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* Lenovo Vibe Z finally getting the Android 4.4.2 KitKat treatment

“The Lenovo Vibe Z is getting enhanced 4K video playback, improved CPU performance and more features via KitKat update”


Lenovo recently confirmed the rollout of the Android 4.4.2 KitKat update for its Vibe Z (review) and Vibe X  smartphones. It was expected to arrive in May in a phased manner and finally the Lenovo Vibe Z is getting it. The update is currently available for users in Malaysia and will be reaching other regions soon.

Lenovo Vibe Z

The update is rolling out over the air and is about 1.25GB in size, so it is advisable to download it over a decent Wi-Fi connection. According to the vendor, the latest OS offers better 4K video playback and boosted CPU performance. It comes with an enhanced user interface and it's now easier to add widgets to the home screen after this update. The multi-window mode with multiple apps on the screen has also been improved. Other features include enhanced notification access, a new theme center, auto profile changer and cloud printing support.

There is no word when the Vibe X will be getting Android 4.4.2 KitKat treatment, but since it's available for Vibe Z, it could happen soon.  


* MTS introduces "Offer Ka Sikander" scheme with full talk time recharges for new customers

"MTS is targeting both new customers and retail dealers with 'Offer Ka Sikandar' scheme"


MTS has rolled out a new offer to lure mobile users to avail its telecom services in the country. The vendor has introduced "Offer Ka Sikander" scheme for new subscribers with full talk-time benefits and more. It will be available for new prepaid subscribers in various states including Rajasthan, Karnataka, Kolkata,Kerala, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, and will be introduced in phases.


Under the "MTS Offer Ka Sikander" scheme, customers will be getting full talk time up to Rs 40 bundled with the SIM card. MTS is also offering full talk time value on recharges of Rs 30 to Rs 149. If you opt for recharges of more than Rs 150, then you will get 10 percent extra talk time. In addition to new subscribers, retailers will also stand to benefit with the new offer. The company is sharing up to 10 percent revenue on all recharges done by subscribers for six months from the day of activation.

In related news, MTS recently started offering free Wi-Fi services for the travelers of Gurgaon Rapid MetroRail. 



* Samsung and Barnes & Noble join hands for the Galaxy Tab 4 Nook tablet

“The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook will be offered with Tab 4 hardware and Nook’s customised UI with access to millions of books”


Barnes & Noble and Samsung have joined hands to release an affordable slate. The vendors will be releasing a co-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook tablet with hardware features borrowed from the Galaxy Tab 4 slate in August this year. The companies haven’t yet disclosed any details about the pricing, but it is expected to arrive at a price lewer than $200, which is the regular Samsung Galaxy Tab 4’s base model’s pricing.

Galaxy Tab 4 7

The hardware features of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook will be identical to Galaxy Tab 4 7.0, which comes with a 7-inch 1,280 x 800 pixel display. The slate is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Cortex A7 processor and 1.5GB of RAM. Software features of the co-branded tablet will be heavily borrowed from Nook’s customised user interface. Users will get access to more than 3 million e-books, newspapers and magazines with it.

The move comes after Barnes & Noble struggled to sell their Nook devices and content. The company reported 50.4 percent decline in sales last quarter. Since forecasts suggest tablet sales will be seeing a growth of 12.1 percent this year, the company doesn’t want to lose a piece of  the pie. 


* Facebook Messenger update for Windows Phone offers instant photo sharing and more

“The Facebook Messenger v5.0 update is now rolling out to Windows Phone devices”


Facebook has released an update to its Messenger application for Windows Phone devices. The Facebook Messenger v5.0 brings groups and instant photo sharing features. The updated app is now available on the Windows Phone store. The same features were already available to Android and iOS users since last month.

Facebook Messenger V5.0

This update enables the Groups feature in Messenger, which allows you to create groups of friends to chat with. You can manage your closest friends, family or colleagues for group conversations. The start page of the app can be pinned with groups for faster access. It also has an instant photo sharing feature, which allows you to send a captured image with just a single tap. In addition, it also brings performance improvements to the app for Windows Phone users.

The v5.0 app also adds a new picture gallery, which is built into Messenger to provide easy access to images stored on the device.  




* Razer Junglecat Gamepad controller announced for Apple iPhone 5 and 5S

“The Razer Junglecat Gamepad connects to your iPhone via the lightening port and sports similar keys as the Xbox controller”


The gaming peripheral manufacturer Razer has introduced a game controller accessory for Apple iPhones. Dubbed as the Razer Junglecat Gamepad, it's compatible with iOS 7 and higher OS versions. You can use it on both the Apple iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S. It will be available to buy in black and white starting next month for $99.99, approximately Rs 5,900.

Razer Junglecat white

The gamepad controller comes with a direction pad, two bumpers and four face XYAB buttons like Xbox One’s controller. It also has a pause button in the middle. To use it, you need a companion iOS app, which allows you to customise button mapping and pressure sensitivity. The Razer Junglecat allows you to program 20 different profiles, depending on the game or players. It features forward-throwing sound channel design, which directs the audio towards the player.

Razer Junglecat black

The Razer Junglecat Gamepad connects to your iPhone using the lightning port. It's compatible with games like Dead Trigger and Asphalt 8 Airborne. The controller is designed like a case, and the keypad slides out from underneath the phone. However, it does add an extra bit of thickness to your device. You can check out the full list of the games compatible with the controller and check its design with an interactive demo here. 


* Gionee Elife S5.5 camera review: capable but scared of the dark

“Slimness is an enemy of quality when it comes to cameras, but the Gionee Elife S5.5 has a different story to tell ”

Gionee Elife S5.5



It’s a common notion that super-slim devices compromise on specs. The same also holds true for smartphone sensors, but it's entirely up to the device makers how well they can optimise their offerings. Talking about slim smartphones, the Gionee Elife S5.5 tops the charts, being the world’s slimmest Android smartphone. While the camera performs well in most conditions, we feel that it lacks somewhere. Here are different images shot using the Gionee Elife S5.5's 13-megapixel primary shooter, so you can check for yourself what kind of image quality this smartphone offers.  Click on the images to view them in full resolution.



* Microsoft will reportedly launch Nokia X2 Android smartphone later this month

“The Nokia X2 is reportedly launching in the last week of this month”

It looks like the second generation of Nokia X series Android smartphone will be launching soon. According to a report by BGR India, the smartphone will be released in the last week of this month. The Nokia X2 is reportedly codenamed as RM-1013 and the vendor has already brought it to India for testing purposes.

NOkia X2

Reports indicate that the Nokia X2 will be carrying a dedicated home screen button, which we have already seen in a leaked image. It will be sporting a 4.3-inch display with a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, larger than the 4-inch screen of the Nokia X. It's expected to be powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor with 1GB of RAM, also higher than the 1GHz Snapdragon CPU and 512MB RAM offered in the Nokia X. It will offer 4GB of internal storage, a 5MP rear shooter and VGA front camera.



Microsoft is reportedly going to use Android 4.3 Jelly Bean as base for the Nokia X software platform of the second-generation Nokia X series.



* Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and Note 10.1 2014 LTE Edition getting Android KitKat update

“The update will also include an improved TouchWiz UI and newer versions of Samsung apps” 

Samsung has started rolling out an Android 4.4 KitKat update for the original Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, and its successor, the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 LTE Edition. The update is rolling out over the air and via the Samsung KIES PC application.

 Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 update

The latest update comes with the usual Android KitKat goodies and a newer version of TouchWiz, along with updated Samsung apps. It brings faster performance and white status bar icons, along with wireless printing support. It displays full-screen album art and a camera shortcut on the lock screen, and allows users to select the default home launcher and SMS apps. Other changes include enhanced sound control for specific Samsung apps and general stability improvements. 


The Wi-Fi only Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 slate has already received the KitKat update, with the 3G model due to get it soon.





* Micromax Unite 2 camera review: not too bad for a budget smartphone


“Despite the fact that it’s a budget smartphone, the camera is one of its stronger points over the competition”


Since the day of its launch, the Micromax Unite 2 has been able to create a lot of interest among potential buyers due to its strong value-for-money proposition. It features better hardware compared to its closest competitor, the Moto E, and promises better performance. Alongside, the Micromax Unite 2 also sports an autofocus camera in place of a fixed focus camera, which is a common offering for devices within this price range. However, seeing is believing, and no matter how much we can say about any smartphone camera, the truth about its performance lies in the images it can offer. Therefore, we bring to you a quick camera review of the Micromax Unite 2. We tested the camera with a variety of different shots and lighting conditions. We have our own reasons to believe that the quality offered by the camera on the Micromax Unite 2 is better than what the competition is offering, but we want you to see for yourself and form your opinion about the Unite 2's snapper performance. Click on the images to view them in full resolution. 


* Typing experience on your iPhone and iPad set to change with SwiftKey, Fleksy and Swype keyboards coming to iOS 8 


"The Apple App Store will soon get its share of third-party keyboard apps."iOS 8 16 iOS 8 has several interesting new features, but the one that generated a fair bit of excitement was Apple’s decision to allow system-wide implementation of third-party keyboards. Given that alternative keyboard apps are already a hot feature on Android, it wasn’t long (just a few hours, in fact) before the big names in touchscreen typing announced they would be landing on the App Store.

Swiftkey Note_4 


SwiftKey, which is one of the most popular paid apps on Android, has announced that it is already developing its iOS 8 keyboard. Known for its uncanny word prediction and auto-correct technology, the app already has a presence on the App Store in the form of SwiftKey Note, which we reviewed when it was first launched. 

Fleksy, another popular app, has already opened up its beta program and claims that it will be among the first to bring its keyboard to iOS. 

Swype, the trace-typing keyboard app, has stated that it ‘can’t wait’ to have its keyboard on the App Store.

Apple announcing third-party keyboard support was certainly an unexpected move, but a welcome one. Apple’s own keyboard is also getting a revamp, thanks to its new QuickType word prediction feature, which learns from your usage to predict words and phrases. 


There have been some concerns over the security aspect of allowing third-party keyboards, though. While Apple has said that all QuickType’s learnings will be saved locally on the device, the same assurances don't apply to standalone apps. Apple itself has placed security as a top priority, denying keyboard apps internet access as a default setting.


* Update for original Samsung Galaxy Gear ditches Android in favour of Tizen

             “Samsung’s first Galaxy Gear smartwatch joins the Gear 2 line-up in Tizen arena”

Samsung has started pushing a software update to its first-generation Galaxy Gear smartwatch. Initially released running Android, the new update changes the operating system to the company’s home-baked Tizen. The update is being rolled out via the KIES PC application in select markets, but there’s no word about roll out over the air at the moment.


The Samsung Galaxy Gear update comes with improved performance and battery life. The Tizen update lets the Galaxy Gear function as a standalone music player with the ability to store music on the smartwatch itself. It now has customised shortcuts for tap inputs, voice commands for the camera and more. There are no major changes in the user interface besides some small tweaks. 


After the update, you will need to re-pair the Galaxy Gear with your smartphone or tablet. Some apps that don't support Tizen may not work after the update.



*Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 lineup expected, with the 8-inch and 10-inch models pegged at Rs 23,990 and Rs 29,999 respectively

“The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 line-up include three devices with 7-,8-and 10-inch displays”

It looks like Samsung is all set to launch its latest range of Galaxy tablets in India soon. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 line-up is expected to arrive in the country next week, but we already have price details of two of these devices. Independent Mumbai-based retailer Mahesh Telecom has revealed that the Galaxy Tab 4 8-inch with 3G will be available at a best buy price of Rs 23,990, versus its MRP of Rs 27,710. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10-inch 3G model will retail for Rs 29,990, with an MRP of Rs 36,640. The price of the 7-inch model has not been disclosed by the retailer.



The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 series tablets all run Android 4.4 KitKat and feature WXGA displays with a resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels. They are powered by 1.2GHz quad-core processors and 1.5GB of RAM. They sport faux-leather backs, just like the Galaxy Note series devices. Camera features of the tabs include 3MP rear and 1.3MP front shooters. Connectivity features on board are 3G, LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi Direct and microUSB 2.0. All the tablets feature microSD card slots to expand memory up to 64GB.

Samsung is all set to launch its premium line of Galaxy S tablets with Super AMOLED displays this month. 

* 8 reasons why the Micromax Unite 2 is a Moto E killer

“The fight for the ultimate budget Android smartphone has boiled down to two main contenders, the Micromax Unite 2 and the Motorola E, and here are the reasons why the Unite 2 makes for a better buy”



With the Moto E running off the shelves faster than hot cakes, the Micromax Unite 2 (Unboxing) is not far behind and has become a favourite Android smartphone for those who seek more value for money and at the same time are looking for a much more powerful smartphone than the Moto E (review), while sticking to the same budget. If you are also going through the same dilemma then here is something that we have reasons to believe that would definitely help you make up your mind.

The Moto E sports a 4.3-inch display, but the Micromax Unite 2 offers a bigger 4.7-inch display. Even though the difference in the size might not be substantial, but it is the display we are talking about, and from entertainment to web browsing, every additional millimetre counts.

Quad-Core Processor

Despite the fact that the Micromax Unite 2 comes with a MediaTek processor, it is faster in terms of overall clock speed offered, i.e., 1.3GHz, and has twice the number of cores to handle the computing, which should result in better performance as compared to the Moto E that's powered by a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor

Regional Language Support


India is a country where there is a huge diversity in languages in use, and the Micromax Unite 2 with support for 21 Indian languages will definitely be useful for a larger number of people, even those who only comfortable using their mother tongues. On the other hand, the Moto E only supports English and Hindi, and may not appeal to everyone.

Although it’s something as simple as buying insurance, most Android users believe that having a user-replaceable battery is better as opposed to having a fixed battery due to the simple fact that if the device freezes up, they would be able to bring it back to life by simply popping out its battery and putting it back in. Additionally, having a replaceable battery can reduce the number of trips to the service centre, as you can replace the battery yourselves.

Another important addition to the Micromax Unite 2 over the Moto E is the LED flash provided at the back of the device, for illumination while shooting during low-light conditions. The Moto E clearly misses this functionality, and therefore is unable to capture images in low light. Additionally, the flash also doubles up as very capable flashlight and Indian smartphone users love having it on their devices.

Front-Facing Camera

No matter if it’s a poor resolution camera that the company has provided on the Micromax Unite 2, but at least it’s there and therefore users would not be robbed of the functionalities such as video calling and basic selfies, which is definitely one of the growing trends among Indian smartphone users with more affordable data rates being offered by service providers.

Availability Is Not An Issue

Moto E Flipkart


Last but not the least, the Micromax Unite 2, unlike the Moto E is available through a number of stores both offline as well as online, so users can stick to their favourite retailer and still can buy a powerful Android device without having to wait for the Moto E to be back in stock. Some might say that the device is so good that it gets sold off within minutes, but availability only through online store is a major bottleneck for those who can't, or don't prefer to buy online.

Autofocus Camera

No matter what users have to say about the quality of images that are being captured by the Moto E, having an autofocus camera on the Micromax Unite 2 is a boon. The autofocus mechanism allows the device to capture images with varying focus and capture more detail as well as sharper images in the process.





29-May 2014

Nokia Lumia 630 review



One of the first phones to launch straight to Windows Phone 8.1, the Lumia 630 is also the first to bring dual-SIM support to the platform. That said, we should note right at the start that we're reviewing the regular, single-SIM version. The difference boils down to just an extra SIM compartment though. There's nothing on the outside to set them apart - the SIM card slot(s) are under the battery cover.

Anyway, the brand new software version and optional dual-SIM aside, the Lumia 630 is nothing out of the usual if you've been following developments in the Nokia low-to-midrange. We can think of at least a couple of phones that have served as an inspiration. Everyone at Microsoft would be delighted if the two versions of the Lumia 630 combined come close to matching the sales of the Lumia 520.

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Nokia Lumia 630 official pictures

The Lumia 625 has contributed too - perhaps with a lesson learned. Not much point stretching the screen too much when the resolution simply can't keep up. The Lumia 630 does well to reduce the diagonal but boost screen quality with the ClearBlack technology.

So, the Lumia 630 brings a relatively big 4.5" ClearBlack IPS display of FWVGA resolution. It's powered by the popular Snapdragon 400 chipset with a quad-core processor, and runs Windows Phone 8.1 with Nokia Cyan right out of the box. Let's see what else is on offer.

Key features

·         4.5" 16M-color ClearBlack IPS LCD display of FWVGA resolution, Gorilla Glass 3

·         Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset with quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 processor, Adreno 305 GPU and 512MB of RAM

·         Windows Phone 8.1 OS with Nokia Cyan

·         Optional dual-SIM support

·         5MP autofocus camera with 720p@30fps video recording

·         8GB of inbuilt storage, expandable via a microSD card slot up to 128GB

·         Built-in accelerometer

·         Active noise cancellation with a dedicated mic

·         Free lifetime voice-guided navigation worldwide with Drive+

·         FM Radio with RDS

·         Background motion data collection service

·         Li-Ion 1,830 mAh battery

Main disadvantages

·         No front-facing camera

·         No 1080p video recording

·         No LED flash

·         No proximity sensor

·         512MB RAM may eventually turn out insufficient for future apps

·         No headset or USB cable included in the retail package

Windows Phone 8.1 has finally caught up with the competition and offers some long-awaited features such as Action Center with notification and quick toggles, customizable tile size and Start screen background, the Cortana voice assistant, Quiet Hours mode, install on SD card and a swipe-able keyboard among many others. We'll get into the details in a bit.

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Nokia Lumia 630 at ours

Of course, there are a few things missing in the Lumia 630, which is a budget phone above all else. There is no LED flash or front-facing camera - these are things you can get in the Lumia 625. There is no headset in the retail package, and half a gig of RAM could potentially rule out some apps - or at least they won't run as fast and smooth as you like. Still, Windows Phone should be perfectly capable of making a nice impression on the kind of hardware that powers the Lumia 630.

This phone was never meant to impress with speed and multitasking prowess - it's supposed to deliver a reasonably smooth and enjoyable smartphone experience to as many people as possible. We don't see why it cannot be as successful as the 520, but we won't take anything for granted.


Nokia Lumia 360-degree spin

The Nokia Lumia 630 stands at 129.5 x 66.7 x 9.2mm and weighs 134g. The phone has a 0.5" bigger display compared to the Lumia 520, which makes it a centimeter taller, 3mm wider and a hair ticker. The Lumia 630 also gained 10g of weight, probably down to the bigger battery.

 Design, build quality and handling

The Nokia Lumia 630 is made of matte plastic, while the entire front is protected by a third generation Gorilla Glass. It's notably less curvy than the Lumia 520, with perfectly flat sides, along the lines of the Asha styling and the X series.

If you liked the colorful options offered for the Lumia 520, the Lumia 630 won't disappoint either. You can choose between the traditional white and black, bright orange, bright green, and bright yellow. The exchangeable cover wraps around the entire inner body. There is no extra cover in the retail package though, you'll need to by one.

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Nokia Lumia 630

Our Nokia Lumia 630 came in black, which is quite good at hiding smudges. When off, the ClearBlack screen blends almost seamlessly with the black bezels (which are by no means slim).

The Lumia 630 has the usual simple and minimalist design we've come to expect of Nokia - whether it's Asha, Android or Windows Phone inside. The phone looks fresh and inviting. Thanks to its matte plastic finish you'll get a great grip and the compact body is pleasant and comfortable to handle.

Nokia Lumia 630 Nokia Lumia 630 
Handling the Lumia 630


The Nokia Lumia 630 packs a 4.5" ClearBlack IPS display of FWVGA resolution (480 x 854 pixels). The pixel density of 218ppi provides reasonable sharpness and the image quality is surprisingly good.

Nokia Lumia 630 
Nokia Lumia 630's IPS display

Colors are very punchy and viewing angles are quite decent too. There's little color and contrast loss even if you look at it at an extreme angle.

Here's a microscopic image of the screen's RGB matrix - it does come with a standard pixel arrangement.

Nokia Lumia 630

Although we found the blacks and pixel density of the Lumia 630 to be only average we should note that the contrast is good, particularly for this price range.

Display test

50% brightness

100% brightness

Black, cd/m2

White, cd/m2

Contrast ratio

Black, cd/m2

White, cd/m2

Contrast ratio

Nokia Lumia 630







Nokia Lumia 625







Samsung Galaxy Ace 3







Sony Xperia M








Nokia X







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Nokia Lumia 520







Sony Xperia E1







Nokia Asha 501







Motorola Moto G







Sony Xperia C







Apple iPhone 5







Battery life

Nokia Lumia 630 is powered by a 1,850 mAh battery. According to the official stats it should be enough for about half a day 3G talks and 25 days on stand-by. Naturally, we've completed our battery test and the results are in.

