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Tag: Ron Amadeo (Page 1 of 2)

OnePlus X Review: Not bad for $249, assuming you can actually buy one

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Reviewing a device from OnePlus is always a strange proposition. We get the devices at Ars because we’re privileged journalists, but most people can’t just go out and buy a OnePlus device. The company insists on selling its devices through an “invite” system, which makes buying OnePlus devices a huge hassle. You can show up to OnePlus’ website cash-in-hand (metaphorically), and you’ll be turned away if you don’t have a golden ticket.

The reason is that OnePlus just can’t afford to sell a ton of phones at the listed MSRP. The upstart company freely admits it has “No plan to make any money for two years,” and along with the limited release strategy, we’re guessing it loses money (or, at best, breaks even) on every device it sells. OnePlus’ current business strategy is unsustainable, so it feels a little dishonest to compare the company’s devices to products from actual functioning businesses trying to make a profit. OnePlus seems to be more focused on generating hype than generating sales.

Still, the business model is not really the consumer’s problem, so if you’re interested in taking advantage of OnePlus’ generosity, let us present to you the “OnePlus X,” the company’s latest bang-for-your-buck smartphone. The “X” takes what is basically a late-2013 or early-2014 flagship and sells it two years later for $249. Imagine a Nexus 5 or Galaxy S5 and you’re in the right ballpark. You’re getting a 5-inch, 1080p display powered by a 2.3GHz Snapdragon 801 SoC.

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Imagining what Google’s hybrid Android-plus-Chrome OS might look like

(credit: Google/Ron Amadeo)

A recent report from The Wall Street Journal claimed that Chrome OS and Android are merging. The Journal said that Chrome OS would be “folded into” Android—a move that would have big implications for both OSes.

There have been a lot of follow-up reports from all over the Internet, so before we get all speculative, let’s round up what’s out there. The Wall Street Journal had the initial report, saying that Chrome OS would be “folded into” Android. The project has been underway for “roughly two years,” with release planned for “2017” and an “early version” that would be shown off “early next year.”

The report called the combined OS “the new version of Android” and said that Chromebooks would get a new, yet-to-be-determined name. The WSJ noted that “Chrome OS will remain as an open source operating system” and engineers would “continue maintaining it,” but that Google’s “focus” would be on “extending Android to run on laptops.”

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Samsung’s making more money from chips and screens, but not from phones

Enlarge / Samsung is making pretty good premium flagships these days, but they’re not the phones most people are buying. (credit: Ron Amadeo)

Samsung’s third-quarter earnings report is out, and the results are mixed. On the one hand, profits are up year-over-year for the first time since early 2014 (PDF). The company’s operating profit is up to ₩7.4 trillion ($6.47 billion), an 82 percent increase from ₩4 trillion last year, and revenue is up nine percent from ₩47.4 trillion to ₩51.7 trillion ($49.85 billion). On the other hand, profits from its once-enviable smartphone business continue to slide, even though sales are doing fairly well.

Luckily for the company, its component business is picking up the slack. According to a report from the Associated Press, Samsung’s semiconductor division is responsible for about half of its total profit at ₩3.66 trillion, and that’s due at least in part to Apple’s business. Samsung builds some of the A9 chips supplied for the new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, and it also makes the Apple A7 chips used in the lower-end iPhone 5S, iPad Air, and iPad Mini 2. Samsung’s OLED display business is also doing well, contributing ₩900 billion to Samsung’s profit.

Samsung still sells a lot of phones—about 84.5 million worldwide during the quarter, according to IDC estimates, making it by far the largest smartphone company by shipments. And phones still made the company ₩2.4 trillion in profit, nothing to sneeze at. But the average selling price for those phones is between $180 and $190, less than half of what the cheapest iPhone sells for. There’s a reason why Apple takes home almost all of the profit in the smartphone business, and it’s because it’s the only company that isn’t being eaten alive by cheap-but-competent low-end and midrange models.

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Some Tesla owners are too trusting of autopilot

While not pictured, blue lines to the left and right of the virtual road indicate that the car is sensing the paint lines and will steer autonomously. (credit: Ron Amadeo)

Last week, Tesla upgraded its fleet over the air to bring autopilot (including autosteer, which is still in beta) to all Model S electric cars built in the past year (older cars don’t have all the necessary hardware). During the announcement, Elon Musk did stress that autopilot isn’t autonomous in the way research cars from companies like Google or Audi (or even Stanford University) are. Rather, it’s at level two (out of four) on NHTSA’s scale of self-driving car.

Despite this, some Tesla drivers out there don’t seem to have fully absorbed that fact… or that Tesla have said they accept no liability for collisions that happen in autopilot mode. As discovered by the nice people over at Fusion, it seems Tesla drivers have been videoing their autopilot experiences, including several near misses.

Near miss as a Tesla swerves at another car

Autopilot (and similar features from Audi, Volvo, and others) are extremely useful for long freeway journeys. But we at Ars Technica would be remiss if we didn’t point out that, for now, if you’re behind the wheel you are still legally responsible for your car’s behavior on the road. Autosteer (which some have pointed out is a misleading name) is still only beta software, remember. Keep those hands on the wheel and those eyes on traffic, please!

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Android Marshmallow: What we know (and suspect) is getting the update

Enlarge / You won’t see this Marshmallow easter egg on everything, unfortunately. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Your first question about Android 6.0 should be “where can I find out about all the new stuff that comes with the update?” That answer is easy—read Ron Amadeo’s ridiculously in-depth review.

Now that you know all of that, your second question is probably “when will my phone actually get any of this stuff?” That answer isn’t so easy. A handful of OEMs have outlined concrete update plans, while we’re relying more on rumors and past precedent for others. Since the first users will start getting the final version of Marshmallow today, we’ll run down the list of major OEMs (and other major groups of devices, like Nexuses) and tell you all we know about when you’ll actually get Marshmallow. Unfortunately but unsurprisingly, things don’t look great for you if you don’t own a flagship phone released within the last year or two.

Nexus 5, 6, 7, 9, and Player: Get it now-ish

The Nexus 5 and many other Nexuses are already getting the update. (credit: Ron Amadeo)

Owners of the Google-backed Nexus phones will be in the first wave of updates as usual. These devices are rarely the best hardware that the Android ecosystem has to offer, but their access to updates is enough to make up for their other shortcomings. The Nexus 5 and 6 are getting the update today, as are the 2013 Nexus 7, the Nexus 9, and the Nexus Player.

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