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Posts tagged ‘mobile’

27
Dec

China’s latest luxury phone packs a massive 7,000mAh battery


Many luxury smartphone makers see their work mainly as a matter of wrapping an ordinary device in upscale materials, maybe adding a concierge service and calling it a day. Gionee, however, is taking a different approach: it’s giving you one huge feature that gives you a clear reason to pay a premium. It just launched the M2017, a metal-and-leather 5.7-inch phone whose centerpiece is its enormous 7,000mAh battery. Yes, there’s a real chance that it has a larger power pack than your tablet. The company estimates that it’ll last for nearly 32 hours of talk time and 26 hours of non-stop video, or enough to get you through a few days of moderate use. If you’re a jetsetting business type (Gionee’s target market), you might never need to plug in during that all-important day trip.

Thankfully, the M2017 is (mostly) above-average beyond its epic longevity. It packs a curved quad HD AMOLED screen that’s bound to be noticed, a hefty 6GB of RAM, at least 128GB of storage, a front 8-megapixel camera and two rear cameras (12MP and 13MP) that promise an iPhone 7 Plus-style 2X optical zoom. You get a front-facing fingerprint reader, too. About the only major head-scratcher is the use of a mid-range Snapdragon 653 processor. While that’s not a slow part by any stretch, it probably wouldn’t have killed Gionee to include a Snapdragon 821 and deliver performance that matches the battery life.

When the M2017 goes on sale in China on January 6th (an international release isn’t likely), it’ll start at RMB 6,999 (about $1,007) for a 128GB version and jump to RMB 16,999 ($2,446) for a 256GB model. This isn’t the most expensive phone on the market by any means — it’s closer to mainstream devices than the several thousand dollars you typically pay for posh handsets from the likes of Vertu and Lamborghini. It’s far from a trivial purchase, however, and Gionee is clearly betting that you’re willing to spend a lot to both flaunt your success and use your phone non-stop.

Via: Engadget Chinese (translated)

Source: Gionee

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26
Dec

The worst gadgets of 2016


2016 was a year in which the fates seemingly asked, “Oh, you think that’s bad? Here, hold my beer.” We lost a Prince but gained a nacho-cheese-flavored, would-be king. We saw drones that couldn’t stop falling out of the sky, Snapchat filters that only a racist uncle could love and more poorly executed gadget gimmicks than you can shake a selfie stick at. Here are some of the cringe-worthiest consumer products we had the misfortune of covering this year.

Check out all of Engadget’s year-in-review coverage right here.

26
Dec

CyanogenMod website unreachable, project will continue as LineageOS


When Cyanogen announced its services and nightly builds were ending, it said the CyanogenMod open source project would continue on. However, after the latter made a blog post calling the action a “death blow” for CyanogenMod, the DNS routing for its website went away and it has been unreachable. The open source team also said in its blog post that it would continue the project, and a new website indicates we’ll get more information on its follow-up, LineageOS, on Tuesday.

Comment from discussion PSA: cyanogenmod.org services shutdown.

In a post on Reddit, the team also notes that its code review and merge process should be available by then, so that work on the operating system can go on. Team member haggertk calls LineageOS “a 100% bare fork — LineageOS source == CyanogenMod source,” while another member said the plan is for users to be able to update from CyanogenMod without reformatting. We’ll find out more information soon, but at least now it should be easier to tell the difference between whatever Cyanogen Inc. becomes and what CyanogenMod/LineageOS is.

Source: LineageOS

25
Dec

After Math: Merry Christmahanukwanzakkahs


It’s been a festive week and, for once, not a complete socio-political trainwreck. I know, I’m just as surprised as you are, but some good things really did happen. Like, we found an effective vaccine against Ebola, Super Mario Run broke iOS download records, both the UK and France have come to embrace renewables and Canada set some impressive broadband speed rules. Numbers, because how else are we going to count down the million years until Sweet Meteor O’Death finally comes calling?

25
Dec

Pros and cons: Our quick verdict on the LG V20


The LG V20 is one of several flagship phones you can buy right now. And though we like it — we gave it a score of 82 — we recommend it with more caveats than usual. On one hand, the phone packs a Quad DAC and support for 24-bit high-resolution audio, making it a great choice for people who care about sound quality. Being a flagship, it also offers top-shelf components and it’s one of the only phones available right now that runs Android Nougat. The 5.7-inch Quad HD display is also bright and crisp, though we’re not sure the tiny secondary screen really adds much.

That all sounds great, but keep in mind that the dual camera setup trails the imaging experience you’ll get on rival devices, including the iPhone 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S7 or either of Google’s Pixel phones. What’s more, the V20 isn’t waterproof — a feature we’ve come to expect on high-end handsets — and it’s also difficult to use one-handed. All told, then, it’s a good phone, just not necessarily your best option.

