Thursday, May 31, 2012

Apple iPad 3 pricing and plans

Apple has launched it new third generation iPad in the Philippines. The pricing of Apple's current iPad line-up is as follows:

Wifi only models

  • iPad 2 16 GB - Php18,990
  • iPad 3 16 GB - Php23,990
  • iPad 3 32 GB - Php28,990
  • iPad 3 64 GB - Php33,990

WiFi + Cellular

  • iPad 2 16 GB - Php24,990
  • iPad 3 16 GB - Php29,990
  • iPad 3 32 GB - Php24,990
  • iPad 3 64 GB - Php39,990

Globe Telecom is also offering WiFi + Cellular iPad 3's at the following prices:

On Plan 499

  • iPad 3 16 GB - Php29,990
  • iPad 3 32 GB - Php24,990
  • iPad 3 64 GB - Php39,990

On Plan 999

  • iPad 3 16 GB - Php21,990
  • iPad 3 32 GB - Php25,990
  • iPad 3 64 GB - Php30,990


  • iPad 3 16 GB - Php30,990
  • iPad 3 32 GB - Php35,990
  • iPad 3 64 GB - Php40,990
Getting an iPad on these plans comes with a 24 month lock-in, but you can buy the device on deferred payment plans ranging from 3 to 12 months depending on the model and the credit card.

Pre-paid units can be available off on deferred payment schemes ranging from 3 to 6 months.

Plan 499 provides you 50 hours of Internet connectivity, which can extend up to with up to 292 hours by using Globe's SuperSurf Promo's. if you use the connection during promo hours. Plan 999 gives you unlimited data access. Unfortunately, the plans Globe has bundled with the iPad provide a maximum speed of 7.2 Mbps. I am not sure if these plans can be upgraded to 21.1 Mbps which is offered by Globe with Globe Tattoo Superstick.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Clash of the Titans: HTC One X Vs Samsung Galaxy S III

Samsung Galaxy S III in Pebble Blue

The Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III was officially launched in the Philippines last night, and the suggested retail price was set at Php32,990 and being available on retail stores by June 9, 2012. This matches the suggested retail price of HTC's current flagship phone, the HTC One X, which is also Php32,990. 

HTC One X in Grey.

The street price of a HTC One X is lower and can be found at a price range of Php27,600 to Php29,900 with an official HTC warranty. Once the Samsung Galaxy S III become widely available we also do expect it to sell for a bit lower than its suggested retail price. The Samsung Galaxy S III does have the advantage of being offered by both Globe Telecom and Smart Communications on postpaid plans.

So, the two Titans of the Android world have their flagship phones clashing with its other toe-to-toe on price.  Which is the better choice for you?

Both phone are very similar, combining large high resolution 720p (720 x 1280) displays in thin and light designs. The Samsung Galaxy S III has a slight larger 4.8 inch Super AMOLED display of the Pentile Matrix variety which is an improved version of that found in the Galaxy Nexus. The HTC One X has a 4.7-inch IPS2 LCD display. Both are excellent displays, and we don't see buyers choosing one over the other because of the display.

The Samsung Galaxy S III is thinner at 8.6 mm thin, but being just 0.3 mm less than the HTC One X, I doubt you will actually notice the difference. The Samsung Galaxy S III is a bit wider at 70.6 mm, the HTC One X measuring at 69.9 mm, but again the difference is too small to be of significance. The HTC One X is the lighter of the two at 130 grams in weight, while the Samsung Galaxy S III.

On the  hardware front Samsung Galaxy S III has a slight faster processor and graphics chips, but both phones are so fast it is not likely that there is a significant difference in real world performance. With a quad core processor on either both phones, you probably cannot find any app which would push either phone to its limits. Both phone use HSDPA 21.1 Mbps radios for 3G connectivity. Both phones have excellent 8 MP camera's, and which produces better pictures will be more a function of the user rather than the hardware. 

With the two so evenly matched, what should you consider in selecting one over the other?

Internal Storage. For the same money, the HTC One X comes with more internal storage at 32 GB, of which 26 GB is user available. The Samsung Galaxy S III comes with 16 GB of internal storage. We do not yet know what the user available storage is with the Samsung Galaxy S III, but it would be somewhere between 11 to 13 GB. The Samsung though in part makes up for the lower internal storage with a MicroSD card slot.

Getting a 16GB MicroSD card will cost you a bit less than Php800 these days.

I prefer internal storage to SDCard storage. Accessing it is a tad bit faster. So I would say that if 26 GB is enough, I would give the HTC One X than advantage in this regard. If you need more than 26 GB, with the Samsung Galaxy S III it is a matter of buying a large capacity MicroSD card. With the HTC One X you are out of luck.

Winner: Draw. Depends on the users need. If you only need 26 GB or less the HTC One X. If you need more the Samsung Galaxy S III.

Cloud Storage. Both phones come with two years of Dropbox cloud storage. The HTC One X comes with 25 GB while the Samsung Galaxy S III comes with 50 GB.

Winner: GSIII. More is better so the Samsung Galaxy S III wins.

Gaming. Both phones are wickedly fast and have the power to tear trough the latest 3D games on the Android market. But use mature graphics chips as their base so compatibility should not be an issue.

The HTC One X does sport the 12-core Nvidia ULP GeForce graphics chip which has some really amazing capability and developers do build gamed optimized to take advantage of the ULP GeForce's capability.

Most games wont take advantage of ULP GeForce, but a fair number do, and those that do, look a lot better.

Winner: HOX. If you want console quality grapchics, the HTC One X is the way to go.

Battery life. Both phones use modern energy saving technology, and in terms of battery life are pretty much as good as it gets. We have covered that matter in a separate article at this link. While both phones have excellent battery life. 

Basically, GSM Arena which conducts the test we use for comparison rated the Samsung Galaxy S III's battery life with an endurance of 43 hours, while the HTC One has an endurance rating of 37 hours.

Winner. GSIII. The Galaxy S III will last significantly longer on a charge.

User replaceable battery. The Samsung Galaxy S III's battery can be easily replaced by popping of the batter cover. The HTC One X battery is an internal. Replacing it requires removing the LCD display and the mother board. Only a skilled professional should try it.

Winner. GSIII. Despite the good battery life, if you keep the phone more than a year or a year and a half, you will probably want to replace the battery. The Samsung Galaxy S III makes this easier.

Others. The other area where both phones differ is in their installed operating system. While both run Android 4.0, HTC places a Sense 4.0 overlay on top of Android. Samsung puts its TouchWiz 4.0 overlay.

In the past we would have given this category to HTC which really includes some very useful enhancements. But Samsung has built a lot, new features into TouchWiz like Smart Stay and S-Voice. We have a separate article covering this here

Ultimately, user interface and enhancements are subjective matters and there is really no way to measure one against the other. Best advice, try both and see which you like best.

