Archive for the ‘SMART PHONES’ Category


Monday, June 10th, 2013



Three computer security researchers say they have worked out how to hack into iPhones and iPads through a USB charger.

Chengyu Song and Yeongjin Jang, doctoral students at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the US, and Billy Lau, a staff researcher at the institute’s college of computing, said they were able to bypass Apple software security and install ”arbitrary software”, including malware, allowing potential attackers to hack in.

“Despite the plethora of defense mechanisms in iOS, we successfully injected arbitrary software into current-generation Apple devices running the latest operating system (OS) software,” reads the description of the researchers’ speech. “All users are affected, as our approach requires neither a jailbroken device nor user interaction.”

The malware is reportedly hard to detect, hiding in the iPhone’s software in the same manner that Apple’s pre-installed apps do. Once the charger is plugged in, it can infect the iPhone in less than one minute.


The malicious charger uses BeagleBoard, a $US45 open-source hardware single-board computer. The researchers said they chose BeagleBoard to demonstrate the ease of building malicious chargers that look innocent enough to trick most consumers.

The three plan to discuss their work, which the college says was done in the name of enhancing security, at the Black Hat computer security conference in Las Vegas next month.

It’s unclear how serious or widespread the threat is to Apple mobile device users. ”We have notified Apple of the specifics of our work and wish to give the company adequate time to consider our findings,” the college said.

Apple products have had a reputation for less vulnerability to hackers and viruses in the past. This year, the company tightened security to block unauthorised changes to iCloud and iTunes accounts.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution and agencies

Henry Sapiecha
black diamonds on white line


Friday, April 12th, 2013


Biggest smartphone ever: The Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3.

If you liked the big screen of Samsung‘s Galaxy Note smartphones, the company has something even more massive coming. The Samsung Galaxy Mega line, which will hit Europe in May, is led by a monstrous 6.3-inch phone – the biggest smartphone yet.

Earlier this year, China’s Huawei unveiled a 6.1-inch phone, but the Galaxy Mega beats it by a fraction of an inch. Samsung’s gigantic phone shows the race to build the biggest smartphone has taken on a similar flavour as the competition to build ever-larger flat-screen TVs in the last decade.

Little brother: The Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8.

Little brother: The Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8.

Importantly, the Galaxy Mega phones do not include a stylus (the “S Pen”) – a hallmark of the Galaxy Note line. They’re also not pure tablets, since they’re equipped to connect with mobile networks.

The Mega line is led by the gargantuan 6.3-inch Galaxy Mega 6.3. Samsung oddly didn’t opt for a full HD screen at that size, giving it 720p resolution. It’s powered by a 1.7GHz dual-core processor with 1.5GB of RAM, and runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. It’ll be available with either 8 or 16GB of built-in storage, which can be supplemented with a microSD card.

The “little brother” in the line is the Galaxy Mega 5.8, which is even lower resolution at 960×540. The CPU is a 1.4GHz dual-core design, also with 1.5GB of ram and Android 4.2. While the Mega 6.3 can connect to 4G LTE networks, the 5.8 is HSPA+.

Samsung says the Galaxy Mega is for customers who want the “most out of one device” that brings both quality and value. They also sport new capabilities: S Travel provides trip information as well as local guides and resources, and Story Album lets users create albums of events, store moments in a timeline and quickly publish print copies of albums.

The phones have many of the features that exist on previous Galaxy devices, including Group Play, which can share content to other Galaxy phones and tablets on the same Wi-Fi network, and multi-screen capability, which lets the user run and interact with two apps on the screen at the same time.

Also included is Air View, where the screen reacts to a fingertip hovering above it by, for example, opening a drop-down menu or showing preview text in an email.

Samsung says the global launch of the Mega phones will roll out “gradually”, arriving first in Europe and Russia in May. There is no information yet on an Australian or US release


Henry Sapiecha


Sunday, March 10th, 2013
 Samsung Galaxy S3 (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon)

1…Samsung Galaxy S3 (AT&T, Sprint,

T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon)

Pumped with high-performing hardware and creative software features, the Samsung Galaxy S3 is an excellent, top-end phone that’s neck and neck with the HTC One X.

Price: $99.99 (check prices)

4 stars Excellent Editors' Choice - Samsung Galaxy S3 (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon) Read full review

Don’t be Naked to the world.

Public WiFi is just that. Public. Every time you use a public wifi hotspot, you’re naked to the world. Hackers can steal your data out of thin air.

Learn more about how to protect yourself on public WiFi.


Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon)

2…Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (AT&T, Sprint,

T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon)

Samsung delivers a powerful, boundary-pushing device that gets a lot right. Yet its complicated features and high price raise questions about its purpose.

Price: $99.99 – $749.99 (check prices)

4 stars Excellent Read full review

HTC Droid DNA (Verizon Wireless)

3…HTC Droid DNA (Verizon Wireless)

With quad-core power, 4G LTE, a lovely 5-inch screen, and a stunning design, the $199.99 HTC Droid DNA is currently Verizon’s best Android deal.

