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Mar 17, 2014

Intel's 64-Bit Mobile Chips Will Have OS-(B)Locking Features

Bad news for Android users planning to purchase smartphones powered by Intel’s next-generation 64-bit Merrifield chipsets, as the company has confirmed that these SOCs will be OS-locked.

According to German site Golem.de, Intel’s Technical Account Manager Frank Kuypers said in an interview that his company’s upcoming Merrifield 64-bit mobile chipsets would be added a new feature called “hooks,” which is meant to block some of the features, more or less important, if it detects that a new OS has been installed on the device. Kuypers claims that Intel’s new chipsets will be able to detect if an Android user replaces the operating system on their smartphone with another version or with a completely different one, and then block some of the features that user should benefit from by default. For example, let’s say you own an Android smartphone powered by Intel’s new Merrifield mobile chipset and you want to install a CyanogenMod ROM that would presumably make your device faster and more reliable.

Well, you should know that “thanks” to the new “hooks” feature integrated in these mobile chipsets, you risk losing some of the most important capabilities of the phone, such as LTE/UMTS, as well as some – if not all – emails received. The reason is simple, as Kuypers says that Intel’s SoC will be capable of identifying the new software installed as “risk” and will block these features until you revert to the previous OS version recognized as “safe.” The new technology implemented within Intel’s hardware will be active beginning 2014, along with the “hooks” functionality that will be used to lock the processor for certain OSes or OS versions. It remains to be seen which OS versions and/or mobile platforms will be blacklisted by Intel.

I reckon this is an unexpected turn of events for Intel, which isn’t even among the popular mobile chipset producers on the market. Perhaps the company wants to sell even less mobile chipsets to Android handset makers, or else we can’t see a reason to lock down an Android OS, which is an open source platform in itself. Last but not least, it appears that Intel is still undecided whether to make the use of this “hooks” feature public. Purchasing an Android smartphone without knowing that you can update to a new version or install a customized ROM is unacceptable. According to the company, the “hooks” functionality is meant to improve the security on Android devices that are powered by Merrifield chipsets, but this should not affect users’ experience.

Intel Android smartphone
Image credits to Intel

Alleged LG G3 Benchmark Screenshot Confirms QHD (2560x1440) Display, Octa-Core CPU

The first details on LG’s upcoming flagship smartphone, the G3, leaked last week when the phone’s UAProf (User Agent Profile) confirmed that its display would support QHD (2560 x 1440 pixels) resolution.

The second leak came shortly afterwards in the form of the first screenshots taken from the alleged LG G3, which, once again, confirmed that the smartphone would indeed boast a stunning QHD display. The third leak regarding the LG G3 comes today via lgg3.com blog site and reveals slightly more details on the smartphone’s specs sheet. It appears that the Dutch site was able to take a screenshot from some benchmarking scores supposedly achieved by the upcoming LG G3. According to the benchmark shown in the screenshot, the LG-D850, which is also known as LG G3, will indeed sport a QHD display and will be powered by Android 4.4 KitKat operating system out of the box. However, given the fact that this is just a prototype, there’s a high chance that LG G3 will run the latest version of Android, namely KitKat 4.4.2.

Furthermore, the first info on the phone’s insides is unveiled in the screenshot as well. It looks like LG and MediaTek have partnered for the making of the G3, as the smartphone is confirmed to pack a MediaTek MT6595 chipset. This particular chipset accommodates two quad-core processors and a very powerful PowerVR Series6 graphics processing unit. MediaTek’s MT6595 chipset is equipped with one quad-core CPU clocked between 2.2 and 2.5GHz, as well as a 1.7GHz quad-core processor that should handle the less demanding operations. The screenshot claims that the minimum CPU frequency is 1.7GHz, while the maximum frequency is 2.2GHz, so there’s a high chance that the LG G3 will be powered by a 2.2GHz octa-core CPU.

Previous rumors claimed that the LG G3 might be packed with a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor inside, but in light of the recent leaks, these speculations should not be taken into consideration anymore until further proof. Other LG G3-related rumors that have yet to be confirmed claim that the smartphone’s QHD display will measure 5.5 inches, which probably puts the device in the phablet category. Last but not least, the flagship smartphone should pack at least a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera with LED flash, autofocus, full HD (1080p), as well as OIS (optical image stabilization). LG G3 is expected to be launched on the market sometime in May/June, but judging by the amount of leaks that pop up online, it might go on sale slightly earlier.

LG G3 benchmark scores (screenshot)
Image credits to lgg3.com

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