16 Sep 2013
Apple unveiled its latest flagship smartphone, the iPhone 5S, an event in San Francisco on Tuesday.
The firm clearly is hoping that iPhone 5 users will find its latest handset irresistable and will upgrade their year-old smartphones early, and is clearly looking to woo business customers with its increased security measures - but some might argue that Apple hasn't changed enough to make it worth paying another £550 wedge of cash.
We've put the handset's specifications up against those of its predecessor to see whether you should go out and save your place in that growing queue outside the Apple Store.
Measurements, weight and design
iPhone 5S: 123.8x58.6x7.6mm, 112g
iPhone 5: 123.8x58.6x7.6mm, 112g
The iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S are identical in size and weight, despite Apple's latest flagship smartphone having an improved camera and a faster chip under the bonnet. This is not a bad thing, as in our iPhone 5 review we pointed out that the handset is comfortable to use over long periods.
However, there are some slight design differences. While the iPhone 5 was available in only black and white, the new iPhone 5S will also be available in a champagne gold flavour. Although in our opinion it looks a little tacky, the gold version likely will appeal to those who like a bit of bling. Apple has also discontinued the black model, replacing that with a new Space Grey model.
iPhone 5S: 4in 640x1136 resolution 326ppi Retina display
iPhone 5: 4in 640x1136 resolution 326pp Retina display
There's not much to compare about the displays, as Apple's iPhone 5S sports the exact same screen as its predecessor, despite earlier speculation that the firm planned a larger display for its latest flagship smartphone.
Still, it's hard to complain, as Apple's Retina display remains among the best in the mobile market.
iPhone 5S: Apple 64-bit A7 processor
iPhone 5: Apple dual-core 1.3GHz A6 processor
One of the major upgrades in the new iPhone 5S was processing power. Apple has swapped out its dual-core 1.3GHz A6 processor found in the iPhone 5 for its new A7 chip based on 64-bit architecture, making the iPhone 5S the world's first 64-bit smartphone.
While we have yet to test the raw power of the iPhone 5S, the upgraded chip apparently means that Apple's latest flagship handset will operate up to "five times faster" than its predecessor, with Apple claiming that the phone will boast Mac-like performance. This should make for much faster multitasking and document creating, and we'll be sure to put this to the test in our full review.
This A7 chip is paired with Apple's new M7 motion coprocessor, which continuously monitors the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass to offload workloads for improved power efficiency and means that while offering better performance and capturing subtle movements, the iPhone 5S should boast battery life to match.
iPhone 5S: iOS 7
iPhone 5: iOS 6, upgradeable to iOS 7
This is a bit of an unfair comparison, as users of the iPhone 5 will be upgraded to iOS 7. However, those who pick up an iPhone 5S won't have to face the possibility of bricking their smartphone or waiting hours for the software to install, so that's a definite bonus.
What's more, iOS 7 is a big improvement on Apple's iOS 6 mobile operating system, with its redesign and 'flat' look bringing a whole new feel to the phone. This was Apple's first major iOS upgrade since the first iPhone was announced, and was much needed.
Chief among the improvements found in the iPhone 5S are a new Quick Settings menu accessed by swiping up from the bottom of the screen, a redesigned camera interface, a new look to email and a completely revamped lock screen.
iPhone 5S: 8MP rear camera with autofocus, dual LED flash and 1.5 micron pixel size, 1.2MP front-facing camera
iPhone 5: 8MP rear camera with autofocus and LED flash, 1.2MP front-facing camera
Along with the processor and addition of a built-in fingerprint scanner, the biggest improvements in the iPhone 5S are in the camera department.
Despite looking pretty much the same on paper, the iPhone 5S improves the camera of the iPhone 5 with a 1.5 micron pixel size, which Apple claims will let more light and colour into images. The single LED flash has also been upgraded to a dual-LED flash, comprised of 'cool' and 'warm' compontents.
