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Ehtisham Siddiqui

OPPO Coming to Pakistan!

OPPO is one of the biggest and among the most reputed brands of smartphones from China. It has been a key player in the Android smartphone market in China, but now, it has also started spreading its footprint to the entire world. There are indications that OPPO has landed in Pakistan and will be launching commercially soon!

OPPO is aiming to go global and compete with the big boys; it needed a different strategy, an ingredient which makes it different and unique from the competition. They have managed to do just that! One of the notable features of OPPO smartphones is it ships with its ColorOS, which is a modified version of Android OS. The best thing? Users can easily install CyanogenMod as well on theses phones!

Techies and enthusiasts love the ability to customize their smartphones; after-all, that’s what the ‘smart’ should do in a ‘smartphone’. 😉

High-end OPPO phones pack a good punch as well, they’re not short on any sort of processing power. For example, the OPPO Find N7 is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 system-on-chip with an integrated Adreno 330 GPU. The much-hyped OnePlus One smartphone is also launched by OPPO’s ex-employees. However, it does not come under the company umbrella.

What all of this means for Pakistan? More options for smartphone users and benefits to the national economy! We welcome such technological giants to Pakistan. There is immense growth potential for the still unsaturated smartphone market in Pakistan. The benefits can be reaped by both–smartphone manufacturers as well as Pakistanis. :)

Huawei G510 Review & Specs – Snapdragon S4 Play SoC!

Huawei (pronounced Wa-way), a Chinese tech giant has been manufacturing Android phones for different price ranges. After the introduction of ‘high-end’ smartphones like the Huawei Ascend D Quad & Quad XL equipped with a home-made powerful SoC HiSilicon K3V2, Huawei has now stepped into the budget market and introduced Huawei G510 that comes with Android Jelly Bean, version 4.1.1.

Along with G510, the company has also launched Huawei Y300. Both phones are built on Qualcomm MSM8225 chipset, referred to as Snapdragon S4 Play. Note that this is not the same Snapdragon S4 that comes with Galaxy SIII. The CPU is 1.2GHz dual-core ARM Cortex A5, Adreno 203 GPU, 512MB RAM and 4GB internal storage. The one we’re reviewing is single-SIM G510. The other is dual-SIM Huawei G510 which comes with MediaTek MT6577 chipset. G510’s price is around $150 USD or Rs. 16,750 PKR (Thanks to Danish Fazal for price update). The pre-order price was Rs. 14,700 PKR.

Let’s have a quick look at G510 / Y300 specifications, then we’ll show some benchmarks like AnTuTu, Quadrant and finally a comparison with MT6577 based phones / Noir / Micromax series to help you make your choice.

Huawei G510 Specifications

 

Supported Bands: 3G (WCDMA) & GSM Quad Band
Screen: 4.5 inches IPS, 16M colors, 5-point multi-touch
Resolution: 480×854 pixels (FWVGA) – 218 ppi pixel density
Android OS Version: 4.1.1 – Jelly Bean
CPU: Dual core 1.2GHz ARM Cortex A5 (Cortex A9 in dual-SIM)
GPU: Adreno 203 (SGX 531 in dual SIM version)
RAM: 512MB
Internal Memory/ROM: 4GB total. 1.2GB for apps
SD Card slot: Yes, upto 32GB expandable.
Chipset: Qualcomm MSM8225, Snapdragon S4 Play
Camera: 5 MP with autofocus and LED Flash.
Front Camera: 0.3MP for video calling
Video Calling: Yes. Skype and others.
GPS: Yes with A-GPS
Bluetooth: Yes
SIM slots: 1
WLAN: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot
35mm Jack: Yes
Google Play: Yes

 

User Interface & Experience

It comes natively with Jelly Bean 4.1.1 so the interface is smooth and buttery, thanks to Project Butter. Huawei has added its proprietary UI, called Emotion UI so you won’t find the stock Jelly Bean look in it. Emotion UI is quite different than the stock interface and you’ll be delighted to see a change, whether you’re moving from the stock look, TouchWiz of Samsung or Sense UI. Even with Emotion UI loaded, the interface and swiping of screens is smooth enough.

