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Posts tagged ‘KitKat’


Monthly Android Distribution Infographic Shows KitKat on 30% of Devices


It’s a new month, and that means we get a new infographic showing us the Android distribution on those devices out there. As you can see by the numbers, KitKat has climbed to 30% taking the much deserved lead to all the other versions of Android. That percentage will most likely still rise in numbers, even though the next update we will have some of that beautiful Android Lollipop on it. Let us know what version of Android you are currently running on your devices.

Source: Droid-Life

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KitKat now powers over 30% of all Android devices

November Distribution Figures

Google has just published its latest distribution figures for the Android operating system. The numbers were uploaded to the official Developer Dashboard blog and reveal a consistent growth in the amount of users running KitKat (4.4), whilst older versions of the OS continue on their long path towards extinction.

As is the norm, this data was collected by recording which operating systems customers were running when they accessed the Google Play Store over a 7-day period, which ended on Tuesday, November 3, 2014. This consequently gives Google an insight as to which version of Android is running on active devices all around the world. The team at Mountain View then break down this information and condense it into a pie chart for us to comb through.

You’ll immediately notice that Cupcake, Donut, Eclair and Honeycomb are missing from the chart – this doesn’t mean they no longer exist, because they do. In actual fact, they’re absent because the earlier builds of the operating system can no longer access the updated version of the Play Store. However, Google did create a separate post suggesting that “versions older than Android 2.2 accounted for about 1% of the devices that checked in to Google servers.”

As you can see Froyo is almost at the point of being wiped out, holding just 0.6% of the Android market share — down 0.1% from September’s reading. Gingerbread has decreased dramatically, now measuring in at 1.6% under last month’s 11.4%.

The amount of users running Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0.3 – 4.0.4) seems to have reduced slightly, too, with total market distribution dropping down to 8.5%. That’s a 1.1% decrease from last month’s 9.6%. The data also exhibits that the usage of Jelly Bean (4.1.x – 4.3) has also declined, dropping down from 53.8% to 50.9%.

KitKat (4.4) is the only version of the operating system to face an increase this month, with an inflation of a whopping 5.7%, now weighing in at 30.2% of the total market share. Clearly, more people are purchasing Android 4.4-compatible smartphones and tablets, which is great as it means that the operating system can continue to expand, without leaving any users with outdated devices behind.

Do you want to find out more about these latest distribution figures? If so, simply head on over to the Android Developer Dashboard by clicking the source link below.

Source: Android Developer Dashboard

Come comment on this article: KitKat now powers over 30% of all Android devices


Lenovo intros the Android-powered Tablet 2 and Tablet 2 Pro


Lenovo has just announced a few premium tablets to their YOGA lineup. Let’s take a look to see what they’ve just released.

Lenovo YOGA Tablet 2

Tablet 2

The YOGA tablet lineup has long been a frontrunner in unique design, offering a kickstand with the majority of the offerings. The Tablet 2 is no exception, now with a kickstand that can rotate almost 180 degrees for maximum comfort. The big feature here is the new Hang Mode, which basically means it can be positioned anywhere comfortably. The Tablet 2 also offers two big front-facing Dolby Audio speakers, a 1080p display, and an Intel Atom quad core processor.

The YOGA Tablet 2 comes in two different sizes: 8 or 10 inches. Both tablets also have an 8MP rear-facing camera, 1.6MP front-facing camera, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB on board storage, with MicroSD card support for up to 64GB. Check out the full list of specs below.

Processor: Intel® AtomTM Processor Z3745 (2M cache, 4 cores, up to 1.86 GHz)

Operating System: Android 4.4 KitKat

Display/Resolution: 8-in or 10.1-in Full HD (1920×1200) IPS display with 10-point multitouch & 178o wide viewing angle

Color: Platinum Silver

Memory: 2GB LP-DDR3 memory

Storage: 16GB, Supporting Micro SD card up to 64 GB

Audio: 2x front large-chamber speakers, Dolby® Audio, Wolfson® Master Hi-Fi

Ports: Micro USB (OTG), 3.5 mm audio jack, Micro SD card

Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Dual-Band Wi-Fi (2.4 and 5 GHz) , Optional 4G (in select countries, not US): WCDMA (900/2100 MHz)1, GSM/EDGE (900/1800/1900 MHz)1, Integrated Bluetooth® 4.02

Camera: 8MP f2.2 rear camera with Auto-focus, 1.6M HD front camera

Battery: Extended battery life with up to 18 hours on a single charge

Weight: 8-in model: 0.92 lbs (419 g), 10-in model: 1.36 lbs (619 g)

Dimensions: 8-in model: 8.3 in x 5.9 x (.1 – .3) in [210 mm x 149 mm x (2.7 – 7.0) mm], 10-in model: 10.0 in x 7.2 in x (.1 -.3) in inches [ 255 mm x 183 mm x (3.0-7.2) mm] 

Lenovo YOGA Tablet 2 Pro


The YOGA Tablet 2 Pro aims to give users a unique home theater experience. It offers a 13.3-inch Quad HD screen, along with a built-in projector to create a 50-inch home theater experience on any wall. The Tablet 2 Pro also has the same kickstand as the Tablet 2 offerings, able to rotate almost 180 degrees. These new kickstands aim to give users more options while using it. The included “modes” that are possible are Hold, Stand, Tilt, or Hang.

The Tablet 2 Pro has an 8MP rear-facing camera, 1.6MP front-facing camera, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of on-board storage, with MicroSD card support for up to 64GB. Let’s take a look at the official spec list:

Processor: Intel® AtomTM Processor Z3745 (2M cache, 4 cores, up to 1.86 GHz)

Operating System: Android v4.4 KitKat

Display/Resolution: 13.3-in Quad HD (2560×1440) IPS display

Color: Platinum Silver

Memory: 2GB LPDDR3

Storage: 32GB, Supporting Micro SD card up to 64GB

Audio: 2x front large-chamber speakers with 1.5W output each, plus a 5W rear JBL®subwoofer for a total 8W surround system. Dolby® Audio, Wolfson® Master Hi-Fi

Ports: Micro USB (OTG), 3.5 mm audio jack, Micro SD card

Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Dual-Band Wi-Fi (2.4 and 5 GHz) , Optional 4G1 (in select countries, not US): WCDMA (900/2100

Camera: 8MP f2.2 rear camera with Auto-focus, 1.6M HD front camera

Projector: 40-50 Lumen Pico Projector with WVGA (854×480) Resolution

Battery: Extended battery life with up to 15 hours on a single charge

Weight: 2.09 lbs (950 g)

Dimensions: 13.1 in x 8.8 in x 0.1-0.5 in (333 mm x 223 mm x 3.7-12.6 mm)

Check out more coverage on the Lenovo YOGA Tablet lineup in the future here at AndroidGuys!