This also depends on what you used before. If you have been using HTC Sense for some time, I suspect you will want to stay with Sense. If you have been using Samsung phones in the past and like TouchWiz, you will feel more comfortable with the the Samsung Galaxy S III. It is easier to leave TouchWiz behind than Sense, but I really cannot quantify that.

Conclusion.  If you want one postpaid, the Samsung Galaxy S III is the only game in town. If you are buying a phone, than you have some decisions to make.

Overall Samsung Galaxy S III had built a better smartphone. If I owned a HTC One X, the advantages of the Samsung Galaxy S III would not be enough for me to want to upgrade. For the typical user, this would be the better choice. If you spend a lot of time viewing multi-media, will last twice as long on the battery as compared to the HTC One X.

HTC on the other hand has built an excellent smartphone in its own regard, which is also the best Android hand held gaming platform in the market today. If you having a bit of gaming in your blood, it is really hard to ignore the Nvidia ULP GeForce graphics.   

So which do we recommend, pick your own poison. I do not think you will regret either choice. It is also unlikely that you will feel device envy with anything else coming out in the market, well not for another year when HTC and Samsung duke it out for round four.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Nokia Lumia 610: Revealing chinks in the armor?

We were very fond of Windows Phone powered Nokia Lumia 610, with its relatively affordable Php10,990 suggested retail price while offering a very decently sized 3.7-inch display. It was a budget phone which did not necessarily feel like one. 

But it appears that it may have been too much of a good thing. Microsoft has claimed that only five percent of apps in the Windows Phone Market will have difficulties on devices with 256MB of RAM. First, we learned that the Skype app was pulled from the Nokia Lumia 610. Given that Microsoft own's Skype this was particularly disappointing. Now we learned that Tango and Angry Birds, cannot be installed either. The problem appears to be the 256 MB of RAM on the phone. 

This is all a bit disappointing since Skype, Tango and Angry Birds run fine on Apple iPhone's and Google Android devices with 256 MB of RAM. And worrisome too.

Windows Phone's come with 512 MB of RAM and the Nokia Lumia 610 comes with 256 MB. The Windows Phone operating system has been touted as one which is not resource hungry and user have often cited the buttery smooth user interface. Microsoft itself has launched its "Smoked by Windows" campaign to show that its devices to well on the decidedly average hardware you find on a Window Phone these days.

Beyond revealing the limitations of the Nokia Lumia 610, it has gotten me worried hardware on Windows Phone devices throws prioritizes its user interface and built-in apps so much as not to leave enough resources for some causal bird slinging. If you cannot run Angry Birds on 256 MB of RAM, there is a lot you probably cannot run on 512 MB, especially once more Android and iOS apps are ported to the Windows Phone platform. Unless Windows Phone 8 is less resource hungry, current Window Phone hardware may get dated faster than one would expect, which is all not looking to good for Nokia's newly launched Lumia line.  

App developers of the affected apps may release updates to support 256MB of RAM devices. Maybe 512 MB of RAM will be good enough to run Angry Birds Space? Still, with apps which are not all that resource hungry having problems on the 256 MB Windows Phone devices, and with a new operating system on the way in a few months, it looks like a little caution should be taken before jumping in on this platform. 

The Post PC World, the Tablet as a Mobile Device and the Third World

The tablet has been market as a mobile device. Something light and easy to carry around. But after having been in the market now for more than two years, studies show it is mainly used at home. A study commissioned by Viacom shows that 74% of tablet use it at home (Home Is Where the Tablet Is). A study conducted by Rosetta Consulting Practice made the same finding.
"Something particularly unexpected is that I think people would generally think of a tablet as a device used in home, whereas smartphones are out of home. Each of those contexts has an influence on the way we define the role of each device. This study represents one departure from that assumption and as tablets are increasingly making their way out of the home we could see some changes in how we would engage users in branded experiences on those devices."

The proposition that people who buy tablets do not think of them as mobile devices, is that while a 2011 study showed 37.5% of tablets sold had 3G radio's, 90% of tablet buyers on use only WiFi. In other words, there are plenty of 3G tablets in field, whose 3G radio's are rarely or never used.

Surprisingly, despite being used at home, it does not displace the personal computer.
By looking at different tablet owners that have owned the device over time and by asking what they did in the beginning versus what they do now, we learned people tend to do a lot more activities in the first one to six months, in what we call the “honeymoon phase.” Interestingly, a tablet was just one of multiple devices our respondents used and after the honeymoon phase and, after that honeymoon was over, they started to prefer their computers over tablets for certain tasks. Examples include video chat, interacting with social networks, managing finances and shopping for products.

Rosetta's study concludes that "(t)his data about device usage in different locations, combined with our device preference data, reinforced that tablets are not necessarily the primary devices for a lot of things; instead, it is an ad-on device so you can keep accessing info anywhere."

In studying tablet use, for the purpose of optimizing its ads, Google found that the tablet was a "third digital screen in consumer's lives that fill(s) the gap between desktops and smartphones." Google's study found that people use tablets for personal rather than work-related activities 91% of the time.

The tablet, which was proclaimed as a PC replacement is instead becoming an add-on to our PC and smartphone.  Gartner had predicted PC sales to be slower in Q1 of 2012 as compared to the proceeding year. Instead the traditional PC market grew in 2012.

Being a third device, Kogan, in designing a low cost tablet for the Australian market had this to day about tablet demand: "The main feedback we heard from our customers on tablets is that I want one, but I don't need one."

From a third world perspective, things could be very different. Six years ago, the One Laptop Per Child initiative, tried to create a US$100 laptop. The end result was a US$200 unit. The commercial offshoot of this effort was the Netbook, which has now seen low cost computers being offered for as low as a little bit over Php10,000 (still more that US$200), and that is only after the advent of tablets cut demand for Netbooks.

A few months after the launch by Apple of its iPad in March 2010, cheap "China" Android powered tablets costing as little as Php3,000 started to become widely available in the Philippines. These tablets had shoddy build quality and were of limited functionality, not even having access to the Google Android app store. 

A year and a half later, these China made tablets have evolved into credible devices with decent hardware and a price range ranging from Php5,000 to Php12,000. These tablets comes with capacitative screens, running Google's latest Android 4.0 operating system (something which even some expensive tablets cannot boast), with full access to the Google Play Android  app market, and are capable of displaying 1080p video and outputting the video to a LCD TV via a HDMI port. More importantly, computing has become cheaper than ever before.

In the third world, these low cost Android tablets, together with low cost Android and Linux smartphones,  could be a lot of peoples first personal computer. With the Internet now being the main repository of information, access to a personal computer these days is a necessity. More people being able to gain access to this bold new world, is a very good thing.

Is this what Windows Phone 8 will look like?

RVanhuawere has created a concept of what the Windows Phone 8 user interface might look like, and I think he is pretty much correct.

