iPhone 6S release date rumours new features iPhone 6S 9 September launch expected alongside new Apple TV dashcrab

iPhone 6S release date rumours & new features: iPhone 6S 9 September launch expected alongside new Apple TV

iPhone 6S release date rumours new features iPhone 6S 9 September launch expected alongside new Apple TV dashcrab

iPhone 6S release date rumours new features iPhone 6S 9 September launch expected alongside new Apple TV dashcrab

iPhone 6S release date rumours & new features: iPhone 6S 9 September launch expected alongside new Apple TV

Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus arrived in September last year, so as we approach September 2015 it’s no surprise that Apple watchers are starting to get excited about what’s next for Apple’s smartphone. Here, we round up all of the rumours about the iPhone 6’s successor, dubbed iPhone 6S, including release date rumours, specs and new features.

In this article we’re focusing on the next-generation of iPhone, that is, the 4.7in iPhone 6 that launched in September 2014. If you’re looking for rumours about the next generation of Apple’s 5.5in iPhone, the iPhone 6 Plus, see our iPhone 7 rumour round-up (sure it might be called iPhone 6s Plus but we think that’s a bit of a mouthfull!). We’ve also got information about the rumoured iPhone 6c here.

Also, find out what’s in store for the year: Apple predictions 2015

Updated 11 August with new release date rumours and more.

iPhone 6S rumours: Is Apple skipping iPhone 6S & going straight to iPhone 7?
Reports that hit the web earlier this year claim that the iPhone 6S may never launch. Truested KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that the iPhone that launches this September might have such significant new features that Apple skips the iPhone 6S and goes straight for the iPhone 7, and his reports seem to confirm that the new features are indeed significant.

In May, Kuo revealed several key features that he has reason to believe will be present in the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus when they launch next month

According to Kuo, who made these claims during a talk with investors, the iPhone 6S will boast the following (click the links to skip straight ahead to more detail about each rumoured feature or read on for the full story):

Force Touch display: This will be the standout feature of the new iPhone according to Kuo. However, it could mean that demand significantly outweighs supply so expect the iPhone 6S to sell out even faster than usual.

The screen sizes are set to remain the same: 4.7in and 5.5in. There won’t be a new iPhone 6C with 4in display this year.

A rose gold iPhone 6S is indeed coming, in addition to the already available gold, silver and space grey.

The iPhone 6S will have a 12Mp camera on the rear and a microphone on the rear for better audio quality in videos.

2GB of RAM is expected in the A9 processor.

A new casing material and internal mechanical design should prevent a repeat of #bendgate.

Touch ID is expected to be significantly improved as Apple Pay becomes more prominent.

Mass production is expected to begin in August, and Kuo expects total shipments to reach 90 million in 2015, with the 4.7in iPhone outselling the 5.5in iPhone 2 to 1.

iPhone 6S release date rumours: When is the iPhone 6S coming out?
The most likely release date for the iPhone 6S is September 2015, which would follow Apple’s iPhone release schedule history. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were released in September 2014, the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c in September 2013, the iPhone 5 in September 2012 and the iPhone 4S in October 2011.

To back up that theory, just hours before WWDC 2015 was due to kick off, new reports emerged that suggested the iPhone 6S will be released on 25 September 2015. That’s according to Mobile News, which reportedly got sent an email that was sent to internal staff by Vodafone.

The email refers to the iPhone 6S as simply ‘New iPhone’ but it’s unclear whether this means Apple will be dropping the numbering system from its iPhone line-up. Additionally, there was no iPhone 6S Plus mentioned in the email. Read on to find out more.

Another rumour has suggested that Apple will launch the new iPhone 6s in August. We think that is unlikely, and the fact that the rumour comes from Chinese publication Economic Daily News doesn’t make it all that credible to us.

