U.S. version of the Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017) shows up on GFXBench?

Back on the first day of this month, a phone with the model number of SM-J727A surfaced on GFXBench. This is believed to be the Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017). The phone could be offered internationally, and in the states based on an FCC certification. The SM-J727A could be the international model since it is powered by the Exynos 7870 chipset. The latter contains an octa-core 1.5GHz and the Mali-T830 GPU.

Yesterday, another version of the same phone using a serial number of SM-J727VL appeared on GFXBench. This looks to be the U.S. version of the phone since it is powered by the Snapdragon 425 SoC, carrying a quad-core 1.4GHz CPU and the Adreno 308 GPU. The rest of the specs match up perfectly with the specs for the SM-J727A. In other words, it comes with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of native storage. Both models have an 8MP rear-facing camera and a 5MP front-facing snapper for selfies and video chats.

It seems obvious that with the only difference between the two benchmark tests being the inclusion of the Exynos chip on one and the Snapdragon chip on the other, the former is the international Galaxy J7 (2017), while the latter is the U.S. version. To be more specific, it could be a version of the device that is heading to Verizon based on the “VL” at the end of the model number. The phone should be unveiled later this year. Based on a U.S. trademark application, the U.S. model could be launched as the Samsung Galaxy J7 Sky Pro. According to one rumor, besides Verizon, the handset could end up offered in the states by AT&T and U.S. Cellular.

source: GFXBench via TechUpdate3

Google restocks; some Pixel XL models are available again from the Google Store

At Google, the guys with the spreadsheets and calculators have had a problem matching supply with demand for the Google Pixel XL. The larger 5.5-inch version of the first Google designed smartphone has been out of stock for weeks at the Google Store, and those who ordered from Verizon have had to wait weeks if not months for certain versions of the device (namely the 128GB model). Big Red has tried to make nice to those who have ordered the handset and are still waiting for it by sending them a free Google Daydream View VR headset valued at $79 (although on sale now for $49 by Google).

The good news is that Google has finally restocked the Pixel XL in its online store. Not all models are available, mind you. For example, the 128GB variant in Very Silver is still sold out, although that unit is available in Quite Black. If you limit yourself to 32GB of native storage, you can buy the Pixel XL in either color. The limited edition Really Blue, which is only offered with 32GB of native storage, is out of stock.

The 5-inch Google Pixel is available with 32 GB of native storage in all three colors, Very Silver, Quite Black and Really Blue, although the latter ships in 2 to 3 weeks. The 128GB variant of the Pixel is not available in any color.

If you’ve forgotten the pricing structure of the Google Pixel and Pixel XL at the Google Store, it works like this. The Google Pixel handsets are priced at $649, or $27.04 over 24 months. The Pixel XL will cost you $769 or $32.04 over 24 months. If interested, click on the sourcelink.

source: GoogleStore via AndroidAuthority

This leaked photo might show Magic Leap’s augmented reality device prototype

A photo purporting to show a working prototype of Magic Leap’s augmented reality device has leaked.

The device has been shrouded in mystery for years – Magic Leap raised half a billion dollars in investment funds in 2014, and released a demo video last year that amazed many, but we haven’t seen even a sliver of a working machine, at least not until now.

The image was obtained by Business Insider from a source, and the device, which is supposed to be portable, is rough, to say the least.

Credit: Business Insider

Called PEQo – PEQ is the prototype’s name, and the number seemingly refers to the iteration – you can make out a band that wraps almost completely around the wearer’s head, and we guess there’s some kind of lens (or there’s supposed to be) in the front through which viewers see digital images overlain onto the real world. This design would be similar to Microsoft’s HoloLens AR viewer.

The backpack-like case clearly holds computing parts, while BI says the pack in the person’s left hand houses the battery. 

Small steps

Magic Leap’s whole aim with its AR device is to create a product users can take with them anywhere and comfortably slip on, standing apart from other high-end VR and AR headsets on the market that require tethers to a PC. 

