Here’s the iPhone-Like HTC One A9!

HTC One A9 The Verge 001

Taiwan’s embattled handset maker HTC today introduced a new phone, called One A9. The $399 Android Marshmallow device was “inspired by nature,” as HTC puts it, but technology blogs were quick to point out its striking resemblance to Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s smartphone series.

The A9 One is just 0.1mm thicker than the iPhone 6s, which measures in at 7.1mm.

The One A9 fits a five-inch 1080p AMOLED edge-to-edge screen protected by Corning’s 2.5D Gorilla Glass 4 inside an enclosure that falls somewhere between the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6/6s.

HTC’s smartphone indeed resembles the iPhone 6/6s design, down to the antenna bands and a protruding camera lens on the back. As you can see for yourself, the phone features seamless aluminum unibody appearance with the dual finish.

“It’s also the most blatant and highest-profile iPhone ripoff since Samsung’s original Galaxy S,” said The Verge. Pictured below: Apple’s iPhone 6 at left, HTC’s One A9 in the middle and iPhone 6 Plus at right.

HTC One A9 image 001

The phone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the latest Android version, and HTC’s own Sense UI overlay. It packs in a 2,150mAh battery and is powered by a 1.5GHz Snapdragon 617 processor with 3GB RAM and integrated X8 LTE and 64-bit oct-core CPUs.

The camera sub-system includes a four-megapixel shooter out the front and a thirteen-megapixel UltraPixel sensor with an f/2.0 sapphire-covered lens out the back. The rear camera supports taking RAW photos, but not 4K video capture.

Other hardware features include a fingerprint sensor built into HTC’s pill-shaped Home button with haptic feedback to unlock the device without a passcode (it cannot be pressed in), a chip that converts 16-bit audio to 24-bit high-resolution audio (with Dolby Surround Sound for headphones) and up to 32GB of internal storage which can be expanded to a whopping two terabytes with a microSD card.

All told, the new HTC phone is “a blasphemous concoction of Apple design and Google software that makes for a very nice phone,” to quote The Verge’s Vlad Slavov who took the device for a quick spin in the video below.

Despite its best efforts to engineer what ended up being an Android iPhone, the One A9 doesn’t compete with Apple in terms of attention to detail. As an example, the ports and the speaker grille on the bottom are painfully asymmetrical.

HTC One A9 image 002

In fact, even the antenna bands appear asymmetrical relative to the top and bottom edges of the Home button and don’t seem to be equally broken on the back. I should also mention that the One A9 does optical image stabilization and is compatible with Qualcomm’s Quick Charge for rapid recharging.


The HTC One is available at launch in Carbon Gray, Opal Silver and Topaz Gold colorways, with a Deep Garnet color coming later this year. HTC is taking pre-orders for the device on its website. The phone is priced at $399, sold unlocked and will be available on all major US carriers beginning in November 2015.

HTC fans in the United Kingdom might be disappointed as One A9 units sold in their country will cost more and have 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage.

HTC is sweetening the deal with six free months of unlimited Google Play Music, 1T of free Google Drive storage and HTC’s own device protection which offers one free replacement at any point in the first 12 months.


Android L: All you need to know about Google’s next mobile OS!

Google held its annual developer conference, Google I/O yesterday, and it was pretty much a given that it would showcase a new version of Android, smartwearables, Android TV and Android for cars. Google did show us all of these things but the biggest change was to Android itself.

Android fans and developers got to see a new version of Android codenamed ‘L’. This version will be out in fall of 2014 and will come pre-loaded on new Android devices. Of course, for older devices it will be up to OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) to decide when they will send out the update.

“This is one of the most comprehensive releases we have done: it has over 5,000 new APIs, and we are thinking not just for mobile, but for form factors beyond mobile,” said Google’s Android and Chrome boss Sundar Pichai, during the keynote presentation at I/O.

And while there’s a good chance that Android L could be called Android Liquorice or Android Lollipop by the time it comes out, it has a lot of stuff that’s new. We take a quick look.

First up, Android L will see the software get a massive design change. Google has gone for something called Material Design which lets developers add shadows and seams to give visuals on a phone’s screen the appearance of depth. Essentially Material Design will allow developers to add a more animated element to their apps. Elements can dynamically shrink and expand, there’s more white space between elements, and there’s an overall 3D look.

According to Google’s own blog, Material Design will allow developers to, “...apply to your apps for a new style: it lets you easily infuse your own color palette into your app, and offers new system widgets, screen transitions and animated touch feedback. We’ve also added the ability to specify a view’s elevation, allowing you to raise UI elements and cast dynamic, real-time shadows in your apps.”

As this piece on CNET explains “Material Design opens up a 3D interface even on 2D screens by letting programmers specify not just what color a pixel should be, but how high it should be in a virtual stack.” Google will also bring this Material Design to Chrome OS.

