Reports on the iPhone 5S keep coming in and they're quite mixed, with even a few Apple lovers seemingly jaded by the lack of obvious improvements. My favourite so far is a rather professional-looking clip of a man who's holding two phones, one in each hand, and he keeps getting confused as to which is the new model.
I've seen "iPhone 5 same" and similar descriptions being used for this rather non-update of the previous model. In the United Kingdom they seem to be enamoured with the less expensive 5C plastic-case model with 30% of people opting for this device over the 5S. Across the pond less than a quarter of buyers in the US are making the same choice. It's early days yet, but it will be interesting to see what the sales figures are a month from now.
To be fair, I looked a little more deeply into the new iPhone 5S and it is indeed different, at least on the inside. It has a new A7 processor, a slightly better battery life, a better camera and a fingerprint sensor. Apple really wanted to make sure that you couldn't change the battery, so this time around it's solidly glued into the case. The CPU is from NXP Semiconductors, but made by Samsung using the 28nm hi-K metal-gate process used to make the Galaxy S4's Exynos CPU.
The much-touted Samsung Apple CPU manufacturing break-up will happen when Apple moves to the new A8 CPU series. There are parts from Broadcom, Qualcomm, SK Hymix and Authen Tec (a firm Apple bought in 2012), along with a few other companies, so it's quite an eclectic mix.
Over in Australia, board members of the National Broadband Network (NBN) could end up serving for very limited periods now that tenure has been linked to them meeting delivery targets, something no previous NBN board has been able to do (or even get close to). Most of the board was invited to resign after the recent change of government in Canberra.
Samsung has new sensor technology for its mobile devices. Called Isocell, it is billed as giving a better dynamic colour range in low light and the technology is also thinner, allowing smaller devices to be built.
A few years back the great god of computing was megahertz; these days it's megapixels. Increasing megapixels with such a small lens is no longer doing anything for image quality so Samsung and its rivals are looking in other directions. There are other enhancements like back-side illumination to avoid the internal wiring interfering with the resulting image.
Previous technology is approaching photon-interference limits. The Isocell technology puts a barrier between individual photodiodes reducing leakage by about 30%. The first version of the new device will be 8MP, but returns a resulting image of a much higher megapixel figure like those found in other phones. And don't think that Samsung will be stopping at this resolution.
When is free-access internet not really free internet access? When it is found in China. The government there has decided to unblock access to Facebook and Twitter, but only in the 28km2 Shanghai Free Trade Zone. Three foreign telecoms will also be able to operate in the slightly larger than 5km-by-5km zone providing internet services. Apparently the zone will open up the Chinese economy to international trade, as long it is in a 7km-by-4km area of course. Similar projects have been tried in the past and didn't last long. So if you really need to read The New York Times while in China, then either pay for a VPN service or find that special place in Shanghai.
Google has released an update for Android and, while useful, I can see this being either misused or at the very least used for a regular office prank. You can now lock your Android handset remotely. Up until now you've been able to make your device ring and have been able to delete data from the device, so I guess it is not really that big a leap and the idea of being able to reset to set a new password could be quite useful. If, however, you are connected to Google Play and leave your PC, then anyone could sit down and lock you out. The phone must also have the Android Device Manager/Allow remote lock under Google setting enabled to work.
On the subject of new devices, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is now out. First impression is it's big, perhaps too big for many users unless they are looking for a phablet. Samsung knew that before it was released and it is aimed at a particular segment of the market and one that so far has done well for the Korean device-maker. It is well made, has a decent battery, a micro SD slot and while the screen is bigger, the device is slightly smaller and lighter than its predecessor. Add a 13MP camera _ no not with Isocell _ and a more powerful CPU with 3GB of RAM. Not a device for small hands.
James Hein is an IT professional of over 30 years' standing. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org