Price: $49.99 – $599.99 (check prices)

4 stars Excellent Read full review

LG Nexus 4 (T-Mobile)

4…LG Nexus 4 (T-Mobile)

While the LG Nexus 4 wins on internal performance and user experience, anyone shopping for an unlocked phone should consider a comparable LTE handset first.

Price: $199.99 – $549.99 (check prices)

4 stars Very good Read full review


Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD (Verizon)

5…Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD (Verizon)

Motorola’s fast, stylish Droid Razr Maxx HD offers outstanding battery life, but its camera captures unimpressive images.

Price: $99.99 – $649.99 (check prices)

4 stars Excellent Read full review

VPN Protected Laptop

Cybercrime at Hotels?

Let’s face it, hackers love hotels. And not because they want to get away and sip margaritas by the pool. The huge volume of personal information collected, transmitted, and stored by the hospitality industry has made it a prime target for cybercrime. Learn More


Thursday, February 28th, 2013

The phones of MWC


Check out these 32 top android phones as shown at the world mobile congress.

Nokia Lumia 720


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Nokia Lumia 720

 Of all the new devices that Nokia introduced at the show, the Nokia Lumia 720 is the most high-end. It has the familiar Lumia unibody design, but it adds a microSD card slot that you can use with cards up to 64GB. Also, it’s capable of wireless charging, it has 8GB of internal memory, and a 6.7-megapixel camera with an f/1.9 aperture and an LED flash.

LG Optimus G Pro

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LG Optimus G Pro
 The Optimus G Pro is another attempt by LG to build a hybrid smartphone and tablet (or a “phablet,” if you will). It has 5.5-inch full HD IPS screen with a 1,920×1,080-pixel resolution — giving a high 400ppi. Fortunately, it’s a 16:9 aspect ratio, which is more standard on mobile phones than the 4:3 ratio on LG’s earlier Intuition


Alcatel One Touch Fire


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Alcatel One Touch Fire

 The Alcatel One Touch Fire is one of the first smartphones to run Firefox OS, a new software that aims to light a fire under Android. That alone gives it some street cred, even if the other features aren’t quite as noteworthy. It has a single-core 1GHz Qualcomm processor, a 3.2-megapixel camera, and a microSD card slot.

Acer Liquid E1

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Acer Liquid E1
 The Acer Liquid E1 has midrange features and relatively low-resolution 4.5-inch display, but it also brings Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and powerful external speakers.


Huawei Ascend P2

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Huawei Ascend P2
Huawei continues its quest for the high-end market with its new Ascend P2. It runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and features a 4.7-inch, 720p HD display with a 315-pixel density, a 85-degree viewing angle, 500-nits brightness, and Gorilla Glass 2. Inside you’ll find a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, a 13-megapixel camera, and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera.

Alcatel One Touch

Scribe Easy


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Alcatel One Touch Scribe Easy

Equipped with Jelly Bean, Alcatel’s One Touch Scribe Easy has a cool magnetic cover and a stylus you can use to transcribe handwriting into text in several custom apps. The size is a little awkward, and the specs won’t surprise you, but it won’t take a big bite out of your wallet, either.

LG Optimus F5


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LG Optimus F5

 Part of LG’s new midrange F series, the Optimus F5 has a 4.3-inch display, a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera, a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, 8GB of onboard storage, and Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean.

LG Optimus F7


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LG Optimus F7

 The higher-end Optimus F7, which rocks a 4.7-inch IPS display, features a wide and slim physical home button, bracketed by the standard capacitive back and menu buttons. It runs on a midlevel 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean, an 8-megapixel rear camera, a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, and a 2,540mAh battery

ZTE Grand Memo


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ZTE Grand Memo

 Another big phone or small tablet (depending on how you see it), the ZTE Grand Memo has a huge 5.7-inch display with Android 4.1.2, a 13-megapixel camera, and a 1-megapixel front-facing camera.

Geeksphone Peak

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Geeksphone Peak
 With a with premium hardware, a 4.3-inch display, and a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor, the Geeksphone Peak is the best way so far to experience Mozilla’s browser-based operating system. Other features include a proximity sensor and accelerometer, an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and 2-megapixel front camera, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of flash memory, microSD and Micro-USB ports, and a GPS receiver.

Alcatel One Touch



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Alcatel One Touch Idol X

 By phone standards, the 5-inch One Touch Idol X is enormous, yet a few design tricks make it seem smaller than it really is. It runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, the rear cover is coated in a colorful rubbery material, and you can choose between two versions of the phone. One has an 8-megapixel camera and a microSD card slot and the other is a dual-SIM model with a 13-megapixel camera and no memory-card slot.

Nokia Lumia 520


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Nokia Lumia 520

 More midrange than the Lumia 720, Nokia’s Lumia 520 has a 5-megapixel camera that can record 720p HD video, and 8GB of storage. There’s no flash, and Nokia bypassed wireless charging, presumably to help keep costs down.

