mercredi 26 juillet 2017

Microsoft Announces Windows Bug Bounty Program and Extension of Hyper-V Bounty Program

The Microsoft Security Response Center Team (MSRC) announced today that they will be launching a new targeted Windows Bug Bounty program (aptly named the “Windows Bounty Program”), in the hopes of catching vulnerabilities before they can reach the black market. The addition of a Windows Bug Bounty program comes as part of a comprehensive effort by Microsoft to improve their responsiveness and defences against security vulnerabilities.

This new Windows Bug Bounty program will go a long way towards helping identify and patch vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s products, with a focus on remote code execution, privilege escalation, and inherent design flaws.

While users will be limited in their ability to submit patches for the issues found in the Windows bug bounty program as Windows is closed source (which can bring inherent security issues), just having the bug reports themselves will benefit Microsoft substantially with improving the security of their products, as Microsoft will be able to utilize the reports to investigate and patch the issues themselves once they are notified of the issues’ existence.

Microsoft is also remodeling their Hyper-V Bounty Program to substantially increase their maximum payouts, in order to better compete with the prices found for those vulnerabilities on the black market, and to more appropriately compensate developers for finding issues. The new programs will have a maximum payout of $250,000 for a Hyper-V exploit with Remote Code Execution, and a maximum of $200,000 for Windows 10 exploits that are “Novel & fundamental advancement[s] in exploitation technology that universally bypasses current mitigations”.

In addition to the payouts for the first person to discover the bugs, Microsoft is also offering to pay out that’s 10% of the corresponding reward to the first person to report any bugs that are discovered internally but have not been published yet. While not quite the same as the full payout, receiving a partial payout for reporting a vulnerability after Microsoft has already discovered it will help encourage people to report vulnerabilities, as it will alleviate some of the disappointment that usually comes with being told that the bug that you have reported was already discovered.

With this move to expand the scope of their bug bounties, Microsoft joins a long list of companies that have remodelled their bug bounty system in the past year, including Google, Apple, Qualcomm, the United States Air Force, and many others.

It is no coincidence that the list of companies expanding their bug bounty programs is long and growing. Providing rewards for people who report bugs goes a long way towards encouraging people to report them to the company so that they can be fixed, instead of attempting to sell them on the black market. It gives a legitimate route for white hat hackers to make money from analysing your software, helping attract them to your ecosystem and maintain their interest. While it can be difficult to fully compete with the prices that certain exceptional vulnerabilities can go for on the black market, many hackers would much rather deal with legal methods of vulnerability reporting, and every vulnerability you can find and fix helps prevent said vulnerabilities from being used for unsavoury practices that can harm your users.

While bug bounty programs have been around for a long time and have consistently proven their worth, there has been a renewed focus on them as of late due to certain extensive security vulnerabilities that have been recently revealed, including the leaked United States Central Intelligence Agency’s Vault 7, which contained security exploits for Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, iOS, Android, macOS, Linux, and Microsoft Windows, among other targets. Microsoft in particular was heavily affected by security vulnerabilities last year, when it was revealed that the 2012 hacking of LinkedIn (which Microsoft bought last year) was substantially more widespread than had been initially estimated.

If you wish to report a security bug for Microsoft’s bug bounty program, you can email them at  secure@microsoft.com following their Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure (CVD) policy. If you have any questions about the program itself, the latest information about Microsoft’s bug bounty programs can be found at http://ift.tt/1IHZKKH. The Windows Bounty Program is expected to continue indefinitely, although it will likely be tweaked as time goes on to fit the changing security landscape.


Press Release



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Nexus 5X Bootloop Fix Helps you to Finally Boot the Phone

Has your LG/Google Nexus 5X stopped booting, or rather, ends up stuck in an endless boot sequence? This is something we term a “bootloop” and it can occur for various reasons. Most bootloops can be fixed by flashing the stock firmware or factory resetting, but in the case of a hardware bootloop, there’s generally nothing you can do except to RMA the phone. If your Google Nexus 5X has been refusing to boot, and nothing you’ve tried has fixed it, you aren’t alone. The Nexus 5X bootloop issue is notorious in the community, but only recently has a fix been found.

Nexus 5X Bootloop Fix – Context

Over the last couple of years, LG’s smartphone have garnered a bit of a reputation for their bootloop issue. An issue that seemingly started with the LG G4 only became more and more prevalent with each new device the company released. We recently talked about a way to fix the bootloop issue with the Nexus 6P from Huawei, and now there’s a solution available for the Nexus 5X that has been derived from the guide we previously wrote about.

The general consensus here with these fixes seem to indicate that the Snapdragon 808/810 chipsets were rushed out by Qualcomm and have degraded to the point where they’re partially broken. The heat generation issues of the Snapdragon 810 is not something new, but it looks like the 808 is having a similar issue when it comes to what is causing the bootloops. LG had originally stated the issue with the LG G4 bootloops was indeed hardware related, but never went into more detail about the situation.

Some had thought it was due to the solder they used and that it would eventually crack from heating up and cooling down too many times over the lifespan of the device. Whether that is indeed true, we still don’t know for sure what is behind the issue, but this fix for the Nexus 5X bootloop does seem to work around the issue. So today we have a guide for you that will walk you through exactly how to fix the Nexus 5X bootloop issue. While the title in the linked forum thread at the bottom of this post does say it’s untested, multiple people within the community have reported success with this method.

As always though, your mileage may vary with this workaround.


Tutorial

Requirements:

  • Unlockable bootloader from before the bootloop began since you can’t boot into Android and enable the settings required to unlock the bootloader afterwards. If you are able to briefly boot into the phone, then going to Developer Options and ticking “Enable OEM Unlocking” will do the trick.

Tutorial

  1. Download the latest ADB and Fastboot binaries and extract them to a folder on your computer that is easily accessible.
  2. Download and install the Google’s USB Drivers (for those who are running Windows).
  3. Download the N2G47Z_4Cores.img file and save it in the same directory that you have the ADB and Fastboot binaries located.
    • Optional: If you want to use TWRP recovery on your fixed Nexus 5X, this requires you use a modified version of TWRP. So download TWRP3_1_1_5X.img and save it in the same folder you have your ADB and Fastboot binaries located.
    • Optional 2: If you want to speed up your fixed Nexus 5X, you can flash a modified version of XDA Recognized Developer flar2‘s Elemental X Kernel. Download the EX4_10_5X.zip file to your Nexus 5X so it’s stored in the default downloads directory.
  4. Connect the Nexus 5X to the computer with a USB cable.
  5. Go ahead and launch a command prompt or terminal in the same directory where you saved the ADB and Fastboot binaries.Windows users, you can do this by holding shift and right-clicking, then selecting “open command prompt here.” Windows 10 users will see a PowerShell option that replaces the command prompt one.
  6. Boot the Nexus 5X into Fastboot Mode (also known as bootloader mode to some people).
  7. Execute the following command in the command prompt: fastboot devices
  8. If you see your device’s serial number, you are ready to move on. If not, then for some reason the USB drivers are not fully installed.
  9. If your bootloader is not yet unlocked but you have enabled OEM unlocking in Developer Options once before, you can unlock the bootloader now by entering: fastboot flashing unlock. Then, follow the on-screen instructions to unlock the bootloader. Be warned that this will wipe all of the data on your phone.
  10. Now enter the following command in a command prompt to replace your current boot image: fastboot flash boot N2G47Z_4Cores.img
    • Optional: If you want to flash the modified TWRP, then enter this command afterwards: fastboot flash recovery TWRP3_1_1_5X.img

  11. Reboot your phone by typing: fastboot reboot
  12. After some minutes (it may take awhile), you should see your phone’s boot animation and eventually the lockscreen. Congrats, you’ve saved your phone!
  13. Optional: If you want to improve the performance and you followed the steps to install the modified version of TWRP, copy the modified Elemental X kernel over to your phone’s storage, boot into TWRP, and flash the custom kernel. You can even choose to overclock the little cluster during setup to squeeze a bit more performance out of your phone as well.

Explanation

Just like we showed you in the Nexus 6P guide on how to fix its bootloop issue, the cause has something to do with the big cluster CPU cores of the SoC. Based on XDA Member XCnathan32‘s log during their testing of this process, The issue is caused by the VLL being unable to obtain a lock on the A57 cores. So far, we aren’t 100% sure exactly what is causing this issue, but our workaround is actually disabling these broken A57 cores so we bypass the issue altogether.

A more elegant solution could come in the future, but for now we appreciate the developer community coming up with a solution that allows people’s smartphone to boot up again. If someone has been dealing with this issue for a while, at least they can have a functional device for a music player, dash cam, etc. Those who have yet to experience this issue will at least have a solution available to them right when they experience that bootloop for the first time.

As mentioned, we’ve seen multiple people within the community (over in our official XDA thread for this solution) report that this Nexus 5X bootloop solution does indeed work. However, we’ve also had at least one person say that it didn’t work for them. There could be multiple causes for the Nexus 5X bootloop issue so this guide may not be a fix for everyone. If your Nexus 5X is currently in a bootloop, it certainly doesn’t hurt to try it since you can always flash the stock images that Google provides if you want to restore all of these modified files.


Check out the original thread in our Nexus 5X forum



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Calibrate your LG G4 Display with KPPD Control Panel

You may be familiar with XDA Recognized Developer savoca‘s KCAL Post-Processing Daemon (aka KPPD), as it lets you customize the color calibration of the LG G4 display (and other compatible devices) on the fly. This method didn’t require root but it forced you to edit a kernel property file to change its values. To make things a bit easier, XDA Senior Member AlaskaLinuxUser created a UI for this tool, but it does require root access in order to adjust the values. The developer says they only tested this on the LG G4, but it should work on any KPPD/KCal compatible (mdp5) device.


Check out KPPD Control in our LG G4 forum



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Sony Xperia XZ Custom ROM/Kernel Combo Brings Energy Aware Scheduler (Experimental)

The Energy Aware Scheduler (also known as EAS) is an advanced CPU scheduler that tries to coordinate CPUFreq and CPUIdle power-management subsystems to improve the battery life and performance of a device. XDA Senior Member _LLJY has put together an experimental custom ROM and kernel combo that adds this scheduler to the Sony Xperia XZ. The developer says you should keep the default governor alone, that the current kernel is “dirty and improper,” and that you may experience crashes and bootloops (which can be resolved by reflashing the ZIP file).

