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Posts Tagged ‘smartphone’

Selecting a Micro USB Cable to Power Development Boards or Charge Phones

April 27th, 2017 12 comments

Yesterday one person contacted me on Facebook asking me whether there was any chance of me doing a “which usd-micro usb cable is best”, as there’s not much clear information on the Internet. His purpose was to charge his phone, but many development boards come with a micro USB port, and I’ve read many comments about powering the board. It also happened to me, and the main cause can either be the power supply which does not work as rated (usually 5V/2A), or the micro USB cable which may have a resistance a little to high leading to voltage drops. You’ll know you may have a power problem when the board refuses to boot, and usually boot loop, or randomly reboots especially under high load. The first solution is to get a power supply that provide the right voltage and amperage, and you can test that with USB Charger doctor an ultra cheap tool that will show both the voltage and intensity on an LCD display, although it will only work on chargers with a USB port.

But what about the micro USB cable? Let’s consider the actual problem, which is well explained in a post about USB cable resistance, but I’ll summarize below. First all conductor have some tiny resistance, and usually the thicker the cable the less resistance there is. The American Wire Gauge (AWG) value is often used to describe the thickness of the cable, with numbers from 0 to 40 ranging from the larger diameter/smaller resistance/higher capacity to the smaller diameter/larger resistance/lower capacity. For USB cable, AWG20 to AWG28 are often used for USB cables, and the latter seems to be very common for  data wires, but what matters here is the AWG value for the power wires (5V/GND) of the cable. The resistance also depends on the length of the cable with longer cables having a longer resistance, as well as the USB contact resistance, but I’m not sure we can do much about that one. Anyway, that means a short cable with a lower AWG value would be better suited here, as shown in the table below from the aforelinked post using 5V/1A and 5V/1A loads. This table assumes 30 mOhms contact resistance, so the values would be lower if there’s a lower resistance.

Boards can normally work in a range around 5V. For the sake of argument, let’s assume a board taking 4.5V to 5.5V DC input. and would reboot if the voltage drops below 4.5V. If you have a 5V power supply use with a non-optimal AWG rating and length, the voltage will drop more than 0.5V (red zone above) and the board will not work properly. 5V/1A (5W) is a very common on development boards, while getting to 10Watts is possible for you’d need a high load plus possible some USB storage device to reach the power level.

Based on those results, what we want is an AWG20 cable (ideally) with a length of less than one meter, and the shorter the better. So I’ve been looking for such cables on the web and found a bunch. I did not test any, but they may be good candidates to look at:

There are many others, just search for AWG20 micro USB cable, or in some cases micro USB charging cables, and you should find decent cables that should not cause power or charging troubles. The last cable in the list above (eBay) was tested with a Charger Doctor dongle showing 4.95V/3.47A going through the cable (1.8 meter length). The voltage value should be lower when measured at the DIY charging board due the internal resistance of the cable, but it still shows the cable allows around 3 to 4 amps.

Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 Phablet: Up to 8GB RAM, Up to 256 GB Storage, Bezel-free 6.4″ Display, $1,095

April 20th, 2017 8 comments

Yesterday, Xiaomi introduced Mi 6 smartphone, in what looked like to be their premium model, but it turns out they have a more powerful (and expensive) model with Mi MIX 2 Phablet/Smartphone boasting the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, but equipped with up to 8GB RAM, 256 GB flash, and a 6.4″ display with 2560×1440 resolution and virtually without any bezels.

Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 preliminary specifications:

  • SoC – Qualcomm Snpadragon 835 octa-core Kryo 280 processor with 4x cores @ 2.45 GHz, 4x cores @ 1.9 GHz, Adreno 540 GPU with support for OpenGL ES 3.2, OpenCL 2.0 full, Vulkan, DX12, Hexagon 682 DSP
  • System Memory – 4, 6 or 8 GB LPDDR4X dual channel memory
  • Storage – 128 or 256 GB UFS 2.0 flash; NO micro SD card
  • Display – 6.4″ capacitive touch AMOLED display with 2560×1440 resolution
  • Audio – Speakers; microphone; 3.5mm audio jack
  • Cellular Connectivity
    • 2G – 580/900/1800/1900 MHz; CDMA EVDO: BC0
    • 3G – WCDMA B1/2/5/8; TD-SCDMA: B34/39
    • 4G – FDD-LTE: 850/900/1700/1800/1900/2100/2600MHz;  TDD-LTE: B38/B39/B40/B41
    • Dual Nano SIM card dual standby
  • Other Wireless Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS
  • Camera –  19 MP dual rear camera with flash and auto focus;  13.0MP front-facing camera
  • USB – Micro USB port
  • Sensors – Ambient Light Sensor, Gravity Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Fingerprint scanner
  • Battery – 4,500 mAh Lithium battery
  • Dimensions – 15.80 x 8.19 x 0.79 cm
  • Weight – 209 grams