With Windows Phone 7 and 7.5 you scroll through the live tiles in a vertical fashion, while on Windows 8 Consumer Preview you scroll across different clusters of live tiles horizontally. This concept drawing of what Windows Phone 8 might look like makes sense. It would unify the look and feel of the phone operating system with that of the desktop and tablet operating system.

We do not have long to find out. Details about Windows Phone 8 Apollo will be revealed at the Windows Phone Developers Conference to be held on June 21-22, 2012.

Ainol Novo 7 Aurora

Some of these tablets made from lesser known Chinese companies are getting pretty interesting. Ainol's Novo 7 Aurora is a thin and light version of the Ainol Novo 7 Elf we looked at a few months ago. And the light aspect is what interests us.

Quick specifications:

  • Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with access to Google Play
  • 7-inch 600 x 1024 IPS display
  • 8 GB internal storage expandable via MicroSD Card
  • 1 GB RAM
  • AllWinner 1.2 GHz A10 processor
  • Mali 400 Graphics
  • WiFi
  • Mini HDMI out
  • Mini USD
  • 3700 mAh battery
  • 9 mm thin
  • 313 grams in weight
  • Market price of about Php6,999

In addition to the usual tasks you are likely to do with a tablet, this Novo 7 Aurora should make a decent low cost gaming platform. While 7-inch tablets are a handy enough size for use in the hands, they weigh a lot more than your typical hand held gaming console. 

A PS Vita for example weighs in at a nice handy 260 to 278 grams. The first generation Samsung Galaxy Tab 7-inch weighed in at 384 grams, and the newer lighter variants weigh in at 345 grams or so. The Ainol Novo 7 Aurora tips the scapes at 313 grams, coming closer to the weight of a gaming console, making it friendlier when used in hand. The lighter weight is likely to the less than premium quality material used, but at Php6,800 we don't expect too much.

The use of a IPS display instead of a ordinary LCD improves the visual experience, and the Mali 400 graphics should do a decent job of playing most 3D games. Still, this tablet wont run games that require dual core processors. Ainol does have the dual core Novo 7 Elf II, but we have not seen that on local shelves yet.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cherry Mobile now selling low cost Ainol Tablets

Cherry Mobile is now offering low cost manufactured tablets. Cherry Mobile is selling the Ainol Novo 7 Paladin and Ainol Novo 7 Advance II, as the Cherry Pad Paladin and Cherry Pad Advance.
Ainol Novo 7 Paladin

The Paladin is the cheaper of the two offerings at Php4,999. It comes with a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen display with a WVGA (480 x 800) resolution. For those of you who have tried the cheap "China" tablets and were not happy with the touch experience, the resistive displays in those units were really designed for use with a stylus. So, while the Paladin is a China tablet, I think it is important to distinguish it from what the term usually connotes. 

The WVGA resolution on a 7-inch tablet is not all that sharp, but it is functional. It has a single core 1 GHz processor and a 3D capable GPU backed up by 512 MB of RAM. The specifications are not all that impressive, but it is enough to run Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich and support Adobe Flash in the browser, all at the budget price of Php4,999.

For storage it has 8 GB of internal storage and a card slot that supports up to 16 GB micro SD Cards. Connectivity is provided via WiFi, and a USB slot an HDMI port. Yup, you can plug this budget tablet directly into your LCD TV.

The Paladin also has access to the Android Market (now Google Play).

The Paladin does support 1080p video playback, but playback is not always seamlessly smooth. 720p playback has no issue. The Paladin does not also have a camera, so video chatting is not it strong suit.

And that is where the Advance comes in. At Php5,999 the Advance specifications are similar to Paladin, but it comes with more powerful Mali-400 graphics which takes care of any 1080p playback issues. Yup, the same chip you find on high end Samsung mobile phones like the Galaxy S II. It also comes with a front camera.

Is interesting as these two are, adding another Php1,000 or should get you a Ainol Novo 7 Elf or Aurora with their higher resolution 600 x 1024 displays and 1 GB of RAM.

Okay. Who does this benefit. Ainol has already been offering a official warranty for its devices  but most of its resellers don't. By entering into an agreement with Cherry Mobile, it can take advantage of CM's marketing and retail presence. For Cherry Mobile, it gives them a nice low cost tablet to offer. Buying one from Cherry Mobile wont cost you more than getting a similar one on the grey market. Looks like a win-win for both, and for the consumer too.

While some may scoff at these low cost offerings, these tablets serve an important place in the developing world. Android in conjunction with hardware manufacturers willing to bring down manufacturing costs, are making computers accessible to persons who could not hope to buy one just two shorts years ago.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Smartphone wars - Android dominates while Nokia dropped the ball

Overall, the smartphone shipments in the first quarter of 2012 has is 49.9% as compared to the same period in the previous year. 

Current operating systems - Android dominates

Android. Continues to be the top operating system for mobile phones, and now accounts for 59% of the market, with an increase of 145% from shipments in the same period in 2011. Samsung phone account for 45.4% of the Android smartphones shipped.

iOS. Apple has the second number of smartphone shipped, its iPhone taking 23% of the market. This is an increase of 88.7% from the same period in the previous year.

Apple iPhone sales are heavily dependent on carrier subsidies. The has been some grumbling these past few months from US carriers, but so far so action has been taken to reduce iPhone subsidies. However, Windows Phones in the US have been sold subsidized at substantially lower prices than the iPhone, in the second quarter of this year. This could be something to watch.

Windows Phone/Mobile. Windows phone market share actually dropped in the first quarter of 2012, at 2.2% as compared to the 2.6% in the previous year. While these is no breakdown between Windows Phone and Windows Mobile sales, it would be safe to assume that the lost in market share was mainly due to cheap low cost Windows Mobile devices disappearing from the shelves.

I would think, the final test for the viability of the Windows Phone platform is the second and third quarter of the year, which will show how much Nokia backing has been able to improve the market share of this operating system.

In the last quarter of this year, you have the Windows Phone 8 launch, which should see new devices which should breach the two year technology gap between current Windows Phones and their Android and iOS competition.

Operating systems which are in the process of transition - Nokia dropped the ball

Symbian. With Nokia's move to the Windows Phone platform, sales of Symbian OS powered phones, mostly Nokia's, continues to slide now making up just 6.4% of the market. 

The time gap between Nokia's announcement that it was migrating to the Windows Phone platform and its actual release of Windows Phone devices was too long. Nokia's Windows Phone 7 roll-out has not been fast enough to move Nokia Symbian Phones to Nokia Windows phones. Even if all existing Nokia users migrate to Windows Phone devices, this would give Windows Phone a market share of about 9%.

Still, 9% is not a bad place to start.

BlackBerry OS. The BlackBerry OS share in the market is not now just 6.4%, which is 29.7% lower than its shipments in the first quarter of 2011. Like Nokia, it looks like its transition to BlackBerry 10 may be a bit too slow.

