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Update: The Samsung Galaxy S5 is tipped to make its debut at the MWC show in Barcelona on 24 February 2014. Catch up on everything we know so far with our Samsung Galaxy S5 rumous round-up

It’s here at last, Samsung’s biggest release for a year. The Samsung Galaxy S4 will doubtless be popular but is it the best smartphone of the year, and are the new features – and there are oh, so many of them – worth having?

The brand has not radically changed the design of the phone compared to last year’s Samsung Galaxy S3. Why would it? – the S3 was massively popular, so the company knew it had a winning design.

Even so, look closely and you’ll see definite style improvements, with straighter lines and a sleeker, more serious look to it. The S3 had swirly, curvy lines demarcating the chrome effect from the colour. On the Samsung S4 it’s all straight edges, giving a more elegant and slightly more clinical look that is at once more demure and grown-up.

And to be honest, it looks a bit more like the conventional design of other smartphones so whether this new design is better or worse is purely a matter of taste. The curves at the top and bottom edges are less tapered this time, so the corners are a touch squarer, which is also more pleasing. Less of a lozenge, more of a rectangle with soft edges.

But it’s the same gloss plastic finish, so if you’re keener on a more premium feel like the iPhone 5 or HTC One, you may feel this is a bit shouty. Even so, it’s a classier look than the S3, even on the back where the camera lens (bigger this time) has just the flash near it. On the S3 the flash was to the left of the lens, the speaker to the right. Here, the flash is directly below the lens, both centred at the top of the handset. And the speaker grille is towards the bottom and off-centre, which looks neater.

The design of the buttons has barely changed. The S3 wasn’t big on buttons, sporting only a volume rocker on the left edge and the power button on the right. These are in the same places, but this time around the power button is a little bigger. So is the volume rocker which is a little higher up on the left edge, but these are small changes but, we’d say, are all improvements.

Samsung Galaxy S4: Size and build

Like last year’s model, this isn’t a phone for petite hands. But Samsung has squeezed in a screen that’s bigger than the S3’s into a handset that’s slightly smaller (the dimensions are 136.6mm tall, the same as the S3, while the width and depth, 69.8mm and 7.9mm, are smaller).

The change in depth is particularly noticeable and means that though it’s big it doesn’t feel unmanageable. The display is 5in this year, against last year’s 4.8in on the S3.

Check out our Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 specs showdown

Even so, this phone clocks in at 130g against the marginally heavier 133g last time around. Most premium smartphones these days have sealed-in batteries – without the need to finish the battery in a removable case it’s possible to maximise the size and power of the cell – but Samsung has opted for a back that pops off.

This has a big advantage because it means if you run out of juice you can pop in a replacement battery. But it can mean that the build is less persuasive or creaks annoyingly when you flex the phone in your hands. In fact, there’s precious little creak – this is a well-engineered machine.

As before there are two colours, this time white and black. Both look good, though the white looks more lively and has a gentle, subtle texturing that you only see when you look closely.

As with any smartphone, you need buttons to supplement that touchscreen. Samsung, like Apple but unlike almost everyone else, has a physical home button on the front, making it easier to wake the screen. This is especially important when the screen is as big as this phone. Reaching to the bottom of the display rather than the top right can make a palpable difference.

Even so, you can go there if you prefer as the power button is towards the top of the right edge, as usual with Samsung phones. The Home button is a more symmetrical shape than on last year’s model, though still standing slightly proud.

The headphone socket is in the conventional place on the top edge. Apple’s iPhone 5 has it on the bottom. Why should this matter? Well, if you have a protective slipcase, say, you have to remember when listening to music to slide the iPhone into it the wrong way up, which is counter-intuitive.

Better to make a statement with it, as the Nokia Lumia 920 does by plonking it on top in the centre. This left-of-centre placement on the top of the S4 is unexceptional, but fine.

The PlayStation 4 is the most powerful games console on the planet.

With more graphical power than the Xbox One, 32 times more system memory than the PS3 and a firm focus on pure gaming experiences rather than media mojo, it has established itself as the next-gen console to beat.