Tizen OS


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Tizen OS

It’s not in a real phone quite yet, but the Tizen Association showed off its new mobile OS. Japan’s NTT Docomo will be the first carrier to sell a Tizen smartphone and Samsung will be the first company to make such a device this summer.

Samsung Galaxy



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Samsung Galaxy Xcover

So, why the strange name? Well, it’s because Samsung’s Galaxy Xcover is really a Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini in a rugged shell. It’s IP67-certified, which means it’s dust-proof and waterproof up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. It’ll survive a dunking in your drink or the bathroom, and it’ll survive you washing it afterward. Inside it has a chunky dual-core 1GHz processor with 1GB of RAM, and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The display is a 4-inch touch screen with 800×480 pixels

ZTE Open


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ZTE Open

Another new phone running the Firefox OS, the ZTE Open is faster than Alcatel’s handset, but at this stage it’s not powerful enough to rival most smartphones. The screen has a mere 480×320-pixel resolution, for example, and the camera is a 3.2-megapixel job.

Cat B15


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Cat B15

 Encased in a thick rubber skin, the rough ‘n’ tumble Cat B15 can operate in temperatures from -20 to 55 degrees Celsius (-4 to 131 degrees Fahrenheit) and can withstand up to 6-foot drops (1.8 meters). Features include Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, a 4-inch touch screen with Gorilla Glass, a 1GHz dual-core MediaTek processor, and a 5-megapixel camera

Alcatel One Touch


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Alcatel One Touch Snap

The Alcatel One Touch Snap sports a 1.2GHz quad-core MediaTek processor, a large 4.5-inch screen, 1GB of RAM, and 4GB of internal memory. All this drives the phone’s Android 4.2 Jelly Bean software along at a, well, snappy clip.

Alcatel One Touch

Snap LTE


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Alcatel One Touch Snap LTE

The One Touch Snap LTE is similar to its sibling, but it supports LTE, it has a slightly larger 1.4GHz Snapdragon dual-core processor, and its profile is just a bit thicker (4.65 inches).

NEC Medias W N-05E


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NEC Medias W N-05E

 The NEC Medias W N-05E isn’t the first handset we’ve seen with two screens. You can fold out the twin 4.3-inch qHD displays to make it a 5.6-inch tablet of sorts, but the whole thing just seems awkward.

Samsung Galaxy Grand

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Samsung Galaxy Grand

With a design that sort of resembles the Galaxy S3, the Samsung Galaxy Grand has a 5-inch LCD display with rounded corners and a wide home button. Features include Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2, 8GB of internal memory, a microSD card slot, and Bluetooth, and a 1.2GHz dual-core processor.

Acer Liquid Z2

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Acer Liquid Z2

Though the single-core processor and the 3-megapixel camera make it largely an entry-level device, the Acer Liquid Z2 runs on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and it has a dual SIM card slot.

Alcatel One Touch Star

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Alcatel One Touch Star

Though positioned as an entry-level phone, the One Touch Star has a bright and vibrant 4-inch AMOLED display. It runs Jelly Bean, has some great editing apps for its 5-megapixel camera, and you can get it in a variety of colors.

Fujitsu Arrows

X F-02E


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Fujitsu Arrows X F-02E

The Fujitsu Arrows X F-02E is a powerful Android phone that has an exquisite screen, a quad-core 1.7GHz processor, a 16.3-megapixel camera, a fingerprint scanner, and a water- and dust-resistant shell.

LG L 7II, L5II, and



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LG L 7II, L5II, and L3 II

LG also introduced more devices for its previously established L series. Though all of the handsets run on Android Jelly Bean, they offer varying designs and features. The L7 II (left) is the most high-end of the bunch. It has a 4.2-inch display with an 8-megapixel camera, and a 1GHz dual-core processor. The L5 II (middle) brings a 4-inch screen, a 5-megapixel camera, and a 1GHz single-core processor; and the L3 II (right) sports a 3.2-inch screen, a 5-megapixel camera, and a 1GHz processor

Geeksphone Keon


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Geeksphone Keon

Another phone running the Firefox OS, the Geeksphone Keon will be priced between $100 and $150 when it goes on sale in the next few weeks worldwide (it will be the first Firefox OS phone available to buy). Like the Fire, it has a 3.5-inch screen and it’s wrapped in a bright “Firefox orange” casing.

Nokia 301


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Nokia 301

Nokia takes us back to classic Nokia designs with the candy bar 301. The 2.4-inch QVGA display, which isn’t a touch screen, has a 320×240-pixel resolution. There’s a 3.2-megapixel camera (no flash), which includes panorama mode, and burst mode with up to five shots in a sequence. You’ll only find 256MB of internal storage, but you can save media on up to 32GB of external storage.

Samsung Galaxy Fame


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Samsung Galaxy Fame

 Though it carriers the Galaxy name, Samsung Galaxy Fame won’t count as a premium device. Indeed, with its low-resolution 480×320-pixel screen, 1GHz processor, and 5-megapixel camera, it won’t take a big bite out of your wallet.

