia makers are leaving us no choice. The purported Z3 and Z3 Compact look like the kind of pithy, unnecessary spin-offs that even Samsung head honchos would reject as way too similar to previous spearheads.

Sony Xperia Z3

More of the same? The clichéd idiom can’t begin to encompass the frustration and stupefaction Sony fans will feel if the Z3/Z3 Compact pair materializes in the form so far speculated and authenticated by a bundle of legit-looking live photos. But let’s start from the beginning:

Sony Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact preview – the why

Look, I get times are a-changing and all, and rolling out a high-end bad boy every 12 months doesn’t cut it anymore. I understand the advertising angle, and once in a blue moon, a, say, six-month upgrading cycle makes sense from a development and innovation standpoint as well.

Xperia Z3

But we’ve reached a point where even Qualcomm, the king of swift updates, is hitting the brakes until the “next big thing” is here. As in, you know, 64-bit processing power, which will become available on a wide scale for Androids in the first half of 2015.

Of course, speed and performance isn’t all about chips, however we’re not seeing worthwhile improvements in the display, camera, battery or memory departments on the horizon either. Unless you count Quad HD screen resolution as a worthwhile improvement. Which is not.

Xperia-Z3-slim

Bottom line, the why of the equation, the logic of Sony’s haste to replace the Z3 and Z3 Compact with something (barely) better is hard to find. Wait, I got it. Everyone else is following the same strategy, so why not Sony? Yeah, no, that ain’t going to boost profits and prominence in the long haul.

Z3/Z3 Compact rumor roundup – the when

In a nutshell, timing is the least mysterious thing about an overall perplexing duo of top-notch smartphones. There’s no smoke without fire, no churning of the rumor mill sans reason, and the magic 8-ball says September. 2014. Full stop.

Xperia Z2 introduction

Both for the Z3 and Z3 Compact. Both for their formal announcements and commercial rollouts. Makes little to no sense, but let’s just go with it, mmkay?

Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact – the how and the what

Close your eyes, free your mind, and let’s play a little word association game. I’m going to spit out a few specs, and you’ll write down the first gizmo that pops up in your brain. Quad-core Snapdragon 801 CPU, 3 GB RAM, Full HD display, 20.7 MP rear-facing camera. Got it? How many of you have the Z2? Everybody?

That was to be expected, yet I was actually thinking of the Xperia Z3. And in case you’re wondering how it is any different from the Z2, well, the S801 inside the “next-gen flagship” is clocked at 2.5 GHz, not 2.3. Are… you… frigging… kidding us, Sony? That’s it? A whole 0.2 GHz upgrade just for us? No extra megapixels, no 4 GB RAM, not even a gimmicky boost to a 2,560 x 1,440 pix res panel? Forget it, no one will be buying.

Xperia Z3 system

To add insult to injury, the exterior is refined at best, with slightly slimmer bezels, more rounded corners (though you need a magnifying glass to see the contrast), and dual front-facing speakers. No one knows for sure how large the screen will be, but my guess is it’s going to be a 5.5 incher capable of fitting in the old chassis that only allowed a 5.2-inch usable piece of glass inside. Big whoop.

Now, granted, we don’t have the full picture yet, and key pieces of the puzzle (battery, storage, sensors) are missing. But by the looks of it, Sony needs an entirely new puzzle.

Xperia Z1 Compact

The Z3 Compact? Despite what the name suggests (a two-generation step forward compared to the outstanding Z1 Compact), the “unapologetic” high-end midget rumored at this time is an upgrade just as disappointing as the full-sized Z3.

Namely, we’re allegedly looking at a 4.5 incher with 720p display res, quad-core Snapdragon 801 SoC, 2 GB RAM, 20.7 MP main photographic unit and, of course, Android 4.4 KitKat running the software show. Sooo, a slightly larger Z1 Compact with an infinitesimal speed bump and, likely, a wee bit of added battery juice. Facepalms, facepalms everywhere.

The what the f…, Sony?

I can’t stress enough we might be getting worked up over nothing, and the Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact could end up as the game-changing phones we once envisioned. Or they may simply not be real. Not like this, and not headed for market this fall.

Xperia Z2 G Lens

But if they are all the tipsters claim, then Sony has some serious soul-searching to do. Question one on the agenda: are we in this business to mindlessly mimic others or set the pace at which others will follow? Food for thought, eh?

LG G3 vs HTC One M8 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 – Specs comparison

Samsung took the wraps off its “next big thing” in February, HTC evened the score a month later by showcasing and then releasing the One M8, and Sony… well, Sony tried to keep up with the big fishes, but ultimately drowned in a sea of manufacturing woes and distribution hostility.

LG G3 vs One M8 vs Galaxy S5

Meanwhile, LG kept an unusually low profile given the sudden boost of popularity earned after Nexus 5 and G2’s launches, observed and waited for the perfect opportunity to enter the high-end mobile arena with another heavyweight contender.

Did their patience and care for detail pay off? Is the LG G3 too late to the H1 2014 top-notch smartphone party? Was your patience a smart call or would you have been better served boarding the One M8 or Galaxy S5 bandwagons early? Let’s see:

LG G3 vs HTC One M8 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 – design and build quality comparison

I know what you’re thinking. Aluminum trumps plastic and fake metal (read also plastic) any day of the week, so why are we even having this discussion? Well, because maybe it’s not so simple. As it happens, G3’s back cover has a thin layer of robust alloy under the chintzy polycarbonate to make it stronger, more durable and, perhaps, handsomer.

LG G3 vs One M8

Admit it, the G3 is one handsome son of a gun. Incredibly compact too. Although it incorporates extra usable screen real estate compared to both its rivals (5.5 inches vs 5.0 and 5.1), it’s a measly 4 mm taller than the GS5 and, get this, just as tall as the M8. Also, thinner (8.9 vs 9.4 mm). The S5 is even slimmer, at 8.1 mm, but Samsung has no excuses for its all-plastic exterior and no redeeming build qualities.

Sure, the GS5 is the only of the three to resist contact against water, but strictly from an aesthetical standpoint, the G3 and One M8 are neck and neck way ahead of Samsung’s spearhead.

Display face-off

Right, here’s where things get tricky. On paper, the M8 and S5 have nothing on the G3 in terms of screen resolution. 1,920 x 1,080 pixels may have been state-of-the-art a year ago, but now’s the time of Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440).

LG G3 Galaxy S5 One M8

The tricky part is determining if Quad HD actually makes a difference. A palpable, perceptible, real difference. Personally, I’m not convinced it does. But at the end of the day, at least LG freed up some space with uber-slim bezels and rear physical buttons and made the panel larger without impacting on the overall footprint. So you see, the G3 wins no matter how you spin the Full HD vs 2K debate.

Processing speed, RAM and cameras

LG execs were surprisingly straightforward vis-à-vis their rationale to go plastic, not metal (it’s all about the moneys), and they’ll no doubt advocate the Quad HD cause for as long as it takes. But why choose Snapdragon 801 when 805 is also available? That, they’ll have a hard time explaining and defending.

LG G3

I mean, sure, the 2.5 GHz quad-core SoC is enough to tie the S5 in raw power and slightly trump the M8. And boosted by 3 GB RAM, it should deliver superior overall performance to both. But only by a whisker. Besides, the 2 GB RAM config, which we’re hearing might see daylight on certain US networks, is theoretically S5’s match. Just its match.

Camera-wise, the G3, like the One M8, comes with an innovative, never-before-seen add-on. Laser auto focus. Sounds neat and all, but we’re afraid it may be a worthless gimmick in the end, not unlike the “Duo Camera” setup.

lg-g3-laser-autofocus

Oh, well, at least the actual shooter packs 13 megapixels, not four, plus upgraded optical image stabilization. So it clearly thrashes the M8’s Ultrapixel “powerhouse”, but does the OIS system weigh enough to make up for the 3 MP deficit against the S5? Impossible to tell so soon. For the time being, let’s call this a draw.

As for you selfie addicts, it’s no debate. The M8 has the best front-facing cam, a 5 MP unit, whereas the G3 and GS5 keep things fairly modest, courtesy of 2 MP duckface snappers.

