I don’t care about what’s inside your phone as long as the user experience is great

I just came across a post on Neowin today which must have been inspired by what I have been saying all along and especially this editorial I wrote back in February after I came back from Mobile World Congress. To put it simply: things haven’t changed since I originally posted what I did and people are now finding out that what I have been preaching all along may be somewhat true. Throwing endless numbers of processor into a device isn’t going to make the user experience any better especially the OS (hello Android) or app is bloated / badly coded or simply doesn’t take advantage of the hardware horsepower under the hood. Yes I everybody wants 1080P video encoding/recoding but nobody’s going to do this 90% of the time with his phone and that’s the point: if what I’m principally using isn’t perfectly smooth (OS, browser, apps) why should I care about one single great feature?

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HTC Titan performance compared to 1st Generation Windows Phone 7 handsets

Time to show you how the gigantic HTC Titan performance compared to a first generation QSD8250 powered Windows Phone 7 handsets. As you will see in the video embedded after the break, the Titan is simply perfectly smooth at all times unlike the Samsung Omnia 7 which has a hard time rendering the live tiles when scrolling fast, the Webbrower controls embedded in third-party Silverlight applications and also panorama controls are now perfectly smooth in all applications. The Titan also often loads big games faster than the Omnia 7 and simply destroys the Samsung devices in HW accelerated HTML5 rendering (watch the video until the end..). This is really a combination of the 1.5Ghz Scorpion CPU in the MSM8255 and also the more powerful Adreno205 GPU.

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HD video support added to Windows Phone 7.5 Mango on new handsets

One little feature that most Windows Phone (and iOS) users are usually not aware of is that videos transferred to the handsets via the Zune client are all re-encoded in WVGA (or close to this) especially when they have a higher resolution. This is done so that the user never encounters a situation where a video isn’t played back properly or at a sub-par frame rate because of a dodging encoding codec or resolution (the first generation QSD8250 Snapdragon SOC only  supported the following HD formats MPEG-4 Simple Profile Up to 30fps @720p 10Mbps / H.264 High Profile v3.0 Up to 30fps @720p (1280×720) 10Mbps). The only 720P videos that where ever played back on a current Windows Phone 7 handsets are the ones shot by the camera, transferred to the phone with the USB mas storage trick or  via the Skydrive trick.

I decided to take a look at the current codecs supported in Mango and noticed that Microsoft has finally updated the list with support for 720P HD video playback at 30fps for the new MSM8255 and MSM7230 powered handsets only. Here’s the list of codecs that are listed with “Some Windows Phone 7.5 devices support 1280 x 720 pixels at 30 fps”:

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Qualcomm Adreno 205 vs Adreno 220 / HTC Sensation vs HTC Flyer, HTC Desire HD and Samsung Galaxy S

Here’s s quick compilation of benchmark results comparing the Qualcomm Adreno 205 GPU vs Adreno 220 GPU found in the HTC Sensation (as part of the MSM8260 SoC). The are several things to note here: First, the Adreno 205 found in the HTC Flyer and HTC Desire HD are most probably not clocked at the same speed (The MSM8255 is clocked at 1Ghz in the Desire HD compared to1.5Ghz in the HTC Flyer). Secondly, THe screen resolution are different on each handsets:

- HTC Desire HD: 800X480
- Samsung Galaxy S: 800×480
- HTC Sensation: 960×540
- HTC Flyer: 1024×600

Thirdly, the driver versions are obviously not the same on all devices so you shouldn’t take those results as granted, they are just an indication of how these GPUs stack up against each other in synthetic benchmarks. The now famous and awesome PowerVR SGX540 is also included in the mix. Check the results after the break:

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HTC Flyer Review

When I first heard off the HTC Flyer (also know as the HTC View 4G on Sprint) in Barcelona during Mobile World Congress I wasn’t really sure what to think about the product. HTC didn’t allow the press to handle it and the device’s specification left me puzzled about it competitiveness compared to all the more powerful Android Honeycomb tablets all over the show floor.

With Honeycomb tablets being all the rage this year it was definitely surprising to see HTC launching a relatively small Gingerbread tablet powered by a single core CPU with the main differentiator being its n6trig active digitizer and Stylus. I admit, the Flyer didn’t look good on paper. I quickly dismissed this as a dead on Arrival product that only saw the light of the day because HTC was willing to use nVidia’s Tegra 2 SoC and decided to stick with Qualcomm which ultimately resulted in the company only being able to use Gingerbread instead of honeycomb (Android 3.X is only now being made “compatible” with SoC’s other than the Tegra 2).