Apple's latest flagship smartphone also adds two-times faster autofocus, faster photo capture, automatic image and video stabilisation, and better dynamic range.
iPhone 5S: 10 hours' talk time
iPhone 5: Eight hours' talk time
While most were hoping that Apple would vastly improve the battery life of the iPhone 5S, Apple has given it only an additional two hours of battery life, with the handset said to last 10 hours when connected to 3G.
This is an improvement on the iPhone 5, but perhaps it's not quite enough of an update.
iPhone 5S: 16GB, 32GB or 64GB storage
iPhone 5: 16GB, 32GB or 64GB storage
Despite speculation that Apple would launch the iPhone 5S with a 128GB model, the handset will instead be available in the same storage versions as its predecessor - 16GB, 32GB or 64GB.
So, while the iPhone 5S doesn't look like much of an upgrade compared to the iPhone 5 in the flesh, the handset's new 64-bit A7 chip, Touch ID sensor and upgraded camera may just convince buyers to cough up £550 for an early upgrade.
12 Sep 2013
Apple provoked the usual excitement on Tuesday when it unveiled its next flagship iPhone 5S handset.
Before the San Francisco iPhone unveiling there were rumours that Apple wouldn't add much new to its next flagship smartphone, but that it would focus mostly on the cheaper but still not particularly affordable iPhone 5C.
However, Apple revealed that the iPhone 5S will be the world's first 64-bit smartphone, having kept this quiet during the buildup to the smartphone's announcement.
We've never had any complaints about the speed and performance of the iPhone 5, which featured a dual-core 1.3GHz A6 chip, but Apple's new A7 chip based on 64-bit architecture might manage to convince gamers to splash out £550 on an early upgrade, as the firm promises that the new chip will offer "PC-quality" gaming capabilities with the iPhone 5S also boasting OpenGL ES 3.0 support. But it's still unclear how much RAM the iPhone 5S features under the hood, so it's impossible to know if users will be able to use this 64-bit technology to its full potential.
Although we have yet to test the iPhone 5S handset's performance, Epic Games' demo of Infinity Blade III for iOS seemed convincing, and it seems that Apple wants to lead a shift from dedicated consoles to mobile gaming.
Apple has also added Touch ID, its new fingerprint scanning technology, to the iPhone 5S, which is another feature that could help convince Apple fans to upgrade.
Fingerprint scanners are nothing new, but Touch ID shows Apple's aim to up its security game. The new feature will enable users to scan their fingerprint and use it to access their phone, offering an extra layer of protection against a potential data breach due to a lost or stolen device. The Touch ID sensor works by scanning the sub-epidermal fingerprint layers the iPhone owner to verify their identity before unlocking. As a safety measure the user's fingerprint is only stored on the A7 chip and is never uploaded to the cloud.
This feature alone won't convince everyone to splash out for an upgrade, but it shows Apple is looking to convince buyers that its device is more secure than its Android competitors – although we're yet to see whether that is actually the case. It also sees Apple trying to tempt businesses away from Windows Phone and Blackberry devices, although many are likely to be put off by the Apple handset's premium price.
The only other big upgrade found on the iPhone 5S is its camera. While it doesn't look like much of a revamp on paper, Apple boasts that it increased the sensor size by 15 percent, which should let more light and colour into images. It also has a dual-LED flash and a number of new photography tools on board, such as automatic image stablisation, burst mode and a new camera user interface in iOS 7 that enables users to add filters to images.
The upgraded camera looks impressive, but with rival phone makers such as Sony, Samsung and Nokia all bringing out smartphones with improved cameras, Apple is likely to face some tough competition when it comes to winning over budding photographers.
Overall, the iPhone 5S is an impressive upgrade, and despite numerous accurate leaks, the firm still managed to surprise at its unveiling on Tuesday. It's this element of surprise that has us excited about the iPhone 5S smartphone, mainly thanks to that 64-bit chip. But we're not sure that its £550 price warrants an early upgrade from the iPhone 5 – unless you really want a gold smartphone, that is.