Software and battery life

With pre-loaded KitKat across the board, the software battle comes down to UIs and Android skins. It’s TouchWiz vs Sense vs whatever LG calls its user interface nowadays. Is it still Optimus? No matter, the important thing is it’s flatter, simpler and less intrusive than ever before.

LG G3-2

All while bringing a couple of valuable goodies to the table. Like Smart Notice and Smart Security. Granted, that’s nothing compared to S5’s bundle of health-oriented apps, security functions, air gestures and Ultra Power Saving Mode. But it’s a step in the right direction.

Speaking of power and batteries, that particular duel is wide open, with G3’s juicer tipping the scales at 3,000 mAh, 200 mAh north of S5’s cell and 400 of M8’s ticker. Remember, both Samsung and HTC went the extra mile to optimize autonomy, especially during the final stage of discharge, while G3’s battery needs to handle loads of extra pixels. Bottom line, the three are neck and neck here too. Or so they seem.

Audio, sensors, storage and pricing

Look, G3’s Dolby mobile sound enhancement system, with a 1 Watt speaker, is cool and all, but M8’s BoomSound audio is hands down the best solution of its kind in today’s mobile landscape. As far as sensors go, LG kept things as simple as possible, giving the cold shoulder to S5’s built-in fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor.

HTC M8 BoomSound

Then there’s the storage bout, where I’m glad to see all three contenders offer 16 and 32 gig options with expansion capabilities via microSD. Finally, some on-contract G3 price tags remain up in the air, though it’s obvious the cost gap between the 5.5-inch giant and its adversaries will be nonexistent.

So I guess it’s time for conclusions. Answers. Let’s start from the beginning. Was LG wise to put off the introduction? Nope, sorry, I don’t see it. Is the G3 overall better than the M8 and GS5? Barely. It’s phenomenally compact, slim and sleek, punchy as hell, the display is a beaut and so is the camera, but it lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. A wow element. Something to make us not want to wait for Samsung’s Galaxy S5 Prime.

LG G3 vs LG G2 – Specs comparison (Worth the upgrade?)

Now that the LG G3 is finally here (as in officially unveiled, because actual shipments only begin in June), it’s time we put a stop to the hypothetical debates and got down to business. No more ifs, no more what ifs, no more speculating, no more assuming.

LG G3 vs LG G2 front

Questions, meet answers. Did LG dish out a fresh flagship worth going berserk about it and forgetting OG top dogs for it? Will all of the OEM’s judgment calls, tough decisions and, yes, sacrifices work out for the best? Only one way to find out:

G3 vs G2 – design and build quality comparison

Simple is the new smart? Damn straight, if simple means replacing chintzy, glossy plastic with… not as chintzy, matte polycarbonate. Clearly, the brushed metal feel can’t fool anyone with half a brain. But this is one of the judgment calls I was talking about.

LG G3

Could have LG mimicked HTC and delivered a “premium”, aluminum-made slab? Sure. Was it the right call? Probably not, due to a bundle of reasons. Like costs. Or potential yield issues. And ultimately, the end user doesn’t care if it’s metal, plastic, titanium or kryptonite he’s holding. He just wants something elegant, sturdy, handsome.

The G3 is all that and more, trumping the G2 with grip, an amazing form factor, just enough curves to look distinguished, not tacky, smoother rear keys, and a removable back cover. LG’s designers really outdid themselves on those bezels, managing to increase the screen real estate by 0.3 inches and keep the proportions and G2’s winning size to body ratio in check.

LG G3 vs LG G2

The G3 is a measly 7.8 mm taller than its forefather, 3.7 mm wider, exactly as thin and, incredibly, six lousy grams heavier. Dayum!

Display face-off

Ah, the quad HD screen talk. How I dreaded it since the very first whispers started to make themselves heard. Yet another controversial judgment call on LG’s part, though one I can’t fully defend. Apparently, the bumped up panel pixel count won’t harm battery life, thanks to special optimizations of sorts.

LG-G3-Display

So I guess we can’t critique the OEM’s choice too much, despite the move from Full to Quad HD having little to no real-life benefits. The hell we can’t! Think about it. The Koreans are capable of amazing autonomy improvements via unique optimizations and they waste them on making this pointless transition smooth.

Why not keep things the way they were resolution-wise and, oh I don’t know, boost the actual running time between charges? Anyway, back to the point, G3’s display is larger (5.5 vs 5.2 inches), higher-res and all-around better… by a whisker.

Processing speed, RAM and cameras

A quad-core 2.5 GHz Snapdragon 801 chip outpaces a 2.2 Snapdragon 800 any time of the day, especially when paired with 3 GB RAM in lieu of 2. The thing is LG’s most controversial and potentially harming choice is to offer 2 gigs of random-access memory as standard instead of 3.

LG-G3-specs

The whole RAM/storage configuration business is blurry at the moment, but rumor is the variant packing 2 and 16 gigs respectively shall roll out globally, and the one with 3/32 will get a limited run in a handful of markets. Mostly in Asia. Ooh, bad, bad call!

Moving on to the cams, they preserve G2’s megapixel counts (13 and 2.1), but add crazy features like laser autofocus, Magic Focus and a wider aperture for the secondary, front-facing unit in the mix. Also, optical image stabilization is upgraded (OIS+), and you can shoot 4K videos no problem. Neato.

LG G3 vs LG G2 – software and battery life

We already covered the battery life area, where capacity stays the same (3,000 mAh), and, regardless of Quad HD power needs, autonomy allegedly sits tight. Or does it? Well, we won’t know until the reviews start coming in, but personally, I’m fairly pessimistic.

LG G3 battery

Let’s not forget the panel is also larger, the CPU slightly punchier and thus hungrier for “juice”. I’d love for LG’s claims to pan out, but I don’t think it’s possible.

As far as software goes, the G3 naturally comes with the newest Android flavor, 4.4 KitKat, out the box, though right now, so does the G2. Both copies of Android are customized and skinned, with LG’s Optimus UI in tow, but as expected, G3’s user interface is flatter, cleaner, simpler, more minimalistic.

Smart Notice

Fresh add-ons include a particularly useful Smart Notice personal assistant (known on the inside as LG Concierge), and some may enjoy LG’s Smart Keyboard and Smart Security functions too. While definitely not innovative, the two should come in handy for non-purists.

Pricing and others

Like I said, it’s unclear if the G3’s top configuration, featuring 3 GB RAM and 32 GB built-in storage, will ever see daylight on the Western hemisphere. If it does, expect it to be priced around $250 with pacts and $700 outright.

Meanwhile, the lower-end flavor shall cost $200 in subsidized form and roughly $600 off-contract, which is right in G2’s ballpark from last fall.

LG G3 camera

The “others” section sees the G3 trump its forerunner in two final departments, namely expandable storage (yay for microSD card slots) and audio, courtesy of a booming 1 Watt speaker.

Enough to warrant that upgrade? To be frank, LG had me at brushed metal exterior. And redesigned rear physical buttons. And then they swept me off my feet with the OIS+ laser-assisted camera. You’ll really need to blow my socks off with the S5 Prime and One M8 Prime, Samsung and HTC, to win back my vote of confidence.

LG G3 need to know: final rumor recap and preview

LG far from reinvented the wheel when unveiling the funky-looking, slim-bezeled, rear physical button-toting G2 last summer, but somehow the gigantic 5.2 incher felt like the biggest mobile innovation in years.

LG-G3-rear

Sure, it nowhere near challenged Galaxy S4 or Note 3’s booming sales numbers. Yet it once and for all put LG on the map, building on the (mild) successes of the Optimus G and Nexus 4. Then came the equally as spectacular, cheaper Nexus 5 and, just like that, LG became Sammy’s main rival in the Android décor.

Forget HTC, forget Sony, forget Motorola. This is the battle right here. LG against Samsung. G3 against Galaxy S5. Probably, also against S5 Prime before long. But first things first, the actual, formal announcement. T minus 24 hours.

lg-g3-teaser

Proving it indeed has what it takes, the G3 has been making the rumor rounds constantly (as in almost every day) for the good part of the last two or three months. And no one’s bored. Or uninterested in the formality that is tomorrow’s unveil.

