Honor 9 Midnight Black variant launching next week

Huawei has confirmed that the black color variant of its Honor 9 smartphone will be launched next week. Specifically, the Midnight Black model will go on sale starting July 18.

Officially, the phone comes in a total of 4 color options: Glacier Grey, Sapphire Blue, Gold, and Midnight Black. While the first three have been available, the fourth, black model wasn’t launched. But that’ll change next week.

Pricing should be similar to other color variants. Recently, Huawei CEO revealed that they’ve managed to sell over 1 million Honor 9 units in less than a month.

 

Next Flagship Smartphone: The 11 Won’t Quite Take HTC To Heaven

At first there was supposed to be a high-end smartphone called the HTC 11. Then rumors piled up saying the 11, an obvious successor to the HTC 10 of 2016, wasn’t happening. Now we’re getting reports that the sagging Taiwanese brand will release its 11 as early as today. HTC declined comment last week on what a publicist calls its “roadmap,” but the company normally rolls out its landmark phones in the first half of each year. Taiwan’s Liberty Times online says HTC has announced to its fan club a “surprise” that’s due today.

The question consumers will ask is why care. Android phones all look and perform about the same and HTC is a fading brand.

A HTC logo hangs from a beam during the Mobile World Congress on the third day of the MWC in Barcelona, on March 1, 2017. (JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images)

The 11 or the same idea under a another name would probably expand on the 10, which has a camera made for selfies and a battery designed to last two days.

Reviews of the HTC 10 were passable. But the smartphone developer that has fallen from a 2011 world market share peak of 10.7% to around 1% now got tougher reviews earlier this year for its high-end HTC U Ultra. The device also known as Ocean Note began selling in January but was described as too similar to Android peers to help HTC make a market share comeback. It looks like phones by the big Korean brands and uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor that much of the market will soon replace with something faster, per this Forbes reviewer. Some commentators also found the battery too small for the amount of power required.

The HTC 11, or whatever they call the next model, could easily face the same rack of competitive setbacks. The Android smartphone market is saturated with little game-changing technology no matter who you are, market analysts warn. HTC will compete not only with Samsung but also Chinese developers such as Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi. “We expect to see another rectangle with Android and various minor software upgrades, whether HTC calls it the 11 model or something different,” says Neil Mawston, global wireless practice executive director with Strategy Analytics in the United Kingdom.

Specifically, the 5.5-inch HTC 11 would use a Snapdragon 835 processor, run on Android 7.1 and come with two cameras: 8 megapixels on the front and 12 in the back, says Aaron Lin, analyst with the Taipei market research firm Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute.

But against the cynicism of consumers and reviewers, HTC could turn around and surprise us with something else altogether. “To me, the bigger question is whether there is a new flagship coming from HTC this year, especially given how the U Ultra took a bit of a beating by reviewers for its price, battery life, and design,” says Bryan Ma, devices research vice president tech market research firm IDC in Singapore. “In that sense, HTC needs a strong trophy product to help cement a perception that it can still play on the leading edge of the industry.”

 

HTC’s next flagship revealed in biggest leak yet

 

HTC released its U Ultra and U Play earlier this year, but we’ve known for some time the company still had something big in the works.

And while there’s been quite a few leaks and rumours about the upcoming flagship phone, known under the name ‘HTC U Ocean’ or HTC 11, we’re yet to see anything revelatory.

Until now, that is, Prolific tipster Evan Blass, otherwise known as @evleaks, has posted a photo which he claims shows the new HTC flagship in all its glory.

Related: HTC 11

Yes, it seems the HTC 11 will be known as the HTC U, according to Blass, who also tweeted a photo of the new phone:

 HTC logo

The image reveals what looks to be glass on the front and back, but without the screen being switched on, it’s hard to tell exactly where the display begins and ends.

That said, it does seem as though there will be significant bezels on the phone, unlike recent flagship offerings from Samsung and LG.

It also looks like there’ll be a physical home button on the front of the device – so no rear fingerprint scanner as with the Galaxy S8, then.

Blass links to a previous article which lists some specs for the phone, seemingly confirming those specs as accurate – though there’s been no official word from HTC at this point.

Among the rumoured specs are a 5.5-inch 2560 x 1440 display, a Snapdragon 835 chipset, 4GB RAM, and a 12-megapixel rear camera.

HTC is also said to have included pressure-sensitive edges which allow for extra control, such as taking a photo, and scrolling.

Blass is generally one of the most reliable leakers, so while there’s no way to confirm the picture and specs as accurate, we’re fairly sure Blass is on the money here – but use the usual caution as this is still an unconfirmed leak.