There’s an LED for notifications as well, which helps in some cases.

Huawei Ascend G510 Benchmarks & Performance

The single-SIM version of G510 comes with MSM8225 S4 Play chipset. It has an integrated 1.2GHz dual-core Cortex A5 processor (ARMv7 instruction set) and Adreno 203 GPU with 512MB RAM as mentioned previously. So how does this really perform in a phone, having a 4.5 inch screen and FWVGA resolution of 480×854 pixels?

Here are the results of AnTuTu benchmark:

Huawei G510 AnTuTu Benchmark

Huawei G510 AnTuTu Benchmark

And now the Quadrant benchmark:

G510 Quadrant Benchmark

G510 Quadrant Benchmark

Note that the real world performance is not entirely dependent on these benchmarks and it may differ as well! Adreno 203 also seems to outperform PowerVR SGX531 GPU in certain GLBenchmarks which are vital for video playback and games. That means this phone may have slightly better performance in games than the dual-SIM, MT6577-based G510. However, SGX531 in certain GLBenchs slightly outperform Adreno 203 such as texture fill rates.

For a final verdict you’ll have to wait a little for side by side comparison of S4 Play vs MT6577.

Camera Performance

G510 has a front 5 MP camera with LED flash and front 0.3MP camera for video chats. However, S4 Play only records videos in VGA format, so you can’t make 720p videos. That’s a disadvantage if you want to use your phone as a 720p-videos maker.

For stills, it performs just like your average 5MP phone cameras. Nothing extraordinary.

G510 – Price vs. Performance & Verdict

You get this phone merely for 16,750 Rs. in Pakistan or $150 USD internationally. At this price range, it is a fantastic phone which comes pre-installed with Jelly Bean, offering a very smooth and buttery experience. It also shines in the gaming area and is equal to, or out-performs other comparable phones in this range, such as those equipped with MT6577 chipset.

The only disadvantage is camera’s video performance. However, if this is not a MUST MUST for you, then it’s no big deal. It gets compensated for the support and repute the brand Huawei offers. Their Emotion UI is a smooth and new experience as well, and general phone performance is quite good.

You might be having thoughts like Huawei G510 vs. Samsung Galaxy SII, Galaxy SIII etc. The fact is, it’s not a wise comparison. Those phones are much more capable than this budget phone, however at this price point, G510 is probably the best dual-core Android phone offering native Jelly Bean smoothness!

Huawei G510 vs. Micromax or QMobile Noir Series

If you’re in Asia, the fair comparison is: G510 vs. Micromax A110 or G510 vs. Noir A10, Noir A12, Noir A8. Here, it is a chipset war, between S4 Play and MT6577. This phone has relatively stable software performance and smoothness than these other MTK phones, so if you’re in this budget and wanting a nice, stable phone with good gaming performance, get G510.

If you can’t ignore the 720p videos, which shouldn’t be much of an issue, then you may look at these MT6577-based options.

Budget Dual SIM Android Phones by Samsung

NOTE: Guest Post.

The dual SIM Android phones were introduced in the market few years back. After the success, most of the companies had adopted the technique and now you can find dual SIM Android smartphones from almost all top brands. One of the top brands of smartphones, Samsung, has also introduced its dual SIM mobile phones in the market. These phones have specific features and are available in a wide range of price. We’re listing only the budget ones, ignoring Galaxy S Duos and Galaxy SII Duos.

These smartphones are useful for a number of people from different walks of life. Business community can use different lines for personal and professional contacts. You can enjoy offers from more than one communication service provider without the hassle of carrying two mobile phones.

Here we are listing some of the Samsung dual SIM Android smartphones with unique and interesting features.

