After Microsoft and Sony, the South Korean tech giant finally launched its very own selfie focused smartphone in India. The Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime features a 5 megapixel wide angle front camera best-suited for capturing group selfies. Apart from that, it runs on the Android 4.4 (KitKat) Operating System and packs a 5 inch display, 1.2 GHz quad core processor and an 8 megapixel rear camera.
Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime comes with a price tag of INR 15,499 in India. This handset is currently available in White and Grey colors. It measures 144.8 × 72.1 × 8.6mm and weighs 156 grams. This device will compete with the recently launched 2nd Generation Moto G and the upcoming Lumia 730 in India. Check out the complete specs below.
“Galaxy Grand Prime opens a whole new world of premium mobile experience for consumers looking at uninterrupted entertainment and multitasking on-the-go. Introducing the new trend of ‘Groupfie’, Galaxy Grand Prime features an advanced wide angle front camera best-suited to capture group images. With the launch of this power packed smartphone, we are further strengthening our Grand portfolio.”
– Asim Warsi, Vice President, Marketing, Mobile and IT, Samsung India
Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime Specifications:
5 inch qHD display
960 x 540 pixels resolution
1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor
Android 4.4 (KitKat) Operating System
8 megapixel rear camera with auto-focus and LED Flash
One Plus has managed to generate a lot of publicity and interest for a brand new company. Their first device – the One Plus One, was dubbed as the “Flagship Killer”. Extremely limited availability has prevented the device from registering even a blip in the world wide sales figures. However, the One did receive widespread acclaim for its high quality hardware and extremely competitive pricing. Today Carl Pei and David S from One Plus One answered questions from Redditors in an AMA. Here are some of the most interesting tidbits from their AMA.
On India Plans
One Plus had earlier indicated that it’s interested in following Xiaomi’s footprints and selling its devices in India. Although, Carl didn’t provide firm dates, he did promise to “have more concrete plans” in a few weeks. “We are aiming at doing so (launching in India) before the end of this year”, confirmed David.
On Android L
One Plus and Cyanogen intends to begin working on Android L as soon as the source code is available. “Earlier, we promised to have it done within 90 days of receiving the source”, noted Carl.
On One Plus One Successor
One Plus Two is expected to be released in the second or the third quarter of next year. The One Plus One is a really big smartphone that’s almost impossible to use with just one hand. In fact, that’s my single biggest gripe regarding the hardware. The good news is that a smaller device might be in the works. “We’ve seen a lot of people asking for a smaller device, and want to let everyone know that we hear you”, wrote Carl Pei. “We’re thinking about it.”
On Other Feature and Product Requests
Responding to a request from an user to include wireless charging, Carl ruled out including it in the immediate future. “I’m not impressed by today’s wireless charging technology. Its slow speeds lead to a subpar user experience, especially considering the huge capacity of our battery.”
One Plus will also not be making tablets anytime soon. “The Nexus tablets are pretty good. We don’t think we can make anything significantly better in the near future”.
One Plus has been teasing a big reveal this Friday. Many had speculated that they might be finally gearing up to ditch the invite system. However, David confirmed that One Plus will not be taking pre-orders anytime soon.
Everyone has something to hide. With smartphones becoming deeply integrated with each and every facet of our life, it’s only but natural that they’d contain sensitive data. And, as the recent iCloud breaches have shown us, some times it’s better to have private stuff on your device and within your control, instead of cloud storages that can be hacked remotely.
Andrognito is an Android app that can hide and secure any file on your Android smartphone. The developer — Aritra Roy from Kolkata, India – named the app as a fusion of the words Android and Incognito. The app applies a 3 step process to hide and lock your files – i) It randomly assigns a new name to the file and appends a period (‘.’) to the beginning of the file name to prevent it from being indexed by Android media library. ii) It places the file in a wrapper called ADG container, and encrypts it using AES-256. iii) It applies a strong password to the container, and renames it once again.