11 Sep 2013
While Apple has continued to dominate in the top-end smartphone space, it's rapidly been losing ground to chief competitor Google in the overall phone market. This is because in recent years, Android's ability to target multiple price points, including the sub-£100 space has allowed it to become the most used mobile operating system in the world, with it proving a hit with business buyers on a budget and emerging markets just beginning to widely adopt smartphones.
For this reason, when rumours first broke that Apple was planning to release an affordable iPhone interest peaked, with the predicted move showing the Californian company wasn't going to take Android's success lying down and would fight for its share of the enterprise and emerging markets. However, come unveiling time, many hopes of a truly affordable iPhone were dashed, when Apple confirmed the lower end iPhone 5C will still cost a fairly premier £469. Costing just £80 less than the top-end iPhone 5S, it's more than reasonable to wonder what reason there is to buy the lower end iOS smartphone.
The iPhone 5C is debatably one of the most visually striking iOS smartphones ever released. This is because Apple's taken a page out of Windows Phone champion Nokia's book, releasing it in a multitude of bright colour options. This makes the iPhone 5C look a little like a throwback to Apple's pre-Ive iMac G3 design philosophy.
The iMac G3 feel is compounded by the 5C's use of plastic as opposed to metal, with the cheaper iPhone featuring a single piece wrap-around plastic chassis and coming with a multitude of clip-on plastic cases, which will set you back £25 each.
The iPhone 5C is also a little larger than most iPhones, measuring in at 124x59x8.97mm and weighing 132g. This makes it thicker and heavier than the 124x59x7.6mm 5S and 112g iPhone 5S and could be a sticking point for Apple fans, used to slender and sleek metallic handsets.
On the screen front, Apple's loaded the 5C with the same 4in 1136x640, 326ppi Retina display as the iPhone 5. While the iPhone 5 is a year old, the inclusion of the display is no bad thing as even now, in a brave new world where smartphone screens regularly break the 400ppi threshold, Apple's Retina display is still one of the best currently available. In the past all Apple Retina displays have been wonderfully crisp, bright and vibrant and boasted great viewing angles. In fact to date the only smartphones we've seen offering better displays are the more expensive HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 Android smartphones. For this reason, even in its £469 price bracket, we're thinking the 5C's screen will remain one of the best available.
The iPhone 5C will come running Apple's latest iOS 7 operating system. Apple claims the OS is its biggest mobile software update to date.
Apple lists the update as featuring over 200 new features and changes. Thus far, having had a brief go with developer versions, key changes we noticed include updates to the fonts, a new 'flat' design and quick settings menu. The quick settings menu works a little like the peak feature on Android and can be accessed by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. The OS will also boast a new card-based, multi-tasking system, an updated Safari web browser and a revamped photo gallery.
Processor and performance
The 5C runs using the same Appl dual-core 1.3GHz A6 chipset as the iPhone 5C. While not on paper as fast as many of the more up to date Qualcomm and Nvidia chips used by most Android phones, in the past we've found the A6 is still a very nippy processor. This is because Apple works to optimise its software with its parts, meaning it can get more out of them. As a result, in our experience, even though the iPhone features on paper lower specs than other top-end Android smartphones, it can still match and often beat them on performance. We're guessing this will remain true on the iPhone 5C.
Apple's loaded the iPhone 5C with the same 8MP rear-facing camera as the iPhone 5, but has paired it with an upgraded, 1.9MP Facetime HD front camera. This could be a bit of an issue as the iPhone 5's camera, while good, didn't match up to other top-end handsets, like the Nokia Lumia 925 or HTC One, which both boast significantly more shot options and better low-light performance.
Battery and storage
Apple lists the iPhone 5C as having 10 hours' talk time battery life on 3G. If accurate the phone will boast one of the best battery lifes available, with most phones still struggling to make it a whole day off one charge with even moderately heavy use.
