Nokia is set to have a good start, this time with HMD Global at the helm. There are three models which are released: 3, 5 and 6. We did a post about its flagship Nokia 9 filed for FCC’s approval. So these recently announced handsets are entry-level and mid-level performers. Ever since the news of HMD Global acquiring and relaunching the Finnish based brand broke out, naturally many of its past users were pretty nostalgic about it. Only this time, the wiser Nokia is sticking with Android from Day 1. The following are the handset design and specs:
It is a 5-inch display with 720p resolution but uses an IPS panel with Gorilla glass. It uses a MediaTek MT6737 CPU with Mali-T720MP2 GPU with 2GB RAM and 16 GB internal storage with expandable storage of up to 128 GB. The handset uses 2,650 mAh battery, front and rear facing 8 MP camera with f/2.0 aperture wide-angle lens. It is a polycarbonate body with a metal frame. There are four colour variants- Silver White, Matter Black, Tempered Blue and Copper White (white body with copper highlights).
This handset uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 CPU with Adreno 505 GPU, with 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage and an option to use a microSD card up to 128 GB. This is also a 5.2 inch IPS display with Gorilla Glass but it provides a 1080p resolution. Furthermore, its home button is also a fingerprint sensor. The rear facing camera is a 13-MP camera and its front facing is a 8 MP sensor. The colour variants are Matte Black, Tempered Blue, Silver and Copper. This handset uses a metal body.
This is a mid-end phone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 CPU and Adreno 505 GPU. It has 3GB RAM, onboard storage of up to 3 GB and expansion up to 128 GB. It uses a 16-megapixel rear-facing camera with phase detection autofocus and dual LED flash. The front camera is an 8 megapixel. The display is a 5.5-inch HD IPS panel with Gorilla Glass 3. It has a 3,000 mAh battery. Another feature is it uses dual Atmos sound. The body is made of aluminium.There’s an ‘Arte Black’ edition whose variant is 4 GB RAM and 64GB internal storage. Apart from that, there’s the matte black, blue, silver and copper colour variant.
All the three variants use Micro USB 2.0 connection. The Nokia 3 costs Rs. 9,499/-, while the Nokia 5 costs Rs. 12,899/- and the Nokia 6 costs Rs. 14,999/-. HMD Global informs that these handsets are made in India.
The Nokia 3 and 5 will be sold in retail stores but Nokia 6 is exclusively sold via Amazon India where its pre-order will starts on 14th July. There are some offers attached to it, such as Rs. 1,000 back for Amazon Prime members using Amazon Pay and even up to 80% off on Kindle eBooks worth up to Rs. 300.
The army of Nokia handsets will be available very soon starting with three of its handsets- Nokia 3, Nokia 5 and Nokia 6. The flagship model, HMD TA-1004, the codename for Nokia 9 was conveniently found in some benchmark websites but recently it was found on the FCC’s website. Which indicates that it is only a matter of time the company is closer to a US release. The filing was sent on June 7th.
What’s known from some sources is that the Nokia 9 uses a 5.3-inch QHD display and an 8GB RAM, according to a benchmark listing. It is likely Nokia 9 would have a 4GB variant. The phone may use Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0 with a dual-lens camera and USB Type-C connection.
The Nokia 9 flagship handset will use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 CPU The rest of the information is still not known. According to the listing, it uses Bluetooth 4.2 LE, WiFi AC and NFC. The onboard storage space would be a 64GB, though it may change as pre-production samples are not necessarily finalised specs.
According to the information leaks, the Nokia 9 will share a similar design with the Nokia 6. It is assumed that it will use an aluminium body at the back with vertical dual cameras, a home button which works as a fingerprint scanner and navigation capacitive buttons on its either side. Nokia 9 may be priced for US $800, a similar price range compared to the Sony Xperia XZ and may compete with Samsung Galaxy S8+ in some capacity.
The Nokia handsets 3, 5 and 6 will be available by the end of June. For now, we know only about the FCC filing. The rest we’ll know in time.
OnePlus started advertising its OnePlus 5 launch scheduled for June 20th. The image the company revealed shows the back of the phone sporting two dual horizontal camera.
The company co-founder Carl Pei posted a comparison video between the OnePlus 3 and the OnePlus 5. The comparison shows the difference in performance for recording audio in a club. OnePlus 3 records the sound with high distortion while it’s much clearer on the OnePlus 5.
OnePlus 5 criticised for looking a lot like the iPhone 7 Plus
With the official images coming out, it shows that the OnePlus 5 handset similarity with the iPhone 7 Plus. Obviously, this isn’t the first time that happened as Samsung was criticised for the same. To be fair, earlier iPhone models share some design aspects with HTC handsets at the time.