25
Dec

Louis CK’s app gives you direct access to his comedy shows


Louis CK helped prove that artists can make good income by selling videos directly to fans, but getting his comedy shows to your phone can be a bit of a headache if you’re unfamiliar with the intricacies of local file syncing. As of this week, though, you don’t have to bend over backwards. The entertainer has released apps for both Android and iOS that let you buy, watch and listen to shows right on your device — there’s no sideloading required, and no third-party studios getting in the way. As Louis explains in a newsletter, this is really a mobile version of his website, just optimized to make your life easier.

The pricing is the same $5 per show (less for most Horace and Pete episodes), and anything you’ve bought before will be available the moment you sign in. You’ll also get notifications for new shows and tour dates.

There is a question about how the app works on iOS: is Louis giving Apple a cut of in-app sales like other developers, or raking it all in? We suspect the former (at least if he wants to abide by App Store guidelines). If so, it might be best to buy that stand-up special on the web if you want to make sure that Louis gets his full share.

Source: App Store, Google Play

24
Dec

Pros and cons: Our quick verdict on the Huawei Mate 9


The most interesting thing about Huawei’s latest flagship, the Mate 9, is actually invisible to the naked eye. Under the hood, the phone uses machine learning to anticipate which apps you’re going to use when, allowing for supposedly smoother performance. What the phone would have been like without this AI, we don’t know, but we can say that the performance feels brisk throughout. If fluid day-to-day use seems like table stakes, you might also be impressed with the long battery life, bright display and the fact that it actually has a headphone jack. Unfortunately, what’s otherwise a great phone stumbles with low-light photography, as well as some heavy-handed software tweaks that will turn off Android purists. ]

The Mate 9 isn’t on sale here in the US yet, but we expect to learn pricing in the next month or so. If the price is on par with what it costs in Europe, the phone will be on par with or slightly cheaper than its rivals, which would make it a good value, so-so camera notwithstanding.

24
Dec

Cyanogen pulls the plug on its services and OS next week


As most of us are paying attention to our long holiday weekend, Cyanogen Inc. has announced that “all services and Cyanogen-supported nightly builds” will be discontinued by December 31st. While its statement says that the open source CyanogenMod OS and source code will remain available, owners of Cyanogen-powered devices like the OnePlus One will need to make a switch for future updates.

There’s no name attached to this announcement, but at the end of November, new CEO Lior Tal announced the company cut ties with co-founder Steve Kondik. He also said the company would consolidate into a single Palo Alto-based team by the end of the year, as it pivots towards a Modular OS future building add-ons for Android instead of a replacement.

As for Kondik, he tweeted on December 2nd that he’s “actually happy to rebrand.” Android Police pulled a post from the official CyanogenMod Google+ developer community that suggested he may crowdfund a relauch of the project, but nothing is confirmed yet.

Source: Cyanogen

24
Dec

Soon cops will search your phone just like your car


Imagine a routine traffic stop where the officer has the legal right to search not just your car, but your phone too.

That’s where we’re likely headed after a Florida court recently denied Fifth Amendment protections for iPhone passcodes, saying that suspects must now reveal them to police. The decision came after a previous court had ruled that a suspect couldn’t be compelled to give up the key to unlock his phone based on laws against self-incrimination.

A trial judge had denied the state’s motion to compel the suspect to give up his passcode, finding that it would be tantamount to forcing him to testify against himself in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

But the Florida Court of Appeal’s Second District just reversed that decision. Judge Anthony Black said, “Unquestionably, the State established, with reasonable particularity, its knowledge of the existence of the passcode, Stahl’s control or possession of the passcode, and the self-authenticating nature of the passcode. This is a case of surrender and not testimony.”

“More importantly,” he added, indicating future cases about passcodes and Fifth Amendment protections, “we question the continuing viability of any distinction as technology advances.”

The case tipping the scales in favor of the police comes by way of a total creep getting caught shoving his phone under a woman’s skirt and taking photos. It’s pretty hard to feel bad for the guy. Many people know that so-called “upskirts” are illegal, and most know it’s also a really shitty thing to do to someone. But Aaron Stahl didn’t care. He followed a woman around a store, and when he thought she wasn’t looking, he crouched down, shoved his phone under her skirt to take photos, and got caught doing it.

When she asked him what the hell he was doing, he claimed he’d dropped his phone. She yelled for help and tried to stop him from leaving. He ran. But the store had him doing everything on surveillance cameras, and got a clear shot of his car’s license plates. When police caught up to Stahl and arrested him for third-degree voyeurism, he’d conveniently had left his phone at home.

In a police interview, Stahl consented to a search of his phone, an Apple iPhone 5. But when police actually went to his house with a warrant and got the phone, he withdrew his consent before giving them his passcode. Basically, Stahl attempted to show he’s innocent by not being accountable for his phone.