In terms of storage the iPhone 5C is available in 16GB and 32GB models. The 16GB model will cost £469 and the 32GB £549 SIM-free.
Summing up, the iPhone 5C is basically a plastic slightly updated, moderately cheaper iPhone 5. The only real changes are its iMac-esque plastic design, slightly updated front camera and the use of Apple's latest iOS 7 operating system - which really isn't that much of a boon for existing iPhone users looking to upgrade as its set to be available for download on the iPhone 4, 4S and 5 from 18 September.
The fact the iPhone 5C isn't a radical upgrade wouldn't be too much of a problem were it not for its hefty £469 starting price. While it will undoubtedly sell well, by pricing the 5C so highly it won't be the game changer businesses embedded in Apple's Mac OS and iOS ecosystem are waiting for.
The Apple iPhone 5C is set for release in the UK on 20 September. Check back with V3 then for a full written review.
Written by V3's Alastair Stevenson
11 Sep 2013
The battle between Android heavyweight Samsung and Apple for the number one best-selling smartphone title has become a yearly occurrence. In the past, Apple's latest iPhone has traditionally won the yearly grudge match. However, since the death of iconic Apple founder Steve Jobs, Apple's lead on Samsung has gradually waned with each new top-end Galaxy smartphone boasting increasingly high sales.
For this reason, prior to its unveiling many industry commentators had begun to quietly predict the iPhone 5S may be the first ever Apple smartphone not to beat Samsung's flagship in head-to-head sales. Now with the iPhone 5S and its specs revealed, it's too early to know the final outcome in 2013's Apple vs Samsung battle, but the two smartphones' on-paper specs suggest the fight may be the most heated to date.
Measurements and weight
Apple iPhone 5S: 124x59x7.6mm, 112g
Samsung Galaxy S4: 137x70x7.9mm, 130g
Design-wise the Apple iPhone 5S looks pretty much the same as the iPhone 5, but comes with multiple colour options. This means, as before, the iPhone 5S is significantly lighter and smaller than the S4, so it will likely be a more popular choice for smaller-handed individuals.
Apple iPhone 5S: 4in 1136x640, 326ppi Retina display
Samsung Galaxy S4: 5in full HD super Amoled 1920x1080 display, 441ppi
The Apple iPhone 5S has a 4in Retina display. Back in the day, when the Retina display technology was first rolled out, it was a massive selling point for Apple devices, making the screens the sharpest and most crisp ever seen on smartphones or tablets.
However a few years on, while still great, Apple's Retina displays are no longer the best on the market and a few smartphones have been released boasting better screens.
Running the Galaxy S4 head to head with the 5S' predecessor, the iPhone 5, we found Samsung's flagship was a superior screen, with its 441ppi full HD display being one of the best we've ever used.
Apple iPhone 5S: Apple A7 chipset
Samsung Galaxy S4: Quad-core 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor
Apple made a big deal about its new A7 processor, claiming it is the world's first 64-bit mobile chip and will make the iPhone 5S one of the fastest smartphones in the word, offering 40-times better CPU performance than the iPhone 5. However, as always, Apple declined to disclose the A7's exact speed, making it difficult to know how it will compare to the quad-core 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600-powered Galaxy S4 in real-world performance.
Apple iPhone 5S: 10 hours' 3G talk time, unspecified lithium-ion
Samsung Galaxy S4: 17 hours' 3G general use, 2,600 mAh
Battery life is an issue for most smartphones in the current market. This remained true on the Galaxy S4, which, despite being listed as lasting “up to 17 hours” on 3G off one charge, generally needed a top up after a regular day’s use, with an average life of about six hours when battery burned. This means if the unspecified battery used in the 5S lives up to Apple’s 10-hour 3G talk time it should easily outlast the S4. However, we’ll only know this for sure when we’ve had a chance to actually test the battery on the 5S.