Secondly Google is promising improved processor performance on smartphones. Google has introduced Android Runtime (ART) as the system default. According to the company’s official blog, “ART offers ahead-of-time (AOT) compilation, more efficient garbage collection, and improved development and debugging features.”

There’s also support for 64-bit support architecture. Google also says that apps written in the Java language can run immediately on 64-bit architectures with no modifications required. The company is als promising better graphics on L via OpenGL ES 3.1 and thus ensure that app developers can get capabilities such as compute shaders, stencil textures, and texture gather for their games.

Better Battery performance is also going to be a key part of Google L. Project Volta as Google calls it comes with new tools and APIs to help apps run efficiently and conserve power. There’s also a Battery Historian, a new tool that will let developers see how their app ends up using power over time. There’s also a job scheduler API to ensure that developers can set some tasks to run when the device is charging or idle to reduce battery usage.

Matias Durante, Vice President, Design at Google, speaks on stage during the Google I/O Developers Conference at Moscone Center. AFP

Matias Durante, Vice President, Design at Google, speaks on stage during the Google I/O Developers Conference at Moscone Center. AFP

Notifications on Android L are also going to see drastic changes as well. Google will ensure that users can access notifications content, updates without unlocking the screen. There’s also Heads-up notification, which will appear in a small floating window if the user is working on another app. Users can choose to reply to that notification while they are in the app or also ignore it. Developers can add their own colour and branding to the notifications.

The ‘Recents’ tab has also gone a drastic change in Android L. It will now show all recently used apps as “a stacked card overview” and will include recently accessed websites from Chrome. Other apps can also add items to the list. The advantage of this is that if you open a website on your mobile browser and then switch to something else, you can just go back to ‘Recents’ to view that website instead of opening Chrome all over again. It looks much prettier than the current multi-tasking system, and resembles more like the cards in Google View.

Google is also bringing in Universal Data Control L where Android users will be able to control how data on their handset is shared. Users will also be able to divide their devices between work and personal modes. Essentially this is Google’s way to reach out to the Enterprise user and convince them that an Android phone is just as good for work as it is for play. Interestingly  Google’s Sundar Pichai also mentioned Samsung’s Knox Security Technology (which allows division between work and personal data on Samsung phones) and said that they (as in Google) would be using the technology in Android as well.

Android devices can now function in Bluetooth Low Energy peripheral mode, which will let apps use this to let nearby devices know the presence of the smartphone. For instance, developers can apps that let a device function as a pedometer or health monitor and transmit data to another BLE device.

Android L will be out this fall. Image Tech2.

Android L will be out this fall.


Given that Android L will also allow for integration across Google devices such as Chromebooks, smartwatches that run on Android Wear, cars that support Android Auto, it’s evident that the company is pushing for a larger agenda with Android being the sun around which all of this will revolve. With Android L, what we’re seeing are some refreshing changes to the OS, but for users L will mean more if they end up getting the updates as soon as it is released, otherwise many won’t get access to these features.

Apple seeking $2 billion over these 5 iOS features that Samsung stole!

As most of you know probably know by now, round 2 of Apple’s US patent battle with Samsung kicked off this week in a San Jose, California court room. The last time these 2 companies met on American soil, in the fall of 2012, Apple was awarded $1 billion in damages.

This time around, the iPad-maker is asking for twice that much. And although it’s using different patents, and going after different Samsung devices, it’s ultimately trying to prove the same thing as it did before: that Samsung intentionally copied its patented inventions…

The honorable US District Court Lucy H. Koh will once again be presiding over the case, which will be decided by a jury of four women and four men, who were chosen Monday. Apple is suing Samsung over five patents, and Samsung is countersuing over two patents.

Apple Patents

-U.S. Patent No. 5,946,647 for a “System and method for performing an action on a structure in computer-generated data”
-U.S. Patent No. 6,847,959 for a “Universal interface for retrieval of information in a computer system”
-U.S. Patent No. 7,761,414 for “Asynchronous data synchronization amongst devices” 
-U.S. Patent No. 8,046,721 for “Unlocking a device by performing gestures on an unlock image”
-U.S. Patent No. 8,074,172 for a “Method, system, and graphical user interface for providing word recommendation”

Samsung Patents

-U.S. Patent No. 6,226,449 for an “Apparatus for recording and reproducing digital image and speech” 
-U.S. Patent No. 5,579,239 for a “Remote video transmission system”

Recode’s Ina Fried has some of Apple’s opening remarks from the case:

“The evidence in this case will be that Samsung copied the iPhone and it also took many other Apple inventions that had not yet appeared in Apple products,” Apple attorneyHarold McElhinny said during its opening arguments. Apple is seeking as much as $2 billion in damages, saying that various Samsung phones and tablets infringed on five of its patents.