The phone will run MIUI 9 based on Android 7.1 Nougat, and ship with a power adapter, a USB cable, and a “SIM needle”. A few items in the specifications above are inconsistent with the features of Mi 6 smaprthone, so I guess they may be incorrect: 3.5mm audio jack is not part of Mi 6, the wireless module is probably 802.11ac + Bluetooth 5, micro USB port ? seriously? It must be a USB type C port. I also have a gut feeling the sensor list is incomplete. Nevertheless, that device looks just as powerful as some entry level to mid range computers or laptops.

The reason why we don’t have clear specifications is because Xiaomi has not formally launched the device, but GearBest has listed the phone/phablet on their website, with three models:

  • 4GB RAM / 128 GB flash – $848.91 shipped
  • 8GB RAM / 128 GB flash – $951.37 shipped
  • 8GB RAM / 256 GB flash  – $1094.81 shipped

It’s also possible, GearBest is playing it safe, and gave higher prices before the product is formally announced, and while they are gathering emails to send “Arrival Notices” later on. We’ll know the real price of the phone once Xiaomi introduces it in China.

Via AndroidPC.es

Xiaomi Mi 6 Smartphone is Powered by Snapdragon 835 Processor, Comes with 6GB RAM, Up to 128GB Storage

April 19th, 2017 8 comments

Xiaomi has unveiled its latest phone with Mi 6 smartphone equipped with a 5.15″ display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core processor, 6GB RAM, 64 or 128GB storage, and more.

Xiaomi Mi 6 specifications:

  • SoC – Qualcomm Snpadragon 835 octa-core Kryo 280 processor with 4x cores @ 2.45 GHz, 4x cores @ 1.9 GHz, Adreno 540 GPU with support for OpenGL ES 3.2, OpenCL 2.0 full, Vulkan, DX12, Hexagon 682 DSP
  • System Memory – 6GB LPDDR4X dual channel memory
  • Storage – 64 or 128 GB UFS 2.0 flash; NO micro SD card
  • Display – 5.15″ capacitive touch display with 1920×1080 resolution, 428ppi
  • Audio – Speakers; microphone; NO 3.5mm audio jack
  • Cellular Connectivity
    • 2G: GSM 2/3/5/8; CDMA: BC0
    • 3G: WCDMA B1/2/5/8; TD-SCDMA: B34/39
    • 4G: FDD-LTE: B1/3/5/7/8, TDD-LTE:38/39/40/41
    • Dual Nano SIM card dual standby
  • Other Wireless Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, BEIDOU
  • Camera –  12.0MP+12.0MP dual back camera;  8.0MP front-facing camera
  • USB – USB type C port
  • Sensors – Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Distance sensor, Ambient light sensor, Hall sensor, electronic compass, barometer
  • Battery – 3,350mAh Lithium battery
  • Dimensions – 145.17 x 70.49 x 7.45mm
  • Weight – 168 grams

The phone runs MIUI 8 based on Android 7.1, and the company claims its Antutu score is over 180,000 points. With those specifications Xiaomi Mi 6 would be a great candidate for convergence applications, but AFAIK the company has not provided any “desktop experience” software, nor docking station.

The phone ships with a USB tType-C cable, an eject pin for the SIM card slots, a user manual, and a power adapter. The 4GB/64GB sells in China for 2,499 CNY ($362), and 6GB/128GB version for 2,899 CNY ($USD421). GeekBuying has already started to take pre-orders for respectively $481.99 and $565.99 shipped, with actual shipping scheduled for in about one month.

Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE Selects Two Winners for Commercial Medical Tricorders

April 18th, 2017 No comments

Healthcare takes around 10% of worldwide GDP, and while in some cases an increase in the healthcare to GDP ratio means better care for people, in other cases it may  lead to a decrease in the population’s living standards. There are political, business, and legal issues involved in the costs, but overtime I’m confident that technology can both improve care and lower the costs, in some instances dramatically, especially if open source designs become more common, and there’s some work in that respect with open source projects for prosthetics, opthalmoscope, and even surgical robots. Some commercial projects also aim(ed) to lower the costs of diagnosis tools such as Sia Lab’s medical lab dongle or Scanadu medical tricorder. The latter project sadly did not manage to pass FDA approval, and the company will stop supporting it on May 15, 2017, but that does not mean others have given up on developing a Star Trek like tricorder project, and Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE – which aims at diagnosing 13 disease states – selected two winners for the competition: Final Frontier Medical Devices and Dynamical Biomarkers Group.

Final Frontier Medical Devices DxtER Tricorder

Click to Enlarge

Final Frontier Medical Devices is a US based team of engineers and medical professionals that realized 90% of patients going to emergency services just wanted a diagnostics for their problem, and decided to work on a DxtER tricorder, which “includes a group of non-invasive sensors that are designed to collect data about vital signs, body chemistry and biological functions. This information is then synthesized in the device’s diagnostic engine to make a quick and accurate assessment”.

Final Frontier Mediacal Devices got $2.5 million for their achievements, not bad considering they worked part-time on the project. The video below explains a little more about the team, their work, and the problem they try to solve, but does not give much details about the actual product and different sensors used.

DxtER cannot identify all 13 conditions from the XPRIZE challenge, but their algorithms are said to be able to diagnose 34 health conditions including diabetes, atrial fibrillation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, urinary tract infection, sleep apnea, leukocytosis, pertussis, stroke, tuberculosis, and pneumonia.

That aren’t much more details in DxtER’s product page for now.

Dynamical Biomarkers Group Tricorder

Click to Enlarge

Dynamical Biomarkers Group is a 39 persons team based in Taiwan, supported by HTC Research, and  led by Harvard Medical School Associate Professor Chung-Kang Peng. The team got the second prize, still a cool $1 million, for their tricorder prototype comprised of three modules:

  • Smart Vital-Sense Monitor – Temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and oxygen saturation.
  • Smart Blood-Urine-Breath Test Kit – Analyze fluids or breath dynamics to diagnose conditions such as urinary tract infection, diabetes, and COPD
  • Smart Scope Module – Bluetooth enabled magnifying camera to obtain high-resolution images of the skin and tympanic (ear) membrane. Used for diseases such as melanoma or otitis media.

These modules allow “physiologic signal analysis, image processing, biomarker detection”, and have been designed to be easy to use through a smartphone with an app that guide the patient through specific tests to generate a diagnosis.

The video below, again does not give much details about the product itself, but present the team, and explain the motivations such as controlling the cost of medical resources in Taiwan, and especially providing quality healthcare in rural areas of Greater China.

From the video, they seem to have greater resources for development than the US based team. Some more details about the tricoder can be found in the Center for Dynamical Biomarkers’ (DBIOM) XPRIZE page.

Via Liliputing

Mirabook is Laptop Dock for Smartphones, Development Boards (Crowdfunding)

April 17th, 2017 5 comments

Motorola Lapdock may have been ahead of its time, as laptop docks for smartphone are back in vogue with products like NexDock, and Apple could soon launch their own iPhone laptop dock. Another option is Miraxess Mirabook laptop dock with a 13.3″ display, and a battery lasting up to 24 hours, that works for smartphones, development boards, and HDMI TV sticks thanks to its USB type C port.

Mirabook specifications:

  • Display – 13.3″ IPS display with 1920×1080 resolution (non-touch, except if they raise $2 millions…)
  • Audio – Speakers, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Video Output – HDMI port
  • Storage – SD card slot
  • QWERTY keyboard & multi-touch trackpad
  • USB
    • Integrated USB type C cable to connect to phone, board or HDMI TV stick
    • USB type C port to charge the Mirabook battery
    • 2x USB type A host port
  • Battery – TBD capacity good for 24 hours while charging your phone
  • Dimensions – 320 x 220 x 15 mm
  • Weight – 1 kg

The solution relies on SlimPort to provide video & audio over USB as it works for many products, and does not require as much (CPU) resources as DisplayLink. The latter will however be considered as a stretch goal if the campaign raises over $300,000.

