Moto G5S and G5S Plus: what we’d like to see


The Moto G5 and G5 Plus may have not long hit the market, but slides from a leaked presentation suggest that Motorola is already planning to release two more G series phones later this year, called the Moto G5S and G5S Plus. A mid- or later-year refresh is out of step with the long running cycle for the G series, leaving some to wonder if more meaningful changes could be afoot.

So far, we don’t have too many details on either of these devices, aside from a few leaked specs and some press renders. Both devices will come with 1080p displays at 5.2 and 5.5 inches, respectively, and the Moto G5S will feature a dual camera setup. These are decent enough starting points for Motorola’s most popular budget-friendly range, but I have quite a wish list for these upcoming models.

Even out the hardware

While already decent enough performers for your day to day tasks, the first thing I would like to see with the Moto G5S range is a reduction in the hardware differences between the two models, especially when it comes to the processing performance of the presumably lower cost G5S model. While I fully appreciate that opting for a lower cost processor between the regular G and G Plus variants helps to keep the price of the former as low as possible, which is part of the appeal, but this rather large difference with the G5 range can produce two quite different experiences.

The 1.4 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 430 inside the Moto G5 is considerably slower than the 2.0 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 625 inside the G5 Plus, with scores of around 40,000 and 60,000 in AnTuTu, respectively. While this gap isn’t going to ruin your experience, apps are certainly going to open up faster and run a little snappier on the Plus model. Not only that, but these models feature different LTE modems with different carrier aggregation capabilities, and the 625 built on a more efficient 14nm process for better battery life.

The Snapdragon 430 inside the Moto G5 is considerably slower than the Snapdragon 625 inside the G5 Plus, but hopefully this gap will be less pronounced between the G5S and G5S Plus

To ensure a great and more equal experience across both models, I’d like to see the Moto G5S lineup adopt the same processors, or at least chips from the same tier, this time around. Two models from Qualcomm’s 600 series, such as the newer 617, 626, or 630, would be worthwhile upgrades and ensure a closer match between features, performance, and LTE speeds between the two.

We do know that dual camera model will almost certainly be reserved by the Plus version, so we can’t expect parity. But hopefully we won’t see a major difference in camera quality, or any other features, between the two phones come launch.

Mobile Payments

One of our pet peeves about the Moto G5 and G5 Plus was the lack of NFC entirely from the regular model, as well as its absence from the US market in the G5 Plus variant too. Given that mobile payment availability is increasing across the globe, this was a rather disappointing discovery. But in the US, where mobile payments are now widely available, this move is borderline inexcusable.

Supporting Android Pay and other proprietary bank payment systems that rely on NFC should be an important goal for all manufacturers these days, even in budget models. We’d certainly like to see this faux pas remedied in the G5S series.

While we’re at it, the introduction of wireless charging or an enhanced dust and water IP rating would be nice, but there aren’t so realistic demands at this price point. If the dust and water resistant coating on G5 series were upgraded to some sort of IP rating, which would allow for submersion, that would be a nice bonus. Although, a USB Type-C port certainly wouldn’t be too much to ask for this time around.

Moto Maker and Mods

The Moto Maker has been a popular feature available to a number of the company’s phones, and is particularly well supported amongst the company’s higher end offerings. For those unfamiliar, Moto Maker offers customers a wide range of back color options and even wooden covers with which customize the look for their phone at purchase.

We’d like to see a return of Moto Maker support with the G5S range, and perhaps even the inclusion of Moto Mods.

While most of the Moto G4 models could be purchase through Moto Maker, the G5 range oddly could not. We’d like to see a return of this feature with the G5S range, offering up a selection of colors, patterns, and whatever else the company can provide to give users that unique sense of customization that makes Moto Maker such a fun and powerful tool.

A little more out there, the introduction of Moto Mods to the company’s more cost effective models could given them a major edge over competitors. Of course, that would likely increase the cost of these phones a tad and would eat into the unique selling point of its higher end models, so this is probably more wishful thinking than one that’s likely to happen.

A new design

Leaked images of the Moto G5S

Onto a more subjective note, I’d personally like to see a bit of a design revamp with the Moto G5S. While not ugly, the G series has never really stood out for its looks. Unfortunately we’re probably not going to see a revamp in the slightest.

About a week ago we brought you an exclusive first look at the Moto G5S, while Gear India provided a first-hand look at the G5S Plus not too long after. Both the G5S and G5S Plus really don’t look too far off from the G5 and G5 Plus. On the front of the devices, there’s still a front-facing fingerprint sensor below the display, along with a small moto logo sandwiched between the earpiece and screen on the top on both models. Around back, the devices have the same round, hockey puck-style camera as the standard Moto G5 lineup. Below that you’ll find the classic Motorola dimple near the center of the device.

In addition, the G5S and G5S Plus will feature a full-metal design, as opposed to the aluminum back plate and plastic sides found on the Moto G5 and G5 Plus. This should make this upcoming Moto phones feel a bit more high end. Due to the switch to an all-metal construction, you’ll notice there are now thin antenna cutouts on the top and bottom of the device.