According to Economic Daily News, supply chain sources claim that the iPhone 6s is already being produced and component yields are on track for a launch in August. Given that the launch of a new iPhone would need the launch of iOS 9 suggests to us that even if the phone was ready to ship before September, it wouldn’t until iOS 9 was ready.
The very latest reports come from Buzzfeed, which claims to have spoken to a source about the iPhone 6S’s launch. It expects an event to take place on 9 September to unveil the new phone, and that could be followed by a 25 September on-sale date like the one spotted in the aforementioned Vodafone email.
In addition to giving us our first look at the new iPhones, the 9 September event may also give Apple the opportunity to show off a new generation of its Apple TV. You can find out more about what to expect from the event here.

from:www.macworld.co.uk

dashcrab Sony's new mid-range phones take 13-megapixel selfies

Sony’s new mid-range phones take 13-megapixel selfies

dashcrab Sony's new mid-range phones take 13-megapixel selfies

These are dark days for Sony’s smartphone business. The division saw sales drop 16.3 percent over the past year, and is losing money faster than PlayStation is making it. The answer to this problem, according to Sony, is to release two new mid range smartphones to this month, the Xperia C5 Ultra and the Xperia M5. Both focus heavily on imaging, with the C5 Ultra offering two 13-megapixel Exmor RS cameras (one on the front, one on the back) that will hopefully capture some impressive shots. The front-facing camera has a 22m wide-angle lens for all your #welfie needs, and even a front-facing flash. Cameras aside, the C5 Ultra (pictured above) has a 1.7GHz octa-core processor, a 6-inch 1080p display, and a 2,930mAh battery that Sony claims is good for two days use.

The M5 is likely to be the snappier of the two, with a 2GHz MediaTek X10 processor paired with 3GB of RAM, a 5-inch 1080p display, and IP65/68 water- and dust-resistance. It bumps the main camera up to a 21.5-megapixel Exmoor RS sensor capable of shooting 4K video with faster phase detection autofocus, and has the same 13-megapixel sensor at the front. Its 2,600mAh battery is apparently good for the same two days use as the C5 Ultra.

Both phones will run Android 5.0 Lollipop and include a microSD slot for expanded storage. They’ll be available later this month in various markets around the world, but pricing has yet to be announced. If this is all Sony has to offer this year, it’s unlikely to do much to reverse its fortunes. The IFA trade show just around the corner, though, and it’s historically a launchpad for Sony’s new mobiles and tablets. so we may see something more impressive from the company before the month is out.

 

source:http://www.engadget.com/2015/08/03/sony-m5-c5-ultra-announcement/

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Ubuntu Phone review: years in the making, but still not consumer-ready

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he smartphone arena is dominated by two operating systems. Gartner’s latest figures show that during the first three months of 2015, iOS and Android devices accounted for almost 97 percent of global smartphone sales. With established alternatives from Microsoft and BlackBerry already fighting for the leftovers, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of opportunity for new players. Canonical, maker of the popular Linux distro Ubuntu, is taking on the challenge regardless. With a version of Ubuntu built specifically for mobile, it’s hoping to shake up the current duopoly with a fresh approach to content consumption. That’s the plan, anyway, but after spending some time getting to know the OS, it’s clear Canonical has a lot of work to do if Ubuntu Phone is ever going to be a viable option for even casual smartphone users.

Ubuntu Phone is still very much under development. As such, we’ve decided not to assign a score to this review since it only represents a snapshot in time.

A brief history

Canonical’s desire to put Ubuntu on smartphones was revealed several years ago, but originally, the company was toying with shoehorning the OS onto Android handsets. It wasn’t intended to be used on the phone itself; rather, Ubuntu lay dormant on the device, with the full desktop version only coming to life when the Android phone was hooked up to a monitor via a docking station.

Nearly a year after Ubuntu for Android was announced, Canonical debuted the first build of its OS designed to actually run on smartphones. A few months later, a crowdfunding campaign for the first Ubuntu handset was launched. The Ubuntu Edge promised to be a high-end device that ran both Android and Ubuntu Phone, as well as offer the full desktop experience when docked. The campaign ended $19 million shy of its ambitious $32 million target, and Canonical scrapped plans for the extravagant device to quietly focus on the Ubuntu Phone experience.

In October 2013, the first stable build of Ubuntu for smartphones (version 13.10) was released with support for Google’s Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4. The following year was a relatively slow one. While developers and advanced tinkerers were poking around subsequent iterations of the OS on repurposed phones, Canonical announced its first hardware partners, and quietly killed off the Ubuntu for Android project. It wasn’t until early this year, though, that the first dedicated Ubuntu phone was released. Which brings us to right now, with me sitting here holding a BQ Aquaris E4.5 running Ubuntu 15.04.

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Let’s start at the beginning. Press the power button and up pops the Ubuntu lock screen. At first glance, there’s nothing of particular note here; just the time, the date and a circular dial with little dots just within its border. It’s not immediately obvious, but each of these dots denotes a day of the current month. The blocked-out dots are days passed; the hollow dots signify those still to come; and the focal dot is today. Within the dial, it tells you how many text messages you’ve received that day, but double-tap it and the information it displays will change. It’ll tell you how many songs you’ve listened to, for instance, or how many pictures you’ve taken.