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KitKat rollouts begin for the Sony Xperia M2 and M2 Dual

Ten days ago Sony announced that an Android 4.4, KitKat, update was available fro the Sony Xperia E1 and E1 dual. Pending location and carrier pushes, of course. At the end of that announcement they said that KitKat was on the way for the Sony Xperia M2 and Xperia M2 dual next. While they were all slated for a July release, a month late ins’t all that terrible.

Sony Xperia M2 Android 4.4

The changelog for what the update will bring looks pretty good, and very similar to previous Sony device updates.

  • Google’s Android 4.4; KitKat as standard – bringing performance & UI optimisation…
  • We’ve added our tweaked Status Bar and Quick Settings… now more intuitive and customisable (and pretty easy on the eye)… cleaned up to ensure you only get the notifications you really need
  • If you’ve got a Sony PlayStation 4, you might recognize our new user interface – we’ve added the same sleek launch animation and live wallpaper across the lock and home screens
  • Better storage choice – you now have the option to easily move applications from internal memory to SD card – we recognised the need to have more control over your content… as something particularly useful for devices with slightly less space
  • We’re also uplifting Sony’s entire native app portfolio to the latest versions – bringing tweaked / improved / current experiences for (to name but a few): Messaging, Smart Connect, TrackID, What’s New, and Battery STAMINA Mode, Sony’s Media apps: WALKMAN, Album and Movies
  • And proving pretty popular, now totalling over 2 million downloads (!) – our unique custom interface experience: “Xperia Themes”, with downloadable UI packs from Sony Select – skin up to 280 assets across your Xperia smartphone with a variety of styles…
  • Compatibility with our SmartWear Experience; SmartBand SWR10 and Lifelog app – enabling you to record social, physical and entertainment activities and have them all visualised in a beautiful interface… reminisce at that past, make the best of the present and plan for the future

As with any update like this, specific market timing and availability will be released independently. Unlike the previous announcement, Sony didn’t toss out any device names that are next up. If you happen to own a Xperia M2 or M2 Dual, eel free to check for the update on your device and/or through the Sony Companion app. Let us know if you see it and where you are located.

Source: Sony Blog

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KitKat is now running on more than 20 percent of Android devices


In case there was any doubt that KitKat now has a solid foothold in the Android world, Google just offered some proof. Its usage data for early August shows that KitKat is on more than a fifth of active Android devices, at 20.9 percent. That’s a healthy improvement over July (17.9 percent), and a big leap over the 14.9 percent we saw in June. The folks in Mountain View aren’t explaining the steady growth, but it’s easy to figure out what’s going on — big-name devices like the LG G3 and Samsung Galaxy Tab S are bringing this latest OS flavor to a wider audience, and many older gadgets are still getting upgrades.

To no one’s surprise, that surge is coming at the expense of older releases. Every pre-KitKat version has declined, and Ice Cream Sandwich is only just floating above the 10 percent mark; at its current rate, it’s going to (finally) reach the single digits very soon. Whether or not KitKat ever reaches the majority is another matter. Android L is just a few months away, and it’s a big enough update that its predecessor might not grow quickly for much longer.

Android version share, August 2014

Filed under: Cellphones, Tablets, Mobile, Google


Via: Droid-Life

Source: Android Developers

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KitKat update rolling out for Sony Xperia E1 and E1 Dual

Sony has been working pretty hard to get their devices updated to Android 4.4 KitKat over the last several months. While the stateside devices have been lacking in updates, the rest of the worlds variants are moving right along. Today the Sony blog has alerted users of the Sony Xperia E1 and the E1 Dual that the KitKat update is ready for your downloading pleasure. Yes, a little later than expected, but it is official at least.

Sony Xperia E1 KitKat

  • Google’s Android 4.4; KitKat as standard – bringing performance & UI optimisation…
  • We’ve added our tweaked Status Bar and Quick Settings… now more intuitive and customisable (and pretty easy on the eye)… cleaned up to ensure you only get the notifications you really need
  • If you’ve got a Sony PlayStation 4, you might recognize our new user interface – we’ve added the same sleek launch animation and livewallpaper across the lock and home screens
  • Better storage choice – you now have the option to easily move applications from internal memory to SD card – we recognised the need to have more control over your content… as something particularly useful for devices with slightly less space
  • We’re also uplifting Sony’s entire native app portfolio to the latest versions – bringing tweaked / improved / current experiences for (to name but a few): Messaging, Smart Connect, TrackID, Sony Select, and Battery STAMINA Mode, Sony’s Media apps: WALKMAN, Album and Movies
  • And proving pretty popular, now totaling over 2 million downloads (!) – our unique custom interface experience: “Xperia Themes”, with downloadable UI packs from Sony Select – skin up to 280 assets across your Xperia smartphone with a variety of styles…

As with all updates though, your region and carrier could put a slowmo process on the update offering. I assume that the update will be handled via the Sony PC Companion as well as via a traditional OTA. However, I have noticed some devices will only be updated via the Sony PC Companion. You may want to hook your device up to your PC and see if you have an update waiting for there.

Next on the docket of devices to get some KitKat treatment from Sony is the Xperia M2 and M2 Dual. So rest assured if you own one of those devices that you will see something soon.

