Android Stuff: SoC showdown: Snapdragon 810 vs Exynos 7420 vs MediaTek Helio X10 vs Kirin 935

Soc-showdown-featured-image

Which is the best Android smartphone SoC? We test the Snapdragon 810, the Exynos 7420, the MediaTek Helio X10, the Kirin 935, and the Snapdragon 801. But before looking at these chips, let’s start with a high level look of mobile processing technology.

What is a SoC?

The SoC defines what a smartphone can and can’t do.

Traditionally, the “brains” of a computer were found in the CPU (Central Processing Unit), and other necessary peripherals were found in auxiliary chips which were dotted around the CPU. These auxiliary chips included things like the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), the memory controllers, and any specialized video or audio chips (like DSPs). In fact, way back when the Intel 386 and 486 CPUs were the talk of the town, even the FPU (Floating Point Unit) was considered an optional extra. Since then, more and more stuff has been included on the same silicon as the CPU, first the FPU, then various memory controllers, and now the GPU and DSPs as well.

A single chip, which includes lots of different functions,  is known as a SoC or a System-on-a-Chip. The chips which power our smartphones are no longer just CPUs, but a CPU plus a GPU plus a memory controller plus a DSP plus a radio for GSM, 3G and 4G LTE comms. But it doesn’t stop there, on top of all that lot, you will find discrete bits of silicon for the GPS, USB, NFC, Bluetooth and for the camera.

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In many ways, the SoC defines what a smartphone can and can’t do, plus it determines the device’s performance and battery efficiency. In other words, it is important to know what SoC is in your smartphone.

At the moment there are four major smartphone SoC makers: Qualcomm, with its Snapdragon range; Samsung with its Exynos chips; MediaTek with its MT and Helio processors; and Huawei’s Kirin chips made by its subsidiary HiSilicon.

ARM SoC Fabrication Wafer Processor

Each of these manufacturers produces a variety of chips for the low-, mid- and high-end smartphone markets. And it is at the high-end that the competition is the toughest, at least in terms of perceptions. In terms of actual units shipped, the low- and mid-range SoCs are just as important, however, the glory is in the flagship devices.

So that leads us to our question, what is the best SoC? To try and answer this question we will take a look at five key processors: the Snapdragon 810, the Exynos 7420, the MediaTek Helio X10, the HiSilicon Kirin 935, and the Snapdragon 801. I have included the last one for comparison. Released in 2013 and 2014 respectively, the Snapdragon 800 and 801 SoCs are almost legendary in terms of their performance and reliability.

  Snapdragon 810 Exynos 7420 MediaTek Helio X10 (MT6795) HiSilicon Kirin 935 Snapdragon 801
Cores 8 8 8 8 4
CPU 4x Cortex-A57 + 4x Cortex-A53 4x Cortex-A57 +
4x Cortex-A53
8x Cortex-A53 8x Cortex-A53 4x Krait 400
CPU clock A57 – 2.0GHz
A53 – 1.5GHz
A57 – 2.1GHz
A53 – 1.5GHz
Up to 2.2GHz 4x A53 – 2.2GHz
4x A53 – 1.5GHz
Up to 2.45 GHz
Arch ARMv8-A (32 / 64-bit) ARMv8-A (32 / 64-bit) ARMv8-A (32 / 64-bit) ARMv8-A (32 / 64-bit) ARMv7-A (32-bit)
GPU Adreno 430 @ 630MHz ARM Mali-T760 MP8 @ 772 Mhz PowerVR G6200 @ 700Mhz Mali-T628 MP4 Adreno 330 @ 578 GHz
Memory LPDDR4 1600MHz 64-bit 1552MHz LPDDR4 LPDDR3 933MHz LPDDR3 1600 MHz LPDDR3 933MHz 32-bit
Process 20nm 14nm FinFET 28nm 28 nm 28nm

Core count

Octa-core is the norm today, but things may change next year.

Look across the table above and you will see that octa-core processors are the order of the day. With the exception of the Snapdragon 801, which is here for comparison, we can see that every major SoC uses 8 CPU cores. To support 8 CPU cores, these chips use a technology from ARM called big.LITTLE. The idea behind big.LITTLE is that not all the cores are equal. You generally find a cluster of Cortex-A57 cores and a cluster of Cortex-A53 cores. The A57 is a high performance core, while the A53 has greater energy efficiency.

When tasks are run on the LITTLE cores they use less power, they drain the battery less, however they may run a little slower. When tasks are run on the big cores, they finish sooner but they use more battery to do so.

Note_5_vs_Mate_S-epic-citadel

The only exceptions to this among the octa-core processes in our lineup are the Kirin 935 and the MediaTek Helio X10, both of which use one cluster of Cortex-A53 cores clocked at a higher clock speed than another cluster of Cortex-A53 cores clocked at a lower speed.


Processor chip on circuitboardSee also: Why the quad-core Snapdragon 820 won’t bring an end to the core wars27

Although this is the way things are today, the core count is going to change. The next generation CPU from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 820, will go back to using four cores, with a core design cooked up by Qualcomm’s engineers rather than using the core designs from ARM. At the other end, MediaTek will be releasing a SoC with 10 CPU cores, the Helio X20.

