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Huawei P10 and P10 Plus: 5 things that could make them even better

The newly-announced Huawei P10 and P10 Plus smartphones certainly look like worthy successors to the Huawei P9 and P9 Plus that launched just under a year ago. There are definitely some hardware improvements in the new P10 models, including some with its Leica-branded dual rear camera.

But, as always with these kinds of product reveals, we do think that Huawei could have made a few tweaks in the hardware and software specs so the P10 and P10 Plus could have been even better. Here’s what we think could be improved for these phones.

Higher resolution display for the P10

While the Huawei P10 Plus will have a 2560 x 1440 resolution for its 5.5-inch display, the smaller 5.1-inch P10 is still stuck in Full HD land with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. We think that it’s time for flagship devices like the P10 to ditch Full HD and go up to higher resolutions, even if it does affect the phone’s battery life a bit.

Because the standard P10’s display at a lower resolution, this is likely the reason why Huawei passed on making these phones compatible with Google Daydream. We’ve seen this situation before, too; back at CES 2017, Huawei announced that an update would come to the Mate 9 Pro and Porsche Design Mate 9 that would add Daydream support, but the standard Mate 9, with its Full HD display, would not be getting the update.

No word on adding Amazon Alexa

Huawei P10 and P10 Plus: 5 things that could make them even better

In the US, the Huawei Mate 9 is going to get an update in March that will add support for Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant. Yet, there’s no indication that such a feature will also be included with the P10 or P10 Plus. Having such a useful AI feature, especially one that has been in development for a couple of years, could have made these phones stand out from the crowd. The good news is that Google Assistant is coming to all Android Nougat and Marshmallow phones sometime next week, so perhaps that will be enough.

More megapixels for the front-facing camera

While the rear camera setup for the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus has two sensors (a 12MP color sensor and a 20MP monochrome sensor), the front-facing camera in both phones is just 8MP.  The good news is that the front camera is Leica-branded, which is a first for Huawei devices. The bad news is that 8MP front cameras for flagship phones are starting to become commonplace. We think it would have been better to put in a 12MP front-facing camera on the P10 and P10 Plus to give selfies a little extra boost.

Now, it’s worth noting that we haven’t had much of a chance to check out the quality of the front-facing camera, so we’ll have to let you know our final verdict in our full review.

More memory and storage for P10

Huawei P10 and P10 Plus: 5 things that could make them even better

Why does the P10 Plus have the 6GB memory and 128GB storage option and the P10 does not? Again, this seems like there’s an opportunity that has been missed by Huawei to have the smaller 5.1-inch phone include the higher memory and storage specs. We think the company might even sell a lot more of the P10 if it had such a variant, and it would most likely not affect sales of the larger P10 Plus.

No release date for North America

This might be the biggest head scratcher of all for the P10 and P10 Plus. Huawei says it wants to expand the reach of its devices to the US and Canada, but for some reason their new flagship phones are not going to be sold in North America. It will be available in Mexico and all over Europe, Asia and even Australia and New Zealand, but not in some of the biggest smartphone markets. We hope this is just a temporary situation, but quite frankly it does seem odd that Huawei has made this decision, especially now that the Mate 9 has finally landed in the US.

Are Huawei flagships destined to not come to America until many, many months after arriving elsewhere? We hope not, as that was one of the things that has historically frustrated us about Sony’s smartphone launch plans after all.

Wrapping up

Again, these are just our opinions on what could be done to make the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus better, but we definitely don’t think we have all the answers. What do you think? Is the P10 series perfect as it is?

LG G6 International Giveaway!

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Welcome to the Sunday Giveaway, the place where we giveaway a new Android phone each and every Sunday! We have a special treat for you this week!

This week we are giving away the freshly announced LG G6

For those that weren’t following along, at MWC today LG unveiled its latest flagship, the LG G6. The new handset does away with modules and metal, in favor of a metal and glass design that fits in a large 18:9 5.7-inch display on the front.

This time around LG seems less interested in attempting to push new ideas and more about refining its design and hardware. The end result is a pretty polished handset. To learn more, check out some of our current LG G6 coverage:

 

Enter giveaway

LG G6 International Giveaway!

More giveaways: CB3 Hush ANC Wireless Headphones giveaway!soundguys.com

Winners Gallery


Terms & Conditions

  • The giveaway is an international giveaway (Except when we can not ship to your Country.)
  • If we can not ship to your country, you will be compensated with an online gift card of equal MSRP value to the prize.
  • We are not responsible for lost shipments.
  • We are not responsible if your giveaway prize malfunctions.
  • You must be age of majority in your Country of residence.
  • We are not responsible for any duties or import fees that you may incur.
  • Only 1 entry per person, do not enter multiple email addresses. We will verify all winners and if we detect multiple email addresses by the same person you will not be eligible to win.
  • We reserve all rights to make any changes to this giveaway.
  • This giveaway is operated by AndroidAuthority.
  • The prize will ship when it is available to purchase.