Check out the Energy Aware Scheduler port in our Xperia XZ forum



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Add Floating Buttons For Easier In-Call Multitasking with Blimp

XDA Member CurlyY‘s application, Blimp, has received a major new update that brings a new UI and more buttons to the app. Blimp lets you perform in-call multitasking by adding floating buttons for common actions so you can still retain control over your call while you are navigating away from the dialer app. You no longer need to pull down your notification panel to perform common functions like ending calls, muting them, switching to loudspeaker or bringing up the dialer again.

Blimp works with Android devices on Lollipop 5.0 and above. The app also utilizes proximity sensor functionality to prevent misclicks during a call.


Check out Blimp in our Android Apps and Games forums!



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Emoji Packs Bring iOS 10, Android O, and other Emojis to the Galaxy S7

The emoji’s that come along with Google Keyboard should serve the needs for most users, but over at our forums, members keep looking for ways to differentiate their device and add on to their smartphone experience. If you would like to try out different emoji packs, you can easily do so on your Samsung Galaxy S7 using the flashable zips provided by XDA Senior Member Winb33.

The thread mentions that these zips work with Google Keyboard on Android Nougat and may also work with the stock Samsung keyboard, but they do not work on Android Marshmallow. You can choose the appropriate zip from options like Android O, Android Nougat, iOS 10.3, Windows 10, HTC 10 and even Facebook and Twitter.

While support in the thread may be restricted to the Galaxy S7, the provided zips contain SamsungColorEmoji.ttf as well as NotoColorEmoji.ttf, so they could work on other devices as well. Your results may vary, so it is always advised to make a backup before proceeding.


Check out these Flashable Emoji Mods in our Samsung Galaxy S7 Forums!



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Meizu Announces the Pro 7 and Pro 7 Plus With Secondary AMOLED Display and Dual Rear Cameras

The Western world sees little of the technological ‘experiments’ that Asian markets witness. OEMs from China, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan attempt to carve out niches for themselves by trying out unconventional combinations of existing technology. The results can be considered by gimmicks most of the time, but often, we get smartphones that possess real potential. Enter the Pro 7 and Pro 7 Plus.

The Meizu Pro 7 and the Meizu Pro 7 Plus belong to the latter set. Meizu smartphones usually do not stand out from the sea of Chinese smartphones released every year, but with the Pro 7 and Pro 7 Plus, the West is bound to take notice. The Pro 7 and Pro 7 Plus are identical smartphones on the outside, differentiated only by their sizes. The insides bear larger differences, and we’ll come to that in a bit.

The front of the Pro 7 and Pro 7 Plus is dominated by their displays. The Pro 7 gets a 5.2″ FHD Super AMOLED display, while the Pro 7 Plus gets the larger 5.7″ QHD Super AMOLED display. The back of the devices is where it gets interesting, as both of these smartphones feature a 2″ Super AMOLED secondary display there. Because it is an AMOLED panel and not e-ink, the display can be used to display a wide variety of information in full color and control, such as for media controls, notifications and for using it as a viewfinder for the rear camera. Not all functionality would be useful or sensible, but having a proper display panel of considerable size opens up the possibilities of what you can do with it.

As for internal hardware, Meizu mentions it packs the deca-core MediaTek Helio X30, but does not specify if this is restricted to the Plus variant so we assume it to be present on both the devices. The ‘regular’ Pro 7 comes with 4GB LPDDR4X RAM and 64GB eMMC 5.1 storage, while the Pro 7 Plus comes with 6GB LPDDRX RAM and options of 64GB/128GB UFS 2.1 storage. The battery on the smaller Pro 7 is 3000 mAh and comes with Meizu’s mCharge 3.0 charging standard, while the Pro 7 Plus comes with a bigger 3500 mAh and the newer version of mCharge, 4.0 (5V|5A). Both phones come with a USB Type-C port and 3.5mm headphone jack, and Meizu has also included a separate audio processing chip on both. The phones come pre-installed with Android 7.0 but with Meizu’s FlymeOS 6 UX on top.

For the cameras, the dual rear camera setup comprises of 12MP Sony IMX386 sensors with f/2.0 aperture, one for RGB and one for monochrome image capture. The front camera is a healthy 16MP sensor for selfies, but since the secondary display can also act as a viewfinder, you can comfortably use the rear cameras for that purpose as well.

Meizu’s official Twitter does not feature any information on pricing and availability, but PhoneArena mentions that the devices will be available from 5th August 2017. The Pro 7 will begin at ~$430, while the Pro 7 Plus will begin at ~$530. The price difference seems better justified if the Pro 7 comes with the Helio P25 instead of the flagship Helio X30 SoC, but Meizu has not yet mentioned and confirmed the same. The phones are likely to be restricted to China and other Asian countries when they become available.


The Meizu Pro 7 and Pro 7 Plus are definitely phones that stand out from the crowd. But despite their USP making them the talk of the town, the Western world cannot have them yet. Meizu’s devices do not have a strong presence outside of China, so it will be a while before the company decides to bring these to the US.

What are your thoughts on the Meizu Pro 7 and Pro 7 Plus? Let us know in the comments below!

Source 1: Twitter – Meizu Source 2: PhoneArena



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OnePlus 2 Root Mod Enables H.265 Video Recording

The OnePlus 2 has the hardware to natively support H.265 playback as well as recording. This codec is in its early stages though so it’s not something that OEMs are willing to risk using. However, thanks to XDA Member tusar8 we now have a simple mod (and a guide for it) that enables H.265 as the primary video codec for video recording. It does require root and comes with three different settings (balanced, stock bitrate and reduced bitrate) so the end user has more control over the quality.


Check out this mod in our OnePlus 2 forum



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Commits show Google Assistant is on its way to Chrome OS

Earlier this week there was a commit discovered in the Chromium Gerrit page (by ChromeUnboxed) that said the OK Google hotword was being deprecated from Chrome OS. Some have speculated that it just isn’t that popular on a Chromebook so Google has decided to work on removing it. This could be because the feature was buried in the settings of Chrome OS, or it could simply be from it being easier to just launch a Chrome tab and then search for what you’re looking for.

Whatever the case may be, this change lined up with previous rumors about Google Assistant being made available on Chromebooks. However, that commit on Chromium Gerrit made it seem like Google Assistant wouldn’t have a hotword associated with it. If true, this is likely because Google wants to move toward a dedicated button on Chromebooks for Google Assistant. That APK teardown didn’t specifically mention Google Assistant, but just vaguely talked about an assistant button in general.

Yesterday though, a new commit to the Chromium Gerrit page specifically talks about Google Assistant inside of Chrome OS. The description of the commit directly says “add Google Assistant settings to the settings UI.” And then continues and says that right now it doesn’t “launch an Intent when the “Google Assistant Settings” button is tapped.” Instead, that will be handled sometime in the future when they’re ready to complete this feature. Several other new files have popped up in the repository, such as google_assistant_handler.cc and google_assistant_page.html which show there has been a lot of progress made on getting Google Assistant working on Chrome OS.

There’s no telling how much longer it will take, but the folks at Google are still working on it so we could see an announcement anytime now. It’s possible that the company could handle this feature the same way they have done with Android application support. We could see this only being made available on select devices at first with a broader rollout happening later. However, it’s clear that Google is at least continuing work on integrating their virtual assistant to the platform.



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Waze is Now Available on Android Auto, In-Car Units Only

Over a year ago at Google I/O 2016 we learned that Google was working to integrate Waze into the Android Auto experience. Waze, which was previously acquired by Google, offers features and a UI that some people just prefer over the traditional Google Maps solution. So this news made a lot of people happy but many thought this meant the update would come quick. We’re over a year out from that announcement now and the feature is only available via in-car head units.

This is still a big update for those who have or are looking into purchasing (or leasing) a new automobile that has Android Auto. This enables users to navigate and control Waze through your in-car display, auxiliary touch screens, steering wheel buttons, and more. Like the regular application, you can navigate to your Waze favorites in a tap, receive visual and audio alerts to keep you informed, quickly view your ETA Panel, but you’ll be able to do from your car’s infotainment system.

If you’re already a Waze user then you’ll feel right at home with this new integration into Android Auto. You’ll just notice that its most popular features will be baked right into your car instead of everything coming from your smartphone. To get things going, simply make sure you have the latest versions of Waze and Android Auto on your phone. You’ll then need to connect the phone to the car with a USB cable, select Waze from the Navigation App footer, and then start a drive by entering a location.

That’s basically all the information that was given with this announcement today. We know that a lot of people want to do this with the smartphone version of Android Auto and so do the folks behind Waze. They did announce that “integration of Android Auto on your phone screen is in the works,” but didn’t go into any further details today. So we’ll just have to wait and see how long that takes to implement.


Source: The Keyword



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How to Manually Change the Galaxy S8 Navigation Bar Color

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are the first flagship smartphones from Samsung that ditch their traditional capacitive buttons in favor of software navigation keys. Besides allowing us to customize the layout of the keys, we can also change the navigation bar color as well. Among a selection of standard colors that we had to choose from, Samsung had also included a color wheel option so they could pick whatever color they wanted. However, the company removed this color wheel option in June’s OTA update, but thanks to an ADB command we can still manually change the Galaxy S8 navigation bar color.

The guild below walks you through how to change the color via ADB through a PC, but you can also do it through a terminal emulator application on the phone if you have root access.


Tutorial – Change Galaxy S8 Navigation Bar Color

  1. Grab the USB drivers for the Galaxy S8/S8+ (Google provides a list of some universal USB drivers here).
  2. Download the ADB binary for your specific operating system (WindowsMacLinux). These will always be the latest version.
  3. Extract the ZIP file into any folder on your PC.
  4. Open up the Settings application on your phone and tap on About Phone at the bottom.
  5. Locate and tap the Build Number option 7 times to enable Developer Mode.
  6. Then go to the Settings main menu and tap on Developer Options so you can enable USB Debugging Mode.
  7. Connect your phone to the PC and change it from “charge only” mode to “file transfer (MTP)” mode.
  8. Go back to the PC and browse to the directory where you extracted the ADB binary.
  9. Open up a Command Prompt or Terminal in your ADB directory. For Windows users, you can do this by holding Shift and Right-clicking an empty space in the folder. Then select the “open command prompt here” option. (Some Windows 10 users may see “command prompt” replaced with “PowerShell”.)
  10. Once you’re in the Command Prompt or Terminal window, execute the following command: adb devices
  11. This will start the ADB daemon if it hasn’t been launched already, and may take a few second to complete. If this is your first time running ADB, you will also see a prompt on your phone asking you to allow USB debugging from the computer. Allow USB Debugging access here.
  12. Now if you run the adb devices command from step 10 again, the command prompt or terminal will print the serial number of your device. If so, then you’re ready to move on. If not, then the USB drivers are likely not installed properly.
  13. Now, we want to execute the following command in the command prompt or terminal window: adb shell
    adb shell
  14. Before we proceed though, we’ll need to get the color code that we want for our Galaxy S8 navigation bar color.
  15. You can go to this website here, and use the color picker shown at the bottom of the page.
    color wheel
  16. After you pick a color, copy the entire Android Value number shown in the box (include the – minus symbol if it’s there)
    color number
  17. Turn your attention back to the command prompt or terminal window and execute the following two commands:
    settings put global navigationbar_color <insert Android color value>
    settings put global navigationbar_current_color <insert Android color value>
    

    color commands

  18. Then restart the Galaxy S8/S8+.
  19. You should see the new color in applications that don’t change the navigation bar to a specific color.