GPUs

Samsung's latest flagships all sport the formidable Mali-T760 GPU

Samsung’s latest flagships all sport the formidable Mali-T760 GPU

There are three major designers of mobile GPUs: ARM, Qualcomm and Imagination. ARM’s range of GPUs are known as Mali and includes the Mali-T760, as found in the Exynos 7420, and the Mali T628, as found in the Kirin 935. Qualcomm’s GPUs are branded under the Adreno name with the Snapdragon 810 using an Adreno 430 and the Snapdragon 801 using a Adreno 330. The third player in the GPU space is Imagination with its PowerVR range. Imagination has had the most success on mobile with Apple, as every iPhone since the 3GS has used a PowerVR GPU. However, Imagination has also had some success on Android, and the MediaTek Helio X10 uses the PowerVR G6200.

It is difficult to make a comparison between these GPUs just from the specifications. They all support OpenGL ES 3.1, they all support RenderScript, and they all boast high gigaFLOP numbers. The real test comes when running actual 3D games.

Fabrication technology

ARM Silicon CPU SoC HiSilicon-2

Processors are fabricated out of silicon wafers such as this HiSilicon one

The fabrication of “silicon chips” isn’t easy. In fact it is a highly complex process that involves a lot of expensive machinery. To make a chip from silicon wafer to chips ready to sell, it takes several weeks. One of the parameters of fabrication system is known as the “process node” and it defines how small the transistors are and how small the gaps are between transistors. The Helio X10, the Kirin 935 and the Snapdragon 801 are all built using a 28nm (nanometer) process. The Snapdragon 810 uses a 20nm process, while the Exynos 7420 uses a 14nm process, known as 14nm FinFET.

intel 4004

The original, from 1971, the 4-bit Intel C4004 CPU

As you can imagine, the smaller you make a chip the harder it gets. The original Intel 4004 CPU, which was launched in 1971, was manufactured using a 10 µm (10,000 nanometers) process. By 1989, that had dropped to 800nm, the process used for the Intel 486 and the lower speed Pentium CPUs. By 2001, the process node was down to 130nm and was used by companies like Intel, Texas Instruments, IBM, and TSMC for a variety of processors including the Pentium III, the Athlon XP and back when Motorola made chips, the PowerPC 7447.

By the time the smartphone revolution was underway, chips like the Samsung Exynos 3 Single, used in the original Google Nexus S, were made using 45nm technology. Today, that number is down to between 28nm and 14nm (FinFET). The key thing about process nodes is that, although it gets harder to reach these smaller and smaller targets, the benefit is that the chips need less power and produce less heat, both of which are very important for mobile devices.

However there is one caveat, the process node is just one factor in many which defines the performance and power usage of a SoC. Although it might seem that a chip made using a 28nm process node will be half as efficient as a chip made using a 14nm FinFET process, it isn’t, things are just more complicated than that!

Snapdragon 810

snapdragon-810-webpage

The Snapdragon 810 is Qualcomm’s flagship 64-bit processor. It has eight cores in total, four Cortex-A53 cores and four Cortex-A57 cores. The SoC uses ARM’s big.LITTLE technology, which means that the more power efficient Cortex-A53 cores are used for easier tasks and the Cortex-A57 cores are activated when some heavy lifting is required. Bundled with the CPU is the Adreno 430 GPU, the Hexagon V56 DSP, and an integrated X10 LTE modem.

The history of the Snapdragon 810 has been rocky at best. Samsung didn’t pick it for the Galaxy S6 range, nor for the Note 5, instead opting for its home-grown Exynos 7420. The chip has also been dogged with stories of overheating and CPU throttling. Qualcomm tried to fix the chip’s perceived image by releasing a new stepping known as V2.1, however, with the 4K video overheating issues of phones like the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact, the Snapdragon 810 is still seen negatively by some consumers.

Having said that, my testing of the Snapdragon 810 has shown it to be a fast and reliable SoC for the most part, and it has been picked-up by several top smartphone makers including Huawei for the Nexus 6P, OnePlus for the OnePlus 2, HTC for the One M9 and LG for the LG G Flex 2.

Exynos 7420

Exynos 7 Octa
This is one of the most popular smartphone processors at the moment, mainly because it is the processor used by Samsung for its current range of high-end devices including the Samsung Galaxy S6, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge +, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 5. Like the Snapdragon 810 it uses four Cortex-A53 cores and four Cortex-A57 cores. But rather than the Adreno 430, we find a ARM Mali-T760 MP8.

The Mali-T760 has 8 shader cores while boasting a 400% increase in energy efficiency over the ARM Mali-T604. One of the tricks in the Mali-T760’s architecture is the use of bandwidth reduction techniques, which minimizes the amount of data shifted around and hence reduces the amount of power used by the GPU. Such techniques include ARM Frame Buffer Compression (AFBC), which compresses the data as it is passed from one part of the SoC to another; and Smart Composition, which only renders the parts of the frame which have changed.


