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Jul 29, 2013

Snapdragon 600-Based Galaxy Note II Goes Official at China Mobile

Samsung’s Galaxy Note II smartphone will arrive on shelves at China Mobile in the not too distant future, as it has apparently been made official in the country, and packs a Snapdragon 600 processor inside.

The handset sports model number GT-N7108, and will be released in China with support for TD-SCDMA, W-CDMA, TDD-LTE, and FDD-LTE connectivity (thanks to Qualcomm’s processor, it seems). The smartphone also features a 5.5-inch 720p touchscreen display, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal memory, a microSD memory card slot for additional storage space, a 3100mAh battery inside, and Google’s Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean platform loaded on top.

Furthermore, the Galaxy Note II arrives at China Mobile with an 8-megapixel photo snapper on the back, full HD video recording capabilities, and a 1.9MP front camera for making video calls.

Samsung Galaxy Note II
Image credits to Samsung

2013 Plastic iPhone Confirmed in Pegatron Report, Production Is Yet to Start

A report by the China Labor Watch on investigations carried out inside Pegatron factories reveals that the Taiwan-based Apple supplier is making plastic iPhones.

Confirming that Apple indeed has plans to put forth a low-priced version of its iPhone this year (or the next), the watchdog noted in the report, “Its assembled products include iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, and low-priced plastic iPhones.” The same white-paper, which looks at violations incurred by Pegatron in its labor practices assembling electronic products, adds, “Today’s work is to paste protective film on the iPhone’s plastic back cover to prevent it from being scratched on assembly lines.” This method has been used for all iPhones in the past, and it is standard procedure for any Apple device, regardless of the manufacturer.

There’s more. Apparently, the low-cost iPhone has yet to go into production. Which makes it hard to believe Apple will be able to ship these handsets around the rumored September 6 date. “The new cell phone has not yet been put into mass production, so quantity is not as important. This makes our job more slow paced than in departments that have begun mass production schedules,” the non-profit, with offices in New York, said. Just this past weekend we reported a new iPhone leak fresh out of China which may be consistent with the plastic “budget” iPhone on track for launch this year. An image stemming from the WeiPhone forums showed numerous plastic boxes, or shipping containers, with “iPhone 5C” stamped on them, suggesting that Apple will assign this particular dubbing to its new smartphone.

The cases seemed to resemble those used by Apple to house the iPod touch in storage rooms, as well as on store shelves, lending credence to the leak.

Plastic iPhone case
Image credits to iFixit

ASRock 990FX Extreme9 Motherboard Ready for 5 GHz CPUs

ASRock has quite gladly revealed that it has a motherboard perfectly suited for the strongest central processing unit that Advanced Micro Devices has to offer. And that says more than some might think.

The FX-9590 central processing unit that AMD launched some time ago isn't the sort of chip that can work on just any platform. Or at least, it's not the sort of chip that can work at full throttle, because 5 GHz require a measure of energy and endurance. That is why ASRock is making such a big deal out of getting official support for AMD's processor on the 990FX Extreme9 motherboard. The platform was put through a number of tests that were meant to determine build quality. The BIOS was also updated to work with the unit. To prove its claims, ASRock has published some benchmark tests results. The score was of 8.55 on Cinebench R11.5, for example. That's 25% better than the AMD FX-8350. On the Super PI 1MB test, the speed was 18.377 seconds.

Alsom on PC Mark Vantage, the score was of 18,894 points, which suggests a boost of 15.31% compared to the previous-generation chip. Add to that a PC Mark 8 Home Score of 4,777 points and you have a winner. Sure, Intel's best Haswell chips are still better, and we won't even mention the Ivy Bridge-E that haven't come out yet, but for an AMD CPU, the FX-9000 Series rule. For those who want a rundown of the ASRock motherboard specifications, ASRock uses four PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots (3-Way CrossFireX and 3-Way SLI supported), four DDR3 memory slots, a bunch of SATA 6.0 Gbps ports and all the connectivity and I/O elements one would expect. Finally, ASRock implemented a 12+2 Power Phase design, Hi-Density Power Connectors, Dual Stack MOSFETs, Premium Gold Caps, and Multiple Filter Caps. The product page has more info.

