Sunday, March 16, 2014

Moto X vs Nexus 5

With the Moto X launch due,people are running it down as being a mid-range dual-core phone,with a quad-core price tag.While on paper the Nexus 5 might be better than Moto X,in real world,Moto X is at par,with most of the Nexus' specifications,and packs in some extra punches of its own.
So,here goes a quick compare of the two :

Design : 

Moto is 5 inches in length,with a 4.7 inch screen,while Nexus is almost 5.5 inches with a 5 inch screen.

Both use plastic at the back,both have Gorilla Glass at the front.
Though,the polycarbonate on the back of Moto feels slightly better at handling finger prints than the Nexus.
Also,given the slight curve at the back of the Moto,compared to the flat back Nexus,the Moto feels more comfortable in hand than the Nexus.

I am a sucker for thin bezels,and hence prefer it over the slight bigger one on Nexus(the bottom one).Also,this makes the overall phone size smaller.

The buttons,ports,et al. are the same on both phones.
Both come with non-removable batteries,with the Nexus having 100 mAh advantage over the Moto.

In comparison,both are almost the same.Just a matter of personal preference.

Processor :

Moto packs in an Snapdragon,S4 based,dual core Krait processor,clocked at 1.7 GHz.It also contains two low powered cores,one for natural language processing and one for contextual processing.

The Nexus houses a Snapdragon 800 based,quad-core Krait processor,with a clock freq of 2.26 GHz.

The old processor on the Moto,translates to the 600 series of the Snapdragon processors.
So,from the looks of it,Nexus is miles ahead of the Moto,when it comes to the processing power.

But,bear in mind,unless you are a real power user,so much of power at your disposal is total waste.For day-to-day activities of music,surfing the net,facebook-twitter-whatsapp multi-tasking,even the dual core on Moto would not be working on its 100% load.

On the GPU front,Moto uses a quad-core 320 Adreno,whereas the Nexus has a quad-core 330 Adreno.
Nothing much to compare here.

Both have a 2 GB RAM at disposal.Again both win here as well.

Bottom line,unless you run an app which needs to utilize 4 cores of 2.26 GHz worth of processing power,combined with 4 cores of GPU,clocking in at 450 MHz,then you really shouldn't be running that app on your phone.
Moto will easily get you through your daily activities,without any lags or problems.

Screen :
Moto houses a 4.7 inch,AMOLED screen,with 720p display,whereas the Nexus has a 5 inch,IPS LCD,with a 1080p display.
I prefer the Moto in this case,because,firstly its AMOLED.Always prefer it over LCD,despite each having its own advantages.

Another reason,720p over 1080p.
Sure,with a bigger screen and better resolution,the Nexus seems to have clear edge over the Moto,but unless you nit pick,there is barely any difference between the two at such a small screen size.
Now,with a smaller screen,HD display and an AMOLED screen,Moto consumes lesser battery than the Nexus.

Also,both are protected by Croning Gorilla Glass.

UI/Software :

Both run stock 4.4.2.But while the Nexus has its proprietary Google Experience Launcher,with a few tricks up its sleeve,the Moto runs a simpler version of the Launcher.Most of the visual tweaks can be achieved by installing Nova Launcher on the Moto.

Moto has done a fine job of keeping the stock Android experience intact,with almost zero bloatware.It provides some useful tools like Moto Migrate,to help migrate date from your old phone to the new one,and two of the best features,active display and touchless control.

Active display,lights up the screen with the time and pending notifications,everytime it detects motion,like picking the phone from the table,or taking it out from the pocket.
Remember the AMOLED screen? So,it lights up only those pixels which displays the time and the notfiications.
Saves battery,plus saved the power button from being pressed time and again!

Touchless control,keeps listening to you,for the keyword,"Ok Google Now",and responds to your voice commands,even from the sleep state!
Oh and this app keeps getting new features,like the recent "Whats up Google Now",keyword,which reads out the time and unread notifications(if any)

For these,it'd require a processor to keep running,all the time.
Remember the 2 low powered cores? Brilliant,right?

Also,another cool feature of the Moto,flick your wrist twice to start the camera app.Again,works from the sleep state.

Moto is the clear winner in this case!

Other Specifications :

Both phones pretty much match up to each other in all other aspects.
No expandable memory,only 16 and 32 Gig options.

Bluetooth 4.0,NFC,GPS,A-GPS,GLONASS,accelerometer,gyroscope,etc. and host of other sensors.
No comparison!

Radio :

No,I am not talking about the FM radio.
Radio here,are the mobile radio signals.
After the screen,this consumes the most battery strength.

Remember,Motorola were the pioneers of mobile technology.This is evident form the better signal strength,clear crisps voice across phone calls on Moto devices.

Basically,if your phone can't pick up radio signals,it tries harder,consuming more processing power,while doing so.Once it does,it needs to maintain the same strength,consuming more power.
The weaker the signal,the more power it needs to search for a signal.(Which is why your battery drowns  faster when moving to places with low signal strength).

Using the Moto at the same places as I was with my old phone,getting 4 bars,as I did earlier.The difference was in the battery consumption,the signal stayed green throughout for the Moto,whereas I used to get yellow/red bands earlier.