Jurassic World: core usage on Samsung Galaxy S6.See also: Up close and personal: how the Samsung Galaxy S6 uses its octa-core processor21

Thanks to the smaller 14nm FinFET manufacturing process, Samsung has been able to up its clock speeds by 200MHz on the CPU side and by 72MHz on the GPU side, when compared to the Exynos 5433. It is also Samsung’s first SoC with LPDDR4 memory support, which runs in a 32-bit dual-channel configuration with a clock speed of 1552MHz. Peak bandwidth reaches 25.6 GB/s.

MediaTek Helio X10

MediaTek-Helio-X10

Earlier this year MediaTek launched its new Helio brand of SoCs. Unlike the bland sounding MTxxxx range of SoCs, the Helio branding brings MediaTek into line with Samsung and Qualcomm with their Exynos and Snapdragon brands. The first MediaTek Helio SoC is the Helio X10, an octa-core processor with four 2.0 GHz Cortex-A53 cores and four 2.2 GHz Cortex-A53 cores, backed by a PowerVR 6200 GPU. If that setup sounds familiar it is because that was also the specs of the MediaTek MT6795 and, as far as I can tell, the Helios X10 is in fact just a rebrand of the MT6795.

The multimedia features of the X10 are quite interesting and include video recording at 480 frames per second with 1/16th speed slow-motion playback, support for 120Hz smartphone displays, and H.265 Ultra HD 4K2K video encoding at 30 fps.

Kirin 935

Huawei HiSilicon Kirin

Smartphones using the Kirin range of SoCs started to appear during mid-2014, almost exclusively from Huawei. HiSilicon is a fully owned subsidiary of Huawei and its first Kirin processors were quad-core Cortex-A9 based, as found in phones like the Huawei Ascend P7. Since then, HiSilicon has produced increasingly more powerful processors including 32-bit octa-core processors with Cortex-A15 and Cortex-A7 cores, and 64-bit processors using Cortex-A53 cores. The company has also just announced its new SoC: the Kirin 950. The Kirin 950 uses four Cortex-A72 cores (the successor to the Cortex-A57) and four Cortex A53 CPU cores, combined with a Mali-T880 GPU.

The Kirin 935 uses four Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 2.2 GHz, and another four Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.5 GHz. The GPU is the ARM Mali-T628 MP4.

Snapdragon 801

Snapdragon-801-block-diagram

The Snapdragon 801 is quite different to the other SoCs listed here. First, it is a 32-bit processor using the ARMv7 instruction set architecture (ISA), rather than the 64-bit ARM v8 ISA. Second, it is a quad-core processor rather than an octa-core processor. Third, it uses Qualcomm’s own ARM compatible core design (Krait) and not a core design from ARM.

The reason I have included it is as a baseline reference. The Snapdragon 800 and the Snapdragon 801 SoCs were very popular and marked the heyday of Qualcomm’s reign at the top. You can find the Snapdragon 801 in devices like the Sony Xperia Z3, the LG G3, the Samsung Galaxy S5, the HTC One M8 and the OnePlus One.

The Phones

Soc-showdown-featured-image

For these tests, I got hold of different phones using these SoCs. The phones are:

Before looking at the test results, there is one caveat: there are likely other handsets available that could utilize these SoCs better than the handsets I have used. In other words, maybe the RedMi Note 2 isn’t the best performing Helio X10 handset, or maybe there are better Snapdragon 801 devices than the ZUK Z1, etc. However the variations between models shouldn’t be so large as to alter the overall results.

It is also worth noting that the screen resolution plays a big factor for benchmarks that include GPU tests. Pushing around those pixels on a phone with a Full HD display is less taxing for the CPU and GPU than on a phone with a 2K display.

Performance tests

Performance testing is a complex science in that it is hard to replicate the exact same conditions for each test run. Even variations in temperature can alter test results. One popular way to test the performance of a phone is to use benchmarks like AnTuTu and Geekbench. Another is to simulate real world scenarios like launching a game while monitoring the performance. As a third way to test the performance I have written a couple of apps. The first one tests the SoCs processing power by calculating a large number of SHA1 hashes, performing a large bubblesort, shuffling a large table and then calculating the first 10 million primes. The second app uses a 2D physics engine to simulate water being poured into a container and measuring the number of droplets that can be processed in 90 seconds. At 60 frames per second the maximum score is 5400.

AnTuTu

AnTuTu is one of the “standard” benchmarks for Android. It tests both CPU performance and GPU performance and then presents a final score. AnTuTu is good for getting a general feel for how well a SoC can perform, however the test loads used by the benchmark are completely artificial and don’t reflect real life scenarios at all. However, as long as we take that into consideration then the numbers can be useful.

I performed two tests with AnTuTu. First, I just run the test on the device from a fresh boot, then I run the 3D demo game Epic Citadel for 30 minutes (in the hope of heating up the phones a bit) and then I re-ran the benchmark. The results are below:

AnTuTu - Higher is better.

AnTuTu – Higher is better.

