Blackberry Passport sells out in hours

When Blackberry launched the Passport smartphone last week we wrote about the handset and found that it was very good, a smartphone from Blackberry worth getting excited about. I said at the time that it could hit a sweet spot with its target audience and it seems that is the case as the Passport has gotten off to the perfect start and is on the way to giving Blackberry its first hit in some time.

The company’s CEO John Chen announced that the device was a runaway success, selling out via Blackberry’s official website within 6 hours and on Amazon within 10 hours. That total figure amounts to 200,000 units of the Passport, a very respectable number for a company fighting from a position of virtually no market share. I wrote last week that the Passport is unlikely to become a sales phenomenon across the board simply because it probably lacks broad consumer appeal. Blackberry for the most part knows this, which is why masses of inventory were not stocked and why the company is marketing this as a niche smartphone. Nevertheless, the company could have evidently made more units available and sold them with ease, so in that respect this device is a hit.

Sure, it is not a hit like the 10 million in three days selling iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but for where Blackberry is right now, this is as good as it gets. The company has finally cracked a good phone again and the Passport is obviously desirable, at least to the people Blackberry wants it to be desirable to. The Passport packs a 1440×1440 4.5-inch perfectly square HD screen with a pixel per inch density of 453ppi.
Elsewhere there is a 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 with 3GB of RAM, 32GB of on board storage, a 13MP camera, a microSD card slot, and a 3450 mAh battery. It launches today in five countries (with 30 getting it by the end of the year). The $599 off-contract/$249 on-contract device ($699 in Canada and £529 in the UK, off-contract). Have you picked up a Passport, and what are your early impressions of the handset?

LG to use its Odin chip in the G Pro 3

LG hit its flagship stride with the G3 that was released a few months ago, but the company has been building solidly to the point of having arguably the best handset available for about two years. The company’s streak started to take shape with the original G Pro back in 2013 and was followed by the G2 then the G Pro 2 and ultimately of course the G3. Now the phablet range that got it all started is going to kick things up a notch again, with reports that the upcoming G Pro 3 will be a beast of a smartphone.

Hardly a surprise there, but now that LG is getting things right with its flagship devices in almost all respects, this is one of the most anticipated handsets of 2015. It will land during the first quarter of the year and will be the phablet powerhouse next to the flagship G3. However, LG has decided to follow some of its big rivals and will use its own chipset in the G Pro 3 instead of a Qualcomm sourced one. The G3 comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, so if LG stuck with the company it could put an 805 or even the 64-bit (as yet un-released) 810 into the G Pro 3. Instead though the Korean giant has decided to follow the likes of Apple, Huawei, and Samsung and will use one of its own processers. This chip is known as the LG Odin and will be manufactured by TSMC and is thought to be a 64-bit processer, it would be LG’s first chip. Sources in Korea suggest that the chip is being readied and will be available for use in early 2015, which tallies up nicely to the probable launch window of the G Pro 3. LG has typically launched its phablet flagship at the Mobile World Conference (MWC) in Barcelona and will likely stick with that cycle in 2015 when the event takes place in February. We reached out to LG to ask if it planned to place its own chipset into the G Pro 3 but the company has yet to respond. Perhaps the brand will do similar to Korean rival Samsung and do two variants of the same device (region depending), one with a home sourced chip and the other with a Qualcomm Snapdragon.

Samsung’s Galaxy A5 is made from cold stuff

Samsung rolled out the Galaxy Alpha last month. It was the company’s first handset to be made from premium materials, boasting a metal chassis, although the Galaxy Note 4 has since followed that suit. I like the Alpha but it launched in the UK at a crazy price that makes it more expensive on contract than even full blown flagships. Samsung likes the device too and we have reported previously how the company is expanding the Alpha name and creating a whole series behind it.