The Lumia 630 is capable of lasting half a day on call, but this is possible only if the clever ear-sensing tech inside the screen has detected your ear and has turned itself off. Since the phone doesn't come with a proximity sensor the display doesn't go off unless you touch it with your face or you turned it off manually. If the screen is kept on during your calls, you should probably expect significantly lower talk time.


The Nokia Lumia 630 turned out quite the poor stand-by performer. Instead of the promised 600 hours, our unit lasted about 200-210. And we've tested it three times just to be sure. In the end, acknowledging the low stand-by score, the Lumia 630's overall endurance rating came at 55 hours. It is an average endurance and means your phone will last 2 days and 7 hours if used it daily for an hour of video playback, calling over a 3G network and web browsing.


The Nokia Lumia 630 is available in three different model versions: single SIM, dual SIM, and LTE. The latter is the Lumia 635 - it sounds like a separate phone but the only difference is 4G network support. Here's the list of supported bands by model:

·         Quad-band GSM (across all models)

·         Dual-band 3G with 21 Mbps HSDPA (Lumia 630, Lumia 630 Dual-SIM)

·         Tri-band 3G with 42 Mbps HSDPA (Lumia 635)

·         Tri-band LTE Cat3 with 100 Mbps download (Lumia 635)

·         Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n

·         Bluetooth v4.0 with A2DP and EDR, file transfers

·         GPS receiver with A-GPS and GLONASS support

·         FM radio with RDS

·         Standard 3.5 mm audio jack

·         microUSB port

If you opt for the dual-SIM Lumia 630 model, you'll get two microSIM beds with dual stand-by. Of course, once you're in a call on one of the cards, the other SIM becomes inactive.

The rest of the connectivity features available across all models include single-band Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS with GLONASS, and an FM radio with RDS. There is a microUSB 2.0 port for charging and data connections. Mass storage mode is supported for access to the phone's built-in memory and microSD card.

There is no TV-out functionality under any form - neither wired, nor wireless. Also currently, there are no Windows Phones that support USB On-the-go, so that's missing, too.


Windows Phone 8.1 premieres on Lumia 630

Nokia Lumia 630 is the first smartphone to come with the latest available Windows Phone 8.1 out of the box. The update is going to roll out across all Windows Phone 8-running smartphones in late June, but for now the Lumia 630 and 930 are the only two devices, where you can find both the final version of the Microsoft's OS and Nokia's Lumia Cyan customizations.

Windows Phone 8.1 brings a plethora of new features and UI improvements, while Lumia Cyan build on that and delivers Nokia's exclusive apps such as the Nokia Camera, Creative Studio, Storyteller, plus it adds some additional options on selected Lumia smartphones, such as Miracast Wireless Display support and Dolby Surround Sound capturing.

Before we dig into details, here comes our traditional UI walkthrough to get you warmed up.

The Windows Phone 8.1 is certainly one of the largest updates to a mobile operating system we've seen recently. It retains much of the flow of its predecessor, so existing users won't feel lost even for a second, but it adds much on top in an attempt to change the attitude of those sitting on the sidelines.

Let's start our tour with the lockscreen. The Lumia 630 doesn't offer Glance screen, nor is there the double-tap to wake up option. Apparently, those are reserved for the mid and high-end Lumia phones. Still, you get to choose up to six notification slots for your lockscreen, you can setup PIN unlock too.

Nokia Lumia 630 Nokia Lumia 630 
The Lockscreen

Once you unlock your Lumia 630, you'll get to the familiar interface with resizable live tiles.

In the past Windows Phone had been criticized for lacking wallpapers. Not anymore as with WP 8.1 you can finally set a Start Background. This won't replace the black or white color on your homescreen with a wallpaper. Instead your tiles become transparent and you can look through them into your chosen background. The only problem is the feature works much better with some tiles than with others - contact pictures for example are non-transparent, other icons are not optimized for this feature yet and really get in the way.

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The Start background

There's another change to the live tiles too. Windows Phone 8 GDR 3 update introduced the option to pack even more tiles on a row, but the decision for the tile count was only available to the manufacturer. With WP 8.1 you are free to make up your own mind by going to Settings->Start+Theme and selecting or deselecting the "Show more Tiles" option. Thus depending on the size of the tiles you can have up to six in a row, instead of merely four.

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Customizing the Live Tiles count

Windows Phone 8.1 supports on-screen controls and Lumia 630 is the first one to take advantage of those. You can configure their background - dark, to match the (black or white) background (not the Start Wallpaper), or to match you accent color.

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Customizing the navigation bar

One of the major novelties brought by Windows Phone 8.1 is a unified notification center. Microsoft calls this Action Center and you access it by pulling from the top of the screen. There you can access quick toggles as well as various app notifications. You can swipe individual notifications off the screen or you can click the dedicated clean all key to remove them all at once. You may not notice it at first (we didin't), but there is also a battery percentage indication just below the battery icon in the Action Center. Yes, finally!

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The Action Center

The four or five toggles (depending on the handset) are fully customizable, though there aren't as many shortcuts you can assign as on Android. The available options include Airplane mode, Bluetooth, brightness, camera, internet sharing, location, project my screen, quiet hours, rotation lock, VPN, Wi-Fi. A double tap on the Wi-Fi button will get you to the Wi-Fi settings menu, while a double-tap on the Bluetooth - won't. That's rather confusing in its inconsistency and we hope Microsoft sorts this out before the update is released to the masses.

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Customizing the notifications • choosing a quick action button

Just like on iOS, here you can customize the notifications - you can choose whether banners, sounds and vibration are available for each notification type.

The multi-tasking has also been improved. Microsoft chose Apple's way of handling apps running in background - most of the apps are suspended upon hitting the Win key and will be resumed once you bring them back. There are others, of course, such as Navigation, Cortana and Battery apps, which will continue to run in background unless you specifically kill them.

Nokia Lumia 630 Nokia Lumia 630 

There are a few other improvements you get with the Windows Phone 8.1 and you'll see for the first time in Lumia 630. Quiet Hours mode is pretty much the same as Apple's DND mode - it can be set to activate automatically over pre-defined time interval, plus it can also go on automatically during events you have marked in your calendar. Just like its competing services, Quiet Hours supports the so-called Inner Circle - the notifications from your Inner Circle will always break through the firewall. There is also an option to allow calls from people who call you more than two times in less than three minutes.

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Quiet Hours

The synchronization options have been upgraded as well. You can now sync your settings (theme, app settings and data, Internet Explorer tabs and passwords) and push them across all other devices. The service isn't as powerful as on Windows or iOS, but it does most of the important stuff and is another step in the right direction.

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Sync settings

Windows Phone 8.1 still doesn't offer a full-featured and system-wide file manager. Various apps such as Gallery, OneDrive, Music, and Office pack such functions, but they work only within their dedicated folder. There are some apps (with limitations) that give you the functionality of a full-blown file manager, but you need to read how they work first and then decide whether they are worth your money or not. You can still have (non-rooted) access to the mass storage memory on both the internal storage and the memory card via a PC connection.

Finally, the well-known Kid's mode is here too. It allows you to setup a secondary virtual environment (accessible from the lockscreen) just for your kids, control the content they have access to, thus not risking loosing valuable data or allowing them to call who-knows-who from your phonebook.

Windows Phone, just like iOS and Android, offers Find My Phone option. If you lose your phone, you can log into with your Microsoft ID and try to locate your phone from there. Ring, lock and wipe options are available as well.

Overall, it's amazing how smoothly Windows Phone 8.1 runs on such modest hardware. Microsoft has put great efforts to optimize the OS and the end results is nothing short of amazing user experience. There is no lagging at all and the loading times are quite good for a device of such class and price tag.




28-May 2014

* HTC M8 Ace Vogue's specs, pricing, launch date and press render revealed

“The HTC M8 Ace Vogue will be an affordable variant of the (M8), toting a plastic body”

The Chinese website ifanr has reported that the HTC M8 Ace Vogue will be released on June 3rd in China. The publication has also revealed specs and a press render of the upcoming smartphone as well. The HTC M8 Ace Vogue is allegedly a local variant of the HTC M8 Ace for China. In addition, the report also revealed that it will be priced at $480, roughly Rs 28,300, which is in line with the previous reports.

HTC M8 Ace press render

According to the report, the HTC M8 Ace  will be featuring a 5-inch full HD Super LCD 3 display and BoomSound stereo speakers at the front. The phone will be powered by a 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, paired with 2GB of RAM and a 2,500mAh battery. It will have 16/32GB of internal storage, which will be further expandable up to 128GB using microSD cards. It will offer a 13MP rear shooter with BSI sensor and a 5MP front camera for video calls. The phone will run Android 4.4 KitKat with HTC Sense 6.0 UI.

The HTC M8 Ace is reportedly made out of polycarbonate, as against the full-metal design of the One M8. The Taiwanese manufacturer is reportedly planning to compete against the Samsung Galaxy S5 with the plastic variant of the One (M8).


LG L80 dual-SIM’s official price in India pegged at Rs 17,500

“The LG L80 Dual offers a 5-inch True IPS display and runs Android 4.4 KitKat right out of the box”

LG is all set to introduce its latest dual-SIM smartphone in the Indian market. The company has listed the LG L80 Dual on its official website in the country for Rs 17,500. The handset is expected to go on sale in the coming weeks. The LG L80 was originally introduced in Brazil this year under the L Series of devices. The phone comes in black and white colour variants, and boasts the Knock Code feature as well.

LG L80

To remind you, the LG L80  flaunts a 5-inch WVGA True IPS display and runs Android 4.4 KitKat right out of the box. The processor ticking under the hood is a 1.2GHz dual-core CPU, further supported by an Adreno 302 GPU and 1GB of RAM. Its shooting prowess is made up by a 5MP rear shooter with a CMOS sensor, accompanied by an LED flash and a VGA snapper on the front. The handset offers 4GB of internal storage, which you can expand further up to 32 GB using a microSD card. The connectivity features of the dual-SIM phone include 3G HSPA+, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS. It sips juiced from a 2,540mAh battery.

The pricing of the LG L80 Dual seems to be on the higher side, considering that the likes of the  Moto E offer a similar set of core specs (with the exception of the screen size, the presence of a front camera and battery capacity) and are priced much lower. 

LG will be releasing its latest flagship smartphone, the   G3 in a few hours from now, so stay tuned for more updates.



26-May 2014

* More specs of Samsung Galaxy S5 Active leaked along with a press render

“The Samsung Galaxy S5 Active will be able to survive upto 60 minutes under five feet deep water”

Recently, the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active variant was spotted in some hands on videos and now we have a press render of the phone along with more details about its specifications. The popular gadget tipster @evleaks has released a press render of the phone, which appears to be in some sport of a case. Reports indicate that the Galaxy S5 Active is build with a metal frame coated with rubber to help the phone to survive from accidental drops. The press render also reveals that it will support “Ok Google” voice commands directly from the home-screen.

Galaxy S5 Active press render

Another source, TK Tech News , who has a unit of the Galaxy S5 Active revealed that the phone is IP68 certified, which makes it more water resistant than the regular Galaxy S5. IP68 certification means the phone will be able to survive under the water for 60 minutes at the depth of five feet, while the Galaxy S5 can only survive upto 30 minutes under 3.2 feet deep water.

As far as we know, the Galaxy S5 will either have a 5.1- or 5.2-inch Super AMOLED display, 2.46GHz Snapdragon 801 processor, 2GB of RAM and 16MP camera.  It will be running Android 4.4.2 KitKat along with Samsung TouchWiz UI. You will be getting 16GB of internal storage with microSD card slot to expand it further. 


* Samsung Galaxy S4 Value Edition running Android 4.4 KitKat launched

“The Samsung Galaxy S4 Value Edition is identical to the regular variant, but runs the latest Android version out of the box”

The Korean tech giant Samsung has introduced a value edition of its last year’s flagship smartphone. The Samsung Galaxy S4 Value Edition is available to buy in Europe at the moment without any word on global availability. The Galaxy S4 Value Edition is almost identical to the regular variant, but it offers the latest version of Android. The vendor has priced the unlocked edition of the phone at $542, surprisingly higher than the regular one.

Galaxy S4 Value Edition

The Galaxy S4 Value Edition has the same 5-inch full HD display and is powered by 1.9GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor, present in the European version of its predecessor. It has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of expandable storage. Camera features include a 13MP rear and a 2MP front shooter. It runs Android 4.4 KitKat, while the regular Galaxy S4 was introduced with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

Considering the fact that the Samsung Galaxy S4 regular version has already got the Android 4.4 KitKat update, we wonder how this Value Edition fits into its portfolio.







24-May 2014

Samsung launch Samsung Galaxy Note 4 on 3rd September 2014

“An invitation for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Unpacked event will be sent in August, followed by a launch in September.”

After the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S5, rumours regarding the Galaxy Note 4 started emerging on the web. Recently,  a report suggested that the Galaxy Note 4 would feature a 5.7-inch quad-HD display, following an early hint  about the possible design of the Note 4, spotted in a patent filing. Now, according to new information obtained by the  folks over at Android Geeks, we have a possible launch date for the  next Note phablet.


Galaxy Note 3

The publication reports that the Galaxy Note 4 will be released on September 3rd. It claims to have obtained this information from a Samsung insider. The Korean tech giant will be sending out invitations for an Unpacked event sometime in August.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4  will reportedly be powered by 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor, paired with 3GB of RAM. It is rumoured to offer the same 16MP ISOCELL camera present in the Galaxy S5, with added optical image stabilization  (OIS) technology. It will feature the usual S-Pen stylus with upgraded gestures and Air Commandcontrols.

Earlier Galaxy Note devices were also launched in September. This is around the same time that Apple introduces its new iPhones. This year, we've heard plenty of reports about a 5.5-inch iPhone. If this is true, Samsung will be in for some stiff competition from the first iPhone to fall into phablet category. 

* Samsung Galaxy S5 Active features a programmable Active Key, OIS Camera and barometer

“The Samsung Galaxy S5 Active will be reportedly slightly thinner than the regular Galaxy S5.”

Recently, the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active was unofficially confirmed by a few videos. The same source, TK Tech News, has now disclosed some unique features of the phone. The latest video reveals a new hardware key next to the  volume rocker, called the Active Key. The phone also has a barometer, compass and OIS camera.


Galaxy S5 Active Key

According to the source, a short press on the Active Key opens the Activity Zone app, while a long press launches the camera. The key functions as a shutter button when the camera app is open. The Active key can be configured to open other applications as well. The Activity Zone app has several features like a barometer, compass, flashlight and a stopwatch. One of its main functions is to capture underwater photos, since the S5's touch screen can't be used for this.  

The Galaxy S5 Active features a 5.2 inch displays, a slightly larger than the Galaxy S5’s.1-inch screen. The Galaxy S5 Active appears to be thinner than the regular Galaxy S5 too. 




23-May 2014

Lenovo is going to launch its first window phone 8.1 smartphone & wearble

“Lenovo’s first Windows Phone 8.1 smartphone will see the light of the day in late 2014”

Rumours about Lenovo’s entry into the Windows Phone segment emerged in March this year. Now, the President of Lenovo's Mobile Division, Lui Jun, has just confirmed them, saying that the company is set to launch a smartphone running windows  Phone 8.1by the  end of the year. In addition, he also promised to introduce Lenovo’s first wearable, most likely a smartwatch.


Lenovo Logo

Microsoft announced Lenovo as a Windows Phone hardware partner at Mobile world congress. Rumours indicated that Lenovo could unveil its first Windows Phone device in April, but the company stayed mum. The Lenovo Phones  is expected to offer mid-range specifications, with a display between 4.5 - 5 inches in size and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor. It will possibly be a dual-SIM smartphone without support for LTE.

Windows Phone aside, Lenovo also wants to foray into the world of wearables, since most of its rival brands has either released or announced their first wearables. However, no other details about the Lenovo wearable device were revealed.



Samsung Galaxy S5 brings exclusive feature like Kids Mode and Knox 2.0 to the Galaxy S4 


“Samsung brings Galaxy S5-exclusive features including Kids Mode and Knox 2.0 to the Galaxy S4”

Samsung has released a new firmware update for its Galaxy S4  smartphone. This update carries the build number XXUGNES and is about 130MB in size. It brings two main features to the phone, including Kids Mode and Knox 2.0, both of which were previously exclusive to the Samsung Galaxy S5. The update is rolling out over the air in Germany for the moment, and is expected to reach other regions in the coming days.


Samsung Kids Mode store

The Kids Mode offers a child-friendly user interface  and allows parents to whitelist applications to be used by their young ones. It also comes with a dedicated store called kids store, which offers educational apps and games. The Knox 2.0 software is an enterprise security solution from the company, which adds an extra security layer to devices. Unlike the previous iteration, it  doesn't need to run apps in a separate environment, but still keeps the system and kernel safe from malicious code. The update comes with a few other changes as well including stability improvements, better power management and more.

Samsung Knox Mode

In related news, Samsung has announced a video-on-demand service called Project Glued. The video-on-demand app will allow users to rent an entire season of TV shows from the US and UK. It will cost $6.50 per season for 30 days with the first episode free as a trial. The service is meant for users in Asian markets, with Singapore and Philippines as the initial launch countries.



Lakme had launched its absolute drama stylist range consisting of eye shadow duos and eye shadow crayon sometime back, now its the turn of  Lakme Absolute Face Stylist range consisting of foundation, concealer, compact and blush duos. For more products and specs click @


Lakme had launched its absolute drama stylist range consisting of eye shadow duos and eye shadow crayon sometime back, now its the turn of  Lakme Absolute Face Stylist range consisting of foundation, concealer, compact and blush duos. Now look your gorgeous best as you step out this festive season with absolutely flawless face makeup. The new, break through and innovative combination of ingredients in each product promises professional results with every application.

The Lakme Absolute Face Stylist Foundation - Gel cream textured foundation that blend perfectly to give an even and weightless skin like coverage.It spreads evenly and when applied gives a flawless base for your make up.It comes in 6 different shades ideal for Indian skin: Ivory Fair, Rose Fair, Golden Medium, Golden Light, Beige Honey, Almond



The Lakme Absolute Face Stylist Concealer -Ensures clever and unrecognizable coverage of every blemish, including uneven skin and under-eye dark circles. The superior blendability and weightless finish of this liquid concealer makes it a must have in your base make-up kit. It comes in three shades: Fair, Medium, Honey



Lakme Absolute Face Stylist Compact - Protective, weightless and skin smoothing finish with the highest skin affinity.The neat compressed packaging works as a perfect addition to your purse when you need to renew your ‘second skin’ just before an evening out. The Lakme Absolute Face Stylist Compact complements the Foundation and comes in matching shades of Ivory Fair, Rose Fair, Golden Medium, Golden Light, Beige Honey, Almond Honey




Lakme Absolute Face Stylist Blush duos - This luminous and silky formula gives a natural looking radiance to your skin.It blends in easily to give you a perfect luminous finish. This blush duo is available in 4 shades -Coral Blush, Pink Blush,Peach Blush and Rose Blush.






22-May 2014


* iPhone 5C 8GB will be available in India very soon

“The Apple iPhone 5C 8GB variant is expected to be priced around Rs 30,000 with a buy-back scheme”

It looks like Apple has started importing shipments of the iphone 5c 8GB  to India. BGR Indiareceived shipping data from import exort data base Zauba confirming this. 

Apple iPhone 5C shipment India

The iPhone 5C 8GB will be Apple's most affordable LTE-enabled smartphone in India. It will strengthen Apple’s foothold in the sub-Rs 40,000 price segment. The 16GB model of the Apple iphone 5C currently retails for around Rs 34,400 with a buy-back offer.

There is no official word on the pricing at the moment, but with the buyback offer we could see a sub-Rs 30,000 price tag.


* Oppo N1 Mini's with specification & pictures

“The Oppo N1 Mini will feature a 5-inch HD display and a swivel 13MP camera”

It looks like the rumours about the mini version of the Oppo N1 were true after all. A handful of images of the Oppo N1 Mini and its specs have popped up online. The smartphone has also been approved by FCC authority as well. From the pictures, it looks like the Oppo N1 Mini will look identical to its premium sibling, but for the smaller display and downgraded specs.

Oppo N1 Mini front

The Oppo N1 Mini sports a 5-inch LCD display with a resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels, smaller than the 5.9-inch full HD screen of the N1. However, the mini version features the same 13MP camera unit present on the Oppo N1, which can be used as a front and rear camera since it rotates upto 180 degrees. Battery capacity seems to be downgraded to 2,140mAh, from the 3,610mAh unit powering the Oppo N1.