 

Apple’s Clips app is iMovie for the next generation

 

When I opened up Apple’s new Clips app yesterday, as I’ve been doing for the past few days, I was greeted with the same photo-capture screen that’s prioritized in all the social “story” apps. Take a picture! Capture video! Share! Share everything! they scream at you. I added some text overlays and emoji, and fumbled my way through Live Titles, the feature that’s distinctive to Apple Clips. And eventually, I shared my Clips. But it took a while. Because Clips take a while.

After Apple first announced its Clips video-making app a couple weeks ago, a lot of people — including me — wondered whether this was the company’s attempt to grab some of the attention that’s been siphoned by social apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. After using the new Clips app for the past five days, it’s become clear to me that this is not Apple’s attempt at a “social” app, at least, not in the way that social networks work.

Instead, it’s a video-making app that borrows some features from other apps. It’s an app that requires some thought and a little more work than a Snap or tweet or ‘gram does. These days, it’s possible to use those apps in public and with friends in a way that doesn’t feel terribly rude, whether it’s because everyone else is doing it or because the point is to share something quick and raw. With Clips, prepare to spend at least a few minutes making something share-worthy.

But that’s not a bad thing: it’s a distinctly Apple-like approach to mobile video. Parts of the app are also fun to use. There’s at least one element of the app that feels like it could use a whole redesign, and the question still remains as to whether this app is one that iPhone (and iPad) users will feel compelled to use before they use their favorite social apps. But overall, this is a kind of next-generation iMovie that I’m willing to bet a healthy portion of Apple’s user base will be happy to use.

If you ever said, “I wish iMovie was less about dissolves and transitions and more about adding cool filters and text,” then you are in luck.

Clips is free to download, and it’s available on iOS only. I wrote previously about its core features, but to summarize: you can shoot new photos or videos from within the app, or you can pull from your existing iPhone library. From there, you can add text, filters, overlays, emoji, and something Apple is calling “posters,” which are opaque transition cards. You can also add music, pulling either from your iTunes library or a selection of other instrumental music tracks curated just for the Clips app.

Clips are created in a square format, and are added to a basic timeline at the bottom of the screen. You can add individual video clips up to 30 minutes long to this timeline; and the total run time of a finished Clips video can be as long as 60 minutes. It’s also created and shared in 1080p HD, if your source video is HD. This is the kind of stuff that makes it much more of a video creation app than a Snapchat competitor.

And then there’s Live Titles. Live Titles is the app’s big differentiator, and utilizes voice recognition technology in a way that’s both clever and confusing. Rather than punch in text or scribble it on the phone’s touchscreen display, with Clips you’re supposed to narrate your thoughts out loud. You can opt to have those words included as audio, text, or both. This option was partly driven by the way people are watching video online now — text only, no audio — which makes sense. Unfortunately, the way the feature is designed doesn’t make as much sense.

After selecting a Live Titles style, you’re then supposed to hold down the record button and speak. If you want to mute your voice in a video, you have to tap a mic button. This isn’t exactly intuitive; most times you’re tapping a microphone icon to start recording your voice. While you’re speaking, the text doesn’t appear on the Clip; it’s processed after the fact. If you want to undo Live Titles, you don’t unselect the Live Titles icon; you have to go into the Live Titles options and select “None.”

You also just can’t simply type in text to start from Live Titles; you have to go to the Overlays tab for that. So yeah, it’s complicated.

Considering that Apple plans to include a Help section in the app when it goes live, I’m guessing I’m not the only person who has given early feedback that it’s the most confusing part of the app. It’s a cool concept, but I really hope Apple considers seriously simplifying this.

Despite that, making Clips is easy, especially if you ignore Live Titles. I’ve made Clips videos of my cat (of course), a bowl of pho, a recent vacation, and California-esque things I’ve done in a single day. The comic filter is cool, and it renders the effect on photos and videos as you’re capturing them, not after the fact. Individually, the features are reminiscent of the features in other apps — sepia-toned filters, location and time stamps — but combined, it all feels distinctly Apple. Example: one of the text overlays is a familiar blue iMessage bubble.

When you tap the share button — assuming you want to share your Clips when you’re done, unless you just like to make videos to look at all by yourself, which is possible — all of the usual suspects are there, from Vimeo to Facebook to YouTube to Mail. And iMessage is supposed to be slightly optimized for this. The app will use facial recognition technology to determine who is in your clips videos and prioritize those contacts in the share function; although, I haven’t tested that much, since I was using the app in advance of its official release and couldn’t share the videos to all of my contacts.

So while Clips isn’t Apple’s answer to Snapchat, or Instagram, or Facebook Stories, or Prisma, or the ill-fated Qwiki, there is still an element that’s inherently shareable. Which is to say, after making Clips this week, I actually wanted to share them. In a way, Apple has again renounced the responsibility of being a social network while also encouraging a kind of network-exclusive interaction. Just like the blue bubbles of iMessage will give you away, so will some of the features of this app.

