Архив метки: RAZR

Intel Confirms Medfield x86 Chips Don’t Support LTE Yet — But Says It Won’t Be Long Coming

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Intel’s second bite at the smartphone market has been more akin to a gentle nibbling around the edges. At the end of last year the chipmaker teased a smartphone reference design running its Medfield x86 Atom SoC. Nine months later Intel chips have found their way inside six real world smartphones, yet none apparently destined for the U.S.

The six smartphones are the Lava XOLO X900 (an exclusively Indian device), the Lenovo K800 (targeting China first), Megafon’s Mint (a Russian carrier-branded device), the Orange San Diego (a UK carrier-branded launch), the ZTE Grand X IN (heading to Europe first) and Motorola’s RAZR i (coming to select European and South American markets).

Aside from Intel internals, the RAZR i closely resembles the recently announced Droid RAZR M (the latter is a U.S. device) – which further flags up the U.S.-shaped hole in Intel’s smartphone strategy. What’s going on here?

The likely explanation is there’s no support for LTE in Intel’s current Medfield chips. And with 4G such a dominant force in the U.S. you need to command a brand as massive as Apple to get away with flogging LTE-less phones (the iPhone 5 being Cupertino’s only 4G phone).

The lack of LTE support in Medfield chips was confirmed to TechCrunch by Sumeet Syal, Intel’s Director of Product Marketing (he wouldn’t be drawn on explaining the politics behind Medfield’s current geographical spread). He also confirmed 4G support is in the pipeline, noting that Intel will be “shipping some LTE products later this year and ramping into 2013″ – so that particular barrier to U.S. entry may soon be removed.

Multicore chips vs hyper threading

Syal said Intel is also readying a dual-core Medfield chip.  Its current chip architecture is single core, although the SoC includes a technique to boost multitasking called hyper threading which — Intel claims — allows it to out-perform some rival multicore chips.

“Even though it’s a single core it has hyper threading technology so essentially you’re able to do multitasking through a hyper-threaded environment. So that’s how we’re able to demonstrate that a single core from Intel outperforms a lot of the dual-core and quad-cores out there,” said Syal.

“Our next gen product will be a dual-core but again that product will also have hyper threading so essentially… you will also have dual-core with four threads. So again just like we demoed that a single core hyper-threaded can outperform dual-core/quad-core I think we’ll do it again when we introduce the dual-core product with four threads.”

But if hyper threading is as good for performance as Syal says it is, why does Intel need to invest in making multicore chips at all?

“You have to take a look at how many instructions per clock can the architecture handle — our belief is that others are throwing cores at the issue in terms  of getting more performance.  We make that determination based on our architecture so we felt very comfortable coming out with a single core dual-threaded for our first product, and as we’re able to get more and more performance in the right implementation of the architecture we believe putting in dual-core would be the right thing for our next generation product,” said Syal.

On the question of quad-core, it seems likely Intel sees four cores in Medfield’s future but Syal would not be drawn. “We’re not disclosing any plans yet of quad-cores,” he said.

Android app incompatibility

App compatibility is another area where Intel is having to play catch up. Despite working closely with Google to optimize its chip architecture for Android, not all Android apps are compatible with Intel’s SoCs — including, in a recently flagged example, Google’s own Chrome for Android browser. This was noticed by Android Central – after some hands on time with a pre-release version of the RAZR i. (Chrome compatibility is due to be fixed in time for the RAZR i’s launch, says Motorola.)

Syal said the “majority” of Android apps are compatible with Medfield chips but refused to specify an exact percentage — although Intel has previously claimed 95 per cent of apps are compatible (which was a correction of a previous Intel statement pegging Android app compatibility at just 70 per cent of apps).

“We’re not quoting any numbers — but the majority of all the apps we’ve tested work just fine,” said Syal.

Syal added that Intel’s internal software and services group has been working “since the launch of our product and constantly round the clock to make sure that all these apps work… so those numbers [of incompatible apps] are changing by the day”.

Asked to sum up Intel’s current performance in the smartphone space, he described the company as “comfortable” with how much progress it’s made this year.  ”We’ve just gotten into the game, since the beginning of this year, right now we’re really comfortable with how we see our penetration — six products have now been publicly announced into the marketplace. There’s more stuff to come — but we’re not talking specific numbers.”

Intel is currently in a quiet period, ahead of its Q3 earnings report (scheduled for October 16) which may be one reason for keeping its powder dry.


Intel Confirms Medfield x86 Chips Don’t Support LTE Yet — But Says It Won’t Be Long Coming

Motorola’s Next Super Phone Leaked: Meet Verizon’s Droid RAZR HD

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The Droid RAZR HD is coming. It’s yet to be announced, but several leaks foretell its coming. And the next Droid is set to go spec-to-spec with the Samsung Galaxy S III. This thing looks killer.