ASRock 990FX Extreme9
Image credits to ASRock

ASRock benchmark result
Image credits to ASRock

Dell Project Ophelia, An Android PC on a Stick

The Android operating system started out as a smartphone OS, then extended to tablets and, not too long ago, actual laptops and PCs, though not to any great extent. The OS just isn't made for PCs and doesn't have much of a chance to supplant Windows.

It can still do a lot though, especially on hardware that is just too weak for Windows. And since Windows RT hasn't seen much success, there's no threat from that end either. That's why some notebooks and smart TVs have been using Android quite a lot lately. That still leaves a lot of people that don't have smart features on their television sets though, and then there are those who want an easy way to carry around their system, not counting the laptop options. So Dell came up with Ophelia. Project Ophelia is essentially a USB stick that, instead of Flash Storage, holds a full Android PC. Priced at $100 / €100, it is now in final testing stages, if we're reading what PCWorld wrote right.

Primarily envisioned for business use, it is, nonetheless, likely to be adopted by consumers as well. The USB stick offers an application stack similar to those found on tablets and phones. Just plug it in your monitor or TV and voila! Instant computer. The Android device even has set-top-box and gaming console capabilities. Not on the same levels as the genuine articles perhaps, but close. Everything down to app downloading from the Google Play store is supported, and we don't just mean apps specifically designed for the device. Dell’s cloud portfolio of services is instantly accessible once the Android PC-on-a-stick is activated, plus Wyse PocketCloud. Remote shutdown and wipe capabilities are included as well.

All in all, the Dell project Ophelia really doesn't look like it, but it actually packs all PC features inside a flash drive-size package. Currently, Beta testers are receiving their sticks, which means that mass availability could ramp up later this year, between August and October.

Dell Project Ophelia
Image credits to PC World

“iPhone 5C” Packaging Leaked, Resembles iPod touch Case

Another day, another iPhone leak. A tantalizing picture is making the rounds on China’s WeiPhone forums showing the potential plastic enclosure, or shipping container, of the “iPhone 5C.”

You read that right. If this image is to be believed, Apple apparently plans to call its budget smartphone “iPhone 5C.” Which, of course, doesn’t rule out the iPhone 5S, which is expected to look much like the current-selling iPhone 5. The iPhone 5C, on the other hand, is expected to have a plastic (polycarbonate) body, and specs that match those of the iPhone 5. A plastic enclosure would therefore also make sense, though it’s hard to believe Apple will move away from its environmental-friendly packaging just to make the shipping container consistent with the phone inside. The cases could be made of the same material Apple uses to package its ear pods (for the iPod line), but the glare isn’t typical to any biodegradable material. In other words, the boxes are almost certainly 100% plastic.

As far as the 5C dubbing goes, the “C” reportedly stands for color. Apple is said to be shipping its budget iPhone in blue, red, green, yellow, and white. Even though a plastic iPhone box may be hard to stomach, Apple is already shipping several products in such enclosures, including the popular iPod touch. The iPod touch (and several other iPods) have plastic enclosures made up of two parts: an opaque rear shell, and a transparent front lid which allows customers to glance at the product itself before opening up the box. This gives the leak some credibility, but we’re skeptical that Apple plans to fill the market with polluting materials, amid growing concerns that electronics makers are not doing enough to stay green.

In fact, Apple has an entire website section dedicated to showing its efforts in this area, and this image isn’t consistent with the company’s mission to lower its carbon footprint.

Alleged "iPhone 5C" packaging
Image credits to WeiPhone via AppleInsider

No 5-Inch Nokia and BlackBerry Devices Until the End of 2013

Nokia and BlackBerry, two of the largest mobile phone makers in the world, are expected to bring to the market smartphones packing 5-inch or larger screens soon, but will do so only towards the end of the year or in early 2014, new reports on the matter claim.

Industry sources cited by DigiTimes reportedly confirmed that Nokia is waiting for the Windows Phone 8 GDR3 (General Distribution Release 3) platform release before jumping on the 5-inch or larger screens bandwagon, and that Microsoft will release the OS update only at the end of this year. BlackBerry, on the other hand, is expected to unveil a 5-inch smartphone in the fourth quarter of the year, namely the long rumored BlackBerry A10, which should also become the company’s next flagship handset.

Other vendors out there have already released such large devices, including Samsung, Sony, LG, Motorola, and Chinese vendors such as Huawei, Lenovo, ZTE, and Coolpad.

Allegedly leaked photos of Nokia 6-inch phone's screen
Image credits to Weibo

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