Just don’t try to make a fancy Clips video to share while you’re out in social settings. It takes too darn long, at least at first.

 

iPhone 8 Dimensions, Renders Leaked; LG Reportedly Eyeing OLED Display Orders Next Year

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • iPhone 8 dimensions tipped at 143.59×70.94×7.57mm
  • Renders tip an edge-to-edge display
  • It is expected to be thicker than the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus

iPhone 8 rumours have been numerous in the recent past, and today’s leak brings more information on the dimensions of the iPhone 8. Renders have also been leaked alongside, and the iPhone 8 is seen being compared to the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S8, and Samsung Galaxy S8+. Furthermore, LG is reportedly eyeing OLED display orders from Apple next year, and has made a large amount of investment to ramp up its OLED smartphone display production.

First up, iDrop News cites anonymous “factory workers with intimate knowledge” to report that the iPhone 8 will measure at 143.59×70.94×7.57mm. This makes the iPhone 8 wider and larger than the iPhone 7, but smaller when compared to the iPhone 7 Plus. To recall, the iPhone 7 dimensions are at 138.3×67.1×7.1 mm and the iPhone 7 Plus measures at 158.2×77.9×7.3 mm. Looking at the dimensions, the iPhone 8 is also thicker than both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

The report is unclear about the weight, but it is anticipated to be more than the iPhone 7 but less than the iPhone 7 Plus. The report has also leaked renders of the smartphone, based on the information it received. The iPhone 8 is seen sporting an edge-to-edge display in the front with no Home Button in the front as well. There is a small lip at the top edge of the smartphone for integrating the front camera and sensors. At the back, there is a vertical dual camera setup with the Apple logo, but no sign of a fingerprint scanner. This further cements rumours of a fingerprint scanner embedded underneath the display.iPhone 8 Dimensions, Renders Leaked; LG Reportedly Eyeing OLED Display Orders Next Year

Furthermore, the iPhone 8 is also pegged against the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Samsung Galaxy S8+. To recall, the Galaxy S8 measures 148.9×68.1×8.0 mm, while the Galaxy S8+ comes in at 159.5×73.4×8.1 mm. If the rumoured dimensions are true, the iPhone 8 will be slimmer.

A separate report from ET News claims that LG is investing huge amounts of money to become Apple’s second supplier of OLED displays next year. This year, Samsung has reportedly bagged the exclusive deal for the iPhone 8’s OLED displays, but LG is reported to be ramping up its production facilities for OLED smartphone displays, and is switching from its previous focus on TVs.

“LG Display is planning to invest about $3.56 billion (KRW 4 trillion) into P10, which is its new factory in Paju, and construct production lines for 6th generation flexible OLEDs in 2018. Although it was planning to make investments mostly on large OLEDs for TVs initially, it is currently thinking about making investments on OLEDs for Smartphones first. It seems that LG Display is planning to secure its position as the second supplier for Apple iPhone by quickly increasing its production capability of OLED for Smartphone, the report said.

LG also believes that Chinese OEMs will follow Apple’s footsteps to integrate OLED displays, so if it doesn’t bag an order from Apple, it does have other options to partake from.

 

Apple MacBook Lineup Refresh Expected at WWDC 2017 Next Week

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Apple has been tipped to upgrade MacBook Pro with new processors
  • MacBook Air has been suggested to be updated at WWDC 2017 as well
  • Apple might launch a MacBook model with 32GB of RAM as well

Apple has been rumoured to update its laptop lineup at its WWDC event early next month but now there are some strong indications, this time coming from company’s own official site, which suggest that it would be wise to wait before you buy your next MacBook. As per Apple’s online store, the delivery times of 15-inch MacBook Pro have now been delayed to June 5- June 6, which is one day after company’s WWDC keynote, from usual deliveries on same day or 3-5 business days.Image result for Apple MacBook Lineup Refresh Expected at WWDC 2017 Next Week

While the delivery estimates for the 13-inch MacBook models have not been changed and the laptops are available for delivery as soon as the next day, the recent changes give credence to a report that suggested that Apple is planning to launch new MacBook Pro and 12-inch MacBook models on June 5, as pointed out in a report by MacRumors.

Usually when the delivery times are changed on Apple’s official website, they indicate that the company is planning to launch new products and as the Cupertino-based company’s event is right around the corner, we might be able to see new MacBook models. Conventionally, WWDC is associated with software but this time around, the event has been heavily linked with launch of new hardware products.

Earlier this month, a report suggested that Apple will be refreshing its MacBook lineup, with updates lined up for 12-inch MacBook, the MacBook Pro, and the almost forgotten MacBook Air as well.

