Category Archives: Blog

Check here for review progress or written material, which accompanies my videos. I update often. Please always check back for the most up to date information.

Ubuntu Phone Release: Just for the Fans

bq-aquaris-ubuntu-phone

So, I attended the Ubuntu Phone Insider event in London for the unveiling of the first official Ubuntu Phone.

The device is a very modestly speced Aquaris E4.5 unit that was previously made for android. The capacitive buttons were since removed. The unit now looks quite plain with a modest 4.5 inch display. It is not HD resolution. The resolution stands at 540 x 960 and 240ppi. The display doesn’t look terrible and it is touted as an IPS display but the angles aren’t all that good.

Onboard is a MediaTek SoC: 4 A7 CPU cores clock at 1.3 GHz with a Mali 400 GPU running up to 500 MHz. It’s also got 8GB of internal storage and 1GB of RAM. The rear camera is 8mp.

As for what I can see with performance, I think that the OS is nice and unique but the hardware lacks oomph to make it the smooth experience that I would like to see. The camera struggles in many lighting situations and video can’t reach a steady frame rate. Not sure if these things can be fixed.

For now, it feels like simply a developer phone for those who really care about the platform. This device is not app centric and there aren’t many apps to speak of currently. Canonical is relying on Scopes to gather daily needed information for the user and hopes that the rest of the ecosystem will fall together over time.

The idea will be to eventually make an Ubuntu Phone with full desktop support so that users can converge their workflow onto one simple device.

Canonical does not plan to make this device able to dual-boot with Android like was shown with the failed Ubuntu Edge. In fact, this device happens to be none of the things that got me excited about the Ubuntu Edge so I am really hoping to see some improvements in the future.

http://www.bq.com/gb/ubuntu.html ONLY AVAILABLE IN EUROPE.

This device will not make it to US markets. As far as I can tell, the unit does not have the needed bands to work on US carriers, with one exception. It looks like the device can work on AT&T’s 850MHz band for 2G GSM speeds, I will be testing that out ASAP.

  • 2G GSM (850/900/1800/1900)
  • 3G HSPA+ (900/2100)

I will sit tight and watch to see if Mark Shuttleworth’s vision comes to fruition. I do see a lot of promise but the project is far in it’s infancy in comparison to the mainstream heavy hitters such as Android and iOS. The Ubuntu Phone is a non-competitor at this point but is still an interesting option.

By: Erica Griffin

MWC 2014: François’s Galaxy S5 first impressions

Device appearance

This is a regression overall from the Galaxy S4. It looks cheap, in hands it’s similar to S4 and doesn’t give a higher quality feeling like the Note 3.
Usually I like black devices but this time I don’t like it much, it’s plain, boring. The blue one is not much to my taste either, yellow was very repulsive (like ew), and the white one has also a white front.

Display

Super AMOLED still, same matrix as the S4 or Note3.
The dynamic range between lowest brightness and brightest levels is increased which is appreciable.
I spent most of my time actually measuring with sensor and spectro so I didn’t looked much yet.
Measurement will tell about the accuracy (I got full precision readings in Standard and Professional Photo display modes)
You have choices and also can disable most of what’s processing that would come in the way which is great.

Sound

Speaker is still on the back, it gets reasonably loud, the frequency response is okay but nothing special here and without an actual comparison it’s hard to tell how different it is from the S4

Headphone out exhibit audible resampling 44.1 to 48k artifacts.
Very disappointing audio processing here. The time when Samsung were producing best in class audio using wolfsonmicro codecs is long gone I’m afraid.

Camera

This is interesting!
I love the realtime hardware HDR feature. White balance is also spot on in early tests and color response also particularly great; also a noticeable improvement compared to the S4 in the same conditions.

I’m disappointed by the fact video stabilization is still absent in 4k, and yeah there’s no OIS here so if you want to actually film in 4k with this device a steadicam or another kind of mount will be required.
The continuous autofocus behaved poorly in my video tests so far, staying out of focus for several seconds until you touch the subject manually.
It’s too early to speak about the efficiency of the announced phase detect AF in pictures, the current firmware is probably not mature enough for video AF today as well.

More

The ROM modifications including the skin settings are not as bad as I expected. This is an OK UX.
Water resistance is a nice bonus.
Heartbeat sensor? I don’t get it. Existing apps using the camera provide a nicer realtime representation and seemingly just as accurate readings.

After the Z2 unveiling this presentation was underwhelming, for me the only thing that saves this phone is it’s camera; for pictures. And the Super AMOLED is used in more adequate ways than before – still gives a good experience.

I hope improved the color rendering and lens of the Z2 camera as it was a huge pain point of Z1 and Z1 compact so far.
If they did, their offering will be IMHO much more convincing than today’s Samsung one.

MWC 2014: Sony press event picture gallery

You’ll find on my Google+ (François SIMOND) a 19 photos gallery showing you the experience during Sony’s press even at this MWC 2014 beginning.

They set the bar high with other manufacturers, as the Z2 boasts an impressive specsheet, including 4K recording, Noise-cancelling headphones out of the box, a brand new 5.2″ display using a new tech, 3200mAh of battery capacity.

See how it feels likes to be there :)