Oppo N1 Mini back

According to FCC, the phone will have support for 4G LTE, GSM, and Edge networks. It seems that just like the Oppo N1, its mini variant is also being manufactured for the global Markets. Unfortunately, no other specifications have been revealed by the FCC listing, but all signs point toward a smaller edition of the Oppo N1 being in the pipeline.

Oppo N1 Mini FCC

Oppo is also repeatedly working on a new flagship smartphone, the N2., but at this point of time, we know very less about the phone.  






21-May 2014

*Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 Wi-Fi variant getting the Android KitKat update

“After the 3G variant, it's the turn of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 Wi-Fi only tablet to get the KitKat update”

Samsung recently rolled out the Android 4.4 KitKat update to the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet’s 3G variant, and now the same update is seeding to the Wi-Fi only edition of the Galaxy Note 8.0. The update is currently seeding in the United Kingdom, but will be available soon to others as well. As usual, the update is rolling out over the air as well as via the Samsung KIESPC application.

Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet

This update brings KitKat-specific features as well as many other goodies. It offers white status bar icons and full-screen album art support on the lockscreen of the device. It also includes with wireless printing support, improved battery life as well as performance enhancements too. A full official change-log of the update is still awaited from Samsung.


Don’t forget to go to the Settings > About > Software Updates option of your Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet, if the automatic update notification hasn’t showed up yet. If you still don't find an option to update, you'll just need to wait it out till it becomes available.


* Samsung SM-G9098 premium dual-screen Android flip phone goes official

“The Samsung SM-G9098 is an Android powered flip phone with 2.3GHz quad-core processor and 13MP rear camera”

Samsung has introduced yet another Android-powered flip phone in China. The Samsung SM-G9098 has been listed on the company’s website without any word on the price and availability. It is a dual-screen flip smartphone with high-end specifications. Like some Note series smartphones, it also sports a faux-leather finish on the back panel. 

The Samsung SM-G9098 features two 3.7-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen displays on the inside, and one on the outside of the top half. It is powered by a 2.3GHz quad-core processor of unknown make, paired with 2GB of RAM. It runs an unspecified version of Android. Camera features on board include a 13MP rear shooter with LED flash, and a 2MP front facing camera for video calls. There is no word on the internal storage at the moment, but the listing does state a microSD card slot is present, which supports cards up to 64GB. The dual-SIM smartphone comes with a regular set of connectivity features like 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, microUSB and GPS. It is fuelled by a 1,900mAh battery.

Samsung currently sells the Galaxy Golden Android flip phone in India. It received a price cut a few days ago and is now available for Rs 29,999. The SM-G9098 is also expected to launch in the country.


Lenovo confirms Android KitKat update for Vibe X and Vibe Z; price cut on Vibe X

“The Lenovo Vibe series smartphones are getting the sweet Android KitKat treatment”

Lenovo India has confirmed it is rolling out an Android 4.4.2 KitKat update for its Vibe series of smartphones including the Vibe X and Vibe Z.  In addition, the company has also announced a price cut on the Lenovo Vibe X. The phone was originally launched in December last year for Rs 25,999, and will now be available for Rs 22,900. The Vibe X offers a 5-inch full HD display, 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 2GB RAM and 16GB of internal storage .


With the Android 4.4.2 KitKat update, the Lenovo Vibe X will be getting better app compatibility with security enhancements and bug fixes. The user interface will be refreshed with fewer icons and a new incoming call interface. Camera features will be improved with more efficient auto focus and white balance. The update will boost the Lenovo Power Manager for better battery life too.

The Lenovo Vibe Z will be getting better 4K video playback. The update will also boost CPU performance for enhanced UI transitions. It will be easier to add widgets to the home screen after the update. The Multi-window mode to use multiple apps at the same time will also be improved. The Vibe Z will also get better notification access, cloud-printing support, a new theme center and auto profile changer.

The update will be rolled out in phases by the last week of May.


20-May 2014

Nokia X+ officially launched in India for Rs 8,399

“The Nokia X+ is an affordable Android smartphone for budget buyers”

The Nokia X+ Android smartphone has been launched in India for Rs 8,399. It's a slightly upgraded version of the recently-launched Nokia X In addition, the vendor has also officially announced the availability of the Nokia XL, which recently went on sale in the country. The Nokia X-series is the first range of Android-powered smartphones from Nokia (now a part of Microsoft), released at MWC this year.


Just in case you need a reminder about its specs, the Nokia X+ comes with a 4-inch LCD capacitive display with a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels. The Nokia XL, on the other hand, features a 5- inch display with the same resolution. The pair are powered by a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor, paired with 768MB of RAM. In fact, the only difference between the X and the X+ is the RAM, which in the former's case is 512MB. There is 4GB of internal storage, further expandable up to 32GB via microSD cards. The X+ sports a 3MP rear shooter, but lacks a front camera for video calls. Thankfully, the XL offers a 5MP rear and a 2MP front shooter. Connectivity features include dual-SIM, 3G, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The X+ is fuelled by a 1,500mAh battery, while the larger XL hides a 2,000mAh pack. They run a heavily modified version of Android OS, called the Nokia X Platform. 

The Nokia X+ will be available to buy soon, while the XL is available on the company's official e-store. In addition, Microsoft is also reportedly working on the next-generation of X-series smartphones, which will come with a dedicated home screen button, missing in the current gen devices.  


* A look at the Motion Launch gestures on the HTC One (M8)


"Here's a gander at the Motion Launch gestures offered by the HTC One (M8)"

If only looks could kill, the HTC One M8 would be playing Fruit Ninja using its rivals as fruit. Drop-dead gorgeous looks aside, HTC's flagship doesn't rock as many features as say, the Samsung Galaxy S5 and isn't waterproof too. However, that doesn't mean the M8 hasn't got a few tricks up its (metal) sleeve. Motion Launch is one of its features that isn't much talked about, but is still quite innovative and handy. Without getting too much into the details, let's just dive straight into a demo video and look at the various gestures supported by the smartphone... and how they work. 


19-May 2014

* Alleged first images of Samsung Galaxy S5 Prime leaked

“The Samsung Galaxy S5 Prime will feature a metal rim around the body”

The Prime variant of the Samsung Galaxy S5  has been doing the rounds on the web ever since the launch of the regular variant. We saw various reports about the specifications of the phone earlier, and now we have the alleged first images of the Samsung Galaxy S5 Prime. These images show a phone that looks a Galaxy S5 variant.

The images indicate that the Galaxy S5 Prime will have a metallic rim around the phone. It appears to have a perforated back panel, similar to the Galaxy S5. The bezel around the display is slimmer compared to the regular variant. The speaker of the phone has also been moved to the bottom, instead of the back.

Reports suggest that the Samsung Galaxy S5 Prime will feature a 5.2-inch QHD display, similar to the upcoming LG G3 flagship. It will be powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor and Adreno 420 GPU, compared to the Snapdragon 801 and Adreno 330 GPU on the regular variant. Instead of 2GB of RAM, the phone will be offered with a 3GB unit. Android 4.4.3 KitKat could be pre-installed on the phone.

The Galaxy S5 Prime is expected to go official sometime around June this year.

*Android powered Nokia XL goes on sale for Rs.11,489

“The Nokia XL has been launched in India with an introductory free apps download offer”

Nokia’s biggest smartphone in its X series of Android-based devices, the Nokia XL, is now officially available to buy in India. Nokia has started selling the phone on its e-store for Rs 11,489 with a delivery estimate of four working days. Recently, the independent retailer Mahesh Telecom at the pricing of the phone.

To remind you, the Nokia XL  features a 5-inch capacitive display with a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels. The phone runs a forked version of Android and is powered by a 1GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, paired with 768MB of RAM. There is 4GB of internal Storage, further expandable up to 32GB via a microSD card. Camera features include a 5MP rear shooter with LED flash and 2MP front camera.

Connectivity wise, it offers dual-SIM (GSM+GSM), 3G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and microUSB 2.0. The power consumption on board is handled by a 2,000mAh battery, which will reportedly offer 16 hours of talktime on 2G and 13 hours on 3G.

Nokia is also letting buyers download 500MB of free apps per month for six months from the Nokia Store. The offer expires on 31st July 2014. However, this offer is only available for Airtel users. 



Oppo 7a features and comparision

Introduction :-

Oppo has been intoducing innovative technics with every new model lunched in the mobile space and actually over-delivering in terms of user experience and features.

Oppo recently released Find 7a - which is impressive enough on paper, even though clearly the lesser package. It still packs quite the processing punch, a huge IPS display, feature-rich and quite capable camera, a wealth of connectivity options and a custom-made Android UI. Here goes the full cheat sheet.


Key features :-

·         Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support; penta-band 3G with HSPA, quad-band LTE

·         5.5" 16M-color 1080p IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen with 401ppi

·         Android OS v4.3 Jelly Bean with Color OS

·         Quad-core 2.3GHz Krait 400 CPU, 2GB RAM, Adreno 330 GPU; Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset

·         13MP autofocus camera, dual-LED flash; HDR, RAW, Panorama, long exposure (up to 32 seconds), Super Zoom mode producing 50MP high-quality samples

·         2160p video recording@30fps, 1080p@30fps, 1080p HDR, 720p@120fps

·         Dual-band Wi-Fi ac/a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct and DLNA; Wireless TV-out (Miracast)

·         GPS with A-GPS

·         16GB of built-in storage

·         microSD card slot

·         microUSB 2.0 port, USB on the go support

·         Bluetooth v4.0

·         NFC

·         Standard 3.5 mm audio jack

·         2800mAh battery with fast charging

·         Accelerometer and proximity sensor

·         Active noise cancellation with a dedicated mic

·         Cool notification light

Main disadvantages :-

·         No KitKat at launch

·         No FM radio

·         Quite dim capacitive key backlight

·         HDR videos are not as nice as the regular ones


Display Quality :-

Easily one of the key selling features of the device, the 5.5" screen of the Oppo Find 7a has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, resulting in around 401ppi. Hardly a surprise for an IPS unit, the side viewing angles are excellent - it's a high-quality screen, no doubt about that. The screen's digitizer is super-sensitive and the phone can be used with gloves (if you turn that on in the settings menu).

The pixel arrangement is standard RGB with an equal amount of green, red and blue pixels in a line. Below you can see it magnified using our trusty microscope. 

The contrast of the screen is pretty good, color reproduction is great too, all adding up to an excellent image quality screen.




50% brightness

100% brightness

Black, cd/m2

White, cd/m2

Contrast ratio

Black, cd/m2

White, cd/m2

Contrast ratio

Oppo Find 7a







Oppo N1







Samsung Galaxy S5





Samsung Galaxy S4





HTC One (M8)














HTC Butterfly S







Oppo Find 5







Apple iPhone 5








Unfortunately, the sunlight legibility is rather mediocre. Oppo has shipped the Find 7a with a factory equipped screen protector. It is quite the finger-print magnet though, very hard to clean and reduces the sunlight legibility as it’s quite reflective. We didn't try to remove it on our review unit, but we would have without a doubt done so if it was a personally purchased device. The Gorilla Glass 3 layer on top should be enough to keep the screen in top shape even without a screen protector film.

Color OS atop Android Jelly Bean :-

Oppo Find 7a runs on Oppo's proprietary Color OS v1.2, which is another name for a heavily skinned Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. The Oppo's launcher customizations run very deep, they keep all Google apps and services, and even bring quite a few of its own - themes support, new lockscreen, homescreen, app drawer and settings menu among others.

If you are not into custom UIs, there is a preinstalled theme called Jelly Bean, which would replicate the stock Android Jelly Bean UI for you as close as possible.


First off, let's cover the Color OS lockscreen. It's almost identical to the stock Android one. There's an unlock ring, which you slide to get to the homescreen. You can have widgets on the lockscreen, which are located to the left of the main window, while on the right there's a camera shortcut.

The screen supports double tap to wake gesture and it also works on the Home key. By the way the lockscreen has a hidden flashlight shortcut - a press and hold of the Home button (the screen needs to be awake) turns on the dual-LED flash. It goes out when you let go of the Home button.




Synthetic benchmarks and performance :-


The Oppo Find 7a is based on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset model MSM8974AB, while the QHD-boasting Find 7 is powered by the Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC.

The MSM8974 chipset is the base Snapdragon 800 chipset, while MSM8974AB has a higher clocked GPU (up to 578MHz from the base 450MHz) and hence has deserved the Snapdragon 801 badge.

The MSM8974AC goes a step further and has a higher clock for the Krait 400 CPU cores as well – they reach up to 2.5GHz from the stock 2.3GHz.

So, the Find 7a has Snapdragon 801 chipset inside with four Krait 400 cores clocked at 2.3GHz, an Adreno 330 GPU @578MHz and 2GB of RAM.

Our first test - BenchmarkPi - tests the single CPU core performance and the Krait 400 scored on par with other Snapdragon 800-powered devices.


13 MP camera can shoot 50MP stills


The Oppo Find 7a looks to be one of the phone's key selling points. It's obvious that a lot of hard labor has went into making a great cameraphone.

The camera is based around a Sony Exmor IMX214 BSI 1/3.06" CMOS sensor of 13MP resolution. The lens has a bright, F/2.0 aperture. The camera is capable of producing 50MP interpolated shots, RAW images, HDRs and Panoramas.

Oppo Find 7a is quite in tune with the world's fixation on the selfie genre and comes equipped with a 5MP front snapper, which takes some nice photos as well.

Beside the regular flash mode, the LED flash on the back of the phone can work in a fill light mode, producing a naturally looking image without any color shift and without strong shadows.

The camera interface has two control sidebars in the viewfinder, the right one holding the still and video buttons and gallery shortcut, while the left one is for settings, flash and front 5MP camera switch. The standard way of accessing recently snapped photos - a left swipe - is available here too and you can swipe up to delete photos straight from the image viewer.

On the screen there's a little three dot toggle, which will guide you through the different shooting modes - Beauty, Panorama, HDR, Ultra HD Picture, RAW, GIF, Audio Photo, Slow Shutter and Normal. Our unit's RAW mode produced JPG pictures identical to those from the Normal shooting mode - obviously this isn't working at this pre-release stage so we can't comment on those.








The Slow Shutter mode allows for longer than usual exposures - from 1 up to 32 seconds actually (the Lumia 1020 can only shoot reach a shutter speed of up to 4 seconds).

Beauty mode will snap a photo of a person, preferably in portrait mode. The mode removes imperfections like skin lines, facial hair, etc. Then the app gives you various makeup options. It detects eyes and mouth but you can fine tune them if the app gets them wrong. It's more of a fun app than a practical enhancement.

Ultra HD Picture is a very interesting feature advertised as Super Zoom. It snaps ten (probably 13MP) photos in a flash and then post-process them to create a single 50MP sample, giving you plenty of room for zoom in and cropping a part of the image. 


06-May 2014

* Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo getting Pink and Red hues

An updated Samsung catalog for South Korea has revealed two new color choices for the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo. The phablet will soon hit its home market in pink and red flavors, but there's no further information on when exactly that will happen.

It also highly probable for the new hues to be part of an upcoming Galaxy Note 3 Neo La Fleur line-up. Sadly, we don't know if the new color choices will make it outside South Korea, but history has proved they'll eventually launch internationally, too.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo launched in the last day of January this year. It packs a 5.5" 720p Super AMOLED display, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of built-in memory. It's powered by a hexa-core chipset, which consists of two 1.7GHz Cortex-A15 cores and four 1.3GHz Cortex A7 cores, while the HSPA+ features a 1.6GHz quad-core Cortex-A7 CPU.


Thinking of getting the phone? Head over for our extensive Galaxy Note 3 Neo review for more information.

* Nokia HERE apps for Android and iOS

There's strong evidence to believe that Nokia plans on releasing their collection of HERE apps for Android and iOS.

The Finnish company released two job postings that call for mobile software engineers who have experience in iOS and Android application development. Check out the postings below:

“As an Android / iOS developer you will be a key member of our growing mobile engineering team, developing industry-leading mobile SDKs / applications. This is an experienced position that requires fluency in the latest Java capabilities and improvements in the Android and iOS  SDK. The ideal candidate is motivated to explore and deliver the best possible solutions to our customers

The ideal candidate will have experience shipping one or more Android / iOS apps, currently on Google Play / Apple Store. You should have a strong passion for technology as evidenced by your personal projects that demonstrate your aptitude for superior engineering and strong customer-centric product sense. You should enjoy working outside the comfort zone and love to learn new technologies. The position will be based in Berlin / Frankfurt and will report to the Tem Lead Development team Mobile SKDs for Business, HERE Platform for Business.”

There's also a second job posting that calls for a specific Android mobile developer:

“We are now looking for a Mobile App Developer (Android) to join our team.

In this role, you will be responsible for:

•Working directly with developers, product management and UX Design to conceptualize, build, test and deliver mobile products

•Deliver across the entire app life cycle –concept, design, build, deploy, test, release to app stores and support

•Build prototypes at tech scoping stage of projects

•Working along the web developers to create and maintain a robust framework to support the apps

•Working with the front end developers to build the interface with focus on usability features

•Keep up to date on the latest industry trends in the mobile technologies


•Explain technologies and solutions to technical and non-technical stakeholders”



02-May 2014

* iPhone 6 Sapphire begins shipping to China

It's not exactly a secret that the iPhone 6's display is going to be coated in Sapphire for extra anti-scratch resistance. Well now UBS Research's first quarter preview on GT Advanced Technologies, which is the company that's been contracted by Apple to create all of the sapphire coatings for the iPhone 6, shows that they've begun shipping Sapphire coated screens to China.

Analyst Matt Margolis believes that “approximately 100,000 to 115,000 sapphire screens could be produced from 2,200 kg of sapphire ingots”. GT will be selling each sapphire screen for $8.50-$10 a unit. This makes GT's prices significantly cheaper 25% to be exact) than Apple's previous sapphire supplier.

Overall, GT is estimated to score anywhere from $600m-$800m, with about 80% of their sales coming from Apple alone.


GT Advanced has enough equipment to produce 100 million iPhone displays a year, if they should desire to make that many. Seeing as the next generation iPhone is going to have a purportedly 5” screen, it might be a big enough change that'll make the iPhone fly off the shelves in a frenzy like never before.

* Nokia XL first impressions: bigger, better and faster

Despite the average hardware, Nokia XL offers definite improvements in performance over the X”

Nokia X, the not-so Android smartphone from Nokia managed to create quite a buzz in the Indian market owing to its sturdy build and affordable price. Add a host of Nokia apps and you have a compelling budget Android smartphone offering a ton of features. Even though it has its shortcomings such as non-availability of the Play store and Google services, the device has been able to generate a fair bit of interest among consumers.

Building upon that, the brand which just became part of Microsoft showcased the biggest member of the Nokia X family, the Nokia XL in Delhi today. We got a chance to go hands on with the device. While the price of the device has not yet been disclosed by Nokia, going by what the company said during the unveiling of the Nokia X range of devices at Mobile Word Congress, we strongly believe that it could be priced cheaper than the Nokia Lumia 525, which costs roughly Rs 10,000 in India.

Built upon signature Nokia quality, the Nokia XL is constructed using high-density polycarbonate plastic that adds strength to the device. Due to the budget nature of the product, it seems Nokia had to cut a few corners. For instance, the Nokia XL uses an LCD display which has its affect both in terms of increasing the thickness as well as the weight of the device. The smartphone weighs close to 190 grams, making it one of the heavier Android smartphones available in the market today.

However, sticking to typical Nokia style, the XL will be available in a variety of hues including orange and green apart from conventional black and white. Unlike the bright shades the Nokia X comes in, the colours of the XL look more pleasing to the eye. The device features a design quite similar to the Nokia X, only bigger due to its 5-inch display, which is also its USP.

The hardware department comprises of a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Play processor clocked at 1GHz, which is supported by 768MB of RAM and 4GB onboard storage. The internal storage can be expanded up to 32GB with the use of a microSD card. This hardware combination gives the XL reasonable power and performance muscle, and hence the device feels faster as compared to its younger sibling. Prying open the rear cover will reveal a 2,000mAh battery along with a pair of micro-SIM slots and a microSD card slot.

The software is the same as the Nokia X with a custom tile-based user interface based upon Android 4.1 AOSP, along with Nokia’s signature FastLane interface allowing users to quickly access apps and notifications with just a flick of the screen.

Camera quality is one thing where Nokia has gone full throttle with the Nokia XL by offering a 5-megapixel autofocus camera at the back and a 2-megapixel fixed focus camera at the front for video calling. In terms of the quality, both cameras produces decent images, though we would reserve our judgment for the full review in the coming days.