BlackBerry's strength relies on its the associated services rather than the hardware itself. As it market shrinks so do the number of users on its services. BBM for example is really only as useful as the number of persons on the service.

Having lost 29.7% year on year, with BB 10 handsets another six month away things do really look dim for the BlackBerry OS.

Smart Samsung Galaxy S III, free at Data Plan 2000

You can now pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S III from Smart Communications, which offers the phone for free at Unlimited Data Plan 2000. The lock-in period is 30 months instead of the usual 24 months.
You can go to Smart's pre-order page at this link

Update: Apparently you can opt to pay Php2,500 cash for the unit and get it a Data Plan 2000 with a 24 month lock-in.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Sony Xperia P is now available in the Philippines

The Sony Xperia P is now available in the Philippines. It has a suggested retail price of Php22,990, but can be had for as low as Php20.500 with an official warranty. While Sony high end Xperia S does not compare well with HTC's and Samsung latest and greatest, and the lower end Xperia U's 4 GB non-expandable storage will be a deal breaker for many, the Xperia P looks really good against its competition. 

Quick specifications:

  • Android 2.3, with a announced upgrade to Android 4.0
  • 4-inch, 540 x 960 LCD display with WhiteMagic Technology, scratch resistant glass
  • 16 GB storage (but only 13 GB available to the user), non-expandable
  • 1 GB of RAM
  • Dual core 1 GHz processor, DB8500 graphical processing unit
  • 8 MP autofocus camera with LED flash
  • VGA front camera
  • 1080p video
  • HSDPA 14.4 Mbps
  • 1305 mAh battery
  • Php22,990 suggested retail price

It goes head to head with the Samsung Galaxy S Advance, which will cost you 2K less. Both phones have Android 2.3, Gingerbread, out of the box. We expect both to get Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwhich updates soon. Android 4.0 seems to need 1 GB or RAM to run optimally, which the Xperia P has, and the Galaxy Advance does not (it comes with 768 MB). It has to compete with last years HTC Sensation, which again only has 768 MB of RAM. It real competition is the Samsung Galaxy S II which cost 3K more. Overall, the Galaxy S II cost more, but is the better device.

The only worrisome thing about this offering is the non-user replaceable battery (which is becoming common these days) and the small 1305 mAh battery. The WhiteMagic Technology of the display is supposed to save battery life, so we will wait for GSMArena's battery life tests and see how it does.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Yahoo! Axis

Yahoo! has released a standalone mobile browser for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch called Yahoo! Axis. It has also released a plug-in that works with Firefox 7+, Safari v5+, Internet Explorer 9 and all versions of Chrome for the desktop.

On the bottom left of the screen you have a small Yahoo! Axis tool bar where you can enter search queries, access bookmarks, bookmark pages and sign in to your Yahoo! account. 

It changes that way search results are displayed. 

I think this could be very useful in mobile phones and tablets, where clicking small blue links is not necessarily easy with a finger. There is a caveat. Yahoo! Axis downloads previews of you search results, and instead of downloading a few kilobytes of data, it can download something closer to a megabyte, before it starts displaying results. Given data caps and wireless data speeds you have to decide if it is worth it.

There is a second caveat. I have not tried the iPhone version, but The Verge is not too happy with the iPhone version. This photo from The Verge show part of the problem.

On the desktop, it is less interesting. Where the old way of searching results now results in near instantaneous results with todays fast DSL connections, still Yahoo! Axis feels a bit sluggish. The large previews are not necessarily informative than a simple Google search.

The other problem is the search results are not all that good (compare the search results from the image second from the top to the image below).

It really seems like a case of having to choose form over substance. Still it is good to see Yahoo! taking new and innovated efforts at search.

Sony Xperia U now available in the Philippines

The Sony Xperia U is now available in the Philippine market. With a suggested retail price of Php13,990, I have found it on local shelves at Php12,990 with an official Sony Philippines warranty.

Quick specifications:

  • Android 2.3, with a announced upgrade to Android 4.0
  • 3.5-inch, 480 x 854 LCD display, scratch resistant glass
  • 8 GB storage (but only 6 GB available to the user), non-expandable
  • 512 MB of RAM
  • Dual core 1 GHz processor, DB8500 graphical processing unit
  • 5 MP autofocus camera with LED flash
  • VGA front camera
  • 720p video
  • HSDPA 14.4 Mbps
  • 1320 mAh battery
  • Php13,990 suggested retail price

At this price with a dual core processor, it is very tempting. There are two things a buyer should note. One is that the internal storage is not expandable. I can live with 4GB since I store most my content in the cloud. I suspect many might find that not enough.

Second, while having a dual core processor, it only captures 720p video.  Video recording being limited to 720p is easy enough to accept at this price after all, it is competing with a bunch of single core phones which only do 720p video recording too.

Those looking at this phone will probably be looking at the HTC One V, which comes out of the box with Android 4.0, "Ice Cream Sandwich," has a larger 1500 mAh battery, expandable storage via a MicsoSD slot and 25 GB of Dropbox storage for two years. Though call between these two. Than you have the Huawei U8860 Honor with a large 4-inch display and a massive 1930 mAh battery, making the choice even tougher.

A very crowded mid-level is good for the consumer. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Globe launches BlackBerry Curve 9320 and 9220

Despite Globe's best efforts, the launch of its new Blackberry smartphones is relatively going unnoticed. BlackBerry devices are not just as exciting as Nokia's new Lumia's, Google Androids and Apple iPhones. Getting a BlackBerry now is an iffy proposition. RIM is cooking up its new BlackBerry 10 operating system, and except for the BlackBerry Playbook tablet, BlackBerry 10 wont be coming to any existing BlackBerry devices. So, if you are planning to get a BlackBerry right now, our recommendation is wait or focus on the service rather than the device. With RIM's new phones, it looks like they are thinking the same way.

BlackBerry Curve 9320 at Globe BlackBerry Plan 999. The new BlackBerry Curve 9320 carries over from the previous versions, mating a 2.4 inch display with a full QWERTY keypad. It does not have a touchscreen display in the interest of cost cutting, and a touchscreen on a 2.4-inch display is not all the useful anyway. With a lower resolution 240 x 320 pixel display and a 3.15 MP camera, it is a budget price version of the older BlackBerry Curve 9360. It does have a nice surprise, a big 1450 mAh battery which puts the 1000 mAh unit on the BlackBerry Curve 9360.

RIM did some very smart cost cutting on the Curve 9320. The 5 MP shooter on the Curve 9360 was a very poor camera anyway. A user won't lose much from its downgrade to 3.15 MP. The 320 x 480 resolution on the 2.4 inch display of the Curve 9360 was nice and sharp, but on a 2.4 inch display, 240 x 320 works just as well. So, you don't loose much a get a nice boost in battery life.