It's a games console built by gamers for gamers. It won the hearts and minds of many from the word go, with lots of prospective next-genners left feeling alienated by some of Microsoft's bizarre policies and choices for the Xbox One – many of which were reversed as a result of a backlash.

Coming in at £350, the PS4 is also £80 cheaper than the Xbox One, making it appear terrific value. It doesn't come with the PlayStation Camera (the One does come with Kinect) but this can be bought separately for £45 if you so wish.

The differences between the PS4 and Xbox One are actually evident before you even switch them on. Despite the two consoles both sporting similar half-matte half-gloss finishes and containing very similar internal components, they really couldn't be more different.

For a start, the PS4 is small and sleek in comparison to the enormous VCR-like square cuboid of the Xbox One. And this means that the PS4's box is half the size and weight of the Xbox One. The Sony console can be extracted from its packaging and plugged in and booted up in a couple of minutes.

Xbox One on the other hand comes in a huge, hulking box. It's fiddly to open and unpack, and it's full of little compartments, carboard and plastic to get in the way and make a mess with. The environment was not a concern for Microsoft when it designed the Xbox packaging, clearly.

This is the kind of streamlining that typifies the PlayStation experience with PS4. It's a console designed for gamers to play games and in this respect it could be described as more of spiritual successor to the PlayStation 2 – still the best selling games console the universe has ever known.

Source : TechRadar

Unquestionably, the standout features of the iPhone 5s are its newest hardware inclusions and upgrades, namely Touch ID, the M7 motion co-processor, 64-bit architecture and the all-new iSight camera. These are not only what differentiate it from the previous iPhone 5, but justify its place as the flagship iPhone when compared to the iPhone 5c.

Now, fingerprint scanning is a pretty boring subject and our only real day-to-day experience of using the technology is with those digit readers built into laptops – a slide-to-unlock affair that worked 60% of the time.

So, when Apple bought AuthenTec, spawning rumours of similar technology being integrated into its devices, we weren’t exactly enamoured. However, Apple has done its age-old trick of turning a dull feature into something resembling sexy.

Introduced to replace passcode authentication for unlocking the phone and making iTunes purchases, Touch ID is a joy to use. The sensor is built right into the Home button and registration of a thumb, finger or both – five digits can be registered – takes about a minute using a most-pleasing enrolment system.

Once recorded, Touch ID has 360-degree, readability of registered digits, meaning it’ll unlock your phone no matter what way up you’re holding the handset. The key selling point, however, is the simplicity and speed of identification.

You don’t have to use Touch ID, but after a few hours with it, the mere thought of entering a four-digit passcode to unlock the device seemed so passé. And this is so easy.

For some – 36%, according to a McAfee study earlier in the year, including this reviewer and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer – Touch ID could be the first time security of any kind will be used to protect entry to their phone. It's all seamless, efficient and totally Apple.

Apple is keen to point out that it doesn’t store fingerprint details in iCloud or any of its remote servers. It’s all contained within the hardware, meaning nobody can get at your data. Even the NSA.

While this is great news for security, we can’t see Apple opening up Touch ID for third-party development anytime soon. So forget your dreams about online fingerprint banking (Barclays declined to comment on its plans) and real-life retail payments. We'd have also liked the option to open different apps with different digits. Maybe in the next iOS 7 upgrade.

Next in the handful of hardware advancements is what could turn the iPhone 5s from an evolutionary upgrade to a revolutionary game changer.

Like the GPU that bears the graphical strain from a computer's processor, the new M7 Coprocessor takes the weight of motion measurements - compass, accelerometer and gyroscope - away from the all-new A7 CPU.

Apple claims this will provide a 6x power saving for (iOS 7-updated) apps that record motion - Nike+, Strava, Moves, etc - but this dedicated chip can also tell what state of movement you're in and will adjust the iPhone 5s accordingly.

To test this, we used Apple Maps to plot an A to B route that required driving and walking. Upon reaching our destination, and exiting the car, the navigation switched from car to foot, taking us down one-way streets that wouldn't have been possible in a motor.