Nokia 105


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Nokia 105

Intentionally created for the entry-level cell phone markets in China, Indonesia, India, and Nigeria, the Nokia 105 focuses on calls, long battery life, and only a few little extras. It has a tiny 1.5-inch display and no camera, but you do get a flashlight, an FM radio, alarms, and a reminder app.

Doro PhoneEasy 622


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Doro PhoneEasy 622

Launching in Europe, the senior-friendly Doro PhoneEasy 622 has a flip design that’s smaller than what we’ve seen from the company before, but it still has big controls and a user-friendly interface. Also, it’s the first Doro to feature video recording.

Fujitsu Stylistic S01


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Fujitsu Stylistic S01

Fujitsu’s Stylistic S01 also is aimed at seniors. The feature set for the Ice Cream Sandwich device hits a bit lower than most Android phones, but it has access to all of the Google’s apps that you’d expect.

Samsung Galaxy Young

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Samsung Galaxy Young
About as basic as they come, the Samsung Galaxy Young is a single-core phone with a 1GHz processor and 512MB of RAM, a low-resolution 480×320-pixel display, and a 3-megapixel shooter. So you can see why they call it “young.”
Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Friday, February 8th, 2013


South Korean fire officials say a man has been burned by a Samsung smartphone battery that caught fire in his trouser pocket.

Officials at Bupyeong Fire Station in Incheon city said on Wednesday the lithium-ion battery was not in the phone when it caught fire. Such batteries are quick to charge but prone to overheating.

The man suffered second-degree burns and a small wound on his thigh from Saturday’s incident.

Officials declined to identify the man. Samsung said no investigation was planned.

It is the second known time in a year in South Korea that a Samsung smartphone battery has caught fire.

Lithium-ion batteries are behind the worldwide grounding of Boeing 787s

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Thursday, December 20th, 2012


Air quality is one of those things that many of us should be more concerned about, but aren’t. According to some people, this is because we’re not easily able to know how clean the air around us really is – we just assume it’s “clean enough.” Computer scientists at the University of California, San Diego have set out to change that. They’re developing a compact, portable air pollution sensor that communicates with the user’s smartphone, to provide real-time air quality readings for their immediate surroundings.

Known as CitiSense, the device is able to measure local concentrations of ozone, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide, which are the pollutants emitted most by internal combustion vehicles. That data is wirelessly transmitted to the user’s smartphone, where it’s displayed on the screen via a custom app – along with an actual number rating, the display also utilizes the EPA’s color code scale, where green is good and purple … isn’t.

One of the ideas behind the sensors is that if commercialized, they would allow everyday people to be more proactive when it comes to air pollution. Users could avoid areas where the levels are dangerously high, for example, and would perhaps be more motivated to pressure local authorities to do something about the problem.

Also, data gathered from a multitude of the sensors throughout a region could provide the public with much more detailed and accurate air quality reports than is currently possible. According to the university, although San Diego County measures approximately 4,000 square miles (10,360 sq km), it is currently served by only about ten air-quality monitoring stations.

A prototype of the CitiSense sensor

A prototype of the CitiSense sensor

To test the technology, 30 people were given prototype CitiSense sensors to use in their everyday lives for a period of four weeks. Among other things, the test subjects discovered that air pollution is worse in particular highly-localized areas – it’s not just evenly diluted throughout the air. Not surprisingly, it was likewise noted that certain times of day are more hazardous than others.

Unfortunately for those of us who do our part to reduce pollution, it was also found that people who cycled or waited for the bus along a given route were exposed to more airborne pollutants than those who drove the same route.

The sensors presently cost US$1,000 per unit to build, but the researchers are confident that the price could be greatly reduced by mass production – they could conceivably even be incorporated into commercial smartphones. Although the constant data exchange between the prototype sensors and their paired phones is a considerable drain on the phones’ batteries, that could reportedly be addressed by limiting such exchanges to spaced intervals, or only when requested by the user.

North Carolina-based tech firm RTI International is developing a somewhat similar gadget known as the MicroPEM (Personal Exposure Monitoring device), although it doesn’t provide real-time readings. The University of Southern California has also created an Android app that uses the phone’s camera to measure particulate matter in the atmosphere, but it doesn’t determine what those particles consist of.

Source: University of California, San Diego


Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

China’s Xiaomi Technology is a fairytale for nerdy entrepreneurs.

Less than three years after its founding, the smartphone maker is valued at $US4 billion and evokes Apple-like adoration from its fans, some of whom are desperate enough to skip work for a shot at buying the latest product the day it goes on sale.

China’s media say I am China’s Steve Jobs, 

Founder Lei Jun dresses like the late Steve Jobs, in jeans and a black top. He has created a fervent fan base for Xiaomi’s moderately priced high-end smartphones by mimicking Apple’s marketing tactic of attaching an aura of exclusivity around its products.

Lei Jun, founder and CEO of China’s mobile company Xiaomi. Photo: Reuters

Before Xiaomi, the 42-year-old Lei was a key investor in China’s early internet scene, co-founding start-ups including, which was eventually sold to, and the recently listed YY Inc.