And as we all know, without the passcode even Apple can’t pop open someone’s iPhone and hand the contents over to police.

That’s meant authorities have had to get a little creative about looking through people’s phones.

After much wrangling and embarrassment earlier this year, the FBI forked over $1.3 million to have the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone hacked into. Just a few weeks ago, Scotland Yard actually “mugged” a suspect. In that instance, British cops waited until their target was on a call before physically snatching the phone and continually swiping it to keep the screen unlocked while they apprehended their guy.

The Florida case shows a flip in the opposite direction from 2015’s ruling by a Pennsylvania federal trial court, which decided the authorities can’t force someone to surrender their phone’s passcode. Just as he opposed the Pennsylvania court decision, I’m sure law professor and SCOTUS blogger Orin Kerr would agree with Florida’s judges that a code isn’t in itself incriminating.

“For example, imagine the government orders you to turn over any and all crystal meth in your possession,” Kerr opined about Pennsylvania’s passcode ruling. “In response to the order, you hand over a plastic bag filled with some substance. Your response effectively testified that you think the item in the bag is crystal meth and that it is in your possession. That’s admitting to a crime — possession of crystal meth — so you have a Fifth Amendment right not to have to produce the item in response to the order.”

Here, the judge hasn’t asked Florida’s creeper of the year Aaron Stahl to turn over any and all upskirt photos. Just the passcode.

The decision will likely lead to further challenges, but different courts around the United States are currently tackling the iPhone-evidence conundrum. Judge Black’s opinion will no doubt influence how others rule.

“Providing the passcode does not ‘betray any knowledge [Stahl] may have about the circumstances of the offenses’ for which he is charged,” Black said, writing for the Florida court’s three-judge panel. “Thus,” he said, “compelling a suspect to make a nonfactual statement that facilitates the production of evidence for which the state has otherwise obtained a warrant … does not offend the privilege.”

This is a compelling argument for handing over Stahl’s passcode. But then again, it’s also compelling because he’s such a blatant scumbag about all of this. Maybe it’s a false equivalency, though I’m inclined to believe it’s the rest of us who’ll pay for this guy’s troll-like behavior. He brazenly violated a woman’s privacy and expects his privacy protections to be upheld, so he can get away with it. He’s not all that different from the guy on Twitter claiming death and rape threats are protected free speech.

This ruling is supposed to be about the greater good, but there’s nothing that feels great or good about it.

We’ll probably wade through a hodge-podge of law enforcement rules across the nation until this gets ironed out, while precedents get set that aren’t thought through. In the meantime, we can be sure bad cops will collect passcodes and see what else they can get into with them. Because, thanks to security fatigue, people reuse the same passwords and pins wherever possible.

It doesn’t take the mind of a hacker to figure that someone’s four-digit cellphone pin is probably the same as their ATM and voicemail pincode.

So look: It’s not that cops and border guards and probably stormtroopers can’t demand access to people’s phones and computers nearly everywhere else in the world, because they can. It’s just that here, we’ve been living in an arrogant fantasy that we were somehow immune to that type of control. Rest assured that countries on every other continent circling our shaky blue orb don’t live in this fantasy.

We might be inclined to think that the world has gotten more fascist. No. It’s just we’re losing our virginity, and effectual consent is bad for authoritarianism. Welcome to the rest of the world. It’s time to quit whining about Android vs. Apple security, or how broken the password model is, and realize your cutesy privacy island never existed in the first place.

Laws like these might be what we deserve, after years of remaining relatively ignorant to the realities of how tech tools like cellphones and Facebook are used by authoritarian leaders and surveillance-happy police. We’re about to enter a future where our president embraces letting government off the leash when it comes to surveilling citizens.

I remember when Google’s Eric Schmidt said, “If you have something you don’t want anyone to know, then maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” And when Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said that if you’re not doing anything “wrong” then you don’t have anything to worry about when it comes to losing your privacy. It’s starting to look like these weren’t just harmless words from eccentric tech billionaires.

All I’m saying is that this is all connected, and the road that led to cops being able to search your entire life during a traffic stop is one paved with greed, perverse ideals, and nightmarish lapses of empathy. Of course, some of us tried to raise the alarm back then, but we were written off as bad people with something to hide because we wanted boundaries.

But this story, the one about the Fifth Amendment and passcodes, is supposed to be about fairness and justice. Except with bad guys like Aaron Stahl, it’s a fairness that feels so cynical we barely understand how we got here.

Images: Getty Images/iStockphoto

24
Dec

The best lenses for iPhone photography


By Erin Lodi

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. When readers choose to buy The Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.