If the Coprocessor is clever enough to know where you are and what you're doing (to an extent), it could pave the way for the next wave of apps and features. One example we were given was this: if your iPhone 5s is put in a gym locker while you pump iron, it knows that a) you're not using it b) there's no network coverage c) it's stationary.

The iPhone could then power itself right down, switching off 3G/4G, the screen and so forth until the time it’s picked up again, where it would come back to life, ready to take that call from your PT asking why you sat in the sauna for two hours rather than making yourself sick doing burpees.

With a whole new data stream open to developers, it won't be long before a new breed of M7/iOS 7 apps appear in the App Store. What's more, if there's one emerging area that the M7 would supplement perfectly, it's wearable technology. iBand before Christmas, then?

Another improvement that could pave the way for Apps 2.0, is the A7 CPU/64-bit architecture combo. On paper, Apple claims the power couple will deliver speed twice that of the A6 chip and vastly improved OpenGL ES 3.0-compatible graphics.

At the time of writing, no 64-bit games or apps were available. The Infinity Blade demo we saw at the iPhone 5s/c launch admittedly looked outrageous in terms of graphical prowess but, while Apple says iOS 7 was built with 64-bit in mind, the spec bump won't be apparent until developers start taking advantage.

However, Apple's in this for the long game and will soon have all its devices - iMacs, iPads, iPhones - and operating systems - Mac OS and iOS - all running under the same programming banner, which will no doubt please developers. Moreover, no one else is doing that. Apart from Samsung, who was quick to confirm its next raft of smartphones would be 64-bit.

As another spec-war begins, we can report that the A7 chip has definitely made the Camera app a lot zippier on the iPhone 5s. Real-time previews, on-the-fly effects processing, slo-mo, autofocus (see more in iSight, below) are faster and free from lag or judder. For us, this app demonstrates the most noticeable speed improvement in the iPhone 5s's armory.

Source :
Image Courtesy :

Welcome to Android 4.4 KitKat!
Android KitKat brings all of Android's most innovative, most beautiful, and most useful features to more devices everywhere.
This document provides a glimpse of what's new for developers.

Find out more about KitKat for consumers at 
Android 4.4 is designed to run fast, smooth, and responsively on a much broader range of devices than ever before — including on millions of entry-level devices around the world that have as little as 512MB RAM.
KitKat streamlines every major component to reduce memory use and introduces new APIs and tools to help you create innovative, responsive, memory-efficient applications.
OEMs building the next generation of Android devices can take advantage of targeted recommendations and options to run Android 4.4 efficiently, even on low-memory devices. Dalvik JIT code cache tuning, kernel samepage merging (KSM), swap to zRAM, and other optimizations help manage memory. New configuration options let OEMs tune out-of-memory levels for processes, set graphics cache sizes, control memory reclaim, and more.

In Android itself, changes across the system improve memory management and reduce memory footprint. Core system processes are trimmed to use less heap, and they now more aggressively protect system memory from apps consuming large amounts of RAM. When multiple services start at once — such as when network connectivity changes — Android now launches the services serially, in small groups, to avoid peak memory demands.

For developers, Android 4.4 helps you deliver apps that are efficient and responsive on all devices. A new API, ActivityManager.isLowRamDevice(), lets you tune your app's behavior to match the device's memory configuration. You can modify or disable large-memory features as needed, depending on the use-cases you want to support on entry-level devices. Learn more about optimizing your apps for low-memory devices here.

New tools give also give you powerful insight into your app's memory use. The procstats tool details memory use over time, with run times and memory footprint for foreground apps and background services. An on-device view is also available as a new developer option. The meminfo tool is enhanced to make it easier to spot memory trends and issues, and it reveals additional memory overhead that hasn't previously been visible.
New NFC capabilities through Host Card Emulation

Android 4.4 introduces new platform support for secure NFC-based transactions through Host Card Emulation (HCE), for payments, loyalty programs, card access, transit passes, and other custom services. With HCE, any app on an Android device can emulate an NFC smart card, letting users tap to initiate transactions with an app of their choice — no provisioned secure element (SE) in the device is needed. Apps can also use a new Reader Mode to act as readers for HCE cards and other NFC-based transactions.