Wrapping up

The introduction of a second batch of Moto G models this year marks an intriguing change in business for Lenovo / Motorola, so it’s going to be interesting to see if the company makes any drastic changes to the formula or if this is more of a small incremental update. For me, the obvious beefed up processing hardware, new features such as an IP resistance rating and NFC support, and inclusion in the Moto Maker program are on my wishlist to make the G5S range stand out.

We’re still not exactly sure when the Moto G5S and G5S Plus will go on sale, but it probably won’t be until into the second half of the year. What about yourselves? What’s on your wishlist for the Moto G5S and G5S Plus, and how could Lenovo make this the best G series release yet?



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Sony Xperia XZ Premium US pre-orders begin on June 12 for $800


 

Over three months after it was officially announced at MWC 2017, Sony’s latest flagship phone, the Xperia XZ Premium, will finally go on sale in mid-June in the US. Online pre-orders will begin on June 12, via Amazon, Best Buy, Fry’s and other retailers. Brace yourself for some sticker shock: the unlocked phone will have the very high-end price of $799.99.  Shipments of the phone will begin on June 19.

The Xperia XZ Premium will have a 5.5-inch 4K LCD screen with HDR (High Dynamic Range) support, along with Gorilla Glass 5. Inside, it has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, Android 7.1 Nougat, 4 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of onboard storage, with a microSD card slot to add more storage. The phone will also have a 19 MP rear camera with the ability to capture slow-motion video at 960 fps. Finally, it will also have a 3,230 mAh battery. The US version will lack its side-mounted fingerprint sensor, which is available in other markets.

The phone will have three color options: Luminous Chrome, Deepsea Black, and Bronze Pink. It will support GSM cellular networks such as the ones supported by AT&T and T-Mobile.

Sony also announced that June 12 will be the date for pre-orders to begin in the US for the mid-range Xperia XA1 Ultra, with shipments to begin on June 21. It will also go on sale in retail stores starting on July 2. Sony did not reveal a price for the Xperia XA1 Ultra. It has a 6-inch 1080p display and inside it will have a 64-bit MediaTek Helio P20 octa-core processor, along with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of on-board storage, with a microSD card that can support up to 256 GB of additional storage.  It will also have a 23 MP rear camera, a 16 MP front-facing camera and a 2,700 mAh battery. It will come with Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box.

Finally, Sony has announced where and when you can buy its semi-experimental Xperia Touch projector. This device can project an Android-based screen on a wall, floor, table or any flat surface so that owners can interact with the display, just like they would with an Android tablet. Pre-orders for the Xperia Touch will begin on June 16 for the super-high price of $1,699.99. It will only be available in one location in the US, the Sony Square display room at 25 Madison Ave in New York City.



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Best LG phones you can buy


LG has had its share of ups and downs in the smartphone game, and the company hasn’t made as much of an impact in the market as they would have liked. From being one of the first companies to feature a flagship with a Quad HD display, to the unique rear button layout, along with the experiment in modularity that was the LG G5, LG hasn’t shied away from taking chances, even if not all of them have clicked.

Apart from solid flagship offerings, LG also boasts a robust mid-range and entry-level portfolio that range the price spectrum, so there is an option available for everybody. Here is a roundup of some of the best LG smartphones you can buy!

Editor’s note: We will be updating this list regularly as new devices launch.


Best high-end LG phone: LG G6

The LG G6 may appear to be a step back for the company with the phone being more standard than its modular predecessor, but the device offers everything that you would expect from a current generation flagship.

Apart from the high-end specifications, you get a beautiful metal and glass construction, an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance, wireless charging (in the US version only) and fast charging capabilities, an excellent dual camera setup, and gorgeous display with an unique 18:9 aspect ratio, rounded corners, and incredibly thin bezels along its sides.

Something to keep in mind is that not all LG G6s are created equal. For example, the version that will be released in the US will be the only one to feature wireless charging, while the Hi-Fi Quad DAC will be in the model available in South Korea and other select markets in Asia. Further, the version with 64 GB of built-in storage will also launch in only a handful of markets around the world.

There is certainly some tough competition out there, but the LG G6 certainly holds its own in most departments, and is priced a touch more reasonably as well, with the carrier unlocked version of the LG G6 with 32 GB of built-in storage currently priced at around $550 on Amazon.

Specs

  • 5.7-inch IPS LCD display with 2880 x 1440 resolution
  • 2.35 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor
  • Adreno 530 GPU
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 32/64 GB, expandable via microSD up to 256 GB (uses SIM 2 slot in case of dual SIM version)
  • 13 MP + 13 MP rear cameras, 5 MP front-facing camera
  • Non-removable 3,300 mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm, 163 grams

Read more

 

Honorable mentions:

LG V20

For those that prefer larger phones, the LG V20 is another solid choice from LG, offering a more traditional phablet display. Released in late 2016, the handset is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor with 4GB RAM. Other specs include a 5.7-inch display with a unique secondary display, a 3,200 mAh battery, and dual 16/8MP rear camera setup.