From this picture, Magic Leap still has a long way to go to achieve that goal, however BI says the image shows the device as it was in early January. Improvements have been introduced in the weeks since, according to the site’s source.

Magic Leap is facing pressure after a scathing report from The Information said it may have “oversold” what its tech can do and what the startup has shown off won’t actually make it to a commercial product.

The company has a big board meeting scheduled next week, at which it’s expected to demonstrate its working technology. The backpack will be replaced with belt packs, BI’s source said, and the hardware will appear more finished. 

Despite some apparent obstacles, Magic Leap looks to be plodding along with its AR mission. Many questions remain – including how well the device really works, how much it will cost, and when it will release – but it doesn’t appear we’ll have answers to those anytime soon.

You can check out the demo video Magic Leap released last year below:

The LG G6 will officially use the Snapdragon 821 instead of the 835, and it’s a brilliant move

LG’s G6 flagship smartphone is expected to be officially unveiled later this month on February 26, and all signs are pointing to a very interesting piece of tech. LG is expected to ditch the modular design of 2016’s G5 in favor of a more traditional approach with a near bezel-less display. Other expected features include the likes of a dual-camera setup and LG’s own mobile payment system, but one aspect of the phone that’s been up for a bit of debate is the processor that will be powering it.

Samsung is mass-producing the Snapdragon 835 processor for Qualcomm this time around, and because of this partnership, we’ve heard reports indicating that Samsung will be hogging the 835 for its upcoming Galaxy S8 handset that’s expected to debut a few weeks after the G6. Some parties have been holding out hope the these rumors would turn out to be false and that the G6 would, in fact, get the latest and greatest from Qualcomm, but this has just been confirmed to not be the case. Likely to the dismay of many of our readers, LG’s G6 will be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor.

This confirmation comes by way of a photo that was taken at CES 2017 of a confidential LG presentation slide (see above), but while the 821 is no slouch, why would LG decide to outfit its main flagship smartphone with a piece of silicon from last year? The answer is actually quite interesting. Based off of Samsung’s anticipated sales for the Galaxy S8 during its first few weeks of availability, any OEM that wants to equip its handset with the Snapdragon 835 will have to wait to release it around either late May or early June. So, if LG wanted to hold out and equip the G6 with the 835, they’d have to wait to release its phone weeks after the Galaxy S8 has been out in the wild. Some consumers may have been willing to wait a couple more months for the G6’s release if it meant getting the latest and greatest from Qualcomm, but from a business perspective, opting for the 821 was a very smart move on LG’s part.

Most consumers aren’t overly concerned with what processor is powering their phone, as all they care about is whether or not their device is fast for sending out Tweets and Snaps. The Snapdragon 821 is still a very capable piece of silicon, and by not waiting around for the 835 to be available and out of the clutches of Samsung, LG has secured a nice head start over old Sammy. The LG G6 is expected to be available for purchase as early as March after it’s announcement on February 26, and if all of this lines up the way we’re anticipating, that means the G6 will have about six weeks or so of market availability ahead of the Galaxy S8 over in South Korea – arguably the biggest and most important area for both companies. 

In addition to the confirmation of the Snapdragon 821, the leaked photo also reveals that the LG G6 will feature a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, dust and water-resistance, a quad DAC, and that its display will be named “Full Vision.” The G6 may be launching with a slightly less powerful chipset as compared to the Galaxy S8, but that’s not nearly enough to knock the device off of our watchlist. The G6 is still one of the most anticipated phones of 2017, and if releasing its phone a few weeks ahead of Samsung can give the company an edge in sales over the S8, LG may be looking at the head start it needs to beat out one of its fiercest opponents.

Apple boss hints at augmented reality for the iPhone

Apple CEO Tim Cook is a fan of augmented reality. He’s made no secret he thinks it will trounce virtual reality, even going so far as to say AR use will eventually be as common as “eating three meals a day”.

Today, we’ve gotten more from the Apple boss on what he thinks of AR, and while we’re still waiting on a concrete device that projects digital images onto the real world from the iPhone maker, it seems like it’s only a matter of time now.