Android HCE emulates ISO/IEC 7816 based smart cards that use the contactless ISO/IEC 14443-4 (ISO-DEP) protocol for transmission. These cards are used by many systems today, including the existing EMVCO NFC payment infrastructure. Android uses Application Identifiers (AIDs) as defined in ISO/IEC 7816-4 as the basis for routing transactions to the correct Android applications.

Apps declare the AIDs they support in their manifest files, along with a category identifier that indicates the type of support available (for example, "payments"). In cases where multiple apps support the same AID in the same category, Android displays a dialog that lets the user choose which app to use.

When the user taps to pay at a point-of-sale terminal, the system extracts the preferred AID and routes the transaction to the correct application. The app reads the transaction data and can use any local or network-based services to verify and then complete the transaction.

Android HCE requires an NFC controller to be present in the device. Support for HCE is already widely available on most NFC controllers, which offer dynamic support for both HCE and SE transactions. Android 4.4 devices that support NFC will include Tap & Pay for easy payments using HCE.

More at :
Image Courtesy :

When Nokia came out with the Lumia 1520, we were treated to a new side of Windows Phone. All of a sudden, Microsoft's smartphone OS had come of age; it was using the best available hardware specs and a wave of big-name apps had finally arrived in the Windows Phone Store. Even so, we were concerned that the 1520's 6-inch screen size and AT&T exclusivity in the US would limit its appeal.

Last week Nokia announced the Lumia Icon, a new Windows Phone with nearly identical specs in a smaller, 5-inch frame. Finally, the perfect device for Microsoft to take on its high-end Android and iOS competition, right? Well, almost -- the Icon is a Verizon exclusive, arriving tomorrow for $200 on-contract (or $550 with no strings attached). Meanwhile, the other three major US networks don't offer anything comparable yet (outside of AT&T's 1520, anyway). That said, the Icon is still worth a look if you've already decided on Big Red.

Nokia Lumia Icon review: a big step forward for Windows Phone

When Nokia came out with the Lumia 1520, we were treated to a new side of Windows Phone. All of a sudden, Microsoft's smartphone OS had come of age; it was using the best available hardware specs and a wave of big-name apps had finally arrived in the Windows Phone Store. Even so, we were concerned that the 1520's 6-inch screen size and AT&T exclusivity in the US would limit its appeal.

Last week Nokia announced the Lumia Icon, a new Windows Phone with nearly identical specs in a smaller, 5-inch frame. Finally, the perfect device for Microsoft to take on its high-end Android and iOS competition, right? Well, almost -- the Icon is a Verizon exclusive, arriving tomorrow for $200 on-contract (or $550 with no strings attached). Meanwhile, the other three major US networks don't offer anything comparable yet (outside of AT&T's 1520, anyway). That said, the Icon is still worth a look if you've already decided on Big Red.
Nokia Lumia Icon review

Windows Phone has grown up a lot lately. The Lumia Icon is the platform's new poster child, offering specs that would make even the most discerning of power users drool. That includes Nokia's 20-megapixel PureView camera, a 5-inch 1080p display, top-of-the-line quad-core Snapdragon processor, 32GB of internal storage, 2GB of RAM and a 2,420mAh battery, to name just a few specs. You can check out the full list below, but for now, you get the idea.

All told, it's hard to find fault with the specs, but the hardware itself is potentially... polarizing. With its square shape, sharp corners and flat sides, it's as if Nokia took the Lumia 928 and changed the material from glossy polycarbonate to aluminum on the perimeters and matte polycarbonate on the back. Nokia used this same combination of materials on the Lumia 925, but that phone had a less severe design, one marked by gentle curves. What's more, the non-removable back here bulges out slightly from the rest of the chassis. The idea was for the camera to sit flush with the device, but even so, a flat back would have made for a more streamlined look. Finally, at 5.86 ounces the Icon is a little heavy -- heavier than the 4.5-inch Lumia 1020, anyway. That said, it's still significantly lighter than the 6-inch 1520, which means it's also more comfortable to carry around.