Instead, everyone wants to see it in the flesh, touch, handle, feel it and conclude if the S5 Prime is worth waiting for. Here’s exactly what to expect:

Design, build materials and dimensions

It’s odd, isn’t it? I’ve lost count of all of G3’s revealing photo shoots, including in press-friendly form, yet we’re still not sure if it’s full metal we’re dealing with, an aluminum-plastic blend of some kind, or plain old polycarbonate.

lg_g3_press

Whatever it is, it looks outstanding. Thin, elegant, distinguished, with a personal, unique identity and personality, no longer similar to Samsung flagships and unmistakable, even when compared to its predecessor.

Back to materials, plastic made to resemble metal is the safest bet. Or maybe plastic with actual metal on the sides. Dimensions? Incredibly enough, 146.3 mm long and 74.6 mm wide. At 5.5 inches of usable screen real estate. For contrast, the 5-inch HTC One M8 is 146.4 mm long and the 5.1-inch Galaxy S5 72.5 mm wide.

LG G3 Korea

Oh, and let’s not forget the wasp waist (8.9 mm thick), or the smoothly redesigned rear keys, seasoned with a one-of-a-kind laser focus camera sensor.

Display rumors

Rumors? What rumors? It’s a guarantee. The G3 sports a vibrant 5.5-inch LCD panel with 2,560 x 1,440 pixels resolution, aka Quad HD, or 2K. End of story.

LG G3 T-Mobile

CPU, RAM and cameras

Last we rounded up the speculation, we were still hoping for a Snapdragon 805 chip while fearing an S800. Ultimately, it looks like we’ll have to settle for what’s in between – an S801 with four cores, each clocked at 2.3 GHz.

LG G3 leak

Technically, that’s a tad less punchy than what the Galaxy S5 packs (a 2.5 GHz Snapdragon 801), but the G3 will no doubt up the memory ante, to 3 GB RAM. A 2 GB variant is also possible, in a combination with 16 GB built-in storage (the 3 GB model shall feature 32 GB of space).

As far as cameras go, I already slipped the biggest innovation. Laser auto focus. How exactly does it work? No idea, but LG will probably explain it over and over again, trying to make up for the fact the rear-facing camera’s megapixel count (13) is inferior to GS5’s (16) or Xperia Z2’s (20.7).

Front snapper? Not that it makes much of a difference, but apparently, a run-of-the-mill 2.1 MP sensor is in the cards.

Software, battery life and others

Pre-loaded Android 4.4 KitKat was obviously a guarantee right off the bat, but what’s interesting to see is exactly how much LG plans to customize and tweak vanilla KK. A few LG-specific features popped up in the rumor mill here and there, along with some of the UI modifications, yet all in all, I presume there’s more to come.

LG G3 widgets

More accessories too, in addition to Quick Circle cases and wireless charging docks, plus maybe a 2 TB microSD card. Wait, what? Sorry, I was dreaming with my eyes open and thinking out loud. Yes, the G3 might technically support 2 TB of external storage. But the most you can add nowadays is 128 gigs and that won’t change anytime soon.

What else? Ah, battery life. Rumor is G3’s cell will tip the scales at 3,000 mAh, 400 and 200 mAh north of M8 and S5’s tickers. But exactly as large as G2’s juicer, so I wouldn’t anticipate drastically improved autonomy. Maybe drastically damaged, due to the Quad HD display. Guess that’s one risk LG needed to take.

LG-QuickCircle-Case-for-G3

The good news is the battery will be removable. No confirmation on fingerprint recognition or water protection yet, so they’re automatically long shots, while a complex Dolby sound enhancement solution with 1 watt speaker is a must.

Pricing and availability

The “when” of the equation is, as usual, the last tidbit expected to break cover, although LG can’t afford to wait. Ideally, they’d launch the G3 immediately after its intro. But we don’t live in an ideal world, so at best, I assume the big guy will see daylight in late June. Worst case scenario, July.

What LG also can’t afford is raise the pricing bar too much. A premium compared to the G2 is a certainty, but let’s hope the Koreans will manage to keep outright costs below $700 stateside. $650 would be positively dreamy. As would $200 with 24-month Verizon, AT&T and Sprint contracts. Can they pull it off? Stay close and you’ll find out here first.

OnePlus One, Oppo Find 7, Huawei Ascend P7: Who should Samsung fear the most?

This is a Samsung’s world. But it wouldn’t be nothing without a rival or an opponent. Luckily, there are plenty of those to go around nowadays, as veterans LG, HTC or Sony seem to be getting backup from rookies OnePlus, Oppo or Huawei.

Oppo Find 7 OnePlus One

Rookies when it comes to engaging in the big fights, the big leagues, because Huawei for one has been around since 1987. The past few years have seen the Chinese become bolder and bolder in their bid to capture mobile market share and the freshly unveiled Ascend P7 may be exactly what the doctor ordered to fend off chronic Samsungitis.

Meanwhile, fledgling OnePlus and Oppo probably don’t hold the resources to really eat away at Samsung’s adoration at the moment, but they can clearly establish the foundation on which to build on a bright future with their remarkable One and Find 7.

huawei-ascend-p7

At the end of the day though, the million-dollar question is which of the three underdogs shall rise from the underground to take things to the mainstream and, possibly, emerge as Samsung’s number one Android heavyweight title contender? Today, tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow.

Only one way to find out: put the OnePlus One, Oppo Find 7 and Huawei Ascend P7 under the microscope and dissect their strong suits and flaws. Here we go:

OnePlus One – the dark horse

Pros:

  • Incredible bang for buck, starting at $300 with top-of-the-line hardware;
  • Shrewd marketing and advertising department, focused on unconventional publicity stunts (some smart, some not so much), as well as cheap yet profitable buzz-building techniques;

OnePlus One promo

 

  • Um, did I mention top-of-the-line hardware? I really should mention top-of-the-line hardware. Oh, I did? Then let me detail: quad-core 2.5 GHz Snapdragon 801 CPU, 3 GB RAM, 3,100 mAh battery, 13 MP Sony Exmor camera, 5.5-inch Full HD screen.
  • No gimmicks, no BS, no fingerprint sensors, heart rate monitors, otherworldly display pixel counts (which only otherworldly beings can detect), just specs and features you actually need, can use, feel and notice.

Cons:

  • Location, location, location. I mean, distribution, distribution, distribution. Sure, we get you’re barely starting off, OnePlus, but your invitation-only sale model signals you’re probably a decade or so behind Samsung’s distribution juggernaut.

oneplus-one-never-settle

  • Obscure name, no tradition, no history, no track record. Yup, believe it or not, some Android users care about things like tradition or history.
  • …?

The bottom line: As things stand, OnePlus, led to fame by former Oppo VP Pete Lau, is definitely meant for greatness. Just not today. Not tomorrow either. Let’s hope they can keep it up for several years and reconvene then. For now, you have nothing to worry about, Samsung.

Oppo Find 7 – we’re young, we’re hip, we’re good, get used to it

Pros:

  • Essentially the same top-notch specs as the OnePlus One, with an edge in screen resolution, standard built-in storage and a microSD card slot. What’s that about Quad HD not meaning anything? Well, it doesn’t to me and it doesn’t to you, but some folks see numbers and that’s it. End of story, the Find 7 has an extra hook.

Oppo Find 7 promo

  • An increasingly esteemed reputation in the industry, no blemishes on the company’s track record, healthy growth in its domestic mobile market of late.
  • Solid financial status and, presumably, a richer marketing arm allowing Find 7’s promotion both via unconventional methods (viral videos, social media) and traditional publicity (billboards, TV ad campaigns).

Cons:

  • Though clearly better rooted in Android ground than OnePlus, Oppo remains an inexperienced young buck of the mobile décor compared to Samsung.