While it is true there’s always going to some aspects inspiring another phone, carbon copy design isn’t always good. The placement of the dual camera, LED flash and its microphone arrays are in the same place. Eventually, the front images came up, showing that the design was lifted all the way through.
So far the upcoming OnePlus handset shows a lot of promise on audio as we’ve seen before. Pete Lau posted a picture taken from a dual-sensor camera during night time.
The metadata reveals the camera uses f/1.8 aperture camera. When in night time situations, the camera managed to take a decent photo taken from a phone. Seeing that the photo was posted from OnePlus CEO, chances are likely this might be the performance of the camera.
There will be two variants of the OnePlus 5. The 6GB RAM/64GB storage variant is priced at Rs. 32,999 and the 8GB RAM/128GB is for Rs. 37,999. It will be using the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC and will be available from June 22nd.
You would be forgiven if you (like me) are wondering what the heck is Kworld as they are a relatively unheard brand. There are plenty of Chinese audio manufacturing companies that offer different drivers and housing combinations to companies looking to sell earphones under their own brand name.
That said companies still need to check and decide on what combo they would ultimately decide to sell under their own brand. I don’t know if Kworld took this route or they are making their own drivers but I suspect the former. Kworld is a company based in Taiwan and offers quite a few earphones which are at the lower budget end of the spectrum. The earphone on review today is the S28 which is a unique earphone in that it offers two caps that screw into the back of the housing which claims to offer two different sound signatures.
Specifications, Features and Accessories
Adjustable sound effect via interchangeable back caps
Dual-color TPE flat cable and right-angle plugCall answering / Volume adjustment / Track selection with intelligent control
Sensitivity: 95±3dB dB/mW(@ 1K Hz
Driver Diameter: φ9mm
Impedance: 16 ±15% ohm at 1KHz
Frequency range: 20Hz－20KHz
Distortion: <= 2% 94dB (20upa)
Rated input power: 1mW
Maximum input power: 10mW
Plug: 3.5mm 4 ping gold
Cable length: 1.2m
Silicone Earbuds (L,M,S)
Memory Foam Tips
1 x Comply ear tips
Silicone Cable Tie
The Kworld S28 has a standard accessories bundle through the Comply eartip is nice. While Comply tips are very nice and comfortable they don’t last very long and using them exclusively can cost a lot more than the earphone. Comply tips are more comfortable than standard silicon tips and the sound signature can change when using them.
One nice feature is the attached cable tie which can be VERY useful in tying up your earphone when not in use. The built-in mic with volume control is very useful in case you need to make minor volume adjustments, to pause/start the music and if you double tap the mic button you can skip to the next song. However, I should mention a few cautions. I have slightly weirdly shaped ears so comfort and fit are generally a bit of a problem for me with most earphones.
With these, I encountered a different issue where the seal would be too tight and then I couldn’t hear the music properly. I would have to loosen the seal in order to get optimum sound quality from the S28. This issue has been encountered by other reviewers so I am not alone in facing this problem. Once you do get a decent seal it generally stays put for a decent amount of time. However, with the long housings, comfort is average to below average. One way to alleviate this is to loop the cord over the ear.
Sound Quality with Blackcaps
For the first time, I am going to write TWO separate Sound quality feedback with both the tuning caps since the sonic differences are rather prominent between the two that they sound almost like a different earphone with each one.
The Kworld S28 comes with the Blackcaps on by default. To change the caps you just need to unscrew them and screw in the other caps- a 30-second job. One negative that I should mention is that the black caps have a very short thread and once when removing the earphone the caps just popped off and fell down. The silver caps have deeper threads and so far seem more secure.
With that out of the way let me just say that the overall sound is Brilliant! Just love the sound signature. It is so dynamic for the lack of a better word. The Kworld S28 has a beautiful soundstage that just envelops you completely. You get plenty of well-detailed bass without being too boomy, a well-detailed mid-range and decent treble.
Let us start with the bass. It is not boomy and has good punch and impact. However, its main USP is that the bass has brilliant speed. The Kworld S28 can handle very fast paced music with ease! A very good result for an earphone at any price range much less one that is priced so low.
The S28 has a good mid-range but it does not stand out. The midrange is neither warm nor cold and I would best describe it as neutral. The S28 has a very detailed midrange with clear vocals. The vocals are pretty smooth too with no harshness or objectionable peaks in the frequency.
The treble is good but a bit muted in respect to the bass and mids. There is still a lot of detail but the sparkle and crispness are lacking a bit. The treble is rolled off and doesn’t have any nasty spikes or harshness.
Which brings us to the soundstage. Well, it’s one of the best I have heard from an IEM at any price point. The S28 can portray a really wide soundstage that is rare considering IEMs are inserted in your ears. Walking with these earphones on the road is an awesome experience with a wide soundstage that has great depth and decent height which envelopes you almost 3d like.
