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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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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Qualcomm simplifies Snapdragon branding

Qualcomm decided to simply it’s Snapdragon SoC naming convention today and make it easier for the average Joe to distinguish one SoC from another. Here’s how it will now look like:

- Snapdragon System 1 aka S1 Class: QSD8250 (65nm 1Ghz Scorpion CPU + Adreno 200 GPU) and the new MSM7227, MSM7627,MSM7225, MSM7625
- Snapdragon System 2 aka S2 Class: MSM7X30, MSM8X55, APQ8055 (45nm 800Mhz-1.4Ghz Scorpion CPU Adreno 205 GPU)
- Snapdragon System 3 aka S3 Class: APQ8060, MSM8260, MSM8660, QSD8672 (45nm up to 1.5GHE Dual-Core Scorpion CPU Adreno 220 GPU)
- Snapdragon System 4 aka S3 Class: All the upcoming Krait based SoC configurations MSM8228, MSM8930, MSM8960, MSM8974, APQ8064 ( 28nm up to 2.5Ghz Dual and Quad Scorpion CPU + Adreno 305, Adreno 320 GPU)

So nothing really ground breaking here and I personally prefer to refer to an Soc by its really name rather that something relatively vague like S3 Class.

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WP BENCH Windows Phone7 benchmark released: hands on video

The WP BENCH Windows phone 7 benchmark application that was unveiled on YouTube more than a month ago is now finally available on the Marketplace. The application runs will let you test the following functionalities of your device:

- CPU Single-threaded and Multi-threaded performance
- Memory read/write speed
- Storage read/write speed
- GPU Performance
- Display color reproduction
- Battery Life

Check out the video of the app in action on the Samsung Omnia 7:

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Microsoft planning to announce new Windows Phone 7 hardware requirements at MWC


File this under the rumor tag but I’m hearing that Microsoft is about to announce new hardware requirements (Chassis specifications) for Windows Phone 7 next Monday in Barcelona during Mobile World Congress. I unfortunately don’t have any details on the changes to come but you may remember that Paul Thurrot claimed that NoDo will integrate support for Qualcomm’s MSM7X30 SoCs (the company’s current mid-range smartphone offering). If this is the only change then it would be really disappointing given that the only major difference between this SoC and the QSD8250 found in the current Windows Phone 7 handsets is the Adreno 205 GPU. But I don’t think that this alone would warrant a chassis change (both SoCs fit into the Chassis 1 specifications). We can probably expect things like Gyroscope support or even Front Facing camera but as of right now this is all speculation.

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Qualcomm MSM8260 and MSM8660 with Adreno 220 GPU shown on video

During last weeks CES Qualcomm publicly demonstrated for the first time the upcoming MSM8260 and MSM8660 SoC which is expected to be in retail devices later this year. The Dual -Core Scorpion powered SoC started sampling back in June and is basically an evolution of the current single chip SoC available in smartphone powered by the QSD8X50, MSM8X55 and MSM7X30 but with two Scorpion CPUs clocked a 1.2Ghz and the new Adreno 220 GPU. People are quit to trash Qualcomm because of most of the smartphone out on the market which are powered by their chips usually don’t perform as good as advertised. Unfortunately what most don’t realize is that this is mostly due to the software (the OS) and the drivers used by the OEMs. Take an HTC HD2 and try to play a 720P video on it and it will be impossible. Now try the same on any of the Windows Phone 7 devices out there (which have exactly the same specs) and you will see that the now “old” QSD8250 can playback the720P videos without breaking a sweat (you will have to bypass the Zune Software to do this as explained in my recent Windows Phone 7 Review).Some for the GPU performance: check out my Adreno 205 vs SGX540 benchmark to see the interesting results. Anyway, hit the break to see the MSM8660 in action (it can playback 3D HD video!):

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Windows Phone 7 Review

It’s now time to take an in-depth look at Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system now that the project has finally seen the light of the day after years of tumultuous developments. This review is quite long so I’m first going to give you a quick history reminder about the development of the OS followed by description of the product’s features and my opinion of it.

Officially unveiled back in February 2010 during MWC in Barcelona, Windows Phone 7 is Microsoft last attempt to be relevant in the mobile market after the slow demise of Windows Mobile 6.X that took place during past few years. Contrary to popular belief Windows Mobile as we knew it wasn’t a bad OS, but it greatly suffered from Microsoft’s total lack of support and interest in its product and the only reason why it managed to survived this long was because OEMs like HTC poured R&D and money into developing alternative UIs to compete with Apple’s iPhone and later, Google’s Android. What many people don’t know is that Windows Phone 7’s development initially started back in 2004 when it was called Windows Mobile 7 (code named Photon) but because of a lack of motivation, foresight and some relatively stupid decisions taken by the Redmond company (like the Danger acquisition that later gave birth to the Kin devices) the development was a total mess and in Fall 2008 Microsoft finally decided to stop all ongoing Photon / Windows Mobile 7 development and re-start everything from scratch with a new team composed of the developers of the Zune media player and Windows Media Center.