LG wants to bring the G6’s tiny bezels to mid-range phones

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Listen to LG talk about the G6’s 18:9 aspect ratio and it’s clear the company believes 2:1 is the future, not only of cinema but also of digital media consumption. This is all fine and good. But the LG G6 has a noticeably “tall and skinny” look, one that would only be exacerbated on a cheaper phone without the luxury of flagship-size bezels above and below the display. At least, that’s what I initially thought.

You see, it seemed logical to me that on a top-of-the-line flagship device, LG would be free to apply its costly engineering know-how to minimize the bezels as much as it has on the G6. But it also seemed logical that mid-range and budget devices – if they were to share the same aspect ratio – would miss out on the same microscopic bezels. This kind of logic means one of two things: either mid-range LG phones in future would stick with 16:9 or they would switch to 18:9 and look bizarrely tall.

But there is also a third option, one which the title of this article makes clear. LG is clearly committed to the idea of the 18:9 aspect ratio. But I simply didn’t think it was reasonable to expect all LG devices going forward to adopt this new ratio. And while this may not be true immediately, because it isn’t yet economically viable on devices ranging from a couple hundred dollars up to $700, it is the future LG wants for a lot larger cross-section of its devices.

Without committing definitively to anything, LG’s design team told me that the same aspect ratio – and the G6’s tiny top and bottom bezel – will make their way to mid-range LG devices. For now, the form factor and tiny bezels will remain a flagship-level design exclusive; after all, the G6 should rightfully enjoy its exclusivity for a while. But the G series and V series will not be the only product ranges with this new aspect ratio in LG’s lineup in future.

But don’t expect the next L series devices to look just like smaller G6’s. It will take some pretty serious engineering work, manufacturing improvements and more to cost-effectively deliver this kind of display-to-body ratio on less expensive devices. But that is clearly the end goal. Barring any unforeseen obstacles, like a sudden consumer backlash to the 2:1 ratio, I’d expect the V30 to utilize the same 18:9 aspect ratio and be followed, eventually, by more and more LG mid-rangers.

What do you think of the 18:9 ratio? Do you even like super-thin bezels on all sides of the screen?

LG G6 pricing and availability: what we know so far

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The LG G6 is finally here, and it’s really nice.

With an 18:9 Quad HD display, Snapdragon 821, a new dual camera setup and Google Assistant on board, this is certainly turning out to be one of the hottest phones of the year.

Don't miss:

LG G6 hands-on: A return to form

2 hours ago

So, when can you actually buy this phone? LG is remaining pretty quiet about the G6’s pricing and availability details, though recent rumors have pointed to a March 9 release date in South Korea. We’re assuming the U.S. launch will follow soon after that in early April, though we can’t tell you for sure at this time.

Even though LG hasn’t given us any detailed availability info, that’s not stopping carriers from announcing their plans to carry the phone. Below you can find a list of wireless carriers who are planning to carry the LG G6. Again, details are pretty scarce so far, so we’ll update this list as more G6 pricing and availability details surface.

LG G6 U.S. availability

Verizon

Verizon has announced its plans to carry the LG G6 sometime this Spring, but additional pricing and availability details have yet to be announced.

AT&T

AT&T says it will carry the device sometime soon, but again, no additional details were given in the announcement. The carrier has put up a landing page for the G6, which you can see right here.

T-Mobile

The LG G6 is coming to T-Mobile sometime this Spring, though other availability details were mentioned in the blog post.

Sprint

Sprint has not announced its plans to carry the LG G6 at this time, but we’re sure details will surface sometime soon.

LG G6 Europe availability

Vodafone

Vodafone has announced its plans to carry the LG G6. And you guessed it, more availability details will be revealed at a later date.


Well, that’s it for now. Did we miss anything? If so, please speak up in the comment section! Oh, and if you’d like to learn more about the LG G6, be sure to check out our additional coverage below:

LG G6 pricing and availability: what we know so far

0

The LG G6 is finally here, and it’s really nice.

With an 18:9 Quad HD display, Snapdragon 821, a new dual camera setup and Google Assistant on board, this is certainly turning out to be one of the hottest phones of the year.

Don't miss:

LG G6 hands-on: A return to form

2 hours ago

So, when can you actually buy this phone? LG is remaining pretty quiet about the G6’s pricing and availability details, though recent rumors have pointed to a March 9 release date in South Korea. We’re assuming the U.S. launch will follow soon after that in early April, though we can’t tell you for sure at this time.

Even though LG hasn’t given us any detailed availability info, that’s not stopping carriers from announcing their plans to carry the phone. Below you can find a list of wireless carriers who are planning to carry the LG G6. Again, details are pretty scarce so far, so we’ll update this list as more G6 pricing and availability details surface.

LG G6 U.S. availability

Verizon

Verizon has announced its plans to carry the LG G6 sometime this Spring, but additional pricing and availability details have yet to be announced.