The leaked pics show a device clearly born of the same DNA responsible for Motorola’s hottest Android models. The backside appears to be made of carbon fiber like the RAZR and RAZR MAXX. There are microUSB and microHDMI ports on the device’s side like on the Droid X/X2 and Bionic. The casing’s relatively thick casing is spurring rumors across the blogosphere that this model might even pack the RAZR MAXX’s massive 3000 mAh battery, which, if included, would give this Droid a significant selling point over the Samsung Galaxy S III.

Per leaked benchmarks further detailed below, the screen is reportedly 1196×720 with several pixels likely dedicated to on-screen buttons. This is a significant step-up from the RAZR’s 540 x 960 screen and matches the Samsung Galaxy S III pixel for pixel.

A stray Nenamark benchmark further details the upcoming phone, revealing its Snapdragon S4 dual-core heart running at 1.5GHz. Fanboys will be quick to point out that this is the same clock speed and chipset used in the SIII headed to Verizon, but the Droid RAZR HD reportedly only has 1GB of RAM where Samsung’s latest rocks 2GB.

So far pricing and the target release date has yet to be announced (or leaked). That said, if Mr. Blurry Cam can get his hands on a unit, chances are the release is not that far out and considering the RAZR MAXX’s recent price drop, expect this model to cost either $249 or $299.


Motorola’s Next Super Phone Leaked: Meet Verizon’s Droid RAZR HD

Latest Rumors Peg An LTE iPhone For An October Release, LiquidMetal To Be Used For The Casing

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After a period of unnerving quietness, the Apple rumor mill is back up and running at full capacity producing two somewhat credible rumors over the last 24 hours. The next iPhone will not be announced until October if the latest rumors are believed. A separate rumor is just so wild that it might be true: The iPhone 5, or whatever it’s to be called, will be made of LiquidMetal, which will allow for a unique unibody construction.

But again, these are just unfounded rumors. Please proceed with caution.

Gene Munster, analyst for Piper Jaffray, stated that chipmaker Qualcomm is gearing up to supply the LTE chipset. However, per Qualcomm’s CEO yesterday, unpredicted demand has caused supply issues. Munster believes this sets Apple up to launch the iPhone in October, conveniently a year after the iPhone 4S’ announcement.

Korea IT News recently reported that the iPhone 5 will be housed in a LiquidMetal casing. This material, an alloy of titanium, nickel, copper, zirconum and other metals, is said to have a feeling of glass despite having the physical strength of metal. The material is perfect for use in smartphones. It’s physically tough and naturally resistant to wear, scratches and dents.

However, unlike traditional metal fabrication, LiquidMetal objects can be formed with a sort of injection molding similar to plastic. This allows for a wider range of applications and physical forms — perhaps a stronger unibody casing.

Phone manufacturers have recently turned to different material to set their phones appart. Motorola used a bit of carbon fiber on the back of the RAZR phones and Samsung is said be employing ceramic for the upcoming Galaxy S III. But the benefits of LuquidMetal would set the iPhone 5 apart and Apple has the exclusive rights to the material for use in consumer electronics.

It’s safe to say that the next iPhone will be something different even if it doesn’t employ LiquidMetal. The current iPhone design has been used for nearly two years now and has had its share of problems. Even glass touted as tough as gorillas is a poor material for a phone. So sometime in the coming future, perhaps this summer or maybe in October, Apple will announce the sixth generation iPhone.


Latest Rumors Peg An LTE iPhone For An October Release, LiquidMetal To Be Used For The Casing

Motorola Further Details ICS Rollout, But Is Verizon Delaying The Ice Cream Party In The States?

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Slowly but surely Ice Cream Sandwich will hit last year’s flagship Android phones. Motorola just updated its ICS schedule that details the expected timetable for each device. The biggest change is that ICS is now scheduled for non-U.S. RAZR models. But that’s seemingly the case for most Moto devices. For the most part ICS will hit Moto devices starting in the second quarter — but only for non-Verizon devices in the U.S. Here in the States the status of ICS for the majority of Motorola’s devices is still listed as “Evaluation & Planning” with “Further details to follow”.

The updated ICS rollout schedule lists 13 U.S. devices: three are WiFi-only tablets, two are AT&T-only, one is for Sprint, one is for U.S. Cellular and the rest are Verizon devices. Wanna guess which devices do not have an expected rollout date?

Take the U.S.-only XYBoard for example: ICS is scheduled to hit the WiFi-only model in the third quarter. The 3G/VZW model is in the Evaluation & Planning stage. The RAZR devices in Asia Pacific, Canada, China, EMEA, Japan, Korea & LATAM will get Ice Cream Sandwich in the second quarter. ICS isn’t scheduled for the US RAZR nor any of the Droid devices — all of which are exclusive to Verizon.