Despite the fact that the Nokia XL is the top product in the Nokia X range, it still belongs to budget smartphone category and for the expected price, Nokia has done a good job by offering a big-screen Android smartphone loaded with Nokia’s signature apps such as HERE Maps and MixRadio along with Microsoft’s services like OneDrive and Outlook.

We should have more on the Nokia XL, including its official pricing closer to the launch date, followed thereafter by an in-depth analysis of its capabilities and performance.


01-May 2014

* Samsung Galaxy S5 Google Play Edition leaked by Google

Having Google Play Editions of all popular flagships has become somewhat of a tradition. Now that the Samsung Galaxy S5 has been around for a while many fans are wondering if it will also get the GPE treatment.

Apparently, Samsung and Google are working on such edition and Google has just spilled the beans. The device popped up briefly on the Play Store among the others GPE devices.

Well, it didn't appear in its own listing, but under the Galaxy S4 name. Still, the image clearly shows the S5. A photoshopped S5 as it has both hardware and software keys at the bottom, which is not the case. But hey, it is the Galaxy S5 after all, it is on the Play Store, and someone at Google made those efforts to put it there, so this should mean something, right?


Now that the Samsung Galaxy S5 GPE images have appeared on Google Play, we bet the announcement should be around the corner.

* Another alleged Apple iPhone 6 dummy unit makes the rounds

Yet another alleged Apple iPhone 6 dummy unit made the rounds online. The mockup is of much higher quality than the one we saw earlier today, thus potentially giving us a better look of the upcoming smartphone.

The latest dummy unit is tipped to be the creation of a case manufacturer and falls right in line with past leaks. It showcases the power/lock and volume buttons on the side of the handset, as well as its already leaked, slightly protruding camera unit with LED flash.

There is no word on the screen size of the handset in the photo. Judging by its proportions however, we reckon that we are looking at the rumored 4.7” iPhone. A number of reports suggest that Apple will launch a duo of large-screen iPhone devices – one with 4.7” screen and one with 5.5” unit.


We don’t know when the iPhone 6 will go official just yet. The usual September time frame is likely.

* Protect your skin from getting tanned


When you read about protecting your skin from the sun, you may feel that you have heard it all before.

The worst thing is, Ultraviolet rays of the sun are not visible and cannot be felt. The best way to protect your skin is to seek shade when the harmful Ultraviolet rays are at their peak. And if you are heading outdoors, you must wear protective clothing, a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Here are a few simple points you need to keep in mind.

Plan your day well in advance. The best thing you can do for your skin is to avoid the sun from 10.30 am to 3.30 pm.

It is best to wear loose-fitting clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Check the kind of clothes you are wearing — closely woven fabrics that cast a dense shadow when held up to light are perfect to protect you from the harsh glares of the sun.

Protect your eyes. Wear sunglasses that wrap around the sides of the face so that Ultraviolet rays don't reach your eyes.

If your skin burns easily, the best way to protect it is to use sunscreen. A generous application of a broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen would do. Reapply it every two hours.

Always apply sunscreen before stepping out. Prepare a mixture of yogurt and lemon juice and apply it daily on your skin before taking a bath.

Rubbing peeled potato skin over the affected area helps reduce tan.

Applying cucumber on the affected area is also good.

Prepare a paste of sandalwood powder, coconut and almond oil, and apply it on your skin for half an hour.

Applying Aloe Vera gel daily helps protect your skin from tanning.


Papaya is a natural skin-lightening agent. Rub papaya pulp on tanned skin.


30-April 2014

* Google tipped to replace Nexus family with Android Silver lineup

According to a report in The Information, Google plans to stop offering Nexus devices. The search giant will replace the lineup with a new family of high-end devices dubbed Android Silver.

With Android Silver, Google will aim to further expand its influence within the Android ecosystem. Its plan includes offering devices with no third-party bloatware, as well as providing timely OS updates in a fashion similar to Apple’s. The latter involves pushing the update to all devices on the same day.

Reportedly, the smartphones and tablets from the upcoming Android Silver family will adhere closely to guidelines and specifications provided by Google. The tech giant is tipped to subsidize both the development and the marketing costs for its hardware partners. The number which Google is rumored to spend on getting the platform off the ground is rumored to be as much as $1 billion.

Speaking of hardware partners, LG and Motorola are pointed as the most likely candidates to manufacture Android Silver devices. Samsung, HTC and Sony might jump on the bandwagon at a later stage.

As a model range, Android Silver will compete against the Apple iPhone. It will also aim to put a check on Samsung’s expanding influence as the leading manufacturer of Android devices.

29-April 2014

*Samsung announces the Galaxy K zoom camera phone

Samsung has officially announced the Galaxy K zoom camera phone, the successor to the Galaxy S4 zoom launched last year. Like its predecessor, the Galaxy K zoom combines a regular smartphone with the hardware of a point and shoot camera.

On the camera-side, the Galaxy K zoom has a 20.7 megapixel 1/2.3 BSI CMOS sensor and a 10x, 24-240mm F3.1-6.3 zoom lens with optical image stabilization (OIS). The phone has a xenon flash with an LED autofocus assist. On the front is a relatively humble 2 megapixel camera.


On the smartphone side, the Galaxy K zoom has a 4.8-inch, 1280x720 resolution Super AMOLED display, Exynos 5 Hexa SoC with six CPU cores comprising of four 1.3GHz ARM Cortex A7 and two 1.7GHz ARM Cortex A15; along with a Mali-T624 GPU, 2GB RAM, 8GB internal memory with microSD support (up to 64GB), LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, NFC, 2,430mAh battery and Android 4.4 KitKat.

28-April 2014

*Samsung Galaxy S5 Prime rumored for a June release

The Samsung KQ is allegedly the soon-to-be-released upmarket version of the Galaxy S5 and according to Korean newspaper AsiaToday this might happen in the coming months. Citing unnamed industry sources, the media states that we will see Samsung make the phone official in June.

Project KQ, which was previously mentioned as the Galaxy S5 Prime and is set to feature a 5.2" QHD display (2560 x 1440 pixels, 564ppi), just as its domestic rival the LG G3 (you can take a glimpse of it, too). The Galaxy S5 is no slouch, but Samsung might be looking to extend its lead by releasing yet another flagship, while at the same time countering the LG G3. In addition, Samsung wouldn't want to be beaten to the QHD smartphone market by its arch enemy (the Oppo 7 being excluded).

By all means, Samsung would prefer to be ahead of LG in announcing its first QHD smartphone. It certainly did manage to beat it in the flexible display realm, as the LG G Flex was announced almost a month after the Galaxy Round.

In a traditional Samsung fashion, Project KQ is set to launch with a couple of different versions, each sporting a different chipset. The model destined for South Korea is going to pack the company's latest octa-core Exynos 5430 chipset. The new silicon features quad 2.1GHz Cortex-A15 and quad 1.5GHz Cortex-A7 cores in addition to an 600MHz ARM Mali GPU.


As a comparison, the LG G3 is rumored to sport a 5.5" QHD display (534 ppi) and a Snapdragon 801 chipset with a quad-core Krait 400 CPU.

26-April 2014


The phone comes as heir to the Galaxy CoreGalaxy Core Plus and Galaxy Core Advance lineup. It measures 129.7 x 67.9 x 9.8 mm - around the same as the 4.3" Galaxy Core and Core Plus - and weighs in at 138 g. The camera is a 5 MP unit at the back and a front-facing 0.3 MP.

The battery is a 2,000 mAh unit and the device comes with Samsung's TouchWiz atop Android 4.4 KitKat. There's no LTE on board but there is HSPA+ so we should expect download speeds above 21 Mbps.

The Galaxy Core 2 Dual-SIM is expected to hit the shelves in Russia on May 20 with a price of RUR9,990 (around €200 and $277).


25-April 2014


* Thousand words: thanks to the ultra power saving mode, the Galaxy S5 can last a full day with just 10 percent battery

"As you know, a picture is worth a thousand words. Join us, as we try and present a story using just a picture (or two)…"

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is a loaded device as far as features are concerned, and we've already taken a close look at its fingerprint scanner and its integrated heart rate monitor. Yet another nifty feature up its sleeve is an ultra power saving mode that offers extended battery backup in times of need. This mode turns off all the non-essential processes and keeps only the essentials for extending the backup time offered by the device. It turns off wireless radios such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, while cellular data is made available only while the display is on. Switching to this mode turns the display to black and white, which essentially helps the AMOLED display to save energy by not displaying colours. As an innovation for use during emergencies, when most users are struggling with drained-out batteries on their devices by the end of the day, it should surely be quite helpful by keeping them connected with the rest of the world. At about 10 percent battery level, this mode claims to extend the standby time of the device by almost a full day.

*Samsung Galaxy S5 water dunk test

"The Samsung Galaxy S5 takes to water like fish, at least for half an hour"

Once upon a time, a pair of goldfish lived happily together in a glass bowl. One fine day however, their peace was shattered when they encountered an unexpected guest in their humble abode – a Samsung Galaxy S5. Not only was it the latest, greatest offering from Samsung, but it was also playing a Star Trek video... submerged totally in water, and without displaying any signs of dying down. Since we can't spot any goldfish in the images and video below, it'd be safe to assume the loving couple has since found alternate accommodation. 

We'll stop our vivid imagination from getting the better of us now, and get to the serious (yet fun) stuff. The Galaxy S5 rocks a plethora of features, including a fingerprint scanner built into the home button, a heart rate monitor and an Ultra Power Saving Mode. Yet another feather in its cap is the fact that it's IP67-certified, meaning it can withstand submersion in up to 1m of water for a period of up to 30 minutes. Now, being waterproof isn't such a novel feature these days, and Sony brought it into the mainstream with its Xperia Z. Many of Sony's premium smartphones and tablets have followed in the same tradition since. That said, it's such a useful feature if you get stuck in the rain or manage to drop your phone into the drink, that we think all smartphones should have it. 

We decided to put the Samsung Galaxy S5 to a small test, and as you can make out from the video and images below, it passed with flying (albeit wet) colours. Here goes...

23-April 2014



The Problem: Uneven Skin Tone 

While increased sun exposure can cause fair-skinned faces to freckle, darker complexions are also vulnerable: According to dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, women of color are more likely to get uneven pigmentation. "Once that blotchiness sets in, it's really difficult to treat," she says. 

The Solution:  Don't sunbathe. Even a slight tan represents injury to your dermis so keeping up with your sunscreen-slathering duties is a must; a formula with SPF 30 or higher should be reapplied every couple of hours. If the damage has already been done, invest in alpha-hydroxy acid peels. But consider yourself warned: Even though they'll reduce discoloration, peels will increase your skin's photosensitivity—making sun protection even more essential.

The Problem: Embattled Bikini Line 

Whether you opt for a one-piece or two-piece, the area between your legs is going to get exposed—and sometimes the necessary upkeep can have not-so-fun side effects (think ingrown hairs or painful waxing). 

The Solution: Downie recommends shaving with a sharp blade every other day using a calming oatmeal-based gel like Aveeno's; help pesky ingrowns wriggle out with a salicylic acid scrub or topical antibiotic like Evoclin foam. If you prefer waxing but hate the sting, try the BareEase & Cream Prep Kit for wince-free hair removal.

The Problem: Dull Skin 

A bright complexion is naturally linked with summer—but sometimes self-tanner and blush just don't cut it. 

The Solution:  Beautify skin from within. Besides glow-getting ingredients like vitamins A and C, leafy greens are high in natural estrogens that can be beneficial as you age and your own estrogens are in shorter supply. "When estrogens decrease, you can supplement them with plant estrogens," says dermatologist Cheryl Burgess, MD. "Broccoli has a very high content, as do sweet potatoes. They'll both make your skin look pretty nice."

The Problem: Frizzy Hair 

Depending on where you live, summer can mean hotter, more humid air—which can wreak havoc with defenseless, frizz-prone strands.  

The Solution:  When styling, use a ceramic blow-dryer with a diffuser for fast, smooth results and less heat damage. Finish with a product that's specially formulated to repel moisture from the humid air (we like L'Oréal EverSleek Frizz Taming Crème Serum). 

 The Problem: Parched Lips

If you thought dry lips were only a cold-weather issue, think again! Drier climates can still cause puckers to shrivel and time outdoors can lead to burning. 


The Solution:  Skip medicated menthol- or camphor-based balms. The tingle is intoxicating, but these formulas will dry lips over time. Instead, look for salves and glosses with soothing ingredients like shea butter and beeswax. SPF is also a must—especially when wearing high-shine gloss, which tends to attract more UV rays because of its reflective shimmer; Avon's new SPF 15 formula is a smart choice.

*HTC Desire 816 dual-SIM first impressions: a stylish phablet that doesn't cost the earth


"Looking for a stylish large-screen smartphone? The HTC Desire 816 could be it"

The HTC Desire 816 saw first light of day at MWC this year, and it's now making its way to Indian shores. Officially HTC's second foray into the phablet segment after the One Max, the Desire 816 is positioned in the mid-range and offers noteworthy design and specs. Now, this segment is fairly crowded in India, and making a choice isn't easy. However, it's to HTC's credit that it's managed to make its offering stand out from the crowd. We played around with the device for a bit at the launch event, and here are our first impressions.

Sporting a 5.5-inch display, the device is quite svelte, but comes across as fairly large in size with its dual-front speakers (BoomSound in HTC speak) adding to the overall dimensions. It's clad in glossy white plastic, with the sides finished in matte.

Despite the plastic construction, it feels well built. It could be tough to get rid of the plasticky feel, but that said, it doesn't come across as cheap. Apart from the screen, speaker holes on top and bottom, front camera, earpiece and sensors, there's nothing else adoring the fascia since the standard Android keys are now implemented as software overlays. This is similar to smartphones like the Nexus 5, Moto G, Moto X and even HTC's own One (M8).

The bottom is home to a microUSB port, while the top is where you'll find the headset socket. A metal-finished power key and volume rocker are placed on the left.

Since the device features a sealed unibody design, a large plastic tab has been provided on the right, opening which reveals a pair of micro-SIM slots and a microSD card slot for expanding the 8GB internal storage (supporting microSD cards up to 128GB in capacity). 3G is supported only on the first SIM slot, while other connectivity options of the Desire 816 include Bluetooth 4.0 and DLNA. 

At the rear, there's a 13-megapixel snapper boasting f2.2 aperture and a BSI sensor, while HTC is offering a 5MP snapper in front, again with a BSI sensor for selfie lovers. Both cameras support 1080p video capture. Fuelling the show is a 2,600mAh non-removable battery. 

Software-wise, the Desire 816 runs the latest version of Android, i.e. KitKat 4.4.2, which could be one of the feathers in its cap since there still aren't too many smartphones that offer the latest Android build. As usual, HTC's proprietary skin that goes by the name of Sense runs atop, also offering software features such as BlinkFeed. 

The smartphone's innards are home to a quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor running at 1.6GHz, and in the limited time we spent with the device, it does seem fairly zippy. The 5.5-inch 720p display seems quite sharp as well. Needless to say, we'll have a much deeper analysis of the smartphone's real-world performance and a conclusive verdict when we get to review the device properly. 

The HTC Desire 816 dual-SIM has been priced at Rs 23,999 in India, and at that cost, the Gionee Elife E7 kills it as far as pure specs are concerned, but then, the latter is not a dual-SIM device. Other phablet rivals in the same price range include the Sony Xperia T2 Ultra and the Nokia Lumia 1320, but it could be too early to pass judgement. Specs aren't everything, as we've learnt, and based on our limited time with the device, we think the Desire 816 could be a compelling option for those who need a trusty dual-SIM phablet. Watch this space the full review. 

*Nostalgia all around, with Nokia’s phone division all set to be renamed to Microsoft Mobile

"Despite the fact that Microsoft's OS powers most Nokia devices, Nokia’s brand repertoire was pushing the sales."


By the end of this month, the Nokia-Microsoft deal will close and Microsoft would have taken over the rights to Nokia’s smartphone and feature phone devices, as per the terms of the agreement between the two giants. However, as opposed to what was expected earlier, Microsoft will not be retaining the iconic Nokia brand name, and will shift the company's Windows Phone based devices under its new brand, Microsoft Mobile.

According to a report by Nokiapoweruser, Microsoft has sent out a letter to Nokia and its suppliers informing them about the new plan of action. 

"Please note that upon the close of the transaction between Microsoft and Nokia, the name of Nokia Corporation/Nokia Oyj will change to Microsoft Mobile Oy. Microsoft Mobile Oy is the legal entity name that should be used for VAT IDs and for the issuance of invoices," Microsoft noted in the leaked letter.

Despite the fact that Windows Phone is a Microsoft product, it was Nokia that pushed the operating system into the limelight with its Lumia range of smartphones.

Now, with the change of the brand name to Microsoft Mobile, the parent company will able to group its OS and devices under a singular brand name.

Nokia's Lumia range of smartphones and phablets gained popularity among users owing to the brand's reputation, and the apps and services Nokia offered along with the devices for an overall better experience to users. While Microsoft has licensed the usage of these apps from Nokia, it will have to serve applications such as Nokia HERE and Nokia Music under Nokia’s name.

Additionally, the leaked letter also highlights another important point:

"Under the terms of the sale, Microsoft will assume all rights, benefits, and obligations of the Nokia Devices and Services business, including Nokia's agreements with suppliers, customers and partners which pertain to the Devices and Services business. Therefore, the purpose of this letter is to update you that the current terms and conditions that you have with the Devices and Services business will not change."

Nokia has agreed to not to use its brand name for any mobile phones until 2015, following which the company will be free to produce devices under its own name.

With Nokia-branded smartphones ceasing to exist for the next few years at least, it truly marks the end of an era for one of the most popular and iconic mobile phone brands of all time. 

*New tongue-in-cheek Apple ad urges other companies to copy at least some of their ideas

Here is a nice U-turn for you in the ad wars between mobile phone makers. It’s time for Apple to take a jab at other competitors.

Apple’s latest printed ad in various countries, part of the worldwide Apple environmental campaign devoted to Earth Day, says the Cupertino-based giant wants other companies to copy its ideas. And more specifically, the ones concerning environmental protection

It’s surely is a nice poke at the competition, especially when Apple is winning the patent lawsuits whatever the fans and the competition’s lawyers are hoping for. But is it this the right way to send such an important message? I’ll leave the judgments for you.

Here is the full text of the printed appeal:

“There’s one area where we actually encourage others to imitate us. Because when everyone makes the environment a priority, we all benefit. We’d be more than happy to see every data centre fueled by 100% renewable energy sources. And we eagerly await the day when every product is made without the harmful toxins we have removed from ours.

Of course, we know we can continue to do better. We’ve set some pretty ambitious goals for reducing our impact on climate change, making our products with greener materials and conserving our planet’s limited resources. So the next time we come across a great idea that can help leave the world better than we found it, we look forward to sharing it.”


Apple has already taken massive environmental initiatives across the globe. Hopefully, they won’t turn just expensive PR with little to none impact. And here is hoping Apple tries to improve the conditions of the Foxconn’s employees too, because they might not be working under Apple’s command, but they are surely the ones making all those iDevices.

*Oxigen Wallet review: m-commerce made easy

Oxigen Wallet comes across as a handy all-in-one utility app for bill payments and transferring money”

With the advent of the Internet and online banking, gone are the days when you needed to rush to the nearest store for recharging your mobile or to the electricity office every month for paying your bill. There are a multitude of ways including banking websites or recharge apps like Paytm and Mobikwik to conveniently pay for such things. But what if you want to transfer money to your friend for the last week’s party or the movie you watched together? Either you have to meet to hand over the dough or visit your bank website or app, then add your friend’s account as beneficiary (which usually takes up to 24 hours) and finally transfer the required amount. What if we tell you there’s an easy way to do this along with all the things you usually do through other bill utility apps? Oxigen has been around in India for a while, and after the latest RBI guidelines, the service has become a semi-closed wallet. It has also rechristened itself as Oxigen Wallet, positing itself as a one-stop solution for most of your bill payment and money transferring needs.

Oxigen Wallet features

The Basics

You can create your account on Oxigen Wallet by simply signing up with your mobile number and using a six-digit code as password. You can also sign up with a simple SMS (in a particular format) as well.

It’s also important to understand what a semi-closed wallet means and what all it allows you to do. Unlike the closed wallet like you see in many recharge apps like Freecharge or e-commerce websites like Flipkart where the amount available in the wallet can only be used within the respective service, semi-closed wallets can be used to pay for other services as well. Some other examples of this type of wallet are Airtel Money and PayTM among others. Oxigen Wallet goes a step further by allowing you to withdraw money to your bank account as well.