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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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Samsung Focus teardown

TechRepublic cracked the Samsung Focus open to check out its guts and see if there was anything of interest in there. As it was expected the device feature the famous Qualcomm QSD8250 SnapDragon Chipset and the following components (not that the Omnia 7 probably has exactly the same components):

- NEC MC-10170 imaging chip for the 5mpix camera (same as on the Samsung Galaxy S)
- Qualcomm PM7540 power management IC
- Micron OUA98 JW500 TQND
- SiliconBlue Technologies iCE65L04 Ultra Low-Power FPGA
- Avago Technolgies ACPM-5251, 4×5 UMTS Band I & Band V Dual-Band Power Amplifier Module with Integrated Coupler
- Skyworks SKY77336 Power Amplifier Module
- Fairchild Semiconductor FSA9280A USB 2.0 Accessory Detection Switch w/ 28V FET
- SanDisk SDIN4C2-8G 8GB NAND flash RAM
- Qualcomm RTR6285 UMTS/GSM/EDGE cellular transceiver
- This Samsung SWB-B23 Bluetooth IC (same ason the Galaxy S)
- Texas Instruments TPS65023B 6-channel Power Management IC
- Avago AFI037 1512BB
- Atmel MaXtouch mXT224 224-node touchscreen microcontroller (same as on the Galaxy S and the latest HTC smartphones like the EVO 4G, HD7, Incredible, Desire HD etc..)

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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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Windows Phone 7 vs Android Browser comparison on the Samsung Omnia 7 and Galaxy S

I’ve just shot a video comparing the browsing experience on Windows Phone 7 and Android with the Samsung Omnia 7 and Samsung Galaxy S running Android 2.2. I’m not really going to go into technical details here (I’ll leave this for my upcoming Windows Phone 7 review) but you will basically see how both OS’s perform when doing simple web browsing tasks. For my part I personally find Windows Phone 7 to be more user friendly and easier to use (I never really liked the fact that you always have to use the hardware menu button to access all the options on Android) but it still lacks some polish and complete landscape support (the UI is totally gone when you rotate your device..) Video after the break:

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Samsung Omnia 7 vs Samsung Galaxy S camera comparison

I’ve just shot two videos to compare the quality of the Samsung Omnia 7 and the Samsung Galaxy S video capture capability. Both devices apparently have the same 5Mpx sensor but the Galaxy S, thanks to its Hummingbird chipset, shoots at 720P 30fps with a bit-rate of 12Mbs (in H.264) compared to the 720P 24fps and 6Mbs (MP4-Simple-Profile) limitation of the Qualcomm QSD8250 found in the Omnia 7. The first thing you will notice is the smoother framerate of the Galaxy S footage but I was surprised that the higher bit-rate didn’t really make that much of a diference in the fill output (the lighting conditions are really crappy and both device had a hard-time capturing all the outdoors detail thought). The next thing is that the continuous auto-focus is totally busted on the Galaxy S compared to the Omnia 7 which works extremely well.Video after the break:

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Samsung Omnia 7 720P Video Camera Samples: Indoors

As a follow up to my previous post which included a low light outdoors video sample shoot in HD on with the Samsung Omnia 7 here are two other 720P videos shot indoors to give you an idea of the device’s performance in this lighting condition. As you can see there are compressions artifacts during fast panning movements caused by the 6Mbps bit-rate limitation of the Qualcomm QSD8250 but I think that the quality is fairly good compared to other handsets (color reproduction and white balance are nearly perfect too). Videos after the break:

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Samsung Omnia 7 HD video Camera Sample in low light conditions

 

I’ve just uploaded a short sample video shot with the Samsung Omnia 7 to show you how the output quality looks like in low light conditions relatively low light conditions. You will also see how the continuous auto-focus works. The video is shot in 1280×720 at 24fps MPEG-4 Simple Profile at a bitrate of 6Mbps. This is the maximum resolution and bitrate supported by the Qualcomm QSD8250 and as a comparison the Galaxy S shoots at double the bitrate and in H.264 (same for the iPhone 4). Video after the break (note that YouTube re-encodes the video and deteriorates it a little bit):

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