What makes the offer interesting is not the device. It is the plan. For Php999 a month you get, unlimited access to BlackBerry services and web browsing, plus Php400 consumable for calls and SMS. With other phones, Php999 a month you normally only get unlimited Internet.

BlackBerry Curve 9220 at Globe BlackBerry Plan 598. If all you need is BBM, Globe also offers a cut down version of the Curve 9320, the Curve 9220. The Curve 9220 has no 3G radio and has a smaller 2 MP camera, but for Php 598 a month you can get it with unlimited BBM and Php499 a month consumable. 

If you are looking for a back-up phone to your Android, iPhone or Windows Phone 7 device to keep in touch with you BBM contacts, this is a good option to look at.

Globe Samsung Galaxy S III is now available for pre-order

You can now pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S III from Globe Telecom at this link.

The Samsung Galaxy S III is available on both the MySuperPlan or UnliSurf Combo postpaid plans:

  • Plan 2499 - Phone is free.
  • Plan 1799 - Php4,800 cash out.
  • Plan 999 - Php16,800 cash out.
  • Plan 499 - Php24,640 cash out.
  • Plan 299 - Php26,810 cash out.

The cash out for Plans 1799 and 999 can be paid over a 24 month period in equal monthly installments, for BPI and Citibank credit card holders. After July 21, 2012, the cash out portion can be paid in 12 equal monthly installments.

While there is no mention of internal storage on the pre-order page, it would be safe to assume these are the rates for the 16 GB model.

The plans are in line with Globe iPhone 4S offerings. Given some early reports of pre-order price for the Galaxy S III pricing abroad, we there was a possibility it might cost more than an iPhone 4S.

At these plans, the Globe Samsung Galaxy S III is the best smartphone available in the Philippines.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Chipset battery life battle: Tegra versus S4 versus Exynos

GSM Arena has completed battery tests on the AT&T version of HTC One X, which is bound for the US. The only difference between the AT&T version of One X and the international version, the One X is the chipset used, internal storage and LTE.

We have also thrown the Samsung Galaxy S III in the mix, which would allow to compare the three best mobile chipsets in the market today:  Nvidia's Tegra 3, Qualcomms S4 and Samsung's Exynos.

HTC One X 

  • Nvidia Tegra 3 chipset
  • 40 nanometer manufacture process
  • Quad core 1.5 GHz Cortex A-9 processor
  • 5th 500 MHz companion core for use during tasks that do not require much processing power  
  • ULP GeForce Graphics
  • 16GB Internal Storage
  • HSDPA+ 21.1 Mbps connectivity 
  • 1800 mAh battery

HTC One X (AT&T)

  • Qualcomm S4 MSM8960
  • 28 nanometer manufacture process
  • Dual core 1.5 GHz Krait processor
  • Dynamic cpu frequency and voltage scaling allows the processor to adjust CPU speed and voltage as needed
  • Adreno 225 graphics
  • 32 GB internal storage
  • HSDPA+ 21.1 Mbps/LTE
  • 1800 mAh battery
Samsung Galaxy S III

  • Exynos 4212 Quad
  • 32 nanometer manufacture process
  • Quad core 1.4 GHz Cortex A-9 processor
  • Dynamic cpu frequency and voltage scaling allows the processor to adjust CPU speed and voltage as needed
  • Mali 400MP
  • 16/32/64 GB internal storage
  • HSDPA+ 21.1 Mbps
  • 2100 mAh battery

GSM Arena's battery life tests results

Talk Time

  • One X (AT&T) - 10:35
  • Galaxy S III - 10:20
  • One X - 9:57
The Qualcomm S4 is more efficient than the Tegra 3 at this task. The Galaxy S III comes in second in the talk time tests, despite its larger battery, just coming in slightly ahead of the Tegra power One X. Both the Qualcomm S4 and the Nvidia Tegra 3 a more power efficient at this task, the Exynos powered S III excellent results being more a function of a larger battery.

Web browsing

  • Galaxy S III - 5:17
  • One X (AT&T) - 5:03
  • One X - 4:18

This is the surprising one. The Galaxy S III uses a AMOLED type display which historically fairs poorly on web browsing battery life tests. It would seem that dynamic frequency and voltage scaling may be better implemented on the Exynos. Despite the larger battery on the SIII, we would have expected the Qualcomm S4 powered HTC One X with its LCD display to top this benchmark.
The Qualcomm S4 is much more efficient than the Tegra 3 at this task.

Video Playback

  • Galaxy S III - 10:01
  • One X (AT&T) - 6:26
  • One X - 5:45

AMOLED displays saves power on video playback as compared to LCD displays, so the result here is no surprise. The Qualcomm S4 is much more efficient than the Tegra 3 at this task.

The Tegra 3 is no slouch in battery life. Compare it to 2011 phone and it represents a significant improvement. If you compare it to a Apple iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy S II  HTC Sensation XE it is both more powerful and more power efficient, factoring in display size.

But the competition has also improved in terms of power efficiency, and the Tegra 3 falls below the new benchmark. Still, for the gamer it might still be the platform of choice with the ULP GeForce graphics chip being able to display near console quality graphics for Tegra optimized games, putting it on the top of the heap of all mobile graphics chips in this regard.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Big in China!

It has been though going for Windows Phone 7 to gain traction since it launched a year and a half ago. Being late with the new operating system, Windows Phone 7 also lagged in terms of the apps available.

But Windows Phone is big in China. In the two months since Windows Phone has been on sale in China, it has captured 7% of the smartphone market share, going past Apple's iPhone at 6%. Android is still the king in China, with Android being far ahead with a 68% market share. But with Windows phone going from 0% to 7% in just two months, nothing is impossible.

A small victory in China is significant, as China is now the worlds largest smartphone market.

Another problem for Windows Phone has been having less available apps compared to Android and iOS. But  Windows Phone now has over 90,000 apps available in the Windows Market place, and I think a maturing market it realizing that having 400,000 to 500,000 apps in the market place is meaningless when the average Google Android and Apple smartphone user has all of 41 apps installed on their phone with the top 50 apps in the market command 58% of all use.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Third Generation Apple iPad to be released in the Philippines on May 29, 2012

The Third generation Apple iPad to be released in the Philippines on May 29, 2012. I expect pricing to be the same as the iPad 2 before the March 2012 discounts.

The main feature of the new iPad, as compared to the iPad 2 is the 1536 x 2048 "retina" display and updating the HSDPA radio's that meet the 21.1 Mbps standard.

Nokia Lumia 900 priced

The Philippine price for the Nokia Lumia 900 was announced at Nokia's Lumianation event held yesterday at Php27,990. Given that it's smaller sibling, the Nokia Lumia 800 is priced at Php23,500, the suggested retail price of the Nokia Lumua 900.

The Php28K price pits the Nokia Lumia with head to head with high end Android phone like the HTC One X and the Sony Xperia S. These are quad and dual core Android phones with 720p displays, better still camera's, 1080p video recording and 32 GB of internal storage. 