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Qualcomm MDP MSM8660 MSM8260 promotional videos

Ready for some totally useless promotional videos showing of the hardware capabilities of the Qualcomm MDP8660 development platform? This is essentially the development handset used to build apps for the newly released MSM8X60 SoC (MSM8260 the CDMA version the MSM8660) which is going to power the HTC EVO 3D, HTC Sensation and HP TouchPad. The MDP is available for purchase through Bsquare (just like the previous MDP platforms and Windows Mobile 6.X licenses…) for $1.350. The second video will also show the current MSM8X55 SoC clocked at 1.4ghz (powering HTC’s current high-end handsets @1Ghz and future Windows Phone 7 devices) going against what looks like and Tegra 2 powered LG Optimux 2X. But this looks kinda bogus as I’m certain that with the right drivers, a Tegra 2 can perfectly and smoothly playback 720P Flash videos unlike what is seen below.

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Qualcomm roadmap detailed: Quad Core CPU and GPU chipsets coming later this year

I just came across a internal Qualcomm presentation (dated March 2011 from an Android event in Korean) detailing the company’s current SoC roadmap and comparing its Scorpion CPU architecture against its Cortex-A9 competitors. keep in mind that this document is obviously biased towards Qualcomm’s own products so take all the claims presented with a grain of salt but there are quite a few interesting pieces of information in there.

First lest start with the roadmap pictured above. As you can see the first chips based on the new Krait micro-architecture (MSM8930, MSM8960, APQ8064 and the unknown MSM8270) are only expected to appear/sample (?) at the end of this year. The initial press release sated that the first MSM8960 samples were expected in Q2 2011 but I4m guessing that things may a been delayed a bit (or the “availability” mentioned in today’s document is actually OEM availability). The MSM8X55 which was first launched in the HTC Desire HD is now been touted as having 1.4Ghz CPU (up from the 1Ghz clock currently used by most OEMs) and also now apparently supports Stereoscopic 3D play/rec (this is the first time I see this features mentioned on thee 8X55 so it may be only possible on the 1.4Ghz version). This 1.4Ghz clocked MSM8X55 will first appear in the Samsung Galaxy S Plus in Europe.

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New Windows Phone 7 Chassis unveiled: MSM7X30 and MSM8x55

Last night Microsoft’s Itsvan Cseri unveiled the new Windows Phone 7 chassis that OEM’s can use to build Windows Phone 7 handsets slated to be released in the coming months (I talked about this subject back in February before MWC but things apparently got delayed because of the Nokia partnership). As you can see in the picture above the Qualcomm MSM7X30 and MSM8X55 SoCs are now certified for WP7 (both feature the Adreno 205 GPU). A Gyroscope Sensor is now also optional for OEMs who will have the choice to use the combination of SoC, memory, gyro they want (but the overall device’s specs shouldn’t be lower than what we have with the first generation of WP7 devices). Also note the the HVGA chassis announced last year has been dropped and that WVGA is now the only screen resolution supported by WP7. As expected Qualcomm is still the only certified SoC manufacturer for Windows Phone 7 and this is in my opinion a good thing. I highly recommend you watch the full Windows Phone 7 Architecture Deep Dive session after the break:

Update: Here’s Itsvan comment from the presentation file that you can grab here.

We standardized on one display resolution – 800×480 – and we are not changing that in this release which makes application and game development easier. At the same time we allow more flexibility in the configuration of the device by allowing certain sensors to be optional.[he clearly stated that the Gyro will be optional later in the video] We are taking advantage of the latest hardware silicon vendors are producing and we are adding a new Qualcomm SoC, the 7×30 to our supported chipsets [and MSM8X55 as seen in the slide above and stated in the video below]. We have been working with them to reduce the heavy lifting they have to do writing device drivers to take advantage of all the new functionality. We will produce most of the common device driver code for the platform and the hardware vendors only need to write the very silicon specific parts

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First Adreno 220 benchmarks show that it is a beast

Qualcomm’s Adreno GPU’s have always been seen as being a sub-par graphics compared to competing offerings from Imagination (PowerVR) and others like NVIDIA’s Tegra. This was essentially true with the Adreno 200 on Windows Mobile and Android mainly because of poor driver quality. Things are a bit different on Windows Phone 7 where the Adreno 200 is the only currently supported GPU, thanks to the tight integration with the OS and relatively good support provided by Microsoft. You can check out my recent Fable Coin Golf video to see that some pretty nice things can be done with it.