Explanation

Since Samsung hasn’t come out and given us a reason why they removed the color wheel from the Samsung Galaxy S8 navigation bar color options, we aren’t quite sure exactly why the company did this. It’s possible that Samsung simply doesn’t want people using strange colors as it can clash with the rest of the OS. Then again, there may have been some issue with how Samsung implemented this feature that is causing some issue with other parts of the platform.

Either way, the feature is still there under the hood of Samsung’s OEM skin, and thankfully we’re able to access it with some simple ADB commands. XDA Member haksancan first pointed this out in our Galaxy S8 forum and did a lot of work explaining where this feature is hidden and even how to calculate a specific color. The value format we’re using here is an RGB hex color code converted to signed decimal. There are ways to manually calculate the color value, but we’ll just be using the color wheel linked in Step 15 of the guide above.

It’s these values that would have been changed when manually selecting a color from the Settings menu, but instead we’re just injecting them into the software with an ADB shell command. As mentioned earlier, if you don’t want to do this from a computer, then you can execute these commands through a terminal emulator. This alternative method does require root access though, whereas the ADB method shown in the guide does not.

If you ever want to revert back to a traditional color, you can simply go into Settings -> Display -> Navigation Bar and then choose one of the standard colors that Samsung has made available. Remember, we’re just manually injecting a color code with these commands, so you can easily revert this change by selecting a different color here.

There are a few caveats with this method though, and they applied to Samsung’s solution as well. For example, some applications manually change the color of the navigation bar on its own. This cannot be overwritten with this method so those applications will have control of the Galaxy S8 navigation bar color themselves. A fully transparent Galaxy S8 navigation bar is not possible except for a few applications (such as the gallery or the overview page).

This is because applications do not generally draw under the Galaxy S8 navigation bar itself. So setting it to be transparent will just show a blank space since the application isn’t drawing itself under it. And lastly, setting it as fully transparent true black shows up as opaque white in most applications. The workaround here is to use colors which are almost black colors instead of true black.


See some color examples in our Galaxy S8 forum



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Google Releases Android Testing Support Library 1.0 Ahead of Android O

To kick off the week, Google announced what is likely the final developer preview update for Android O. We say likely because there aren’t any additional updates planned, but Google could end up rolling out another if they need to test something before the final build. While not much has changed from DP3 (other than removal of all of the known issues from DP3), they did announce that a new version of Android Testing Support Library was being made available as well.

Version 1.0 of the Android Testing Support Library is described as a major update to the platform’s existing testing APIs. Not only are we getting a number of bug fixes and improved stability/performance, but Google is also bringing some new testing API to the table with this update. Some of these features, such as Multiprocess Espresso and the Android Test Orchestrator, were talked about at individual sessions back at Google I/O earlier this year.

With this update we get an update to Espresso that brings it up to version 3.0.0. Multiprocess Espresso is a new feature for developers that adds support for instrumenting tests outside of your app’s default process. So you can test your application’s UI interactions that cross process boundaries all while being able to maintain Espresso’s synchronization guarantees. Multiprocess Espresso paired with the new Idling Registry API lets you register idling resources from any process within your application code.

The last big addition to Espresso is the addition of more Idling Resources so you can save time from having to write your own custom solutions. Two new ones are being added (IdlingThreadPoolExecutor and IdlingScheduledThreadPoolExecutor) with more coming soon. Some other new features in v1.0 of the Android Testing Support Library are some ProviderTestRule APIs, a way to simulate a user granting a permission to your app, achieve test isolation entirely on the device with Android Test Orchestrator, and some new features for AndroidJUnitRunner.

Be sure to check the blog post below for more detailed descriptions of these new testing features.


Source: Android Developers Blog



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Xiaomi Launches MIUI 9: Image Search, Smart Assistant, Smart App Launcher, and Performance Enhancements

At an event in China today, Xiaomi launched the highly anticipated latest version of their ROM, MIUI 9. Xiaomi has been teasing MIUI 9 for a couple weeks now with hints and previews, so it is nice to finally get a look at the release version.

MIUI 9 brings a new Android version to some devices, upgrading a select few to 7.0 or later, although unfortunately some devices will be stuck on earlier versions still. While not all devices will be getting the full Android version bump, MIUI still is bringing new features and security updates where possible. The headline features for this release are Xiaomi’s Smart App Launcher, Smart Assistant, and Image search.

Smart App Launcher acts a bit like Google Now on Tap, analysing what you are currently doing in your app to make recommendations on which app you may want to open up. This allows for seamless switching into other apps that you may need to use, without having to go to the homescreen (or appdrawer if using an alternate launcher) and find the app that you need.

Xiaomi Smart Assistant joins the already crowded AI helper market, going up against Google Assistant, Siri, Bixby, and others. Smart Assistant aims to organize all of your vital information in one easily accessible hub. You can access all of your notes, calendar events, reminders and other personally relevant information through this hub, with Smart Assistant attempting to show you the most relevant information at any point in time.

Image Search is an attempt at Google Photos style search by Xiaomi. It allows you to search for people, locations, expressions, events, documents, screenshots, and whatever else you can think of. Xiaomi is striving to bring natural language search to image organization, as part of their larger Universal Search function in MIUI 9.

Xiaomi MIUI 9 Improvements

MIUI 9 brings a plethora of other optimizations as well, which Xiaomi is highlighting, some of which sound distinctly like the improvements brought by Android 7.0 itself. It will be interesting to see which of these improvements make it into phones that won’t be getting Android 7.0. One feature which Xiaomi is highlighting is the Dynamic Resource Allocation, which helps ensure that foreground apps get priority over background apps. This sounds a lot like the Project Svelte and Daydream related optimizations for Android 7.0, which focused heavily on background processes, although Xiaomi may have made further device specific enhancements over and above what Google added. The new file system likely will bring some nice improvements as well, although it is not yet clear which file system Xiaomi is switching to. It may be F2FS, which has recently been gaining popularity, including being used by Motorola in some devices, and by OnePlus in the OnePlus 3T.

App launch speeds was also a major focus for Xiaomi’s development for MIUI 9, to the point where they are claiming that it will have “Explosively fast app launch-times”. It is not clear yet what method they will be using to gain the faster launch times. Whether it is intelligent app pre-caching, or a result of read improvements brought by F2FS, or even something like Qualcomm’s app opening CPU scaling boost found in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 and 821 chipsets, it is always welcome to hear that phones will be quicker and more responsive.

Global expansion continues to be a focus for Xiaomi, with them taking steps towards it throughout their product line, in both their software improvements and their hardware portfolio. During their keynote, they highlighted that they now have devices in 142 countries with 55 languages and 2.8 billion active users. While the 2.8 billion active users number seems as bit high (as that is higher than the total number of Android devices with access to Play Services, and would mean that one out of every three people are currently using Xiaomi), it is likely in reference to 2.8 billion devices rather than users, as many users may have more than one Xiaomi device.

Xiaomi is warning people that many of their headline features will not be available in the Global ROM just yet, and are currently restricted to their MIUI China ROM. They are stressing that they will continue to work to bring the missing features to the Global ROM as well, and hope to have a more consistent experience between the two ROMs soon.

We are highly anticipating Xiaomi’s release of the GPLed MIUI 9 Kernel Sources, and can’t wait to see the new custom ROMs that it will help build.


Which feature of MIUI 9 are you most excited for? Will you be flashing over to MIUI 9, or will you sticking with a different ROM? Let us know in the comments below!

Source



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CAD Renders of the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL Align with Previous Leaks and Rumors

There has been quite a lot of leaks in regards to the Google Pixel 2 XL, although we haven’t heard much about the smaller successor to the Google Pixel. Our sources indicated that there wouldn’t be that much of a difference between the original Pixel and the Pixel 2, suggesting the Pixel 2 XL is actually the one to receive the most changes. Today though, we get to see what are said to be renders of both the upcoming Google Pixel 2 as well as the Pixel 2 XL.

These CAD renders come from none other than @OnLeaks and his collaboration with MySmartPrice, and that is something to take note of. These renders have been created thanks to CAD dimension specs from one of his sources. So we could see a difference in materials used, specific placement, etc. Also note that these are early and like the Moto Z2 Force CAD renders he leaked, he got it wrong when it came to the 3.5mm headphone port.

These should always be considered rumors as nothing is confirmed until the company makes their official announcement. With that said, even the regular Pixel 2 looks to have considerably less bezels than its predecessor. We can see two front-facing speakers with the sensors above the earpiece and the front-facing camera to the left. There doesn’t seem to be a 3.5mm headphone port on the top or the bottom, so be prepared for that possibility.

Shifting our focus to the Pixel 2 XL CAD renders we can see even slimmer top and bottom bezels with a highly pronounced 2.5D glass curve around the edges. This render shows front-facing speakers as well, with the same sensor and front camera placement as the smaller version. We don’t see a 3.5mm headphone port on this device either, which is sure to ruffle a lot of people’s feathers — then again, it’s always best to wait to be sure. Both devices have the redesigned back glass that stops before the fingerprint scanner (like our original report had claimed), but it looks like the back camera and flash placements are different for each device. The device also bears resemblance to Android Police’s render mockup, though some elements have shifted places.


Let us know your thoughts on these early CAD renders for the Google Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL.

Source: MySmartPrice



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Answer this survey for Honor, win an Honor 6X

Honor is giving away an Honor 6X! All you have to do to enter is fill out this short survey.



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Latest Lenovo Folio Concept Shown Off at Lenovo Tech World 2017

We’re currently seeing a trend toward smartphone OEMs reducing the bezels of our devices. This design brings a new level of aesthetics to our phones that is becoming more and more popular. It’s something that OEMs have been working on for a while now but they also have some other unique concepts being worked on as well. One of them in particular is foldable smartphones and tablets and the latest Lenovo Folio update was shown off at Lenovo Tech World last week.