Source: Sony Blog

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Kogan’s latest phone one-ups the Moto G LTE with a bigger screen

Kogan Agora 4G

The Moto G LTE offers a lot of smartphone for the money, but Kogan reckons that’s not quite enough value for your hard-earned cash — the Aussie outfit just brought its latest smartphone, the Agora 4G, to the US and UK. Pay the same $219 (£149) you would for Motorola’s device and you’ll get a larger 5-inch screen, an 8-megapixel rear camera and a beefier 2,500mAh battery on top of speedy LTE data (on AT&T) and a quad-core Snapdragon processor. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Well, we’d be a little cautious before diving in. It’s a big step up from the Agora HD we tried this spring with both a faster processor and that all-important 4G internet access, but it’s otherwise a familiar design — we’d expect the HD’s so-so camera performance and quirky software to carry over. If the Moto G LTE is a little too compact for your liking, though, the Agora 4G is likely to be on your short list of alternatives.

Filed under: Cellphones, Mobile


Source: Kogan

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ASUS MeMO Pad 7 and 8 review: small, speedy tablets that cut a few corners

ASUS MeMO Pad 7 and 8

The MeMO Pad HD 7 was arguably the sleeper hit among small tablets in 2013. ASUS’ device didn’t have the speed of the Nexus 7 or the interface tricks of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 3 line, but it was superbly balanced. It ran smoothly, packed smart software and (most importantly) carried a sub-$200 price. For that reason, this year’s MeMO Pad 7 and 8 are potentially exciting; they stick to that familiar formula while bringing in faster processors and a fresher interface. What’s not to like? As you’ll find out in our review, there are a few aspects that definitely need improvement, or even take steps backward — but it’s also clear that ASUS has budget-tablet design down to a science.



The strongest evidence of ASUS’ if-it-ain’t-broken philosophy manifests on the outside. If you’ve used either the MeMO Pad HD 7 or HD 8, the basic layouts of their MeMO Pad 7 and 8 sequels will be very recognizable. And that’s mostly a good thing. They’re easy to hold, with rounded edges and side buttons that you’re unlikely to hit by accident. You’ll find micro-USB and headphone ports on the top, the power and volume controls on the right and a microSDXC storage slot on the left. There’s little on the front besides the company logo and the front-facing camera (0.3 megapixel on the Pad 7, two megapixels on the Pad 8). On the back, you’ll spot a rear camera above (two and five megapixels, respectively), and stereo speakers below.

That’s not to say that ASUS is simply recycling its hardware. Both of the new entries are a tad thinner and lighter than their predecessors. The 7-inch MeMO Pad 7 is the featherweight of the bunch, at 0.65 pound and 0.37 inch thick; its 8-inch counterpart is unsurprisingly heavier, at 0.7 pound, but it’s also slimmer at 0.3 inch. The designs are narrower than last year’s models too (4.4 and 4.9 inches, respectively), so they’re ever so slightly easier to grab with one hand. I was happy to use either for significant stretches of time without propping them up on my lap; these are fine devices for reading on the couch or playing games that demand a two-handed grip.


That conservative design approach does mean the MeMO Pads inherit a few flaws. Those buttons may prevent unintended presses, but they’re also harder to activate on purpose. Since you can’t see them most of the time or quickly identify them by feel, it’s all too easy to accidentally lower the volume when you meant to put the device to sleep, or vice versa. The matte finishes also have their quirks. The 7-inch slate’s smooth backing tends to stay relatively pristine (at least in a red hue), but it’s a bit slippery; the textured 8-inch model is more stable in my hands, but it picks up lint like nobody’s business. The MeMO Pad 8′s new camera layout also doesn’t do anyone any favors. ASUS has moved the camera from near the center to the corner, making it a little too trivial to block the lens when you’re shooting. The Pad 7′s rear shooter is in the same position as on the HD 7, though, so you won’t easily smudge its glass.

Not much has changed on the inside apart from the processor, although that’s not shocking given that the Pad 7 and 8 cost just $150 and $200 respectively. In US models, you’ll still see 16GB of built-in storage (11.1GB free), 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0. Sadly, there’s no HDMI output, so you’ll have to lean on Miracast streaming to send video to a TV. ASUS does have an ace in the hole with its built-in GPS and GLONASS positioning, however. You can use any of these devices for navigation so long as you have offline maps; many rivals, including iPads, can’t do that unless you buy their cellular-equipped variants.

Display and sound

ASUS MeMO Pad 8 display

Although the MeMO Pad 7 and 8 are separated by an inch in screen size, you get the same basic display technology: a 1,280 x 800, IPS-based LCD. Neither tablet’s screen is especially sharp (the Nexus 7 and Dell’s Venue 8 have much crisper-looking 1,920 x 1,200 panels), but they’re reasonably attractive for the price you’re paying. Both deliver rich colors that aren’t overdone, and you only really lose brightness when you look at them from sharp angles. There are a few practical differences beyond the raw surface area, mind you. The Pad 8′s display is a bit brighter, at a high 400 nits versus 330. Either model is easily visible indoors, but you’ll definitely want the larger slab if you venture outside. I also noticed that the Pad 8 had a warmer, slightly yellowish color cast out of the box, although ASUS’ Splendid screen utility makes it easy to dial that out.

Really, it all comes down to dimensions. Just how much screen real estate do you need? Having held the two MeMO Pads side by side, I can safely say that you’ll want the 8-inch version if you can at all swing the extra cash. It’s much easier on my eyes for long gaming and reading sessions, and it gives me more overall breathing room than I get with the cramped 7-incher. The lower pixel density isn’t a problem at normal viewing distances, in my experience. The tinier hardware will do if you don’t have the money or free space for the bigger hardware, but it’s tougher to justify in an era when many smartphones aren’t that much smaller.

There’s a similar split when it comes to sound quality. While the MeMO Pad 7′s stereo speakers are clear-sounding, they’re a bit quiet and lack even the vaguest hint of bass. The Pad 8 isn’t an audio powerhouse, but it produces louder, fuller output that’s just good enough to make me forego my headphones. With that said, the stereo separation on both tablets is virtually nonexistent. I’d really like to see ASUS put the speakers on opposite ends, like it does with the larger Transformer Pad TF103C.


