BlackBerry Priv Review by Joanna Stern

[ The Wall Street Journal ] Joanna Stern:

Typing on real keys with a phablet-sized 5.4-inch screen towering over them is odd at first, but once I found my acrobatic balance, my fingers were scurrying around at up to 60 words per minute. That’s about 20% faster than I type on my iPhone (though still 15% slower than on the BlackBerry Classic’s larger, wider, backlit keyboard).

The tactile feel of a real keyboard on a smartphone is an emotionally pleasant thing, and less of a functional thing. Or so I thought. 60 words per minute? Now that’s some fast thumb typing.

But even I, a former physical keyboard addict, ended up using the on-screen keyboard most of the time. It’s more convenient and easier to use one-handed.

Emotional trumps functional sometimes, and vice versa, but convenience trumps both all the time.

The bright, crisp, 2560×1440-pixel OLED display competes with Samsung, Apple or LG’s displays. The 18-megapixel camera takes good shots, though not as good as the Nexus 6P’s in low light.

I would like to hear, from an expert like Dr. Raymond Soneira, whether or not the 5.4-inch OLED display competes with the best from Apple (IPS LCD), LG (IPS LCD), and Samsung (OLED). No disrespect to Joanna Stern, but performance metrics like color space, color accuracy, viewing angles, brightness uniformity, etc. cannot easily be ascertained merely by looking closely at a display with the naked eye.

I think something like a BlackBerry Priv — big display with a BlackBerry keyboard — would have been a great smartphone when Androids started getting bigger a few years ago. But the thing that gets me every time is how inconvenient it is to thumb type different languages with a physical keyboard on a smartphone. The on-screen keyboard is way more convenient.

InstaAgent is Password-Collecting Malware

via John Gruber. [ MacRumors ] Juli Clover:

An app developer from Peppersoft downloaded InstaAgent — full name “Who Viewed Your Profile – InstaAgent” — and discovered it’s reading Instagram account usernames and passwords, sending them via clear text to a remote server –

Don’t install InstaAgent. If you did, uninstall InstaAgent, and as soon as possible change your Instagram account password. Avoid third-party Instagram apps that promise followers and likes. Good work David L-R (the app developer from Peppersoft)!

What is Mobile?

Benedict Evans:

This isn’t about the screen size or keyboard or location or use. Rather, the ecosystem of ARM, iOS and Android, with 10x the scale of Wintel, will become the new centre of gravity throughout computing. It will take over things like IoT and wearables in one direction and, in due course, the data centre in the other, and it will push onto the desktop.

Microsoft and Intel will disagree with this conclusion. My guess is that Intel will eventually catch up to ARM in terms of CPU & GPU power and power consumption ratios. When that happens Microsoft will introduce a smartphone. If Surface Book is Microsoft’s nomenclature going forward, my guess is the smartphone will be called Surface Phone.

The ARM-equivalent Intel SoC-powered Surface Phone will likely be head-to-head in computing power and power consumption to Android and iOS smartphones, but with one special twist: ‘dock’ it (physically or wirelessly) to a workstation setup — meaning there’s a big monitor, full-sized keyboard, and mouse — and the Windows 10 running Surface Phone becomes the Windows 10 running Surface Workstation. The thought of having a single mobile device to do everything is very alluring.

Windows 10 reminds me of responsive web design. On a desktop screen the design will make use of the larger screen real estate. On the other hand that same code will morph the user interface to make it easier to use on a smaller screen. Windows 10 seems to me a solid start to a responsive operating system design that works across screens that are smartphone small to digital signage big.

I personally prefer the more refined user experience designed into iOS and OS X, but I think Microsoft is building an operating system and ecosystem that can scale much larger.

OmniVision PureCel Plus Technology

[ OmniVision ] PureCel Plus technology uses a buried color filter array and deep trench isolation to reduce pixel crosstalk and improve color reproduction in low-light conditions. The angular response of the sensor means brighter lenses can be used and thinner camera system geometries.

What does this mean for future smartphones? Better low-light photography, faster lenses, and hopefully no more camera bulges.