The Nokia Lumia 900 comes with a very nice 4.3-inch clear black display, but with a low WVGA (480 x 800) resolution. This would have been good technology in 2011, but it really falls far behind the curve in 2012. The reason for the low resolution display is that Windows Phone 7 only supports the 480 x 800 resolution. While Nokia has excellent camera's in its Symbian power phones, it seems to still be tweaking their performance in Windows Phone 7.  Being single core, it can only shoot 720p video. Maybe most disappointing is that its internal storage is a non-expandable 16 GB, while its competition offers twice that much. 

One thing pointed out at the Lumianation even was that by using single core processors, the Lumia's were more power efficient that the dual core and quad core phones. This claim is questionable. Phones like the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III implement more modern chipsets that more modern power efficient chipsets. While GSM Arena has not posted any battery life test for the Nokia Lumia 900, it does have tests for the AT&T version of the phone and it does far well against modern Android phones like the HTC One X. The monster 4.7-inch HTC One X beats has slightly better battery life than the smaller 3.7-inch Nokia Lumia 800. The soon to be launch Samsung Galaxy S III has even better battery life than the HTC One X.

So, on the hardware front, suffice it to say that the Nokia Lumia 900 is expensive for what it offers.

But it does have some advantages in software. The Windows Phone 7.5 operating system in the phone is tightly integrated to Facebook. So Facebook users should give this phone a look. Nokia's NDrive is also the best free voice guided turn-by-turn navigation app for the Philippines. With iOS or Android, you do get Google Maps with turn-by-turn guidance, but no voice guidance. Buying third party voice guided turn-by-turn navigation can cost you two to four thousand pesos. 

Another plus, is that the the Nokia Lumia 900 will be bundled with the Monster Purity Stereo Headset. At least for the phones initially sold.

If these features and accessories matter to you, the Nokia Lumia 900 could be worth its rather premium price. 

Normally, you expect the top of the line device to be replace after one year. In 5 to 6 months we expect to see a new set of Windows Phone 8 devices with dual core processors, HD displays and 1080p video recording, and we expect them to cost as much as a Nokia Lumia 900 will cost today. I expect to the the Nokia Lumia 910, sooner, rather than later.

Expect to see the Nokia Lumia 900 hit the store shelve early June.

Second looks at the Samsung Galaxy W i8150 - After the price drop

The Samsung Galaxy W i8150 was released in the Philippines in November 2011. It was a very interesting offering, but its Php16,000 price bumped head to head with LG's Optimus Black, which had a larger display, and priced below it was Sony Ericsson's Neo V. We noticed that the price of the Galaxy W has dropped to Php11,400 with an official Samsung warranty from one of the retailers who we use for price checks. This now places its price in parity with the similarly spec'ed Xperia Neo V.

Samsung Galaxy W i8150 quick specifications

  • Android 2.3. No official upgrade to Android 4.0 but value pack released with some ICS features.
  • 3.7-inch WVGA (480 x 800) display
  • 1.7 GB of user available storage expandable via MicroSD card slot 
  • 512 MB of RAM
  • 1.4 GHz single core processor
  • Adreno 205 graphics
  • Qualcomm MSM8255 chipset
  • 5 MP primary camera with a LED flash
  • VGA secondary camera
  • 720p video capture
  • HSDPA 14.4 Mbps connectivity
  • 1500 mAh battery

Hardware wise it is superior to the now similarly priced Xperia Neo V. It has more internal storage (1.7 GB v. 320 MB), and faster processor, and a slightly better camera. The case is 1.5 mm slimmer than the Neo V. Overall I prefer the way the Galaxy W rests in my hand and like its matte finnish over the glossy finnish of the Xperia Neo V.

The main advantage of the Xperia Neo V is that Sony released the official upgrade to Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. The Galaxy W will not get upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich, but Samsung has released a value pack, bringing some Ice Cream Sandwich features to Android.

Some user have reported their Neo V's running a bit slower with Ice Cream Sandwich on board with some apps and some WiFi issues. A slowdown is to be expected given that Ice Cream Sandwich requires a bit more in terms of resource than Gingerbread.

With the Neo V at Php11,500 and the Galaxy W at Php11,400, its a though choice. Better hardware or running the latest operating system.

Friday, May 18, 2012

HTC Sense is now Senseless

I have long been a fan of HTC's Sense interface. It modernized the Windows Mobile interface and brought useful additional functionality, through proprietary widgets and apps to enhancing the Android experience. But HTC has gone to far with its Sense user interface in the new HTC One X. 

But yesterday I found out the latest version of HTC Sense limits reduces a basic functionality of Android 4.0. In order to accommodate its Sense interfaced it lobotomized the Android 4.0 operating system. Basically, instead of allowing full multi-tasking, only selected apps can run in the background. Even the web browser has to reload the last web page when brought used again even if you are running very few apps. You really have to watch theses videos to see how bad it is.

The Android experience is a fragmented one. With lower end devices, the experience is not always fluid. But when you buy HTC's latest device with its quad core processor and a gig of RAM, you should not expect pauses when switching between apps.

In response to the issue HTC responded to The Verge saying:

HTC is aware of some questions in the enthusiast community about how the HTC One X handles multitasking and memory management for background apps. We value the community's input and are always looking for ways to enhance customers' experience with our devices. That said, right now multitasking is operating normally according to our custom memory management specifications which balance core ICS features with a consistent HTC Sense experience.

HTC responds nonchalantly, as if it is only a small group of enthusiast will notice the issue. The enthusiast community will just replace the stock software with a custom ROM, and be done with it. This really affects the mainstream consumer more. How much this will affect Android Market apps remains to be seen.  Still, this is a very unwelcome fragmentation of the Android platform.

A reader at The Verge, LTRaziel, commented:

So having to reload every app every single time is “normal” to them? What’s the point of having multi-tasking then?
I really cannot put it any better.

Adililyo commenting at Android Central wrote:

open maps, search for a place, get a text, switch to messaging to answer, switch back to maps, all your search results are gone and the app reloads.

another example, open email app, start to write lengthy reply to email, switch to calculator to figure out some numbers for said email response, switch back to email, YOUR ENTIRE MESSAGE IS GONE and the app reloads.

Mobilesyrup poignantly wrote:

More to the point, HTC changed the way that Android manages memory without informing the consumer

HTC should explain if how there new memory management is designed to work and not be satisfied with a saying "multitasking is operating normally according to our custom memory management specifications which balance core ICS features with a consistent HTC Sense experience".