The different stats are also displayed in visual form, with colored bubbles that sit behind the dots. The larger the bubble, the higher the level of activity on that particular day. You may have five consecutive days — a working week, say — where you didn’t take a single picture. Behind those dots, you won’t see a circle. But, if you went to a party over the weekend and were a bit snap-happy, the bubble for that day would be large, since your camera activity was relatively high.

It’s an interesting way to show your mobile usage for the month, but it’s not much more than a novelty. Since you can’t really do or learn anything from this info, it feels more like an exercise in graphical data representation, rather than a useful feature. By the way, you can turn this feature off if you’d rather your mobile activity wasn’t accessible on the lock screen.

Swipe the lock screen away and you get to the passcode/passphrase entry screen, should you have one set, and then you’re in.

Before I talk about Ubuntu proper, a quick note on the status bar. It’s one of only a few things that will be familiar to every smartphone user, and it sits at the top of the screen showing the time, battery life, WiFi status: that kind of stuff. As you’d expect, you drag this down to view notifications and various quick settings, all arranged along a horizontal bar.

For some reason, the notification icon in the status bar is permanent, though it turns from dull gray to bright green when something new comes in. There are a couple of other quirks to this status bar. Plant your thumb right over the network status indicator, swipe down and the drawer will descend with that quick-settings menu selected. The same goes for notifications, Bluetooth status, time, and anything else that has its own little icon. Also, as you pull the drawer down, you can scroll through the different options by sliding your thumb toward either side of the screen, which is pretty neat.

The pull-down has a major flaw, however, in that it’s accessible at any time, even on the lock screen. It doesn’t matter if you have a passcode set; anyone can pick up the device, check your unread notifications and change any of the quick settings without having access to the phone. Not ideal if you are security-/privacy-conscious.

Scopes

First, though, Canonical has to sell partners on the value of the platform, while also refining the user experience greatly. For now, Ubuntu Phone is just about good enough for serious enthusiasts and developers to play with, but it can in no way compete with the major mobile operating systems. And given we’re a couple of years into development already, I expected something that was at least verging on being consumer-ready. I was wrong.

source:http://www.engadget.com/2015/07/24/ubuntu-phone-review/

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LG G4 sells for $0.01 in Amazon Prime Day screwup

LG G4 sells for $0.01 in Amazon Prime Day screwup

Amazon Prime Day, the online retail stunt that offered tons of deals, lighting sales and its share of oddball offerings, is receding into the distance, leaving behind it at least a handful of gadget nerds who probably got the best deal of the day.

SEE ALSO: The weirdest deals of Amazon Prime Day

Many who perused Amazon’s day-long deal event, which was designed to outdo Black Friday (it did not), found the offerings disappointing. But a small group of Redditors stumbled on the best deal of the day, according to International Business Times: a brand new LG G4 smartphone for just a penny. LG’s 5.5 inch flagship phone arrived only a couple of months ago and typically sells for $199 with contract and $599 without. As of this writing, the LG G4 was back to its original pricing. LG offered Mashable an offical “no comment” on the matter. Amazon has yet to respond to our comment request.

Moments after they discovered the LG G4 $0.01 deal (without service plan), Reddit members scrambled to buy the phone, and it quickly sold out. Some orders were cancelled, but others reported it shipping and at least one claimed to have received the phone and posted a picture of the Amazon and LG G4 packaging.

This is not the first time the phone has shown up on Amazon for $0.01. Last month, the on-contract Sprint edition (metallic version) showed up for a penny, but then quickly disappeared.

Interestingly, Amazon did not put its own Fire Phone on sale for Prime Day. As for the LG G4, it’s already quite popular on Amazon, collecting 94 reviews and a 4.4 out of 5 rating. We gave it a Mashable Choice.

Considering the criticism Amazon received for oddball items and less-than-exciting deals, perhaps Amazon will consider making a few more of these mistakes in future Amazon Prime Days.

Huawei P8 Lite Review

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Huawei P8 Lite Review

The Huawei P8 Lite is a great-looking younger sibling to the more powerful (and larger) P8, but it’s crippled by a poorly designed UI that’s layered on top of the Android OS.