Samsung has been at a number of display conventions to show off their foldable and rollable display technology, but we haven’t seen much in the form of a physical product. The company is said to produce a foldable smartphone concept by the end of Q3 of this year, but any small hiccup during this process could hold it back. But then we have companies like Lenovo who have been working on this as well and have had a couple of different concepts already on display.

Last year the company showed off a foldable tablet concept at the own Lenovo Tech World event. As you can see above, the device was in its early stages of development, but it was working (even if the software was a little buggy at times) and able to gain a lot of attention from the media. The mechanics of the concept were in place so you could indeed fold the tablet in half so the screen was the size of a smartphone and then the idea is to make calls on it.

Lenovo Tech World 2017 just happened last week and the company was there again with a new revision of the Lenovo Folio tablet concept. They still aren’t ready to release it as a finished product right now, but they wanted to show off the advancements they had made. The software looks more stable, there are more software features taking advantage of the idea behind it, and the bending mechanism looks more rigid. Take a look at a hands-on video from last week’s event below.

Via: Mashable



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USB 3.2 Doubles Data Speeds: 20 Gbps Using Multi-Lane Operation

The USB-IF and the USB 3.0 Promoter Group have announced USB 3.2, which will be fully unveiled at USB Developer Days 2017 in September. USB 3.2 brings support for multi-lane USB operation, in order to provide USB data transfer speeds of up to 20 Gbps (2.5 GB/s) over a USB Type-C cable.

It comes as no surprise that USB 3.2 is adding multi-lane operation, as USB Type-C already added the ability to pair the SuperSpeed USB lanes together in order to send other data protocols over the USB Type-C interface with USB Alternate Mode. Using those techniques for regular USB data transfers was a clear step forward to take. That being said, it is a bit surprising to see that USB 3.2 is limited to using only two of the four SuperSpeed USB lanes available in the USB Type-C connector, and we may still see further improvements in the future to enable the usage of the remaining lanes.

The USB 3.2 update brings no substantial changes to the physical data layer or encoding techniques used for SuperSpeed USB, but rather is primarily an update to the hub specification to allow for the lane pairing needed for multi-lane USB operation. Keeping the physical data layer and encoding techniques consistent ensure full backward compatibility with past USB versions for USB 3.2 devices, which is always a key concern for the USB-IF and the USB 3.0 Promoter Group.

With USB 3.0 having launched in 2008 (and USB 3.1 in 2013), some people were starting to look towards USB 4.0, and while it can be sure that USB-IF is working on next generation improvements to the USB specification, USB 3.2 should help placate those that need faster transfer speeds for the moment.


Do you use USB 3.1’s full 10 Gbps transfer speeds? What do you think USB 4.0 will bring? Let us know in the comments below!

Press Release



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Nova Launcher Partners with Sesame Shortcuts for a New Search Feature

Nova Launcher is one of the most popular custom launchers available on Android right now. The application has a ton of customization features so you can tweak the look and feel of your launcher to how you like it. It may take some time to go through the plethora of options included, but it’s generally worth it to get your launcher looking perfect. Now, thanks to a new partnership with Sesame, the launcher is now getting an application and shortcut search feature.

Sesame Shortcuts is an application in the Play Store right now from a developer team calling themselves the Sesame Crew. With their application, they’ve been working on gathering deep linking shortcuts to some of the most popular applications. Meaning, you can use one of these shortcuts to go directly to a specific part of an application instead of having to open it and manually navigate to it. This might sound a lot like Android 7.1 Nougat’s App Shortcuts feature, and that’s because it is.

However, a lot of those have been limited to just people using Android 7.1 Nougat. As we saw earlier this month, only 0.9% of the Android community are currently running Android 7.1 Nougat. Some of these shortcuts are able to be backported as far back as Android 5.1 Lollipop, but this selection is limited and many are left wanting more. This is where Sesame Shortcuts comes into play and its new integration into Nova Launcher makes it even more accessible.

Those running Android 5.0 Lollipop and higher will be able to take advantage of this new feature. How it will work is you tap the Home button when you’re already at the Home Screen and it will launch a search prompt. From here, you can start typing for anything you want to go directly to. This can be someone’s name that you’re talking to via SMS or Hangouts, it can be a song from a Spotify playlist, anything that Sesame Shortcuts supports can be searched from here.

You then just need to tap it and it will launch the application and take you straight there. The new Sesame Shortcuts feature is already integrated in 5.4-beta1 of Nova Launcher so you can check it out right now. You will need to manually download the Sesame Shortcuts application yourself. It comes with a 14-day free trial, but then has a $3 in-app purchase to continue using it. Check out this GIF to see the new feature in action.

nova launcher sesame shortcuts

Source: TeslaCoil Apps



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Gratus is a New App By Francisco Franco That’s Designed to Bring a Little Happiness To Your Day

Francisco Franco, the XDA Recognized Developer behind projects such as Franco Kernel, has launched a new app aimed at encouraging users to create notes of both everyday events and the special things that we are grateful for, in order to help promote positive feelings.

The free app comes with bright and cheerful Material Design inspired UI and it is intended to allow users to jot down the moments that mean the most to them. What you do with these moments once they are in the app is up to you, though Franco has added options to keep random “grateful notes” as a persistent notification with options for changing the length of time before the note changes. Alternatively, for those of us who prefer a clean notification tray, the notes can be kept on your homescreen via the included resizeable widget. If neither of these sound appealing to you then the app will simply collect your memories, storing them in a series of cards for your later perusal. The in app options also allow for a daily alert to be set at a time of your choosing, which will remind you of your entries and those things you were most grateful for during the day.

During my time with the app I came to see it in a similar light to some of the diary apps from the Play Store, but the brevity of the notes leaves you with a feed of succinct positive memories. As such, many users may feel uncomfortable with the idea of having personal thoughts and images stored in an easily accessible app. Thankfully, Franco has already considered this and the app can be secured from prying eyes with a pin or via your fingerprint sensor. We know that in a future update Franco intends to implement backups for your notes and photos using GDrive (or similar) for those of use who like to swap ROMs frequently, but until this update the app will use Android’s default back-up system.

Would I continue using the app? As with many of the apps I use, I much prefer the concept and development quality rather than the day to day usage. In a similar manner to other diary apps and other similar apps I quickly realized that I am probably not the intended demographic, and often find myself forgetting to add notes or photos. That being said, the app has been designed and built wonderfully and iy is well worth the download. If you find that you enjoy the app and would like to support the development further, then you can unlock all the premium features for a one-off IAP.

Franco has also opened a new thread in our forums here at XDA for Gratus, if you have any questions or feedback about the app you can easily start a conversation with other users or the dev himself.

Visit the Gratus thread



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mardi 25 juillet 2017

Adobe to Finally Kill Flash in 2020 by Stopping Updates and Distribution of the Flash Player

This week seems to be bringing bad news for once-popular applications. Yesterday, Microsoft announced the deprecation of Paint after 32 years of service (though it’ll be offered on their application store), and today, Adobe is ringing death bells for Flash.

Adobe is planning to End-of-Life Flash by the end of 2020, as the company has now finalized plans to stop updating and distributing the Flash Player. Content creators are encouraged to migrate any existing Flash content to newer open formats like HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly. These standards have matured over the past years and have overtaken Flash in its functionality of providing interactive and creative content on the web. Many Flash plugin capabilities have directly been integrated into browsers, thus deprecating such plugins.

This End-of-Life announcement from Adobe comes in collaboration with several technology partners like AppleFacebookGoogleMicrosoft and Mozilla. For instance, Apple offers WebKit as an alternative to Flash, stating that Apple users have been experiencing the web without Flash since a while. iOS devices never supported Flash in the first place, and users on Mac began their transition away from Flash in 2010 when Flash was no longer pre-installed. Currently, if Mac users install Flash, Safari places extensive restrictions around its use.

Similarly, Google’s Chrome will increasingly require explicit permission from users to run Flash content until support is completely removed in late 2020. Microsoft will phase out support for Flash in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer, culminating in the complete removal by late 2020. Microsoft Edge already requires user interaction before running any Flash content starting with the Windows 10 Creators Update, and Flash will disabled by default in both of Microsoft’s browsers by 2019. Mozilla also looks to disable Flash by default for users in 2019, and only users running the Firefox Extended Support Release will be able to continue using Flash through late 2020. Once Adobe stops with its security patches, no version of Firefox will load the plugin.

Adobe also plans to move more aggressively to EOL Flash in certain geographical areas where unlicensed and outdated versions of Flash Player are being distributed.


The death of Flash had been predicted long ago. With Adobe announcing the final timeline for its death, content creators who still utilize Flash are advised to jump ship as soon as possible.

What are your thoughts on the death of Flash? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Adobe



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Fairphone Explains Why They Had to Stop Supporting the Fairphone 1

As a smartphone customer who spends hundreds of dollars on a new device, it always sucks to hear when the device I want to keep using is no longer receiving support. This is most commonly an issue when someone wants to keep receiving software updates as they bring in both new features as well as security patches. But it can also be in terms of hardware peripheral replacements (batteries, cases, screen protectors, chargers, etc.).

Sadly, this is what happened a couple of weeks ago when Fairphone announced they would no longer be able to continue supporting the Fairphone 1. Not only did this mean the device would no longer receive software updates (which means the device will not be updated to now-ancient Android 4.4 KitKat), but it also means that the company will no longer be selling any spare parts for the device either. With the Fairphone 1 being a modular smartphone, this can be an issue for current owners.

Last week, the CEO of Fairphone published a blog post that detailed exactly why they had to make this decision. During the launch of the Fairphone 1, the company used the hardware manufacturing partner Guohong for most of the supply chain. They decided to end this partnership after a certain period of time so Fairphone had to contact individual spare parts suppliers to ask them if they would be able to produce extra supplies for the company.

This worked for a while, but even those supply chains ended up retiring this hardware over time. They repeated this again but they eventually just became financially unable to keep this going. The company says they’ve learned a lot with the supply issues of the Fairphone 1 and hope to leverage that knowledge to help them prevent this from happening as quickly in the future. One step to ensure this is by generating more working capital and another step is to improve their planning and estimations with spare parts for the Fairphone 2.


Source: Fairphone



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Joy-Con Enabler Lets You Use Both Joy-Cons on a Rooted Android 4.1+ Device

Nintendo’s Joy-Con controllers use a standard Bluetooth connection so it’s always been possible to pair a single Joy-Con to an Android device. Where this gets tricky though is when you want to use both of them together as one controller during a gaming session. This is where Joy-Con Enabler from XDA Senior Member AnkitChowdhury comes into play. It requires root access to work but is compatible with Android 4.1+ devices including Marshmallow and Nougat. The application is free with in-app purchase and can be found in the Play Store here.