However, semi-closed wallet have maximum limit of Rs 10,000 which means that at any point of time, your wallet can have Rs 10,000. If you want to increase your limit, then you can submit your KYC (know your customer) documents online to the website, which ups your limit to Rs 25,000.

User-Friendly Interface

Coming back to the app, it adorns a simple interface with the all the options present right at the front after logging in. You can transfer money to a mobile number, withdraw money to your bank account, recharge your mobile / data card / DTH and pay postpaid mobile phone / telephone and electricity bills (limited to selected regions only).

Since you should have money to pay for all the aforementioned things, you can also load money to your account using your debit or credit card, or netbanking.

If you want to check advanced options, tap on the top-right corner and you’ll see a menu allowing you to check your profile, personal details and transaction history along with the option to change your password. In the profile section, you can add your personal details, though you can’t edit information like your email ID, date of birth, etc. You can also add your bank details or mobile phone numbers to transfer money or recharge your number in a jiffy.

Since you have to use mobile numbers to transfer money to your friends, you can add their name as contacts or go to your device’s phonebook for adding the number.

With transaction history, you can filter the dates and take a look at the stuff that your Oxigen account has been used for.

If you have some queries, then you can check the frequently asked questions from the app itself and in case you want any clarifications, you can contact the company's customer care as well.

Serves Multiple Purposes

While most of the options available in the app are straight-forward, let’s take a closer look at them.

1) Transfer Money To Friends

As mentioned earlier, for transferring any amount to your friend, you simply need their mobile number. This means, even if they aren’t using the app, the transfer can be done because they can create an account as soon as they get a notification from Oxigen Wallet.

2) Transfer Money To Your Bank

This is one feature which differentiates Oxigen Wallet from other semi-closed wallet services. If your friend has transferred money to you and you don’t want to spend it anywhere, then you can withdraw this amount to your bank account. The service supports most banks and ensures that transferring is a seamless experience.

3) Recharge And Pay Bills

Both are fairly simple options as many other apps offer these features. Oxigen Wallet supports all the mobile operators for prepaid recharges and you can also recharge your DTH or data dongle.

The bills section provides options to pay for your postpaid mobile number or data dongle. You can also make the payment for your landline number or to your electricity provider, though at the moment it only supports power companies operating in Delhi.

For adding money to your Oxigen Wallet, you can not only use online banking or debit cards, but also by visiting any Oxigen outlet.

The service also offers loyalty points giving you points for every transaction. For each Rs 100 spent, you’ll get one point and these points can be redeemed later against a recharge.


Oxigen Wallet comes across as a handy all-in-one app handling your recharging, bill payment and money transferring requirements. It ensures that you don’t need to juggle between different apps and the ability to transfer money to your friends acts like icing on the cake. As we stated earlier, you can use the wallet to pay for other services as well, and Oxigen has partnered with popular avenues like BookMyShow, Domino’s, eBay, IRCTC, Redbus and more to allow Oxigen Wallet payments.

However, one qualm we had with the app was that there's no option of signing out. Additionally, it creates a new six-digit password each time you use the app from a new device.


Also, there’s no provision of transferring your account to another number since the services ties your unique mobile number with your identity.

19-April 2014

*Sony to roll out Android KitKat update to Xperia Z, ZL, ZR smartphones and Tablet Z in May

“Sony will soon roll out the latest iteration of Android to multiple Xperia devices”

The Japanese vendor Sony is soon going to update quite a few members of its Xperia lineup with Android 4.4 KitKat. The KitKat update is coming in May for the Xperia Z, Xperia ZL, Xperia ZR smartphones and the Xperia Tablet Z as well. The news has been officially confirmed by Sony via the corresponding product page of these devices.

Sony’s official change-log for Android KitKat says that the update will bring standard KitKat features to these devices including enhanced performance and optimised user interface. It will also include a tweaked status bar and quick settings. The update will come with launch animations and live wallpapers for home and lock screens, similar to the new UI introduced with the Sony PlayStation 4 gaming console.


Sony’s entire native app portfolio will be updated to the latest versions. In addition, Sony’s media apps like Walkman, Album and Movies will be integrated with Sony Entertainment Network service.

*Sony to roll out Android KitKat update to Xperia Z, ZL, ZR smartphones and Tablet Z in May


“The Android 4.4.2 update brings stability and performance improvements to the Galaxy Note 10.1”

Samsung has started rolling out an Android 4.4.2 KitKat update to the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition tablet. The update is currently seeding to the Wi-Fi variant (SM-P600) in Colombia. It is expected to go live in the other markets in the coming weeks.

The update is being rolled out over-the-air and users can also update their devices via the Samsung Kies application for PC. The OTA update will be available in phases, so not all users will get it right away. Users can manually check if the update is available for their devices by going through Software Updates section in the Settings menu.

The latest OS update for the tablet brings the usual KitKat specific features like immersive mode, translucent status bar, UI improvements, performance enhancements, wireless printing, full-screen album art and more. Other features include lock-screen improvements, a camera shortcut on the lock-screen, selecting default home and SMS applications, enhanced sound controls and stability.


Samsung is also going to release the same software update for the Galaxy Note 2 and Galaxy S3 this month. The company has confirmed the news via a customer care support on a forum in Korea. The company recently rolled out the same update for the Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone users in India. 

18-April 2014

*How to: use the Lens Blur feature in the latest Google Camera


“Wondering how to blur the background using the new Google Camera app? We show you how”


Since long, Google’s stock camera app has been ridiculed for its basic features when compared against the feature-rich camera apps found on devices from HTC and Samsung. However, Mountain View's camera app offering has just received a massive update, bringing with it a ton of new functionalities. One of the most interesting features offered by the app is the Lens Blur option, which gives users the freedom to emphasise on the subject by blurring the background. If you’re wondering how to achieve this depth-of-field effect using the Google Camera app, you've come to the right place.

It must be noted however, that the feature is only available in the latest app, which is just meant for devices running Android KitKat at the moment. If your device fits the bill, then head on to the Play Store to download the app right away.

Step 1

Open the Camera app and swipe from the left edge to get a menu of options including Photo Sphere, Panorama, Lens Blur, Camera and Video. Since we’re talking about the Lens Blur feature, tap on the same to proceed.

On a side note, the images shot in this manner aren’t captured in the full resolution, and you only get an option of low or high quality shots. This can be selected by heading into the app settings.

Step 2

Frame the scene you want to shoot and hit the capture button.

To capture such type of image, the app uses algorithms to estimate depth (distance) to every point in the scene from the device. All you need to do is slowly sweep the smartphone in the upward direction, ensuring that the subject stays in the centre of the frame.

Step 3

After you sweep the smartphone upwards, the image will be captured automatically. Wait for it to process.

Step 4

Once the image is processed, you can see it in full glory with the blurred background.

Step 5

That’s not all, you can also control the amount of blurring even after the photo is captured by hitting the circular button at the bottom, and adjusting the slider. You can also preview the changes in real time.

Step 6


TA DA! You’ve successfully captured an image with selective focus. Hit 'Done' on top to save the image and share it with your friends to impress them with your shooting prowess.

How to: measure your heart rate using the Samsung Galaxy S5

"If health is a priority for you, the Samsung Galaxy S5's heart rate monitor could be quite useful"

In S Health, Samsung already has a fairly comprehensive and useful app that helps you track your activity and monitor it over a period of time. The app comes preinstalled on Samsung's premium devices like the Galaxy Note 3. With the newest flagship, the Galaxy S5, S Health takes on yet another responsibility – that of helping you measure your heart rate. Working hand-in-hand with the heart rate sensor built on the rear of the Galaxy S5, the app is quite simple to use. We took you through a short demo of the S5's fingerprint sensor earlier, and it's now time to check out the smartphone's heart rate monitor. Here's how to go about using it to measure how fast your ticker is beating at any given point in time. 


17-April 2014

*A demo of the Samsung Galaxy S5's fingerprint sensor in action

Fancy the Samsung Galaxy S5? The integrated fingerprint sensor is one of its most interesting features. Here's how it works"


A fingerprint sensor integrated on the home button of a smartphone may not be a novel idea, but Samsung's implementation on its latest flagship, the Galaxy S5 is a wee bit different from what we've seen in the past. Of course, the much-awaited flagship that recently went on sale in India, packs a smorgasbord of tricks inside its svelte body apart from this. Now that we have the device with us for review, we'll be getting you acquainted with all its finer points in detail and taking you through its special features. To start with, you can take a gander at a video that shows how to set up the fingerprint sensor on the Galaxy S5 for the first time, and how it works.

*How to: set up WhatsApp on a tablet


"Want to use WhatsApp on your Wi-Fi only Android tablet? We show you how." 

WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging services, and one that has pretty much replaced SMS text messages. While most of us have the app installed on our smartphones and even slates that boast calling features, we can't use it on Wi-Fi only devices like tablets because the instant messaging service requires an active SIM card for verification. For many users who juggle between smartphones and tablets, it can be useful to have WhatsApp on both. If you’ve ever tried to download WhatsApp from the Google Play Store and seen the message below, we can show you a neat little workaround.

A note of caution before you begin. In order to set up the app on your tablet, you'll require an active SIM card inserted into a mobile phone during the installation to handle WhatsApp's verification process. Once WhatsApp is installed on your Wi-Fi tablet and associated with a mobile number, remember that you won't be able to use the service with the same number on any other device. Therefore, it’s advisable not to use your primary number for this purpose. A spare or secondary SIM card would be ideal. 

Now that we’ve given you a fair warning, let’s get started.

Step 1:

From your tablet's browser, go to a third-party APK download directory (we used Evozi), and download the WhatsApp APK.

Step 2:

On your device, go to Settings > Security. Tick the checkbox next to 'Unknown Sources' under Device Administration. This will enable you to install third-party apps from outside the Play Store

Step 3:

Go to Downloads and tap on the APK file you just downloaded. You’ll see a pop-up asking you whether you want to install the app. Keep tapping 'Next' and when you see the 'Install' option, tap on that too. 

Step 4:

Once installed, click on 'Open'. You’ll see a screen with a 'Welcome to WhatsApp!' message. Click on ‘Agree and continue’ at the bottom. An alert will pop up, telling you that tablets are not currently supported. Ignore it and tap ‘OK’.

Step 5:

You’ll be asked to verify your phone number via SMS. Make sure the SIM card you plan to use with WhatsApp is inserted in a working mobile phone before you proceed. Enter the phone number and click 'OK'. 

You’ll get a notification saying 'SMS verification failed', and an option to try voice verification instead. Don't panic. You're almost there.

Enter your phone number again, and tap on 'Call Me'. In a few seconds you’ll get a phone call from an international number, with an automated message repeating a 6-digit code. Enter the code, and wait.

Step 6:


... until you see this screen. Congratulations! You’ve successfully installed WhatsApp on your tablet. Celebrate by sending your contacts mass spam messages. They’ll never know it was you.

* Top 6 tips for Summer Skin:

As you prepare to show more skin, get ready to face the sun's rays with our top 6 summer skin tips!


1. Exfoliate for clearer, smoother skin


What it does: Exfoliation removes dead, dulling skin debris to prevent congestion and improve hydration from toners and moisturizers.


When: Perform in the mornings prior to toner, moisturizer, SPF and make-up application. Tip: Make-up will last longer on an exfoliated skin!


Don’t forget: After you exfoliate, follow with a hydrating body cream to seal in moisture, and always shield freshly exfoliated skin with an SPF (as recommended by the FDA). 


Recommended: Daily Microfoliant®, Exfoliating Body Scrub, Body Hydrating Cream.


2. Keep skin hydrated


How: Up your regimen’s level of hydration with intensive masques, perfect for use one to two times a week. Boosters are a great fit, working best when layered underneath a moisturizer. Toners are a refreshing moisturizer prep, working to even out skin porosity. Tip: Refresh with a revitalizing toner spritz at your desk, in the car, at the gym, on the plane!


Recommended:  Antioxidant HydraMist, Skin Hydrating Booster, Skin Hydrating Masque.


3. Make friends with H20

Why: Higher temperatures and more time outdoors leads to internal dehydration, which can result in headaches and dizzy spells!

What you can do: Eight 8-ounce glasses of plain, filtered water every day help maintain critical moisture balance of the body and skin, and assist in detoxification. Tip: If you drink caffeinated beverages, you must triple the amount of water you drink!

Recommended:  Plain and pure water!


4. When in doubt, apply (and reapply!)

Why:  It’s not enough to just apply sunscreen.: you must apply enough, and apply frequently.   Studies indicate that most people do not apply nearly as much daylight protection as they should.

How much: A teaspoon for the face. For the body, about as much as would fill a shot glass.

How often: Re-apply every two hours. Tip: Stay out of the midday sun from mid-morning to late afternoon whenever you can.

Bonus: Today’s sophisticated formulas and technology let you select sun protection that works with your skin condition. That means you can choose oil-free, mattifying formulas, extra emollient formulas for dry skin, or chemical free formulas for sensitized, reactive skin.

Recommended: Oil Free Matte SPF30, Super Sensitive Shield SPF30.

5. Soothe over-exposed skin

What: You forgot the sunscreen, didn’t apply enough, or got caught in a sunny spell.

What’s next: Unfortunately, the damage is done, but you don’t have to suffer in pain! Super-soothing botanicals and cooling gels can help prevent peeling and reduce redness and inflammation.

How: Apply cooling balms generously over-exposed skin, preferably at the first sight of a pink glow. 

Prevent: One blistering sunburn doubles your risk of melanoma -- remember to get a yearly skin exam by a doctor and perform a self-examination once a month to detect early warning signs of carcinomas and malignant melanoma. Look for a new growth or any skin change.

Recommended: After Sun Repair


6. Repair and treat sun damage

What causes skin damage: UV light causes photoaging in the form of brown spots, coarse skin and wrinkles, whether you have burned your skin or not. When sunlight comes in contact with skin a cascade of damage results (including the stripping of barrier lipids) causing inflammation, production of reactive oxygen molecules that affect healthy cell growth, and stimulation of collagen destructing enzymes.


What to do: A tan may be a popular summer look, but it indicates damage. Bombard your skin with age-fighting ingredients to help undo any damage that may occur, and to further protect it from the aging effects of UV.

16-April 2014

*Samsung Galaxy NotePRO review: jack of all trades, master of some

“Taking Samsung’s largest (and costliest) tablet through its paces”

Nobody knows product extensions better than the Korean behemoth Samsung. Within just five years of the inception of its Android-toting Galaxy devices, the number of products in the range have literally spawned a galaxy spread across different screen sizes and price points. The brand can also be credited with single-handedly starting the phablet revolution with the Galaxy Note launched back in 2011. Along with a large screen, the device also featured a stylus allowing users to unleash their creativity. Since then the Note series has grown to include a few tablets such as the Note 8 and Note 10.1 with stylus functionalities. Now, the brand has outdone itself again with the launch of NotePRO – the largest tablet in its portfolio flaunting a 12.2-inch display (Samsung's TabPRO 12.2 also bears the display of same size). As can be understood from its moniker, with the addition of the ‘Pro’ suffix, the vendor hopes to cater to business users. It’s a huge challenge as business users are used to working on their computers and laptops, plus have demanding needs as compared to general users. So, has the company been successful in its pursuit or is the device just an enlarged Note? Let’s find the answer to that question in this review.

At the outset, the slate looks just like a bigger Galaxy Note 10.1, which in turn shares similarities with the Note 3. Right from the placement of the controls and ports on the sides to the pleather back, you won’t notice many differences between the NotePRO and Note 10.1 (2014 edition). However, the Galaxy NotePRO features the latest micro-USB 3.0 port just like the Galaxy Note 3, in place of the micro-USB 2.0 port found on the Note 10.1. Thanks to backward compatibility, the tablet can also be charged from a regular USB 2.0 cable apart from the microUSB 3.0 cable available in the package, though data transfer speeds will vary accordingly depending on the type of USB port on the computer it's mated to. Another difference between these devices is that Samsung has chosen to tweak the Galaxy NotePRO’s standard layout of physical home button flanked by two capacitive buttons. In this case, the option key is replaced by a recent apps button. We aren’t getting into the finer details about the design, since they have been discussed in our Galaxy Note 10.1 review.

Coming to the handling aspect of the slate, we can bet that it’ll take more than some getting used to. You have to either hold it with two hands all the time when consuming content (and it’s not easy to type or perform an action) or keep it on a surface because of its large size. Its considerable weight of 753 grams makes the matters even worse. However, the use of faux-leather makes the device less prone to slipping. Additionally, if the slate is kept on a surface, then the rear doesn’t get scratched easily.

Hailed as one of the largest tablets till date, the Samsung Galaxy NotePRO flaunts a 12.2-inch display. At this size, it’s almost similar to laptops with 13-inch displays. The screen offers WXGA resolution (2,560 x 1,600 pixels), equaling a pixel density of 247 pixel-per-inch. In one word, the display is gorgeous. We really loved using the slate for watching movies, reading text and emails and also browsing the web. It has adequate brightness along with good viewing angles. Sunlight legibility is also quite good.

During reading, we really appreciated the Reading Mode feature provided by the device as this option dims the brightness and reduces colour tones on the display. This makes for distraction-free reading as well, and also causes less eye strain. Users also get the option to select the apps in which they want to utilise the feature.

Samsung has fully loaded the Galaxy NotePRO when it comes to apps and software features. Running Android 4.4.2 KitKat with the heavily-customised TouchWiz layer, the tablet has some useful (along with some gimmicky) enhancements.

First up, the home screen offers two standard screens with different widgets and app icons. But swipe to the left, and you’ll be greeted with a tile-based layout of news, which the company calls the Magazine UX, powered by popular news-reading app Flipboard. By default, There are two screens with this layout and give access to news categorised under technology, business, sports, etc. as well as updates from Facebook and office documents. In simple words, it’s Samsung answer to BlinkFeed found on HTC smartphones, though not as refined as we’d have preferred. It displays news in each category, but instead of taking you directly to the news when you click upon it, the interface takes you to Flipboard, and you have to click on specific headline again to view it. Even if you don’t like the UX, sadly, you can’t remove it completely as it’ll always remain on at least one of the home screens.

Most of the times, the stock keyboard on devices doesn’t offer good accuracy, but with the NotePRO, Samsung has made good use of the large screen. The keys are well spaced-out, along with a row of numeric keys at the top. The keyboard is fully customisable, giving you the option to use it in a floating mode that can be dragged to anywhere on the screen, or a split mode allowing you to make proper use of thumbs on the large screen. The keyboard also supports swipe-to-type gestures making it easier to type fast and accurately.

The highlight of the device ought to be the Multi Window mode. The feature is available on many Samsung devices, but it becomes incredibly useful in the case of the Galaxy NotePRO thanks to the availability of more screen real estate. In fact, the Multi Window mode offers complete flexibility by allowing you to open apps in floating mode or in a fixed split mode. The mode can be enabled by a long press of the back key, which pops up a sidebar. If you simply tap on an app icon on the sidebar, it’ll be opened in a floating window which can be resized or dragged anywhere. At any point of time, you can open five of such applications. To open these apps in split mode, you have to long-press the app icon on the sidebar and then drag it on to the screen. The device is capable of running four apps in this mode. However, only the default apps can enjoy this feature along with a handful of other apps. Another good use of this feature is that the apps are minimised and always remain on the screen so that you can open any of them while you are using another app. The split mode also comes into play when you open a link through apps like Facebook, Twitter, Evernote or view a file or video through the file manager.

To make the tablet even more lucrative to professionals, Samsung has preinstalled multiple apps with premium subscriptions. The New York Times app offers free subscription for the first 12 weeks, while Bloomberg Businessweek+ magazine offers one year membership. Users also get 50GB of Dropbox storage for a period of two years, as well as 12-month premium account on popular productivity software Evernote. For office usage, it comes with free Hancom Office allowing you to open and edit documents, six-month worth usage of Cisco WebEx Meetings for tele-conferencing with up to eight users, e-Meeting allowing to share notes during a meeting, and two years worth of Remote PC App so that you can access your computer from anywhere. Creative people will like the inclusion of Autodesk Sketchbook giving them the ability to truly exploit the capabilities of the S Pen. Enterprise users can also make use of KNOX mode to password-protect their stuff and keep it segregated from personal data. Hancom Office with its suite of Hword (for opening word documents), Hshow (for opening presentations) and Hcell (for opening spreadsheets) is one of the best office apps available on mobile devices, giving users a remarkably similar interface as Microsoft Office. Peel Smart Remote app allows you to control your TV (in conjunction with the IR blaster on top) along with providing a program guide.