The algorithm used by Andrognito is device specific, so simply copying the Andrognito container (.adg) to a different device won’t work. However, on the same device, Andrognito encrypted files can persist through factory resets and rom changes. The only catch is that you shouldn’t delete the ADG files and the “Andrognito/Backups” folder.
Andrognito is pretty straight forward to use. You are presented with a brief tutorial slide when you launch the app for the first time. After that you are presented with the File Explorer, which allows you to select files that you want to hide. Applying AES encryption makes the file almost impossible be crack. However, it can take a fair amount of time. Hence, Andrognito also has a Flash mode, which skips the encryption, and simple repackages your content to hide it from your file manager. However, files in this mode may be viewable in other apps. Files hidden by Andrognito can be accessed from the ‘Files’ tab in the app. If you end up hiding a lot of stuff, you will find ability to filter based on file-type and add to Favourites certain files handy. Andrognito app itself is protected by a 4-digit pin.
The app has a couple of other tricks in its sleeve. The first of them is a fake Vault. You can set a dummy pin, which when entered will open a fake vault (with 0 files). This can obviously be handy if you have a particularly nosy significant other or parents. The other neat feature is to hide Andrognito itself. If you turn on the Invisible mode, the app will be removed from the app drawer. You will be able to launch it only by dialling your pin from the phone dialler. The app also prevents brute force attacks by automatically locking itself for 15 minutes after 3 failed attempts.
Andrognito is currently in beta, but worked without a hitch for me. Go ahead, and take it for a spin. There are other similar apps, but Andrognito strikes a nice balance between simplicity and security, and is completely free.
Last month, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Alpha smartphone with an iPhone-like design and a metal frame. Today, Samsung finally launched this Android 4.4 powered smartphone in India. Samsung Galaxy Alpha is the slimmest Galaxy device and it is compatible with the Samsung Gear Fit, Gear Live and Gear 2 wearables.
Samsung Galaxy Alpha come with a price tag of INR 39,990 in India. This device will go on sale in the first week of October. Galaxy Alpha will be available in White, Black and Gold colours. Airtel subscribers will get 5 GB of free data for two months in 4G circles and 2 GB of free data for two month in 3G circles.
“The Galaxy Alpha was built and designed based on the specific desires of the consumers. With an entirely new appearance, the Galaxy Alpha focuses on both beauty and functionality combining a stunning metal frame and slim, light weight design with the same powerful hardware and features users expect from a flagship Galaxy mobile device.”
Along with the HTC Desire 820 and Desire 820q, the Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer also launched the Desire 816G in the Indian market. It is basically the cheaper version of the previously launched HTC Desire 816. This handset packs a 1.3 GHz MediaTek quad-core processor instead of the 1.6 GHz Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor found in the Desire 816.
Apart from that, both the smartphones share similar specifications and design. HTC Desire 816G comes with a price tag of INR 18,990. This handset measures 156.6 x78.74 x 7.99 mm and weighs 158 grams. HTC Desire 816G is available in Black, White, Red, Green and Purple color.
The HTC Desire 816G dual sim brings an exciting combination of big screen, great specs at an amazing price! It is one of the most well-built and best design smartphone with a powerful specification that makes the HTC Desire 816G dual sim even more compelling. It is bringing genuine choice to the category by delivering stunning design and high-end performance at unbelievable value.
– Faisal Siddiqui, Vice President & Country Head, India, HTC
Earlier in the year, Google had announced that it was working on bringing Android app compatibility to ChromeOS. However, developer Vlad Filippov has gone one step further. He has tweaked Google’s Android Runtime extension to enable Android apps to be installed as Chrome browser extensions on Windows, Linux, and Mac.
Here are the quick steps to get started with ARChon runtime, which lets you run unlimited number of Android APKs on Chrome browser.
Open Chrome extensions tool and enable ‘Developer mode’.
Click on ‘Load unpacked extension’ and select the extracted instance of ArChon from Step 2.
Find the modified APK for ARChon from the web or download the APK and follow the instructions here to modify a new APK.
Extract the APK contents.