AT&T

AT&T says it will carry the device sometime soon, but again, no additional details were given in the announcement. The carrier has put up a landing page for the G6, which you can see right here.

T-Mobile

The LG G6 is coming to T-Mobile sometime this Spring, though other availability details were mentioned in the blog post.

Sprint

Sprint has not announced its plans to carry the LG G6 at this time, but we’re sure details will surface sometime soon.

LG G6 Europe availability

Vodafone

Vodafone has announced its plans to carry the LG G6. And you guessed it, more availability details will be revealed at a later date.


Well, that’s it for now. Did we miss anything? If so, please speak up in the comment section! Oh, and if you’d like to learn more about the LG G6, be sure to check out our additional coverage below:

The curved corners on the LG G6 are not just cosmetic

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The LG G6 display, like the Galaxy S8 and many other phones that will follow it, has curved corners. This may seem like little more than a cosmetic affectation at first glance, meant to enhance and echo the curves of the device itself which, thanks to the G6’s small bezels, are very much closer to the screen than on most phones. But there’s a lot more going on behind those rounded corners than looks.

In the build-up to the G6 announcement, LG teased certain features of the phone: water-resistance, Google Assistant, reliability. Unknown to most at the time, LG emphasizing reliability was about a lot more than just optimized battery life or stutter-free software (or bootloop prevention for that matter). As far as I can tell, LG’s take on reliability here falls into three broad categories: display, battery and thermal management.

See also:

Will ‘bezel-less’ be the big smartphone design trend of 2017?

January 20, 2017

Display

First up, those display corners. The curves on the G6’s display glass do cover angular corners underneath, but not right angles. The corners of the G6 display are chamfered, so there’s a 45-degree angle between the horizontal and vertical edge of the screen: think of a piece of paper with the corners cut off.

The reason LG did this is to reduce the risk of display damage when the G6 is dropped. LG’s internal testing reveals the majority of phone drops result in impact on a corner. When all that force is transferred to a “sharp” corner of the display, the likelihood of damage is increased dramatically. By spreading that force across a larger area, LG can reduce the risk of the G6’s display cracking.

According to LG, after 50 cycles of its internal tumble test, the G6 came out functional 70 percent of the time while every competitor device suffering some form of glass crack 100 percent of the time. You’d be well-advised to take this data with a grain of salt, but time will tell just how durable the G6 display is. That said, it’ll be interesting to see if Samsung takes a similar chamfered approach with the Galaxy S8 display.

The curved corners on the LG G6 are not just cosmetic

Battery

The G6 also has a more reliable battery. In order to completely avoid any risk of the same kind of problems that affected the Galaxy Note 7 last year, LG is using a battery designed for safety and reliability.

In the G6’s battery, the separator between the anode and cathode is almost twice the size of that found in the Galaxy Note 7 (15.5 microns vs 8.5 microns). The G6 also has a larger “ceiling” around the battery and the phone’s metal frame uses an I-beam construction to make it more rigid and strong, further protecting the battery from potential damage as well as the display.

LG applied very strict standards when testing the G6’s battery: using higher hot-box temperatures than the competition (this is, of course, hard to verify) and adding nail-penetration tests to assess the G6 battery’s stability even under extreme conditions. Other battery features are just for convenience, like the ability to charge the G6 when it’s wet by using wireless (PMA and WPC) rather than a cabled connection.

LG also uses what it calls an Optimal Charging Algorithm to constantly monitor battery age and temperature. By adjusting the voltage and current according to the battery’s condition, LG claims it can prolong the life cycle of the G6 battery beyond its competitors. That means higher capacity for longer, more charge cycles and better battery stability. Again, only time will tell.

The curved corners on the LG G6 are not just cosmetic

Heat

When LG first started confirming details about the LG G6 publicly, the inclusion of heat pipes was in the first wave of disclosures alongside the 5.7-inch QHD+ display and its new aspect ratio. Using thin copper pipes inside a smartphone to dissipate excess heat from the processor and the display driver is nothing new: both computers and other smartphones have made use of this for ages.

But the LG G6 has two heat pipes, one that completely covers the display driver, located along the bottom edge of the phone, and another that directs heat away from the chipset, positioned above the battery. LG says one of the first things it did when designing the G6 was ensure these two heat sources were located as far away from one another as possible. The aluminum mid-frame also helps draw heat away from these critical areas and pushes it to the metal edge where it is further dissipated.

LG has put a lot of thought into ensuring the LG G6 is as reliable as possible, in multiple senses of the word. The fate of the Galaxy Note 7 undoubtedly served as a wake-up call to not only Samsung, but to all other manufacturers too. This obviously means better things for consumers, providing us with a higher level of confidence in our devices thanks to the heightened safety testing they undergo. There’s no such thing as a guaranteed safe device, but we’re a lot closer to that ambition now than we ever have been before.

#MWC17 – What’s in my gear bag?