The first smartphone that we would discus about is Samsung Galaxy S Duos. The design of this phone is similar to the famous member of Galaxy S family, Samsung Galaxy S III. Of course it differs in software to the Galaxy S III, but physically they resemble a lot. The touch screen of S Duos is about 4 inch (a bit smaller than S III), with 480 x 800 resolutions. The internal memory of this smartophone is 4GB, and the RAM used in it is 512 MB. It can support to run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

Galaxy Y Pro Duos is another Dual SIM Android device of Samsung. This smartphone is the dual SIM version of its original. It has a front camera so you can easily make video calls, if your service provider doesn’t allow video calls then you can use VoIP for this purpose. Other features of Galaxy Y Pro Duos include, 832 MHz processor, 3.2 mega pixel rare camera, 2.6 inch QVGA display, Wi-Fi, GPS, etc. The firmware on this smartphone is Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos has a touch screen of about 3.2 inch. 832 MHz processor, 3GB internal memory, micro SD card slot (that supports up to 32 GB memory card), 512 MB RAM, and a 5 mega pixel camera are the other main features of this Samsung Dual SIM Android smartphone. It runs a comparatively old version of Android, i.e. Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

If you’re way too short on budget, then the last phone on our list is Samsung B5702 DUOS. It’s not an Android phone and it has a shorter touch screen of about 2.4 inches with a resolution of 240 x 320 pixels. You can add up to 8 GB memory to this smartphone. All other important features like GPRS, GSM, Bluetooth, FM radio, etc are also present in it. The battery of this smartphone has a standby life of about 122 hours.

There are many other Dual SIM Android smartphones available under the umbrella of Samsung. These include, Samsung Galaxy Pocket Duos S5302, Galaxy Grand 19082, Galaxy Ace Duos GSM, Samsung Duos C3312, Samsung E1207, Samsung Guru E1282 and E2252, and Samsung C3322. You can choose any of these phones that is best suitable to you according to your needs and requirements.
About the author: It’s yet again a guest article contributed by Hafsa Wajeeh. She blogs at dtopgadgets.

Best Android Phones Under Rs. 20,000 / $200

Written By: Hafsa Wajeeh

With a lot of features and interesting advanced options, Android phones have become the first choice for everyone. More and more people are opting for an Android phone. A problem that many people find in buying an Android phone is its high rates. Most of the high-end smartphones are expensive, but still there are many that are available at reasonable prices. Here we are going to tell you five dual core Android phones that you can buy for under Rs. 20,000. Here we go:

 Sony Xperia Sola:

Sony Xperia Sola is available in the market with dual core 1 GHz cortex A-9 processor, and Android v 2.3 (Gingerbread). Update is available for Android up to v4.0. The touch screen is 3.7 inches with 480*854 pixels display. The RAM is 512 MB, and internal memory is 8GB and supports micro SD card up to 32 GB.  You can take photos with 5 MP camera that is supported by Auto focus and LED flash. Android NFC Smart tag, available in Sony Xperia Sola, can make your life easy, as it can perform simple daily tasks with a single touch. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPRS, 3G, and other options are available for connectivity. Get your Sony Xperia Sola for just 20,990.

 Sony Xperia U:

This Android phone runs on a dual core, 1GHz cortex A-9 processor. The internal memory of Sony Xperia U is 8 GB, with a RAM of 512 MB. No sdcard support available. The OS is Android v2.3 (Gingerbread), but you have an option to upgrade it up to v4.0. You can capture your memorable moments with the help of 5MP camera, auto-focus, and LED flash. You can also capture 3D panorama using Xperia U. 3G technology is also present in it. With high resolution, and good picture quality, any movie or video can be enjoyed on this phone. You can get Sony Xperia U for Rs. 18,500.