Cook chatted with The Independent during his visit to the UK this week, and in the interview Cook said he prefers AR over VR because it “allows individuals to be present in the world but hopefully allows an improvement on what’s happening presently.” 

“Most people don’t want to lock themselves out from the world for a long period of time and today you can’t do that because you get sick from it,” Cook said of VR. “With AR you can, not be engrossed in something, but have it be a part of your world, of your conversation. That has resonance.”

Notably, Cook compared AR to probably the biggest consumer electronic device on the planet: 

“I regard it as a big idea like the smartphone,” he said. “The smartphone is for everyone, we don’t have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market: it’s for everyone. I think AR is that big, it’s huge.”

“I get excited because of the things that could be done that could improve a lot of lives. And be entertaining,” Cook continued. “I view AR like I view the silicon here in my iPhone, it’s not a product per se, it’s a core technology.”

Clues to Apple’s AR future

Again, Cook has talked about his excitement for AR before, so there’s no new revelation there. But dig a little deeper, and we get a few hints about how Apple might approach the tech, if ever. 

Cook sounds keen to have AR be both useful and enjoyable, perhaps with applications for education, medicine and the workplace, along with leisure activities, like games. He would also appear to prefer something with see-through lenses, similar to Microsoft HoloLens, that lets users stay engaged with what’s going on around them while also interacting with an AR overlay.

Or, perhaps like 9to5Mac points out, Apple actually isn’t working on a new device at all, but rather developing more AR features for the iPhone. 

“I do think there can be a lot of things that really help people out in daily life, real-life things, that’s why I get so excited out it,” Cook told The Independent. What is more prevalent in our daily lives than our smartphones?

Will Apple release AR tech simliar to Google’s Tango?

The iPhone 8 is rumored to have AR capabilities, including adding 3D effects to photos, and we can see Apple developing AR technology akin to Google’s Tango for phones and tablets, or the Daydream mobile VR platform.

Going this route would allow Apple to dive into AR without building, marketing and selling an entirely new product. What’s more, Cook said he views AR as a core technology, similar to silicon in a handset, suggesting iPhone AR could be applied to other categories, such as tablets, computers and TV. 

All this is certainly possible, though a recent report coming from VR/AR evangelist Robert Scoble, citing sources “at the highest levels,” points to the tech giant teaming up with Carl Zeiss to develop augmented reality glasses, and a standalone VR/AR device has been rumored to be in development at Apple for some time. Cook, of course, could be talking about smart spectacles or other AR device as well.

Whatever Apple is working on behind the scenes, it will likely be a while before we see it in an official capacity. Cook ended his interview with a caution there’s still a ways to go before AR is “good enough for the mainstream,” suggesting Apple, like it usually does, won’t release a product until the tech has reached a certain level of maturity. 

Via 9to5Mac

Some Matte Black iPhone 7 units have paint chipping issues

In September last year, when Apple released the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, it introduced two new color options, previously unseen on iPhones: Matte Black and Jet Black. From the beginning, Apple acknowledged that Jet Black iPhone 7 models were prone to developing “fine micro-abrasions” with time – this meant that users had (and still have) to take extra care of them. As it turns out, some Matte Black iPhone 7 units have a cosmetic issue, too, though this one hasn’t been properly acknowledged by Apple.

A growing number of Matte Black iPhone 7 owners are reporting via Apple’s Support Communities that the paint on their devices has chipped or peeled off. In most cases, the problem affects small areas near the side buttons or the speaker grille. However, in one particular case, the paint has chipped off from the rear of the handset – as you can see in one of the images included below. These issues can show up both with, and without a protective case.

The first peeled / chipped off paint problems have been reported in November, about 2 months after the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus hit the market.

Apple’s iPhone 7 warranty normally doesn’t cover cosmetic damages, so users discovering paint-related issues will likely not receive replacement devices.

If you own a Matte Black iPhone 7 or iPhpne 7 Plus, let us know if you’ve experienced anything similar to the problems depicted in the images and at the source link below.