ASUS MeMO Pad 7 ZenUI up close

If you’ve read our review of the new Transformer Pad, you’ll know what to expect software-wise. The two MeMO Pads are running the same ZenUI interface, which spruces up Android 4.4.2 KitKat with a trendy “flat” look and a handful of customizations. ASUS strikes a careful balance between adding its own flourishes and leaving Android’s better features alone. You’ll get quick settings, some well-done media galleries and app drawer sorting, but multitasking and most other Google-made elements remain intact. Yes, that means you’ll miss out on multi-window support and other perks from heavier Android skins, like what you get on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 4 line. Still, it’s hard to object to ZenUI’s more restrained approach — it’s simple, colorful and responsive.

There isn’t an avalanche of preloaded software, either. ASUS’ own titles are dominated by simple utilities like the previously mentioned Splendid display tool, What’s Next (a simplified calendar view) and Do It Later (a to-do list). The more substantial apps are a mixed bag. SuperNote is great for scribbling and typing notes, but I just couldn’t find a use for Story’s diary-keeping abilities. The third-party app selection, meanwhile, is small, yet smart. Flipboard and Kindle are practically must-haves for reading, and I can see some subscribing to either eMusic’s song-download service or some of Zinio’s magazines.

Performance and battery life

ASUS MeMO Pad 7 and 8 ** Nexus 7 (2013) Samsung Galaxy Tab S *** Amazon Kindle Fire HDX (7-inch)
Quadrant 2.0 19,495 6,133 18,591 19,655
Vellamo 2.0 1,933 1,597 1,672 N/A
SunSpider 1.0.2 (ms)* 607 602 1,109 554
3DMark IS Unlimited 14,171 N/A 12,431 N/A
GFXBench 3.0 Manhattan Offscreen (fps) 7.5 N/A 5.5 N/A
CF-Bench 22,284 15,366 31,695 N/A

*SunSpider: Lower scores are better.

**Average score for the 7- and 8-inch models.

***Average score for the 8.4- and 10.5-inch models.

Don’t expect to see a performance gap between the two MeMO Pads… or the TF103C, for that matter. They’re all using the same quad-core, 1.33GHz Atom Z3745 processor with 1GB of RAM, which means the benchmark scores are virtually interchangeable. Not that there’s much room to complain. As you can see above, either of the entry-level tablets can match or beat more expensive challengers. It’s not shocking that they can outpace ASUS’ own Nexus 7, a year-old device using an even older processor. However, they also fare well against Amazon’s speedy Kindle Fire HDX, and even the premium Galaxy Tab S 8.4 — not too shabby when you’re paying up to $250 less.

The numbers translate well to the real world. The Atom chip doesn’t break a sweat while navigating through the interface, and it’s equally adept at both web browsing and intensive 3D games like Real Racing 3. As I touched on with the Transformer Pad, the low resolution goes some way toward easing the workload. You don’t need a rocket to power a paper airplane, after all. However, the offscreen graphics tests suggest that neither MeMO Pad would have much trouble handling 1080p. It’s just a shame that the displays can’t match the might of what’s under the hood.

ASUS MeMO Pad 8 surfing the web

More memory would be nice, too. Although the devices didn’t get bogged down as I juggled different apps, it’s evident that 1GB of RAM isn’t quite enough for very demanding apps. One benchmark I ran would randomly spit “out of memory” errors, even after rebooting to give it as many resources as possible. You might never encounter these problems yourself, but I’m concerned that the MeMO Pads could choke on software a year or two down the road.

I don’t have similar reservations about the battery life. Where the Transformer Pad TF103C’s runtime was disappointing for its size class, both the MeMO Pad 7 and 8 are at least on par for their price tier, if not a bit above average. ASUS claims that both of them should last for nine hours when looping a 720p video at a low 100-nit brightness, but that’s fairly conservative. In my testing, which upped the brightness to the halfway mark and threw in periodic updates from Facebook and Twitter, both gadgets were still within the ballpark of that official estimate. The 7-inch unit managed a respectable eight hours and 36 minutes before shutting down, or enough to trump the current Nexus 7 and multiple older Samsung tablets. Meanwhile, the 8-inch model lasted for nine hours and 21 minutes, putting it ahead of both the TF103C and Sony’s Xperia Z Tablet series. Neither result holds a candle to the longevity of the Galaxy Tab S, ASUS HD 7 or most iPads, but they’re more than acceptable given the blend of raw power and discount pricing.

Tablet Battery Life
ASUS MeMO Pad 8 9:21
ASUS MeMO Pad 7 8:36
Microsoft Surface 2 14:22
iPad Air 13:45 (LTE)
Apple iPad mini 12:43 (WiFi)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S (10-inch) 12:30
Samsung Galaxy Tab S (8-inch) 12:22
Apple iPad mini with Retina display 11:55 (LTE)
Apple iPad (late 2012) 11:08 (WiFi)
ASUS Transformer Book T100 10:40
Apple iPad 2 10:26
Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 10:04
ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 9:56
Apple iPad (2012) 9:52 (HSPA) / 9:37 (LTE)
Acer Iconia W4 9:50
Nexus 7 (2012) 9:49
Microsoft Surface RT 9:36
Toshiba Encore 8:45
Sony Xperia Tablet Z 8:40
ASUS Transformer Pad TF103C 8:26
Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet 7:57
Nexus 10 7:26
Dell Venue 8 Pro 7:19
Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 7:18
Nexus 7 (2013) 7:15
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 7:13
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 6:55

And in real life, the battery is healthy enough that you likely won’t notice the difference. I can get through a day of moderate browsing, social networking and photography even on the MeMO Pad 7, and I had less to worry about with the Pad 8. Heavy-duty gaming chews up a lot of that precious energy, although you can counter that by invoking a special energy-saving mode that cuts internet access when the tablets aren’t in use. It’s a last-ditch measure, to be sure, but it might save your hide if you need a working device at the end of a daylong trip.