Nokia Lumia Icon
Dimensions 136.9 x 70.9 x 9.9mm (5.39 x 2.79 x 0.39 inches)
Weight 5.86 oz (166g)
Screen size 5.0 inches
Screen resolution 1,920 x 1,080 (441 ppi)
Screen type OLED ClearBlack; Sunlight Readability Enhancement; High Brightness Mode; Gorilla Glass 3
Battery 2,420mAh Li-Polymer(non-removable)
Internal storage 32GB
External storage None
Rear camera 20MP Zeiss, OIS, f/2.4, wide-angle lens, AF
Front-facing cam 2MP sensor (1.2MP stills)
Video capture 1080p / 30 fps (rear); 720p (front)
NFC Yes (with secure element on SIM)

LTE Bands 4/13 (AWS/Verizon)

GSM: (850/900/1800/1900)

HSPA: (850/900/1900/2100)

CDMA: (850/1900) EVDO Rev A

Bluetooth v4.0 LE
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 (MSM8974)
CPU 2.2GHz quad-core
GPU Adreno 330
Miscellaneous FM radio, GPS/GLONASS, micro-USB 2.0 HS, four-mic setup
WiFi Dual-band, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Wireless Charging Yes, Qi standard
Operating system Windows Phone 8, Update 3/Lumia Black

Source :

Failing to react to market tendencies has been an Achilles' heel of sorts for Sony in the past. Joining the dual-core and to quad-core parties late over the past two years has caused the once mighty smartphone maker to slide down in ranks and came dangerously close to the role of an also-run.
It appears that the Japanese giant may have finally learned its lesson though, and this time around they are among the first to jump onto the 5" 1080p bandwagon. But the Xperia Z is more than just a pretty face - with a Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset and a glass-covered back, this is also a properly powered and properly built flagship powerhouse.
As usual, we start with a quick rundown of the Sony Xperia Z hardware.

Sony Xperia Z at a glance

  • General: Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE, tri/penta-band UMTS/HSPA, optional 100 Mbps LTE
  • Form factor: Touchscreen bar phone
  • Dimensions: 139 x 71 x 7.9 mm, 146 g
  • Display: 5" 16M-color 1080p (1080 x 1920 pixels) capacitive touchscreen TFT with Sony Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2
  • CPU: Quad-core 1.5 GHz Krait
  • GPU: Adreno 320
  • Chipset: Qualcomm APQ8064
  • RAM: 2GB
  • OS: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • Memory: 16GB storage, microSD card slot
  • Camera: 13 megapixel auto-focus camera with face detection; Full HD (1080p) video recording at 30fps with HDR, LED flash, 2.2MP front-facing camera
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, standard microUSB port with MHL and USB host, GPS receiver with A-GPS, 3.5mm audio jack, NFC
  • Misc: IP57 certified - dust-sealed and water proof up to 1 meter and 30 minutes; Shatter proof and scratch-resistant glass for the front and the back panel

The specs sheet seems to leave no boxes unchecked and even the most demanding of geeks will struggle to find something wrong with it. The Sony Xperia Z is less than half a millimeter wider than, say, the Samsung Galaxy S III, yet it packs a larger battery, a screen of more than twice the resolution and a chipset fully capable of handling all those pixels.

And if that's not enough for you, the Sony is willing to throw in dust and water resistance on the Z, so you don't have to worry about a spilled glass of wine ruining your evening. There's also a new 13MP camera and HDR 1080p video recording which the cameraphone enthusiasts can look forward to. It seems then, that with the latest Sony flagship it comes down to a question of not whether it is better than other smartphones on the market, but by how much.

As long as everything works as promised, the Sony Xperia Z has all the necessary ingredients to lay a proper claim to the smartphone throne. Let's find out how it all comes together at first glance.

Source : GSMArena

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