Check out Joy-Con Enabler in our Apps and Games forum



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Motorola Moto Z2 Force is Now Official: Quad HD Display, Snapdragon 835, 2,730 mAh Battery

We’ve been talking about the Moto Z2 Force from Motorola since April of this year when rumored renders created from CAD dimensions were leaked to the public. At that time, renders claimed that the device would come with a 3.5mm headphone port but then later leaks of renders had showed this wasn’t to be the case at all. That leak also suggested it would have a 5.5″ Quad HD 18:9 display as well, but the aspect ratio wasn’t talked mentioned during the launch event in New York today.

We did learn about the Moto Z2 Force would be using the company’s ShatterShield material earlier this month when the company started sending out press invites for the event. That was indeed confirmed today and it consists of a multi-layer design that makes it durable. This also has a replaceable exterior “lens” because while it shouldn’t ever shatter, it can get scratched up so this can be replaced if yours ever gets roughed up during a drop or even during regular use.

Moto Z2 Force Back

As we learned in a leak just 5 days ago, the Moto Z2 Force is thinner than many had hoped it would be. Coming off the back of the thinner Moto Z2 Play launch a couple of months ago, the Moto Z Force successor does indeed have a thinner design. It has been confirmed that the Moto Z2 Force has a 2,730mAh battery which is a significant drop over the 3,500mAh battery we saw in the original Moto Z Force. Motorola hopes you’ll buy one of the battery pack Moto Mods if you want to add any additional battery capacity to the device.

Along with this thinner design, the company has also switched to using 7,000 series aluminum that we can see with a brushed design on the back of the phone. On the back we also see the two camera setup that had been talked about in previous rumors as well. So the round, protruding camera module consists of two 12-megapixel f/2.0 cameras that both have phase detection and laser autofocus. However, Motorola has yet to mention anything about image stabilization just yet.

One of these cameras will be shooting is regular full color while the other will only be capturing monochrome images. This is a system that we’ve seen implemented by Huawei in the past and these images are combined to give you a higher detail image. The camera application will have additional features as well including the ability to add depth-of-field effects, a “True B&W” mode, and more. Motorola devices have never been known for top of the line camera performance though, so we’ll have to wait and see if this route bodes well for them.

moto z2 force white

The company confirmed previous rumors about the Moto Z2 Force being made available to all major wireless carriers in the United States, unlike what we saw with its predecessor. It will have the Snapdragon 835 SoC powering the device with a different combination of RAM and storage depending on which country the device is sold in. This is something we had also learned in a previous rumor with devices outside the US having 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage whereas the US version will have a 4GB/64GB combo.

It will ship with Bluetooth 4.2 but a future update will bring support for 5.0, early adopters will get a free Insta-Share Projector Moto Mod for a limited time, and it will be priced at around $720 (the AT&T variant will cost $810 at launch). Expect the Moto Z2 Force to go on sale starting next month on the 10th of August and pre-orders will begin later today at various retailers and carriers.


Source: The Verge

 



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Latest Gov Tuner Project Update Reduces Code Size by 70%

The Gov Tuner Project was initially released back in June of last year, but recently received a big update to version 4.1. This project, thanks to XDA Senior Member Senthil360, Recognized Developer Debuffer, Recognized Developer / Contributor Paget96, and F4uzan, tries to configure your CPU governor to give you the best battery life, fluidity, and smoothness. This latest update rewrites the code from scratch, reduces the code size by 70%, increases optimization and more. You can find the full changelog for version 4.1 down below.

v4.1
- Rewritten code from scratch
- CPU detection algorithm updated
- Code size reduced by 70%, increased efficiency and better loop controls
- Values revised for all devices and profiles
- GovChanger removed (there are app alternatives)
- Profile values arranged in tables for easier access and updates
- Algorithm depended values such as target_loads added to hybrid script
- Increased optimization and overall efficiency
- Disabled loop execution by default
- Room for community involvement in future releases
Check out the updated Gov Tuner Project in our Android Software and Hacking forum



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OnePlus Explains the Cause of the OnePlus 5 911 Bug

Exactly one week ago we started seeing reports about a OnePlus 5 owner who had attempted to place a 911 emergency call, but was unable to due to a bug. Right when the person tried to call emergency services (to report a building fire), the OnePlus 5 simply rebooted. They attempted this two times in a row and the forced reboot happened both times they tried to call. This is a very dangerous bug to have on your phones as sometimes you’re only able to attempt to call one time if you’re in danger.

OnePlus was made aware of the issue and immediately started working on a fix. Two days later the team reported that the issue was found and a hotfix update was being pushed out to devices at that time. OnePlus 5 owners could wait for the OTA update notification to be pushed to their devices, or they could manually check to see if they were eligible. Because sadly, this was an incremental update and only a small number of people received the update on the first day.

The hotfix update seems to have reached most, if not all, of those who own the OnePlus 5 now and the company has started to talk about the issue at hand. In a new forum thread published earlier today, OnePlus says the issue here was “related to a modem memory usage issue.” The company says this bug was a “random occurrence” for some customers who were on a VoLTE network. And the reboot seems to have only happened when the OTDOA protocol was triggered during an emergency call.

OnePlus worked directly with Qualcomm to fix the issue since it was related to the modem (which Qualcomm provides). Incidentally, over the last week we have also seen reports from other people on Reddit about their phones (from multiple OEMs) experiencing similar issues when they tried to dial 911.


Source: OnePlus



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Samsung Plans to Triple its Chip Foundry Market Share in 5 Years

While average customers know of Samsung for their finished products (smartphones, TVs, etc.), the company actually produces a lot of the components used inside these devices. One area of focus is the company’s chip foundry business which they use to produce their Exynos SoCs. Samsung competes with the likes of TSMC and Intel as one of the few who actually fabricate their own chips in-house and it looks like the South Korean tech giant is looking to expand in this area.

Samsung is the market leader when it comes to technology like AMOLED displays and memory chips, but they actually lag behind TSMC when we just look at contract manufacturing for SoCs. Current reports puts TSMC at 50.6% last year while Samsung was only able to capture 7.9% (though important clients). They’re even trailing behind the likes of Global Foundries and UMC which were reported to have 9.6% and 8.1% respectively. But this new move from Samsung shows they want to shrink that gap over the next few years.

Samsung doesn’t have any unrealistic projections either, with its Executive Vice President and head of the new Samsung foundry division, E.S. Jung, saying the company wants to become a strong #2 player in the market. If Samsung’s plans are successful, then they should easily be able to hit that goal too. Mr. Jung also says they’ll be able to keep these new factories flexible so they can increase or decrease production depending on the demands of the market.

Samsung will be able to do this by relying on memory chip lines when demand for regular chip demand is low. This is something that would benefit both Samsung and consumers as high demand for memory chips in both the smartphone and PC sectors have increased pricing significantly. Samsung’s end goal with this new expansion has them trying to obtain 25% of the chip manufacturing market over the next 5 years.


Source: Reuters



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Nexus 5X DP3 Mod Adds a Number of Pixel Exclusive Features

XDA Senior Member krisyarno had previously created a Pixel Mod similar to this for the Nexus 6P, and has just released a work in progress version for the Nexus 5X running Android O Developer Preview 3. This ZIP file can be flashed in TWRP like any other mod, and adds some Pixel exclusive features to the Nexus 5X. These new additions include the Pixel launcher, clock, camera, black version of the boot animation, blue accent color, night mode, round icons and more.

Check out this Pixel Mod in our Nexus 5X forum



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HMD Global Reportedly Launching the Nokia 8 Flagship on August 16 in London

Ever since HMD Global launched its first Nokia-branded Android smartphone lineup earlier this year, Android community has been eagerly waiting for a proper Nokia flagship that can go head to head against other flagship devices such as the Google Pixel or Samsung Galaxy S8.

Now new reports coming in suggest that the first ever Nokia flagship is just around the corner. According to The Verge, HMD Global is all set to announce its upcoming Nokia-branded flagship at a launch event next month. The company has already started sending out media invites for the launch event.

The press invite reads:

HMD Global invites you to an exclusive gathering to unveil the next milestone for Nokia phones.

The launch event will take place on August 16 in London, UK at 7:30 PM (local time).

The Nokia 8 will be the fourth Nokia-branded Android device from HMD Global. However, unlike the previously launched budget-friendly Nokia lineup, the Nokia 8 will offer a flagship smartphone experience with a more premium design and top-of-the-line hardware.

The phone has been subject to leaks and rumors for a while now. Earlier leaked renders show the device will sport a 5.3-inch Quad HD screen on the front along with capacitive navigation buttons and a front-mounted fingerprint reader.

It is also rumored to house a vertically aligned dual-camera setup on the back –comprising of two 13MP sensors, along with Zeiss branding. While on the inside, the device is expected to come with the Snapdragon 835 SoC coupled with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage.

With the official launch event just a few weeks away at this point, hopefully, we won’t have to wait long to learn more about HMD Global’s first flagship device.


Source: The Verge Via: Tech Radar



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Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine SDK Now Available on Qualcomm Developer Network

lundi 24 juillet 2017

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 XDA Review: A Capable Flagship and a Solid First Step Onto the World Stage

Xiaomi’s worldwide launch has been heralded for years, and with the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 it looks like the final pieces are falling into place. As Xiaomi’s first flagship phone to offer a model with worldwide frequency band support, the Mi Note 2 offers an exciting look into what we can expect from Xiaomi as they continue to expand internationally.