Click on ‘Load unpacked extension’ and load the APK.
Now, click on ‘Launch’ to start the app.
If you’re confused, check out the video demonstration below.
ARChon currently has several major limitations. The biggest is that it’s not automated, and the entire process has way too many steps for a casual user. It requires obtaining and modifying the Android app package (APK), which is not straight forward. It also doesn’t work for all apps. However, the Reddit community has been actively testing various apps. A small list of compatible apps and their direct download links is available here. Currently, there are better and easier ways to run Android apps on your desktop. However, this development is still exciting as it hints towards a future where all Chrome users might have access to the millions of Android apps available on the Play store.
That’s right, folks. You have not woken up in the 90’s all of a sudden. In a post on September 7 on the Official Microsoft Blog, officials at the company announced a new preview of their MSN portal. In addition, a big re-branding is planned, where all the Bing apps on Windows and Windows Phone will be renamed to corresponding MSN versions. Finally, these MSN apps will also expand to iOS and Android, reflecting the new philosophy at Microsoft where their own platform is just another platform.
The new MSN
The new site at preview.msn.com is a cleaner, fresher and adjusts according to the screen size (“responsive design”). The busy front page is gone and is now replaced with a main “top stories” panel with large pictures along with a few smaller units for other top news. Of course, there is a big ad space to the right.
As you scroll down, you see the normal sections for content: News, Entertainment, Sports, Money, Lifestyle, Health & Fitness, Food & Drink, Travel, Autos, and lastly, a section for Video. These sections can be moved up or down, or removed completely. Other sections can be added, from the following: Movies, TV, Music, World, US, Tech & Science and Politics.
Services strip and sections
Along the top, there is a strip of information, with quick access to various Microsoft and non-Microsoft services. This includes Outlook.com email, Office Online documents, OneNote notebooks, OneDrive storage, Maps, Xbox Music, Skype and optionally, Facebook and Twitter. For Facebook and Twitter, you have to not just sign in to Microsoft account, but also link your Facebook and Twitter accounts. I am not sure why this information is not derived from the existing Microsoft account, where at least in my case, I already have a link established to Facebook, Twitter and others. Below the services strip is a simple navigation link to access sections in your page directly and quickly.
When you mouse over the various services, you get a quick preview of what’s appropriate for the service, like the top 3 emails from your Outlook.com inbox, or recently used Office Online files, OneNote notebooks, and as you will see below, a map of the current location, files and folders from OneDrive, or latest tweets from Twitter.
As mentioned above, the Bing content apps that exist today on Windows and Windows Phone are going to be re-branded to MSN. As a first step in that process, the new msn has Favorites from Bing imported automatically, based on the Microsoft account used. So for example, my favorite sports teams showed up as Favorites in the Sports section, my watch list showed up under Finance, etc.
Don’t judge me, I liked the 49ers until they hired Harbaugh. That’s perhaps because I like USC and he has a history when he was at Stanford with the then USC coach whom I liked. And that’s going to explain why I like the Seahawks :-)
In addition to serving content from a variety of sources, the new msn also includes sections where you can gain some actionable insights. For example, there is a symptom checker in Health & Fitness, as well as a 3D Human Body in the same section.
Top-tier sources and iOS/Android
Per the announcement, the content on the new msn comes from a variety of top-tier sources.
We’ve partnered with the world’s best to deliver on this goal:
In the US, some of our premier partners include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CNN, AOL (including TechCrunch and Huffington Post) and Condé Nast (including Vanity Fair, Epicurious, Bon Appétit).
Worldwide, we’re excited to include The Yomiuri Shimbun and The Asahi Shimbun in Japan; Sky News, The Guardian and the Telegraph in the UK, NDTV and Hindustan Times in India, Le Figaro and Le Monde in France, and many more.
Along with the new preview, Microsoft is also preparing to launch iOS and Android apps like the ones that exist on Windows and Windows Phone. These iOS and Android apps will roam Favorites and keep content in sync much like the connectedness of Windows and Windows Phone apps. This way, Microsoft is ensuring that no matter which device you use at any time of the day, you have the premier experience with consuming and using the msn content.