Apple iPhone 5S: iOS 7
Samsung Galaxy S4: Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
Picking which mobile operating system is better is very difficult as the answer is largely determined by what ecosystem the user is already embedded in.
This difficulty is made worse by the fact both companies have loaded a host of business-friendly features onto their respective flagship smartphones, with Samsung loading the S4 with its Knox sandboxing service and Apple its new custom Touch ID fingerprint scanner.
Apple iPhone 5S: 8MP rear, 1.2MP front
Samsung Galaxy S4: 13MP rear, 2MP front
While the iPhone 5S's camera looks lower specced, as any camera expert will tell you, it's not just about the megapixel count. Because of this, while it doesn't capture as many pixels, the Apple iPhone 5S may prove better at taking photos, because it boasts custom tech designed to let it capture bigger pixels, meaning, like the HTC One, it should be better than average at taking photos in low light.
Apple iPhone 5S: 16/32/64GB, no microSD slot 2GB RAM
Samsung Galaxy S4: 16/32/64GB user memory, microSD slot (up to 64GB) 2GB RAM
Both devices are available with multiple storage options, however the S4 comes with the added boon of a MicroSD slot, meaning buyers who can't afford the upfront cost of the more premium 64GB model can update the phone's storage at a later date.
On paper both the iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy S4 are good smartphones and both have definite enterprise appeal. Once we've had time to thoroughly put the two head to head in an in-depth, hands-on versus review, we'll make a call on which is the best business smartphone.
The iPhone 5S is set for release on 20 September, check back with V3 then for a full review. Until then make sure to check out V3's conclusive Samsung Galaxy S4 review.
By V3's Alastair Stevenson
09 Sep 2013
BERLIN: Chip designer Qualcomm took the wraps off a smartwatch at IFA on Thursday, rivalling the Asian technology giants Sony and Samsung, the latter of which unveiled its own smartwatch at the German trade show earlier this week.
Working in the same way as Sony's Smartwatch 2 and Samsung's Galaxy Gear, the Toq, which is actually pronounced "talk" as opposed to "tock", hooks up to any Android device running Android 4.0.3 and above, and syncs data such as calls and text messages from the phone straight to the wrist to bridge the gap between your wrist and your pocket.
We got a quick demo of the wearable device at IFA this week, where Qualcomm's senior director of product management Shane Dewing allowed us to poke and prod at the latest build of the Toq smartwatch to see how it works.
Qualcomm's Toq communicates with Android devices via Bluetooth. Although many of the average smartphone functions aren't available directly through the watch, it is more of an extension of the smartphone, working in conjunction with an app to display events, text messages and call notifications, as well as other smart bits and bobs like displaying the weather and controlling music.
Quacomm couldn't tell us the size of the screen, but we know that it's a Mirasol display, similar to E-ink, which means that it's visible in brightly lit conditions. During our demo, Dewing held the watch up towards the window and we saw how the display seemed to absorb the light as opposed to reflecting it.
Below and above the screen are two touch-sensitive buttons that we assume work by haptic feedback technology. Touching the one at the top turns on the backlight, which seemed fairly bright in our demo, though not as bright as Samsung's Galaxy Gear. The button below the screen takes the watch back to the homescreen.
The Toq user interface looks more sophisticated than that of the Galaxy Gear, with more options to choose from. It also seems simpler to use and on first try it became clear which icons achieved what, unlike the Samsung Galaxy Gear that confused us a little at first.
Qualcomm said that the watch will take around an hour and half to charge and last for about three to four days before it needs recharging. The most interesting thing here is that the watch's rechargeable battery is charged wirelessly via a charging dock.
Dewing was keen to point out that our demo model wasn't the final build version of the Toq, so there were some slight software issues remaining when it was being shown to us. For instance, Dewing explained that the home screen face of the watch is interchangeable - done via the app on the phone and then synced across to the watch - but in our demo this function didn't seem to work. Qualcomm will surely resolve this in the final build of the product. However, other than this little glitch, the watch was fluid and responsive to the touch, opening its various screens quickly.