 

As you can see the Exynos 7420 comes out on top followed by the Snapdragon 810. Third is the Kirin 935, and fourth is the Snapdragon 801 beating the Helio X10. After running Epic Citadel for 30 minutes the performance dropped for all of the devices except for the Mate S and its Kirin 935. However the order remains the same.

Geekbench

I performed two tests with Geekbench. First I just ran the test on the device from a fresh boot, then I ran the 3D demo game Epic Citadel for 30 minutes for the AnTuTu test (see above). Straight after re-running AnTuTu, I then re-ran Geekbench. Here are the results, one graph for the single-core tests and one for the multi-core:

 

Geekbench single-core - Higher is better.

Geekbench single-core – Higher is better.

The single core tests show the speed of an individual core, regardless of how many cores there are on the SoC. The Exynos 7420 comes in first with 1504, followed closely by the Snapdragon 810. The other three are fairly evenly matched which shows the difference in core level performance between the Cortex-A57 and the Cortex-A53. It also shows us that the Krait core in the Snapdragon 801 is faster than the Cortex-A53 cores of the Kirin and Helio.

Geekbench multi-core - Higher is better.

Geekbench multi-core – Higher is better.

The multi-core tests run the benchmark across all the available cores. As such the Snapdragon 801 is bound to come in last as it only has four cores. At the top we find the Exynos 7420 again, this time followed by the Helio X10, quite a jump from its last place in the single-core tests! After running Epic Citadel for half an hour the Snapdragon 801 and the Kirin 935 actually perform slightly better, however the overall positions remain unchanged.

CPU Prime Benchmark

As with the previous two benchmarks, I ran CPU Prime Benchmark twice. The first run was performed when the device was cool and had no other apps running. Then I set each phone to record Full HD video (not 4K) for 10 minutes. After than I re-ran the benchmark. The results are surprising:

CPU Prime Benchmark - Higher is better.

CPU Prime Benchmark – Higher is better.

In first place again we find the Exynos 7420, followed by the Snapdragon 810. Next the Helio X10, the Kirin 935 and the Snapdragon 801 respectively. After recording Full HD video for 10 minutes, the Exynos manages to achieve the same score, as does the Snapdragon 801. Interestingly the Kirin 935 manages a better score, which pushes it above the X10, while the Snapdragon 810 takes quite a hit dropping from 20771 to 18935.

Real world

For the real world tests I picked two scenarios. The first is how long does it take to startup the Need For Speed No Limits game, and secondly how well do the phones handle the Kraken Javascript benchmark. Kraken was created by Mozilla and measures the speed of several different test cases extracted from real-world applications and libraries. In each case, I used the same version of Chrome downloaded from the Play Store. But first, the Need for Speed startup times:

Need For Speed No Limits - Lower is better.

Need For Speed No Limits – Lower is better.

The Sony Xperia Z5 Compact makes quite a poor showing in this test, coming in last. First place is tied between the Exynos 7420 and the Kirin 935, while the X10 and the Snapdragon 801 are only one second apart. It is worth mentioning here that there are likely other factors which influence the outcome of these tests including the speed of the flash memory, so the poor performance by the Z5 Compact might not be due to the Snapdragon 810.

And now for Kraken:

Kraken- Lower is better.

Kraken- Lower is better.

Things return to “normal” with the Kraken test: First the Exynos 7420, then the Snapdragon 810, and in third the Snapdragon 801. The two Cortex-A53 based devices perform quite poorly here with scores over 9500.

Hashes, bubble sorts, tables and primes

The first of my custom benchmarks tests the CPU without using the GPU. It is a four stage test that first calculates 100 SHA1 hashes on 4K of data, then it performs a large bubble sort on an array of 9000 items. Thirdly, it shuffles a large table one million times, and lastly it calculates the first 10 million primes. The total time needed to do all those things is displayed at the end of the test run. The results are below:

Hashes and sorts - Lower is better.

Hashes and sorts – Lower is better.

This is the one test that the Exynos 7420 didn’t win. If it didn’t win the second of my benchmarks as well then I would start to suspect foul play, however it does win the next test (see below) and its second place here is acceptable. However, a great performance by the Snapdragon 810, as well as a strong result for the Snapdragon 801.

Water simulation

The second of my two custom benchmarks uses a 2D physics engine to simulate water being poured into a container. The idea here is that while the GPU will be used slightly for the 2D graphics, most of the work will be carried out by the CPU. The complexity of so many droplets of water will exercise the CPU. One drop of water is added every frame and the game is designed to run at 60 frames per second. The benchmark measures how many droplets are actually processed and how many are missed. The maximum score is 5400, a number which the Exynos 7420 almost hits, but not quite. The full results follow:

2D Physics - Higher is better.

2D Physics – Higher is better.

The Exynos 7420 scores 5359, just slightly shy of the maximum score. Surprisingly, the 32-bit, quad-core Snapdragon 801 comes in second followed by the Helio X10 and the Snapdragon 810. Last was the Kirin 935.

Wrap-up

In a nutshell, the Exynos 7420 is the best Android SoC at this time, the Snapdragon 810 comes in a close second, while the Helio X10 and Kirin 935 are good for high mid-end phones. Finally, the Snapdragon 801 still has plenty of life in it.