It’s a shame that Huawei is a bit of an unknown entity in the United States, because the Chinese device maker consistently releases great-looking hardware that performs just as well as that of its American competitors. The good news is that one of Huawei’s more recent US releases, the P8 Lite, stays true to the company’s track record.

A beautiful mid-range device that serves as a smaller version of the true Huawei P8, the P8 Lite sells for only $250 unlocked while offering an experience that feels closer to flagship than mid-tier. Unfortunately, what is an otherwise high-quality handset is marred by questionable UI choices. Bearing that in mind, is it still worth your hard-earned cash?
Build & Design

There is no denying it: the P8 Lite is one seriously slick unit. Sharp edges, rounded corners, and a flat back lend the phone a sleek, low-profile look that is somewhat reminiscent of the Apple iPhone 5 and 5s. A metallic silver band also runs around the entire edge of the phone, and though the colors can vary, our particular unit was white. Both design choices added to the phone’s clean aesthetic.

Weighing in at 4.62 ounces, the P8 Lite has a little more heft than you would expect just from looking at it, but it’s only 0.3 inches thick, which keeps it from feeling too bulky or unwieldy. In fact, the “Lite” in the P8 Lite’s name refers to the smaller screen (in an annoying industry trend, this also means downgraded specs), the upside of which is that it results in a smaller footprint that makes the phone quite comfortable to hold. The slightly textured backing feels nice in the hand, even if it doesn’t do much in the way of offering something to grip.

The layout of the P8 Lite’s buttons and ports is a little unorthodox, mostly due to the existence of its dual SIM ports. Located on the right edge of the phone, the two ports require pin ejection to access and, oddly enough, are for two different types of SIM cards: one is for a nanoSIM, while the other is for a microSIM. In a neat twist, the nanoSIM slot can also be used for a microSD card to expand the phone’s storage space (though it would be nice if it could be inserted in the microSIM card slot instead, given that the nanoSIM is becoming increasingly prevalent).

Also located on the right side are the phone’s power/standby button and the volume rocker. The left edge is devoid of any features, but the top edge houses the unit’s 3.5mm headphone jack, while the bottom edge features dual speakers, one on each side of the microUSB charging port.

In the face of heavy marketing campaigns championing increasingly high resolution displays, it’s easy to forget that when screens are this size, pixel count becomes unimportant once the density reaches a certain point. The differences can’t be discerned by the naked eye. Case in point: the P8 Lite’s 720 x 1280 resolution may seem pedestrian on paper in comparison to some of the eye-popping numbers of other phones’ resolutions, but in reality it still looks quite good on its 5-inch display.

While the crispness and the vibrancy of its colors are undoubtedly impressive, the real eye-catching element of the P8 Lite’s display is its near-edge-to-edge design. The bezel on the left and right sides of the screen is virtually nonexistent, allowing the display to maximize its real estate while keeping the phone’s footprint more compact. And aside from the fact that it looks stunning, it also helps with functionality; when there’s no bezel to speak of to get in the way, basically everything is in reach of your thumb during one-handed use.

source:http://www.notebookreview.com/phonereview/huawei-p8-lite-review/

samsung galaxy s6 review

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The S6’s front-facing 5-MP camera will satisfy the selfie-obsessed, offering plenty of facial detail in addition to some fun extra features. In the selfies I snapped under our office’s fluorescent lighting, I was able to make out individual stubbles of hair on my face, and my skin tone looked accurate.

I then invited some friends to join the narcissistic fun, which is when the phone’s wide selfie mode came in handy. In this mode, after tapping the camera button and swiveling the phone slightly to the left and right, I was able to capture a crisp panoramic selfie that had plenty of room for me and two pals.

Battery Life

The Galaxy S6 will get you through an average workday on a single charge, but it’s not the longest-lasting Galaxy ever. The S6 lasted through 8 hours and 32 minutes of continuous Web surfing over 4G, which is longer than rivals such as the iPhone 6 (7:27) and the HTC One M9 (7:14). However, the S6 failed to live up to last year’s S5, which endured an impressive 10 hours and 57 minutes in our test.

The S6 lacks the swappable battery compartment of its predecessors, so there’s no way to augment its 8.5 hours of endurance without a charger handy. The phone does, however, support wireless charging, either via a separate charging pad or at select locations (such as McDonalds and Starbucks) with wireless charging stations.