In this review, we’ll take an in-depth dive into the Xiaomi Mi Note 2. Rather than listing specs and talking about how the experience felt, this feature attempts to provide a thorough look with contents relevant to our reader base. At XDA, our reviews are not meant to tell a user whether a phone is worth buying or not — instead, we try to lend you the phone through our words and help you come to the decision by yourself. Before getting started, let’s get the specification sheet out of the way:

Device Name Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Release Date/Price Available Now, Starts at CNY 2,799 (USD 400)
Android Version 6.0.1

2017-05-01

8.5.3.0

Display 5.7 inch 1080p P-OLED (386 ppi)
Chipset Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 MSM8996 Pro-AC: Quad Core, 2×2.34 GHz Kryo + 2×2.19 GHz Kryo, Adreno 530 GPU Battery 4070 mAh, Quick Charge 3.0
RAM 4GB | 6GB LPDDR4 1866 MHz Sensors Fingerprint, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity, Compass, Barometer
Storage 64GB | 128GB UFS 2.0 Connectivity USB 2.0 Type-C, 3.5mm audio jack, Dual-SIM slot (nanoSIM), IR Blaster
Dimensions 156.2 × 77.3 × 7.6 mm (74.2% screen-to-body) Rear Camera 22.5 MP Sony IMX318 sensor, 6.9 mm sensor (Type 1/2.6), 1 μm pixels, EIS, PDAF, ƒ/2.0, 4k 24 Hz Video, 720p 120 Hz Slow Motion
Weight 166 g Front Camera 8 MP Sony IMX268 sensor, 4.9 mm sensor (Type 1/3.61), 1.12 μm pixels, ƒ/2.0, Auto Focus

Index

 DesignSoftware – UISoftware – UXPerformanceReal World UXCameraDisplayBattery LifeAudioDeveloper RelationsFinal Thoughts


Design

Design is always one of the hardest things to describe about a phone, and that especially holds true for devices that will often be ordered without seeing them in person. To give someone an idea about what the tactile feel of a device is from across the internet requires comparisons to other popular devices to create an understanding of what the device looks and feels like. Thankfully, in the case of the Xiaomi Mi Note 2, there is a device that feels almost identical in the hand that you can probably find in your local cell phone stores.

While the curved front and back appears to be an almost eerily close match with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, the feel in hand reminds me more of the slightly older Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ (Samsung’s 5.7” device with a curved screen from the year before).

The curved back definitely helps with gripability, however it just doesn’t feel quite as pronounced as the curve on the S7 and S7 Edge, which makes a noticeable difference. The S7’s back curves in much further, allowing it to rest in your hand more easily, in turn helping you wrap more of your hand around the phone for a tighter grip.

The volume rocker and power button are positioned on the right side of the device, and are a bit further up the device than we have come to prefer. They are just high enough to require most people to reposition their hand in order to press the volume keys if holding the device in their right hand, and to require complete repositioning to hit any buttons with your left hand. Thankfully, the device can be woken with both Double Tap To Wake (DT2W) and by pressing the home button (which houses the fingerprint sensor).

The buttons generally feel solid, with firm tactile feedback and a soft audible click. On our testing device, the home button can sometimes get stuck if you press on the left side of it, however so far unsticking it has been as simple as pressing down on the button again. This isn’t something wholly exclusive to the Xiaomi Mi Note 2, as other devices with home buttons can get “stuck” in a similar fashion. While it is not really a cause for concern, it does happen more frequently on our device than we would like to see.

The SIM card tray can be found opposite the volume rocker, and would be almost unnoticeable if not for the SIM ejector hole, as it sits flush with the frame. The top of the device houses the 3.5 mm jack (which is missing on the Xiaomi Mi 6), a microphone, and the IR blaster, while the bottom houses another microphone, the speaker, and the USB Type-C 2.0 port.

 

Despite having two equally-sized speaker grilles on the bottom of the phone, only one of them houses a speaker, with the other one (which houses the microphone) being the shape that it is primarily for design reasons (a very popular practice nowadays). This ends up not being an issue however, as the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 still can be quite loud at times. The noises for locking and unlocking the phone in particular are ridiculously loud in their default configuration, however the speakers do run into some issues with audio clarity when playing music, which we talk about a bit more in the audio section below.


Software – UI

We’ve written extensively about how MIUI differs from AOSP in previous reviews (such as the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 and the Xiaomi Redmi 4), from the iOS-like homescreen to the differences in the notification shade, so for this section we will be focusing heavily on device specific performance.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Lockscreen Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Homescreen Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Notification Pulldown Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Recents Menu

While the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 officially supports English (one of just four languages offered on the Chinese ROM), there are still substantial portions of the UI that have not been translated on the build we are using. The resulting UX leaves you with a tantalizing glimpse of what the phone could be (and possibly what it is under other language settings), but which simply isn’t at the level expected from flagship phones.

It doesn’t stop on the device itself however. The english language page for the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 on Xiaomi’s website has numerous spelling and grammar errors, the majority of which could be caught with a single read through by a native speaker. It really is a wonder that Xiaomi doesn’t hire someone to go over their global website at the very least, if not the device as well. They could quite literally spend a couple bucks on a freelancer website to get someone to quickly proofread their product page, and they would end up creating a substantially more user friendly and polished experience (although ideally they would want to work with someone consistently who is familiar with the technology).

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Language Settings Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Settings Menu 1 of 3 Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Settings Menu 2 of 3 Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Settings Menu 3 of 3

As this is Xiaomi’s first phone with “Global LTE band” support, it thankfully has received a Global ROM as well, which ideally brings better support for other languages and support for more languages, in addition to other changes like having a different set of preinstalled apps. If Xiaomi still intends to enter the North American market, they will need to have a seamless experience in the local languages (including English, French, Spanish, and many others). Small irritations can quickly build up to create a negative experience, and untranslated popup boxes where you can’t tell what either option is are more than just a small issue.

Substantial portions of the settings menu on our device have not been translated either, including the settings for the stock lockscreen. By default, the lockscreen cycles through different sets of pictures, which are curated by Xiaomi. You can select which sets you are interested in, however as they have not been translated to English, you are left with just an abstract picture and the translation software of your choice to try to guess what each category is for.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Mi App Store Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Mi Video App Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Virtual SIM App Xiaomi Mi Note 2

The hyperlocalization of the device continues on into the built in browser, which ships with a couple options that you can choose between for the search engine in the omnibar, all of which are Chinese language websites. Unfortunately, it does not appear to be possible to set a custom option for the omnibar, leaving you with a lackluster search experience in other languages.


Software – Features & UX

I’ve mentioned previously how I can be quite picky about how Halo-style navigation features are implemented, and Xiaomi seems to have hit the mark. Quick ball is a proper implementation of floating controls. It opens up quickly, and lets you access what you wanted and get back to what you were doing. It is smooth, it is fluid, and it is fast.

One kind of nice feature is that the phone wakes up from being powered off to play alarms, which is both good and bad. It’s good in that you won’t miss your alarm if you do something like shutting the phone off overnight to save power, but it can potentially cause problems if you meant for it to stay off and forgot about the alarm (for example, if you meant to turn it off long term, or if you turned it off to avoid all noises while you are in a meeting, or if are in a room where you are not allowed to have your phone on). Of course, being keenly aware of this behavior goes a long way and can minimize or neutralize any issues you might otherwise encounter.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Phone Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Mi Games Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Mi Weather Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Mi Music

As we mentioned above in the UI section, Lockscreen pictures often have descriptions, but they are all in Chinese. There is not even an automatic translation into the language of your choice, despite Xiaomi partnering with Microsoft, who are heavily pushing Bing Translate’s abilities, and holding it up as an alternative to Google Translate. Microsoft clearly thinks that their translation capabilities are ready for prime time, having partnered with Facebook to bring automatic translation to Facebook posts, so it is interesting to see the lack of it here. It’s not clear if this was a conscious decision to leave it out due to the possibility of errors, or if it was simply a case of not realising that it was a possibility.

Lockscreen pictures are questionable at times. By default, some of the lockscreen images appear to relate to ongoing news stories, and can occasionally have some not safe for work images attached. For example, when the Victoria Secret fashion show was happening, our device cycled to some pictures which probably shouldn’t have been enabled by default. The images were fine if you’re expecting them, but being surprised by someone wearing just their underwear at the wrong time can be… frustrating, and can result in awkward explanations.

Along the same lines, many of default the lockscreen images that the phone cycles to are of Chinese models posing in magazine-style images, which stands in stark contrast to how many other similar services such as Windows Spotlight and Chromecast Backdrop are avoiding having any individual person as their main focus, and instead prioritizing beautiful landscape or urban photography and macro images.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Lockscreen 1 of 4 Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Lockscreen 2 of 4 Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Lockscreen 3 of 4 Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Lockscreen 4 of 4

Pictures appear to be chosen without any regard to how they will interact with the text on the lockscreen, which can unfortunately cause some readability issues at times. That being said, for the sake of fairness, only Microsoft seems to be doing that properly, and even then, primarily for Bing search, not their Windows Spotlight.

One particularly annoying thing that the phone does is that the display keeps flashing on seemingly without reason if you leave it sitting for a bit. It appears that it may flash on when the lockscreen image changes, although we are not sure at this point in time.

Many of the built-in apps require authentication in order to use, which Xiaomi has chosen to do by having the phone send an international text to their servers to verify the number. This is quite strange, as most SMS based device authentication systems instead have the system send a text to the phone, specifically to avoid problems with international texting and devices that can’t send texts (such as landlines and data-only lines). The authentication is pervasive throughout the phone, with many apps requiring it that probably shouldn’t.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Clock Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Calculator Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Compass Xiaomi Mi Note 2 File Explorer

One that jumps to mind is the built in Virtual SIM card app, which requires you to verify a separate SIM card via SMS in order to use it. The Virtual SIM card app is designed to allow you to buy cellular connectivity packages directly from your phone, in preparation for ESIM (which will allow phones to join the cellular network of your choice through software, instead of physically inserting a SIM card, which in turn will reduce the number of openings on the phone and allow OEMs to waterproof phones more thoroughly). Unfortunately the Virtual SIM card app is entirely in Chinese, despite the international focus of the app. It is understandable that it is meant primarily for people temporarily traveling internationally from China, but it would have been nice to see it formated in a way to be usable for international customers as well.

Xiaomi has included some nice features that help with navigation on the Xiaomi Mi Note 2, like the ability to swap the back and recents buttons to fit the order that you prefer, as well as the ability to switch to having them mapped to swipes of the fingerprint sensor. The swiping method was surprisingly useful, helping prevent accidental button presses and making both back and recents easy to reach.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Sound Recorder Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Display Colour Settings Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Mi Notes Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Scanner

The fingerprint sensor is extremely quick to authenticate and is remarkably accurate. It is easily one of the best fingerprint sensors that I have used to date. While it would be nice to see further development of fingerprint sensors in multi-factor authentication for Android (as a fingerprint is a username, not a password), the speed and accuracy make it convenient to use, which is critical for a convenience feature, and something that not all fingerprint sensor implementations have caught up with yet.

Performance

The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is not going to be breaking records for a Snapdragon 821 device, but it doesn’t perform poorly either. It performs just as it is expected to, and that is fine to see from a device running on a popular platform like the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821.


CPU & System

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 inside of the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 behaves exactly how a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 is supposed to behave, and that is fantastic. It has great performance across the board, which can result in fantastic results when combined with a software stack that isn’t overly bloated. The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 also saw very low variance in our testing, which helps deliver a consistent user experience.