Oppo Find 7

  • Inconsistent pricing strategy, as all of Find 7’s predecessors started out fairly cheap, whereas the new guy costs a whopping $600 outright with 2K resolution. For anyone keeping tabs, that’s twice OnePlus One’s market value.
  • Software. It’s not stock Android, it’s not CyanogenMod, it’s not even KitKat. Jelly Bean-based ColorOS? Skinning an aging copy of Google’s operating system is not the way to beat Samsung.

Bottom line: Maybe next year, Oppo, maybe next year.

Huawei Ascend P7 – a force to be reckoned with

Pros:

  • Reaching number three in global smartphone shipments while selling, what, 100, 1,000, 10,000 devices stateside a year is no easy feat and there’s no telling what Huawei is capable of once it takes North America seriously.

huawei-ascend-p7-2

  • Oh, hello there, Ascend P7. What’s that, Huawei is yet to confirm US availability for the 5 incher? You just wait and see. I mean, come on, if not now, then when? The P7 is a great package, supports LTE networks, is relatively cheap, phenomenally slim and thin and, in a way, it looks basically like an iPhone with Android. Every American’s wet dream, am I right?
  • Let’s stay on the design a little while longer, shall we? No, not the iPhone cloning part. The dimensions. 139.8 mm long, 68.8 mm wide, 6.5 mm (!!!) thick. 5-inch display. Tipping the scales at 124 grams. Not sure if there’s such a thing as perfection, but this might be it.

Cons:

  • When will Huawei learn building a slab of silicon from the ground up is simply not smart? Not when your latest, greatest homebrewed processor, this Kirin thingy, is only as punchy as Qualcomm’s yesteryear flagship, the Snapdragon 600. And that Emotion UI 2.3 is ugly as fudge.

Huawei spy

Bottom line: I know the Ascend P7 doesn’t look like your common high-end contender, with a mediocre chip, “only” 2 GB RAM and a mid-sized battery, but if we-know-who lets Huawei spread their wings, you’re likely to see exactly why the spec wars are so silly. 

Now, as for our million-dollar question, I’ll abstain and instead pass the mic to you. Considering all the above, who do you think Samsung should fear the most?  

Xiaomi Mi-3S With Snapdragon 801 Coming Soon

Xiaomi’s current flagship model which is the Mi3 will soon be getting a successor as new photos of a device called the Mi-3S recently surfaced. It’s been a year since the company released a flagship device and with several other companies releasing their own high end devices it’s about time that Xiaomi should release one too. The photos are courtesy of someone in China who was able to check the device out.

xiaomi mi-3s 1

The Xiaomi Mi-3S is different in appearance from the current Mi3 model. While the Mi3 has sharp corners the Mi-3S has rounded corners. The new model is also said to be made of more “metal” parts making it have a more premium feel. It appears to be using the same 5-inch full HD display however there might be some improvements done by the company.

xiaomi mi-3s 2

In the insides, the device will be using a powerful Snapdragon 801 processor with a clock speed of 2.5GHz. It will be running on Android 4.4.2 KitKat with Xiaomi’s own MIUI user interface running on top. There’s 3G of RAM, 16GB of internal memory, LTE connectivity, a 13MP rear camera, and an 8MP front camera.

xiaomi mi-3s 3

Xiaomi is reportedly going to sell this device for 1,999 or roughly $320. There’s still no information as to when this device will become available in the market however just like its previous releases this will be available first in China before heading out to other markets.

As a comparison, let’s take a look at the specs of the Mi3. This gives us a better picture of what the Mi-3S will be like.

  • OS: Android 4.3 with MIUI version 5
  • Display: 5-inch IPS Retina, 1080×1920 pixels
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 8274AB Quad-core 2.3GHz
  • GPU: Adreno 330
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Internal Storage: 16GB
  • Rear Camera: 13 Megapixels, f2.2 dual-LED flash, 1080p video recording
  • Front Camera: 2 Megapixels, 1080p video recording
  • Battery: 3050mAh

Xiaomi is one of the fastest growing Chinese Android device makers today. Just recently the company announced that it has recorded 15 million pre-orders for its Xiaomi Hongmi Note phablet. This is definitely an impressive number considering the fact that it is greater than Apple’s 9 million iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S sold during its opening weekend all over the world. The 15 million figure of Xiaomi only covers the whole of China. It’s must be noted that the 15 million pre-order figure also includes people who sign up to receive information of the device through email or phone which may or may not translate to sales.

via weibo

LG G3 swings by Indonesian FCC as D855 , FHD display still on the table

And so the plot thickens… again. The LG G3 plot, which we thought was only going to become thinner from here on out. But alas, that’s not the case, as Postel, Indonesia’s FCC counterpart, has given its blessing to a D885 G3 version possibly headed to European and Asian markets.

LG G3

Remember, LG’s next-gen flagship device is known on the inside as the D850, D850, LS990 and VS985, each label designating a model conceived for a different US carrier. Namely, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon, in order of appearance.

With me so far? Good, because I’m about to lose you. A series of G3 User Agent Profiles have surfaced these past few weeks, revealing conflicting information on the Android top dog’s specs. At the end of the day, we were ready to bet UA Profs hinting at Full HD screens and Snapdragon 800 chips were fake or markers of early prototypes, but a new one has cropped up.

This lists the D885 as carrying a 1,920 x 1,080 pix res panel, although back in the day, it suggested a superior 2,560 x 1,440 (Quad HD, or 2K) pixel count was in the cards. Now, there are two possible explanations for this unforeseen adjustment.

Either LG tested Quad HD and decided to play it safe with 1,080p once more, since the upgrade comes with multiple critical downsides (battery life drawbacks, mostly), or the Koreans are playing us, trying their best to keep the mystery going.

LG G3 event

Either way, Snapdragon 800 is out. S801 is plausible, and S805 desirable. Likewise with 3 and 4 GB RAM respectively. Meanwhile, the rear-facing camera will boast a 13 or 16 MP sensor with optical image stabilization and 4K video capture, and Android 4.4 KitKat shall run the software show, aided by “advanced personalization features” exclusive to LG.

Back to the Postel certification, which dates from April 22, it could be a sign the LG G3 is slated for an early June commercial release around those parts. Stateside, it’s probably going to land a little later (by the end of June nevertheless), while the formal introduction is definitely scheduled for May 27.

An interesting tidbit also came to our attention when browsing LG’s Q1 financial report, as the OEM predicted “higher revenues in the second quarter with the release of the flagship LG G3 smartphone”. Not that we had any doubts, but I guess the handheld’s market name is now set in stone.

As are redesigned physical rear buttons, razor-thin front bezels and a sensor that’s either a fingerprint recognition mechanism or heart rate monitor a la the Galaxy S5. All in all, I’m psyched out of my mind about the LG G3 no matter if it comes with Full HD or 2K display resolution. Who’s with me?

Via [Postel], [LG], [Eye on Mobility], [Android Central]

LG G3 preview and rumor roundup

Danger comes from where you least expect it, or so it seems to be the case for today’s mobile world tycoons. Samsung’s domination over the Android landscape is possibly not as threatened as we anticipated by the likes of Sony or HTC as it is by up-and-coming Oppo and OnePlus.

lg-g3

Yet one historical Sammy rival might still be in contention. A local antagonist. Yes, we’re talking LG, always a step behind the Galaxy makers, but not anymore. Well, technically, they’re still behind, as the G3 will roll out months after the Galaxy S5.

Then again, maybe that’s the right strategy. If an S5 Prime is in the cards, everyone will forget all about the original, half-assed GS5 and look towards the next big thing’s ultra-high-end flavor and G2’s greatly anticipated sequel.

LG G3 concept

At the same time, the LG G3 is shaping up to be a key piece of the Google Nexus 6 puzzle, with all signs pointing to the former being the latter’s basis and inspiration. So you see, there’s really a lot riding on the powerhouse we intend to preview in the following lines:

LG G3 rumor roundup, part 1: Design and build quality

As G3’s formal announcement undoubtedly draws near, the aesthetical riddle is easier and easier to crack. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell G2’s rear physical button experiment worked, and so the newly leaked images come as no surprise.