Before we look at the 64-bit processors, it is worth applauding Qualcomm for the Snapdragon 801. The 801 consistently scored well in the benchmarks and was on average equivalent to the Kirin 935 or to the Helio X10. Like I said during my ZUK Z1 review, I would rather have a quad-core 32-bit Snapdragon 801 than a slower quad-core Cortex-A53 based SoC, like the Snapdragon 410. The Snapdragon 801 also gives us a good baseline from which to judge the results from the other processors.

Overall, the Exynos 7420 is the clear winner. It performs well across all of the tests and it doesn’t seem to be affected much by overheating or throttling. Close behind it is the Snapdragon 810. Both the Exynos 7420 and the Snapdragon 810 use the same Cortex-A57/A53 cores in a big.LITTLE configuration, however they use different GPUs. Although the performance of the Snapdragon 810 is close to that of the Exynos, the 810 is affected more by heat. The drop in performance for the 810 was 8% during the CPU Prime Benchmark test after recording Full HD video for 10 minutes.

As for the other two processors, there seems to be little to choose between them. Sometimes the X10 was faster than the Kirin 935 (e.g. for the CPU Prime Benchmark and the 2D water simulation), while for other benchmarks like AnTuTu and the Geekbench single-core tests, the Kirin 935 was the faster of the pair.


Ash_History_of_Nexus (78)Now read and watch: History of the Nexus family94

In a nutshell, the Exynos 7420 is the best Android SoC at this time, the Snapdragon 810 comes in a close second while the Helio X10 and Kirin 935 are good for high mid-end phones. Finally, the Snapdragon 801 still has plenty of life in it.

Now, watch the reviews!

Read more at http://www.androidauthority.com/snapdragon-810-vs-exynos-7420-vs-mediatek-helio-x10-vs-kirin-935-651633/

Android Stuff: NuCurrent announces world’s first 10W Qi/A4WP mobile charging antenna

NuCurrent wireless charging antenna

One of NuCurrent’s earlier wireless charing antenna receivers.

Wireless charging is a seldom used but very promising piece of mobile technology and NuCurrent’s newly announced 10 watt multi-mode wireless charging antenna is another step towards making the technology much more popular.

The new NuCurrent antenna assembly supports wireless charging standards from both the Wireless Power Consortium and the recently formed AirFuel Alliance. Multi-mode technology, such as the PMA/Qi implementation found in the Galaxy S6, is seen by some as key to improving wireless charging adoption. However NuCurrent’s design goes one step further by supporting both inductive and resonance based charging methods.

“This new series of NuCurrent products truly realizes our vision of ‘future proofing’ next generation wireless charging and offers differentiation in smartphone design,” – Michael Gotlieb, vice president of business development, NuCurrent

The receiver antenna provides nearly 80 percent energy transfer efficiency at 10 watts using its inductive Qi coil. There is also a 10 watt A4WP resonator on the same substrate, which supports orientation-free placement and longer charging distances. The hardware fits into just a 0.3 millimeter thick package, allowing for thin, low heat implementations.


Wireless-chargers-testingSee also: Best wireless chargers – how they work and perform10

While wireless power transfer obviously won’t be as efficient as a wired cable, anywhere between 6 and 8 watts should provide enough current to charge up a smartphone at least as quickly as using a non-fast charging wall plug. Slow charging speeds have previously been one limiting factor preventing common adoption of wireless charging.

NuCurrent has been demonstrating its new antenna at the Wireless Power Summit on California today and yesterday. Hopefully we will see a few smartphones sporting the technology appear in the near future as well.

Show Press Release

NuCurrent Delivers World’s First 10+ Watt, Ultra-thin, Qi / A4WP Wireless Charging Smartphone Antenna

New multi-mode antennas deliver the highest Q Factor, lowest heat at 0.3mm thinness for medium power applications

(CHICAGO – November 5, 2015) – NuCurrent, a leader in wireless power antenna technology, announces the world’s first ultra-thin, fast charging, 10 watt multimode wireless charging antenna assemblies (coil + ferrite). As the first of its series, the antenna targets ultra-thin, battery maximizing smartphones and other functionality rich connected devices. With the release, NuCurrent delivers a full production version A4WP + Qi phone receiver antenna which provides nearly 80 percent efficiency at 10 watts with its Qi coil, combined with a 10 watt, fully uniform, orientation-free A4WP resonator on the same 0.3 millimeter printed substrate.

“This new series of NuCurrent products truly realizes our vision of ‘future proofing’ next generation wireless charging and offers differentiation in smartphone design,” said Michael Gotlieb, vice president of business development, NuCurrent. “From a systems perspective, this series of break-through antennas finally bridges the gap between all the standards in an environment hungry for space and power.”

The new, certifiable NC21-R76M13E-87670R30 enables fast charging with lower heat due to the use of NuCurrent patented technology, design expertise and proprietary modeling. Supporting standards from Wireless Power Consortium (Qi) and AirFuel™ Alliance (previously A4WP/PMA), NuCurrent again shows it market leadership in thinness, Q Factor and design with a 10W product ready for immediate production or customization.