The Adreno 205 which is part of the MSM8X55 SoC package is a step forward in terms of performance and can be comparable in some case with the current top dog, the PowerVR SGX540 as seen in my benchmarks here. Qualcomm has also recently released new drivers for the 205 which slightly improves its performance compared to what you see in my benches (they are the ones used by Sony Ericsson in the Xperia Play).

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Updated Samsung Galaxy S Plus to feature overclocked Qualcomm MSM8255 instead of Hummingbird

Samsung sure knows how to make things totally confusing. After the SLCD version of the Galaxy S which was then followed by the version with the TI AMAP3630 (i9003), the Galaxy S 2 with the Tegra 2 and the one with the Exynos 4210 here comes the newest Galaxy S Plus (i9001) now powered by an MSM8255 clocked at 1.4Ghz (the MSM8255T ?). I personally wouldn’t like to be an Android developer because this is really getting out of hand in terms of hardware fragmentation.

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Intel Havok Physics system ported to Android: Video demo on the Xperia Play

As Qualcomm told me during Mobile World Congress, Sony Ericsson is the only OEM who bothered to use the latest Snapdragon and Adreno drivers on its devices and the video after the break just shows why they did this. The company is really serious about gaming on Android and unfortunately seems to be the only Android OEM in this case (Sure there’s NVIDIA and its Tegra Zone marketplace but I’m fairly sure that they don’t really care about the platform. All that matters to them is that their SoC is being bought by OEMs). THe video after the break will show you Intel’s Havok physics engine / solver porting on Android and running on the Xperia Play’s MSM8255 with Adreno 205 GPU:

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Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Preview: hands on video and gameplay

Wondering what’s inside Sony Ericsson’s first PlayStation Certified handset? Just check out the full software and hardware specifications here. Now let me give you my first hands on impression of the Xperia Play after playing with it for a couple of minutes earlier this week. The build quality seemed to be relatively solid but a bit too much plasticy or my taste and the two L and R trigger button on the top of the device really felt cheap because of this. The 4 inch FWVGA (854×480) screen looks really nice thought and had good viewing angles for an LCD (I’m guessing that it’s the same as on the Sony Xperia Arc (hands-on video coming soon..) and similar to the SLCD found on HTC’s latest devices (but Sony Ericsson loves to called this Bravia something.. marketing..you know..).

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Qualcomm MSM8660 and Adreno 220 GPU demo

Here’s a nice video I shot yesterday at Qualcomm’s booth showing the Adreno 220 GPU in action running an OpenGL ES 2.0 demo developed by Southend interactive (on Android). The development device that you see hooked up to the HDTV via the mini-HDMI port packs Qualcomm’s MSM8660 dual-core CPU and Adreno 220 GPU that is going to be found in HP Palm’s TouchPad (under the APQ8060 name) and apparently the HTC Pyramid aka Sensation / (note that the output displayed on the TV is WVGA content upscaled to 1080P). I had a small chat with a couple of Qualcomm guys about their future SoCs and also the Windows Phone 7. I was once again told that they were working really closely with Microsoft right now on current Adreno 200 support (HLSL/ Programmable Shader support in XNA should by coming this year) and future Chassis which are being discussed and finalized right now (that’s what I got from the hints I was given). MS apparently is also wants to support higher resolution screens so newer SoCs are going to be certified. Because the of the Adreno’s close architectural similarities with the Xbox360 Xenos GPU the company can squeeze more out of it compared on Windows Phone 7 compared to Google on Android (there’s also the fact the Microsoft has total control over the API which is Direct3D Mobile).

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HTC Thunderbolt to have simultaneous voice and data over 3G

As previously rumored, the HTC Thunderbolt will apparently support simultaneous voice and data over 3G thanks to it’s MDM9600 multi-modem radio. Nothing is 100% official yet but according to the picture above the feature is going to be fully supported or advertised by Verizon and is more of a proof of concept for now.