2015 US Smartphone Penetration

[ Pew Research Center ] Monica Anderson:

Today, 68% of U.S. adults have a smartphone, up from 35% in 2011, and tablet computer ownership has edged up to 45% among adults, according to newly released survey data from the Pew Research Center. Smartphone ownership is nearing the saturation point with some groups: 86% of those ages 18-29 have a smartphone, as do 83% of those ages 30-49 and 87% of those living in households earning $75,000 and up annually.

I was surprised to see “tablet computer” ownership did not fall. When I had an iPhone 4s I used my 9.7-inch iPad a lot, but when I started using the 5, 5s, and then the Note 4 I gave my iPad to one of my children. I used my iPad mini a bit, but I had little to no need of my iPads. The iPad mini is now being used by my oldest. Yes, I am still the owner of two “tablet computers” but I no longer use them. My guess is there are many “tablet computer” owners who no longer use them much.

Note: I was no longer surprised after finding out the sample size was only 1907 adults. As of this writing the US Census Bureau estimates the population to be 322 million. That’s a lot of extrapolating.

LG V10 Review by The Verge

[ The Verge ] Vlad Savov:

The real attraction of the LG V10 is the camera that resides above the button cluster, so let’s get right to it. It’s amazing. I’m taking more photos and being more creative than I have with any other phone. Where other smartphones will render an indistinct blob of bright red, the V10 captures a beautiful, finely detailed flower in bloom. I see each petal distinguished from the next, with proper color gradation from the subtle pink hues to the deeper reds. At night, I’m unafraid to pull out the V10 and capture a particularly atmospheric scene — such as this tree illuminated by street lights behind it — knowing that this phone’s camera can handle it.

LG got the camera spot on. The 2560×1440 5.7-inch display? Excellent. The 2.1-inch secondary on top? Get rid of it.

Apple Considering Massive San Jose Campus

[ Silicon Valley Business Journal ] Nathan Donato-Weinstein:

Apple Inc. and the city of San Jose are working toward a development agreement that would allow the Cupertino-based juggernaut to build a north San Jose campus of up to 4.15 million square feet, according to city records — an amount larger than Apple’s “spaceship” campus under construction in Cupertino.

North of Highway 101 just across from San Jose International Airport. If Apple was planning to manufacture a car it would need a large factory, wouldn’t it?

Motorola Droid Turbo 2 Review by The Verge

[ The Verge ] Jacob Kastrenakes:

Motorola isn’t lying when it says this screen can’t be shattered. In my week with the phone, I’ve dropped it down flights of stairs, let it fall out of my pocket and onto the sidewalk time and again, and knocked it off of tables, chairs, and desks, all without sending a crack rippling across it. By all means, my Turbo 2 should be a mess — I’ve put it through more knocks and spills in a week than most phones will receive over two years — but its screen remains in impressive shape.

Shatterproof does not mean unbreakable, but it does mean if you have butterfingers the Motorola Droid Turbo 2 should be at the top of your replacement smartphone list. Of course, you can simply put a thick shockproof case on your phone for a lot less. But it would also look less pretty.

iPhone 6s Review by AnandTech

[ AnandTech ] Ryan Smith & Joshua Ho:

As with the iPhone 6, both the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus use dual domain pixels, which make the subpixels look more like chevrons under a microscope. This improves viewing angles by reducing the amount of color shifting that occurs when the display viewing angle is changed. As far as I can tell, Apple continues to be one of the few OEMs that pulls this off effectively. Although contrast and luminance aren’t perfectly consistent with changes in viewing angles, it basically looks like the display is painted underneath the glass. The iPhone 6s Plus does a better job at pulling off this illusion as the higher pixel density helps to eliminate some of the fuzziness or pixilation that might otherwise occur.

I consider color accuracy very important because I’d like the photos I take to look as close to the real thing as possible.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 in Basic screen mode produces detailed photos with extremely accurate colors. There are two areas where the Note 4 falls a little short of excellent. One is with red colors: reds are slightly washed out and sometimes appear to verge on orange. The other is lag. The Note 4 makes me wait a little bit before I can review the photo.

If you’re using an iPhone 6s or 6s Plus for any remotely color-critical work like viewing and/or editing photos and videos, it’s a pretty fair bet that you’ll be able to rely on these phones to provide an accurate color reproduction in pretty much any condition.