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May 26, 2014

Samsung Testing Android 4.4.3 KitKat for Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S4 LTE-A

Google has already announced Android 4.4.3 KitKat, which is supposed to fix some camera issues found in the mobile platform, but the update has yet to be released.

Well, it looks like a final version of Android 4.4.3 KitKat has been provided to handset makers, as confirmed by an internal document leaked recently via SamMobile. According to this document, Samsung is currently testing Android 4.4.3 KitKat update for Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S4 LTE-A. Unfortunately, there’s no ETA for the release of the update, as Samsung has tagged it with the “integrating” status. This means it might take at least one month until the upgrade may be ready for these two particular smartphones, and that’s if nothing wrong happens during testing.

The bad news is only two smartphones have been confirmed by this internal document to receive the Android 4.4.3 KitKat update, which means those who own other devices will have to wait a lot longer to get it in case Samsung decided to make it available for other models as well. We will keep an eye out for any additional details on the release of Android 4.4.3 KitKat for Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S4, so stay tuned for more updates on the matter.

Samsung internal document
Image credits to SamMobile

MediaTek Will Not Launch Chipsets Supporting Windows Phone Anytime Soon

There has been a lot of talk regarding MediaTek’s alleged adoption of Windows Phone platform in its chipset design, but nothing concrete has emerged yet.

Even though some Chinese vendors have claimed that their Windows Phone handsets will be powered by MediaTek chipsets, and thus will be much cheaper than those equipped with Qualcomm’s SoCs, Microsoft and MediaTek were mum on the matter. In fact, Microsoft announced at some point that for the time being, it only supported Qualcomm reference design chipsets for Windows Phone, so MediaTek’s products are out of the question for the moment. It’s unclear why the Redmond-based company does not wish to co-opt another chipset manufacturer that would be able to produce cheaper SoCs for Windows Phone, but Microsoft might not be the one to blame here. It appears that MediaTek plans to focus a considerable amount of its production on the 4G smartphone market, which is now booming in China.

Digitimes reports that MediaTek is less likely to launch any smartphone chipset platform for Windows Phone this year, as the company is now looking for a way to boost its production of 4G chipsets. The information was provided by sources familiar with the matter, who also claim that MediaTek will try to ramp up its 3G chipsets production for handset makers in China, which are now looking to expand their businesses overseas. The first Windows Phone handsets launched by Chinese OEMs should arrive in the second half of 2014, even though some of these vendors are reluctant to releasing devices powered by Microsoft’s mobile platform due to higher costs than initially estimated.

Even though Microsoft has offered Windows Phone license for free, most Chinese OEMs are not ready to adopt the platform for mass production due to high costs. MediaTek’s chipsets could have reduced these costs considerably if the chipset vendor had decided to jump into the Windows Phone caravan and start producing SoCs for this mobile operating system. Anyway, the good news is that Qualcomm has already launched QRD (Qualcomm Reference Design) smartphones for Windows Phone, so Chinese vendors should start working on their handsets. Given the fact that the information reported by Digitimes hasn’t been confirmed yet, we suggest our readers to take it with a grain of salt until one of the two companies comes forward with an official statement. It’s also worth mentioning that MediaTek can eventually start producing chipsets for Windows Phone beginning next year, so not all is lost for the Chinese handset makers looking for ways to cut costs on manufacturing.

MediaTek logo
Image credits to MediaTek

New Samsung Galaxy Tab S Pic Leaks, Shows Crisp Colors on AMOLED Display

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S unveiling is just around the corner and excitement levels are rising in anticipation of the event.

Samsung’s AMOLED set of tablets have been in the rumor mill for a long time, but were covered in deep layers of mystery. The standout feature here is the display technology which will allow the beautiful rendering of colors. So far, the Galaxy Tab S line-up has been teased in a few photos, but none of them showed what the display was actually capable of. Now a new picture posted by SamMobile, showcasing the 10.5-inch model, gives us a window into how the display differs from the standard LCD counterpart. The colors in the image seem quite crisp but of course, we’ll have to wait until the tablets make it into the wild before correctly assessing their quality. The Galaxy Tab S family is expected to be unveiled on June 12 in New York. The slates will arrive in 10.5-inch and 8.4-inch flavors sporting a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels and will draw life from an octa-core Exynos 5420 CPU with four 1.9GHz Cortex-A15 cores and four 1.3GHz Cortex-A7 cores.

The slates will run Android 4.4 KitKat out the box and come with a finger print scanner housed in the home button just like with Samsung’s latest flagship phone, the Galaxy S5.

New Samsung Galaxy Tab S shows up in new pic
Image credits to SamMobile

Dual-Core Radeon R9 290X Graphics Card from PowerColor Is an Odd Piece of Work

You'd think that with Advanced Micro Devices selling the Radeon R9 295 X2 graphics card, its OEMs would do the same, but PowerColor decided to both follow and not follow in AMD's footsteps.

Which is to say, the OEM has released a dual-GPU Radeon R9 graphics card based on two Hawaii XT graphics processing units, but not actually called Radeon R9 295 X2. Instead, PowerColor settled for the following moniker: PowerColor Radeon R9 Devil 13 Dual Core R9 290X. It's like saying that you have two Radeon R9 290X boards fused together. Nevertheless, it's the same thing as the R9 295 X2 but under a different name. Well, not really. PowerColor seems to have used its own idea for a PCB (printed circuit board) and integrated circuit layout. Also, the core specifications are not the same as those on the R9 295 X2. The GPU frequency is of 1000 MHz instead of 1018 MHz, for one thing. Also, the newcomer has a triple-fan air cooler, instead of the hybrid air+water cooling module that AMD added to the R9 295X2.

On the flip side, the memory arrangement is the same though: 4 GB GDDR5 for each Hawaii XT graphics processing unit, connected via 512-bit interface. So, there are 8 GB of memory at 5 GHz operating over a total bandwidth of 1,024 bits. Add to that the crate-like box that the product ships in and there is more than enough reason to question why PowerColor would give its product a different price at all. We'd be tempted to think it's a misspelling, if PowerColor hadn't used the name Devil 13 Dual Core R9 290X in every single instance in its press release, and on the spec table too.

Anyway, at least the OEM included one of its own inventions: the Turbo Timer, a patent-pending device that keeps the video board cooler active even after the PC has been turned off, for a time. You get to specify the time. This way, the card will cool quickly and last for a longer time, which is good considering that this is a top-tier board you shouldn't need to replace for a decade, or half of it at least. Finally, the triple-fan cooler of the Devil 13 Dual Core R9 290X uses double blades design for the spinner. You can see what we mean in the pictures above and below: the fan blades each have a smaller one extending from them at the base.

PowerColor Devil 13 Dual Core R9 290X
Images credits to PowerColor

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