This shows up in both Geekbench 4 and PCMark 2.0, where the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 keeps up with the rest of the pack when it comes to flagship devices. The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 does particularly well in the PCMark 2.0 Photo editing test, where it pulls well ahead of the Pixel XL, OnePlus 3, and LG V20, but falls behind the latter two in the PCMark 2.0 writing test.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Geekbench 4 Score Comparison Xiaomi Mi Note 2 PCMark 2.0 Score Comparison

Sustained performance is quite good as well. In our Geekbench 4 throttling test, the performance drop from the first run to the lowest run is less than 7% in multi core, and less than 3% in single core performance. The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 got a bit hot over the processor in the top corner, however at the midframe and by the base of the phone, temperatures drop to a reasonable level.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Geekbench 4 Performance Over Time Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Thermal Image

GPU & Gaming

Just like with the CPU, GPU performance on the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is quite good. The phone performs right where it should with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821’s Adreno 530 GPU, and it provides a reasonable gaming experience as a result.

In both 3DMark and GFXBench the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 stays right with the rest of the pack. While performance is quite good, it falls well behind the Google Pixel XL in terms of variance, resulting in a less consistent experience.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 3DMark Score Comparison Xiaomi Mi Note 2 GFXBench 4.0 High Level Test Score Comparison

In our sustained performance testing, the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 gets up to its maximum heat very quickly, and throttles accordingly. In our 3DMark test, one run is enough to get within reach of the maximum temperature, resulting in a score drop of 25%, but it levels out quickly after that, leaving you with acceptable sustained performance.

Testing sustained performance with GFXBench shows similar results, with one large drop after the first run, before it mostly levels off for the rest of the test.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 3DMark Score Over Time Xiaomi Mi Note 2 GFXBench Sustained Performance

Memory & Storage

Having 64GB of storage standard and 128GB in the high end model is a fantastic feeling. With 56 GB of free space by default on the 64GB model, there is substantial room to take pictures, install apps, and take media with you. While SD cards are very useful, there are still some things that you can only really do with internal storage, so it is always nice to see a device with space to spare.

Speaking of SD cards, it still is a bit disappointing that Xiaomi currently seems to be avoiding using SD cards in their flagship Mi series phones, while widely implementing them in their entry level Redmi series phones. There is something about being able to just throw a 200GB SD card into the device to carry all of your pictures/music/movies/videos/etc. with you that is a bit freeing. With the recent focuses on caching videos from Netflix and Youtube, local storage is becoming increasingly important yet again.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Sequential Random
Read Speed 268.16 MB/s 14.82 MB/s
Write Speed 55.34 MB/s 3.47 MB/s

App Loading Time Test (in milliseconds)

The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 gets fantastic storage performance thanks to its UFS 2.0 flash memory. With Androbench set to 1 thread and a 256 kB sequential buffer, we see good performance in both read and write speeds, which go a long way towards creating a smooth experience.

That performance shows up in app loading times, where the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 goes toe to toe with flagship phones such as the OnePlus 3T and the HTC 10.

Real World Performance

The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 unfortunately can get quite hot, even in regular use. It doesn’t reach scorching hot levels such as the ones we saw with the Ulefone Metal, but it still is more than you would expect from a Snapdragon 821 device. This is in part due to the substantial power draw brought about by the two highest power states on the faster clocked version of the Snapdragon 821, but it ultimately is up to the clock speed scaling and thermal throttling profiles that Xiaomi has decided to use.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Frame Time ScreenshotThe processor comes with a couple tricks up its sleeve that help with UI fluidity, including maximizing clock speeds while opening any app (not to be confused with maximizing it when using specific apps), which can help prevent issues like frame drops during those relatively processing intensive moments — in simple terms, this helps ensure the processor can’t bottleneck launch times.

Using the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is incredibly smooth. There are minimal frame drops, and every interaction with the device from switching home screens to scrolling through the menus feels fluid. While this should be how devices are expected to operate at this point, some manufacturers still run into issues optimizing their software.

That being said, there still are some small quirks with UI fluidity on the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 which can be irritating. For example, when shutting off the phone, the button that appears on screen after holding the power button requires two taps, and has a small position shift between the first and second tap that can make it easy to accidentally miss if you’re moving too quickly.

A few responsiveness issues aside, the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 generally presents a pleasing experience to interact with, with smooth animations and minimal frame drops.


Camera

The Exmor RS IMX318 image sensor is a bit of a new favourite for companies looking to advertise high resolutions, with it being used in the Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe/Ultra and the ZTE Nubia Z11 mini S, as well as in the Xiaomi Mi Note 2. That list will likely continue to grow in the future, as Sony views the IMX318 as the direct successor to the popular IMX230 that appeared in devices like the Moto X Style/Play/Force, the Honor 7, and the Sony Xperia XA Ultra.

With a 6.858 mm (Type 1/2.6) sensor and an active resolution of 5488×4112, the IMX318 has 1μm pixels, which are absolutely tiny. While these small pixels make the high resolution possible, they also reduce the amount of light captured per pixel, and can dramatically harm low light performance.

The IMX318 uses a hybrid autofocus solution that takes advantage of both PDAF and contrast-based autofocus, which Sony brags is capable of focusing in just 0.03 seconds on an overcast day. Despite that, the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is often slow to focus, which comes as a bit of a shock. The device appears to lean quite heavily on its contrast based autofocus, even in low light.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Main Camera screenshot Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Video Camera screenshot Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Camera modes screenshot Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Camera modes screenshot page 2

The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is ridiculously slow when taking HDR photos,especially in low light. Surprisingly, it is not processing the image that takes a long time for this device (despite it being a common problem on other phones). If anything, the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 processes HDR photos extremely quickly. It is the actual act of capturing the photo itself that is slow. From when you hit the capture button until when the screen unfreezes can take a couple seconds, and if you move the phone at all during that time frame, the entire picture will come out blurry.

In daylight the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 has bright punchy colours that have a tendency to oversaturate and underexpose, resulting in a loss of detail in the shadows. The high resolution camera performs quite well in daylight, bringing out fine details that are missed by both the HTC 10 and the OnePlus 3T, like the slight indent around the letters on the Green P sign.

While the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 performs admirably in daylight, that performance starts to fall off as the sun begins to set. In twilight the rear camera still can produce a nice (if oversaturated) image, however the images start to appear a bit flat in areas, as shadow detail drops off. It is most noticeable in the evergreen trees in the background of the image below, with the branches blending together into one dark blob. Outside of those pain points however, the image is still more than acceptable.

The camera automatically activates Handheld Twilight mode (HHT) in low light situations. HHT works by raising the ISO in order to allow for a shorter exposure (to avoid issues with handshake that often come into play in low light photography). That alone would result in substantially more image noise, so Xiaomi then stacks 6 subsequent images in an almost HDR-esque fashion in order to cancel out the noise introduced by the higher ISO setting. In theory this method should work quite well to improve the image quality for stationary objects, however moving objects will be captured with more image noise than they otherwise would have, as they will be based on a single frame instead of using the full stack of 6.

HTC 10 Scene 39 OP3T Scene 39 Xiaomi Scene 39 HHT HTC 10 Scene 39 HDR OP3T Scene 39 HDR Xiaomi Scene 39 HDR

While the high resolution sensor certainly helps with detail capture in daylight, the tiny pixels have relatively poor light sensitivity, and result in a lot of noise, a lack of detail, and blurry images in nighttime scenes. This is especially noticeable in the cropped image of the tree at night, where the substantial noise on the Xiaomi Mi Note 2’s image almost makes it look like you are looking at the image through water.

The Quick Shot camera is another interesting feature, although it has some bugs. It allows you to take pictures without even needing to turn on the screen, just by holding the volume down button (this seems to be a popular feature in Chinese devices). Unfortunately it appears to default to an exposure time of just 1/62 of a second and an ISO of 400 for the first photo in every series. This results in exceptionally dark photos in anything other than broad daylight, which simply is a shame. It was likely done to decrease the amount of time until the first photo is captured, but most of the time that first photo ends up just being a waste of space and time as a result.

The photos after the first one will have their exposure time and ISO set depending on the scene, resulting in much higher quality images. Even then, it still trends towards shorter exposure lengths and higher ISO than a regularly taken picture would have. As well, in a considerable number of my testing photos, the camera was out of focus, as it seems to take the Quick Shot photos right away when the camera is ready to capture (approximately 1 every 0.466 seconds), rather than waiting for the camera to be focused. Those two issues combined so that in our testing, you would often have to wait for the third or fourth Quick Shot picture before something usable was captured (and it occasionally would not be able to focus at all in poor lighting conditions).

Overall, the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 takes fantastic pictures (especially in daylight), but they simply don’t hold up to the level of other flagship phones like the HTC 10 and Samsung Galaxy S7.

The front camera is also quite interesting. It uses the Sony Exmor RS IMX268 image sensor that was recently found in the wide angle camera on the LG G5, and which Sony views as a partial successor to their Exmor R IMX219 sensor (as found in the LG V20, the Sony Xperia XA, and the Nexus 9). This is a bit of a lower end image sensor compared to the rear camera (albeit still relatively high end for a front facing camera), with contrast based autofocus, an active resolution of 3872×2192 (although the Xiaomi captures at 3840×2160), and a sensor size of 4.868 mm (Type 1/3.61) with 1.12μm pixels. Xiaomi paired this potent combination with an ƒ/2.0 lens, which in theory should provide excellent low light performance.

While the colours on the front camera of the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 are pleasing and it does a relatively good job of detail preservation when the autofocus manages to get a lock, the dynamic range is a bit limited, the colours lack warmth, and the beautify modes (which are enabled by default) can push things a bit too far towards the uncanny valley.

As with the rear camera, this competitiveness falls apart in low-light scenarios, where the Xiaomi Mi Note 2’s small pixels result in substantial amounts of noise, and poor light gathering abilities.

It is important to note that having autofocus on a front facing camera is a relatively new feature (with only a couple phones like the HTC 10 and the Sony Xperia M5 having it) which creates an often surprisingly different shooting experience. While autofocus does bring improved image clarity when compared to a fixed focus camera, it comes with two major downsides which have historically driven OEMs away from implementing it. The first is that it costs more and takes up more internal space than an equivalent fixed focus camera, which can have substantial effects on the design process.

The second is that unlike with a fixed focus camera, you cannot immediately start shooting when you open the camera, you have to wait for the camera to focus. This may not seem like a big deal at first glance (especially with autofocus being nearly universal for rear cameras), however the shorter focusing distances and quick shooting scenarios that front cameras often face can create an extremely challenging environment for even the best autofocus systems to operate in.