ASUS MeMO Pad 8 camera sample

Here’s where ASUS seemingly backtracks on its earlier successes. I lauded the MeMO Pad HD 7 for having solid cameras, but you’re not guaranteed a similar experience with its 2014 follow-ups; to achieve what I saw in the HD 7, you’ll have to spring for the costlier MeMO Pad 8. Its 5-megapixel autofocusing rear camera is nothing special with noisy low-light shots, blown-out highlights and processing that tends to erase finer details, but it generally produces accurate colors and can take reasonably well-exposed photos in dim indoor environments. The front 2-megapixel sensor is similarly unremarkable, but it’s good enough for an HD-quality video call or selfie. Whichever camera you use, there’s a fairly sophisticated set of filters and manual camera settings, so you can add an effect or tweak the white balance if an image isn’t quite to your liking.

It’s the MeMO Pad 7 that you have to watch out for. ASUS has dropped the HD 7′s 5-megapixel back camera in favor of a 2-megapixel, fixed-focus shooter, much like that in the TF103C. Predictably, the downgraded equipment is terrible — you can’t get close to many subjects without losing focus; colors are slightly off; and shots in anything less than good lighting generate an abundance of noise. Both this and the equally lackluster 0.3-megapixel front camera are serviceable if you only need to capture a chalkboard or join a Hangouts chat, but they’re unfortunate regressions on a tablet that’s otherwise a big leap forward.

The competition

ASUS MeMO Pad 7 showing its competition

Just what represents competition will depend heavily on whether you’re considering a MeMO Pad 7 or 8. The smaller slab may be the easiest choice. Poor cameras notwithstanding, the Pad 7 outmuscles much of what you’ll find around its $150 sticker. Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD, Barnes & Noble’s Nook HD, LG’s G Pad 7.0 and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 4 7.0 are slower and carry less storage. The Kindle and Nook don’t even have any cameras to speak of, while LG and Samsung don’t offer much more photographic prowess than ASUS. HP’s Tegra 4-packing, $200 Slate 7 Extreme is no real threat either. The biggest danger may come from Dell’s Venue 7, which offers noticeably higher-resolution cameras (if also a slightly pokier Atom chip) for $10 more. Neither the Kindle Fire HDX nor the Nexus 7 justify their premiums as much as they did roughly a year ago — $80 more gets you an exceptional screen and perks like the Nexus’ wireless charging, but they’re not faster.

Move up to eight inches and it gets trickier. Frankly, the Venue 8 may be a better buy than the MeMO Pad 8 if you’re interested in getting the best hardware possible for $200. It’s using a dual-core Atom, but it has a far nicer 1,920 x 1,200 LCD for a similar hit to your wallet. You will get more for your moolah than other tablets can typically muster, though. The G Pad 8.0 isn’t available in the US yet, and the $270 Galaxy Tab 4 8.0 is both more expensive and comparatively sluggish. If you’re open to trying Windows, keep your eye on the Venue 8 Pro; Amazon affiliates frequently sell it for as little as $200, and it may be worth giving up some battery life in the name of a desktop-class operating system or (optional) pen input.


ASUS MeMO Pad 7 and 8 en repose

Of the two MeMO Pads, I’d choose the 8-inch model without hesitation, as it’s simply a better bargain. Spending $50 more nets you better cameras, longer battery life and that all-important larger display. The 7-inch system offers superb speed for a $150 tablet, but it’s somewhat hobbled by the downgraded cameras. I’d make the sacrifice, as I rarely snap photos with any tablet, but it isn’t as well-rounded as last year’s MeMO Pad HD 7.

It’s a harder call when pitting ASUS against its opponents. While it should be clear by now that the MeMO Pads can take on most any task you’d expect from a mobile tablet, they’re not the best at everything; you can find nicer screens and cameras without much difficulty, especially if you’re willing to go beyond the $200 mark. I don’t think that specs alone tell the whole story, though. ASUS makes a good case for custom Android interfaces. ZenUI is more helpful than the largely stock Android implementation on the Dell Venue 7 or 8, yet it never gets in your way. I can comfortably recommend both the MeMO Pad 7 and 8, but you do have to be aware of what you’re giving up — these aren’t so much sleeper hits as they are wisely calculated trade-offs.

Filed under: Tablets, Mobile, ASUS


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HTC Desire 816 review: A mid-range M8 let down by sluggish cameras

HTC may have some problems behind closed doors, but outside, it’s still widely regarded as one of the world’s top phone makers. We already gave this year’s One M8 flagship a rather jolly review, and now it’s time to see if the same qualities are preserved in its mid-range counterpart, the Desire 816. Indeed, back at Mobile World Congress, HTC called this $390 LTE phablet the “flagship mid-range” to emphasize its competitiveness. But has it lived up to its name? Or is it too little, too late in a world full of affordable options? Let’s find out.


Where the One M8 features a nicely curved metal body, the Desire 816 takes the form of a flat plastic slab with rounded corners. What’s more, unlike the One X and the more recent E8, there’s no fancy plastic unibody construction on the Desire 816, which allows it to flex ever so slightly. Then there’s the size. At 156.6mm tall and 78.7mm wide, this gigantic phone certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for HTC, it’s a much-needed weapon to suit the Asian market’s peculiar tastes. On a more positive note, the combination of the width and the matte finish allows for a sturdy single-hand grip. Even so, with that 5.5-inch display, you’ll definitely need your other hand for tapping and typing.

With the metallic power and volume buttons placed on the left, your left hand will quickly become the default choice for holding the phone, which I’m fine with. What I do find annoying is that the buttons rattle slightly when the phone is shaken, and it’s the same story with the volume keys on the M8. The other side of the phone is occupied by a long flap door, which reveals the nano-SIM slot (or slots, if it’s the dual-SIM 3G version) and the microSD reader, which supports cards as large as 128GB. Isn’t it great when you can swap out SIMs and memory cards without having to use a pin?

As with most recent HTC phones, the Desire 816 features front-facing stereo loudspeakers, each of which has its own amplifier to boost the volume — thankfully not to the point of distortion. Of course, you shouldn’t expect these speakers to replace your traditional ones, but having them facing toward you provides a better multimedia experience — complemented, of course, by that massive, high-quality IPS screen.