LG G3 rear

What’s (pleasantly) surprising is the key layout looks far more refined than last year, smoother and extremely polished. A tiny fingerprint scanner is nearly guaranteed to help decorate the plastic backplate too, while the front, oh, what lovely front we think the G3 will boast.

Urging you to take the scoop with a solid grain of salt, LG’s next-gen flagship is tipped to sport almost no vertical bezels, a minuscule upper horizontal border and a slightly thicker lower screen verge. All in all, if the gossip pans out, the G3 should easily move up the ranks of the most compact phones around. Too bad LG isn’t warming up to aluminum or a better-looking build material than crappy plastic.

Display rumors

Throwing caution aside, LG is poised to move beyond Full HD screen resolution in a matter of months and adopt the so-called Quad HD, or 2K, pixel count. The Koreans may go all-in on size as well, raising the bar from 5.2 inches to 5.5, albeit you’re probably not going to notice anything.

LG-isai-FL

One of the many benefits of microscopic bezels is the ability of fitting superior screen real estate into a smaller overall package, and we reckon LG will do just that. Design a 5.5-inch G3 as easy to handle as the 5.2-inch G2.

Back to res, let’s mention if we’re right about everything, the resulting pixel density is, wait for it, 534 ppi. Overkill? Maybe. But I still want one. Bad!

CPU, RAM and cameras preview

Snapdragon 800, 801 or 805? Let’s rule the first chip out, despite User Agent Profile information. It’s way too old. And then there were two. Three, if we choose to question hearsay on Odin’s sluggish development.

LG-G3-Concept-Render

Well, even if LG’s homebrewed processor will be ready in time, it’s a gamble. So we’re back to S801 or S805. Don’t ask me why, but my money’s on the latter. I just feel it in my gut.

RAM? 2 GB is, like S800, a thing of the past. 3? 4? The former is clearly more plausible, yet we can’t help but root and hope for the latter. It’s implausible, mind you, but not impossible.

Galluscam

As for cameras, current speculation circles 13 and 2.1 megapixel sensors. Hogwash! LG will definitely upgrade the MP count on at least one. And improve optical image stabilization again. They have to if they want to compete with Samsung and especially Sony.

Software, battery and other features

LG’s user interface has been traditionally subtler and less intrusive than Samsung’s TouchWiz and HTC’s Sense, keeping things much closer to a stock Android experience. No reason to believe the software approach will drastically change, however a flatter UI is in the cards, along with mysterious “advanced personalization” features.

LG G3 user interface

Of course, all of that will spice up Android 4.4 KitKat and, hopefully, a “vanilla” Google Play Edition shall follow the standard version sooner or later.

We don’t have much to report on the battery life front at the moment, though we’d expect capacity to be increased from 3,000 to at least 3,300 mAh, while “other” features nearly set in stone include water protection and 4G LTE speeds. MicroSD storage expansion? File it in the possibility section.

Release date and pricing

It’s no secret mobile production and upgrade cycles have diminished over time, so just because the G2 went official in August 2013, it doesn’t mean the G3 will break cover this August. On the contrary, we’re pretty sure the next-gen spearhead is to get a formal announcement in May or June and start selling in early July, at the latest.

Lg G3 water

The pricing structure obviously depends on uncertain specs like RAM, fingerprint recognition or storage options, but at the end of the day, you know the drill. $200, $250 with 24-month contracts stateside, roughly $650, $700 unsubsidized. Sounds fair? Why don’t you elaborate in the comments section below?

OnePlus One vs Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One (M8) – Specs comparison

Once Samsung, HTC, Sony and LG threw down their proverbial gauntlets earlier this year, everybody assumed the coast would be clear for the four to duke it out amongst themselves for the Android crown through the summer at the very least.

OnePlus-One-Vs-Galaxy-S5

But boy, were we wrong. Up-and-coming Oppo was the first to try to crack the elite, which they may well succeed if distribution isn’t a problem, and absolute rookie OnePlus is on the verge of remodeling conventional tech business models with a unique blend of affordability, cutting-edge performance and cheap, shrewd, untraditional marketing.

Sure, they’re noobs, automatically making them untrustworthy for the day-to-day mobile user. On top of that, the HQ is set in China, and shoddy build quality-centric myths and preconceptions still galore vis-à-vis Middle Kingdom-based OEMs.

OnePlus-One-Vs-HTC-One-M8

Last but not least, OnePlus’ resources (or lack thereof) is likely to prevent them from achieving their mighty world domination goals, as OnePlus One orders are at this time conditioned by a controversial invite system.

Then again, it’s not all doom and gloom for Pete Lau & co., or else we wouldn’t be having this discussion in the first place. Their dependability is validated by not only Lau’s name and reputation as a former Oppo higher-up, but also by CyanogenMod and Steve Kondik’s involvement. I mean, come on, do you really think Mr. Cyanogen himself would endorse a cheapo, shabby piece of China-produced plastic?

OnePlus One

No way, so stop worrying. Instead, let’s pit the OnePlus One against the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One (M8) in a numbers war to see who prevails. No marketing mumbo-jumbo, no brand awareness BS, no supply and demand crap. Just three spectacular Android handhelds in a cold, objective numbers duel:

One Plus One vs Galaxy S5 vs HTC One (M8) – design comparison

Okay, so evaluating designs 100 percent objectively is virtually impossible. But impartially comparing product dimensions isn’t. Let’s see. The OnePlus One offers by far the largest screen real estate, so naturally, it’s the tallest and widest phone too.

Specifically, it’s 152.9 mm tall and 75.9 wide, compared with 142 x 72.5 (Galaxy S5) and 146.4 x 70.6 (One M8). Meanwhile, it’s slightly thicker than the S5 (8.9 vs 8.1 mm), yet thinner than the M8 (9.4 mm). Finally, heavier than both its rivals, at 162 grams (vs 145 and 160 respectively).

Galaxy S5 vs OnePlus One

Wait, only two grams bulkier than HTC’s latest One? That’s incredible. And mind you, it’s no fluffy piece of plastic, with a chassis wrapped in smooth, sturdy magnesium. As far as overall design language goes, the OnePlus One is definitely unique in its simplicity and minimalism, featuring absolutely no embellishments.

It’s rectangular, it’s nearly curve-free, somewhat elegant and very low-key… in a good sense. All in all, you’re more likely to pick the GS5 out of a lineup, and M8’s all-aluminum build is unrivaled, but the OnePlus One is not far behind in aesthetical grandeur.

Display comparison

Full HD vs Full HD vs Full HD. How to set these vibrant devices apart? Well, once again, the OnePlus One has the biggest usable glass, which is an upside for some and downside for many. Pixel density-wise, the underdog is overpowered by the two front-runners: 401 ppi vs 432 and 441 respectively.

OnePlus_One_HTC_One_M8

But that’s way too little to establish beyond the shadow of a doubt GS5 and M8’s panels are superior to OnePlus One’s screen. And sure, the S5 was recently named the smartphone with the best performing display around, however in all honesty most everyday users can’t tell any difference between its image reproduction, contrast and viewing angles and those delivered by the One M8.

Processing speed, RAM and cameras

It’s mind-boggling how OnePlus can trounce HTC and Samsung’s hardware configurations and ask half of what the two charge for their newest flagships. I get it, the noobs don’t care about profits… right now, but don’t they need to eat?

oneplus-one-black

Probably not, as they found enough resources to pack a state-of-the-art quad-core 2.5 GHz Snapdragon 801 processor, Adreno 330 GPU and 3 GB RAM inside a $300 handheld. The CPU/GPU combo is the same that Samsung uses, but the S5 comes 1 gig short in the RAM department. Meanwhile, the M8 also carries 2 GB random-access memory, plus a Snapdragon 801 chip clocked a little lower – 2.3 GHz.

The cameras are a touchy subject until OnePlus One reviews and tests start to pile up, but on paper, everything looks good for Pete Lau’s outfit. The rear snapper touts 13 megapixels, dual LED, autofocus and f2.0 aperture and the front cam is ideal for selfies, with a 5 MP sensor.