Get the LG V20 for $500

LG G5

The LG G5 might not be the latest and greatest flagship from LG anymore, but it’s still a pretty solid handset. The G5 is powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor with 4GB of RAM, with other specs including a 5.3-inch screen, 2,800 mAh removable battery, a module slot, and a 16/8MP dual rear camera. Price wise, you can now get an unlocked G5 for just $300, making it around half the price of its successor.

Get the LG G5 for just $300

Best mid-range phone – LG G4

The LG G4 may be the their 2015 flagship, but the device certainly holds up even today as a great, affordable, mid-range option. The device features impressive specifications even now, including Quad HD display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor, 3 GB of RAM, a 16 MP rear shooter and 8 MP front-facing camera, and a removable 3,000 mAh battery.

The phone also looks great, with its slightly curved display and incredibly thin bezels along the sides, as well as a good looking curved rear cover that feels great in the hand, and the unique rear button layout that was a LG staple at one point. You will also be able to enjoy the latest version of Android with the device, with an official update set to be available later this summer.

The LG G4 is currently priced starting at just $185.99, while coming with specs and features that will give any similarly-priced phone a run for its money. One downside however is that its age means that software updates are going to be few and far between.

Specs

  • 5.5-inch IPS LCD display with 2560 x 1440 resolution
  • 1.8 GHz hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor
  • Adreno 418 GPU
  • 3 GB RAM
  • 32 GB built-in storage, further expandable via microSD card up to 256 GB
  • 16 MP rear camera, 8 MP front-facing shooter
  • 3,000 mAh battery
  • Android 5.1.1 Lollipop (upgradeable to Android 6.0 Marshmallow, planned upgrade to Android 7.0 Nougat)
  • 148.9 x 76.1 x 6.3 – 9.8 mm, 155 grams

Read more

Honorable mentions:

LG X Mach

LG doesn’t have much in the way of real mid-rangers, except for the LG X Mach. This is a solid phone on paper, but is essentially a re-dressed LG G4. A lot of the specifications are the same, with the X Mach also featuring a 5.5-inch IPS LCD display with a Quad HD resolution, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor backed by 3 GB of RAM, and a 3,000 mAh battery. There are some borrowed design elements as well, like the rear button layout.The X Mach is only available officialyl in a handful of European markets, making the LG G4 much easier to get.


Best cheap LG phone – LG Stylo 3 series

The LG Stylo 3 is the way to go if you the like the availability of a stylus with your smartphone, but don’t want to pay the premium that the Galaxy Note series demands. The Stylo 3 is a great alternative that is very affordable, and while the stylus may not be as feature packed as the S-Pen, it still proves to be very handy. Depending on your market, or the network carrier, there are a few different versions of the LG Stylo 3 available.

All versions of the device in the US are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor, and feature a MediaTek processor in some other markets, and all of them come with 5.7-inch displays. The Stylo 3 that is available from Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile features an HD display, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of built-in storage that is further expandable, and a 3,200 mAh battery.

The T-Mobile version, called the Stylo 3 Plus, also comes with 2 GB of RAM, but has 32 GB of built-in storage and a Full HD display, but a smaller 3,080 mAh battery. Finally, the international version, also called the Stylus 3, retains the same specs as the regular version, but comes with 3 GB of RAM instead.

Despite the differences in specs, what stays the same is the affordability of the device. It is available from Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile for just $150, while the Stylo 3 Plus from T-Mobile will set you back $225.

Specs

  • 5.7-inch IPS LCD display with 1280 x 720 resolution (Regular) or 1920 x 1080 resolution (Plus)
  • 1.4 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor
  • Adreno 505 GPU
  • 2 GB RAM (all US models)), 3 GB RAM (International)
  • 16 GB built-in storage (Regular), 32 GB storage (Plus), further expandable via microSD card up to 256 GB
  • 13 MP rear camera, 5 MP front-facing shooter (all models)
  • 3,200 mAh battery (Regular), 3,080 mAh unit (Plus)
  • Android 7.0 Nougat (all models)
  • 155.6 x 79.8 x 7.4 mm, 149 grams (Regular)
  • 155.7 x 79.8 x 7.4 mm, 150 grams (Plus)

Honorable mentions:

As mentioned, LG has a very robust portfolio of entry-level smartphones that fall in the affordable category with different specifications and features so that there a good option for everyone. If you don’t want a stylus or aren’t looking for the big screen smartphone experience that is available with the LG Stylo 3 series, some good alternatives include:

LG K20 V / Harmony

The K20 V is an affordable option that is exclusive to Verizon Wireless. Key specifications include 5.3-inch IPS LCD display with HD resolution, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of built-in storage, a 13 MP rear camera and 5 MP front-facing shooter, a 2,800 mAh battery, and Android 7.0 Nougat on-board. There is also a version of the device available from Cricket Wireless that features mostly the same specs,but the RAM down to 1.5 GB.

Get the K20 V for $168 / Get LG Harmony for $100

LG X Venture

The LG X Venture is a great affordable rugged option that is available on AT&T, that comes with a MIL STD-810G certification for impact protection and IP68 rating for dust and water resistance. Key specs include a 5.2-inch Full HD display that features Glove Mode, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor, 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of built-in storage, a 16 MP rear camera and 5 MP front-facing shooter, a large 4,100 mAh battery, and Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box.