Unlike the matte front face and bezel, the back is coated in a glossy finish that helps highlight the curved edges and — though it was certainly unintentional — the plastic panel’s unevenness. As you’d expect, the gloss has a tendency to attract hand grease and scratches, but you can always slap on a case to solve that problem; and it still wouldn’t be too bulky, given the phone’s reasonable 7.9mm thickness and 165g weight.

For a while, I actually forgot that I was using a mid-range phone instead of a flagship.

There’s nothing really surprising about the internals: They’re perfectly adequate for general tasks. Having used the Desire 816 as my main phone for weeks, I can safely say that the 1.6GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 SoC and 1.5GB of RAM let me browse the internet, watch videos and look at photos without many hiccups. Oh, and the LTE speed comes in handy as well. For a while, I actually forgot that I was using a mid-range phone instead of a flagship, and the generally smooth performance, plus the great multimedia experience, played a big part in this, despite the LCD’s relatively lower pixel density of 267 ppi. And even that I eventually got used to.

There were a few things I did miss. First of all, my UK edition Desire 816 lacks an NFC radio, meaning I couldn’t enjoy the convenience of sharing content using Android Beam, in which you place two NFC-enabled Android phones back to back, and then tap the content on the host device to initiate the direct data transfer. The lucky folks in Asia can get a Desire 816 with NFC, but only if it’s the LTE version.

My other gripe is HTC’s removal of the physical Android keys. Yes, I know, it’s been like this since the M8 (which I’m still a fan of), but I’m going to say this again: Why make me tap the screen twice — once to make the virtual keys appear, and again to pick the key — when I could just tap once? And no, forcing the virtual keys to remain on screen would be a waste of pixels. The right thing for HTC to do is to take a page out of OnePlus’ book: Let the user toggle between virtual and physical keys (though I insist the latter makes more sense). Help me, Peter Chou; you’re my only hope.

Last, but not least: I miss my speedy cameras. That’s right, while on paper the 13MP/5MP shooters sound generous, they’re simply not for the impatient. More on that later, though.

HTC Desire 816
Price £299.99; about $390 on Amazon
Dimensions 156.6 x 78.7 x 7.9 mm (6.17 x 3.1 x 0.31 in.)
Weight 165 g (5.82 oz)
Screen size 5.5 inches
Screen resolution 1,280 x 720 (267 ppi)
Screen type IPS LCD
Battery 2,600mAh
Internal storage 8GB
External storage microSD up to 128GB
Rear camera 13MP, BSI sensor, f/2.2, 28mm lens
Front-facing cam 5MP, BSI sensor
Video capture 1080p
NFC Depends on region
Radios 2G: (850/900/1800/1900)
3G: (850/900/2100) with HSPA+ up to 42 Mbps
LTE (EMEA): (800/900/1800/2600)
LTE (Asia): (900/1800/2100/2600) (700 MHz for Taiwan, Australia)
Bluetooth v4.0 with aptX
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
CPU 1.6GHz quad-core
GPU Adreno 305
Multimedia DLNA
WiFi 802.11b/g/n
Wireless Charging N/A
Operating system Android 4.4.2 (Sense 6.0)


Much like HTC’s other recent devices, the Desire 816 comes with the company’s Sense 6.0 UI, which is built on top of Android 4.4.2. You’ll find a thorough walkthrough of the software in our M8 review, but in summary, I find this to be an intuitive custom skin that also happens to be stylish. Sense UI has come a long way since the Windows Mobile days (we made a nice gallery covering its evolution), and version 6.0 is easily its best iteration — with much to offer.

Before we recap the phone’s various software features, I want to bring up a few handy setup tools that are often overlooked. For those migrating from an iPhone, you can use HTC’s Sync Manager desktop app to transfer your contacts, calendar, messages, photos, iTunes playlists, wallpaper, bookmarks and even apps to your new HTC phone, provided you have an iPhone backup file (generated by syncing with iTunes) on your computer. It’s even easier if you’re switching from another Android device: Just install the HTC Transfer Tool app, launch it on both devices and you’ll be able to transfer pretty much everything to your HTC phone, multimedia files included. If your old phone doesn’t use either OS, then you can try Bluetooth, but there’s no guarantee given the messy nature of Bluetooth on older devices.

Afterward, you can use the HTC Get Started tool to wirelessly set up your phone’s BlinkFeed news feeds, apps, sounds, bookmarks and wallpaper from the comfort of your computer screen, as pictured above.

Screenshots taken from an HTC Desire 816.

Most of the M8′s essential software features are present here, including the BlinkFeed content aggregator on the leftmost home screen (you can disable this, but I personally use it every day), the integrated Video Highlights editing tool (with slick effects and soundtracks), the photo-editing tools, the bundled music player’s cool visualizer plus lyrics viewer, the self-explanatory Kid Mode and UI color themes. It’s definitely still a fun system to play with, and it shouldn’t intimidate the less technically minded, either.

Due to the lack of processing power and certain sensors, among other reasons, the Desire 816 misses out on Motion Launch, Fitbit integration, the Dot View case and some camera features (more on that in a moment). I can understand the technical limitations for those features, but not letting us set different wallpapers for the lock screen and the home screen is certainly a weird one (same goes for the One mini 2). Having said that, I’ve been pleased with how smooth and stable the system’s been running. You’d only notice the slower speed if you’re also coming from a recent flagship device — namely, those powered by a Snapdragon 800 or 801 chip.


I’ve generally been quite content with the Desire 816, but its cameras can be real nuisances. Don’t get me wrong: The 13-megapixel, f/2.2 main camera and the 5-megapixel front-facer deliver great detail. For both stills and videos, the main shooter does a decent job in well-lit indoor scenarios, but it has a tendency to underexpose when used in bright outdoor environments, and the dark spots are even darker as a result. It’s worth noting, though, that you should be able to fix that somewhat by manually choosing a different focal point. Normally I’d try HDR as well for taking stills in this kind of situation, but on my Desire 816, it was often more of a gamble with the vibrance you’d end up getting. In my outdoor comparison HDR shots, the Desire 816 did an obviously dull job, whereas the M8 yielded a faithful reproduction, and the OnePlus One only had a slightly green bias. At night, some HDR shots taken with the Desire 816 appeared washed out.