I like the new msn, except for the brand name itself. I am not sure the negativity around “msn” is as much as it is around “Internet Explorer” and we know how badly Microsoft and IE teams are trying to paint a brighter image of the latter. It is unclear why the “msn” brand is the one that Microsoft chose to continue with rather than coming up with a new brand or reusing the Bing brand. In any case, time will tell if the branding is right or not.
Sony recently announced its flagship smartphone, the Xperia Z3 at the IFA 2014 event in Berlin. It comes with a 5.2 inch Full HD display and 2.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor. Apart from that, Sony has also unveiled a mini version of this device, the Xperia Z3 Compact. Both of these smartphones packs a 20.7 megapixel camera, 4G Connectivity, Android 4.4 OS and more. Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact are the world’s first smartphones with ISO 12800 sensitivity for superior photos, even in low light.
“At Sony Mobile, ‘flagship’ now means offering a choice to consumers of enjoying a large screen Xperia Z3 for immersive entertainment or a more compact, lighter Xperia Z3 Compact that doesn’t ask you to compromise on features. Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact deliver leading innovations such as unique Sony camera experiences and, for the first time, PS4 Remote Play in two beautifully designed, fully waterproof smartphones.”
– Kunimasa Suzuki, President & CEO, Sony Mobile Communications
Sony’s Battery Stamina Mode in these devices turns off background functions when you’re not using them to help extend your battery life. Sony’s DSEE HX technology in the Z3 series upscales the fidelity of MP3 or AAC music collection as well as the playlists on Sony’s cloud-based digital music service to near High-Resolution quality. Sony Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact will launch globally from autumn 2014. The price of these devices has not been announced yet.
Samsung finally unveiled the much-awaited phablet of the year, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 at the IFA 2014 event in Berlin. It features an upgraded 5.7 inch Quad HD display and a 3.7 megapixel front-facing camera for selfie lovers with 90 degree shooting angle and up to 120 degree wide angle. This device also offers an improved Fingerprint Scanner to secure personal data along with the world’s first UV sensor in a mobile device. The Smart Select feature allows the users to easily club together content from different sources and share it with their friends within seconds.
“The Galaxy Note series signaled extraordinary innovation within the technology industry. Its larger screen size and iconic S Pen technology launched a new standard in smartphone culture. With the introduction of the Galaxy Note series, we brought the age-old culture of the pen and notepad into the digital world. The new Galaxy Note 4 introduces the most refined Note experience to-date by combining all the latest technology that users expect from the Galaxy series.”
– JK Shin, CEO and Head of IT & Mobile Communication at Samsung Electronics
This device measures 153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm and weighs 176 grams. Samsung Galaxy Note 4 will be available from next month in four different colors – Charcoal Black, Frost White, Bronze Gold and Blossom Pink. The price of the device will be announced in the coming weeks. Check out the complete specs below.
LG has come a long way since its initial clunky Optimus handsets. The firsttwo flagships in the G series did a lot to improve consumer perception about LG smartphones. It didn’t hurt that Google also placed faith in LG and assigned it the responsibility of developing the Nexus devices. The Korean electronics giant is going all out with the new G3. Launched and promoted by Amitabh Bachchan, it certainly has the specs to turn heads. But, how does it perform in real life? Did LG bite off more than it can chew? Keep reading to find out.
Appearance, Display and Battery
The headline grabbing feature of the G3 is undoubtedly the quad-HD display. The 5.5’’ IPS display boasts of a resolution of 1440 x 2560 pixels, which equates to an insane 534 ppi pixel density. LG obviously doesn’t believe in Apple’s claim that it’s impossible for our eye to discern improvements in pixel density beyond 300 ppi. After, using the G3, I am inclined to agree with LG. Some of the preloaded content looks absolutely breath-taking. Even the YouTube videos at a 2K resolution looks splendid. Unfortunately, most of the content that you are going to come across will not be able to take advantage of the G3’s superior display. We expect apps and videos to catch up at 2K becomes more prevalent, but by then the G3 might already be old. Compared to the G2, both contrast and saturation seems to have suffered. LG has shifted from natural looking displays to dialling up the saturation to make the colours pop. Another area where LG has compromised with the display is outdoor visibility. It’s not as good as before, and is made worse by the fact that in order to prevent overheating, the phone automatically restricts the maximum brightness to 90% after a few minutes of usage.