So to sum up with the black caps the Kworld S28 is a very dynamic sounding earphone with good bass, good mids, decent treble and GREAT soundstage.
Sound quality with Silver caps
I have heard tuning earphones before, with the Coolermaster Resonar. The CM Resonar offered a very minute sonic difference with the tuning cap and honestly, I struggled to hear the difference between the two sound signatures. I didn’t have much trouble telling the two tuning caps apart on the S28 though! When you put on the silver caps you immediately can tell that the bass becomes a lot tighter. You lose that some of mid-bass and thump and instead the bass becomes rather flat. To be honest I like a bit of mid-bass in my earphones and the silver caps reduce the mid-bass greatly.
The mids remain similar which is to say that it is still good even with the reduced bass. You do gain a slightly better treble response, however. The treble seems a bit crisper and with the reduced bass, some of the detail that was drowned out by the mid-bass become more prominent. But the improvements aren’t as stark as the reduction in bass. That lovely wide soundstage that you get with the black caps is reduced greatly and it becomes more intimate. The Kworld S28 can still portray a very nice imaging or instrument separation but that lovely perceived width is no longer there.
So to sum up I am not entirely convinced that the silver caps are very good but your mileage may vary.
At the end of the day…
The Kworld S28 is a breath of fresh air in an overcrowded market. I am not terribly happy with the silver caps though I am very happy with the black caps. The fact is you do get a sonically distinct option which is very very useful.
Tunable sound with distinct sonic changes with each cap
Inline remote with mic and volume control
Good build quality
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Slightly rolled off treble with the black caps
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Vivo and Oppo enjoyed steady sales during November 2016
As India’s demonetisation aftereffect is slowly disappearing, it is now a good opportunity to see which line of work was heavily affected. In comparison with month-on-month in November when compared to October, smartphone sales fell down by 30.5%.
Upasana Joshi, the senior market analyst of IDC India is confident that drop in sales happened due to demonisation. It was also found that this not only affected customer demand, but also distribution channels. Joshi added,”The slowdown was seen across all city tiers, with a de-growth of 31.7 percent in Tier 1 cities and 29.5 percent in Tier 2,3 & 4 cities in November over October. There was a huge drop in inquiries and significantly reduced footfall at the retail. To counter this, mobile phone retailers, together with micro-finance companies, started offering zero down payment options to stir sales.”
Situation with Samsung, Oppo and Vivo
However, the China-based smartphone makers are able to improve sequentially thanks to its marketing efforts by increasing credits with distributors and better channel management. Brands such as Oppo and Vivo were able to maintain a strong demand due to promotions and various schemes. Companies like Samsung did hold out rather well due to its strong distribution.
To be fair, a small part of it could be because of the factor that people may not require to upgrade or buy a new phone.
Warm tone profile for ease of use during long work hours
The recent MacOS Sierra 10.12.4 BETA update is providing an ‘f.lux like’ feature which changes your mac display’s colour temperature. This works by removing blue and white tones with warmer colours such as yellow.
The idea behind night light is nothing new but it seems popular with many users. Even MSI provided a similar app for its Kabylake refresh gaming notebooks. The idea is to reduce eye strain during extended use as we would expect when burning the midnight oil. Since it’s in BETA, you’ll need a developer account.Night Shift is also available for iPhones and iPads since almost a year ago. It allows the user to either set a custom schedule to enable/disable night shift as per timings or toggle the options based sunrise and sunset.
Why not just F.lux?
As said before, this is not a new addon. The original is a cross-platform application called ‘F.lux’ which is already available for MacOS, but you can download for Windows and Linux. So if you don’t have a dev account, you can always use this one! Alas, this isn’t suited for those who depend on screen colour accuracy to work.
F.lux can be downloaded from here. There’s no update when will Apple release MacOS Night Shift for public use.
Offline Netflix Content can be stored in microSD Cards
Netflix has made a recent update where its Android mobile app has the ability to store offline content in microSD cards. It was recent where Netflix provided an update where iOS and Android devices can store content for offline viewing.
This is a relief for many types of users. While some of its users have the luxury of high-bandwidth mobile downloads, there are times you will be in a pickle and access to WiFi is not possible. A lot of people prefer binge watching so might as well download the entire series or the season for that seamless experience it also includes an option for downloading video quality as standard or high. This will obvious download speed and quality of the content, depending on the user’s requirements. The app also has the option to select its download location. Thankfully, the app has an indicator to show the amount of storage space users and available.
However, as per its update log, this is not available on all devices. It will also require the user to add a new permission. The update can be downloaded/updated from here via Google Play.
Breathometer started its crowdfunding from Indiegogo and Shark Tank. The add-on seems promising as it woul measure blood alcohol content (BAC) of its user accurately. However, FTC barred the sales of the Breathometer as they need to first back up its accuracy clams by providing convincing test results.
Story so far..