NuCurrent will be demonstrating its leading, high-efficiency antennas at the upcoming Wireless Power Summit, to be held November 5-6 in San Diego, California. Schedule a meeting with NuCurrent at the event to learn how we can help custom-design, rapid-prototype and integrate the optimal antenna for all your applications by contacting info@nucurrent.com.

About NuCurrent

NuCurrent is a leading developer of high-efficiency antennas for wireless power applications. Compliant across AirFuel™ Alliance (previously A4WP/PMA) and Qi standards, NuCurrent works closely with electronic device OEMs and integrators to custom-design, rapid-prototype and integrate the optimal antenna for a broad range of applications. NuCurrent’s patented designs, structures and manufacturing techniques mitigate typical high frequency effects, offering higher efficiency, smaller sizes, higher durability and lower cost with wireless power application development. For more information, visit http://nucurrent.com and follow us on Twitter at @NuCurrentTweets.

Read more at http://www.androidauthority.com/nucurrent-announces-worlds-first-10w-qia4wp-mobile-charging-antenna-654108/

Android Stuff: (Update: now in Play Store) SwiftKey 6.0 has dual-word predictive goodness, UI changes and more

SwiftKey Beta 6.0

Update, November 6: Version 6 of the SwiftKey keyboard app has made the jump from beta to general availability to the public. Get it now in the Play Store.

Original post, October 23: October is turning out to be a good month for SwiftKey users. Just a couple of weeks ago we were given the opportunity to enjoy early access to neural networks, and now the company has updated its standard keyboard app to Beta 6.0 on the Google Play Store. The build is billed as the “biggest bundle of new features and improvements…since making SwiftKey free for everyone last year” and includes:

• Double-Word Prediction adds a new dimension to the predictions you see, helping you type faster than ever.

• The settings menu has been rebuilt from the ground up to make sure you can find settings and fine tune your experience. Inserting emoji is now faster, smoother and more intuitive.

• Carbon Light is another free theme that’s a distinctively SwiftKey flavor of Google’s Material Design approach.

SwiftKey Beta 6.0 (2)

The double-word predictive input will no doubt appeal to users, and the company has the following to say about it on its official blog:

For the first time, we’ve taken SwiftKey’s mind-reading accuracy to the next level with the introduction of Double-Word Prediction. SwiftKey will now predict the next two words you’re likely to type at the same time, resulting in a much faster (up to 2x) experience for you than ever before. In true SwiftKey style, the Double-Word Prediction feature will continue to capture the phrases that matter most to you to truly embody your personal writing style.

The feature is a seamless new addition to the app and you won’t need to do anything beyond look out for the two word display in your usual prediction bar – applicable in every single language (over 100!) we support in our library.

Please be aware that the Beta might not work perfectly with every Android device, and that given its pre-release state, bugs or other glitches may be present.

You can download SwiftKey Beta 6.0 from the Google Play Store here:

SwiftKey Beta 6.0 Google Play Store

 

Read more at http://www.androidauthority.com/swiftkey-beta-6-0-now-available-651002/

Android Stuff: Lenovo details Marshmallow rollout plans

Lenovo-Vibe-P1-AA-(3-of-15)

With the launch of every new version of the Android OS comes the inevitable question of when existing handsets will get the latest update. Lenovo has sought to answer this question by detailing when its popular smartphones – the K3 Note, Vibe S1, Vibe P1, A7000 and A7000 Plus – will get the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update.

Lenovo in video:

According to the company’s upgrade matrix page, the A7000 and A7000 Plus will get the Marshmallow update by September next year, with the Lenovo K3 Note also scheduled to get its OTA update in the same month. For customers of the Vibe P1 and Vibe S1, the update is expected to land in June in next year but like always, the release date is subject to change.

What is interesting is that Lenovo hasn’t detailed any other smartphones or its tablets, which suggests only a handful of devices will get the latest OS. With a release expected beginning the middle of next year, Lenovo looks set to be one of the slowest OEMS to update to Marshmallow.

Sony, Motorola and Huawei have all revealed their rollout plans while Samsung is reportedly working on the update for several of their smartphones. Like every year however, the fragmentation of Android means you’re likely to be waiting a while and interestingly for Lenovo customers, the company has said that this update won’t be coming to carrier branded devices or those purchased under contract.

Are you a user of any of the aforementioned Lenovo smartphones and are you looking forward to the Marshmallow update? Let us know your views in the comments below!

Read more at http://www.androidauthority.com/lenovo-details-marshmallow-rollout-plans-654116/

Android Stuff: Google Wallet now supports multiple bank accounts

Android Apps Weekly

Following its split with Android Pay, Google Wallet has received another update this week, bringing with it support for multiple bank accounts and a new quick lock button, along with a few bug fixes, visual and behind the scenes tweaks.

The new app version number, v11.0-R234-v13, makes a big change to the way that bank accounts work with the app. Previously, users could add multiple cards to the app, but they all had to be tied to the same bank account. This is no longer the case, users can now add multiple debit and credit cards across multiple accounts, which is certainly a lot more useful for making transfers.