 QMobile Noir A11:

The new Noir series of QMobile consists of smartphones with some really awesome features. Noir A11 is powered by 1 GHz dual core processor. It has a built-in memory of 4GB, but if you want more, you can add a micro SD card of up to 32 GB. The RAM is 512 MB. Q mobile has launched Noir A11 with 5 inches touch screen. You can upgrade Android v4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) to v4.1 (Update date not announced). In addition to the 5MP HD camera with LED flash, Noir A11 has a front camera that you can use for video calling. For connectivity, Noir A11 offers GPS, 3G, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. It is available in the market for only Rs. 18,000.

 Gfive A78 Ferrari:

This smartphone is launched with a 4.3 inches touch screen. You can download stuff, run apps, and browse the web faster with dual core 1 GHz processor. It uses Android v 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). Only 512 MB built-in memory is available in Gfive A78, but you have an option to add a micro SD card of up to 32 GB. This smartphone comes with 8MP camera, and Auto focus to capture HD images and make videos. A front camera is also included in it to make video calls. The price of this smartphone is only Rs. 16,800.

 QMobile Noir A10:

This is another release of QMobile. It is launched with a wide 5 inches touch screen. Dual core 1 GHz processor has enhanced the overall performance of Noir A 10, with Android v 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich). The built-in memory of this smartphone is 1.48 GB, you can add up to 32 GB more by using a micro SD card. RAM is same as in others, that is 512 MB. It is a good phone for those who love to take photos as it has 8MP camera with Auto focus and LED flash, front camera helps you to make video calls. Noir A 10 offers Wi-Fi, GPS, 3G, and Bluetooth for connectivity. You can buy a QMobile Noir A10 for just Rs. 16,950.

So, these were the 5 Android smartphones that are available in the market for Rs. 20,000 or less. All these smartphones feature a dual core processor with minimum 512MB RAM. I hope that you have found one for you that best suits your needs. Please share this article with your friends, so they can also get benefit. And don’t forget to give us your feedback. Have a good day!

About author: This is a guest post written by Hafsa Wajeeh. She is an enthusiast blogger and writes about latest gadgets on her blog, dtopgadgets.com.

Flash CWM Recovery to MTK Phones Without SP Flash Tool

Flashing open source custom recoveries to MediaTek phones seems to be a common problem. The process is simple, but often people get confused and end up damaging their devices.

To make it hassle-free, I’ve created a script which will automatically flash any recovery like ClockworkMod (CWM) to any MediaTek (MTK) phone including MT657 and MT6577 chipsets. QMobile Noir A6, Noir A8 and Noir A10 can also be flashed.

This doesn’t require SP Flash Tool or Mobileuncle tools and is very helpful. You can flash CWM even from stock recovery!  Helpful in cases when your phone is bricked and you have the CWM backup, but not CWM recovery. Also handy in situations when SP Flash Tool is showing errors like:

BROM ERROR: S_FT_NEED_DOWNLOAD_ALL_FAIL (4050)

Steps to Flash CWM Recovery to QMobile Noir Series / Any MTK Phone:

  1. Download the script from here and extract. You will get a folder flashrecovery_labandroid.com with three CWM recoveries pre-included—Noir A10, Noir A8 and Noir A6. Rename the one meant for your phone to recovery.img.
  2. If your phone is not bricked, set it to USB Debugging mode from Developer Options and connect to computer.  OR
  3. If it’s bricked and not turning on, open it in recovery mode. Try volume up + power button. OR
    1. Press and hold volume up + volume down + power at the same time for a while when you see this screen: http://i.imgur.com/v4x8i.jpg.
    2. Press volume up once and instantly press home soft touch button. You will get into recovery.
  4. Run the script file flashit.bat and restart phone into recovery mode after it’s done.

If it doesn’t get flashed, you don’t have the proper USB ADB drivers installed. For MT6577 ADB drivers, follow this link. It can also mean you don’t have root permissions. This script may not work if you are not rooted!