The company made two Breathometers that claims to be a ‘law enforcement grade’. The Breathometer Original is attached on the smartphone’s headphone jack while its Breeze version is wireless. While the company tested both the devices as per requirement, the FTC insists that none of the two add-ons was sufficently tested to prove accurate. Further, the Federal Trade Commission claimed that the Breathometer Breeze was showing lesser BAC levels than the user has, but yet they did not notify its buyers. Hence it is claimed that the company is resorting to deceptive advertising.
In the year 2015, Breathometer stopped selling its BAC analyzing products before FTC’s complaints. But according to the FTC, the company continued to sell its BAC products till early 2016. On May 2016, the company sent a letter to its retailers and registered users stating that the breathalyzer was inaccurately reporting its BAC levels. By October, the company disabled its feature in its app. To settle the matter with the FTC, Breathometer agreed to notify its users and offer a full refund. It is estimated the total sales of the Breathometer Original and Breeze is $5.1 million.
While the Federal Trade Commission claims deceptive advertisement, the company CEO Charles Michael Yim claims its a bad batch. This was due to its poor manufacturing process. It was also reported that its accuracy also depended on ambient humidity and temperature. The company moved out of BAC breathalyzer for good, but it will be making products for user’s health.
The biometric system aims to reduce time spent by its passengers at the airports
The Australian government will upgrade its security system for its international airports. It will replace the conventional ID check system for a biometric process. According to the announcement made by the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Patrol, it will start its transition towards the ‘seamless traveler’ system starting this year.
It is expected that this will enable them to remove requirements of a manual passport control and even ‘SmartGates’ which electronically scans passports. This will enable passengers to get out of the airports quicker in the intermediate term, and may not have to present its passport for a scan in the long term. The government wishes to have its system to be 90% implemented by the year 2020. It further says,” Biometric capability will reduce manual processes, allowing a fast, seamless self-processing experience for up to 90% of travelers and enable border control officers to concentrate on passengers of interest.”
Deployment and Cost
The estimated cost for this overhaul is said to be $94 million and will have its pilot testing done at the Canberra airport in June 2017. It will later introduce this system at airports in Sydney or Melbourne by November. While everybody loves new developments, it is still uncertain if biometric system is accurate for such a large deployment. Specialized devices will have an updated and exclusive technology is never cost-effective for widespread use. It is uncertain if this system will be foolproof enough for other countries to follow, and possibly to adapt this in other industries. In any case, Australia will bag the first bragging right to implement such technology.
Implementations in other countries
The US Customs and Border protection also conducted tests on similar technology at the John F Kennedy airports and Washington Dulles International Airport in 2015 and 2016. But it has not finalized its date for a widespread use.
Samsung assures that this will never happen again!
It wasn’t a no-brainer that the cause of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7’s explosion was the battery. But for every company to learn from its mistakes, it was important to find a fault. This will help smartphone makers to learn from mistakes and to create new safety checks. The South Korean based manufacturer is able to confirm and release an official statement.
The company said,”Our investigation, as well as the investigations completed by three independent industry organizations, concluded that batteries were found to be the cause of the Note 7 incidents.” Samsung Mobile Communications president Koh Dong-Jin apologized and accepted full responsibility not identifying the battery design problem.
Samsung blamed the batteries earlier when the Note 7 explosion reports was fresh news. While it was a ballpark assesment, it wasn’t conclusive enough. The investigation revealed that initially sold Note 7 phones were made by its affiliate Samsung SDI Co. while its second maker was Amperex Technology. However, Samsung referred to them as ‘A battery’ and ‘B battery’ during its press conference.
Samsung is now preparing to launch its Galaxy S lineup of phones. Its certain that this will give closure to its users and the company to work for its future. How badly its reputation is damaged to affect its purchase decisions remains to be seen.
Samsung detailed its findings about the failure that caused explosion. Both manufacturers had its own factors will resulted in the problem. The ‘Battery A’ design did not allow a lot of space internally which resulted in bending the negative electrodes and hence putting pressure on its separator. The problem started in the area called ‘Jelly Roll’.
Batteries from Company B were the ones that was provided as a replacement during the recall. Initially, it was assumed that these replacements were safe enough to be used. Unfortunately it had its quality issue where the insulation tape was missing resulting in short circuit. To make matters worse, the wielding points in its battery lead resulted in higher chance of battery puncture. Its unfortunate yet strange that Samsung was not able to enforce quality checks strict enough to identify problem with its replacement units.
The cost of recall
Samsung did not disclose its cost to recall initial and its replacement units worldwide. It’s safe to speculate that the effort to recall twice is not an easy task which damages the reputation of its brand. This also damages the reputation of battery makers which are usually smaller companies. It would be interesting to see how independent makers for batteries will now perform as devices as pushed to become slimmer, larger and carry more battery life.