The size of the display puts it firmly in the phablet category. In fact, the LG G3’s display is a couple of inches bigger than the first Samsung Note. However, the G3 is still appreciably smaller than the Note N700 in almost every way. The G2 has impressively thin bezels, but the G3 cuts down even further. The almost edge-to-edge display lends the G3 a majestic appearance that none of the other flagships manage to pull off. In spite of the heft, the G3 is the easiest to handle among similarly sized devices. This is largely due to the fact that the G3 is not as wide as many of the phablets, and has a curved back that is easy to grip. This is only a relative thing though. Like all current generation flagships, the G3 is simply too big to be comfortably used with one hand. The G3’s rear is plastic, but polished to give a metallic appearance. The plastic feels cheap, but also has the advantage of making the phone lighter.
The back cover is removable and the battery is user replaceable. The 3000 mAh battery offers enough juice to last through the day. I didn’t conduct any benchmarks, but the battery life seemed to be on par with other flagships. LG has done a few under the hood tinkering to make sure that the massive display doesn’t hurt the battery life, and the tweaks seem to have worked.
The G3 is powered by a Snapdragon 801 chipset that includes a Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400 CPU and Adreno 330. As you can expect from such mighty hardware, the performance is great. The G3 maxed out the 3D Mark – Ice Storm Extreme benchmark, and is certainly among the best performers you can buy right now. Heating can be a concern, as I mentioned earlier, but at least the G3 doesn’t completely disable critical functions (Camera) like the Z2 does when its gets heated.
The G3 comes with 16 or 32 gigs of internal storage. The latter has 3GB RAM while the former has only 2 GB. External memory cards up to 128 GB are also supported.
The G3 unit in India is 4G-enabled, and supports all common connectivity options including Bluetooth 4.0 LE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/f/n/ac, and NFC. Wireless charging (Qi) is also supported.
One of my pet peeves with LG has been its silly, childish icons. I’m glad to report that they are finally gone. In fact, LG has embraced the flat design concept, and tastefully reskinned its entire interface. Bright, primary colors have been replaced with more subdued tones. But, LG has ensured that the UI doesn’t become boring with the help of quick animations peppered through the interface. However, all is not rosy. The notifications pane still has way too many things going on. I like the scrollable, quick toggles section, but the audio control is pointless since that can easily be done through hardware keys. Also, in its attempt to simplify the Settings pane, LG has removed a lot of the neat options it had before. Important settings like switching between Network modes (2G/3G/LTE) seem to have disappeared. However, the G3 is still one of the most customizable Android devices out of the box. You can change your phone’s appearance by changing home screen themes, tweaking fonts, and switch animation effects. There are tons of free themes available for download in LG’s app store (SmartWorld).
There are also heaps of software enhancements. My favourite among them is Knock Code. One of the potential issues with having the power button at the rear of the phone is that it becomes impossible to unlock the phone without picking it up from your desk. To get around this problem, the G2 introduced Knock On, which allowed you to wake up the phone by simply tapping on the screen twice. Knock Code is a further enhancement of that. It allows you to define a custom pattern of taps (combination of Up, Down, Left, and Right). You can directly wake up and unlock your device by tapping your Knock Code. This is actually a faster and easier than pattern unlock. It’s also a lot harder for bystanders to figure out.
Another new inclusion is LG Health, which tracks your steps without requiring any additional hardware or using too much battery. However, like most such apps it’s likely to be more gimmicky than useful. The data it reported varied wildly with the data reported by Sony’s Smart Band, which itself doesn’t agree with the Fitbit.