If you want to unbrick your Noir A8 with CWM, follow this link where stock ROM is included. If you want to unbrick Noir A6 with CWM, go here.

To brick other MTK phones, try to find a CWM backup of its ROM.

Happy ‘unbricking’! :)

SOLVED: Viber Robotic Voice on Noir Series QMobile

Viber robotic voice issue on Noir A6 / Noir A8 / Noir A10 phones is now resolved. Someone has found an alternative Viber version, in which there’s no echo/robotic voice bug. You need to download and install Viber version 2.1.6.632 from here (on your own risk) to enjoy a bug-free Viber experience on QMobile Noir series phones!

This problem was faced by almost all QMobile Noir series users. I even contacted Viber’s support to notify them about this issue, but their response was not very positive as they said it was not possible for them to test every phone and optimize it. It was understandable, as they can’t have access to Noir series phones as well.

Also tried to fix audio bugs by using audio library files from other MediaTek (MTK) phones to fix Viber robotic voice issue, but it was again of no use. Some library files even caused bootloop! So, had to revert back. Also, I don’t exactly know who discovered this particular version by testing. If someone knows the original guy, please let me know to credit him.

P.S. The latest version of Viber still has the robotic voice issue, so you can’t have a bug-free experience with the latest version.

Noir A8 Stock ROM – Prerooted!

This is a backup of QMobile Noir A8 and will help you restore Noir A8 to perfectly working condition If you’ve somehow messed up your phone. Whether your Noir A8 is stuck in a bootloop, corrupted system files or you just want it restored to a condition just like new, then you can flash this pre-rooted Noir A8 ROM and unbrick your phone!

Steps To Flash QMobile Noir A8 ROM:

  1. It can be flashed via clockworkmod recovery. If you don’t have CWM, follow THIS link to install CWM recovery first.
  2. ROM: Download all the files from HERE (boot.img, recovery.img, system.ext4.tar, nandroid.md5) and put them in a folder named “a8sys” without quotes. Or any other name WITHOUT spaces. Make sure you download via a download manager to not corrupt them.
  3. Place this folder on your sdcard inside: /sdcard/clockworkmod/backup/ So that all files can be found in: /sdcard/clockworkmod/backup/a8sys/
  4. Turn off phone and start it in recovery mode by pressing volume UP + power button.
  5. Choose wipe data/factory reset
  6. Go to advanced -> wipe dalvik cache
  7. Go back again. -> mounts and storage -> format /system
  8. Go back to main menu -> backup and restore -> advanced restore -> restore /system. Choose the folder “a8sys”
  9. It will start MD5 check and restore the system partition image. Restart your phone and enjoy it like it’s brand new!

 

Few Notes:

  • I haven’t currently included data partition, but you don’t really need it. If you want it too, post in the comments.
  • I’ve removed the MD5 checking mechanism of CWM by emptying nandroid.md5 file. If md5 sums are present inside nandroid.md5 file, CWM gives MD5 mismatch error, even if the MD5 sums are correct!
  • Here is the nandroid.md5 file which contains MD5 sums for above backup files. Replace this with the other and then try the system restore. It may give you an error. Figure out the solution if you can and post in the comments :) (line for data.ext4.tar is not included, as it’s not in the folder).

YouTube Gets Unblocked in Pakistan

UPDATE: Height of stupidity!! After a few hours of unblocking YouTube in Pakistan, Prime Minister ordered again to block YouTube! It’s blocked again, no more accessible. SAD!

The wait is over! Finally YouTube gets unbanned in Pakistan. Last night Rehman Malik announced on his Twitter account that YouTube will be unblocked tomorrow. His claim was true. YouTube is now unblocked in Pakistan and the entire site is fully accessible. Not only the site loads, but videos too!

It was on 17th September 2012 that access to YouTube was blocked in Pakistan. An amateur anti-Islam video/movie titled “Innocence of Muslims” was uploaded to YouTube. YouTube declined all requests to remove it because according to the website, it did not violate any of the YouTube Community Guidelines.