MORE: Smartphones with the Longest Battery Life

If you reach that dreaded 5 percent, the S6 has an ultra-power-saving mode that puts the phone in gray scale for maximum endurance. Once you plug in its charger, you’ll be able to get 50 percent battery back in a half hour, thanks to the phone’s fast charging capabilities.

 

Performance

Powered by Samsung’s octa-core Exynos processor with 3GB of RAM, the Galaxy S6 made quick work of any activity I threw at it.

The phone made it a breeze to flip through menus and pop in and out of the camera app, and the performance remained steady when I watched a YouTube video while simultaneously browsing the Play Store in split-screen mode. I didn’t experience any notable slowdown when playing the graphically demanding Modern Combat 5, even as I gunned down a helicopter while riding a boat through an exploding canal.

The S6 scored 5,120 on the Geekbench 3 general performance benchmark, trouncing the A8-powered iPhone 6 (2,931), the Snapdragon 810-powered HTC One M9 (3,818) and our 2,286 smartphone average.

Samsung’s phone performed similarly well on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics test. Its score of 21,193 topped the iPhone 6 (16,558) and our 14,757 average but didn’t quite measure up to the One M9’s 22,804.

 

Configurations

The Galaxy S6 can be had on-contract for $199 (32GB), $299 (64GB) or $399 (128GB). On T-Mobile’s un-carrier pricing, the 32GB model sells for $680 ($28.33 per month), the 64GB version for $760 ($27.50 monthly with $100 down) and the 128GB version for $860 ($27.50 per month with $200 down). The S6 is the first Galaxy S with no microSD slot for expanding storage, so it might be worth considering one of the higher-capacity configurations if you plan on saving tons of photos and videos.

If you want the curved display and second-screen functions of the Galaxy S6 Edge, you’ll have to pay $100 more for any configuration.

Bottom Line

With the Galaxy S6, Samsung has evolved its flagship phone from a strong Android competitor to the top of the entire smartphone field. It’s the most powerful and intuitive Galaxy S yet, complete with one of the most impressive cameras we’ve seen on any smartphone. It’s also one of the best-looking phones — even if you don’t splurge the extra $100 for the eye-catching Edge variation.

Techy users that swear by expandable storage and swappable batteries might want to stick with the Galaxy S5 or the Galaxy Note 4. However, if you can live with those sacrifices, you’ll be treated to the very best phone on the market.

source:http://www.laptopmag.com/reviews/smartphones/samsung-galaxy-s6

Here’s how Google checks for lag on your Android phone

Here’s how Google checks for lag on your Android phone

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Yes, Google hates lag on smartphones as much as you do — enough so that the search giant has a robot dedicated to spotting that delay between your finger input and what happens on screen. Meet the Chrome TouchBot, an OptoFidelity-made machine that gauges the touchscreen latency on Android and Chrome OS devices. As you can see in the clip below, the bot’s artificial digit pokes, prods and swipes the display in a series of web-based tests (which you can try yourself) that help pinpoint problems in both code and hardware. This isn’t the only gadget monitoring device lag at Google, but it could be the most important given how much the company’s software revolves around touch. Don’t be surprised if this automaton boosts the responsiveness of Mountain View’s future platforms.

source:http://www.engadget.com/2015/06/28/google-chrome-touchbot/

Apple says it will pay artists during Music’s free trials

Apple says it will pay artists during Music’s free trials

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Taylor Swift has a lot of clout in the streaming music world, it seems. Just hours after the singer railed against Apple for declining to pay royalties during Music’s 3-month trials, Apple’s Eddy Cue has promised that his company will pay musicians “even during [the] customer’s free trial period.” That includes indie artists, he says. It’s not clear what prompted the apparent change of heart (beyond the obvious public relations problem), but it wasn’t hard to see turnaround as a possibility. Apple has been positioning Music as a sort of anti-Spotify that courts the artists who don’t like the streaming status quo, such as Swift — it wasn’t going to succeed if those same performers jumped ship, whatever the reason.

Update: Cue tells Recode that Swift’s letter, and pressure from other artists, prompted the change. He reached out to Tim Cook to make the change, and told Swift herself about the new policy. As for how Apple is compensating artists during trials? Cue isn’t divulging the exact rate, but he says that it’s a per-stream payout rather than the usual revenue percentage. About the only thing up in the air is whether or not Swift and indie labels will offer their full catalogs to Apple Music. If you ask Cue, it’s simply too soon to know.

