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Mar 5, 2015

Samsung Galaxy S6 Is World's Most Powerful Smartphone, New Benchmarks Show

Ever since Samsung announced the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge people have been trying to put it against other flagship smartphones and each benchmark anyone thrown at these devices showed off the charts results.

The reason these two smartphones are so good in benchmarks could be the fact that they include new chipset and memory technology. We have already reported about Samsung's Exyno 7420 chipset which is made using 14nm manufacture process. Samsung confirmed the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 wasn't good enough for its Galaxy S6 flagship smartphone and that was most likely related to performance, but also on consumption. The in-house developed has both better performance and lower consumption, so we could say that Samsung took the right decision seeing that Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 has lower results in benchmarks. Could Samsung's Exynos chipset may have been rigged to show higher result in benchmarks? Maybe, but we will only find out when the smartphone goes in the hands of reviewers.

Until then, we can only rely on the information we get from these pre-release units that have been showcased at Mobile World Congress 2015.

Galaxy S6 memory benchmarks show impressive performance
The folks over at PhoneArena have been able to test the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge and the results are not short of impressive. For those who don't know the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge are packed with 3GB LPDDR4 RAM with UFS 2.0 technology, which hasn't been embedded in any other smartphone until now. This seems to make both Galaxy S6 extremely fast at reading and writing information from the smartphone. Transfer speeds are off the charts as well. In fact, AndroBench shows that Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge have the fastest RAM modules by far. It will be interesting to see which smartphone will be able to compete with Samsung's Galaxy S6 in the coming months since most of the hardware inside developed by the South-Korean company in-house.

Samsung Galaxy S6 memory benchmarks
Image credits to PhoneArena

Xiaomi Mi4 LTE Sold with Dodgy Apps Pre-Installed, Rooted

The highly popular Mi4 LTE Android smartphone produced by Xiaomi has been found to be shipped from the factory with serious security risks that range from pre-loaded risky apps to root and a shady flavor of the underlying Android operating system.

The demand for Xiaomi devices has grown lately and the Mi4 LTE smartphone seems to attract a large number of customers. In mid-February, 25,000 units sold out in 15 seconds on India’s online retailer Flipkart.

Apps detected as malware found in default configuration
However, it appears that at least the versions sold in China are filled with enough security problems to make a customer think twice about purchasing it. Following an initial analysis, security researchers at mobile data security company Bluebox discovered that a unit they bought in China came pre-installed with a set of risky apps, some labeled as malware by antivirus solutions. One potentially dangerous app was Yt Service, whose purpose is to integrate an adware service called DarthPusher. An app pushing advertisements would not generally ring the alarm, but Bluebox says that Yt Service created the false impression that it was developed by Google, its developer package being named “com.google.hfapservice.”

“In other words, it tricks users into believing it's a ‘safe’ app vetted by Google,” Bluebox said in a blog post on Thursday. Other shady apps present on the device were PhoneGuardService (com.egame.tonyCore.feicheng), which is detected by some antivirus solutions as a Trojan, and SMSreg, marked as malware in some cases. In total, the researchers say they’ve found six suspicious apps whose behavior is similar to malware, spyware or adware.

Murky version of OS installed
Using Trustable, their mobile security assessment tool, it was discovered that the analyzed Mi4 unit was vulnerable to Masterkey, FakeID, and Towelroot (Linux futex), basically all glitches the utility scans for, except Heartbleed. Apart from this, the device was rooted and USB debugging mode was turned on. Bluebox reported that the “su” application needed a security provider in order to work on the device; but even so, the risk is still present as cybercriminals could leverage one of the vulnerabilities and take advantage of the root to take complete control over the device. During the analysis, the researchers observed that although the reported version of the operating system was Android 4.4.4 (Kitkat), it appeared to include elements from earlier releases.

One example was the USB debugging icon, which was taken from Jelly Bean (Android 4.1-4.3.1). Furthermore, some of the vulnerabilities uncovered were specific to earlier versions of Android and have been fixed in Kitkat. The results of the investigation do not make clear if the OS version used was designed just for testing purposes or it was intended as a consumer release.

Smartphone passes the legitimacy test
Forked Android versions are far from being rare, as a study from ABI Research revealed that in Q4 2014 alone, 40% of all Android shipments were custom variants, which oftentimes come with security risks due to insufficient assessment. Considering these findings, the researchers thought that the phone they got could have actually been a fake, so they put the theory to the test through various methods, including a utility from Xiaomi specifically created for this purpose. The device passed the legitimacy test. Bluebox disclosed its results to Xiaomi but the smartphone manufacturer did not reply, so the report was made public.

Xiaomi Mi4 LTE
Image credits to Xiaomi

Trustable score for the analyzed Mi4 LTE from Xiaomi
Image credits to Bluebox

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