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As some of you know, I’m more of a writer here than a video maker, but I do like to dabble. Whenever I’m at a trade show though I like to travel light, so I tend not to overdo it when I pack: just the essentials. Here’s all the gear I brought to MWC 2017, with Amazon links if you’re interested in checking any of it out. It won’t be as fancy (or expensive) as Josh and Lanh’s kit, but it’ll give you an idea of what us mere mortals use.

Camera and tripod

First thing’s first, the camera. I use a Sony Alpha 6000 mirrorless with a 35mm f1.8 fixed prime and a 55-210mm telephoto lens for those long-range press conference shots. I love the balance a mirrorless camera strikes between quality and weight; I wouldn’t go back to a full DSLR if you paid me, full frame be darned.

#MWC17 – What’s in my gear bag?

I have a Manfrotto MT190XPRO4 tripod and the Manfrotto MVH502AH fluid panning head, which weighs more than my camera and all my lenses combined. I probably should get a more portable option for trade shows, but I’m so used to this now I don’t really notice the weight anyway. It does look a little silly having my tiny camera on top of this giant panning head though.

Audio

For audio, I have a Zoom H1 recorder and Rode Smartlav+ mic, both of which serve me fine for this sort of event (Josh and Lanh always have fancier mics if I need them for voiceovers). I carry a tiny desktop tripod for the mic which can also come in handy for simple hands on shots when the big tripod is too bulky. I also carry a simple Shoulderpod camera clamp in case I’m ever without my camera. I ordered a DJI OsmoMobile before the trip but unfortunately it didn’t arrive in time, so I’ll just steal Nirave’s.

#MWC17 – What’s in my gear bag?

Phones

My two daily drivers right now are the Google Pixel and the Huawei Mate 9. I love the screen size and battery life of the Mate 9 and the Pixel is all-round one of the best phones available. I have Project Fi in the Pixel and my European SIM in the Mate 9 (you’ll be able to check out my home screen layout on Instagram in our home screen Monday series in the next little while if you’re at all interested). I only use the original Huawei Supercharger and Pixel fast charging brick of course.

Power

For battery backup, I have the Anker Powercore Speed 10,000 mAh QC 3.0 portable battery, which serves me well in terms of size and weight vs capacity. Trade shows are killers on the battery and only the Mate 9 has ever made it through a full day for me without a partial recharge. These phones have two of the best cameras around right now, so it’s no longer necessary to pull out my camera all the time, but that comes at the cost of battery. Leaving the house without this is like heading to the airport without your passport: not very advisable.

Backpack

The bag is the OnePlus travel backpack which honestly feels like it was made for tech journalists. It’s not too big, so it’s easy to squeeze through those crazy trade show crowds, and it has stash pockets for several different phones, a laptop and tablet. Plus it looks pretty dapper, is super light and is comfortable to boot. I used to have a leather satchel I was fond of, but it killed my shoulder and then got stolen by a friendly baggage handler at CES.

#MWC17 – What’s in my gear bag?

Computer

I’m using a maxed-out 2015 MacBook Pro which I consider The Last Great MacBook Pro because it has all the ports I need: SD card, full-size USB, Mini DisplayPort etc and it still has the MagSafe charging cable. It may not be the best laptop anymore but I definitely prefer the dongle-free life. I’ll wait to upgrade again until most accessories and peripherals have all switched over to USB Type-C. Battery life is pretty horrendous though, so I also pack a backup “laptop” for lighter tasks…

Note-taking

Since CES I’ve been using the Lenovo YogaBook as a replacement notebook (I’m one of those people that would prefer to write notes rather than type them, even if I still have to transcribe them later). The YogaBook is about the same size and weight as my notebook but obviously a lot more useful. MWC will actually be my first trip without a notepad in my bag.

That’s because the YogaBook lets me take digital notes using the Halo Keyboard like a laptop or write them on the digitizer with or without paper to write on. These can then be digitized as handwritten notes. The keyboard takes some serious getting used to, but once you adapt it’s fine and the battery life is ridonculous. I can even sneak in some gaming en route to a press conference or preview.

#MWC17 – What’s in my gear bag?

As an added bonus, I typically Wi-Fi photos from my camera to my phone for some quick edits in Snapseed or Lightroom before uploading them, so having all my Android apps accessible on the YogaBook make it a perfect in-betweener when I don’t have to edit video on the MBP. Yes, it needs Nougat already, and yes, the Chrome OS version will be even better, but I seriously love this thing (I’m writing this on it on the plane to Barcelona).

Headphones, mouse and storage

I always travel with a couple of pairs of headphones. I still use the Audio Technica ATH-M50x for editing and on the plane and always have my Jaybird X2 Bluetooth headphones in my pocket for the rest of the time. Like everyone else, I too love the Logitech MX Master mouse and its metric ton of customizable buttons.