 

source:http://www.engadget.com/2015/06/21/apple-will-pay-artists-during-music-trials/

The best iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus battery cases

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This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a list of the best technology to buy. Read the full article below at TheWirecutter.com.

We’ve spent more than 140 hours testing 21 different battery cases (18 for the iPhone 6 and three for the iPhone 6 Plus), and we think the best battery case for most people is Anker’s Ultra Slim Extended Battery Case. It provides an above-average 117 percent of a full charge to the iPhone 6one full charge plus another 17 percentand at only $40, it’s by far the least expensive. The result is the highest ratio of charge percent per dollar and the lowest cost per full iPhone recharge out of all the models we looked at. It’s also the lightest and thinnest battery case we tested.

Why you might want a battery case

Depending on how you use your iPhone, draining its battery during an average day can be easy. If you rely on your phone to last a full day, and you don’t have the time (or physical access) to plop down next to a wall outlet, a battery casewhich puts a moderate-capacity rechargeable battery inside a bulky iPhone casecan be a smart choice. In the best circumstances, a battery case can double the battery life of your iPhone and then some. And unlike with stand-alone battery packs, you don’t need to bring a separate cable or figure out how to carry both devices together. You just slide or snap your iPhone into the battery case to get protection and power in a single unit. If you’re looking only for some protection, we can also recommend a regular case.

How we picked and tested

To test each battery case, we installed a fully drained iPhone 6 and set it to Airplane mode in the fully charged case. When the iPhone reached a 100 percent chargeor when it stopped chargingwe removed it from the case and drained the phone’s battery again. Assuming the battery case still had charge remaining, we then installed the phone in the case a second time, noting the phone’s battery percentage when the case stopped charging it. We recorded the charge percentages and times for each test, as well as the physical dimensions and weight of each battery case. We repeated each test a few days later and then once more for a total of three tests. We then averaged the charge results.

We also tested each case for subjective aspects of usability, such as how easily we could press the phone’s buttons and how the encased phone feels in the hand.

Additionally, we used a micro-USB cable to connect each battery case to a computer to test whether each case allows pass-through charging (the capability to charge the iPhone while it’s in the case) and data syncing.

Our pick

Anker’s Ultra Slim Extended Battery Case is the iPhone 6 battery case with the best combination of good performance, price for the capacity, and least amount of additional bulk. It can provide 117 percent of a full charge to an iPhone 6, and its $40 price tag is crazy low for a battery case. Anker originally released the Ultra Slim at a higher price, but the price has dropped considerably, and the company has confirmed that $40 is the new “regular” price. The Ultra Slim offers the best charge value (2.9 percent of a full iPhone 6 charge per dollar, or $34.34 for a full charge) of any of the cases we tested by far. And it adds only 84 grams of weight, and just 6.1 millimeters of thickness.

When it comes to installation, most iPhone battery cases use either of two types of design: sliders or front frame. Anker’s Ultra Slim employs the slider design. You remove a short plastic cap at the top to slide the iPhone in place, and then reinstall the cap. Doing so is very easy compared with using the trickier front-frame design of Incipio, Odoyo, and some other cases, which requires you to remove a frame, install the iPhone in the base, and then snap the frame into place around the entire phone.

source:http://www.engadget.com/2015/06/12/the-best-iphone-6-and-iphone-6-plus-battery-case/

EE Harrier and Harrier Mini review

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Hardware

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Last year, EE sought the manufacturing grunt of Huawei to deliver its first own-brand device. This time around, however, EE drafted in an old friend from the Orange and T-Mobile days, BenQ, to produce the Harrier and its smaller sibling. The result is a pair of bespoke devices developed for EE alone, as opposed to a retooled and rebranded version of an existing device as is the Kestrel. Despite being made specifically for the carrier, though, neither Harrier manages to shake that OEM-made aura all own-brand handsets seem to bear.

That’s not to say either is particularly unseemly, just that they have a generic quality to them. Rectangles with rounded corners, slightly curved backs — not too thin and not too fat: basic, functional design. Due to its larger display, the Harrier is significantly taller and wider than the Mini, but otherwise they’re identical in appearance. The only real defining feature of the pair is the brushed metal-effect back they share, which looks like it was lifted off an HTC One M8 or M9. It’s just a removable plastic cover shielding the micro-SIM and microSD card slots, but somehow it doesn’t come off as tacky despite it being an obvious imitation of more premium materials. The gold ring around the main camera lens and mirrored EE logo aren’t gaudy either, even if they sound like EE trying hard to make the Harriers look like something they’re not.