The company explains that “convergence” operating systems such as Windows Continuum, Samsung DeX, Auxens Oxi OS, or Remix Singularity, are particularly well suited for the Mirabook, as they provide a desktop experience when the phone is connected to a larger display. They also mentioned Leena OS which I had not come across before, and works on any Android 4.2 or greater smartphone with a free version supporting multi-window, web apps, and a browser, and a Pro version  adding some extra features like a native PDF reader, and the possibly to put icons on the desktop.

The project has launched on Indiegogo with Miraxess aiming to raise at least $50,000. A $180 Early bird pledge should get you a Mirabook, while the retail price after the Indiegogo campaign is expected to be $299. Shipping will add around $15, and delivery is scheduled for December 2017.

Via Liliputing

Alcatel Flash Android Smartphone Comes with 4 Cameras (Dual front, Dual rear Cameras)

April 5th, 2017 1 comment

In recent years, we’ve seen smartphones with dual camera systems most of the time placed on the rear side of the phone, but Alcatel Flash smartphone features both  a dual front-facing camera for better selfies, and a dual rear camera, both coming with one color and one monochrome sensors.

Alcatel Flash specifications:

  • SoC – Mediatek Helipo X20 (MT6797) deca-core processor with 2x Cortex-A72 @ 2.3 GHz, 4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.9 GHz, 4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.4 GHz
  • System Memory – 3GB RAM
  • Storage – 32GB flash, micro SD slot up to 128 GB
  • Display – 5.5” IPS display; 1920×1080 resolution; Dragontrail Glass; fingerprint-resistant Oleophobic coating
  • Cellular Connectivity
    • GPRS/EDGE –  850/900/1800/1900 MHz
    • UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA –  850/900/1900/2100 MHz 34/39 band
    • LTE – FDD: B1/3/5/7/8/20; TDD: 38/39/40/41
    • Dual Nano SIM Dual Standby
  • Wireless Connectivity – Wi-Fi 802.11/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1, FM radio, GPS with A-GPS/Glonass/Beidou
  • Cameras
    • Dual rear cameras
      • Dual 13MP Mono+RGB, Sony IMX258
      • 1/3.06 sensor size; 1.12μm pixel size
      • F2.0 (RGB) / F2.0 (Mono) aperture size
      • PDAF 0.15s focus speed; manual focus mode available
      • 6P lens optics with sapphire crystal lens cover
      • Dual color LED flash
      • Video recording: [email protected], [email protected]
    • Dual front-facing cameras
      • 8MP + 5MP
      • 6P Lens optic
      • Dual F2.0; Dual Tone Flash
      • Close Loop With PDAF
  • USB – 1x USB type C OTG port
  • Sensors – Fingerprint sensor, Accelerometer (G sensor), proximity Sensor, Light Sensor, e-Compass, Gyro, Hall Switch, Handsfree, vibrator
  • Misc – Volume and power buttons, fingerprint scanner
  • Battery – Non-removable 3,100 mAh battery good for 5.3hrs to 20hrs (3G) of talk time, 415 to 466 hours (4G) in standby
  • Dimensions – 152.6 x 75.4 x 8.7mm
  • Weight – 155g

The phone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The dual cameras will allow you to create effects between background and foreground parts of the photos.

You’ll find more details on Alcatel Saudi Arabia Flash product page. I could not find any pricing info yet, but it looks like it might be already sold in some shops in the Middle East.

Via Liliputing and Gizchina

Samsung Galaxy S8 & S8+ Smartphones Launched with Infinity Screen, Samsung DeX Desktop Mode, Bixby Assistant

March 30th, 2017 2 comments

Samsung has finally launched their latest Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8895 processor, 5.8″ and 6.2″ screens , and some of the most interesting features include the “infinity screen” with ultra thin bezels, Samsung DeX allowing for a desktop experience on a large monitor when the phone is docked, as well as Bixby assistant.

Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ specifications:

  • SoC (one or the other depending on markets)
    • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core processor with four Kryo 280 cores @ 2.3 GHz, four Kryo 280 cores @ 1.7 Ghz;; Adreno 540 GPU; 10nm process
    • Samsung Exynos 8895 octa-core processor with four M2+ cores @ 2.35 GHz, four Cortex A53 cores @ 1.9 GHz, ARM Mali-G71 GPU; 10nm process
  • System Memory – 4GB LPDDR4
  • Storage – 64GB UFS 2.0 flash; micro SD up to 256 GB
  • Display
    • Galaxy S8 – 5.8” quad HD+ (2960×1440), (570ppi)
    • Galaxy S8+ – 6.2” quad HD+ (2960×1440), (529ppi)
  • Audio – 3.5mm audio jack, speakers
  • Cellular Connectivity – LTE Cat.16
  • Connectivity – Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz), Bluetooth v 5.0 (LE up to 2Mbps), ANT+, NFC, GPS, Galileo, Glonass, BeiDou
  • Camera – Dual Pixel 12MP OIS (F1.7) rear camera; 8MP AF (F1 .7) front-facing camera
  • USB – USB Type-C
  • Sensors – Accelerometer, Barometer, Fingerprint Sensor, Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Hall Sensor, HR Sensor, Proximity Sensor, RGB Light Sensor, Iris Sensor, Pressure Sensor
  • Battery – S8: 3,000 mAh; S8+: 3,500 mAh; fast charging; wireless charging compatible with WPC and PMA7
  • Dimensions & Weight
    • Galaxy S8 – 148.9 x 68.1 x 8.0 mm, 155g
    • Galaxy S8+ – 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm, 173g
  • IP Rating – IP68 water and dust resistance

Both phones will run Android 7.0, and support payment by NFC or MST. The main innovation from the hardware perspective is the Iris scanner that allows you login to the phone by just looking at it.

Let’s see what this “infinity screen” is all about:

Samsung calls is that way because the bezel on the left & right sides are barely visible, and very thin on the bottom and top of the phone, where they still managed to cram a camera and a few sensors.

The company has also decided to start working on convergence with Samsung DeX, a desktop mode triggered when you connect the phone to a dock – called DeX Station – itself connected to a big screen. You’ll get a start menu and multi-window support a bit like in Windows Continuum, and other Android phone desktop initiatives like Remix Singularity or Auxens OXI.

Samsung’s Bixby Assistant is described as “an intelligent interface that will help users get more out of their phone. With the new Bixby button, you will be able to conveniently access Bixby and navigate through services and apps with simple voice, touch and text commands. Contextual awareness capabilities enable Bixby to offer personalized help based on what it continues to learn about the user’s interests, situation and location. Users can easily shop, search for images and get details about nearby places with Bixby’s image recognition technology”. So it’s not only a voice assistant, but also learns about the user’s habit, and can leverage image recognition for example to translate signs written in a foreign language.

The phones can also be used for virtual reality using Gear VR with Controller powered by Oculus, or to capture 4K 360-degree videos, 15MP photos, or stream 2K live videos with Gear 360.

Samsung Galaxy S8 & S8+ pre-orders will begin on March 30, 2017, for respectively $750 & $850 (MSRP) with a free GearVR headset with controller. The phones will also be found in shop – in the US – starting on April 21, 2017, where you’ll also be able to buy Gear VR with Controller for $129.99,  or just the controller for $39.99. Visit Samsung S8/S8+ product page for further details.

Your Smartphone Could Become The Brain and Touchpad of Your Laptop (Dock)

March 29th, 2017 10 comments

Mobile desktop convergence is likely to happen sometimes in the next few years, at least for some users, when your smartphone will be the brain of your laptop or desktop computer. So far I imagined the smartphone would fit into a dock powering the phone – potentially wirelessly – and connects it to a large monitor, extra storage, and a keyboard and mouse. But based on a patent filled by Apple, it may also take another form: a laptop dock where your smartphone fits right where the touchpad is supposed to be.

The patent for an “ELECTRONIC ACCESSORY DEVICE” describes “various embodiments of systems and methods for providing internal components for portable computing devices having a thin profile. More particularly, the present application describes an electronic accessory device available to extend and expand usefulness of a portable computing device”.

The patent does not appear to describe the interfaces, but presents the general concept with the laptop dock and smartphone establishing a connection when the phone is inserted into a “port (112) having a size and shape in accordance with host device”. All processing power would be in the host device (smartphone), and the laptop dock would be a dumb device providing the communication interfaces between host and device, a keyboard, a display, speakers, and a battery.

The patent also include a block diagram of the host device, which looks like a typical smartphone to me. The data link (612) between the host and the accessories can be a wired or wireless connection.

Via Apple Insider