The app now also includes a “Lock Now” button, which can be used to quickly secure the app to prevent any fraudulent mishaps. Hitting the button will return the app to the PIN entry screen that shows up when the app launches. The button is located at the bottom of the navigation drawer, so it’s easy enough to get to without the possibility of accidentally hitting it and having to start a transfer over again.

Google Wallet should be automatically updated on your device in the coming days. Alternatively, you can downloaded the signed APK from the button below.

Download Google Wallet from APK Mirror
Download from Google Play

Read more at http://www.androidauthority.com/google-wallet-multiple-bank-accounts-654100/

Android Stuff: Motorola launches a faster, pricier version of the Moto G in Mexico

Moto G 2015 -53

Motorola is extending the Moto G family with the Moto G Turbo Edition, a souped-up variant that just launched in Mexico.

Moto G Turbo Edition is very similar to the Moto G (2015), which was released in July, with a couple of significant differences: a faster processor and quick charging.

While the Moto G (2015) features the entry-level Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, the Moto G Turbo Edition goes a bit more upscale with the Snapdragon 615, the same chip that powers the Moto X Play.

While the Moto G (2015) comes in 1GB RAM/8GB storage and 2GB RAM/16GB storage versions, the Moto G Turbo Edition only comes with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage.

Many sites are reporting that the Turbo Edition also comes with an upgraded Full HD display of 5 inches. However, according to the Mexican edition of Xataka.com, that’s not the case: Motorola reached out to inform them that the Moto G Turbo Edition features a 5-inch 720p screen, just like the regular edition.

Moto G Turbo Edition users will get to fast charge their devices thanks to the inclusion of TurboPower, Motorola’s Quick Charge 2-compatible implementation. This feature is not included on the Moto G (2015).

Details are murky for now, but it looks that other specs remained unchanged, including the 13MP rear camera, 5MP front camera, IP67 certification, and dual-SIM LTE.

In Mexico, the Moto G Turbo Edition will be available from November 13 for 4699 pesos, which is about $280. For comparison, the Moto G (2015) with 2GB and 16GB of storage launched for 4299 pesos ($255), while the base version cost 3699 pesos ($220).

There’s no information on the potential release of the Moto G Turbo Edition in other countries. Motorola launched region-specific variants of its devices in the past, so we wouldn’t be surprised if the Turbo Edition had a limited release.

Read more at http://www.androidauthority.com/moto-g-turbo-edition-specs-price-654094/

Android Stuff: Snapdragon 820 powered Xiaomi Mi 5 rumored for December 3rd launch

Xiaomi-Mi-4i-review-8

Xiaomi has had a few opportunities to launch its next flagship smartphone, the Mi 5, this year, but the handset has remained elusive so far. The latest rumor is now pointing to a possible December 3rd announcement, while a new Mi Band could be unveiled next week.

According to the tipster, the Xiaomi Mi 5 will be powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 820 processor. The chip isn’t expected to appear in devices until 2016 but there’s nothing to stop companies announcing phones before then. The rumor also states that Qualcomm may officially launch its latest mobile chip on November 20th. Qualcomm has gradually been dripping out little pieces of information about its chip over the past couple of months.


Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 AASee also: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 said to be 50% stronger than the Samsung Exynos 742068

Other rumored specifications for the Xiaomi Mi 5 include a 5.3-inch QHD (2560×1440) display, 4GB of RAM, a 16 megapixel rear camera, 3,030mAh battery, and either 16GB or 64GB of internal storage, but without a microSD card slot. A different report also suggests that Xiaomi may opt for MediaTek’s Helio X20 chip, as the Snapdragon 820 may not be available for a while yet.

Moving on, a separate source has suggested that Xiaomi may launch a successor to its Mi Band next week. The new device is said to incorporate a heart sensor this time around and could cost CNY 99 (approximately Rs. 1,050 or USD$16).

We’ll be sure to keep our eyes peeled for additional Mi 5 rumors and details in the coming weeks.

Read more at http://www.androidauthority.com/xiaomi-mi-5-december-3rd-rumor-654085/

Android Stuff: Marshmallow update coming to BlackBerry Priv in the new year

blackberry-priv-hands-on-1

Despite the lack of a launch event, the BlackBerry Priv has finally arrived this month, although you may still have to wait a few days before the phone starts shipping out. BlackBerry has also been dishing out a few more details about the handset lately and has announced that an Android 6.0 Marshmallow update is planned for the future.

According to BlackBerry’s President of Devices, Ron Louks, a Marshmallow update will be heading to the Priv “sometime in the new year.” That may sound like a pretty wide release margin, but it is reassuring to know that ongoing support for the handset is planned. It certainly wouldn’t be a good start to BlackBerry’s Android career if the company failed to bring the latest version of Android to its only handset.

BlackBerry has also recently announced that the phone will be receiving monthly Android security updates, at least so long as you buy it through the BlackBerry shop. The manufacturer is planning to roll out updates within a month after Google releases them, at least in Europe. Carrier branded handsets may have to wait a little longer, and we can assume that the same will be true for the Marshmallow update.