Get the LG X Venture for $329.99

 

 


Best ultra low-cost options

LG also has a few of options available in the ultra low-cost category with price points below $60. Given in the price point, it’s no surprise that these devices are quite underpowered For the K3 and Fortune you get specs that include a display with a resolution of 854 x 480, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of built-in storage, and a 2,500 mAh battery. If you want something a bit better while still paying as little as possible, you’ll want to spring the few extra bucks for the LG K8 or LG Aristo.

  • LG K3 2017 – The LG K3 2017 is available from US Cellular for just $19.99. The phone comes with a 4.5-inch display, a 5 MP rear camera and 2 MP front-facing shooter, and the rest of specs are the same as what is mentioned above.
  • LG Fortune – The LG Fortune is available from Cricket Wireless, priced at $49.99. The phone comes with a 5-inch display, a 5 MP rear camera and 5 MP front-facing shooter, and the rest of the specs are the same as what is mentioned above. The LG Fortune is also available from AT&T with the moniker Phoenix 3, but that is a surprisingly expensive $79.99 which isn’t worth it.
  • LG K8 2017 / Aristo – The K8 2017 (available from US Cellular), also known as the Aristo (available from MetroPCS and T-Mobile), features a 5-inch display with a 1280 x 720 resolution, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor, 1.5 GB of RAM, 16 GB of built-in storage, a 13 MP rear camera and 5 MP front-facing shooter, a 2,500 mAh battery, and runs Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box. You’ll find the handset for around $50 from both carriers.

So there you have it for this roundup of some of the best LG smartphones you can buy right now! Any we missed? Let us know down in the comments.



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A closer look at ARM’s new Cortex-A75 and Cortex-A55 CPUs


ARM recently unveiled its next-generation CPU cores, the Cortex-A75 and Cortex-A55, which are the first processors to support the company’s also new DynamIQ multi-core technology. The A75 is the successor to ARM’s high performance A73 and A72, while the new Cortex-A55 is a more power efficient replacement for the popular Cortex-A53.

Cortex-A75

Starting with the Cortex-A75, this CPU is more inspired by the Cortex-A73 rather than a direct upgrade of it. ARM states that there’s been a much larger number of micro-architecture changes this time around compared to the introduction of the A73, or even the move from the A57 to the A72.

The result is that ARM has made performance improvements across the board, resulting in a typical 22 percent boost to single threaded performance over the Cortex-A73 on the same process node and running at the same frequency. More specifically, ARM quotes a 33 percent boost to floating point and NEON performance, while memory throughput sees at 16 percent boost.

Clock speed wise, the Corex-A75 is likely to top out at 3 GHz on 10 nm, but could be pushed a little higher on future 7 nm designs. ARM says that for the same workload, the A75 won’t consume any more power than the A73, but it can be pushed further if extra performance is required, at the expense of some extra energy consumption. Although in mobile implementations, we aren’t likely to see SoC manufacturers push the power consumption any higher than they already do.

ARM has accomplished these improvements via a number of major microarchitecture changes. The Cortex-A75 moves two a 3-way superscalar design, from 2-way in the Cortex-A73. What this means is that, given a specific workload, the Cortex-A75 is able to execute up to 3 instructions in parallel per clock cycle, essentially increasing the core’s maximum throughput. The A75 boasts 7 execution units, two load/stores, two NEON and FPU, a branch, and two integer cores.

Speaking of NEON, ARM has also introduced a dedicated renaming engine for NEON FPU instructions. There’s now support for FP16 half-precision processing, which offers double the throughput for limited resolution processing examples, such as image processing.  There’s also support for the Int8 dot product number format too, which offers a boost to a number of neural network algorithms.

To help keep the processor’s out-of-order pipeline well fed, ARM has adopted 4-wide instruction fetching to grab four instructions per cycle. The processor is now also able to perform single cycle decode with instruction fusing and micro-ops too. The core’s branch predictor has also been given a tune-up to keep up with the wider out-of-order execution capabilities of the A75. However, it’s still based on the same 0-cycle design as the A73, which uses a large Branch Target Address Cache (BTAC) and Micro-BTAC.

Finally, the Cortex-A75 now features a private L2 cache, implementable as either 256KB or 512KB, with a shared L3 cache available when implementing a DynamIQ multi-core solution, and most of the data in these caches will be exclusive. This change results in a much lower latency for hitting the L2 cache, down from 20 cycles with the Cortex-A73 to just 11 cycles in the A75.

Put simply, all of this means that ARM is not only boosting the performance of the A75 by allowing for additional instructions to be executed in a single cycle, but has also designed a micro-architecture better capable of keeping the core fed with instructions. As we mentioned in our overview of DynamIQ, the Cortex-A75 also implements the new DynamIQ Shared Unit as part of its design. This introduces new cache stashing, low latency access to peripherals, and fine-grain power management options into the core as well.