McElhinny began his opening statement Tuesday, much as Apple did in that prior case, showing reviews and praise heaped upon the iPhone as well as snippets from Steve Jobs’ January 2007 iPhone introduction at Macworld. Apple also plans to show various internal Samsung documents, some of which it previewed on Tuesday, that it says demonstrate that Samsung knew it was violating Apple’s intellectual property.

Apple alleges that Samsung sold 37 million infringing phones and tablets in the US, and it’s looking for lost profits from those products as well as ‘reasonable royalties’ on remaining ones. The company is seeking an average of $33 per device, and as much as $40 per device.

Meanwhile, Samsung’s strategy this time around is to downplay the value of intellectual property in general. It actually went out and purchased the two patents that it’s counter-suing Apple with, and is asking for less than $7 million in damages. That’s a bold strategy Cotton.

Anyway, the next day in court will be Friday of this week, and the case will likely last a month. Expect to see executives from both companies (maybe even the ousted Scott Forstall) testify in the coming weeks, secrets revealed, and much more in this high-profile patent trial.

Stay tuned, things are about to get real interesting.

iPhone 5c outsold all Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone devices in winter quarter


While the iPhone 5c has failed to live up to internal expectations set by Apple, the smartphone certainly hasn’t been moving off the shelves as badly as some people might think. According to an AppleInsider report by Daniel Eran Dilger, the mid-tier handset actually outsold every BlackBerry, Windows Phone and flagship Android device in the United States during the winter quarter. Take a look…


The report cites multiple sources in claiming that iPhone 5c sales were roughly 12.8 million during the three-month period, more than double the sales of some key smartphone competitors:

That means iPhone 5c sold twice as many units as all Blackberry smartphone sales combined (6 million), more than all of Nokia’s Windows Phone smartphone sales in the winter quarter (8.2 million), and in fact, all of Microsoft’s Windows Phones sold globally in the winter quarter (slightly more than 8.2 million, as Nokia makes 90 percent of the world’s Windows Phones). Even Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S4 reportedly sold just 9 million units in the winter quarter. If you do the math, that’s less than 12.8 million.

It is worth noting that the iPhone 5c was the second most popular smartphone on only half of the top four carriers — AT&T and Sprint — in the United States. The high-end Samsung Galaxy S4 nabbed second place on Verizon and T-Mobile during the same time period. But the sales numbers outlined above prove that the iPhone 5c — a so-called “flop” — is a legitimate candidate on the list of best-selling smartphones.


A major reason why critics have been pouncing on the iPhone 5c is because it is overshadowed by the more successful iPhone 5s in sales. But as Dilger notes, it is hard to believe that Apple is upset that consumers are opting to purchase a smartphone that retails for double the price with a two-year contract. He goes as far to blame Android as part of the problem.

Note that Apple isn’t just asking for more money; consumers are readily paying twice as much to buy iPhones. That’s indicative of a failure on the part of Android. Either the entire world has been fooled, or Android is simply not as desirable as its proponents claim.

Kantar reported in December that almost half of iPhone 5c buyers were switching from competitors, namely Android-based smartphone makers like Samsung and LG. That contrasts sharply with iPhone 5s buyers, 80 percent of which upgraded from a previous iPhone model. The highest demand for the iPhone 5c comes from lower income households, with 42% of owners earning less than $49,000 per year.

Apple most recently launched an 8GB version of the iPhone 5c in Australia, China, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, perhaps further propagating myths that sales of the budget handset have been less than desirable. But as we now know it, the iPhone 5c has actually been one of Apple’s most successful products in the last year and quietly positioned itself as the world’s second most popular smartphone.

LG G2 mini is official with 4.7″ screen and mid-range specs

According to the earlier teaser, the G2 mini would debut at the MWC, but LG Netherlands turned out a bit too eager and released the details on the upcoming smartphone today.

There’ll be two versions of the LG G2 mini, giving you a choice between a Snapdragon 400 or Nvidia Tegra 4i chipset. Both will have 1.2GHz quad-core CPU and 1GB of RAM. Non-LTE versions will also be available, as well as a dual-SIM variant.

The display is a 4.7″ unit of qHD resolution (540×960 pixels), not 720p as initially rumored. Luckily, it runs Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box garnished with LG’s Optimus UI, which comes with cool software features such as Guest Mode.

The back of the LG G2 mini keeps the design introduced by its bigger brother and holds an 8MP camera with LED flash. The G2 mini packs a 2,440mAh battery, which is user-removable as well as a microSD card slot for further expanding the 8GB of on-board storage.

LG says the G2 mini will roll out in March with Russia getting it first. The Middle East, Latin America, Asia and Europe will follow in April. The LG G2 mini will be available in black, white, red and champagne colors.