Pakistani government, in a bid to protest, ordered PTA to ban YouTube and block all access to it. It also resulted in some unwanted behavior like Google Play and Goo.gl also getting blocked.

The move was not appreciated in the Pakistani blogosphere and majority of netizens. The general opinion was only the access to specific objectionable content should have been blocked, instead of banning the whole domain name.

YouTube, besides the entertainment and fun content, also has a huge stockpile of educational, religious and scientific content. It hosts many video lectures of prestigious institutes like MIT, UCBerkeley and many others. YouTube blackout meant access to courses, technical information and several different kinds of tutorials wasn’t available to Pakistani students and technology enthusiasts.

At the end, this latest move is very welcoming and we’re thankful our dear Interior Minister finally realized the need of unblocking YouTube.

Noir A6 ClockWorkMod (CWM) Recovery

Some good news. CWM recovery has been ported to work on QMobile Noir A6. Let me remind you that Noir A6 is based on MediaTek MT6575 chipset (or maybe another variant of it, since it doesn’t have 3G modem) and runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich.

Credit for this CWM recovery image of QMobile Noir A6 goes to Umair Arshad (umair.arshad06 [at] gmail.com). He was kind enough to test it on his Noir A6 and reports it is working fine. If you need any help in flashing it or encounter any error, please leave a comment.

Procedure To Install CWM Recovery

WARNING: Performing this procedure in a wrong way may brick your phone. We shall not be responsible for any damage. Always keep a backup!

  1. Make sure your phone is rooted. If you haven’t done so, click here to root your Noir A6.
  2. Download CWM recovery for Noir A6 from here. Extract the archive, place recovery.img file on root of your SD Card. It also has scatter file for Noir A6, in case you want to use SP Flash tool.
  3. Download MTK Mobileuncle Tools from Google Play and install it.
  4. Open Mobileuncle Tools, grant it superuser permissions and choose “Recovery Update”. Select the recovery.img file from SD card and let it do the job.
  5. Turn off your phone and restart in recovery mode to see if CWM shows up.

To open recovery mode:

Press Volume UP + Power button

If it doesn’t work, do this to open recovery mode (discovered by Qasir):

  1. Press and hold ( volume up + volume down + power button ) for a while when you see this screen on your device: http://i.imgur.com/v4x8i.jpg
  2. Press volume up once and suddenly press Home Soft touch button. You will get into recovery.

So that was it! Please report below if it works for you too!!

You can also use the SP Flash Tool method in case if it fails. Scatter file is included in the above file of step 2.

Google Apps Custom Email No Longer Free!

Google Apps for business is a set of very fine, high-quality services being provided by Google to users ranging from individuals, small businesses to large corporates. It used to be free for a limited number of inboxes per account, but the free version of  Google’s custom email hosting is no longer available for new signups.

In a recent email to account holders, Google announced that they will no longer accept free signups for Google Apps, but the existing free customers will not be affected by this decision. They can continue to use the services free of cost. A sigh of big relief for me! But it surely won’t come as a good news for those who cannot afford the cost of custom domain email hosting and wanted to use GApps! The paid version costs about $5 per user on Google Apps.

Like Lab Android (this very site!), the free version is also used by many individuals who cannot afford to pay the cost of hosting custom emails either at GApps or elsewhere. Previously, the limit of email accounts for free customers was higher than ten, but we currently have a ten users limit.

Google Apps for business includes services like custom email hosting where you can use your own domain name to create email accounts like ceo@yourdomain.com. They can then be accessed normally using Gmail; some other addons like Google Calendar and Marketplace (called Google Extend) are also included.

I’m sure there will be many others too who’ll find this news disappointing. Were you looking forward to create a free account at GApps?

Please note that Google Apps for education and universities is still free and no such thing applies to it.

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