Identical to Samsung’s flagship mobile phones, the tablet features some useful motion capabilities such as the option to take a screenshot by swiping your palm on the screen. Functionalities like Smart Stay to keep the screen awake as long as it can detect your eyes and Smart Pause to automatically pause videos when your eyes are looking in other directions are also available.

In terms of the internals, the device is exactly the same as its smaller slate sibling and the Galaxy Note 3. The performance is handled by an octa-core Exynos chipset with a combination of a cluster of four Cortex A15 cores operating at a frequency of 1.9GHz and four Cortex A7 cores with a clock speed of 1.3GHz. Technically, it’s an octa-core processor, but only one of the two quad-core clusters is used, depending upon the task. However, Samsung claims that with the use of HMP (Heterogeneous multi-processing), intensive tasks can utilise all eight cores simultaneously, but only if the app developer has optimised their app for the same. The application processor is supplemented by a Mali GPU to render high-quality images and videos. With a generous 3GB RAM, the slate ensures there’s no trace of slowing down even when multiple apps are running. That said, Samsung’s own software features like Multi Window can take a toll even on such a powerful hardware when three to four apps are run at the same time.

For memory, the slate is equipped with a 32GB of built-in storage out of which around 25.6GB is available to the user. If it feels less for your needs, then a microSD card of up to 64GB can further supplement the internal storage. The Galaxy NotePRO also has support for USB OTG, allowing you to plug in your flash drives.

On the connectivity front, the tablet offers all the latest options including 2G/3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Infrared and GPS. Oh, did we tell you that you can also make calls from the Samsung Galaxy NotePRO? Regardless of how awkward it may seem, the device can also serve the purpose of a mobile phone by means of the speakerphone or wired / wireless headset since thankfully, there’s no earpiece (we can’t imagine anyone holding a tablet of this size against their ears). The IR emitter is used in conjunction with Peel Smart Remote app to control TV, as we mentioned earlier. Another useful feature is the Network Booster option combing both the Wi-Fi and 3G speeds to download your content faster. You can also set the minimum download limit for the feature to start automatically.

The similarities with a regular smartphone don’t end here, as the slate offers an 8MP rear camera. There aren’t much instances where you’d like to use the device to shoot something because not only it’s very difficult to hold steady, the image quality is also average. For Skyping, there’s a 2MP camera at the front.

The top-notch specs of the tablet continue with its battery as well. The NotePRO sips power from a 9,500mAh battery. However, the high rating may not result in substantially better battery life since it powers a large high-res display. If you’re using the tablet continuously for reading eBooks, watching movies, etc., then it can last around a day or so. For normal tasks, it can certainly give you a run time of around one and a half day to two days. When we ran our standard battery life test that involves playing an HD video on the tablet, the battery drained in about nine hours. Also, it’s important to note that the huge capacity of battery requires a long charging time. The device also comes with Power saving mode that limits the CPU performance and reduces screen brightness to enhance the battery output.

One of the biggest selling points for tablets in general has been portability, allowing users to carry them anytime, anywhere. Be it while travelling or at work during a meeting or the comfort of your bed, you can use tablets comfortably everywhere.

In case of the Samsung Galaxy NotePRO, the case is the exact opposite, since the USP of its large screen becomes one of its biggest negative points as well. You have to keep the tablet on a surface at all the time if you want to do something meaningful. Holding it in both hands may be fine for content viewing (and that too for short periods, considering its weight), but will not be very convenient to interact with the screen.

But once you get over this limitation, then the tablet is a delight to use. Slates have always been great options to consume content such as viewing videos and reading eBooks. The Galaxy NotePRO changes that with its capable hardware complemented by useful software functionalities. Using multi window allows you to work on multiple things at the same time, which is especially useful for productivity-related tasks. The S Pen makes the use of the device even more fun and is tremendously helpful when you want to quickly jot down some ideas or want to doodle. Apart from such features, the S Pen also offers the Air View menu which provides quick access to useful features like Action Memo, screenshot annotation and scrapbook among others. Even simple tasks like watching videos becomes a great experience on such a large screen.

We even connected a keyboard via USB OTG with the tablet and it worked brilliantly. Most of the keyboard shortcuts are supported by the device and this solution makes it a handy replacement to a full-fledged laptop.

Sadly, as much as Samsung has focused on productivity features of the slate, it overlooked one important factor. There’s no way to keep the tablet upright. Had there been a kickstand or a cover allowing users to position the tablet, then it would have been easier to use on any surface. Even better, Samsung should have thought of a cover with a integrated keyboard, making it a full-blown laptop.


At the asking price of Rs 64,900, the Galaxy NotePRO isn’t cheap by any means. But when you put it against run-of-the-mill tablets, then the capabilities offered by the slate aren’t available in most of them. Samsung has left no stones unturned in making the device an ideal companion for business users, right from its hardware to well-optimised software.

However, when it’s compared to a normal laptop, then there are some obvious and not-so-obvious compromises. The biggest problem is that using a tablet would involve several workarounds even for basic tasks, so you must be receptive to change your habits when you’re using it. Sure, Samsung has provided a means of multitasking, but it’s still not in the same league as proper multitasking available on desktop platforms. It also can’t stand against hybrid devices which can be used both as a tablet or laptop since it’s easier to use them anywhere. In case of the Samsung Galaxy NotePRO, as mentioned earlier, there’s no provision of keeping it in an upright position. But the device hits the sweet spot in terms of its weight, which is far lower than a laptop and is more convenient to use and can be taken out whenever the need arises. In contrast to ultrabooks or hybrids, it offers a powerful configuration against entry-level hardware plus a refined touchscreeen performance since Windows is a tad iffy when it comes to touch. Moreover, these Windows-based devices don’t enjoy huge third-party app support as Android, especially when it comes to touch-optimised apps. Lastly, the S Pen which is also a mainstay of the Note series, is a great accessory for designers, making it easier to doodle sketches quickly. Even if you aren’t a designer or creative person, the S Pen can be used for annotating on screenshots, notes and more. The Korean giant has also tried to bundle some premium apps to give the complete work-like experience.

In the end, the Samsung Galaxy NotePRO is certainly the closest thing to an Android workhorse one can find in the market, though it fits the requirement of a niche set of users only.

*Top five budget smartphones priced under Rs 8,000

"Your search for the best budget smartphone ends here."

There was a time when budget smartphones offered the bare minimum – outdated operating systems, fuzzy cameras, clunky builds and faltering processors. Over the last year or two, the situation has seen a dramatic change, and it’s not uncommon now to find smartphones with reasonable specs for Rs 8,000 or less. This shift also means that phones we once considered ‘cheap’ now offer updated OS versions, capable processors and worthy shooters, all for prices that won’t dent your pocket. If you’re in the market for an affordable smartphone, this list should help you narrow it down to the top five. 

Launched last year, the Nokia Lumia 520 still remains one of the most popular budget Windows Phone devices in the market. Not surprising, since it boasts a great set of specs for its price. The smartphone sports a 4-inch, 480 x 800 pixel display, with a layer of scratch-resistant glass on top. It runs Windows Phone 8, and is eligible for the Lumia Black update, too. It's powered by a 1GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus processor, accompanied by 512MB of RAM and an Adreno 305 GPU. There’s a 5MP primary camera on board, but no front camera for video calling. Offering 8GB of internal storage, the Lumia 520 also sports a microSD card slot to take that up to 64GB. The single SIM device offers Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS and micro-USB for connectivity. Like all Lumia devices, it flaunts a polycarbonate casing and is available in multiple colours like black, white, yellow, red and cyan.

The Micromax Canvas Doodle is a great choice for budget buyers looking for a large-screen device. With a 5.3-inch 480 x 854 pixel display, the Canvas Doodle is well into phablet territory. It's powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Play processor clocked at 1.2GHz, with 512MB RAM and Adreno 205 graphics. The cameras offered are generous for its price – an 8MP shooter with dual-LED flash at the rear, and a 2MP snapper in the front. The Canvas Doodle runs Android 4.1.2 and offers 4GB of expandable internal storage. The USP of the phablet is the stylus that ships with it, enabling a variety of Note-like sketching features. The Canvas Doodle is a dual-SIM device, offering Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and micro-USB 2.0 for connectivity.

Barely scraping through our price limit, the XOLO Q500 is a 4-inch smartphone with an OGS (One Glass Solution) display and a 480 x 800 pixel resolution. Performance is handled by a 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Play processor, paired with 1GB RAM. The Q500 sports a 5MP rear camera with LED flash, and a VGA front camera for video calls. The phone comes preloaded with the X-TransPic app, which translates Hindi text into English when you take a photo of it. It runs an outdated Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, which is a bit of a disappointment. The device offers 4GB of internal storage, expandable up to 32GB with a microSD card. It offers dual-SIM, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and micro-USB for connectivity.

The Sony Xperia E1 was launched last month alongside its dual-SIM variant, the Xperia E1 Dual. The budget Sony smartphone sports a 4-inch 480 x 800 pixel display, with a layer of scratch-resistant glass for protection. Powering the show is a dual-core Snapdragon 200 chipset clocked at 1.2GHz. It gets a limited 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of storage which is expandable with a microSD card. There’s a 3.15 camera at the rear, but the phone sadly misses out on an LED flash and front camera. The phone runs Android 4.3, and a KitKat update is reportedly being prepped. While the hardware pales in comparison to some of the other handsets on this list, the Xperia E1 makes up for it with its multimedia features, like the Sony WALKMAN app with a dedicated launch key, 100db speakers and Clear Audio+ software. The phone offers Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and micro-USB for connectivity, and is available in black, white and purple colours.

15-April 2014

*Samsung Galaxy S5 unboxing

"Taking a peek at what’s inside the Samsung Galaxy S5 India retail box"

Despite the high frequency of smartphone launches in India, it’s not every day we get a chance to unbox a flagship. Samsung’s latest, the Galaxy S5 is a little beyond that though – not only is it one of the most highly-awaited devices of the year, it’s also meant to be a showcase of the brand’s prowess. Samsung’s made sure it packs in enough to satiate its fans spread across the world, right from making it impervious to water, to cramming in a fingerprint sensor and a heart rate monitor. Not to mention its 16-megapixel ISOCELL snapper along with all the top-notch specs and features one can imagine.

We did get a chance to take a close look at the Galaxy S5 at launch time. And now that we have it in our greedy paws, we’ll be getting you the complete lowdown on its capabilities very soon. Till then, here’s a quick look at the box contents.

The Galaxy S5 comes packed inside a compact brown box made of recyclable cardboard, hardly any different from Samsung’s packaging in the past. Without wasting any time, we quickly cut open the various obstructions between us and the device (referring to the seals on the box, of course), and treated our eyes on the brand-new white unit resting inside.

The S5 came ensconced in a transparent wrapper, and pulling it out for the first time, we were a tad surprised at how light it felt. Soon, the realisation dawned that the removable battery was packed separately inside.

Next, out came the Quick Start Guide, followed by the wired headset. Differently-sized rubber tips for the headset are also included to ensure you get a comfortable fit.

A 2 amp wall charger came out next, with the 2,800mAh battery resting at the bottom of the box. A USB to micro-USB cable is tucked away on the side.

Overall, it’s a pretty standard package, right from the packaging to the white accessories included inside. That said, we’re pretty sure that the Galaxy S5 is anything but standard. Judging from its specs, features and our hands-on, we’re confident it’s going to be an extremely capable smartphone. However, our review will evaluate whether it comes across as a compelling buy or not. We won’t take too long, we promise. Watch this space.

*Android apps that can change your life

"Here's our top list of Android apps that go beyond useful."

Hardware alone doesn't make a smartphone ‘smart’. Apps, essentially small bits of software, harness the power of our smartphones and bring specs like the screen, camera, GPS and graphics to life. If you’re an Android user, you have access to one of the largest app ecosystems, covering almost every category imaginable. Many go unnoticed, and some become more popular than others. But there are a few apps... just a few, which do more than stand out. If used to their full potential, these are the apps that might just change your life for the better if you're an Android user. What's more, most of them are absolutely free!

We use our smartphone keyboards for more than just texting. Writing emails, updating social networks and making notes take up considerable finger-tapping time, which is why it’s important that our typing experience is as glitch-free as possible. Enter SwiftKey, the mother of all Android keyboards. Its eerily accurate word-prediction technology does more than predict the word you’re currently typing – it can predict the next word (and the next after that) too. Thanks to its integration with Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and other third-party apps, it’s able to get a comprehensive view of your writing style, and becomes more precise the longer you use it. Plus, with its cloud backup and sync function, your personal profile becomes available on all your existing devices, and any new ones too. That's a lot of functionality for its asking price of Rs 90. 

Cloud storage apps are more than just virtual gigabytes. While there are plenty of cloud services on offer, like Google Drive, Box, Mega and Sugar Sync, Dropbox remains a favourite among users, mostly thanks to it’s no-fuss interface. If you’ve got the Dropbox app on your Android phone, you can easily access any of your files stored in the cloud, edit files within the app and share them with a click. Thanks to its SSL encryption and passcode protection, Dropbox is great for storing important documents, and any other files you might require at a moment’s notice. Plus, it has a nifty Camera Upload feature (think Photostream for iOS), which creates a backup of all the photos and videos stored your smartphone.

Here’s a real-life scenario. You’re driving home late at night, take a wrong turn and end up in the middle of nowhere. What would you rather do? Ask a creepy stranger for directions, or check Google Maps on your smartphone? At a time when so many of us are moving to new cities for jobs, unfamiliar roads and landmarks can take a while to get used to. That’s where Google Maps becomes a real lifesaver. Always accessible on our smartphones, its route suggestions, voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation and even indoor maps for malls ensure you’ll never be lost again.

Bombarded with calls about home loans, credit cards and mutual funds? You might want to check out Truecaller. The crowd-sourced caller ID app has a large database of verified mobile phone and landline numbers, and can display the name and location of a person not listed in your phone book. It also has an extensive crowd-sourced spam directory, letting you block all the numbers on that list, and any you want to manually enter too. Truecaller also has a reverse lookup feature, so you can enter a phone number and see who it belongs to. The app can connect to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn, letting you create a social phonebook and look up friends’ phone numbers too. 

We come across so many interesting articles and websites on the internet, but we don’t always have the time to read them. Enter Pocket. It lets you save links to articles, web pages, videos and more from your browser or other apps, letting you access them in a neat, simple interface at your leisure. Every article you add to Pocket automatically gets saved in a reading-friendly layout, and can even be accessed when you’re offline. Pocket also lets you categorise saved links by tags and favourites, and syncs your account across devices. If there's an article you like, you can share it through Facebook, Twitter, Evernote or email, or even to a friend’s Pocket account. 

Managing multiple devices can be difficult, and the sound of a constantly buzzing smartphone can be distracting, to say the least. Not every notification is worth interrupting your workflow for, which is where Pushbullet comes in. Its advanced notification mirroring system literally ‘pushes’ alerts for calls, messages, emails, app updates and all the rest to your desktop via an extension for the Chrome browser. That way, you can decide whether it’s worth reaching for your phone at that moment. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to set it up. Pushbullet has another nifty feature – the ability to share links, photos, notes, files and more between your devices and even your friend’s devices, saving you the pain of sending an email.

14-April 2014

*Samsung Galaxy S5 Zoom/K Zoom passes through the FCC

Now that the Samsung Galaxy S5 is out of the way, the next big things from the South Korean manufacturer will the usual spin offs like the Zoom, Active and Mini variants. The Galaxy S5 Zoom aka K Zoom has been making the rounds in the rumorland for quite a while now.

The Galaxy S5 Zoom has passed through the FCC and the official announcement might just be around the corner. The report from the Fedral Communications Commission confirms that the model number of the K Zoom will be SM-C115 and reveals that the upcoming smartphone will support NFC and LTE connectivity.

If the rumors are to be trusted, the S5 Zoom will sport a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels. The device will be powered by the company’s new Exynos 5 Hexa chipset with six-core CPU and 2 GB of RAM. The camera department will see a 20.2 megapixel rear snapper with 10x optical zoom and Xenon flash. It is said to come with optical image stabilization among host of other new features.

There is no word on pricing or availability details of the Galaxy S5 Zoom, but we will know more when the smartphone goes official.

*HTC will produce more affordable, plastic One M8

One of the main selling points of the HTC One M8 is its all aluminum body. The beautiful design and premium handling does come at a premium price and may leave lots of buyers out in the cold as the handset is just out of their price range.

As a means of competing with Samsung in price, however, HTC will be releasing a cheaper, plastic version of the HTC One M8.

Specs wise, expect the handset to be exactly the same, it just won't be encased in a metallic shell of burnished bling.

So how much cheaper is the cheaper version of the M8? It's a pretty significant price drop: $483 for the plastic version (SIM free) vs the $700 unlocked price of its aluminum older brother (it even sells as high as $853 in some regions).

Do you think that this is a smart move on HTC's part? Now that the One M8 can compete with the Galaxy S5 in terms of price, would you consider an HTC device over a Samsung one? Or were you willing to pay more all along?

*Summer feet tips

Use these 10 summer footcare tips from The Society of Chiropodists & Podiatrists to get your feet in shape for summer.

1. Trim your toenails for summer

Use proper nail clippers and cut straight across, not too short, and not down at the corners as this can lead to ingrown nails. File them, if that’s easier.

2. Go barefoot

Go barefoot or wear open-toed sandals whenever you can in the hot weather (except when you’re in a communal shower or changing area) to help stop your feet getting sweaty and smelly.

3. Forget flip-flops

Don’t be tempted to wear flip-flops all through the summer. They don’t provide support for your feet and can give you arch and heel pain if you wear them for too long.

4. Change socks daily

If you have to wear socks in hot weather, change them once a day and choose ones that contain at least 70% cotton or wool to keep your feet dry and stop them smelling.

5. Remove hard skin

Hard, cracked skin around the heels is very common in summer, often caused by open-backed sandals and flip-flops rubbing around the edge of the heel. Use a foot file, emery board or pumice stone to gently rub away the hard skin, then apply a rich moisturising cream such as aqueous cream or E45 to soften the skin.

6. Banish blisters

Blisters strike more often in hot weather. They’re caused by rubbing, especially between the toes if you’re wearing flip-flops with "thongs".

Lorraine Jones, a podiatrist from The Society of Chiropodists & Podiatrists, says the key to preventing summer blisters is to keep your feet dry, wear shoes or sandals that fit well and aren’t too loose, and give your feet ample rest so they don’t get hot and sweaty.

If you do get a blister, don’t put a plaster over it. Leave it to dry out on its own.

7. Ring the changes

Wear a variety of different sandals and shoes during summer to help prevent cracked heels, hard skin and blisters.

Lorraine says: “We understand that when the summer arrives, people are naturally going to opt for lightweight footwear such as flip-flops and flimsy sandals. However, we’d recommend alternating your footwear so that you aren’t wearing this style of shoe day in and day out."

8. Watch out for foot infections

The floors of communal showers and changing rooms at open-air and hotel swimming pools are hot spots for infections such as athlete’s foot and verrucas. Don’t wander around public pools barefoot. Protect your feet by wearing flip-flops in the changing room and at the pool edge.

9. Tackle sweat

If you have sweaty feet in the summer, it’s even more important to wash your feet each morning and evening in warm, soapy water then dry them thoroughly. You can also use an antibacterial wash, which helps deal with foot odour. Then wipe them with cotton wool dipped in surgical spirit and dust them with talc.

Here's more advice on how to stop smelly feet.

10. Get help if you need it

Basic hygiene and nail cutting should be all you need to keep your feet healthy. But if you have any problems, such as hard skin that you can’t get rid of, it's best to seek professional help.

Your GP will be able to advise you on local foot services.

Registered podiatrists (also known as chiropodists) are trained in all aspects of care for the feet. The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists can help you find a local podiatrist.

You may be able to get NHS treatment from a podiatrist or chiropodist. Ask your GP or local podiatrist or chiropodist to see if you qualify for free treatment.

13-April 2014

*Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo price dropped to Rs. 17,100

Samsung has officially slashed the price of Galaxy Grand Neo to Rs. 17,100. The smartphone is available on Samsung India's official online store at the new price, though the street price across physical and online retail stores may be even lower.

Notably, the Galaxy Grand Neo was launched in India alongside the Galaxy note 3 Neo in February carrying a price tag of Rs. 18,450.

Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo is a dual-SIM (dual standby) device which features a 5.1-inch TFT display with WVGA (480x800 pixel) resolution. The Android 4.2 Jelly Bean-based smartphone is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Cortex A7 processor, alongside 1GB of RAM.