They certainly don’t feel excessively cheap, anyway. Build quality is robust and consistent across both Harriers, although being all-plastic affairs means you can twist and flex them (especially on the larger model) to a greater extent than if there were metal or extra glass incorporated into the design. There aren’t any squeaky seams, ill-fitting backplates or loose buttons, though, which are typical indicators of crude builds.

In use, both handsets are comfortable enough, with curves in the appropriate places that allow them to rest snugly in your palm. If I had to pick a side, however, I’d have to say I prefer the Harrier Mini to its bigger brother. It’s smaller, lighter, cuter and slips into your trouser pocket that much easier. The Harrier proper, in comparison, is much more difficult to use one-handed; awkward, almost. Yes, it has a significantly bigger, 5.2-inch display, but it doesn’t seem like much attention has been paid to ergonomics. The 5.2-inch LG G2 feels downright small in comparison. Still, you might not mind giving your hand a bit of a workout in exchange for the extra screen real estate.

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EE didn’t cut any corners when it came to the devices’ screens. The Harrier has a 5.2-inch, full HD display (1,920 x 1,080) and the Mini, a 4.7-inch, 720p panel (1,280 x 720), both of which are respectable for their respective price points and sizes. And, despite a gap in pixel density between the two — 424 ppi for the Harrier and 312 ppi for the Mini — I can’t see any noticeable difference in acuity. Both are IPS LCD panels, meaning deep blacks aren’t their strong suit. Whites, on the other hand, are accurate, and colours are as vibrant as they should be. The Harrier’s display seems to have a little extra pop when bright colours are at play, but only when both handsets are next to each other showing the same image can you tell there’s a slight disparity.

Viewing angles aren’t the best, but they are by no means terrible, and sunlight readability is an area in which both shine. There’s plenty of power available to those LCD displays, especially the Harrier; enough to cut through the majority of glare on especially bright days. Android Lollipop’s adaptive-brightness setting judges situations admirably, but manual tweaks are sometimes necessary if you’re trying to frame a picture when the sun’s on your back, for instance.

Software

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Both Harriers come with Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the box. The latest version of Google’s mobile OS is a significant upgrade from the last, so if you want to catch up on everything that’s changed, from the new “Material Design” language to added features, check out our full review here. EE hasn’t taken it upon itself to create any kind of branded skin for the Harriers, so you’re getting more or less the stock Lollipop experience. I say “more or less” because the carrier has decided to preinstall a lip-curling amount of bloatware, none of which can be uninstalled to free up space or declutter the app tray.

Some of this is pretty irritating, particularly the “Free Games & Apps” store I wouldn’t peruse if you paid me. Others, like Lookout Security & Antivirus and MailWise (an email client), some might find useful, but definitely didn’t need to be baked in. It’s a similar story for all of Amazon’s services: Kindle, Local, Music and its Appstore. I often take advantage of Amazon’s free app promotions and I’m invested in the Kindle ecosystem, but I’d prefer to make my own decisions and not be force-fed apps and services. It’s worth mentioning here that all of Google’s services are present on the handsets, too, so you’ve got access to the Play store (et cetera) as well as Amazon’s equivalent.

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The Harriers were announced shortly after EE launched its seamless WiFi calling feature, and the Mini was pitched as the “most affordable 4G smartphone with WiFi calling.” This isn’t actually live on either Harriers at the moment, though, and is coming “this summer” as part of a software update. So, if WiFi calling is of particular importance to you, know that neither device is currently compatible.

Camera

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Another area in which the two Harriers differ is their camera chops. Both sport 2-megapixel front-facing cameras for selfies and video calling, but the Harrier has a 13MP main camera compared with the Mini’s 8MP primary shooter. Surprisingly, you won’t find the stock Android camera app on either device; instead, there’s an app of unknown origin in its place. It takes a split-second longer to load than I’d like, and makes for a slightly more cluttered viewfinder. But it has a similarly basic interface. By this I mean you’re not overwhelmed with options: White balance, exposure compensation and ISO settings are all taken care of automatically. The menus aren’t for fine tweaking, but they’re where you find the panorama photo and slow-motion video modes, image quality settings — that sort of thing.

 

source:http://www.engadget.com/2015/05/22/ee-harrier-and-harrier-mini-review/

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