The cameras’ focusing or shutter response can be hilariously sluggish.

But HDR isn’t the biggest problem on the Desire 816. What annoys me the most is the cameras’ temperamental behavior: Their focusing or shutter response can be hilariously sluggish, to the point that it makes me wonder if there’s a bug. Either that or the phone really has a bad attitude (which means we’re one step closer to being overruled by artificial intelligence). On top of that, the shutter speed can be laggy even in slightly dimmer environments, so you might end up having to make multiple attempts, thus prolonging your suffering, before you eventually feel the urge to throw the phone across the room.

Selfie comparison with the HTC Desire 816, One Mini 2 and One (M8).

Funnily enough, both my colleague Jamie and I saw the same issue on the One mini 2, which has the same camera and produces similar images. It appears that HTC simply took away that fancy ImageChip 2 — the speedy image signal processor used by the M8, the M7 and even the original One mini. Worse yet, the front-facing cameras are inconsistent across different HTC models. At night, my selfies taken with the One mini 2 appeared much redder than their counterparts from the Desire 816 and the M8. On the flip side, during the daytime, the same phone managed to produce the most accurate selfies among the three, with the Desire 816 taking a slightly cooler tone, and the M8 pushing the contrast up a bit too much. Never mind that the M8 still beats them all with its wide-angle lens; I’m still baffled by how HTC could let the image quality vary so much across its phone lineup.

In terms of tools, all the basics are there: You get the same set of scenes (Night, HDR, Sweep panorama, Anti-shake, Portrait, Landscape, Macro and more) except for the M8′s Manual mode. All the fun filters are present, along with ISO settings, exposure compensation, aspect ratios and 10 levels of skin beautification. Sadly, you don’t get dual-capture or spherical-panorama modes, though the latter is probably for the best — it would be too painful to use with the Desire 816′s sluggish main camera. In short: You might want to look into other options if you’re used to a speedy camera.

Performance and battery life

HTC Desire 816 HTC One mini 2 Sony Xperia T3 OnePlus One
Quadrant 2.0 13,172 10,141 10,495 25,306
Vellamo 2.0 2,421 2,124 1,875 2,821
3DMark IS Unlimited 4,830 4,695 4,766 19,474
SunSpider 1.0.2 (ms) 1,137.4 1,559.7 1,324.4 831.9
GFXBench 3.0 Manhattan Offscreen(fps) 1.7 1.7 1.8 11.9
CF-Bench 19,593 15,064 18,149 36,218

SunSpider: Lower scores are better; results compiled on Chrome.

As I mentioned earlier, HTC’s done a good job keeping the Desire 816 running smoothly most of the time (with the exception of that poky camera). Thanks to a 1.6GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 chip and 1.5GB of RAM under the hood, the phone has no problem handling basic tasks, as I’ve confirmed with my few weeks of usage, and the benchmarks above agree as well. Of course, the Desire 816 is no 3D beast, but like the One mini 2, it still runs Asphalt 8: Airborne and Real Racing 3 smoothly even on the highest graphics settings. I should also add that those front-facing stereo speakers make for a great gaming experience.

The advantage of mid-range processors is that they sip much less power than their flagship counterparts, and this is certainly the case with the Desire 816. While 2,600mAh may seem like a small cell for such a big phone, it often lasts the entire day with at least 20 percent of juice remaining, and that’s with LTE radio connected most of the time to fuel my social networking and BlinkFeed addiction, as well as the occasional YouTube or Bluetooth music-streaming session. This gives me some leeway for using the phone as a WiFi hotspot. For the sake of benchmarking, I ran our standard battery-rundown test (video looping with WiFi enabled, and screen brightness set to 50 percent) and managed to squeeze out nine hours and 39 minutes of life. Not bad at all.

The competition

There are actually very few 5-plus-inch LTE phablets in this price tier, and they might not even be available in your area. For those residing in parts of Europe and Asia, the first one that comes to mind is Sony’s similarly priced Xperia T3 (pictured above). It’s slimmer and lighter, at 7mm thick and 148g, and it has similar specs as the Desire 816, except most are downsized a little: There’s a slightly smaller 5.3-inch IPS screen with the same 720p resolution. It’s also powered by a Snapdragon 400 chip, but clocked at 1.4GHz, not 1.6GHz. Then again, that might make up for the smaller 2,500mAh battery. The cameras are the ones that really let this Sony device down: On paper, the 8MP/1.1MP combo instantly loses appeal when compared to the Desire 816′s 13MP/5MP counterparts; plus based on our quick comparison, the Xperia T3′s cameras suffer from a lot of compression, noise and even slower capture speeds, albeit sometimes producing more vibrant colors. No thanks.

Another similarly priced and specced device is Samsung’s 5.25-inch Galaxy Grand 2. Don’t be mistaken: Instead of the original specs from November, I’m referring to the upgraded variant with a 720p screen instead of a WVGA one, and it also packs an LTE radio this time. Alas, the 8.95mm body is a tad thicker due to the removable 2,600mAh battery (a potential hazard for others, given the recent reports of Samsung battery fires), but that’s no worse than the quad-core chip being clocked at just 1.2GHz. Also, the phone only has 8MP/1.9MP cameras, though I’ve yet to test their quality.

Of course, if you can manage to get your hands on it, there’s always the OnePlus One, which offers flagship specs for the same price. The 5.5-inch screen comes with a much higher 1080p resolution, and the 13MP/5MP cameras are more responsive with better image performance. The obvious trade-off is that you’ll miss out on HTC’s Sense UI, but then again, some people may prefer CyanogenMod’s more basic Android interface.


HTC deserves some credit for finding a niche space to compete in, and it’s done so with some success. In general, the Desire 816 came out as the most ideal choice among similarly specced Android phablets: It has better camera specs, front-facing speakers and a slick UI. It’s even a better deal than the One mini 2, which is essentially a slower Desire 816 with a smaller screen, plus a smaller battery, in a metallic chassis — the part that HTC’s charging you the premium for, yet it’s not quite the same smooth finish as the M8′s.