The next product in the range looks set to be the Galaxy A5, a handset that has previously been rumoured but leaked today. This shot gathered by serial Samsung whistle-blower SamMobile reveals a handset that is almost the spitting image of the Galaxy Alpha. However, this is a different kind of device as it is not made from plastic or metal, but instead a material that “feels cold on the hands”. Does that mean it is made from ice cream? Not sure, but what we do know is the A5 has the model number SM-A500. The mid-range Alpha has not competition in terms of specs because the Galaxy A5 will sport more budget friendly innards, although we are not sure how Samsung will price this handset. The device gets a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, a 5-inch HD Super AMOLED screen, 16GB of storage, a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, a 5-megapixel front-facing shooter and a 2,300mAh battery. No word on launch dates or price, but we will be sure to keep an eye on this handset.

Tim Cook launches new security page with open letter to Apple consumers

The recent celebrity nude gate was for the most part laid at the feet of Apple, or more to the point the company’s iCloud service. While it was first thought that iCloud was hacked, Cupertino has since confirmed that it was actually a phishing attack that found the passwords to enter celebrity accounts before posting nude images of them online.

Apple CEO Tim Cook reiterated that during his interview with PBS’ Charlie Rose this week, keeping firm that iCloud was not hacked, claiming that the recent Gmail breach was also a phishing attach and Google was not hacked either. Pressed on further privacy concerns in the tech community as a whole, Cook was adamant in the interview that Apple was not interested in consumer information as that is not what makes them money. Cook had a point when he said that you should follow the money to find out which companies would want consumer information. Whether that point is fact is another matter, but he expanded on the point in an open letter on a newly formed “built in security” page on the Apple website. Cook says that he will now start annual updates that show how users? information is used within the company, while he will also make sure Apple is more transparent when it comes to security. The new page focuses on just about every facet of Apple?s business and below you can see the Tim Cook open letter in full.

A message from Tim Cook about Apple’s commitment to your privacy. At Apple, your trust means everything to us. That’s why we respect your privacy and protect it with strong encryption, plus strict policies that govern how all data is handled. Security and privacy are fundamental to the design of all our hardware, software, and services, including iCloud and new services like Apple Pay. And we continue to make improvements. Two-step verification, which we encourage all our customers to use, in addition to protecting your Apple ID account information, now also protects all of the data you store and keep up to date with iCloud. We believe in telling you up front exactly what’s going to happen to your personal information and asking for your permission before you share it with us. And if you change your mind later, we make it easy to stop sharing with us. Every Apple product is designed around those principles. When we do ask to use your data, it’s to provide you with a better user experience. We’re publishing this website to explain how we handle your personal information, what we do and don’t collect, and why. We’re going to make sure you get updates here about privacy at Apple at least once a year and whenever there are significant changes to our policies. A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you?re not the customer. You’re the product. But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy. Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple. One very small part of our business does serve advertisers, and that’s iAd. We built an advertising network because some app developers depend on that business model, and we want to support them as well as a free iTunes Radio service. iAd sticks to the same privacy policy that applies to every other Apple product. It doesn’t get data from Health and HomeKit, Maps, Siri, iMessage, your call history, or any iCloud service like Contacts or Mail, and you can always just opt out altogether. Finally, I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will. Our commitment to protecting your privacy comes from a deep respect for our customers. We know that your trust doesn?t come easy. That?s why we have and always will work as hard as we can to earn and keep it. Tim


Samsung is developing its own sitcom… look away now

Oh please no. I just checked the calendar and no, it’s not April Fool’s Day so this news that Samsung is planning its own sitcom is the real deal. As worrying news goes this is right at the top so we can probably expect many cringe worthy moments ahead from the Korean company. The show is about to start shooting and will be a South Korean production centered on a fictional Samsung worker and his/her friends.

“The series, which will be called “Best Future,” will be written to portray a “young Samsung” that people in their 20s and 30s would want to work for, the reports says. Samsung is taking the name of the series quite literally. The main character, a woman who works at Samsung in the series, will be named Mirae, which ZDNet Korea said means “future” in Korean. The male lead, who shares a boarding house with Mirae, will be named Chaego which means “best” in Korean.” You are already probably imagining the horrible premise of this is going to result in some disastrous car crash television, but we have not finished yet. It also seems that “Best Future” will also be something of a musical when it arrives as a web-exclusive in October. Each episode will be 60 (we presume tortuous) minutes.