The Galaxy Grand Neo carries a 5-megapixel rear camera and a VGA (0.3-megapixel) front-facing camera. It also comes with LED-flash support and auto-focus feature for the rear camera, along with 720p video recording capability.

The Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo comes with 16GB in-built storage, which can be expanded up to 64GB via microSD card. The handset also has support for 3G networks, along with Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz), Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, and GPS/AGPS connectivity options.

Galaxy Grand Neo is powered by a 2100mAh battery, which, the company claims, can run up to 8 hours on 3G Internet usage, and up to 10 hours with Wi-Fi Internet usage. The smartphone measures 143.7x77.1x9.6mm and weighs in at 163 grams.

Galaxy Grand Neo additionally features a multi-window functionality and a modified one-handed operation keypad design.

On Friday, the Samsung Galaxy S5 went on sale in over 125 countries across the globe, including India. The phone has been priced at Rs. 51,500 in India.

*Samsung Galaxy S5 comes bearing these free gifts

Samsung Galaxy S5 went on sale worldwide on Friday in 125 countries including Europe, Middle East, North America, Latin America, and India.

The South Korean giant, in an attempt to boost the sales of its new flagship smartphone is offering limited free subscriptions to various premium services, paid apps, and cloud storage accounts. The Galaxy S5 includes freebies for cloud computing apps, news apps and fitness-centric apps for their health focused Galaxy S5 with heart rate monitor.

Notably, Samsung is offering free subscription to the Wall Street Journal for 6 months worth $160; 12-month subscriptions to Bloomberg Businessweek worth $30, and a total of 1.5TB of cloud storage from Box and Bitcasa.

CNET notes some of the freebies offered to Galaxy S5 owners in UK such as a three months free LinkedIn premium subscription; Evernote premium subscription for three months, and 50GB free cloud storage for two years in Dropbox.

Further, for health junkies, Samsung is offering premium membership to sports community, Endomondo, which in real-time tracks running and cycling via GPS tracking. Other freebies being offered include RunKeeper, MapMyFitness, Skimble, and Lark.

Samsung Galaxy S5 owners in US, on the other hand, will get deals and discount on apps such as Box, Bloomberg Businessweek, Evernote, and PayPal.

According to Samsung's website, Galaxy S5 owners in India will get a free 1-year membership to RunKeeper Elite, which is an app to track fitness activities; a 1-year free premium service of the personal wellness assistant Lark; 6-months Map My Fitness app access which tracks running, cycling, and other activities; free 50GB cloud storage for 6 months on Box, and up to 12-months of Evernote Premium, the note-taking app.

Other freebies being offered to Indian consumers include 6-months free premium service of Skimble; free subscription to the Wall Street Journal for 6 months; 12-month subscriptions to Bloomberg Businessweek; 1TB of cloud storage for 3 months on Bitcasa. On the apps front, the Galaxy S5 comes with Cut the Rope 2, Blurb and Flick Dat. 

You can check the deals on offer by going to the Samsung Gifts app on your brand new smartphone.

Earlier on Friday, the Samsung Galaxy S5 officially went on sale in India and other countries. The Samsung Gear Fit fitness band and Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo smartwatches are also now available across the globe.

*How to Do Your Makeup in the Summer?

When summer comes, you can lighten up your makeup and make it natural and neat-looking. Ditch the heavy makeup and opt instead for a light summery makeup look!

  • Apply concealer wherever needed, but don't go overboard. Try using it just under your eyes and on any blemishes. If you'd rather not wear concealer, skip it and move on to the next step.
  • Apply bronzer or blush. Very lightly apply bronzer, or a tawny-brown or light pink blush on the apples of your cheeks, your nose, your chin, and your hairline. Keep it looking natural.
  • Apply eyeshadow (optional). Use a natural color around your eyes if you choose to wear any shadow, and do not apply it above your crease at all.
  • Put on a little waterproof mascara. A little mascara will bring your eyes out, but a soft brown shade is better than black to thicken your lashes without being obvious. Skip the liner.
  • Add lip gloss. Apply a lip balm with an SPF to protect them, then top it off with a clear, nude, light pink, or peach-orange gloss. Natural colors are key here. Add a little shine, but don’t worry about adding color.
  • Start out by washing your face with a gentle facial cleanser. Pat dry and apply a light facial moisturizer with an SPF of 15 or higher to keep your skin protected from the harsh summer rays.
  • Apply some powder. Skip liquid and cream foundations in the summer, and instead use a very light mineral foundation with an SPF. Blend it well to regulate your skin tone. Don't go for the orange "oompa-loompa" look. Orange is for the summer sunsets, not your face.
  • Finished

12-April 2014

*Samsung Galaxy S5 review

Every time the Samsung Galaxy S counter flips a digit, the world is getting ready to be amazed. The lineup that stood up to the iPhone and has been pulling Android to the very top of the food chain, is under new leadership effective last month, with Number 5 keen to prove its flagship worth.

Upgrades are all over the place: a faster chipset, a bigger screen, a couple of exciting new sensors (heart rate monitor and fingerprint scanner), with a vastly improved camera on top. The issue of the played out design is also taken care of and the S5 is treated to a new sort of finish, better than what the widely praised Galaxy Note 3 got.

There's 4K video recording and a bigger battery - the list just goes on. We've tried to sum up the main things the Galaxy S5 has going for and against it below:
Key features
  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE; quad-band 3G with HSPA; LTE
  • 5.1" 16M-color 1080p Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen; Adobe RGB mode
  • Android OS v4.4 KitKat with TouchWiz UI
  • Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400 CPU, Adreno 330 GPU; Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16 MP ISOCELL camera with phase-detect autofocus, 1/2.6" 16:9 sensor and LED flash
  • 2160p video recording @ 30fps, 1080p @ 60fps, 720p @ 120fps
  • 2 MP front-facing camera, 1080p video recording
  • Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct and DLNA, Download booster
  • 16GB/32GB of built-in storage
  • microSD card slot
  • IP67 certification for dust and water resistance
  • Fingerprint scanner with PayPal payments support and private mode access
  • microUSB 3.0 port with USB host and MHL 2.0; Backwards compatibility with microUSB 2.0
  • Bluetooth v4.0
  • NFC
  • IR port for remote control functionality
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Accelerometer and proximity sensor
  • Barometer, thermometer, hygroscope
  • Heart-rate monitor
  • IR gesture sensor for Air gestures
  • Smart gestures: Smart stay, Smart pause, Smart scroll
  • Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
  • Ample 2,800mAh battery

Main disadvantages

  • No OIS or dedicated camera key
  • Rear-mounted mono speaker
  • Poor video codec support out of box

It is a list that grows with every installment, but experience has taught us that there's more to a smartphone than the sum of its parts. When you're dealing with a flagship device of the Galaxy S5's caliber, you are always going to want more than premium design and software tricks that sound cool on paper.

It's the stuff that helps you get things done and skills you can't find anywhere else that seal the deal at this level. The Samsung Galaxy S5 has a name that's bound to get a lot of interest and plenty of exclusive features to make you want to give it a try. But the question we'll try to answer is will it convince you to spend your hard-earned cash.

Are the new, larger sensor and the first-of-its-kind phase-detect autofocus actually making a difference? Can the larger battery make up for the bigger screen and higher clock speed? And does the new finish work in real life or only makes good publicity? Those are just some of the questions will try and answer on the following pages and, as tradition goes, we start with the physical examination.


11-April 2014


*Galaxy S5: Expert views on Samsung's latest smartphone

The Galaxy S5's new heart rate reader could come in useful for Samsung Electronic's investors.

The South Korean firm warned earlier this week that it expected its profits to fall for the second quarter running.
Several analysts suggest the high-end market is becoming saturated, meaning most people wanting a premium phone already own one, making it harder to sell them another.
"Year to date, the share price of Samsung Electronics continues to underperform both in absolute terms and against the Kospi [Korea Composite Stock Price Index] as well," Taewoo Kim, portfolio manager of Fidelity's Korea fund tells the BBC.
"This weak performance reflected investors' concerns on its smartphone business particularly in the high-end segment as a result of elevated competition."

* Regular aerobic exercise may prevent dementia

 Regular aerobic exercise may prevent dementia

London: Take up regular aerobic exercise to slow down the advance of dementia and other signs of cognitive decline, a study suggests.
Such exercise seems to boost the size of the area of the brain (hippocampus) involved in verbal memory and learning among women whose intellectual capacity has been affected by age.
For the study, the researchers tested the impact of different types of exercise on the hippocampal volume of 86 women who said they had mild memory problems, known as mild cognitive impairment - and a common risk factor for dementia.
All the women were aged between 70 and 80 years old and were living independently at home.
Roughly equal numbers of them were assigned to either twice weekly hour long sessions of aerobic training (brisk walking); or resistance training, such as squats, and weights; or balance and muscle toning exercises, for a period of six months.
The size of their hippocampus was assessed at the start and the end of the six month period by means of an MRI scan, and their verbal memory and learning capacity was assessed before and afterward using a validated test (RAVLT).
Only 29 of the women had before and after MRI scans, but the results showed that the total volume of the hippocampus in the group who had completed the full six months of aerobic training was significantly larger than that of those who had lasted the course doing balance and muscle toning exercises.
The study appeared in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

10-April 2014


* Nokia 225 announced, claims to be the slimmest, affordable Internet phone

Nokia-225Nokia today announced a new phone in its affordable, entry-level mobile phone series, the Nokia 225. At 10.4mm thin and priced at approximately Rs 3,200, Nokia says it is its slimmest and affordable Internet connected phone. Running on Series 30 operating system, the Nokia 225 might not be your typical smartphone but Nokia says users will be able to browse the Internet and it will also come preloaded with Facebook and Twitter apps. 

Though specifications are sketchy at best right now, the Nokia 225 features a 2.8-inch QVGA display, a 2-megapixel rear camera, a microSD card slot and a battery that can last up to 36 days in single-SIM and 27 days in dual-SIM variant in standby mode. Its 1,200mAh battery can work as a music player for 51 hours on the trot or up to 21 hours of talk time. 

The Nokia 225 will go on sale later this quarter and will be available in five colors – black, white, green, red and yellow – for approximately Euro 39 or Rs 3,200. It also features a splash proof keypad. However, what we are most interested in knowing is the kind of 3G speed the Nokia 225 will support. We will update this post as soon as we come to know more details about it. 

In the meanwhile, check out this cool promo video of the phone.

* 50 cent ordered to pay in headphone case

BRADENTON, Florida: Federal court records show that rapper 50 Cent has been ordered to pay a Bradenton earphone manufacturer more than US$16 million in connection with a failed partnership to produce the entertainer’s line of headphones.

The Bradenton Herald  reports that 50 Cent, whose real name is Curtis Jackson III, was ordered to pay Sleek Audio nearly $4.5 million in attorney fees and US$11.7 million in damages. 

The U.S. District Court in Miami affirmed the award in late March after a three-year legal battle.


Records allege that Jackson, a Sleek partner, stole the designs of over-the-ear headphones he asked the company to conceptualize and manufacture.



Jackson has been selling headphones of a similar design under the 50-Over line with another manufacturer.--AP




* Shield Face before applying make-up

It's best to focus on health of your facial skin before exposing it to coloured cosmetics, suggests an expert. 

Priya Kalra, make-up expert and founder of Grace and Glamour unisex salons, doles out tips on the way to prepare your skin for a summer make-up: 

* Cleanse face: It is the first step that one should opt for especially if you have oily skin. Then pat dry and apply a light facial moisturiser with SPF to protect from sun's rays.

*Choose powder, chuck liquid foundation: You can also use a light mineral foundation. Before applying, you need to blend it properly. This will help your skin look natural and will protect your skin from getting oily. 

* Eye make-up: Choose soft shades of green, blue, pinks or earthy tones with light coloured highlighter. Apply base colour and then colours which one needs to highlight on corners or on eyeline by using liquid eyeliner or eye pencil. Use kohl in the end to complete the look.

* Blusher: You can apply light pink blush on the apples of your cheeks, nose, chin, and hairline. When not overdone, it will help to look natural.

* Lip balm with SPF: To complete your look, you can add lip balm with SPF that will protect your lips from summer heat.


9-April 2014


*Samsung Galaxy S5 price, best deals, news and rumours (EE, Vodafone, O2, Three)

The Samsung Galaxy S5 launches on 11 April, but you can already pre-order the phone from EE, Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone, O2 and Three or buy it direct from Samsung or Carphone Warehouse. 

Is this the best Android phone yet? We've also compared it to the brilliant Galaxy S4 and HTC One (m8) so you can work out which phone to buy or if you should upgrade. 

All the best Samsung Galaxy S5 UK deals are below: 



The Galaxy S5 is available to pre-order directly from Samsung if you don't want to be tied into a contract or to a particular network. You'll have to pay for the privilege, however; the current pre-order price is a whopping £579.

Currently the best SIM-free deal looks to be from Carphone Warehouse, with the retailer currently selling the Galaxy S5 for £569.95.


Put down £10 upfront and EE will sell you a Galaxy S5 on a two year, £43 a month contract. You get a generous 10GB of 4G data and access to the fastest LTE network in the UK for your cash, as long as you're in one of the towns and cities that EE has upgraded with 4G coverage. 

You can reduce the monthly cost down to £33, keeping unlimited calls and texts, double speed 4G and 4GB of data, but you'll have to shell out £260 upfront for the phone. 

At least EE has a nice incentive; anyone taking out a pre-order before the 10th of April will qualify for a return flight to one of several European destinations. 

Orange and T-Mobile

Essentially the cheaper 3G alternatives to EE's 4G contracts, both Orange and T-Mobile have very similar deals. The cheapest T-Mobile monthly contract costs £28 for unlimited 3G data and 500 minutes, but you have to drop £230 on the handset upfront. Orange reduces the upfront cost to £199 and ups the number of minutes to 1,000, but only includes 500MB of data. 


With no downpayment required, Vodafone will let you get your hands on a Galaxy S5 from £47 per month. You'll be tied in to a two year contract, but will get unlimited calls and texts, and 2GB of 3G data. 

If you want access to Vodafone's 4G network the Galaxy S5 is available with no down payment from £52 a month. You get unlimited calls and data, 5GB of data and free access to either Spotify Premium or Sky Sports Mobile TV. 


If you don't want to put any money down upfront, O2 will charge you £48 per month for 5GB of 4G data on the Refresh tariff (which uncouples the phone from your SIM should you want to upgrade early). Otherwise you could pay £70 for the handset then £38 a month thereafter for 2GB of data. 

You can also buy the phone outright from O2, although it'll cost you a huge amount of money and you'll still be locked into a contract. For £650 upfront and then £13 per month you get 500 minutes, unlimited texts and a paltry 500MB of data. 


The unlimited data deal makes Three a particularly tempting proposition for would-be Galaxy S5 owners. All customers automatically get 4G for no extra charge, so if you pay £29 upfront and £41 thereafter you can surf, tweet and stream to your heart's content. Alternatively for £29 upfront and £38 per month on a two-year contract you can get unlimited data, 600 minutes and unlimited texts. 

If you aren't permanently tied to the internet and spend more time talking the alternative £38 per month contract might be better. It carries the same £29 upfront fee, but includes unlimited calls and texts and 2GB of data. 


You could get a good deal on a Galaxy S5 if you already have broadband through Virgin Media - all tariffs are £10 less for existing customers. The cheapest monthly contract will set you back £29, with a £99 payment upfront, but is truly frugal when it comes to allowances; 250 texts, 250MB of 3G data and 100 minutes of calls are all you get. 

You get a much better allowance by jumping to the £37 tariff, which includes unlimited calls and texts, and 2GB of data. You'll still need to put down £29 for the handset, and tie yourself in for two years though.

*Apple patents smart headphones

Dubbed ‘System and method of detecting a user’s voice activity using an accelerometer’, Apple’s patent describes in-ear headphones that have built in accelerometer and react to the users voice. 

The patent was published on Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark Office,. 

Examples of how it could be used is that the earbuds will automatically suppress the audio when it detects your voice. In addition, the system can be used to filter out any background noise, and just focus on the sound of your voice.

It’s possible that the system could be used in conjunction with Siri to make the virtual assistant much more responsive and accurate.

According to the patent itself, the system is based on "A method of detecting a user’s voice activity in a mobile device is described herein. The method starts with a voice activity detector (VAD) generating a VAD output based on acoustic signals received from microphones included in the mobile device and data output by an inertial sensor that is included in an earphone portion of the mobile device. 

“The inertial sensor may detect vibration of the user’s vocal chords modulated by the user’s vocal tract based on vibrations in bones and tissue of the user’s head. A noise suppressor may then receive the acoustic signals from the microphones and the VAD output and suppress the noise included in the acoustic signals received from the microphones based on the VAD output.” 

8-April 2014

* Samsung Posts Second Straight Profit Drop on Lower Prices

Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), the world’s biggest maker of smartphones, posted its second straight decline in quarterly profit as stalling demand lowers prices for Galaxy devices and components.

Operating profit fell to 8.4 trillion won ($8 billion) in the three months ended March from 8.8 trillion won a year earlier, the Suwon, South Korea-based company said in a statement today. The result compares with the 8.3 trillion-won average of 29 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Sales of high-end products are slowing because of market saturation and the debuts of new Apple Inc. (AAPL) iPhones, curbing earnings at the world’s biggest smartphone maker at the same time it focuses more on lower-priced devices. The marquee Galaxy S5 smartphone and an expanded range of tablet computers are being released to spark demand as competition from Chinese producers hits display-unit income.

“The first-quarter is typically a weak selling season for all technology companies,” said Soh Hyun Cheol, a Seoul-based analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp. “High-end smartphone sales may have slightly missed the market consensus because it’s no longer a secret that the growth in the premium space is slowing.”

Shares of Samsung fell 0.9 percent to 1,385,000 won as of 10:13 a.m. in Seoul, paring its gains to about 1 percent this year. The stock dropped 9.9 percent last year, its first annual decline since 2008.

Sales Miss

Sales were about 53 trillion won in the quarter, the company said today. That compares with the 54 trillion-won average of 33 estimates.

Samsung didn’t provide net income or details of divisional earnings with audited results due to be reported later this month.

In the December quarter, earnings fell 7.9 percent from a year earlier.

First-quarter operating profit at the mobile unit, the company’s biggest business, was probably 5.9 trillion won on sales of 33 trillion won, according to the median estimates of six analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. The unit’s profit has fallen from a record 6.7 trillion won in the third quarter of 2013.

Samsung unveiled the 5.1-inch Galaxy S5 smartphone with a fingerprint reader in February, and the device is due to be available outside South Korea starting April 11 as it seeks to fight back against the iPhone 5s and 5c released in September.

Large Screens

“The significance of S5 device has somewhat dropped compared to its predecessors,” Lee Sun Tae, a Seoul-based analyst at NH Investment & Securities, said by phone today.

The company’s smartphone shipments reached 90 million units in the first quarter, according to Nomura Holdings Inc. estimates. In the fourth quarter of 2013, Samsung shipped 86 million smartphones worldwide, research firm Strategy Analytics said Jan. 27.

Samsung will release its next large-screen Note device in the second half of this year, Lee Young Hee, executive vice president of the mobile business, said in a Jan. 6 interview. The newest Note may use a three-sided display so messages can be read from an angle.

The company’s grip on the large-screen market it pioneered with products such as the 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 3 faces new threats from other producers. Apple is developing new iPhone designs including bigger screens, a person familiar with the plans said last year.

New Tablets

Such a move may hurt Samsung’s earnings and market share, according to Nomura.

In January, Samsung announced its largest tablet, with a 12.2-inch screen, as it seeks to win more business customers with features that allow users to split the display into four windows running different applications.

Also, Samsung may book as much as $290 million in charges related to its patent dispute with Apple, Seo Won Seok, an analyst at Korea Investment & Securities in Seoul, said in a March 28 report.

The display unit, which dominates the market for screens using organic light-emitting diodes, probably had operating profit of 100 billion won in the first quarter, down 87 percent from a year earlier, according to the Bloomberg News survey.

Sales at the unit declined 13 percent to 6.2 trillion won, according to the six analysts surveyed.

*How can watermelon help lower blood pressure?

Drop your blood pressure down a few notches by enjoying this pink, juicy picnic treat more often: watermelon.

Turns out watermelon is loaded with an amino acid called L-citrulline. And in a small study of prehypertensive people, this compound helped improve circulation and lowered people's systolic blood pressure by as much as nine points. Pretty sweet!