Of course, the Desire 816 isn’t perfect. As on the One mini 2, the cameras are sluggish and sometimes unpredictable, but when they do work, the photos come out nicely. That’s pretty much the only thing that’s stopping me from totally falling in love with the phone. The Desire 816′s only real threat is the OnePlus One (and eventually the Xiaomi Mi 4 in select regions), but given that it’s still a rare item, HTC should seize the moment, put up a good fight and fix those camera bugs.

Filed under: Cellphones, Mobile, HTC


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Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ Review


Lenovo is back again with another addition to the Yoga tablet line. It’s safe to say that Lenovo’s top-of-the-line Android tablet is better than ever. As we mentioned with our review of the Yoga Tablet 10, Lenovo is pushing the envelope of design, which could be good or bad depending on which way you look at it. The new Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ has some nice upgrades from the previous model, but still falls short in some of the same places.


As with the previous 10-inch Yoga tablet, the build quality in the HD+ is excellent. The device features a 10-inch 1920×1080 display, a 1.6 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 2 GB of RAM, 8 MP rear-facing camera and 1.6 MP front-facing camera. Yoga Tablet 10HD+_Hero_01 The display is pretty sharp and bright, but one thing that could be annoying to some is its glossiness. I didn’t find it a problem when using it inside or in shaded area. It also has some decent viewing angles, which is always a plus. One of the best features, which also could be considered its worst, is the tablet’s design and like the previous model, it’s extremely thin at its thinnest point and up to about 3/4-inches at its thickest. The thickest part of the device is sort of a cylinder with the power button on one end and the 3.5 mm headphone jack at the other, which it’s also a handle for the device. This is a good idea theoretically in my opinion and great comes in handy when holding the device or transporting it, but it’s a slightly awkward feeling if you’re holding the device and using it in portrait mode. The thick side also houses the built in kickstand that is still a bit hard to engage, as with the previous model. If you are using the device on a table or to have it sit up on your lap, it’s perfect, but if you wanted to have it in a position that you could type on it, it’s a bit too tall in my opinion with the kickstand out. If you were using it the same way but without the kickstand engaged, it’s seems to be too small of an angle. To give you an idea of how these angles differ, think of an iPad with its Smart Cover as a happy medium just about in-between both of these angles which seem either slightly too large or small for completely comfortable typing. angle The tablet comes with 32 GB of built-in storage that is more than enough, plus hidden behind the stand is a compartment where you can add additional storage with up to a 64 GB MicroSD card. I mentioned above that the HD+ has a Snapdragon 400 processor and 2 GB RAM, which is more than enough to satisfy the standard user. Just about any app I used on the device ran with no issues, including games like The Dark Knight Rises. Comparing TDKR running on this with it running on my OnePlus One with a Snapdragon 801 processor, it’s clear which is the winner, so as you can imagine, the graphics on high-end games are reduced and it’s just slightly choppy. Games that aren’t as graphics intense like Leo’s Fortune and even Horn ran beautifully. The cameras on the device are fairly decent for a tablet cameras. I didn’t test them extensively, but the photos I took turned out pretty clear and were decent in lower light. You should have no problems video chatting with the front-facing camera either. IMG_20140626_162525 Two of the last things I want to mention about the device is that the 9,000 mAh battery is fantastic as well as the fact that it has front-facing speakers. In use, the tablet gets about 18 hours of battery life, but I’ve seen the tablet display that it had about 38 hours of battery life when I didn’t use it a lot. There were times when I didn’t use it for a week or more and barely any power was lost, so it works great in standby mode. The speakers on the device are loud and were great for tablet speakers, especially when I tested it out watching Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon.


On the software side of things, the device is running Android 4.4.2. For most of the review, it was running Android 4.3 Jelly Bean then right when I was finishing writing this up, it got updated to Android 4.4.2 KitKat. Lenovo had mentioned that the device would be receiving the KitKat update at the end July, which was about an 866 MB update One nice thing about the software on the tablet, although not the absolute latest version of Android KitKat, is that it’s pretty close to a stock experience, Before the update, it had tablet style menus in Settings but the upgrade brought a Nexus experience to the Settings, only with a slightly different color scheme .The desktop and even on-screen navigation buttons are also Nexus-style as well, so you’ll be right at home. The only downfall with the launcher is that it’s not great if you have a ton of apps or aren’t very good at organizing them since there is no app drawer, much like on the iPad or MIUI. Don’t forget, you can always install a third-party launcher so it’s not the end of the world. The notification drawer and Quick Settings are stock as well, with slightly different icons. Some nice additions that Lenovo added to the software is the Smart Side Bar that can be accessed by swiping from the bezel onto the screen on either side as well as the Dolby app that allows you to adjust sound settings for numerous modes such as for movies, music, games and voice, plus you can make custom configurations as well. The Smart Side Bar gives quick access to your videos, photos and books, recently used apps and sound and visual modes. The KitKat update appears to have made the sidebar work much better than previously as there were times when I couldn’t get it to come out when it was running Jelly Bean. Also, before the update you could double tap while on your homescreen and recent apps would appear, but that appears to have been taken out of the software, unless there is a setting somewhere that I couldn’t find to turn it back on. Screenshot_2014-07-22-17-10-51 Another thing that Lenovo added to the software is the ability to run multiple apps at once by having one open then opening the recent apps and sliding it to the window.pane. I had no trouble watching a movie and surfing a webpage a the same time. IMG_20140722_171829~2


Along with the tablet for review, I also received a green and grey sleeve. While it won’t really protect the tablet from huge falls, it will protect it from scratches. The HD+ fits in the sleeve nicely, even with its “unique” design. It also closes magnetically so you don’t have to worry about the flap opening. IMG_20140722_175416


Looking at both the hardware and software together, it’s not a bad tablet for $369. The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ is a worthy upgrade from the previous model, but still has some of the same shortcomings with the stand and software. As we said with the Yoga Tablet review, if you favor battery life over raw power, then this is worth considering. There also aren’t many tablets with an included stand, front-facing speakers and Android 4.4 KitKat.

The post Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ Review appeared first on AndroidGuys.


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