Cortex-A55

The Cortex-A55 represents a notable but less drastic overhaul to ARM’s power efficient processor design, with a number of important changes from last generation’s hugely popular Cortex-A53 core. Energy efficiency remains a top priority with this tier of ARM CPUs, and the A55 boasts a 15 percent improvement to power efficiency over the A53. At the same time, ARM has been able to boost performance two fold in certain memory bound situations, with a typical 18 percent performance improvement over an A53 running at the same speeds and on the same process node.

The range of configuration options present with the Cortex-A55 also makes this ARM’s most flexible core design yet. In total, the company estimates that there are over 3000 different possible configurations, due in part to the optional NEON/FPU, asynchronous bridges, and Crypto arrangements, plus the configurable L1, L2, and L3 cache sizes.

The A55 sticks with an inorder design and a short 8-stage pipeline, just like the A53. As such, processor frequencies are expected to be roughly similar to before on the same node, which currently offers a good balance for performance and efficiency. So most A55 solutions will likely be running at 2.0 GHz on a 10nm process, but extreme cases could see 2.6 GHz solutions. However, such a frequency boost would defeat the purpose of DynamIQ, which allows for more cost effective implementations of a single big core where extra performance is required. In reality, we may actually see this LITTLE core run at lower speeds to save power when implemented in DynamIQ systems.

In terms of micro-architecture changes, the A55 now separates the load/store pipe allowing for the dual issue of loads and stores in parallel. The pipeline is also now able to more quickly forward ALU instructions to the AGU, reducing the latency by 1 cycle for common ALU operations. ARM has also made improvements to the prefetcher, which is now able to spot more complex cache patterns beyond existing step patterns and can prefetch to L1 or L3 caches.

Furthermore, the 0-cycle branch predictor boasts a fancy sounding new “neural network” or conditional prediction algorithm. However, this is a more limited branch predictor than the one inside the Cortex-A75, as there’s little purpose in building a huge branch predictor for a small in-order pipeline core. Instead, ARM’s new design makes uses a main conditional predictor in conjunction with “micro-predictors” positioned where needed for accurate back-to-back predictions. The predictor has also been updated with a new loop termination prediction improvement. This should help avoid mispredicting the end of loop programs to scavenge a little bit of extra performance.

ARM has made a number of more specific performance optimizations inside the Cortex-A55 as well. The extended 128-bit NEON pipeline is now able to handle eight 16-bit operations per cycle using FP16 instructions or four 32-bit operations per cycle when using dot product instructions. Fused multiply-add instruction latency has also been halved to just four cycles. In other words, a number of math operations can be executed more quickly on the A55 compared with the A53, which we can see from the 38 percent boost to floating point and NEON benchmarks.

Perhaps the most important performance boost for the Cortex-A55 comes from the major changes that ARM has made to its memory system. The use of a private L2 cache, configurable up to 256KB, again improves the cache miss capability of the core and lowers the latency for data intensive applications. ARM states that L2 latency has been reduced by 50 percent compared with a shared L2 configuration often used with an A53, down to just 6 cycles. The 4-way set associative L1 cache is also more configurable this time around, in either 16KB, 32KB, or 64KB sizes.

Combined with a shared L3 cache when used with DynamIQ and the new prefetcher, these latency sensitive cores should be kept better fed with data, allowing better utilization of their peak performance. Not only that, but the lower latency communication inside a DynamIQ cluster, compared with higher latency communicating between clusters, should lend further improvements in multi-core task management. Again, the emphasis on this redesign has been to keep the core better fed with data.

The Cortex-A55 also benefits from attributes of the new DynamIQ Shared Unit, including cache stashing, low latency access to peripherals, and fine-grain power management options.

Wrap Up

On their own, both the Cortex-A75 and Cortex-A55 offer notable improvements over the company’s last generation cores, both in terms of peak performance and energy efficiency. Even on current processing nodes, we can expect better single threaded performance and lower power drain for less demanding tasks than today’s A73/A53 big.LITTLE processors.

Of course, both of these new chips also mark the introduction of ARM’s DynamIQ multi-core technology, which further optimizes the balancing of power and performance that is so essential for mobile products. Not only that, but DynamIQ brings much more flexibility to the design table, and will empower particularly mid-range SoCs to eke out extra performance with very few extra costs. Backed up by the individual improvements brought to the A75 and A55, this is looking like a potent combination for future smartphones.

We most likely won’t see any mobile products featuring these new CPU cores arrive on the market until early 2018, but we may see SoC announcements based around these products as early as the closing quarter of this year.



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How to dual-boot two versions of MacOS X on a Mac


Updating to the latest version of MacOS doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing affair. You can install two different operating systems on your Mac and choose the one that suits you.

There are a few reasons why you might want to run two versions of the Mac operating system:

  • If you want to update your Mac to the latest software but you have legacy apps that may not run on it
  • If you are a developer and need to test your own apps on different versions of the MacOS 
  • If you want to try out a beta version of the Mac operating system

Here’s how to set up your Mac so you can run two versions of the operating system on it:

  1. Back up your Mac
  2. Partition your hard drive
  3. Install the old version of Mac OS X in partiton 1
  4. Restore your Time Machine back up to that partition
  5. Install the new version of Mac OS X in partition 2

Back up your Mac

This is the first step because when you partition your Mac you will have to completely wipe it.