Born in Xiantao, a small city in China’s central Hubei province better known for breeding Olympic gymnasts than billionaire technocrats, Lei brushes off comparisons to Jobs but concedes that the Apple visionary was an inspiration.

“China’s media say I am China’s Steve Jobs,” Lei said in an interview.

Dresses like the late Steve Jobs … Lei Jun. Photo: Reuters

“I will take this as a compliment but such kind of comparison brings us huge pressure,” said Lei, who grew up assembling radios as a hobby. “Xiaomi and Apple are two totally different companies. Xiaomi’s based on the internet. We are not doing the same thing as Apple.”

Hot sales and fans

Xiaomi has already sold 300,000 of its latest phone model, launched in October. The Xiaomi phone 2 has specifications similar to those of Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy S3 and Apple’s iPhone 5 but a top-of-the-line model sells for about $US370, half the price of an iPhone 5.

The late Steve Jobs. Photo: Getty Images

Unlike the big domestic smartphone players, such as Lenovo, ZTE and Huawei, which work with telecom carriers to sell a large volume of smartphones, Xiaomi sells most of its phones online and in small batches.

This small volume strategy creates pent-up demand that gives Xiaomi free marketing buzz. The first batch of 50,000 phones released on October 30 sold out in less than two minutes. Subsequent larger batches have also sold out in minutes.

Lei, who has nearly 4 million followers on China’s popular microblogging platform, Weibo, feeds the buzz by dangling teasers about new products and launch dates.

“We’re not a company that chases sales volume. We chase customer satisfaction. We look for ways to give the customer a great surprise,” Lei said.

His vision for an exclusive mid-tier brand that builds up incrementally, rather than swamping the market, has found financial backers. In June, Xiaomi raised $US216 million from Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, the Government of Singapore Investment Corp, and a few of Lei’s friends, local media reported, giving it a valuation of $US4 billion.

“China is ripe for its own Apple, HTC or Samsung,” said Hans Tung, managing partner at Qiming Venture Partners, a venture firm backing Xiaomi. “The country is big enough, there are enough mobile internet users and mobile phone consumers. Therefore having its own mobile ecosystem built up by a domestic brand makes sense.”

Xiaomi, which was founded in April 2010 and only started selling smartphones in October 2011, is on track to sell 7 million units this year, exceeding its target of 2 million.

Xiaomi is already profitable and is expected to rake in sales of up to 13 billion yuan ($1.9 billion) this year.

“Our product only sold for a year and hit sales of $2 billion. That is pretty impressive,” Lei said, adding Xiaomi was not considering an initial public offering within the next five years.

Tung said Xiaomi’s net margins were 10 per cent. This suggests its net profit could hit $US200 million this year.

Mo Xiaohua, a 24-year-old accountant, is a proud Xiaomi fan who only recently bought her first Xiaomi phone. For many who use Xiaomi phones, the customisable themes and the weekly updates are a big draw.

“I like Xiaomi because among China’s brand smartphones, its value is the best,” Mo said. “Now that we have such a good China branded phone, we need to support it.”


‘Black back flats’

Xiaomi has its fair share of detractors who doubt it will have a happy ending. They say the smartphone game in China can only be won with wide distribution and high volume or a big brand with distinctive designs.

Xiaomi, whose attraction is its price and high technical specifications, does not win points for cutting-edge design.

“This is a world where people are now cranking out ‘black back flats’, that’s what all these phones are when you put 10 on the table… Xiaomi is not going to stick out,” said Michael Clendenin, managing director at RedTech Advisors. “In this world, the market is driven by two things: one is massive volume and two huge brands.”

ZTE and Huawei have set smartphone sales targets for this year at about 30 million and 60 million respectively. The firms have traditionally dominated the cheap low-end smartphone segment but have been pushing into the mid-price range.

ZTE said it launched 11 types of smartphones in the mid-price range of 1500-2500 yuan ($229-$382) this year, up from six last year. Apple released its mid-range tablet, the iPad Mini, in China on Friday.

“Xiaomi had great headline appeal a year ago… but the problem is now you have got guys like ZTE and Huawei and Meizu with phones that are priced in a similar range,” Clendenin said.

China is expected to surpass the United States as the world’s largest smartphone market this year with 165-170 million unit sales, up from 78 million last year, Gartner said.

Analysts said Xiaomi had to ramp up volume and address technical problems and a shortage of customer service centers if it wanted a shot at the big league.

“One of the challenges of being in the middle is that you can get squeezed,” said Duncan Clark, chairman of Beijing-based consultancy BDA.

Lei is resolute that he will prove the naysayers wrong.

“In this industry, I think the most important thing is to get love from your customers,” he said. “If you are popular with your customers, you succeed.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Monday, September 24th, 2012

Reviewing iPhone 5

Does the iPhone 5 live up to the hype?