After more than 16 hours of research during which we considered 70 lens attachments and tested 15 models (with hands-on shooting that included a hiking trip through the Cascade Mountains and sightseeing on a Grand Canyon road trip), we found that Moment’s Tele and Wide mobile-photography lenses are the best for avid smartphone photographers. They offer image quality as good as that of anything we tested, along with a straightforward attachment system that doesn’t lock you into using a case you don’t like (unlike most of the competition).

Who should get this

By adding extra optics directly on top of your phone’s existing camera, lens attachments allow you to appear either closer to your subject or farther away from it without reducing resolution. This mimics the effect you’d get from switching lenses on a DSLR or mirrorless camera. But because you’re putting additional lenses in front of an existing lens, many lens attachments produce photos with noticeable blurriness and color distortion around the edges of the frame. So you still have plenty of good reasons to go with an actual DSLR or mirrorless camera, especially if you plan on printing your photos. But smartphone lens kits are fun to play around with for photographers of all skill levels, and the best among them can produce surprisingly sharp images.

How we picked and tested

We considered a wide swath of iPhone lens accessories. In a clockwise spiral from top left: CamKix, iPro, Manfrotto, Moment, Ztylus, ExoLens, AGPtek, Olloclip, and Photojojo lenses. Photo: Erin Lodi

We looked for a mobile-photography lens that would fit the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 7, and iPhone 7 Plus—though not every lens will work with the latter, and we’re keeping our eyes open as more become available that will.

Above all, we wanted a portable, affordable, easy-to-use lens attachment to help produce amazing photos. We focused on finding a good wide-angle option and a good telephoto option, as those are the most commonly available choices and often the most practical applications of iPhone lenses. For more details on how we picked and tested, and a note on lenses for the iPhone 7, see our full guide.

We took each lens out for some real-world testing around Seattle. Photo: Erin Lodi

For this guide, we read up on every recommended smartphone lens attachment we could find on the Internet, including considering what highly respected review sites such as The Phoblographer, CNET, Fstoppers, Cult of Mac, and Macworld had to say. We also asked friends of various levels of smartphone-photography prowess what they would want out of such an attachment.

Since 2015, we’ve conducted hands-on testing with 15 iPhone lens models. We toted these lenses around Seattle, testing them in some everyday shooting situations. We filled our backpack with them and put them to work while hiking in the Cascade Mountains. And we brought them along on an epic summer road trip to see the Grand Canyon.

Our pick

Moment’s .63x-magnification wide lens (18mm equivalent) and a 2x telephoto lens (60mm equivalent). Photo: Erin Lodi

Moment’s Tele and Wide lenses stood above the competition thanks to their impressive image quality, their simple attachment method (which works with many third-party iPhone cases), and their ease of use and portability. We tested both the .63x-magnification wide-angle lens (about 1.5 times as wide as the standard iPhone lens, an 18mm equivalent) and the 2x telephoto lens (60mm equivalent). If you have an iPhone 7 Plus, you won’t need the tele option, because your phone already has a similar built-in lens, but the Wide is still a great option.

A bayonet-style mount on a metal plate that adheres to your phone allows you to attach your Moment lenses with just a quick turn. Photo: Erin Lodi

In our tests, images came out crisp and clear, with very little distortion and no vignetting. We noted only minimal chromatic aberration (a common problem with cheaply made lenses in which colors fringe and blur, especially at high-contrast edges).

The Moment 0.63x lens is about half again as wide as an iPhone’s standard lens. Photo: Erin Lodi

Moment lenses attach to your phone via a stainless steel mounting plate that sticks to the back of your iPhone using a strong but not permanent 3M adhesive. A bayonet mounting system on the plate lets you twist the lens on. The mounting ring is small enough that you can use it through the camera opening on many slim phone cases, including our pick for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the Incipio NGP, which means your favorite method of iPhone protection should work with Moment lenses. If you’re careful, the lens attachment will remain mounted until you unscrew it. But we recommend removing the lens from the mount before stowing your handset in a bag or backpack to avoid having it dislodge, and to prevent any uncovered lens surfaces from attracting dust or smudges.

Budget pick

The Aukey lens-and-case set offers great quality for its current price of $15, but it doesn’t hold up next to our main pick. Photo: Erin Lodi

If you’re not willing to spend almost $100 on a smartphone accessory, or if you just don’t think you’d use a high-quality lens attachment often enough to justify such a cost, the Aukey PL-WD03 110° Wide Angle Lens & Case Set is a bargain entry-level lens-and-case combo for the iPhone 6/6s and iPhone 6/6s Plus. (The company has no plans for an iPhone 7 case, but this model does come with a clip mount that isn’t as secure but works on any phone.) The set’s slim black case snaps over your phone and allows you to screw on a lens attachment. The image quality was noticeably worse when we compared it closely with that of the Moment lenses, but compared with other low-cost lenses we tested, the Aukey delivered better-quality images with less distortion or vignetting.

This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Note from The Wirecutter: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.

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