Design and build
Comparing the Toq to the recently launched Galaxy Gear watch, it definitely has a more premium feel, which is reflected in its price. Dewing said that Qualcomm will offer limited sales of the Toq online sometime this year to get an idea of customer demand, with initial stock retailing for around $300.
Dewing didn't let the Toq smartwatch stray far from his wrist during our demo, but we did manage to convince him to take it off so we could get an idea of its size and weight. The exact weight is unknown, but when we held it in our hands it felt quite light, weighing much less than Samsung's Galaxy Gear.
A feature we found rather interesting about the Toq was the position of the battery, which sits within the clasp, allowing the face of the watch to be much slimmer and flat against the wrist.
Qualcomm said it is in talks with OEMs regarding future sales. We'll have more on the Toq when we get our hands on a review unit in the near future.
05 Sep 2013
BERLIN: Samsung unveiled its Galaxy Note 3 large-format smartphone or "phablet" at the IFA trade show in Berlin on Wednesday. We had some hands-on time with the device just after its launch.
Boasting a 5.7in full HD 1080p Super Amoled touchscreen and running the latest Android 4.3 Jelly Bean mobile operating system (OS) skinned with Samsung's Touchwiz user interface, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is yet another, even bigger upgrade for the Galaxy Note phablet range.
The first thing we noticed about the Galaxy Note 3 was its similarity to Samsung's last phablet flagship, the Galaxy Note 2. It's made from the same materials and has a very similar design, so it doesn't look or feel much different. Though ergonomically it fits in the hand well considering its ridiculously large size, it feels a little cheap due to the plastic casing, especially with its unsightly faux-leather back.
One good thing about the textured plastic casing is that it makes the device light and thin, weighing only 168g and measuring only 8.3mm thick, 1.1mm thinner and 15g lighter than the Galaxy Note 2, which measured 9.4mm thick and weighed 183g.
The underside of the Galaxy Note 3 is where the S Pen stylus is housed and when you pull it out, an S Note document appears on the screen instantly, ready for writing. Build quality isn't the highest we've seen in a smartphone, but we were pleased that the Galaxy Note 3's bundled features, such as the S Pen, seemed to work well with the device, and touchscreen response was immediate. Samsung said users can expect a more "enhanced" S Pen experience than found on last year's model, and claimed that this will enable better multitasking.
Screen and performance
The best thing about the Galaxy Note 3 is without question its super full HD Amoled screen that is even bigger than that of its predecessor, measuring an impressive 5.7in as opposed to the original Note 2's 5.5in display.
This display, which supports 1920x1080 resolution, is one of the best screens we've seen on a phone. The colour representation is excellent. It's very bright and clear, and watching a video in HD 1080p resolution on the 16:9 aspect ratio display was quite enjoyable.
The phablet was responsive when we swiped our fingers across the screen, and copying and pasting images to and from various tabs with the stylus is a breeze. The Galaxy Note 3's quad-core 2.3GHz processor and 1GB RAM upgrade from the Galaxy Note 2 to 3GB of RAM make most operations smooth and responsive without having to wait for it to perform simple tasks.
The Galaxy Note 3 also has several new software features loaded on the latest Android 4.3 Jelly Bean mobile operating system.
During our short time with the Galaxy Note 3 we were able to quickly test how well it responded to touch commands and have a play on the S Note app. All features seemed to work relatively smoothly, though even with 3GB of RAM Samsung's Touchwiz interface still did seize up a bit when asked to perform two demanding tasks right after the other.
Battery and Camera
The Galaxy Note 3 camera works the same way as the Galaxy S4, only with a bigger screen that makes taking photos a more rewarding experience. The Galaxy Note 3 has a rear-facing 13MP camera and a front-facing 2MP camera, and can also shoot video in an impressive 4K or ultra-high definition (UHD) format at 30fps.