Buzz for the iPhone 5 began way back in 2010. Many then assumed that the iPhone 4’s sequel would be a major redesign; instead we got the incrementally-updated iPhone 4S. It brought a much-improved camera, a faster chip, and Siri, but it wasn’t a breakthrough update. We would have to wait a full 27 months after the iPhone 4 to get our hands on the next big refresh.

Now that it’s here, was the iPhone 5 worth the wait? To sum this review up in one word: absolutely.


The iPhone 5 (bottom) is 1.7mm thinner than the iPhone 4S.

The iPhone 5 (bottom) is 1.7mm thinner than the iPhone 4S.

When discussing the iPhone 5, you have to start with design. It may not appear to be a radical departure from the appearance of the iPhone 4/4S, but the beauty here is in the details.

The most significant detail: weight. This iPhone is light – 112 grams to be exact. The iPhone 4 and 4S never felt heavy to me, but they do now. Much like the first Retina Display made the previous iPhones’ 480×320 resolution look antiquated, the iPhone 5 makes Apple’s prior handsets feel like bricks.

The second most striking design detail is thickness. Apple shrunk the iPhone 5 down to 7.6 mm, way down from the last two iPhones’ 9.3 mm. Apple claims that it’s the thinnest smartphone ever, and it probably is (the Droid Razr measures 7.1 mm, but that spec conveniently ignores its protruding hump). Regardless of the competition, the iPhone 5 is razor-thin.

Of course the iPhone 5 also sports a longer design (8.6 mm longer than the last iPhones, but the same width) and a longer display. The new shape feels great in the hand. Apple scrapped the glass back this year and replaced it with a unibody aluminum backing. The sides of the phone harken back to the 4/4S’s external antenna frame – only this time it too is aluminum (previously it was stainless steel).

Beauty can’t necessarily be objectified, but it’s hard not to appreciate the unified design of the iPhone 5. It may be Jony Ive’s best work yet.

SmsFun lets you send up to 50 Free SMS every day to any mobile phone in Australia


Not only is the display taller, but the pixels are closer to the surface.

The 4-inch display works better than I expected. The 16:9 aspect ratio makes for a more oblong window into your digital world, but Apple uses it well. Landscape videos play in their native aspect ratio, you can see more of your emails when typing, and you get an extra row of apps on your home screen.

There are some areas where the 16:9 frame feels a little wonky. Photos have black letterboxes in both portrait and landscape mode (until you zoom in). App Store apps that haven’t yet been updated for the new display also get letterboxed, though that will soon be a moot point. Browsing Safari in landscape mode could also feel a bit cramped, but Apple added a new full-screen mode to iOS 6, which works brilliantly.

The resolution is 1136×640, with the same sharp 326 pixels per inch (ppi) as the last two iPhones. In the iPhone 5, Apple moved those 727,040 pixels closer to the surface by moving a layer of touch electrodes. The resulting appearance is a welcome change. It’s moving closer to the Hogwarts parchment illusion: ink moving on paper.

Apple claims that the iPhone 5 has 44 percent greater color saturation than the last iPhones, and, though I have no way of testing that, colors do look better. It’s almost indisputably the best smartphone display on the market.
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Games like Real Racing 3 are inching closer to console-quality.

This baby zips. I didn’t notice a dramatic difference at first, but I soon saw it flying through tasks that would have bogged down the 4S. Most notable is the camera app, where I could go from sleep mode to snapping a picture in under three seconds. You can fire a burst of shots with no hesitation. It also flies through the new Flyover (3D aerial) feature in Maps; panning, zooming, and rendering of bird’s-eye views happen instantly.

What will developers be able to do with games on the iPhone 5? At the iPhone 5 event, EA offered an impressive preview of Real Racing 3, and that could just be scratching the surface. Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft should take notice: the gap between mobile devices and consoles is rapidly shrinking



After four generations of 3G, the iPhone 5 jumps into the land of 4G (sorry, AT&T, but I don’t count HSPA+ 14.4). Those who live in an area with LTE coverage will see data speeds that may match or better their home broadband connections.

I haven’t yet been able to test LTE on the iPhone 5, but LTE Android phones have been around long enough for us to know what speeds expect. Apps will download quickly, videos will stream instantly, and VoIP apps like Skype will sound near-perfect.

In the US, Verizon has – by far – the most expansive LTE network, followed by AT&T, and then Sprint. Sprint is the only US iPhone carrier that still offers unlimited data, though, so everyone else will need to monitor their usage.


The camera isn't a dramatic upgrade, but Apple improved it in at least one important area.

The iPhone 5’s camera is only a minor improvement over the iPhone 4S, but it outperforms it in the most important area: low-light shooting. In my tests, indoor and poorly-lit shots looked much brighter and clearer than they did on the 4S.


Apple's redesigned earbuds deliver on the promise of better fit and better audio.

Apple’s redesigned earbuds (“EarPods”) are a big improvement. In this case, the company’s marketing is right on: they fit much more snugly and comfortably in the ear, and the sound is greatly improved. They won’t replace $400 TripleFi premium earphones, but they’re excellent economy headphones for most people.