First coming to the MacBook Pro upgrade, Apple has been tipped to update the laptop with Intel’s Kaby Lake processor series, from the current SkyLake processors. Further, the company is expected to launch a 32GB RAM variant of the 15-inch MacBook Pro to cater to the need of professional users, as pointed out in a report by 9To5Mac. There are reportedly some price cuts to the existing models that can be expected to be announced at WWDC 2017.

The 12-inch variant of the MacBook laptop series has been tipped to be upgraded with new Kaby Lake processors as well as receive a new 16GB RAM option as per KGI, 9To5Mac points out.

Finally coming to the MacBook Air, while the upgrade rumours for the laptop are thin and hard to find, the laptop is expected to be refreshed with new processors at the very least.

As all of this talks is from rumour town, we will have to wait till the company’s official announcement next month to get any confirmation about the laptops.

 

The next iPhone will likely—finally—have a completely new design

 

After three years and three phones, it seems that the iPhone is finally getting a facelift.

Recent reports form Forbes and Apple blog 9to5Mac suggest that the next iPhone, likely called the iPhone 8 (or perhaps the iPhone X), will feature a smaller body than its predecessors, but a far larger screen. A video of a purported dummy version of the phone, shared with 9to5Mac and in line earlier leaks, hint that it will have two rear-facing cameras (arranged vertically instead of horizontally as they are on the iPhone 7 Plus) and no home button or fingerprint sensors.

It seems the new phone will have a larger screen, but in a smaller package. Leaks of potential third-party cases for the next iPhone, uncovered by Forbes, suggest that almost the entirety of the front of the device is a screen, with just a small cutout at the top for the receiver and front-facing camera. According to the report, the screen of the new model will measure 5.8 inches—compare that with the iPhone 7 Plus screen, which is roughly 5.5 inches, but only comprises about two-thirds of the surface. Other new features tossed around the blogosphere for the new iPhone include wireless charging and a fingerprint scanner built into the display.apple iphone 8 fullscreen wireless charging aapl

All of these rumors should be taken with a grain of salt—they’re just that, rumors. But Apple would likely be looking to produce a show-stopping device for this year, not just because it’s the 10th anniversary of the launch of the original iPhone, but also because of recent releases from competitors: The new Samsung Galaxy S8 features a massive, beautiful screen, and a forthcoming device from Essential, a new company from the creator of Android, Andy Rubin, appears to be almost entirely screen.

It’s likely that Apple will unveil its next phone in September, as it has now done for many years. But until then the the company will remain tight-lipped as ever. Apple wasn’t immediately available to comment on these reports.

Is HTC making the next Pixel phones for Google?

An HTC blog has recently unearthed certain system files that indicate a possible relation between the HTC U11 and the upcoming Pixels.
 The Google phones might drop the delicate rear glass panels from the U11’s body and adapt a metallic body along with a rear fingerprint sensor.

The Google Pixel is the Holy Grail of all Android smartphones. It is the guideline around which other manufacturers build their iterations of Android-based smartphones. The astonishing fact about the Pixel is that it has been designed and made by HTC, one of the pioneers in the world of Google’s open source operating system. That reassures a Pixel customer that the phones would stand the test of time and provide the best hardware experience, even though with conservative designs. And, it seems that HTC is going to do that with the next generation of Pixel smartphones as well.The Google phones might drop the delicate rear glass panels from the U11's body and adapt a metallic body along with a rear fingerprint sensor.

A Japanese blog, called HTCSoku, has found a reference to the next generation Pixel phones while playing around with the HTC U11’s file system. The HTC U11’s system files have references to ‘S2’ and ‘M2’. The current generation of Google Pixel and Pixel XL phones had the codenames ‘S1’ and ‘M1’ respectively during their development process, which was loosely based on the HTC A9 and the HTC 10. Therefore, the next generation of the Pixel smartphones should be called the ‘S2’ and ‘M2’. The blog also found links of the ‘S2’ and ‘M2’ files with the Snapdragon 835 chip set.

This renders speculations that Google’s next generation of Pixel smartphones will be based on the existing HTC U11. The Google phones might drop the delicate rear glass panels and adapt a metallic body along with a rear fingerprint sensor. They could be running on the SD835 chipset with 4GB of RAM and 64/128GB of storage. Since there’s no dual camera sensor on the U11, the 2017 Google flagships could also be sporting single lens rear camera. However, the Edge Sense feature from the U11 may not find a place on Google’s smartphones as it is an exclusive feature to the 2017 HTC flagship. And, they will have a solid build quality as well.

The Google Pixel 2 smartphone range could be unveiled later in the year. Stay tuned for further updates on the next generation Google Pixel smartphones.