If wiping your Mac sounds like too much hassle to you, you could try installing MacOS on a external hard drive instead, we show you how here: How to run macOS from an external hard drive.

If you want to keep your current work, you need to create a backup of your Mac and ensure that it will fit on your smaller partitioned drive.

Partition your hard drive

You can partition the main hard drive into two separate drives and then install macOS Sierra on one and OS X 10.11 El Capitan on the other, for example.

We explain how to partition your Mac hard drive or SSD here.

Alternitively, create your partition by following these instructions:

  1. Boot Mac OS X into recovery mode (Hold down Option/Alt during startup)
  2. Use Disk Utility in recovery mode to wipe the main hard drive and split it into two partitions

Read about how to download MacOS here. We also have advice about downloading older versions of Mac OS X here.

Install the old version of Mac OS X in partition 1

  1. Use the Install option in Recovery to install OS X 10.11 El Capitan onto the main partition
  2. Recover your Time Machine backup into that partition

Install the new version of Mac OS X in partition 2

Follow the steps above to install the macOS Sierra, or the beta of the new version of MacOS onto the second partition.



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Watch Andy Rubin make a case for the Essential Phone


Andy Rubin, the co-creator of Android, isn’t resting on his laurels. He may have helped develop a mobile operating system that boasts two billion monthly active users, but he’s now eyeing the next big thing.

His company is set to release its first smartphone, titled the Essential Phone, in June, and we already know a bit about it from the specs and price details announced yesterday. Last night, Rubin also took part in a Code Conference interview to discuss why the Essential phone is here and what makes it special.

It’s an interesting interview, providing lots of insights into the industry. You can watch it in its entirety above, but I’ve also summarized the main talking points regarding the phone below.

“What’s post-mobile?”

Rubin said he and his team at Playground (the parent company of the Essential brand) were trying to figure out what was “post-mobile” when they started working together two and a half years ago, and believed it would involve “some form of machine-learning AI combination.”

Like how Android has played a vital part in the mobile ecosystem, Rubin now wants to be part of the next ecosystem. He said he was interested in, “planting the seeds today […] that will help us harvest those opportunities in the future.”

In other words, the Essential Phone is just a first step towards a much bigger idea. Though what this will be isn’t completely clear yet, you can already see the direction it’s going in some of the other IPs Essential has announced. The company is working on its own OS, known as Ambient OS (though its Essential phone runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat), and a Smart Home product like the Amazon Echo Show.

The OS and the assistant, it appears, will go hand-in-hand, but when asked about whether the OS would ever be used to power a smartphone, Rubin said: “I don’t necessarily see a reason for there to be,” but noted that, “if there becomes a reason in the future, I’ll be in a really good position to address it.”

“This isn’t rocket science, it’s technology evolution.”

The design of the Essential is distinct, with a large front-facing display and near bezel-less design. Rubin talked this up in the interview, saying that you’re getting the phablet-like screen in a regular phone size, but conceded that it was the way others in the industry were moving. “This isn’t rocket science, it’s technology evolution,” Rubin said. Rubin also discussed how the company employed titanium to strengthen the device body, stating that it would “bend in my pocket” if it was made from the typical aluminum used in smartphones.

On the rear of the handset, two magnetic pins can be found which will be used to connect to Essential’s accessories. Rubin said this was a first step in a bid to get away from cables.

“Connectors of any kind are dumb,” he said. “They should all go away.” While the Essential phone does have USB Type-C, as the industry transitions, the Essential phone also employs magnetic pins for mod connectivity, which feature a near-field, 60 GHz RF chip that works effectively the same as USB 3.0.

Essential’s upcoming home assistant will utilize the same tech, and Rubin says future Essential Phones could change form factor without excluding existing accessories. Current Motorola phones are restricted to the same form factor if they want to maintain compatibility with the Moto Mods, Rubin said.

Rubin also talked a bit about the digital assistant integration, which is set to play a significant role in the Essential Phone. “If you think of an assistant, and how you would expect an assistant to run in your home, that same assistant runs on the phone,” he said. Essential is yet to talk about or demonstrate precisely what this assistant will offer, however.

Closing thoughts

“One of the reasons I started this company is because I would go into a store and I wasn’t happy with any of the phones out there,” Rubin disclosed during the interview. “Especially Android phones.”

This is as good a reason as any to begin a business building smartphones, and the Essential Phone looks great and has the kind of specs you’d expect from a $699 device.

I’m not sure if the Essential Phone is intended to bring something really fresh to the table yet, though. With Rubin — and his company — aiming to be part of the next great tech movement, I expect this is more of a foundational, “proof-of-concept” type product. But I hope it’s a success, because the next Essential Phones could be where the gears really start to turn.



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How to speed up a slow iPad


If you own an older model of iPad – perhaps an iPad 1, 2, 3, or 4, or the iPad mini 1 – then the chances are that it isn’t running as quickly as you like. Even though iOS is a modern operating system that requires minimal maintenance, it still gets full and slows down over time.