Then I have a Sandisk Extreme solid-state drive for offloading excess video files and the old business card holder for those free-standing phone shots. A little padded pouch holds spare batteries, SD cards, adapters and other ephemera and I don’t go anywhere without a travel adapter with multiple USB ports. All this fits in the OnePlus backpack with plenty of room to spare for additional swag (except the tripod, of course).

We’re all rolling into Barcelona as we speak, so stay tuned for all the big announcements over the weekend and all the action from the main event next week. Be sure to follow us on all the socials for up-to-the-minute coverage of the coolest stuff on the ground and let me know if you use any the same gear I do.

Honor’s AI Phone Beckons the Future

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As the mobile ecosystem moves toward homogenization, one new brand is standing out with its brave exploration into the future of AI with its latest phone, the Honor Magic.

Google officially joined the herds with the Pixel, which failed to meet high expectations and stirred complaints about the “sameyness” of all smartphones.

See also:

The Honor Magic is official and it looks stunning (Update: more pictures)

December 16, 2016

The Pixel looks a lot like an iPhone, after all, and Apple and Samsung have continued to deliver negligible improvement with essentially repackaged technology. LG and Motorola took a big leap this year exploring modularity, but being different for the sake of being different didn’t make the impact either company hoped for. Companies continue the hype cycle hoping to sell more phones and as a result, we remain disappointed.

With the reveal of Honor Magic, the new Honor brand is the one turning heads. The titular “magic” comes in the aggressive use of context.

On the surface, it’s a smooth-looking little beast with liquid curved edges that fits in perfectly with flagship phones in the modern market. The innovation is in the software – the biggest opportunity not only for differentiation, but creating that memorable experience you simply crave once it’s gone.

The company says it would rather explore the future to deliver tomorrow, rather than sell empty promises today. Honor doesn’t seem bothered by the pressure of U.S. carriers or the knee-jerk reactions of their competitors.

Honor’s rebel-like mindset and digital-native attitude could be the winning approach in the U.S.

The titular “magic” comes in the aggressive use of context.

The Magic distinguishes itself by getting to know what you want before you want it. Similar to Google’s Assistant, but Honor’s Android 6.0-based Magic Live UI goes further with a slew of additional context-based features.

For instance, the device takes advantage of Tobii eye-tracking technology that lets the phone automatically turn on when you pick it up and look at it. FaceCode boasts some robust facial recognition technology that will only display notification information to verified users, and the home button is – of course – a spry fingerprint scanner. The device ditches the conventional Recent Apps and Back Button in favor of swiping the home button left or right to access these functions. An innovative little detail.

But things start to get a little bit more interesting when the device’s artificial intelligence systems begin humming. The lock screen automatically generates a shortcut key that’s wholly contextual to your behavior.

The Magic attempts to anticipate when you eat, for instance, and will supply shortcuts to information about your favorite kinds of restaurants. If you tend to listen to music on your ride home, the shortcut will gradually figure out what kind of music you’re in the mood for and put it at your fingertips. Step into a dark room, and the shortcut button becomes a flashlight toggle.

Much like Google Now, the Magic conjures contextually relevant information which it displays on the lock screen for your convenience. If you bought tickets to a movie previously, then the scanning code will pop up when you arrive at the theater.

Global research and development teams made something magical in this device by creating something new instead of following the crowd. In overseas markets, products such as these fly off the shelf and are often offered in limited supply.

In the U.S. there are several checks and balances and certifications required before early-stage technologies are made available to consumers – so don’t expect the Honor Magic to arrive Stateside anytime soon.

The Honor Magic is indicative of a trend. Whereas some smartphone makers have interpreted the future of smartphones to involve stunts and gimmicks, Honor is leading a future that will be wholly contextual and intuitive. Our devices store our behavior-based data; now that information is being put to work.

Honor is leading a future that will be wholly contextual and intuitive.

Even though the Honor Magic isn’t coming to the US, there’s still reason for yankees to get excited. The Honor brand is expected to have a strong presence at the Consumer Electronics Show, and we’re looking forward to seeing what they’ve got planned for the US market.

What are your thoughts regarding the future of smartphone technology? Will deeply integrated AI tech and contextual adaptability prove to be cornerstones of our smartphone experience? Let us know how you see this technology developing in the comments below!

What to expect: Exynos 8895 vs Snapdragon 835

Qualcomm and Samsung have now lifted the lid on their next-generation mobile applications processors – the Snapdragon 835 and Exynos 8895. Both are expected to make their debut inside regional variants of Samsung’s Galaxy S8 flagship, which is scheduled for release in late April.

We will have to wait until then to get into the nitty gritty of real world performance, but the specifications published by the two SoC manufacturers can already guide us as to what we can expect from these two chips, both in terms of performance and the features available to handset OEMs. The table below contains a breakdown of what we know, and also includes last generation’s entries from the two companies so we can see what’s changed.