The Galaxy Note 4 has the best smartphone screen

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 landed at IFA a few weeks ago and was the blockbuster smartphone we all thought it would be. Its features the very best mobile technology currently available, with its specs sheet reading like a what?s current list in the handset market. It is Samsung’s newest assault against rivals who have sought to outdo the company, but just how good is the Galaxy Note 4?

It turns out some parts of it are actually the very best available. The screen for example is a triumph of technology, a Quad HD monster that has been given huge praise today. DisplayMate, the most respected display authority on this planet and the firm has published its findings on the Galaxy Note 4’s screen. It turns out the company thinks the display is the best out there. “Based on our extensive Lab tests and measurements, the Galaxy Note 4 is the Best performing Smartphone display that we have ever tested. It matches or breaks new records in Smartphone display performance for: Highest Absolute Color Accuracy, Highest Screen Resolution, Infinite Contrast Ratio, Highest Peak Brightness, Highest Contrast Rating in Ambient Light, and the smallest Brightness Variation with Viewing Angle. Its Color Management capability provides multiple Color Gamuts ? a major advantage that is not currently provided by any of the other leading Smartphones. The Galaxy Note 4 delivers uniformly consistent all around Top Tier display performance: it is the first Smartphone display to ever get all Green (Very Good to Excellent) Ratings in all test and measurement categories (except one Yellow for a Brightness Variation with Average Picture Level) since we started the Display Technology Shoot-Out article Series in 2006, an impressive achievement for a display. The Galaxy Note 4 has again raised the bar for top display performance up by another notch.” So, Samsung is on to a winner with its screen, so I think it would be a fair assumption that the next Galaxy Note 4 commercial will be talking this up.

NVIDIA confirms the HTC built Nexus 9 for this quarter

Samsung copies other companies and gets sued a lot. It is almost an unwritten rule of mobile tech, but every so often a Samsung court case where the company is accused of patent infringement tends to throw up some juicy information. The latest brand trying to take Samsung to the cleaners is chip maker NVIDIA (the suit is also against Qualcomm) and during the case some information about the Nexus 9 tablet was released.

NVIDIA accused both Samsung and Qualcomm of copying its GPU technology and like in any court case the company had to prepare certain legal papers. One of those papers listed the devices that use NVIDIA’s Tegra K1 chip (leaked online but since removed) and one of those products was the as yet unreleased HTC built Nexus 9. The company even gives the release window away: “The HTC Nexus 9, expected in the third quarter of 2014, is also expected to use the Tegra K1.” This one statement has answered an awful lot about a slate that so far we have only been able to speculate about, so here are some of the things it clears up: Manufacturer It was obvious that Google would release a new slate this year and it has been widely reported that HTC would be the company of choice to build the hardware. ASUS will not be returning with a Nexus 7, and while HTC’s involvement was fairly certain, it still remained unknown. NVIDIA has very kindly confirmed that the Taiwanese company with a penchant for premium design is indeed on board for Google’s Nexus slate. Name Earlier in the year there were murmurs from Mountain View that the Nexus name could be nixed altogether in favour of Android Silver. As it turns out, Nexus will return in smartphone and tablet form. HTC has been building the device with the codename Volantis, but it has been thought that the 8-inch device could be called the Nexus 8, but it now seems that the original reported name of Nexus 9 is the real one. Specs While the ASUS made Nexus 7 had quality, it was a budget device with a reasonable design. NVIDIA has not confirmed that the tablet will run its blisteringly quick Tegra K1, a chipset that most benchmarks peg as the fastest in the mobile space today. If the Nexus 9 is packing the very best processer technology, it seems entirely likely that HTC and Google will keep the specs and design high end from top to bottom. Launch date HTC has a press event scheduled for later in the month, but it has always seemed more likely that it would be a Google event that would launch the Nexus 9. That event will almost certainly be the Android L official launch, when the new tablet and the Motorola built Nexus 6 smartphone will be unveiled, both the first to run Android L. NVIDIA says that will happen during the third quarter, while Google said L would launch in the fall. Those two timeframe tally up for an end of September/ early October launch, so watch this space.