BlackBerry Priv pressSee also: BlackBerry Priv to receive monthly Android security patches10

Do you think that BlackBerry is setting itself up for success with the Priv? Are you planning to buy one?

Read more at http://www.androidauthority.com/blackberry-priv-android-marshmallow-update-654081/

Android Stuff: Deal: get a new Galaxy S6 Edge for $499 on eBay

galaxy s6 edge deal

Edge fans, this one’s for you. Galaxy S6 Edge, the pricier version of Samsung’s 2015 flagship, is currently on sale on eBay for $499.

The price of the Galaxy S6 Edge has been declining steadily since its launch this spring, despite the high demand for the curved screen model. Down from its original $800+ price tag (depending on the storage option), the device can now be had for around $600 on Amazon.

Today’s deal sees a brand new, factory unlocked Galaxy S6 Edge sold by Monoprice via eBay for $499. That’s not as good as the $429 deal we’ve seen for the regular Galaxy S6 back in September, but a solid $50 cheaper than the last Galaxy S6 Edge eBay deal we reported on.

Black, white, and gold models are available, but please be aware that this is a GSM model that will work with AT&T and T-Mobile in the US, as well as with these carrier’s respective MVNOs. It appears that this model is region-locked as well, so if you plan to buy it from outside North or South America, you will need to have it unlocked first. You only get a 14-day warranty from Monoprice, with no further warranty by Samsung.

More about Galaxy S6 Edge

Check out our in-depth review of the Galaxy S6 Edge for more details on it, and let us know if you went for the deal. Happy shopping!

Read more at http://www.androidauthority.com/galaxy-s6-edge-499-deal-ebay-654073/

Android Stuff: Google chip-maker partnership is more about control than manufacturing

Nexus 5X teardown 1

It was only a week ago that we learned Google is in talks to partner with chip manufacturers on future processors. As this was most directly tied to the Pixel division, speculation was that Google was looking to build their own chips for their own hardware. While this may still be true, it is only a small part of the story.

As it turns out, Google may be looking to do more than just put processors in their Pixel hardware, they are looking to take some control of the entire Android device market.

Controlling the hardware

Nexus 6P teardown 2

When it comes to taking control of Android hardware, decisions are mostly left in the hands of the manufacturers. Google creates the software, but your favorite brand of phone maker puts it into some metal, glass and plastic and off to the store it goes.

In contrast, Apple takes nearly full control of their hardware. The ability to control almost all aspects of a device allows Apple to better control the overall experience of products, like the iPhone and iPad.

You don’t have to build it, just implement standards

Processor chip on circuitboard Shutterstock

Google has been diversifying its technologies across things like phones, tablets, laptops, watches, smart glasses, VR gear, drones, self driving cars and so much more. When it comes to Android phones and tablets, however, they have had little to do with the hardware behind the majority of devices on the market.

With efforts like the Nexus program, Android One and the old Google Play edition phones, Google was able to team with manufacturers and/or set standards for the development of hardware. The result enabled a fairly satisfactory control of the experience, but left manufacturers mostly at the mercy of Google for approval of products.

nexus-family

With this new information, Google is partnering with chip makers to build standards, more than chips. The idea is simple, Google knows what it has in the pipeline for future tech and desired capabilities of Android devices, more importantly, they have a clear picture of what Android should look and feel like on a phone or tablet.

Google simply needs to establish chip designs, not make them, then manufacturers can build a device around the processor standard.

What can the new chips do?

Chips may be diverse in design based on their application as well. For example, a smartphone chip may need to include several high powered cores to handle strenuous tasks, several low power cores for behind the scenes, low priority or screen-off functionality. In addition, a very low power core or two can handle full time voice recognition, syncing tasks, location services and more.

thumb google cardboard 2015 (1 of 1)

On the other hand, an Android tablet may require fewer cores, eliminating dedicated processing for the non-existent cellular connectivity or perhaps gesture recognition. The same holds true of virtual reality gear, with next to no stand-by activities, aside from updates, a VR processor can focus on handling the active user experience, but otherwise using as little energy as possible when not on a user’s head.

While this may not be the best news for manufacturers, especially those like Samsung or Huawei that build their own processing units, it could be a great thing for the end user.

Exynos 7 Octa

With this all said and done, we have yet to see what Google and the chip manufacturers come up with. From there, we’ll have to see if device manufacturers conform to the new standards, or if this venture proves as successful as Android One. While manufacturers of Android One devices are sticking to the guidelines, the end result is a phone that is now outdated, or otherwise being undersold by heated competition in the inexpensive phone space.

We like the idea of Google taking efforts to improve the end-user experience, as we like our Nexus devices, but we also worry that competition will cry foul. Terms like ‘monopoly’ are already applied to Google’s business, putting strict controls on the processors of future Android devices may prove too much for the governing bodies to allow. But that is another battle for another day.

What do you think, can Google improve your Android experience by leading the way in future processor design?

Read more at http://www.androidauthority.com/google-chip-maker-partnership-654023/