 Snapdragon 835Exynos 8895Snapdragon 821Exynos 8890
CPU CoreSemi-custom ARM CortexCustom + A53KryoCustom + A53
CPU Config4x 2.45GHz Kryo 280
4x 1.9GHz Kryo 280
4x 2.5GHz Samsung M2
4x 1.7GHz Cortex-A53
2x 2.35GHz Kryo
2x 1.6GHz Kryo
4x 2.3GHz Samsung M1
4x 1.6GHz Cortex-A53
GPUAdreno 540Mali-G71 MP20Adreno 530Mali-T880 MP12
RAM2x 32-bit LPDDR4X
1866 MHz
LPDDR4X2x 32-bit LPDDR4X
1866 MHz
2x 32-bit LPDDR4
1794 MHz
FlasheMMC 5.1/ UFS 2.1eMMC 5.1 / UFS 2.0eMMC 5.1/ UFS 2.0eMMC 5.1 / UFS 2.0
Camera support32MP single / 16MP dual28MP single / 28MP + 16MP dual rear28MP single / 14MP dual24MP rear
Video capture4K UHD @ 30fps4K UHD @ 120fps4K UHD @ 30fps4K UHD @ 30fps
Video playback4K UHD @ 60fps,
10-bit H.264 (AVC),
H.265 (HEVC), VP9 codecs
4K UHD @ 120fps,
HEVC (H.265), H.264, VP9 codecs
4K UHD @ 60fps,
10-bit H.264 (AVC),
H.265 (HEVC)
4K UHD @ 60fps,
264 (AVC),
H.265 (HEVC)
Modem1000Mbps down,
150Mbps up
1000Mbps down,
150Mbps up
600Mbps down,
150Mbps up
600Mbps down,
150Mbps up
Process10nm FinFET10nm FinFET14nm FinFET14nm FinFET

Performance expectations

In 2017 we’re back to a familiar battle of the octa-core processors, albeit with both Qualcomm and Samsung opting for custom CPU cores this time around. We can’t say for sure which will be faster without some hands-on time, but the two companies are touting similar performance and energy efficiency improvements over last year’s close fought battle.

The Snapdragon 835 is apparently offering around a 20 percent boost to performance over the 821, while Samsung touts up to a 27 percent improvement with its Exynos 8895 from the 8890. Both companies have moved over to new CPU designs this year, although Samsung’s naming convention and PR hints at a revision rather than a complete refresh. The Kryo 280 is a new semi-custom ARM design that Qualcomm is using for its performance and energy efficient cores, while Samsung is designing its own big core for use in a familiar big.LITTLE setup, having licensed ARM’s ARMv8 ISA (Instruction Set Architecture). We don’t know the exact changes and improvements made to the internals of these two chips, but it appears that improving power efficiency has been a key goal at both companies.

We're likely to see the biggest performance improvements come in the form of graphics performance, as Samsung switches to ARM's new Bitfrost architecture.

Both SoCs are also looking at the option of a 40 percent decrease in power consumption too, mainly thanks to the move down to Samsung’s 10nm manufacturing process. Samsung will be building these two processors on the same process. Given how close the CPU performance between the two was last year, we’re almost certainly looking at comparable results again in 2017.

See also:

Snapdragon 835 unveiled – Everything you need to know

January 3, 2017

What to expect: Exynos 8895 vs Snapdragon 835

Instead, we’re more likely to see the biggest performance improvements come in the form of graphics performance. Qualcomm has swapped out its Adreno 530 for an Adreno 540, which boasts a 25 percent improvement in 3D rendering performance.

Meanwhile Samsung has moved on up to ARM’s latest Mali-G71 design in a huge 20 core configuration, compared with the Mali-T880 MP12 in the Exynos 8895. The G71 is 20 percent more energy efficient than the T880 and offers up a 40 percent increase to performance density, which is what has allowed Samsung to squeeze more cores into its silicon space. The Exynos 8895 packs in 8 extra cores, a 66.6 percent increase over the 8890, which combined with any architecture performance improvements between Bitfrost and Midgard means that we’re looking at a potentially massive jump in GPU performance with Samsung’s chip. Samsung pegs the increase at “up to 60 percent” over its predecessor.

Looking back to the Snapdragon 821 and Exynos 8890, Qualcomm’s chip came out ahead in our GPU tests. Therefore, Samsung looks poised to close the gap this year and may even surpass Qualcomm’s performance with the 8895.

See also:

The ARM Mali-G71 and Bifrost – Everything you need to know

May 30, 2016

Cameras and vision processing

Dual camera technologies are expected to see massive growth this year and there’s been plenty of speculation about whether or Samsung will hop on the trend with its Galaxy S8. Either way, the Exynos 8895 now matches Qualcomm in supporting dual cameras, but has a slightly different take with support for a 28MP sensor paired with a low power 16MP secondary. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 supports up to dual 16MP sensors.