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HTC Thunderbolt specifications

HTC has finally announced the HTC Thunderbolt LTE Android handset on Verizon and just like I told you earlier this week the device packs an MSM8655 coupled with an MDM9600 LTE radio (and not an MSM8960 like the stupid rumor claimed…). Anyway, the device is basically just an HTC Desire HD with a front facing camera and the added LTE modem. Now regarding the HTC Inspire 4G launching on AT&T the hardware is just totally identical to the HTC Desire HD with exactly the same design, no front facing camera and same SoC (specs here). Contrary to what I’m seeing reported the 4.3 inch screen of both devices is the same TFT LCD used since the HTC HD2 and not an SLCD panel. Amway check out the HTC Thunderbolt hardware specifications after the break:

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Windows Phone 7 update rumors..again No donuts for you

Here’s a new Windows Phone 7 update rumor that just popped up ahead of tomorrow’s CES Keynote courtesy of Paul Thurrot. Once again grab some salt before reading all this. First there’s the Windows Phone 7 NoDo update (which means No Donuts):

The first Windows Phone 7 software update, codenamed “NoDo,” will RTM in January, possibly this very week and in time for the CES keynote. But it won’t ship to users until early February, once the carriers sign off on it. This update will include the famed copy and paste functional addition, support for the Qualcomm 7×30 smart phone chipset, a CDMA location stack, and a number of software fixes.

So Microsoft is adding support for Qualcomm’s current mid-range SoC and not the MSM8255 or QSD8650A/B which are the logical successors of the QSD8250? This doesn’t’ really sound logical. Are OEMs going to start shipping devices with Adreno 205 GPUs (which is a lot more powerful than the current Adreno 200 found in the current devices) and start fragmenting the ecosystem ? CDMA location stack or CDMA “radio” stack ? Anyway, Microsoft already mentioned in October in the official FAQ (and latter took it down) that Windows Phone 7  supported CDMA, LTE, WiMAX  and WP7 devices have already been spotted tested on Verizon’s network a couple of months ago.

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The HTC Thunderbolt won’t have a Dual core MSM8960 Chipset

Some funky HTC Thunderbolt specifications have just pooed up on a German HTC fansite claiming tat the device will pack the newly announced MSM8960 dual-core chipset from Qualcomm. This is practically impossible given that according to Qualcomm this new 28nm chipset, which is a brand new architecture with an Adreno 220 GPU (or Adreno 300 if we are lucky), is only scheduled to start sampling in early 2011 which means that it won’t available in devices before the end of 2011 at the earliest. The device will most probably feature an MSM8x55 coupled with MDM9600 LTE multimode modem..well unless Verizon isn’t planning to ship it until next fall…

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OpenGL ES 2.0 benchmark: Adreno 205 vs SGX540 / HTC Desire HD vs Samsung Galaxy S

GLBenchmark 2.0 has finally been released to the public today nearly 2 years after being unveiled during MWC 2008. The opportunity was too good so I decided to run it on the HTC Desire HD and Samsung Galaxy S to compare the Qualcomm’s Adreno 205 vs the Power SGX540. I did a chart (posted below after the break) so you can compare the full detailed results of both handsets and not only the overall score. This is really important because only looking at the overall results is actually a bit misleading in this case. As you probably already know the PowerVR SGX540 is currently the fastest mobile GPU currently available in retail devices and so far nothing has come close to it (besides the Tegra 2 which is pumping out results close to the Galaxy Tab in OGLES 2.0) but Samsung is currently the only OEM shipping handsets featuring this GPU. The newest entrant is the Adreno 205 which is part of the latest MSM8255 and MSM7X30 chipset from Qualcomm and used in several HTC devices. The Adreno 205 is an updated / tweaked version of the Adreno 200 found in the original QSD8250 chipset. Anyway check out the results below:

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Sony Ericsson Zeus Z1 PlayStation phone shown on video again running 3D benchmark

The mysterious Sony Ericsson Zeus Z1 PlayStation phone just popped up in a new video tonight. This time we can watch it running the Qualcomm Neocore 3D Benchmark and post a relatively low score. But don’t really pay attention to this thought. As we have already seen a previous pictures and videos the prototype device is running either Android 2.2 or Android 2.3. Unfortunately the version of Neocore being used in the video is an older version (you can see 1-9-09 the upper right corner), the current version, which is officially Froyo compatible and available in the Android Market is numbered 1-9-22 so this is probably why you are seeing such a low score. Another thing is that the it’s also being run in 480×800 landscape mode (thus not rendering the same thing) so we can’t really compare it to devices running in regular portrait mode. anyway,check out the video after the break.
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