Unfortunately, we didn't get enough time with the Galaxy Note 3 to really scrutinise its camera's image quality reproduction in comparison to other high-end smartphones on the market, but check back on V3 later for a full review. During our quick tests the Galaxy Note 3 camera was fairly good at taking photos quickly without blur, as long as you didn't move around while doing so.
Samsung claims the Galaxy Note 3's 3,200mAh battery means that the device will last for at least a day. Again, check back on V3 later for a full review to find out if the battery lives up to Samsung's claims.
Samsung was also keen to point out that its Knox security software comes pre-loaded on the Galaxy Note 3, and said that the software is now commercially available worldwide.
Samsung announced that it will launch the Galaxy Note 3 globally from 25 September, and that it will be available in white, black or pink. However, the company did not announce specific availability or pricing information. It is rumoured, however, that the Galaxy Note 3 will cost around £650 SIM-free.
03 Sep 2013
Since unveiling its flagship One smartphone HTC's been oddly quiet about its plans for the lower end Desire range, leaving Samsung, BlackBerry and Lumia to fight over the low cost small to medium-sized business space.
However, a few months on, following the arrival of Nokia's affordable 4G-enabled big screen Lumia 625 HTC's chosen to retarget the market, unveiling its new Desire 601 smartphone. The Desire 601 attempts to pull the exact same trick as the Lumia 625, offering users on a budget 4G connectivity and a big screen smartphone experience.
However, with the imminent arrival of Apple's rumoured "affordable" iPhone and the sea of affordable Samsung Galaxy handsets currently spamming the market, one has to question if 4G connectivity will be enough to win over hard-nosed business buyers.
Design and build
Visually the HTC Desire 601 is very different to the firm's recent One series of devices. The Desire 601 features a slightly rubberised polycarbonate chassis and detachable backplate that when removed grants access to its 2100mAh removable battery and microSD card slot.
This means the Desire 601 feels a little like a cross between a traditional HTC handset and Samsung Galaxy phones - in fact were it not for the HTC logo and dual speakers lining its bottom and top it would be all but impossible to tell who made the phone.
During our hands on we noticed the use of polycarbonate, not metal made the Desire 601 feel lower end than HTC's stellar One handsets. However, being fair to HTC the Desire 601 does feel significantly more robust than most other affordable smartphones. The Desire 601 also remained very comfortable in hand thanks to its chassis' slightly rubberised and reasonable 135x67x 9.88mm size and 130g weight.
The Desire 601 features a 4.5in 960x540 qHD display. This means the Desire 601 is on paper nowhere near as crisp as a full HD 1920x1080 screen but better than a bottom-barrel VGA or WVGA display.
Testing the display we were reasonably impressed with the phone's display. Using it in the fairly complementary conditions of the demo showroom, text on the display proved legible. While icons weren't as crisp as mid-tier Android smartphones, colour and brightness levels were impressive. Running it head to head with the Nokia Lumia 625 we had in our pocket, we found the Desire's display was much crisper than the Nokia phone's 4.7in 480x800 IPS LCD screen.
We didn't get a chance to test the Desire 601 outside of the event room, meaning we couldn't check how it performed in more adverse lighting conditions, like bright sunlight.
Operating system and software
The Desire 601 we tried was running Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean overlaid with HTC's custom Sense 5.0 user interface.
The lack of the latest 4.3 Jelly Bean Android version is slightly disappointing as the update adds a couple of nifty business-focused features to the OS. Chief among these is Restricted Access. Restricted Access is a feature debuted on 4.3 that builds on the multiple account support added on Android 4.2.2. The feature lets the owner of any Android device control what rights each account on the phone has, so they can quickly set up the device for work purposes, blocking the user from doing silly things like downloading dodgy apps from third-party marketplaces.