Sometimes even relatively new models feel sluggish compared to the way they performed when brand new.

Here are some of the tricks we use to speed up old or slowed-down iPads. Read next: How to speed up a slow iPhone

Delete apps you no longer use


Delete apps you no longer use

The first trick is to have a good software clear-out. Remove any apps that you no longer use. Apps take up storage space, and freeing up space makes it easier for iOS to operate.

Note that we’re talking about deleting the apps from the device entirely, not just closing them down (by double-tapping to open the multitasking bar, then swiping up on the app you want to close).

Deleting apps that you no longer use has a notable effect on iOS – especially if you have limited storage available because it will free up space.

You can delete apps you no longer want or use by pressing and holding on the app icon until it starts to jump around. Then tap on the x in the top right of the icon to delete it.

If you’re looking to delete multiple apps, there’s a quicker and easier way than deleting each one individually. Tap Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Usage. Now tap Manage Storage (under Storage, not iCloud) and look for items that are taking up lots of space. Podcasts, GarageBand and Movies are likely suspects. Tap an app to view its contents, and then tap Delete it remove it.

Here’s a guide to How to delete iPad apps.

Restart your iPad


Restart your iPad

Once you’ve removed apps you don’t use from your iPad, you should restart it. The restart refreshes the memory and enables it to start from scratch.

To restart your iPad hold down the Sleep/Wake button until you see the Slide To Power Off control slide and swipe it to power down your iPad.

Then press and hold the Sleep/Wake button again to wake it back up.

Boost the RAM


Boost the RAM

One of the reasons why an older iPad might feel a bit slow is that the older models generally have less RAM. RAM stands for random access memory and it’s where temporary files and data associated with the apps you are using on your phone is stored. If you RAM is a little clogged up with data from lots of running apps it can slow down your iPad.

One reason why shutting your iPad down and turning it back on again can help speed things up is that it empties the RAM. It’s also the reason why some people swear that force closing open apps helps speed things up, because it should free up RAM being used by those applications.

There are a few ways that you can clear up your RAM. One way is to press the Sleep/Wake button until you see the Slide to power off slider. However, rather than swiping, press and hold the Home button and wait for your screen to return to the home screen. This apparently cleans your RAM.

However, we use an app called Refresh Pro to do this. The app will show you how much of your RAM you are using and will scan it to free RAM up.

Here’s how to clean your iPhone and iPad junk files.

Stop Background App Refresh


Stop Background App Refresh

Now that you’ve freed up some memory your iPad should already be working much faster. But if you’re using an older iPad, such as an iPad mini or iPad 2, then you’ll get even better results by turning off features you can manage without.

Start by stopping Background App Refresh. If you have this service selected in Settings your iPad will be working away in the background checking all your apps for updates. If you have a lot of active apps – social networking apps like Facebook are particularly notorious for this – they will be taking processing power from your iPad without you even having the app open in front of you.

Tap Settings > General > Background App Refresh and set Background App Refresh to Off.

You could leave it so that some of your apps use background app refresh and others don’t, but we feel like you might as well turn the whole thing off.

Update to the latest version of iOS


Update to the latest version of iOS

Usually the first thing you will be asked if you have an issue with your device is whether the software is up to date. This is because sometimes there are issues with older versions of software, and it’s usually a safe bet that the newer version will have fixed those issues.

Be warned though, updating the iOS can be a mixed bag in terms of speed. Sometimes it introduces new features that actually slow down an older iOS device, while on the other hand, newer versions of iOS introduce new, and more efficient code. In any case, if your iPad is unusably slow after trying all the other tips here, it’s worth updating if you aren’t already running the most recent version of iOS.

Tap Settings > General > Software Update and check if there’s a new version of iOS available. Updating iOS is almost always a one-way process, so only do this if you’re certain… or desperate.

Read more information about how to update iOS on an iPhone or iPad here.

Clear Safari’s cache


Clear Safari's cache

Safari is one app where you might notice slowdown more than most. This can be caused by a full cache, which Safari has to search through.

Tap Settings > General > Clear History and Website Data to remove all of the Safari cache information.

This should speed up the Safari interface, although web pages may take slightly longer to load in the short term (as the cache fills back up).

Stop Notifications


Stop Notifications

Notifications can helpfully alert you when messages arrive on your iPhone, but some time you don’t really need a notification – for example, every time someone comments on a post on Facebook.

As with Background App Refresh, scanning for and providing notifications can slow down an iOS device.

Tap Settings > Notifications and, for each app, set Notifications to Off.

Turn off Location Services


Turn off Location Services

While it can be handy for apps like Maps and Facebook to know your location, Location Services is liable to sit in the background sucking up battery power and reducing performance.

Tap Settings > Privacy > Location Services and set Location Services to Off. Tap Turn Off.

Turn off Spotlight


Turn off Spotlight

Spotlight powers search on your iPad, making it quick to find something, but it has to index each item on your iPad that can occasionally slow things down.

Tap Settings > General > Spotlight Search and set all the Search Results items to Off.