Of course, this doesn’t mean we’re going to see these exact configurations inside devices, nor does it strictly mean massive improvements to image quality. However, support for dual camera technologies opens the door for manufacturers to include “optical zoom” capabilities, monochrome sensor HDR enhancements, wide angle shooting options, and software depth of field effects. In addition, the two chips support Dual Photodiode Auto-Focus, first seen inside the Galaxy S7.

See also:

Snapdragon 835 promises superior photo and video: here’s how

3 weeks ago

In addition to new photography features, Samsung is touting an improved Vision Processing Unit (VPU), which is used for video recording and can offload a range of processing intensive tasks from the CPU. The Snapdragon 835 continues to offer up to 30fps 4K video recording and 60fps playback, but it’s the Exynos 8895 that takes this particular crown, supporting up to 120fps playback and recording at 4K.

What to expect: Exynos 8895 vs Snapdragon 835

On the processing side, Samsung lists that its VPU can assist with motion detection, image registration, video tracking and object recognition as possible use cases. Qualcomm has also mentioned an improved VPU on its Snapdragon 835 which offers up 10-bit color support and can also enable similar object detection, facial recognition, and gesture detection algorithms. This type of technology can allow manufacturers to better categorize and tag photos as you take them, make software tweaks based on the contents of your photo or video, and even used to detect the world around you in VR and AR applications.

Both SoCs now support dual camera technologies and offer increased heterogeneous capabilities to support object, facial, and gesture detection.

Qualcomm has rightly talked up the machine learning and heterogeneous compute capabilities of its Snapdragon 835 and Samsung has taken a similar interest with its Exynos 8895. Samsung’s Coherent Interconnect (SCI) has been upgraded to support cache coherency between CPU and GPU for HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture) that enables faster communication between the two for AI and deep learning algorithms. Qualcomm, on the other hand, has its improved Hexagon DSP for additional processing capabilities for specific tasks and has opened up its processor’s heterogeneous compute capabilities to software developers through its new Symphony System Manager SDK.

While Qualcomm has a headstart on bringing major heterogeneous compute features to its Snapdragon platform, Samsung has identified similar benefits and looks to be closing the gap with some features of its own.

Faster data speeds

The other major feature in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 is the gigabit LTE X16 modem, which offers customers the potential of 1Gbps download and 150Mbps upload speeds, providing that their network is up to scratch. Clearly this is more of a future-proof feature than something that we’re all going to be maximizing right now, but Samsung has its own modem that matches the Snapdragon 835’s speed.

With both handsets supporting high frame rate 4K video playback, faster LTE data speeds on supported networks are becoming a must.

The Exynos 8895 offers 1Gbps down, 150Mbps upload speeds too, and goes one step further by featuring the first modem to offer 5 band carrier aggregation, up from the four band aggregation available with the 835.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that data speeds will be any faster on Samsung’s phone, but it suggests that performance could be slightly better maintained in congested areas and at the cell edge. Again, only providing that the LTE network has many bands available for aggregation.

The bottom line is that phones featuring both the Snapdragon 835 and Exynos 8895 are future-proofed for the rollout of faster LTE-Advanced networks in the coming years.

See also:

Qualcomm and Intel reveal LTE modems with 1Gbps download speeds

2 days ago

What to expect: Exynos 8895 vs Snapdragon 835

Wrap up

Although Qualcomm and Samsung have taken different approaches with their latest SoC designs, there’s a surprising amount of feature cross-over between the two. Qualcomm has gone back to octa-core and implemented some camera features previous available with the Exynos 8890, while Samsung’s latest chip is looking to close the GPU, LTE, and camera ISP deficit with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon series.

We can already make out couple of unique features on both platforms, 120fps 4K video for Samsung and additional heterogeneous power for Qualcomm. Although we’ll have to see if these actually made any difference to actual devices. Overall, the launches point to two very promising looking chips that are probably going to be harder to tell apart than ever.

Of course, we’ll have to wait until we get our hands on some smartphones before drawing any definitive performance conclusions. We also don’t yet know if there are any major differences in some of the smaller extras supported by the two platforms either, such as fast charging speeds and iris scanning support. Still, are either of these chips likely to sway your purchasing decisions this year?

What we want to see in the Mi MIX 2

The Xiaomi Mi MIX wasn’t just another affordable yet well-built Android smartphone made by a Chinese manufacturer; it was revolutionary in that it signaled the start of a new design trend. With a gorgeous 6.4-inch screen taking up almost the entirety of the front of the phone, the Mi MIX was, simply put, refreshing. Given the device’s popularity, it may not be too surprising to know that Xiaomi is officially preparing to launch its successor. Though we know essentially nothing about the second-generation Mi MIX, we’ve put together a few things that we would like to see the second time around.

See also:

Xiaomi Mi MIX Review – all screen, almost all of the time!

November 16, 2016

Don’t make us fly all the way to China

What we want to see in the Mi MIX 2

The Xiaomi Mi MIX is basically the same size as the original Nexus 6 but with a half-inch larger display. Though you’ve likely seen plenty of photos and read countless reviews saying how crazy the screen-to-body ratio is, the chances are you’ve never seen one in real life. That’s because the Mi MIX was intended solely for the Chinese market.