The addition of Sense 5.0 is also likely a controversial point for some business buyers. While we're fans of many of the features of HTC's latest Sense version, the addition of a custom skin will delay how quickly buyers will be able to get software updates from Google. This is because HTC has to test and adapt its Sense code to work with the latest Android software. In the past, the cost and difficulty of doing this has meant smartphone makers have seriously dragged their feet rolling out Android updates for cheaper smartphones.
That said, Sense does have some benefits, chief of which is Blinkfeed. Blinkfeed is a custom screen that replaces Android's native homescreen. The feed collates information from over 1,500 approved news outlets, including the BBC, Sky News and ITV as well as the user's Facebook, Twitter and email into one push update tile display. While some users have complained about the feed, HTC's made it so you can reset the native Android homescreen and in general we've found Blinkfeed to be a positive addition. In our experience the custom home screen makes it easy to quickly check the latest headlines from your favourite news outlets without having to enter the Chrome web browser.
The Desire 601 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, dual-core 1.4GHz processor and boasts 1GB of RAM. During our hands-on we didn't get a chance to properly benchmark the Desire 601 or see how it performed when tasked to play demanding applications like 3D games. However, during our time we didn't notice any serious performance issues, with the 601 opening applications in less than 10 seconds and running them hassle free. Come our full review, we'll make sure to more thoroughly test the Desire 601's performance.
HTC's custom Ultrapixel technology is sadly not included on the Desire 601, with it instead featuring a basic 5MP rear and VGA front-facing camera. We only got to test the 601's camera in the event showroom, but found in these optimal conditions the phone was able to take passable photos. However, given the lack of Ultrapixel tech, we're certain image quality will deteriorate quickly when shooting in more difficult conditions, like low or bright light.
While the HTC Desire 601 doesn't feature all the cutting-edge technologies seen on HTC's premier One portfolio, it does retain enough of them to remain interesting. This combined with its LTE connectivity could help it become a surprise hit with small businesses. Though a key factor deciding whether this will happen is the Desire 601's price, an area HTC's being woefully quiet about.
The HTC Desire 601 is due to launch in the UK in September.
Written by V3's Alastair Stevenson
Intel is getting ready to release the next generation of its Xeon E5 chips for servers and workstations, and one firm that has systems just waiting for the word go is Boston Limited, which invited V3 to its UK site near London for a sneak peek.
The upcoming chips, which supersede the current Xeon E5-2600 family, have yet to be officially unveiled, so we cannot give away too much about them right now. However, Intel is making the usual claims regarding increased performance and lower power consumption, among other improvements the chips will introduce.
Boston's initial lineup will include a pair of workstations, plus a rack-mount server.
The two workstations are based on the same two-socket motherboard, but the Boston Venom 2401-7T (above) will ship in a larger chassis that supports a liquid cooling system for the processors, which can be seen in the picture, plus Nvidia's Maximus technology, which combines both Quadro and Tesla GPU cards in a single system.
The Boston Venom 2306-7T (below) ships in a more conventional tower chassis, but still features an advanced thermal design for quieter operation, according to the firm.
Both can be configured with up to 512GB of 1866MHz DDR3 memory, with the larger chassis capable of holding up to seven 3.5in and four 2.5in drives, while the smaller one has just four 3.5in drive bays.
Meanwhile, the Boston VS 362 G8 (above) is a rack-mount 1U height two-socket server aimed at web hosting and database applications. It also supports up to 512MB 1866MHz DDR3 memory and four hot-swap 3.5in drive bays for either SAS or Sata drives.
Finally, Boston is also readying a small form factor workstation (below) based on Intel's recently introduced Haswell 4th generation Core processor chips.
With just a single CPU socket, this Venom system is targeting the entry-level workstation market, but still has enough room in its compact desktop chassis for a full-sized Nvidia Quadro K4000 professional graphics card, as can be seen in the picture.
Check back with V3 for more details on these systems in the near future, when we will have reviews of some of the systems shown.