From left to right. A HTC HD2 (Windows Mobile with HTC Sense), HTC Desire HD (Android 2.3 with HTC Sense), HTC Sensation XE (Android 4.0 with HTC Sense) and Samsung Galaxy Nexus (Android 4.0 vanilla). The Ice Cream Sandwich updated Sensation XE does seem to flush background programs faster than the Desire HD on Gingerbread. But nothing as drastic as demonstrated in the video above.  
I am not a big advocate of Google taking control and limiting what manufacturers can do with their devices, but there have to be minimum standards. When Google launched Android 4.0, one of the key features highlighted was multi-tasking. Android 4.0 handles multi-tasking better than previous version of Android.  HTC's decided this feature was less important that their Sense user interface. A third party user interface should add to the functionality of the Android operating system, or if badly done be more clumsy, but should not disable or reduce basic Android functionality.

In the end, if HTC wanted to keep keep the Sense experience, how much would another 512 MB of RAM cost a manufacturer.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

HTC One X breaks Android multi-tasking

One of the key features of Android is multi-tasking. ICS has improved that by placing a dedicated multi-tasking button and improving on the multi-tasking interface.

Unfortunately, HTC seems to have broken Android multi-tasking with the One X. HTC has implemented very aggressive memory management that once you switch to a different application, the previous application you are using is deleted from memory. The only apps that remain active in the background are HTC built in apps.

This is similar to the approach Apple's iOS and Windows Phone 7 takes with multi-taking. Only a few apps are allowed to multi-task in the background. 

Android normally manages multi-tasking by allowing apps stay in memory. Apps idling in the background stored in the memory does not consume battery life. When there is too much running in the background, it flushest out the oldest apps from the memory leaving the more recent apps running. This allows the user to switch between previous launched applications without reloading them every time.

With the HTC One X is kills most apps when a new one is launched. This means when you go back to an old app, it has to launch it again. This process of killing apps and having to launch them from scratch consumes more battery life.

wrsdunkie posted two videos on YouTube which shows that HTC One X multi-tasking is pretty much non-existent.

As you can see in the video, previously loaded apps have to reload their data when the user goes back to them. I am a bit surprised this was not caught by the reviews.

HTC has responded that this is the way that multi-tasking is supposed to work on the HTC One X. So basically, it is not broken, it is a feature. I am wondering whether this is a HTC One X issue or a Sense issue, and if full Android multi-tasking is implemented on the HTC One S and the One V.

As a counterpoint, this may not be a bad thing. Once I left the Sentinel III game running in the background on my Android phone and only realized it when I was surprised to see the battery life meter on my phone drop drastically.

What it your take on this issue. Is limited multi-taking better than full multi-tasking? 

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon - Lenovo ThinkPad's the Ultrabook

Lenovo has unveiled several new ThinkPad laptops with the new Intel Ivy Bridge chips. The most interesting of the new offerings it the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook. With a carbon fiber lid, and a magnesium allow case, Lenovo has brought ThinkPad grade manufacture to the Ultrabooks.
While I love Apple's MacBook Air, and have happily used one for near two years now, the all aluminum case which makes it look so attractive to many has been the biggest issue for me. It scratches easily, can get awfully cold when used in a cold environment which is uncomfortable to my wrists and, as another blogger found out, the lid can get misaligned in case of small accidents.  

Still, a whole bevy of Ultrabook designs follows the all aluminum trend. The Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook with its magnesium palm rests and track pad corrects a flaw in the typical MacBook Air/Ultrabook design. Now we have the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook, which looks like it might be the best designed Ultrabook to date.

Instead of the universal aluminum lid you get a carbon fiber lid. Carbon fiber is also use for the roll cage. The rest of the case is made from magnesium alloy. The whole chassis is coated in a fingerprint-resistant matte soft-touch rubber coating. Inside it a carbon fiber roll cage keeping the whole thing together. The end result, this 14-inch laptop is just 0.75-inches thick and weighs in at just three pounds. Basically, it weighs as much as a 13.3-inch MacBook Air.

Actually, I am guessing that it wont be much bigger the a 13.3-inch MacBook Air given the thin bezel around the display.

The display is a high resolution 1600 x 900 pixels, and it had a backlit keyboard. For ports you get USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports, a Mini Display Port socket, a 3.5mm headphone jack, an SD card slot and a fingerprint reader. It will come with a selection of Intel Ivy Bridge processors.

The package sounds almost perfect, although I don't have details on the battery and the battery life, and I am guessing this will be a fairly expensive laptop. Still, it is number one on my want list. Expect to see the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon hitting shelves in two or three months.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

NVIDIA highlights Tegra's graphics prowess with the Sonic 4: Episode II launch

NVIDIA's Tegra 3 quad core chipset has been having to take a lot of punches lately. Samsung Exynos 4 Quad and even Qualcomm's dual core S4 have been beating it in benchmarks. But if there is something NVIDIA knows a lot about, it is graphics, and graphics is not all about frame rates.

Sonic 4: Episode II on NVIDIA for Android Tegra devices officially launches today, and the company is using the launch to showcase the graphics prowess of its Tegra platform NVIDIA has published two sets of pictures to compare the newly released Sonic 4: Episode II game on Tegra and non Tegra devices.

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge
Will this kind of graphics capability be enough to make you pick an HTC One X over the soon to be released Samsung Galaxy S III or a ASUS Transformer Prime over an Apple iPad? If you are a gamer at heart, I think it just might.

Smart Communications offers the Apple iPhone 4 (8 GB) on pre-paid

Smart Communications is offering the Apple iPhone 4 on a pre-paid kit for Php29,000. This new version has its internal storage cut in half to just 8 GB.

We are not all excited about this offering. You can get the Smart Apple iPhone 4S for Php4,200 more, at Php33,200. For the additional 4.2K you get double the internal storage, twice the processing speed and the mediocre 5 MP camera on the iPhone 4 gets upgraded to the excellent 8 MP camera on the iPhone 4S. Another key advantage of the iPhone 4S as a camera phone is that it allows you to capture 1080p video, while the iPhone 4 only does 720p video. You also get a faster HSDPA radio, the iPhone 4 coming with a 7.2 Mbps unit, while the iPhone 4S has a faster 14.4 Mbps radio.

Basically, for a Php4,200 difference in price, we really would rather spend a bit more and get the iPhone 4S.

Looking around the market, you can get the HTC One X, unlocked, for as low as Php27,600. This gives you a large 4.7-inch 720p display, a quad core processor, 32 GB of internal storage, an excellent 8MP camera (1080P video) and fast 21.1 Mbps HSDPA connectivity. 

For Php23,200 you can get 2011's Smartphone of the Year, the Samsung Galaxy S II which gives you a larger 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, double the internal storage, user expandable storage, more twice the processing power, a much better camera, 1080p video, fast 21.1 Mbps HSDPA connectivity, and a user replaceable battery.

Basically, as nice a phone as the iPhone 4 is, well it really should be priced at less than 20K for the hardware it offers.

Alacatel Blaze OT 985N

Alcatel has launched a new dual sim Android smartphone in the Philippines, the Alacatel Blaze OT 985N.