LG also made a lot of fuss about its keyboard. I like that fact that you can adjust the height and there is a dedicated numpad. However, like all other OEM keyboards, it is no where near as good as Swype or Swiftkey.
Perhaps my least favourite new feature is Smart Notice, which is more annoying than useful. The only reasonable advice I received from it is to carry an umbrella based on the weather forecast. When you already have something as good as Google Now, it’s stupid to a similar but vastly inferior app.
LG’s note taking app QuickMemo is still there, but doesnt have a dedicated button like in some of the older models. Other typical LG features are also there including Smartseek (displays YouTube like thumbnail preview in the video player when you seek), QSlide (opens app in a floating mini-window with adjustable transparency), Guest Mode (restricts access to apps and data), and Cliptray (clip board manager providing access to data you have previously copied).
The G3 ships with a 13 mega-pixel camera with Optical Image Stabilization and Laser Autofocus. The latter is another LG innovation. As soon as you hit the capture button, the G3 emits a laser beam, which acts like a SONAR and helps it determine the distance of objects in the frame. LG claims that it allows the G3 to focus faster and more accurately in varied conditions. Although, the benefits weren’t as dramatic as advertised by LG, the G3 did manage to focus quickly and reliably even under poor lighting conditions.
The camera itself is excellent. Although, it looks inferior to the Sony Xperia Z2 on paper, in reality I struggled to find a difference. In fact, in some cases, the G3 returned better results. LG has dramatically simplified the camera interface. Manual mode as well as multiple scenes are now a thing of the past. There are three basic modes – Auto, Magic Focus, Panorama, and Dual. The Magic Focus mode snaps multiple pics at different focal lengths and allows you to change the focus of the picture later. The Dual mode fires both the front and rear cams together to make sure that you aren’t missing from all your photo. Photosphere (or VR Camera as LG used to call it) has been axed, presumably because it’s too complex to be used in most situations. The amount of detail in the images was good with low noise and vibrant colours. LG’ flagship is way ahead of HTC, and on-par with everyone else.
The 2.1 mega pixel front-camera is capable of shooting full HD videos. There’s also a selfie mode, which allows you to trigger a 3-second countdown timer by clasping your palm. This is neat as having to tap the camera button while posing for and taking a selfie can be a bit tricky. There’s also an option to use the light from the display as a secondary light source. The overall quality of pics captured from the front cam, however, is nothing particularly impressive.
The G3 supports 4K video recording, but as in other devices it’s more of a gimmick. It’s usable for short periods of time, but generates way too much heat and takes way too much space to be usable for longer videos. However, the quality of recorded video is great for a smartphone, and the microphone does a good job at removing background noise.
LG has also worked on the loudspeaker, which is often ignored in smartphones. The speaker is rated at 1 Watt (1.5W with Boost Amp), and is quite loud. Of course, if you keep the phone on a flat surface, the sound is going to get muffled. LG still can’t match up to the quality of the sound produced by HTC’s front-facing stereo speakers, but its loud speakers are no pushovers. In all likelihood, LG was forced to put the speaker in the rear as front-facing speakers would have added to the dimensions of the G3.
The G3 is a phenomenal device. It’s not perfect. It’s too big to be comfortable. The faux-metal back cover looks good, but doesn’t feel as great. And, the ultra-high resolution display comes with its own set of compromises. However, these are small grievances. LG gets most of the things right. It packs in a bigger display than others, while keeping the phone size in the same ballpark. The resolution is, of course, a generation ahead of everyone else. The camera is as good as others, if not better. And, some of its innovations like the Rear Key and Knock Code are simply brilliant. There’s little to separate the flagships from Samsung, HTC, Sony, and LG. The G3 is also priced competitively. It’s cheaper than the Z2, in the same range as the One M8, and a bit more expensive than the Galaxy S5. A lot depends on your personal preference. However, LG G3 is my favourite device of the season. This is a phone that’s really hard to not like.