Enable Reduce Motion


Enable Reduce Motion

If you’ve turned off everything else and want a little bit more speed, turning off some of the visual effects can provide a slight speed boost. Tap Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion and set Reduce Motion to On.

Alternatively, take a look at the other tips, tutorials and general advice for iPad owners in the articles linked below.

Find out if your web connection is slow


Find out if your web connection is slow

If you still find Safari to run slowly after doing all this, the issue might not be with your iPad, but instead with your internet connection. It doesn’t matter how fast your iPad is, if your connection to the internet is weak then it’ll slow things down to a snails pace. 

Download a speed test app like Ookla’s Speedtest app and run the test. The average broadband speed in the UK is around the 29mb/s mark, but this can be much higher in some places. If you find that your internet is extremely low, around the 1-4mb/s mark, that might explain why your iPad is running so slowly – especially in Safari, and other apps that require an active internet connection. 

The solution? Move closer to your Wi-Fi router, or look into Wi-Fi extenders to provide wider wireless coverage in the home. 



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Unlocked Samsung Galaxy S8 now available in the US


Update: The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are now available to buy in the US unlocked. The handsets can be purchased at Best Buy and the official Samsung site, though, as expected, they only come in the Midnight Black color variant.

If you buy at Samsung, you have the chance to both trade in a previous Galaxy device (between the Note 5, S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge Plus, S7, S7 Edge) and pick up the new Gear 360 camera for just $49. That’s not a bad offer, seeing as it went on sale last week for $229.

Check out the phones at Best Buy and Samsung via the links at the bottom of the page. 

The unlocked versions of Samsung’s flagship devices have finally arrived in the US. You can now pre-order the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus on the company’s online store or at Best Buy. The S8 will set you back $724.99, while its bigger brother retails for $824.99. The two devices will officially be released on May 31 and only come in the Midnight Black color option.

If you plan on getting the unlocked version of the Galaxy S8 or S8 Plus, we advise you to buy it from Samsung rather than Best Buy. At least for now. The tech giant is still giving out what it calls an Entertainment Kit for free with every purchase, which includes three things: an S-View cover, a 64 GB Samsung EVO+ microSD card, and a six-month subscription to Netflix. The deal won’t be available for much longer, as it expires on May 16.

As a refresher, the Galaxy S8 features a 5.8-inch AMOLED display with small bezels surrounding it, the Snapdragon 835 chipset, and 4 GB of RAM. The waterproof device is equipped with a 12 MP camera with an f/1.7 aperture, a selfie snapper that has an 8 MP sensor, and sports a 3,000 mAh battery.

The Galaxy S8 Plus is more or less the same, with the exception of a bigger screen (6.2-inch) and a larger battery (3,500 mAh). To learn more about the devices, check out our review of the Galaxy S8 series.



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Nokia 3310 (2017) launched in Home “Finland”. Price & Release Date details



After launching it in Iraq, UK, Germany, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, India, France, Russia, Romania, Ukraine, Portugal and Spain and UAE; HMD has now launched Nokia 3310 (2017) in what can be called its home market Finland.

Nokia 3310 (2017) can be pre-ordered online now in Finland for a price of EUR 49. Expected delivery date is the second week of June. It is expected to hit retails stores in 1-2 weeks.

Elisa Pre-order link

You can check out our Nokia 3310 unboxing video and first hands-on impressions by clicking here.

The Nokia 3310 (2017) sports a new design, thinner and lighter profile than the original Nokia 3310. It also packs a Snake game created by Gameloft, a camera and has a Dual-SIM variant. You can read your article on 11 new features of Nokia 3310 (2017) by clicking here.

Read all Nokia 3310 details including specs, features and check out gallery and videos by clicking here. We have already covered the pre-order status and availability of Nokia 3310 in various regions in much detail on this page, if case you are looking to buy one.

Thanks Sero for the tip. Cheers!!



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OnePlus 3 and 3T will get Android O, but are OnePlus 2 owners forgotten?


As we get closer to the release of Android O, the head of OnePlus claims its two current smartphones, the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T, will be updated to Google’s next major Android release.

Pete Lau, the founder and CEO of OnePlus, made the announcement on his personal Twitter feed today. Naturally, he did not offer any information on when the OnePlus 3 or 3T would get the Android O update.

While not mentioned by Lau, the company’s upcoming OnePlus 5 will be getting the update to Android O as well. OnePlus is expected to officially announce and launch the OnePlus 5 later this summer.

Before you get too excited about Lau’s claims about the OnePlus 3 and 3T getting Android O, keep in mind that the company previously announced that the older OnePlus 2, which launched in the summer of 2015, would get an update to Android 7.0 Nougat at some point. Indeed, the last software update for the phone, released in March, did not include Nougat.

OnePlus continues to be silent about its future software updates for the OnePlus 2, despite a fan-led social media campaign to get the company to issue some sort of statement on this matter. OnePlus 3 and 3T owners should keep that in mind just in case the promised Android O update does not happen after all.

Do you think OnePlus should have made some sort of statement about its previous commitment to offering Nougat to the OnePlus 2 before announcing Android O plans for the OnePlus 3 and 3T? Let us know your opinions in the comments!



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