Unfortunately, the Xiaomi Mi Note 2’s front facing camera does not have the best autofocus. It uses a contrast based autofocus system that can often take a second or two to focus. When combined with how it captures right when you hit the shutter button instead of forcing you to wait for it to focus like most rear cameras, it resulted in numerous out of focus shots in my testing.

That is not to say that it is a bad camera. The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 still does take some fairly good pictures, however it leaves us wondering what the experience would have been like if Xiaomi had gone with an image sensor that has PDAF, like the Sony Exmor RS IMX258 (which they use for the rear cameras in the Mi 4c, the Redmi Pro, and the Mi 5S Plus) instead of the Sony Exmor RS IMX268.

There are four video quality options for the rear camera (4k, FHD, HD, and SD, all at 24 Hz) and only one for the front camera (FHD at ~17 Hz), all of which record in H.264. While the Snapdragon 821 is capable of hardware accelerated HEVC encoding, it is understandable that Xiaomi decided not to use it, both because of the substantial licensing costs, and the lack of support for HEVC from most media players and web browsers. With the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 joining Samsung and Intel in offering VP9 hardware accelerated encoding, hopefully we will soon see OEMs start to offer the option of recording in VP9 (and eventually it’s successor, AV1). Until then however, H.264 and VP8 still are the best options.

That being said, the choice to limit recording with the rear camera to 24 Hz is a bit disappointing, especially when the camera sensor itself is capable of 4k 60Hz HDR recording and full resolution 30 Hz HDR recording (thanks to the use of Sony’s SME-HDR technology which we detailed in our breakdown of the Google Pixel’s camera, the Sony Exmor RS IMX378), and the Snapdragon 821 is capable of recording at 4k 30Hz. It would have been nice to see higher frame rates at FHD at the very least, if not at 4k as well. Similarly, the front camera sensor is capable of 4k 30 Hz HDR and FHD 60Hz HDR, so to see it limited to FHD ~17 Hz is decidedly disappointing.


Display

The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 packs a 1080p 5.7-inch curved LG P-OLED display. While it is a perfectly acceptable resolution, the RB-GB 1080p layout is noticeably lower resolution than the RGB 1440p displays found in flagships like the HTC 10 and LG G5, let alone something like the 4k display found in the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium.

It is quite interesting to see an LG P-OLED display in a phone instead of the usual LCD or Samsung AMOLED displays that we see elsewhere. Most of the differences between the P-OLED display and comparable AMOLED displays seem to be fairly miniscule, with them even using a similar PenTile-style diamond subpixel arrangement, however there is one key difference. Instead of being laid out in an RG-BG fashion like Samsung’s displays (which Samsung claims is done to maximize the green subpixel resolution as our eyes are most sensitive to green), LG uses an RB-GB layout that maximizes the number of blue subpixels. While an official reason has not been given for the difference, blue subpixels currently degrade the fastest and use the most energy, largely because they were invented the most recently and haven’t had as much time to be optimized and improved. LG may have chosen the RB-GB layout to help minimize those issues.

At around 350 nits, the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is bright enough for most scenarios, however it falls substantially behind most current flagship devices, and can be difficult to read in direct sunlight at times as a result. This problem is only exacerbated by its lack of a sunlight brightness boosting mode, such as the one that Samsung uses for their AMOLED phones.

In addition to its low maximum brightness setting, the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 has a relatively high minimum brightness setting as well. The display is far too bright for use in bed, easily waking other people in the room. This issue could have been partially abated through the use of Android’s new Night Light feature, however the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 does not yet have it because the device is only on Android 6.0 (which highlights the need for updates to the underlying Android version, in addition to the frequent MIUI skin updates). The phone does have a “reading mode” which tints the screen yellow when in certain apps, however it still remains quite bright, cannot be set on a timer, uses a particularly irritating shade of yellow, and overall just doesn’t work nearly as well as Night Light.

In the default “Automatic Contrast” colour mode, the whitepoint on the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 trends very blue, and colour accuracy suffers to some degree. Thankfully there is a “Standard” colour mode which has much more accurate colour reproduction, although the whitepoint is still bluer than it should be.

Viewing angles are fantastic with very little colour shift even at extreme angles, although the curved edges do see some luminance falloff when you aren’t looking at the device headon.

It is a bit disappointing to see that the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 targets the NTSC colour space instead of sRGB (bragging about having 110% NTSC coverage), as it currently causes compatibility issues which we have explained in-depth previously. Android still lacks system level colour management, which means that the vast majority of the images you see (including ones taken with the phone itself) will be displayed inaccurately due to them targeting the sRGB colour space, so content colours will be displayed conformed to NTSC with mistagged colour data.

That being said, Xiaomi are far from the only ones with this problem, with Samsung and LG running into even harsher versions of this issue with their support for HDR displays and the DCI-P3 colour space (respectively). This is an issue that will take system level changes to Android to fix, and it will not be an easy fix at that. In the meantime, those of us who want colour accuracy are stuck relying on sRGB modes. Thankfully, Android will be becoming colour space aware with Android O, which should help alleviate these concerns down the road.


Battery Life & Charging

Battery life on the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is fairly good, but a bit disappointing when looking at just the hardware. The 4070 mAh battery is above average for a 5.7” phone, but in terms of actual performance it is just average.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 PCMark 2.0 Work Battery Life
Min. Brightness 9 h 43 m
Med. Brightness 9 h 0 m
Max Brightness 6 h 12 m

While 6 hours on maximum brightness and close to 10 hours on minimum brightness are both quite good, it is a bit disappointing to see from a phone with a 4,070 mAh battery. In our test of the 3,450 mAh Pixel XL, we saw similar results despite the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 having an 18% larger battery and a lower resolution (albeit slightly larger) display. While there are some surprisingly substantial differences in efficiency between the two models of the Snapdragon 821 SoC, the differences in the expected battery life of these two phones is more than what can be explained by the SoC alone, and indicate higher power drain from other parts of the device as well. Notably, the OnePlus 3T (which shares the same SoC as the Xiaomi Mi Note 2) saw over 9 hours on minimum brightness in the same test, despite having just a 3,400 mAh battery.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Battery and Current Over Time Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Battery and Temperature Over Time

Thanks to Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, charging times remain fast despite the large battery. The phone takes just under 2 hours to go from five percent to a full charge.


Audio

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Audio Settings

Audio Settings

The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 has a single bottom firing speaker, but it gets surprisingly loud, even outpacing phones like the HTC 10. While the speaker does get quite loud, the audio quality takes a step back from what you would expect from a flagship phone. The speaker has multiple issues with audio quality, that can completely change the way a song sounds. It has a bit of a smeared sound to it, with fairly poor transient response, resulting in the notes at the beginning of The Weeknd’s Starboy rolling together. The bass is also quite muddy, which shows up to a comical degree in Drake’s Back to Back. Even with those issues however, the speaker still performs at an acceptable level, and should be sufficient for people who only occasionally use their speakers for music. Audio reproduction in the vocal range is adequate, which should be enough for use in speakerphone mode, where the speaker’s high volume can be useful.

The headphone audio and microphone recording are both entirely unremarkable. They will do the job and sound just fine on most headphones, but they are not anything to write home about either. The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 performs at the level that would be expected from a standard Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 based smartphone thanks to Qualcomm’s Aqstic hardware, and that is just fine.

Developer Relations

Developer relations is unfortunately an area with Xiaomi has consistently fallen short historically, although they are working on it.

Earlier this year, Xiaomi finally released the kernel sources for the Redmi 3S, 3X, and 3S Prime, which is always good news (even if it was seven months late). What was disappointing to see was that they didn’t publish it until someone spammed their forums and github issue tracker asking about it, at which point they almost immediately released the kernel sources. That would indicate that it was either ready for release (as it should have been when the device itself released), or they had left it so close to being ready that they could finish it up in a couple hours (likely the former, as the most recent commit to the branch was weeks earlier). The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 saw a similar delay, with the kernel sources not being released until April 26th, half a year after the phone itself officially launched.

Delaying the kernel source release like that is just plain old anti-consumer behaviour which delays the development of custom ROMs, and prevents the community from submitting patches that could help Xiaomi. It is incredibly disappointing to see behaviour like this from one of the world’s largest phone manufacturers, and we sincerely hope that Xiaomi will try to break this trend of copyright violations that they currently have.

Xiaomi relatively recently started requiring approval from them to initially unlock your phone’s bootloader, which they announced was an attempt to curb the number of resellers who had been unlocking the bootloaders of Xiaomi phones, and selling them with alternate ROMs pre-installed (some of which contained bloatware). The announcement came right after Google announced an Android-wide feature, Verified Boot, that would prevent the same thing without needing to contact the manufacturer. Xiaomi’s solution is a bit stricter (as it completely prevents you from unlocking the bootloader, instead of just giving a warning message on reboot), however it does bring two major problems with it. Namely, that there is a limit on how many devices you can unlock per year (which can be problematic if you switch phones often, or if you have to deal with a warranty replacement) and you have to actually contact them for the unlock code (which is problematic because 1. it can potentially take a couple weeks for them to process your unlock request and 2. if they stop processing unlock requests for your phone model for any reason, then there would be almost no hope of unlocking the bootloader).

Interestingly, on our testing unit, unlocking the phone’s bootloader did not factory reset the device. This is a bit worrying, as wiping the user storage is a standard part of unlocking a phone’s bootloader, and is done for security purposes. If the phone does not wipe a user’s internal storage when unlocking the bootloader, then whoever unlocks the bootloader can potentially access the files on the phone.

Once the bootloader is unlocked, it can be locked and unlocked straight from fastboot. There was no “OEM unlocking” security setting in the developers’ menu like many recent Android devices have to lock it down further by requiring the device’s password to re-unlock the bootloader. This setting could have helped provide some extra reassurance for those who have unlocked their devices, and is sorely missed.


Final Thoughts

The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is another fantastic device from Xiaomi, with a few rough edges that need improvement. It is a definite step in the right direction, but Xiaomi still has quite a distance to go if they want to have a device that can truly go toe to toe with the competing flagship phones from the likes of Samsung, HTC, LG, and Sony. In the meantime, the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is a solid choice for a near flagship experience at a cheaper price, especially if Xiaomi continues to smooth the bumps out of their software experience.

While the camera experience on the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is a bit lacking and Xiaomi still struggles with developer relations, the fluid UI, great battery life, and fantastic frequency band support make for a compelling device.


We would like to thank Gearbest for providing our review unit. You can find the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 and other smartphones available for sale on their website with shipping to numerous countries.



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