Bundled for free they’re a steal, and, for the $30 price for a standalone pair, you can do much worse.
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The new smaller Lightning connector is tiny and convenient (its reversible design is a subtle but nice touch), and it allowed Apple to make the iPhone 5 so thin. There is, however, one big issue: unless you shell out $30 for an adapter, all of your old iPod/iPhone accessories will be useless.

I don’t know how much it costs Apple to make the 30-pin to Lightning adapters, but $30 is a steep admission fee just to continue using your old docks and speakers. Even if Tim Cook & Co. couldn’t bundle the adapter with the iPhone 5, it would have been nice to see it come in under $20. If any company can afford to eat a little cost for the customer’s convenience, it’s Apple.

Summing up

The iPhone 5 is a terrific phone. If you’re looking for the best smartphone on the market, you’d have to at least start here. On paper, it doesn’t bring much that hasn’t been done before, but it integrates those elements (performance, larger screen, LTE) into a seamless package. Above all, it’s a pleasure to use.

Combine that with iOS’s balance of power, simplicity, and elegance (see our in-depth look at iOS 6), and the iPhone 5 is like a remastered version of a classic movie. It’s a familiar experience, but its refinements are in all the right places.


Sourced from Gizmag & published by Henry Sapiecha


Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012


Learning to play any musical instrument can be a mammoth task, especially for those who aren’t naturally gifted in that regard. The guitar is particularly difficult to learn to play, with a steep learning curve and some extraordinary finger dexterity required right from the start. Therefore, any tool designed to make the process less painful is welcomed with open arms by budding guitar gurus. A company called Incident is hoping that will be the case for gTar, a new digital guitar that utilizes the power of the iPhone.

Incident, a company based in Santa Clara, California, has designed a new digital guitar it hopes will come to the aid of guitarists with various skill levels. The device looks like a cross between a real guitar and a Rock Band/Guitar Hero guitar; it’s easy to spot it isn’t “real” but it’s more authentic than the videogame peripherals that appear to have peaked in popularity several years ago

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The gTar comprises a digital guitar with strings, frets and various other of the different components that make up the instrument. The big difference is the presence of an iPhone (4 or newer) running a specially-designed app.

Instead of pick-ups to amplify the sound of the string being strummed, the gTar has sensors along the neck that are able to detect, in real time, which note is being played. This information is then relayed to the iPhone docked in the body of the gTar, which produces the actual sound.

The gTar frets display on the iPhone app and the guitar

The app comes bundled with songs that the user can choose from to play along with. Despite the name, the gTar is not limited to guitar sounds, with the app making it entirely possible to play a grand piano by plucking the notes instead. Whatever the song and whatever the instrument, users have a choice of three levels of difficulty: Easy, Medium, and Hard.


Easy means just playing the open strings, and hitting the wrong string means no sound is produced. Medium adds fretwork to the mix, but there is still no danger of messing up thanks to the built-in SmartPlay feature. Hard means needing to play the correct notes; not doing so will result in every mistake being heard. This learning curve is the gTar’s strength, as real guitars start and end on the Hard level of difficulty.

The gTar is initially being sold through a Kickstarter project. Incident asked for US$100,000 to fund the initial production run and has already raised more than that amount. Approximately $70,000 of the target was raised quickly by backers paying US$350 each to get their hands on the first 200 gTars produced. The company has stated the final retail price will be $449.

The device has also made an appearance at TechCrunch Disrupt 2012, where it was actually on show and demonstrated to work as advertised. This is an important step in the Kickstarter model, which requires a certain amount of trust to exist between the project creators and the project backers.

In the future, Incident plans on releasing an SDK (software development kit) that will allow third parties to create apps for the gTar. The possibilities are only limited by the breadth of developers’ imaginations.

In conclusion, the gTar is a relatively expensive way to learn to play guitar. On top of the $350-and-up asking price for the gTar itself, you’ll also need to own or buy an iPhone. However, this isn’t just a learning tool. Even if and when you do reach Jimi Hendrix-like status, the gTar can still be used as a digital guitar to hone your skills on or to show off to friends. It also looks good.

There are other options to consider though, such as Rocksmith, a game/training tool available for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. This lets you use a real electric guitar to play well-known songs with visual guidance. At least with Rocksmith you end up with a real guitar after the lessons have come to an end rather than a digital copy. There’s also the iTar, which incorporates an iPad into a somewhat guitar-like body.

The video below shows the gTar in action along with some brief words from the founder and CEO of Incident.

Source: Kickstarter via TechCrunch

 Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012


Research in Motion CEO Thorsten Heins holds up a prototype of the BlackBerry 10 smartphone at the BlackBerry World event in Orlando. Photo: Reuters

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion has shown off advanced new features that will be available on new BlackBerry 10 smartphones – and a new prototype – but analysts are already questioning whether it’s “too late” to claw back market share lost to smart hone titans like Apple and Google.