Quick specifications:

  • Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)
  • Dual Sim/Dual Standby 
  • 3.5-inch HVGA (320 x 480) display
  • 150 MB internal storage user expandable via MicroSD card to up to 32GB
  • 256 MB of RAM
  • 650 MHz ARM 11 single core processor
  • 3D graphics accelerator
  • Media Tek chipset 
  • 5 MP primary camera with a LED flash
  • VGA secondary camera
  • HVGA video capture
  • HSDPA 7.2 Mbps connectivity
  • 1300 mAh battery
  • Php7,999

The phones specifications are nearly identical similar to Alcatel's Blaze OT 918N. The Blaze 918N is available at 2K less, at Php5,999. So what do you get for additional 2K?

The Blaze 985N has a larger 3.5 inch display, a higher mega pixel primary camera and a front facing camera. A 3.5 inch display is a much more functional size than the 3.2 inch display on the Blaze 918N. The larger display makes the virtual keyboard easier to use and will make using apps and web browsing a better experience. If spending another 2K is okay with you, the Blaze 985N will give you a more rewarding user experience as against its 3.2 inch sibling.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Smart now offering 8 GB models of Apple's iPhone 4 and 3GS on postpaid plans

Smart Communications is offering an 8 GB model of the Apple iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS, both of which are free at Data Plan 2000. The offer is not too tempting since at Data Plan 2000 you can get the a iPhone 4S with 16 GB of internal storage, a much better camera and a faster dual core processor.

The iPhone 4 (8 GB) and iPhone 3GS (8 GB) would be more interesting to those looking for a lower monthly plan.

Data Plan 2000 (150 minutes of calls and 200 SMS to all networks, per month, and unlimited data access)
  • iPhone 4S (16 GB) - Php2,500 cash out
  • iPhone 4 (8 GB) - Free
  • iPhone 3GS (8 GB) - Free

Data Plan 1500 (60 minutes of calls and 120 SMS to all networks, per month, and unlimited data access)
  • iPhone 4S (16 GB) - Php12,500 cash out
  • iPhone 4 (8 GB) - Php8,000 cash out
  • iPhone 3GS (8 GB) - Php2,000 cash out

Data Plan 999

  • iPhone 4S (16 GB) - Not available. Available instead at iPhone Plan 999, for Php23,976 payable over 24 months.
  • iPhone 4 (8 GB) - Php20,000 cash out
  • iPhone 3GS (8 GB) - Php5,000 cash out

Okay, here is the confusing part. This is the first time we hear about a Unlimited Data Plan 999 so we do not know what that plan includes.

iPhone Plan 999 includes 100 minutes of calls and 40 SMS to all networks, and also comes with 250 MB of data, per month.

We will try to clarify this matter.

Smartphones in 2012 focus on power and efficiency

Each year brings the advent of new mobile phone technology. In January 2010 we saw the arrival of the Google Nexus One and 1 GHz processors, which is actual still enough processing power for smartphones. That year also saw WGVA displays (480 x 800) and Apple's "retina" resolution (640 x 960). The next year saw dual core processors, but except for those into gaming, this only marginally improves smartphone experience. The most notable improvement of smartphones in 2011 was the camera, with the Sony Xperia Arc, Samsung Galaxy S II and the Apple iPhone 4S being equipped with excellent camera's. This is nothing really new in the smartphone world, Nokia having released a series of phones with excellent camera's, the most recent being the Nokia N8, and Samsung Pixon released in 2008 having been a very competent camera phone. Still in the Android and iOS world, before 2011 camera's were mediocre. 

Predictably 2012 brings us more power with the dual core Qualcomm Kraits getting more performance per core than any other previous platform and the quad core  Tegra 3 and Exynos chipsets. What all there have in common is the integration of power saving technology together with larger batteries.  2012 also brings us larger displays. While we did see the 4.65-inch Google Galaxy Nexus, around 0.25-inches is occupied by the on screen buttons. The HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III combine larger 4.7 and 4.8 inch displays with dedicated buttons, effectively being another step larger then the Galaxy Nexus.

While the larger displays are the most apparent evolution this year, what is more amazing is that it is being done while improving battery life.

From 65 to 45 to 28. The HTC One S Qualcomm S4 chipset uses the 28 nanometer process.
In 2014 we expect to see chipsets built on the 20 nanometer process.

Comparing the best smartphones (so far) of 2012, with the best of 2011 yields some interesting results.

Screen size and battery

2012 models:

Galaxy S III: 4.8-inch (720p) Super AMOLED and 2100 mAh battery
HTC One X: 4.7-inch (720p) IPS2 LCD and 1800 mAh battery
HTC One S: 4.3-inch (qHD) Super AMOLED and 1650 mAh battery

2011 models:

Galaxy Nexus: 4.65-inches (720p) Super AMOLEDand 1750 mAh battery
Galaxy S II: 4.3-inches (WVGA) Super AMOLED and 1650 mAh battery
iPhone 4S: 3.5-inches (640 x 960) IPS LCD and 1432 mAh battery

Battery life test results from GSM Arena (Source 1 and source 2)

Talk time

Samsung Galaxy S III - 10:20 
HTC One X - 9:57 
HTC One S - 9:42 
Samsung Galaxy S II - 8:35
Samsung Galaxy Nexus - 8:23 
Apple iPhone 4S - 7:41 

Web browsing

Apple iPhone 4S - 6:56
Samsung Galaxy S III - 5:17
Samsung Galaxy S II - 4:24 
HTC One X - 4:18
HTC One S - 4:03 
Samsung Galaxy Nexus - 3:01

Video playback

Samsung Galaxy S III - 10:1 
HTC One S: 9:28
Apple iPhone 4S: 9:24 
Samsung Galaxy S II : 8:00
Samsung Galaxy Nexus: 6:02
HTC One X - 5:45  

We have highlighted the 2012 models in bold.  If you look at it, from the 2011 models only the Apple iPhone 4S fares well in this comparison. While it place last in terms of talk time, it did well in web browsing and video playback tests, but this is really because of the small 3.5-inch display. 

The Samsung Galaxy S II faired well in the web browsing test, but this can be attributed to it having the lowest resolution of any phone in the comparison.

Basically, the new power saving technology does wonder for talk time. Super AMOLED displays and the new chipsets also save a lot of power on video playback (the LCD display of the One X is the reason why it placed last here).

For web browsing, Super AMOLED displays are not the most power efficient. Still the Exynos Quad powered Galaxy S III beats the HTC One X by a fair margin. Looking at the three competing power saving technologies the Exynos Quad does seem to do best.

Chipset technology used

iPhone 4S, Galaxy S II, Galaxy Nexus - 45 nanometer process
One X (Nvidia Tegra 3) - 40 nanometer process, companion core
Galaxy S III (Samsung Exynos Quad) - 32 nanometer process, voltage scaling
One S (Qualcomm S4) - 28 nanometer process, voltage scaling

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