Nine points may sound like a small drop. But it's enough of a drop to prevent prehypertension from progressing to full-blown hypertension. And a drop in aortic systolic blood pressure is thought to be especially important in mitigating cardiovascular disease risk. In the study, not only did people's systolic blood pressure drop when they took a watermelon extract of L-citrulline and L-arginine, but their blood flow arterial function also improved compared with the placebo group. The watermelon extract used in the study contained approximately 2.7 grams of L-citrulline, which is the same amount you'd get from about seven cups of watermelon juice. That's a lot of juice. But other studies have shown blood pressure benefits with smaller amounts, so don't feel like you have to eat the whole melon.

Just what's so great about L-citrulline from watermelons? In the body, this compound gets converted into another amino acid that's key to the formation of nitric oxide -- that stuff that helps open and relax arteries. So whether you slice it, dice it, or juice it, you'll want some watermelon year-round, not just on your summer menu.

Take the RealAge Test!

7-April 2014

*HTC One X, Nokia E6, Windows Mobile

Welcome to this week's edition of Counterclockwise – our weekly article that looks back in time at what happened in the last few years. This week it's a rollercoaster as predictions of future market share miss by a mile, while makers of smartphone apps sell for more money than makers of smartphones. We do have several high-profile phone launches to reminisce about too.

Rise and fall

At the very end of March 2011 IDC made some bold predictions – by 2015 iOS and BlackBerry will lose ground and the fresh Windows Phone 7 OS will climb to the #2 spot globally. With the benefit of hindsight, it's easy to see the analysts were very wide off the mark.

The prediction for iOS was that it will mostly keep steady and according to Gartner's numbers for 2013 it's doing just that.

Everything else, however, IDC got wrong. For one, its analysts were predicting BlackBerry will slip by a couple of percent, while in 2013 the global share of BB OS was under 2%. Now it's a question of whether the company as a whole will exist in 2015.

The Windows Phone 7 prediction was even less accurate – Microsoft's OS (rather its reincarnation as WP8) is a distant third with less than double BlackBerry's share. Nokia did put out some impressive handsets a few days ago, but we doubt they'll be enough to reach the predicted market share of 21% in less than two years.

A year after IDC's prediction, RIM posted a negative quarter, again, and then CEO Thorsten Heins wanted the company to refocus on the business sector that pushed the company to the top in the past. Since then the company changed its name and its CEO, what didn’t change (unfortunately) is bottom line – it's still red.

6-April 2014

*Satya Nadella's big move: Microsoft to offer Windows Phone for free

Microsoft Corp is to give away its Windows operating system to makers of smartphones and small tablets for consumers as it seeks to make more of an impact on those fast-growing markets and counter the massive success of Google Inc's free Android platform.

Microsoft's move, announced at its annual developers conference in San Francisco, is an attempt to broaden the small user base of mobile versions of Windows, in the hope that more customers will end up using Microsoft's money-making, cloud-based services such as Skype and Office. 

Up to now, Microsoft has charged phone and tablet makers between $5 and $15 per device to use its Windows system, as it has done successfully at higher prices for many years with Windows on personal computers. Hardware makers factor the cost of that into the sale price of each device. 

That model has been obliterated in the past few years by the fast adoption of Google's Android system for phones and tablets, which hardware makers quickly embraced and now accounts for more than 75 percent of all smartphones sold last year. Apple Inc's iPhone and iPad account for most of the rest of the mobile computing market. 

By contrast, Windows-powered phones held only 3 percent of the global smartphone market last year. Windows tablets have only about 2 percent of the tablet market, according to tech research firm Gartner. 

Free money

Microsoft's move to make Windows free for some consumer devices bucks a central tenet of Bill Gates' original philosophy, that software should be paid for, which led to Microsoft's massive financial success over the last four decades. But analysts said it is a realistic reaction to the runaway success of free Android. 

"Microsoft is facing challenges on the mobile and tablet fronts and need to change their strategy to move the growth needle, this is a good and logical first step," said Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets. 

Windows will be free for companies making phones and tablets with screen sizes under nine inches (23 cm) for the consumer market. A license fee will still apply for business devices. 

It comes a week after new Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella unveiled new versions of Word, PowerPoint and Excel applications for Apple Inc's iPad. A year's free subscription to Microsoft's cloud-based Office 365 service will be offered on the new devices running the free Windows, Microsoft said. 

Both moves show that Microsoft is now more interested in gaining market share for its cloud-based services such as Office on any platform or device, rather than its traditional approach of putting Windows at the center of everything it does and extending its influence from there. 

In the new era of mobile computing, Nadella acknowledged Microsoft's underdog status. 

"We are going to innovate with a challenger mindset," said Nadella in a question and answer session at the developer conference. "We are not coming at this as some incumbent trying to do the next version of Windows, we are going to come at this by innovating in every dimension." 

Nadella did not have a snappy answer to the question of what Microsoft's overarching mission now was, after it had achieved its original goal of putting a computer on every desk and in every home. Instead he elaborated on remarks he made last week about the importance of mobile devices as everything we do becomes digitized and connected to the internet. 

"Our vision, simply put, is to thrive in this world of mobile first, cloud first," said Nadella. "Our goal is to really build platforms, create the best end-user experiences, the best developer opportunities and IT infrastructure for this ubiquitous computing world." 

Siri rival

Also at the gathering, Microsoft formally announced it has developed a voice activated phone assistant feature called Cortana, a direct rival to Apple's Siri. 

The feature has been rumored for some months and a test version was demonstrated at the event by Joe Belfiore, a Windows Phone executive. 

The Cortana service, which can take verbal instructions to search the Web, set alarms, make calls and a host of other actions, is still in beta testing but will soon be a standard feature on Windows phones, said Belfiore. 

He announced that the latest version of Microsoft's smartphone software, called Windows Phone 8.1, will be rolled out to consumers as a downloadable upgrade in the next few months, and new phones running the software will be in stores by late April or early May.

5-April 2014

*Samsung Galaxy S5 has the best performing smartphone display: DisplayMate

Gone are the days when touch responsiveness was the biggest concern in a touchscreen smartphone. Now the smartphone generation has moved to bigger and better displays in terms of colour reproduction, accuracy, contrast ratio, viewing angles, and more.

A major player in display test kit manufacturing business - DisplayMate Technologies - has come out with a comprehensive report on the display of the South Korean smartphone manufacturer's latest flagship - the Samsung Galaxy S5. The company has declared that the new Samsung Galaxy S5 has "the best performing smartphone display that we have ever tested" based on its extensive lab tests. 

Notably the Galaxy S5 features a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display with a 1080x1920 pixel full-HD resolution. DisplayMate has detailed the long list of new records for the best Smartphone display performance by Galaxy S5. This includes "highest brightness, lowest reflectance, highest colour accuracy, infinite contrast ratio, highest contrast rating in ambient light, and smallest brightness variation with viewing angle." 

DisplayMate says the AMOLED display on the Galaxy S5 performs better in outdoor lighting than any device it has yet tested. The Galaxy S5's display is said to be brighter than its predecessor the Galaxy S4's (by 22 percent) display, and the company's current flagship phablet, the Galaxy Note 3's (by 13 percent) display. It is the most accurate display ever tested on a smartphone or tablet when in Cinema mode, report added. 

Not just the colour reproduction, saturation, accuracy, brightness and contrast ratio, the Galaxy S5 scores over S4 and others in display power efficiency as well. 

"In fact, the Galaxy S5 is 27 percent more power efficient than the full-HD LCD smartphones we recently tested for mixed image content (that includes photos, videos, and movies, for example) with a typical 50 percent Average Picture Level, APL." 

For a long time, Samsung's implementation of OLED technology couldn't excel because of oversaturated colours, but it looks like with the Galaxy S5 the South Korean giant is finally challenging the performance of other types of displays. DisplayMate will soon be releasing results of its Galaxy S5 shootout, giving us a more accurate picture of just where the Galaxy S5's display stands when compared to such smartphone luminaries as the Sony Xperia Z2, HTC One (M8), and the iPhone 5s.

4-April 2014

*Nokia announces Lumia 630, 635 and 930; Lumia Cyan update to include WP 8.1 and more

I am in San Francisco today to meet with Nokia and check out their latest news regarding Windows Phone 8.1. After the Microsoft announcement, Nokia revealed the Nokia Lumia 630 and 635, as well as the Nokia Lumia 930. They also revealed the details of their Lumia Cyan Windows Phone 8.1 update plan.

The Nokia Lumia 520/521 are extremely popular due to their functionality combined with low prices. T-Mobile announced they will be releasing the Nokia Lumia 635 as the first device sold in the US loaded with Windows Phone 8.1. The Lumia 635 has a 4.5 inch ClearBlack display, 5 megapixel camera, 1.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 512MB of RAM, 8GB of storage, microSD card, and 1830 mAh battery.

The Nokia Lumia 630 is nearly the same as the 635 with a matte finish and a dual-SIM model option. MSRP looks to be between $159 and $189 for these devices.

I am personally much more interested in the Nokia Lumia 930 that looks to be a Nokia Lumia Icon with a GSM radio and cool looking back options. It has a 5 inch 1080p display, 20 megapixel PureView camera, 1.2 megapixel front facing wide-angle camera, 2.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, 2 GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, and Qi charging for its 2,420 mAh battery. It will be available in bright orange, bright green, black, and white.

3-April 2014

Philips, Armin van Buuren team together for A5-Pro DJ headphones

Philips and DJ star Armin van Buuren have paired together for a pair of A5-Pro professional DJ headphones, designed to meet the needs of a globe-trotting DJ. 

Van Buuren and Philips collaborated on the headphones to combine an aluminum close-back fit with audio accuracy and clarity. The A5-Pro headphones aren't designed for your son or daughter's iPod, instead for professional monitoring and mixing. 

The Philips A5-PRO headphones feature 50mm high-definition neodymium drivers engineered for 3500mW high power handling. Philips also brags there are dual-sided locking cable units, replaceable soft isolating ear-cushions, 90 degree swivel ear shells, a genuine leather headband, detachable coil cable, and compact folding design.

31-March 2014

Apple and Samsung in new round of patent battle in US court

Apple and Samsung will return to federal court in the heart of Silicon Valley on Monday for a new round in their seemingly perpetual patent war.

The case concerns smartphone and tablet patents and is just the latest in a long-running feud between the two tech giants, who are battling for supremacy in a multi-billion-dollar market. 

"The parties tried hard to accuse each other's latest and greatest products, but US patent litigation is slow, which is why this 2014 trial will be about 2012 and pre-2012 products," intellectual property analyst Florian Mueller said in a post at website 

The rivals will face off once again before District Court Judge Lucy Koh in the California city of San Jose. 

Koh presided over a trial last year that ended with a jury declaring Samsung owed Apple more that a billion dollars in damages for infringing patents with some older model Android-powered devices. 

The damages award was later trimmed to $929 million and is being appealed. 

If this new trial goes in Apple's favor, it could result in an even bigger award since it involves better-selling Samsung devices built with Google-backed Android software. 

This time California-based Apple is taking aim at Samsung's flagship Galaxy line crafted to challenge the iPhone in the high-performance end of the market.

"Both in the United States and globally, Apple and Samsung have established themselves as fierce competitors in the smartphone market and fierce adversaries in the courtroom," Koh said during rulings on injunctions, testimony and other matters ahead of trial.

28-March 2014

iPhone 6 Reportedly Releasing in September in Two Sizes

Apple's iPhone 6 will release as early as September in two sizes, according to a recent report. 

Nikkei reports that the iPhone 6 will come in 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch versions, which are both larger than the 4-inch screen of the iPhone 5S. In addition, the new smartphone's display resolution will see a significant boost from current models.

Photos of the purported iPhone 6 leaked last month, showcasing a larger screen, an ultra thin bezel, and Touch ID. And rumors about the new Apple smartphone sporting a bigger display popped up earlier this year, with reports pegging the size at 4.8 inches, which is close to the latest information. 

Along with news about Apple's iPhone 6, there have been numerous rumors about iOS 8 over the past few months. Reports suggest iOS 8 will focus on fitness and overhaul the Maps app. Stay tuned to IGN for all the latest on iPhone 6 and iOS 8.

*Facebook looks to drones, lasers and satellites for Internet access  

Two thirds of the world population does not have Internet access. Facebook already has more than a billion users on its service, but before it can sign up the rest of world it needs to get them online. 

The social media company announced a new step in its ambitious plan to bring affordable, basic Internet access to "every person in the world." Facebook's new Connectivity Lab will research and test experimental technology including drones, satellites and lasers to spread the reach of the Internet to isolated locations that currently do not have Internet. 

"We've been working on ways to beam Internet to people from the sky," said CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a post announcing the new effort. 

Last year, Facebook announced, a coalition of major tech companies working together to lower barriers to Internet access using more traditional methods, such as making it cheaper to get Internet on cell phones. Those efforts have been responsible for getting 3 million more people online, according to Zuckerberg. 

This new initiative focuses on experimenting with new technology. The group is working with drones that can stay in the air for months at a time, bringing Internet connections to suburban areas. In more rural spots, satellites will be tested as a way to beam connections to the people on the ground. The group will attempt to make speedier long distance connections using invisible infrared laser beams. 

The developers who keep redesigning your Facebook news feed will not be dabbling in satellites and drones. Facebook has brought on aerospace experts from NASA and the team who built the Zephyr solar-powered drone. 

Internet access is a cause major technology companies can easily get behind. It's a smart business investment that doubles as a charitable cause. 

Google announced plans to tackle the issue last summer with its own ambitious Project Loon. Instead of drones, the company is testing giant balloons that travel in the earth's stratosphere for 100 days at a time. Using specialized antennas, the balloons will deliver Internet at 3G speeds. 

Both companies frame their plans to bring the Internet to the entire world as altruistic, not as a land grab. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates dismissed some of these efforts in an interview with Bloomberg in 2013, saying "when a kid gets diarrhea, no, there's no website that relieves that." 

In many of the world's most remote areas, poverty is a more pressing concern than Internet connectivity. People cannot afford electricity or clean water, let alone phones. However, humanitarian organizations have been pushing for more access in these remote areas to improve the efficiency of aid work. For example, it would make it easier to set up remote health care stations in situations where the nearest doctors or hospitals are hours or days away. 

In countries where the Internet is already more widespread, unfettered access allows for freedom of speech and expression. So much so that the United Nations declared access to the Internet a basic human right in 2011. Governments can still censor or filter access to control what information is disseminated, as the Turkish government is doing with its recent attempts to block Twitter and YouTube. 

For now, the Connectivity Lab is focusing on the technical challenges of delivering the Internet to geographically tricky spots. Eventually, low cost Internet and cell phone use could spread to the populations in these areas and when it does, maybe they'll sign up for Facebook.                                                                                                                                                                     

27-March 2014

Samsung Galaxy S5 launch price roundup

Samsung launched its Galaxy S5 flagship smartphone at MWC 2014 amidst much fanfare, and also announced that the device will go on sale in 150 countries starting from 11 April 2014.

At the announcement however, the South Korean manufacturer did not reveal the price of the Samsung Galaxy S5.

Earlier on Friday, Samsung announced that its Galaxy S5 smartphone, accompanied by the Gear 2 and Gear Fit wearables, will be globally previewed (hands-on demo) and will also go up for pre-order in more than 61 countries starting Friday (21 March 2014). 

Now, mobile carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile have revealed the pre-order pricing of the Galaxy S5 and this gives us a rough indication of how much the South Korean giant's latest flagship smartphone might cost when it hits other markets, including India. 

AT&T has announced that the Galaxy S5 will be available at $25 per month on an 18 month contract; $32.50 per month on a 12 month contact, or $199.99 on a two-year contract. The mobile carrier has revealed that the Galaxy S5 will be also available at $649.99 (Rs. 39,750 approximately) upfront without any contract. The pre-order for the Galaxy S5 will start in the US via AT&T beginning Friday (21 March 2014). However, the mobile carrier notes that the device will be shipped by early April. 

T-Mobile, on the other hand, has revealed that it will start taking pre-orders for the Galaxy S5 from 24 March 2014 and it will be available at $27.50 per month for a two year contract, with zero down payment. The mobile carrier however, has not announced any off-contract pricing for the 2014 Samsung flagship.

26-March 2014

HTC's next flagship smartphone needs more than Robert Downey Jr.

HTC is rebooting after a difficult year, with the launch Tuesday of an upgraded version of One, its flagship smartphone. But if HTC can’t improve the marketing of its devices, the company will have a hard time turning around its fortunes. 

HTC continued to struggle last year in the shadow of Apple, Samsung Electronics and more successful challengers like Huawei Technologies, LG Electronics and Lenovo. While they all increased their smartphone shipments, HTC’s total shipments dropped, despite a smartphone market that grew by over 40 percent, according to Strategy Analytics.

The year was capped off with a fourth quarter in which HTC’s net profit dropped precipitously.

“HTC had a nightmare 2013 and will want to forget it quickly. The company lost a large piece of its market share in 2012 and that carried on last year. It hasn’t been able to stop that slide,” said Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics. 

There is little doubt that HTC will put out another competitive smartphone Tuesday, but that isn’t enough, according to Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner.

25-March 2014

Leaked: Apple’s plan to turn iPhone into your personal doctor

Smartphones can already track and record details of a user's physical activities but if Apple goes ahead with its plans, the next iPhone may come with a new app called Healthbook, which will help people manage almost all aspects of their general health. 

According to screenshots leaked by 9To5Mac, a website that reports on Apple products, Apple is aiming to significantly expand on how smartphones track and record data on a user's health and fitness with Healthbook. 

Currently, phones like iPhone 5S, Galaxy S4 and Nexus 5 have dedicated hardware that allows physical activity apps like Move and Runtastic Pedometer to track the movements of a user and generate reports, showing the number of steps a user took or number of calories consumed every day. But if the supposed screenshots of Healthbook are real, then Apple's iPhone will do lot more.

24-March 2014

Modi Revlon’s new brand to target mass market, take on rivals like Lakme, L’Oreal

Cosmetics maker Modi Revlon will soon roll out a new brand of colour cosmetics priced about 60% cheaper than the existing Revlon range and expand its reach to smaller towns to take on bigger rivals such as Lakme and L'Oreal.

The rollout, in the April-June quarter, will focus on volumes, said UK Modi, chairman and chief executive at Modi Revlon.

"Our pricing and packaging was an impediment to growth...even our distribution was limited," he said. A 74:26 joint venture between the UK Modi group and Revlon of the US, Modi Revlon is yet to establish an aggressive national presence. Modi said the brand has been developed by Revlon US for India, but declined to divulge the brand name.

The brand will sell nail colour at about Rs 60 each and lip colour at under Rs 200, and Modi is banking on it to boost volumes and get a foothold in tier-II and -III cities.

"Maybe we should have done this earlier... it required a lot of support from Revlon US and took two years to develop," he said.

For Modi Revlon, which has been operating in the country since 1995, this is a second shot at the mass market.

In 2002, it had launched a brand of lip and nail colour called StreetWear for teenage consumers at about half the price of Revlon, to take on Hindustan Unilever's Elle 18.

But the brand could not make much headway because of limited focus on distribution and marketing. Modi said StreetWear would not be phased out after the launch of the new brand, at least not in the immediate months.

French cosmetics major L'Oreal, one of the top two cosmetics players in India, is operating independently in the country. Japanese cosmetics firm Shiseido too reportedly plans to set up a wholly-owned subsidiary to ramp up its presence in the country. However, Revlon has so far steered clear of entering the country as an independent subsidiary.

Asked if Revlon would come to India on its own, Modi said the joint venture was a lifetime arrangement between the two, adding that they could split only if both the partners mutually agreed to do so. "But there is no such discussion at the moment," he said.

Though rivals in the cosmetics space such as Lakme and L'Oreal have broadbased their products with an equal focus on skin- or hair-care products as with colour cosmetics, Revlon has not focused much on its hair-care range or fragrances in India.

"Colour cosmetics will be our core focus area...this is in line with Revlon's global strategy," Modi said, adding that 70% of the unlisted firm's sales are contributed by colour cosmetics. The total cosmetics market in India is valued at $8.2 billion, or about Rs 50,245 crore, growing 11.4% a year, according to Data Monitor.

iPhone 6 release date, news and rumors

UPDATED Everything we've heard so far about the new iPhone 6

The new iPhone could be one of the most pivotal devices in the Cupertino brand's history - with the the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C simple updates to previous models, there's a lot of pressure heaped on the iPhone 6.

As per usual, the internet is awash with rumor, speculation and downright lies over this next-generation handset, which is why we spend our time trawling through each nugget of info, debating its merits and curating it into this easy-to-read hub for all things iPhone 6.


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