The sneak viewing of its yet-to-be-launched operating system at the BlackBerry World conference in Orlando, Florida, brings the ailing smartphone and tablet maker a step closer to what some have described as the most crucial launch in the company’s history.

In his first keynote address since being appointed chief executive of RIM in January, Thorsten Heins unveiled the new operating system and gave a demonstration of some of its new features which include a new smart virtual keypad, advanced camera capabilities, and its ability to easily traverse between apps and system setting windows using gestures.

The Porsche designed Blackberry displayed at the Blackberry World Event in Orlando.

The Porsche designed Blackberry (not BlackBerry 10) displayed at the Blackberry World Event in Orlando. Photo: Reuters

But Heins gave no concrete date on when the Canadian company would launch a phone that used the new features other than saying hardware and software would be released “later this year”. “We’re taking our time to make sure we get this right,” Heins said.


Jefferies analyst Peter Misek, who is in Orlando for the conference, speculated in an interview with the Associated Press that it felt like it was “getting close to being too late” for the BlackBerry maker to recover despite its CEO giving what he described as a good speech.


“I just get the feeling that I wish they had it [the new operating system] out already. It’s going to be a challenge for them. When they launch BlackBerry 10 devices the iPhone 5, Windows 8 and all the Android devices will all be out,” Misek said.

In demonstrating the new operating system, Heins also showed off the prototype touchscreen smartphone it was running on. Developers of third-party apps for BlackBerry who are attending its seminar will be receiving a similar device – known as Alpha Dev – with different software (not BlackBerry 10).

The idea behind giving developers the prototype – which boasts a 4.2-inch screen and looks like a smaller version of RIM’s PlayBook tablet – is so that they can create apps that will work on the new operating system before it is launched further into this year.

A grab of the new interface.A grab of the new interface.

But the prototype given to developers was met with a fair chunk of criticism in the tech media – one of the key issues being the fact it can’t make calls or access mobile phone networks.

There is also the fact it doesn’t come with the new operating system unveiled by RIM’s CEO on his prototype device, which ran a beta version of the BlackBerry 10. The device given to developers instead runs something similar to what is powering the PlayBook tablet.

New features

Head of RIM’s software portfolio, Vivek Bhardwaj, described the new virtual on-screen keypad as being tailored to each individual user “just like a glove”. “We’re using things like modelling algorithms to actually learn where you press every single key,” he said.

The new keypad also makes it easy for users to “type fast and accurately”, according to Bhardwaj, and shows suggestions for words on the keypad midway through typing. The words can then be swiped upwards to be inserted into something like a text message.

“This keypad really saves you time,” Heins said during a demonstration.

The advanced camera software, another of the clever features shown off that will be built into the next iteration of the BlackBerry operating system, allows users to go “back and forth in time” after taking a picture to ensure they get the right shot, Bhardwaj said.

He showed an example of a picture taken where one of the subjects had blinked when the photo was taken. He then demonstrated how one could scroll back and forth in time through a variety of shots that were taken when the photo was made, meaning one could choose a photo that was taken where a subject had not blinked, making for a better outcome.

Heins said the feature meant users would “never miss that magic moment”.

The other major feature shown off in a demonstration was a more swifter way of switching between apps running on a smartphone using the new operating system.

“We wanted a user paradigm that is easy and fast,” Heins said, showing how information from documents, emails, calendars, and address books could slide in and out from a smartphone screen’s edges. “It’s all about making things flow.”

Puzzle Master

Companies ditch RIM

The unveiling follows some of the biggest corporate giants in Australia and around the world ditching the Blackberry in favour of Apple and Google-powered mobiles and comes as research firm IDC said that RIM’s share of the global smartphone market had slipped to 6.7 per cent in the first quarter of this year, from 13.6 per cent a year earlier. Last year IDC said RIM’s share of the smartphone market in Australia was only 5 per cent.

Nicholas Ebbeck, commercial sales manager at Dick Smith for Australia and New Zealand, said BlackBerry had recently seen a decline in the corporate market not only because of the iPhone but because of other smartphones too. Ebbeck manages the smartphone contracts for big corporates, including Woolworths (owner of Dick Smith).

“Corporates at the moment are looking at alternatives and I think BlackBerry have always been a small piece of an organisation’s communication [system],” he said. Woolworths executives had recently switched to Apple’s iPhone, he said. IBM Australia and Dell also recently decided to abandon RIM.

Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg said in an email that RIM’s sneak preview of the new features showed that it was “focused on details that differentiate meaningfully”. But the key to gaining back market share, he said, would be shipping and execution of a new mobile.

John Jackson, an analyst at CCS Insight, told Reuters that Heins’s address was low key but effective in presenting RIM’s vision.

“Mr Heins delivered a decent articulation of what and who RIM stood for while providing a sufficiently tantalising glimpse of some unique BlackBerry 10 features to keep things interesting,” Jackson said.  “This should be enough to at least give the naysayers pause, if only temporarily.”

Ben Grubb travelled to BlackBerry World in Orlando, Florida as a guest of RIM


Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha