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Apr 30, 2014

Google Reportedly Killing the Nexus Series in Favor of “Silver” Lineup

Mountain View-based Internet giant Google is reportedly planning on partnering with various mobile phone makers out there for the launch of a new series of premium devices, called Silver phones.

This new family of handsets would arrive on shelves with high-end hardware specifications packed inside, as well as with close-to-stock Android software, and might replace the currently available Nexus lineup. These handsets are expected to become available for purchase both though Google’s own channels and via other retail channels, with only up to five such devices up for grabs at the same time. The info comes from The Information, which also claims that the program is well underway, and that Google is planning on conquering the very high-end of the market with these devices. Devices included in this lineup would feature specific hardware capabilities, while offering a pure Android experience, something that Nexus phones and Google Play devices can offer at the moment. Multiple manufacturers will be able to join the Silver program, it seems.

The same as Nexus handsets at the moment, devices included in the Silver program will receive new software updates fast, said report claims. One thing that should be noted here, however, is the fact that Silver phones appear to be so close to Nexus and Google Play Edition devices at the moment that it is possible that Google is merely moving to another stage with these two programs, bringing them closer together. Should this pan out, it remains to be seen what differences handsets included in the program will feature when compared to existing Google phones out there, or to other devices capable of offering a pure Android experience. Apparently, Google is planning on launching the program in the US, Germany and Japan next year, and it will also work with carriers and other retailers for the release of these devices, while planning on spending good money to promote them.

Additionally, the Internet giant is said to plan on paying for making them available through carriers too and might even be willing to pay for development costs, should that be needed. As one can imagine, no official info on the matter has been provided as of now, though chances are that more details will emerge sooner rather than later, especially with Android Police already unveiling some of them earlier this month. Specific details on manufacturers to enroll in this program haven’t emerged either, but it seems that LG and Motorola might be among the first to release Silver phones when the initiative is made official. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before more on this emerges, so stay tuned to learn the news.

Google to replace the Nexus series with new Silver handsets
Image credits to Google

LG L80 Officially Introduced in Indonesia

Yesterday, we reported that a brand new L Series III smartphone leaked ahead of its official launch, the L80 dual. The smartphone was spotted in Russia, where it is set to arrive in late May for an unknown price.

However, it looks like LG has officially introduced the L80 in Indonesia several hours after the smartphone’s leak in Russia. This time, we have more details on the phone’s price tag and specs sheet. According to GSMArena, the LG L80 will be available for purchase in Indonesia soon for only IDR 2,500,000 outright, which is about €155 or $215. Although no exact release date has been confirmed, we can safely assume that the smartphone will go on sale next month. The LG L80 will be available in two variants, single SIM and dual SIM. Depending on the region, Android fans will be able to get one or the other. For example, customers in Russia will be offered the dual-SIM model, along with those in Indonesia, but in various European countries, the LG L80 might only be available in the single-SIM version.

What’s important is the fact that aside from that, both variants are similar when it comes to hardware and software configuration. This means that customers will be able to purchase a cheap smartphone that will come with Android 4.4.2 KitKat and all the exclusive LG features, like Knock Code, QSlide and so on. On the inside, the LG L80 packs a 1.2Hz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor and 1GB of RAM, which should be enough to run most of the apps and games in the Google Play Store with some exceptions.

On the back, the mid-range Android smartphone packs a 5-megapixel photo snapper with LED flash and video recording, while in the front, there’s a secondary camera for video calls. Connectivity-wise, LG L80 offers 3G with HSPA on SIM 1 (on the dual-SIM version) and EDGE on SIM 2. In addition, the device comes with Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, GPS with A-GPS support and FM Radio. It is also worth mentioning that the L80 only packs 4GB of internal memory, which is why those who decide to go for it should take into consideration acquiring an additional microSD memory card (up to 32GB). LG Indonesia has also confirmed that the smartphone will be powered by a generous 2540 mAh battery, which has yet to be rated. Last but not least, LG L80 sports a larger 5-inch WVGA IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen display that supports 480 x 800 pixels resolution.

LG L80
Images credits to chip.co.id

Huawei Ascend P7 Leaks in New Photos Ahead of Official Release

Next week, Chinese mobile phone maker Huawei should make a new flagship device official, namely the long-rumored Huawei Ascend P7, and a new set of leaked photos with the device is now available for your viewing pleasure.

Available courtesy of NowhereElse, these photos show a design similar to that of Ascend P6 last year, which does not come as a surprise, since the phone was already rumored to resemble its predecessor a lot. When unveiled in early May, the Ascend P7 will feature a 5-inch touchscreen display capable of delivering a 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution, as well as a 1.6GHz processor inside, coming from Huawei itself. Moreover, the upcoming flagship device is also expected to land on shelves with 2GB of RAM packed inside, as well as with 16GB of internal memory, and a microSD memory card slot for expansion purposes.

On the back, it will sport a 13-megapixel camera, capable of at least full HD video recording, paired with a 5MP front camera for video calling and selfies. Huawei Ascend P7 is also said to sport a 2.460mAh battery inside, and to run under the Android 4.4.2 KitKat operating system, with Huawei’s own Emotion UI loaded on top. The phone hasn’t been officially confirmed as of now, but its smaller version, Huawei Ascend P7 mini, was unveiled this week. Images gallery below, click for larger image.

Huawei Ascend P7
Image credits to NoWhereElse.fr

Intel Might Not Have a Choice but to Use ARM Cores from Now On

The idea that Advanced Micro Devices would start to use ARM technology in its processors is one that has been both supported and dismissed by the world at large for the past year. No longer though, and Intel might have to adjust its tactics because of that.

You might have already come upon the news about the new APUs (SoCs really), the Beema and Mullins chips that AMD has just launched. I’ve already explored pretty much everything in regard to them that can be of interested to us common mortals. I have even taken a closer look at that nifty little Intelligent Boost technology that overclocks the processor while taking into account how warm/hot the skin on your hands is. However, in the end, the most game-changing element in the new chips is the ARM Cortex A5 core that AMD built into the accelerated processing unit systems-on-chip. With this, the hybrid nature of AMD’s processor lineup is extended from two-fold (x86+GPU) to threefold (ARM+x86+GPU). Some may say that the ARM core has no bearing on performance so it shouldn’t be counted, but I disagree. The core may not actually compute much, technically, but it has a very important role.

It’s all about security

I’ve already explored this, but I’ll make a summary here as well: the Cortex A5 core enables AMD’s TrustZone technology to operate. What the technology does is decide whether or not the system should be allowed to boot. More importantly, it will divide the APU/SoC in two, using the Cortex A5’s own ROM and SRAM memory. The unsecured “half” of the SoC does the heavy lifting (work documents, games, media playback, etc.) while the secured half handles network and Internet data exchanges, transactions, antivirus, and so on. All in all, the Cortex A5-enabled TrustZone technology provides a level and type of hardware encryption not seen before. For a microcontroller, the chip has a very important role.

Intel might have to reconsider its stance on ARM

For the longest time, Intel has steadfastly stuck to its policy to only use x86 technology in its central processing units and compute modules. Admittedly, now that it has the Quark and other chips with arguably low TDPs, it’s not “critical” to try ARM designs, even though ARM technology is still more energy-efficient. However, AMD has shown a very out-of-the-box use for the technology. And while its Beema and Mullins APUs will only be used in mid-range PCs and mobile devices (respectively), I don’t have trouble imagining AMD launching Opterons with TrustZone, or other server chips.

So, with x86-based CPUs that also have this ability to encrypt everything coming in and going out of a computer without touching (and slowing) everything else, I imagine that server makers will be quite interested in the concept. Micro-server clients in particular. That’s not even taking into account that AMD has fully ARM-based server solutions, and that adding TrustZone will only make them more appealing. Not to say that Intel’s chips don’t have hardware-based security, because they do, but AMD’s approach is novel enough to cause ripples.

The possible futures

I haven’t heard Intel commenting on AMD’s inclusion of ARM tech in its chips, not yet, and I’m pretty sure that the “purely x86” stance will go on for at least a while. However, I believe the odds are good that Intel will at least consider this kind of hybridization, even if it reconsiders and never tells anyone about its inner turmoil. I’m making abstraction of Chipzilla’s wearable device-intended SoCs here of course.

The AMD TrustZone technology explained
Image credits to AMD

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