But even if you were in China, the phone was never available in large quantities: reports suggested that production would be limited to 10,000 units per month. That’s why the Mi MIX repeatedly sold out within seconds in China. The reason behind the limited availability, according to a Xiaomi product manager, is because the Mi MIX has always been a concept device.

Global availability might be dreaming too big, but a boy can dream

The hope is that with the second-generation Mi MIX, it will no longer be just a concept phone. Global availability might be dreaming too big, but a boy can dream. Wider availability and larger quantities would mean tech enthusiasts outside China can also have fairly easy access to the latest technology from Xiaomi – and just one beautiful device (if the original Mi MIX is any indication).

Better grip even if it means no free leather case

What we want to see in the Mi MIX 2

The Mi MIX is made of ceramic, and in theory that’s something that’s really hard to scratch let alone break. However, the front of the device is unfortunately still glass, meaning that the super slippery nature of ceramic could pose a problem for many. In fact, that’s what our review found: although the shiny back surface is a bit of an eye-catcher, it provides essentially zero grip. And given the lack of bezels, if you drop the Mi MIX, your screen is more susceptible to damage.

Xiaomi knows this and has slipped in a premium leather case inside the box. Ceramic is definitely a mesmerizing choice of material and probably reflects Philippe Starck’s design philosophy well – an award-winning designer behind the original Mi MIX, who will return for its successor – but we want to see more practicality this year. The second-generation Mi MIX needs to improve on ergonomics. Even if it means no more free leather cases.

The second-generation Mi MIX needs to improve on ergonomics, even if it means no more free leather cases

It might be time for some Quad HD action, but in what ratio?

What we want to see in the Mi MIX 2

Don’t get us wrong, we loved the screen on the original Mi MIX, and we want to see the same crazy – if not even crazier – screen-to-body ratio this year. But obviously, the Mi MIX is not in the same league as the likes of the OnePlus 3 in terms of price. Given the fact that almost all flagships that cost over $600 now come with Quad HD displays, we can’t help but wonder what a higher resolution screen that takes up over 90 percent of the device would look like.

We can’t help but wonder what a higher resolution screen that takes up over 90 percent of the device would look like

There is also the question of ratio. I, for one, wonder if Xiaomi will keep the odd 17:9 aspect ratio that we saw on the original Mi MIX. The problem with that was because videos are usually 16:9 aspect ratio, the extra space on each side ends up being completely useless. The letterboxing isn’t a huge problem, but given that the MI MIX is supposed to be a bezel-less and fully-immersive device, the unconventional display ratio detracts from that.

Having said that, however, we might be seeing a general shift in mobile display aspect ratios. The LG G6 will sport a Full Vision display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. Why? Well, in terms of movies, the standard ratio is actually wider than the conventional 16:9 used in TV broadcasting. It is either 1.85:1 or 2.39:1, and in order to find a happy medium, the Univisium format was born. In fact, you’ll see many shows on Netflix in that 18:9 or 2:1 Univisium format. So if Xiaomi isn’t going to stick with the conventional 16:9 aspect ratio with the second-generation Mi MIX, Univisium format might be better than the seemingly random 17:9 format.

No more super awkward selfies please

I don’t know who thought it’d be a good idea to put the selfie camera in the right bottom corner of the phone, but hey, I guess they had to move things around to make the phone look magical, eh?

What we want to see in the Mi MIX 2

Well, in doing so, a lot of practicality and convenience were sacrificed, as we discovered in our review. The positioning of the front-facing camera means that not only are you getting some very awkward selfies, but often times your palm will get in the way while trying to reach the shutter button. Maybe having it in the middle is better. Or maybe allowing for minimal space on top isn’t such a bad idea this time around – after all, its ceramic vibration that replaces a normal phone speaker is just not as effective.

Speaking of cameras, the main camera wasn’t all that impressive on the original Mi MIX. With phones like the Galaxy S7, V20, and the iPhone 7 taking smartphone photography to the next level, Mi MIX can’t be revolutionary just in terms of its design. We hope that with the new Mi MIX will find a way to better incorporate the usual sensors on the front and have an improved camera on the back, especially in low-light conditions.

We hope that with the new Mi MIX will find a way to better incorporate the usual sensors on the front and have an improved camera on the back, especially in low-light conditions.

Here’s hoping that the revolution continues

The Xiaomi Mi MIX brought some important and much-needed changes to the Android world. In terms of design, smartphones in general seemed to have hit a plateau – excluding Samsung’s dual edge design, of course – and Xiaomi took a risk that ended up working very well. We hope that with the second-generation Mi MIX, the revolution continues: there are certain refinements and adjustments that the company could bring, and judging by leaked renders of the G6 and the Galaxy S8, the competition for a jaw-dropping design will be fierce this year.