The oddball device here is the Motorola Electrify, which is basically a U.S. Cellular-badged version of Sprint’s Photon 4G without a WiMax radio. The Sprint version is set to get the update in Q3 2012 where the U.S. Cellular version is still listed as “Evaluation & Planning” with “Further details to follow”.

Several things could be going on here but it all likely loops back to the carrier. It’s possible that each carrier has their own set of stringent evaluation processes and requirements for major system updates, and Motorola of course has to play nice with their carrier partners. In Verizon’s case a number of things could be going on. Verizon might want to set the schedule itself. Or Verizon could just be playing it safe. The carrier’s early history with the Gingerbread update was buggy and left many owners (including me) with bricked devices.

But don’t fret, Verizon subs. Motorola reiterated previous statements saying, “DROID RAZR, DROID RAZR MAXX, DROID 4, DROID BIONIC, DROID XYBOARD 8.2 and 10.1, and MOTOROLA XOOM WiFI + 3G/4G will be upgraded to ICS.” It would just be nice if Moto could communicate the expected timetable with its loyal supporters.

Maintaining Android updates must be a huge task for Motorola and others. Google is holding to a yearly release schedule, but manufacturers are seemingly marching to a different beat. By the time the RAZR, XYBOARDs and Moto’s other flagship devices finally get Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean will be only several months away from launching. Once Google officially absorbs Motorola, the two will work to solve this strange delayed rollout scheme, but that will not help Samsung, LG and others. Speaking as a Droid X owner, the practice is frustrating and very anti-consumer. Google often talks down Android’s system fragmentation but the problem is only getting worse.

[image via flickr/Eric Hauser]


Motorola Further Details ICS Rollout, But Is Verizon Delaying The Ice Cream Party In The States?

Motorola, You Screwed Up. The Droid 4 Alienates (And Pisses Off) Your Core Demographic.

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Droid 4 reviews are popping up everywhere. We’re doing ours a little different. Instead of posting a “review” after spending just 24 hours with the phone like other sites, we’re living with it for a week, publishing several articles on it and then concluding with a full review after actually living with the phone for a while. But one thing was clear even before the phone launched: Motorola messed up forgoing a removable battery for a meaningless reduction in thickness.

The original Droid started the Android revolution. It was the anti-iPhone: an open OS, sliding QWERTY keyboard, available on Verizon and featured a removable battery and expandable memory. Now many of those advantages are moot points. Android is no longer viewed as open, most people are sold on virtual keyboards, the iPhone is available everywhere, and now, thanks to Motorola, the Droid 4 features a built-in battery. Sorry, power users.

You see, Motorola, like every other phone maker is racing to produce the thinnest phone possible. Apparently they feel thinner phones will result in more sales and/or street cred. I don’t know. But it’s silly. Phones are already thin enough — I know how that sounds. But think about it: The Droid 3 is 12.9mm thick where the Droid 4 is 12.7mm thick. Even the Droid RAZR MAXX, with it’s extra-large battery, is still a slim phone in my opinion. It’s 9mm thick verses 7.1mm of the standard RAZR. The difference is hardly noticeable even when the phones are sitting next to each other. You’ll never notice it when it’s in your pocket.

The Droid 4 does feature a larger battery than its older counterpart. The phone is also more powerful and packs a slightly larger screen. But none of those things counter the mistake of not including a removable battery even if the Droid 4 is a marvelous piece of hardware. The new keypad is fantastic and so is the updated sliding action. It’s completely possible that Moto engineers decided to permanently affix the battery to allow for the improved sliding mechanism or something else critical to the redesigned phone. But in doing so, the phone loses a major selling point even if it’s an under-utilized feature.

I’d venture to say that the vast majority of users never buy extended batteries for their phones. But it’s likely a large portion of owners like the idea, and it’s certainly a nice option to have. There are light users who will probably coast along with the non-removable battery and never experience a problem, while people who lean on their devices more than others could be left in the lurch. I don’t think Motorola made the decision lightly, but the move almost feels like Motorola is trading their power users for wider adoption.

The Android landscape is filled with copycats. Motorola (and others) need to do something to make their phones stand apart. So what are the Droid 4′s selling points? Just the QWERTY keypad and that’s not enough to compete. Sadly the days of the swappable battery are probably numbered. I’d bet my dog Ferrari that the Samsung Galaxy S III and most of 2012′s flagship phones will not have a removable battery.

Bring back the swappable battery for the next Droid, Motorola. A millimeter or two is well worth having a legitimate selling point over the iPhone and other Android phones.


Motorola, You Screwed Up. The Droid 4 Alienates (And Pisses Off) Your Core Demographic.