OnePlus-One-2

The secondary shooter is at worst tied with M8’s and better than S5’s, whereas the rear camera should perform more or less the same as HTC’s system and slightly worse than Samsung’s. Slightly.

Software and battery life comparison

Look, I dig what Samsung’s been up to with TouchWiz lately as much as the next guy, and even HTC’s Sense has come a long way. But no skin is always better than any skin. Even better, no skin with a caboodle of customization options.

Enter OnePlus One’s Android 4.4 KitKat-based CyanogenMod 11S, guaranteed for timely updates until the end of time, tinkerer-friendly and just all-around awesome.

CyanogenMod

Battery life? Like camera performance, it’s really hard to rate with no real-life evaluations to rely on. Sure, in theory, a 3,100 mAh juicer should be enough to keep the lights on a good continuous 16 hours or so regardless of how power-demanding the S801 is.

However, both the S5 and M8 have shown tremendous stamina in reviews and battery tests, despite their ticker capacities coming in at 2,800 and 2,600 mAh respectively. So yeah, I’m pretty sure the OnePlus One will impress in autonomy, but won’t stick my neck out to predict better endurance than its competition.

Storage, connectivity, pricing and others

Before getting to the final chapters of this epic battle, let’s do a quick recap. The OnePlus One is unmistakably the stronger contender of the three in processing speed and RAM, it features a top-shelf front-facing camera, massive battery, smooth, highly customizable software, minimalistic, elegant design, five-star display and, at worst, decent rear snapper.

OnePlus-One-back

Add in a starting price of $300 outright, which is literally half of S5 and M8’s market value, and the buying decision is a no-brainer. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you get no water or dust protection, fingerprint sensor, heart rate monitor or microSD card slot.

But there’s 4G LTE support and everything else you need connectivity-wise. Plus, JBL-designed stereo speakers. And in case you need north of 16 GB storage (which you probably do), the 64 GB variant costs $350. Contract and SIM-free. Where do I get an invite again?

Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet swings by FCC with Verizon-friendly LTE bands

Plagued by component shortages and thus unable to commercially launch the Xperia Z2 smartphone as swiftly as they’d have liked, Sony seems to be taking up the backup strategy to its 2014 world domination plan.

Sony-Xperia-Z2-Tablet

Namely, the Japanese have their sights set on making Z2’s big brother, the aptly named Xperia Z2 Tablet, available on a pretty wide scale stateside before long. A version ideal for AT&T’s LTE network got FCC’s stamp of approval last month, and mere hours ago, a Verizon-bound model was also blessed by the federal regulatory agency.

The slate’s model number doesn’t exactly make it clear this is headed to Big Red, but the certification docs list on-board connectivity options as Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and, wait for it, bands 2, 4, 7 and 13 LTE.

Verizon’s 4G speeds are achieved on bands 4 and 13, so putting two and two together, we can safely assume this is indeed a Z2 Tablet designed specifically for America’s most popular carrier. Theoretically, the 10 incher could also work on T-Mobile, however the UnCarrier only uses 4G LTE on band 4, so let’s stick to our first assumption.

Sony-Xperia-Z2-Tablet-2

Of course, an ETA and exact price tag are hard to guess at the moment, though with Verizon’s tablet portfolio so vast nowadays, we just need to find Z2 Tablet’s niche to crack the cost enigma. Okay, I got it. $700 with pacts and $600 off-contract, exactly like Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition. Give or take 50 bucks.

Release date? Don’t ask me that, it’s Sony we’re talking about here, and the company’s motto might as well be “the future’s bright, the future’s unpredictable”.

Spec-wise, the Verizon Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet should run Android 4.4 KitKat on the software side of things, and knock your socks off with top-notch hardware such as quad-core Snapdragon 801 power, 3 GB RAM, 1,900 x 1,200 pixels resolution display, 8.1 MP rear-facing camera and 6,000 mAh battery. Oh, if only the Z2 handheld would get the backing of two major US mobile operators. Heck, at this point, we’d probably even settle for one. Understood, Verizon? T-Mobile? AT&T? Sprint? Anyone?

Via [FCC]

HTC One (M8) vs Sony Xperia Z2 – Specs Comparison

After comparing and contrasting Samsung’s Galaxy S5 with Sony’s Xperia Z2, the GS5 with last year’s S4, HTC’s One (M8) with the 2013 One and the S5 with the M8, it’s come down to this. The One (M8) against the Xperia Z2 for the final win.

HTC-One-M8-vs-Sony-Xperia-Z2

Two apparent dark horses for the top-shelf Android crown, but ultimately better, handsomer, sturdier, solider contenders than what everyone thought was the shoo-in heavyweight world champion candidate. Sorry, S5, you’re simply too gimmicky and underwhelming to stay in the race.

Make no mistake, Samsung’s marketing juggernaut will help its latest flagship device probably top M8 and Z2 sales… combined. Yet those that know better and want to own the best of the best regardless of whose advertising campaign proves the most aggressive shall pick their next weapon after careful consideration and a thorough scan of M8 and Z2’s gifts and flaws.

xperia-z2-htc-one-m8

But how about we do the heavy lifting for you, probing and scrutinizing the underdogs turned frontrunners, and you just pay the piper for whichever you end up liking more? Deal? Then let’s get cracking:

HTC One (M8) vs Sony Xperia Z2 – design and build quality comparison

To say both of these bad boys look amazing in their very personal own ways would likely be the understatement of the century. They’re born to live in the limelight, walk on the catwalk and prance around showing off their curves or, um, lack thereof.

sony-xperia-z2

But which one’s more pleasing to the eye? That’s a toughie. On the one hand, the Z2 is about as tall and heavy light as the M8 and actually thinner while also offering the larger usable screen real estate area. It’s less curvy too, with sharp edges rather than round ones, which at least in my book, helps its cause, sending a vibe of elegance and sophistication.

HTC-One-M8

On the other hand, you’d be nuts to call the 2014 HTC One ugly, and as far as build quality is concerned, aluminum trumps glass every day. More aluminum equals higher reliability, and the M8 is reportedly 90 percent (!!!) metal.

Verdict: It’s an overall tie

Display face-off

As all major Android players except for Oppo (who’s not really major yet) have chosen the safe route in this particular department, sticking to Full HD resolutions instead of gambling on 2K, there’s genuinely nothing to choose between M8 and Z2’s panels. On paper.

HTC-one-M8-vs.-Sony-Xperia-Z2

Hoping Sony didn’t botch Xperia Z2’s display (a la last year’s Xperia Z), and it doesn’t look that way based on hands-on previews, the sole difference here is size. Either you go for the smaller 5 incher with the higher ppi (441), or the larger 5.2 incher with inferior pixel density (424). Your choice.

Verdict: Ties galore

Processing speed, RAM and cameras

Accused of gaming benchmarks via a speed-boosting “High Performance Mode”, HTC can’t really hope to edge out Sony performance-wise (in real life), as M8’s 2 GB RAM comes one gig short of Z2’s memory. And since the chips packed by the two rivals in their “international” renditions are virtually identical, 2.3 GHz Snapdragon 801, odds are you’ll feel the RAM gap right off the bat. Or, you know, as soon as you put some pressure on the handhelds, running a dozen or so different applications simultaneously.

htc-one-m8-high-performance-mode

The camera duel is, I’m afraid for HTC, even more disproportionate, as One’s UltraPixel rear snapper, complete with the gimmicky Dual Camera setup, is light years behind Xperia Z2’s state-of-the-art 20.7 MP main shooter, stuffed with goodies and add-ons like image stabilization, HDR, 4K video recording, video stabilization and so on and so forth.

Sony-Xperia-Z2_camera

Granted, selfie addicts find a more reliable partner in One’s manufacturer, as the 5-incher’s front cam carries a 5 MP sensor (vs. 2.2 megapixels), but at the end of the day, that’s surely not enough for a reversal of fortune.

Winner: Xperia Z2 by a landslide

HTC M8 vs Sony Xperia Z2 – software and battery life comparison

It’s weird, Z2’s user interface is clearly closer to stock Android, yet a bit laggy on occasion and, overall, not as sleek as HTC’s best Sense iteration ever, 6.0. And yes, you’re likely to get loads more pre-loaded bloatware on the M8, between BlinkFeed, Zoe, all the Kid Modes, Car Modes and fitness tracking Fitbit.

htc-one-m8-blinkfeed

But BlinkFeed and Zoe are actually cool, useful, neat little KitKat supplements. Meanwhile, I can’t think of one single beneficial Sony-specific app found on the Xperia Z2.

Android 4.4 KitKat is of course available out the box with both devices, and as far as battery is concerned, it’s still early to reach a verdict. Theoretically, we’d expect Sony to prevail with ease, thanks to a juicer capacity advantage of no less than 600 mAh (3,200 vs 2,600).

Xperia Z2 back

However, after seeing M8’s relatively tiny ticker tested and pitted against monsters such as Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3, we’re not so sure anymore.

Winner: Undecided

Audio, storage, connectivity and others

Although the Xperia Z2 is certainly no pushover when it comes to playing loud, crisp, clear audio, it ultimately has nothing on M8’s breathtaking BoomSound stereo speakers. Storage? No way to set them apart there, as you get 16 GB built-in and up to 128 GB external from both.

htc-one-m8-music

Connectivity and ports-wise, they’re also evenly matched, with NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, 4G LTE and microUSB 2.0 across the board, but one key “other” area where we can see a big difference is, let’s call it build quality supplements.

True, the One (M8) is probably more reliable in that it handles drops and whatnot better, but clumsy mobile users like myself often need a slab of silicon capable of withstanding a dunk in a bowl of water. You know the bowl I’m talking about. Well, the Z2 is obviously the king of the bathrooms, with IP58 certification for dust and water resistance.

Xperia Z2 water

Too bad you have to know a guy who knows a guy who knows Kazuo Hirai to score one of these water-shielded beauts by May. Meanwhile, the HTC One (M8) is up for grabs via three of the four major US carriers and a wide array of British retailers. Oh, decisions, decisions.

Processor on the HTC One M8 reportedly switches to high-performance mode during benchmarks

HTC M8

A new report has found that the new HTC One automatically switches to a high-performance CPU mode while running benchmark applications in order to boost scores. We’ve seen Samsung come under significant criticism for doing something similar with the Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy Note 3, which was later rectified with the Android 4.4 update.

HTC’s “tweak” however is slightly less manipulative compared to Samsung’s. AnandTech’s findings claim that the HTC One M8’s CPU frequency is bumped up by 15% while running conventional benchmark apps. While this isn’t exactly manipulating benchmark scores per-se, it’s certainly going to come under criticism. The GPU performance has remained unchanged apparently, which is a relief for HTC fans.

For those interested, HTC is also offering a high-performance CPU mode which is accessible via the Developer options on the handset. Benchmark scores are unlikely to affect the standard everyday consumer and HTC needs to keep this in mind. It might not have the marketing prowess of Samsung, but cases like these are certainly not doing its credibility any good.

Source: AnandTech

Via: Android Beat

HTC One (M8) vs Samsung Galaxy S5 – Specs Comparison

It’s weird, we expected both HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4’s sequels to knock our socks off, enthrall and amaze with major upgrades like Quad HD display resolutions, bonkers 4 GB RAM modules, OIS cameras and significantly boosted Snapdragon 805 processors, but at the end of the day the One (M8) and Galaxy S5… just didn’t.

HTC-One-M8-vs-Samsung-Galaxy-S5

In a sense, you can say the two evolved at essentially the same pace, proving once again the mobile market as a whole is oversaturated and in dire need of an upgrade cycle relaxation.

There’s really no point in everyone bringing to light two, let alone three new so-called flagship devices each year, as long as the S5 is literally and figuratively a lightweight Note 3, and the M8 barely edges out the 12-month-old M7.

htc-one-vs-galaxy-s5

However, if you choose to disregard the fact they’re genuinely not a big deal, or simply the timing is right for a change (as in, you still rock an OG Galaxy S3 or something), here’s how the HTC One (M8) and Samsung Galaxy S5 match up in a direct, winner-takes-all specs battle:

Design and build quality comparison

Look, I appreciate HTC and Samsung’s desire to keep things fresh, but a change of tune is not always good. And sometimes, it’s completely unnecessary. Take the Ones. Was the first-gen a beaut? You bet. Was there still room for better? Always.

htc-one-m8

Did HTC do that? We can argue and bicker all day, yet in the end we’ll reach the same conclusion: the M8 is a bigger “Metalhead” than its predecessor, but it’s not as beautiful. It’s likely more durable, but somehow also cheaper-looking.

The Galaxy S5? For the record, I have no beef with plastic per se. It’s just that Samsung may want to try something different one of these days. As in, truly different, not add stripped patterns to a glossy, chintzy rear cover and call it aesthetical innovation.

Samsung-Galaxy-S5

Back to our duel, the M8 clearly wins in robustness and elegance, but loses the numbers race, as it’s chunkier, thicker, taller and heavier. Slightly narrower as well, though it’s too little too late.

Verdict: It’s a tie

HTC One (M8) vs Samsung Galaxy S5 – display face-off

Unlike in the design section, neither HTC, nor Samsung took any sort of gamble with their screens. They walked the beaten path, with a 5-inch Super LCD3 unit and 5.1-inch Super AMOLED respectively. Both carrying Full HD, aka 1,920 x 1,080 pixels resolution. And virtually identical ppis: 441 and 432.

HTC One M8 display

Does this mean the resolution war is over? Not so fast. It probably just means Quad HD was too risky and superfluous… at the moment. As for which of the two Full HD panels at hand is better, the answer is none. They’re really equally as gorgeous. Ask around, everyone will tell you the same.

Verdict: Another tie

Processing speed, RAM and cameras

“Play it safe” seems to have been the motto of the entire manufacturing process behind the S5 and M8, from display resolution to RAM, cameras, software and battery. Processors? Guess Snapdragon 801 was a safe bet as well, though it was also the smart, sensible choice all along.

htc-one-m8-vs-galaxy-s5

Check that, there was almost no choice. Sure, the S5 packs the 2.5 GHz clock monster as standard, whereas the M8 only offers the beast in Asia, “settling” for a 2.3 GHz model everywhere else. But congratulations, if you can tell the difference between a phone with a 2.5 GHz S801 inside and one powered by a 2.3 GHz, you’re delusional.

RAM? Let’s not even go there. The fact of the matter is our two contenders are deadlocked from that standpoint, with 2 gigs each, which is all you need at the moment for smooth multitasking.

htc-one-m8-camera

The camera clash is a rather complex and delicate affair, albeit when it comes right down to it, it’s simple. Care more about photos taken with rear-facing snappers on phones than selfies? Pick the S5. In love with your own reflection and duckface? It’s the M8 for you.

Want all the numbers? Here they are – 16 MP primary camera with autofocus, LED flash, Dual Shot, HDR and 4K video recording and modest 2 MP secondary unit on the GS5, dual rear cameras with 4 UltraPixel and 2 MP sensors, as well as 5 MP front shooter with HDR for the One (M8).

Winner: Galaxy S5 by a whisker

Software and battery

Here’s where things get truly interesting. And complicated. Despite running the same Android version (4.4 KitKat) underneath all the tweaks and skins, the S5 and M8 are anything but two peas in a pod software-wise.

HTC BlinkFeed

Now, TouchWiz and Sense used to be universally hated until not long ago, shifting their fortunes of late with neat little add-ons and functions like Air gestures, S Health, S-Voice, BlinkFeed and Zoe. They still need work here and there, but they’re definitely on the rise.

Which one’s better, you ask? It depends. Samsung’s TouchWiz is a wee bit more intrusive, yet also smoother and packed with the most unique, useful special features. Sense 6 is in many ways a more cohesive experience, it’s subtler, plus right now, the M8 is the only one of these two handhelds to be offered in an optional Google Play edition, with “pure” KitKat on board.

Galaxy S5 battery

Battery? Oh, I wouldn’t be caught dead calling that bout yet. On paper, the S5 has the upper hand, with the slightly larger juicer (2,800 vs 2,600 mAh), and the “ultra power saving” mode. But have you seen M8’s early astounding battery test results? Mind equals blown.

Verdict: Another tie

Audio, sensors, storage and others

The “others” part of our comparison, once trivial and unimportant, may well tip the balance in this particular case, both because the overall duel is so evenly matched and on account of “other” features becoming key selling points.

HTC M8 music

Let’s see, HTC has BoomSound and not much else, while Samsung retaliates with water and dust protection, fingerprint recognition technology and a built-in heart rate monitor. The storage options are essentially the same across the board (16, 32 GB built-in, up to 128 external), pricing is tied, and so is connectivity, with Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, NFC and Bluetooth 4.0 everywhere.

Soooo, it comes down to whether you reckon fingerprint and heart rate sensors are gimmicks or not. And if you’d rather listen to bitching music on your smartphone, or be able to take it for a swim. It’s a toughie, eh?

Galaxy S5 fingerprint

Whichever you pick as the ultimate winner though, don’t forget to pit it against Sony’s Xperia Z2 as well before making a purchase. And remember, a host of Android top dogs might be yet to come.

HTC One (M8) vs HTC One – Specs Comparison

When Samsung unveiled the somewhat underwhelming Galaxy S5, HTC brashly suggested buyer’s remorse will be coming soon to early adopters of the “next big thing”. They also promised competition will be “one-upped” by the sequel to the outstanding if not underrated 2013 HTC One, raising the bar of expectations way beyond the company’s real potential.

HTC-One-M8-vs-HTC-One-M7

Making matters worse, the “All New HTC One” quickly became the unwanted star of possibly the loftiest leak fest in Android history. I realize you’ve probably heard this before, but the phone was truly the worst kept secret of all time.

The rumor bonanza baffled HTC to the extent they actually ran out of branding ideas, ultimately leaving it to their distribution partners to choose a moniker. Any moniker. As such, the 5 incher is called The all new HTC One (M8) by Verizon, the HTC One – M8 by Sprint, and HTC One (M8) at AT&T. That’s beyond confusing.

HTC M8 vs HTC One

And it’s not even HTC’s biggest anxiety. I mean, sure, it’s bad that prospective buyers will have a hard time figuring out which model is newer based on names, but it’s much worse that the regular folk, you know, the non-geeks, may not be able to tell the difference when looking or handling the two either.

Sounds like a major identity crisis, so what we’ll try to do in the following lines is untangle the puzzle of the upgrade. Did HTC actually enhance anything? Is the HTC One (M8) better than the HTC One (M7)? How and, most importantly, is it good enough? Let’s see:

HTC One 2014 vs HTC One 2013 – design comparison

First things first, my head is starting to hurt from all the pseudonym shifts, so let’s agree to settle on one set of aliases. How about… the M8 and M7? Good? Good, so now all we have to do is find the upgrades.

HTC-One-M8-vs-One-back

Well, strictly from an aesthetic standpoint, the M8 and M7 are clearly not alike. But is the former actually better designed? Hardly. It’s marginally taller, wider and heavier, plus it’s not exactly compact, accommodating a set of rather broad bezels.

The build quality is stunning on the M8, with roughly 90 percent of the chassis made of robust, handsome aluminum (compared to 70 percent on the M7), yet the handheld all in all is pretty slippery and still prone to little scratches.

htc-one-m8-colors

And then there’s the rounded corner aspect, which at the end of the day is a personal taste affair. I for one loved, loved, loved HTC M7’s rectangular vibe and, while I don’t hate M8’s “curves”, I feel they cheapen the exceptional build.

HTC M8 vs HTC M7 – display face-off

Instead of again offering my own subjective view on things and likely piss you off, I’ll ask you a very important question. It’s a biggie, so think it through. Do you believe bigger is better? If yes, then M8’s display is better. If no, then it’s not. Simple as that.

htc-one-m8

For the record, M8’s screen is a 5-inch Super LCD3 unit with 1,920 x 1,080 pixels resolution, whereas M7’s is virtually identical, just smaller, at 4.7 inches. Resulting ppi? 441 and 469 respectively. Sure, there’s a gap there, but it’s barely noticeable in real life.

Processing speed, RAM and cameras

Phew, I was beginning to fear HTC truly did nothing to alter the 2013 One, aside from fixing what wasn’t broken – the design. But they did swap the 1.7 GHz Snapdragon 600 chip with a 2.3 GHz (2.5 in Asia) Snapdragon 801.

The performance bump isn’t drastic, yet it’s perceptible, and to be fair, there was nowhere higher to go. The Snapdragon 805 CPUs aren’t out, Nvidia’s latest Tegras are unworthy, and MediaTek still has a few things to learn before being invited in the big leagues.

HTC One M8

Congrats to HTC for making the logical choice processor-wise, but what happened in the RAM department? Well, nothing. The M7 packs 2 GB of memory, the M8 likewise, and meanwhile, the six month-old Galaxy Note 3 carries 3 gigs. Face, meet palm.

But wait, there’s more. Embarrassment, that is. M7’s disappointing rear-facing 4 MP UltraPixel shooter is somehow alive, standing and rebooted for the M8. Why? Because… HTC is masochistic like that? Don’t know, I’m just spitballing here.

HTC-M8-camera

The fact of the matter is M8’s primary camera is every bit as mediocre as M7’s. Maybe worse, as it ditches optical image stabilization. And the much hyped Duo Camera is nothing but a useless gimmick. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it improves autofocus time, depth perception and post-processing effects, but does nothing for actual snapshot quality.

On the bright side, selfies. Vibrant, crystal clear, smooth selfies taken with a 5 MP front cam. Ugh!

Software and battery life

HTC’s Sense UI has traditionally had an overwhelming number of detractors and very few admirers. Only the balance is beginning to tip in Sense’s favor.

HTC BlinkFeed

Not as intrusive as back in the day, the user interface, complemented by an increasingly convenient BlinkFeed, brings much more benefits to the table than downsides for a change, which made HTC feel assured enough to already unveil a Google Play Edition with “vanilla” Android 4.4 KitKat.    

That’s double points for the M8 in its fratricide duel with the M7, and, believe it or not, the 5 incher puts another one in the win column thanks to battery life. Be honest, you didn’t really welcome the news of the 2014 One featuring a 2,600 mAh battery, did you?

HTC M8 battery test

That’s a measly 300 mAh north of M7’s juicer capacity, and, considering the size and processor boost, you undoubtedly expected similar autonomy numbers. However, two extremely reliable battery tests put the M8 significantly ahead of its predecessor, with results that exceed even those of the LG G2 or Galaxy Note 3. Wow!

Audio, connectivity, storage and pricing

Look at that, HTC somehow managed to make the outstanding BoomSound speakers better. Richer, louder, clearer and, possibly, the all-around best sound system in the mobile business. Oh, and remember how you weren’t able to carry around all your photos, videos and whatnot due to the M7 not supporting storage expansion? That’s no longer the case, and you can stick a 128 GB microSD card inside the M8.

True, the HTC One now starts at an inferior 16 GB of built-in storage, but hey, don’t you prefer to be able to expand that to 144 rather than be forced to settle for 32? I know I do.

HTC One M8 music

The connectivity and sensors area offers no big surprise or shocker, with everything from 4G LTE to NFC present, but no swanky fingerprint recognition or heart rate monitor technology.

Pricing-wise, the M8 is around the ballpark we anticipated, namely $200 with 24-month pacts, $650 outright, and $700 contract-free in a Google Play edition. That’s no bargain, but it ain’t a rip-off either. And it’s mostly on par with M7’s initial costs.

HTC-One-M8-Google-Play-edition

Wrapping up, I’ll hold back from handing down a verdict and instead pass the mic to you. Is the HTC One (M8) significantly better than the One (M7), considering it’s got a punchier CPU, beefier battery, larger display, more gifted front camera, smoother software and extra microSD slot, but a so-so design, inferior ppi, mediocre rear shooter, and just adequate RAM?