Moto X wins this battle hands down,in comparison to the Nexus.

Camera : 

Both have an average camera,nothing quite special.

Megapixels don't count.
Though Moto can only click photos at 10MP,Nexus can shoot at various sizes.

Recording,both can shoot at 1080,30 fps.

Nexus has a special HDR+ mode,Photosphere,which the Moto lacks.

Picture quality is better on the Nexus in comparison to the Moto.
So Nexus wins on the camera front!

Overall,both line up well against each other,with their own advantages(and disadvantages),even though on paper they fall into two different categories.
To be fair,Moto X seems like a Nexus device in itself,given that its the first phone released by Moto,after being taken over by Google.2 years of development,and they could finally make a product which would compete with Nexus range of phones.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Rooted essentials

Rooting implies getting root access on your Android device.Usually it stops on flashing a custom ROM.
But there is much more to rooting than just flashing Cyanogen or AOKP or any other ROM for that matter.With root access,you have a deeper control over the phones hardware.
Phones with locked bootloaders need to go a step further,unlocking it,to gain access to kernel.

Following is a list of apps which come in handy,once you've rooted your device.All of these can easily be found on the play store,and quick search on xda would give you an even more insight on the app.
1. Greenify
This app maintains a list of apps,which you want to be killed from its incessant background services/process or "greenified".Apps like Maps,Facebook are useful,but constant background services not only increase data usage,but also take a toll on the battery life.Worse,these consume valuable RAM.
Greenify runs a process,at a specified interval of time,after you lock your screen.Once run,it kills off all the apps in the list,freeing the device of valuable RAM,at the same time keeping a check on the battery life.
(The latest update makes Greenify run on non-rooted devices too!)

2. Xposed Framework
Most Android tweaks on the system packages require a tedious task of decompiling the apk,making the changes,and then recompiling the apk.Not only is it a tedious process,but it is device and ROM specific as well.Also,for multiple files,we usually flash a zip from recovery.
Xposed provides a framework for 'modules',make the necessary changes in the apks on the start-up itself.This makes the modules independent of the device,ROM,etc.
Point to be noted here is Xposed is just a framework.You need modules like GravityBox,for eg,which provides an AIO solution to visual and functional tweaks,usually found in most custom ROMs.
Even Greenify provides a host of experimental features,which can be activated via Xposed.

Only downside being this is not ART compatible.But that shouldn't matter much.

3.Solid Explorer
I used to swear by Root Explorer,when I first rooted,but this file manager came bundled in with one of the ROMs I was trying out,and,I haven't looked back since.
It has one of the most simplest and elegant UI there is to for an Android file manager,with a host of features like 2 panels side-by-side,FTP,bookmarking of favourites,quick access to media,etc.

4.Titanium Backup
This is the AIO rooted toolkit.
Backup up app,its data;Convert system app to user app and vice-versa;Automate the backup process;Freeze system apps,uninstall system apps;move apps to SD card(well you get the point!)

A true life saver!

This is by far the most exhaustive sound mod for Android,I've come across,with loads of support for custom settings.
Cyanogen's custom music tuner,the DSP Manager is the most basic sound mods out there(In no way is it inferior though).V4A is DSP Manager on steroids.

If you know your sound,you are gonna absolutely love the Expert mode on this app.

6.CyanDelta(CM only)
Instead of downloading the whole ROM,what this app does is maintains a local copy of the current ROM zip,and downloads only the changes it finds against the latest ROM that is available.So,instead of downloading almost 200 MBs,you end up downloading only a tenth of that,to upgrade between ROMs.
You just need to hit the download button,it downloads,packs up a new zip and then you click on install.It boots to recovery,wipes the cache(if you've opted for it),flashes the zip and boots up,all by itself.
Another killer feature about this app is you can maintain a list of additional zips that can be flashed after it flashes the ROM itself.
Needless to say,it provides automatic checking of updates,which can be configured by time.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Two Thousand Techteen

2013 ended.So here's a quick recap!


2013 was dominated by wearable devices.We had Google Glass,Pebble Smartwatch,Oculus Rift,et al!
Starting off with Pebble Smartwatch,which was showcased in CES,right at the beginning of the year,it paved the way for Sony's smartwatch,Samsung's Galaxy Gear.But the problem with the latter ones were the bloatware that came along.
Pebble was neat,minimal and e-ink!

Then Google teased it's Glass,and well,I need not say anything.It's just one of those,"Shut up and take my money" moments.

While Glass was more like HUD,Oculus(yet another Kickstarter porject),was like a freaking display slashed onto your face!Oculus Rift displayed the most immersive experience that is to when it came to Virtual Reality.

With Valve in process of showcasing their own VR goggles,whatever the future holds,whenever wearables become commonplace,2013 will be marked as the year that wearables became mainstream.


There was HD,then came 2K.What was to follow?
4K of course.
And this Ultra-HD wasn't just restricted to TVs.No sir,we had tablets offering 4K resolutions.
Just feels like yesterday when I was awestruck by a 720p resolution and here we were witnessing more than 4 times the pixel density!

Ultra-mega-humongous resolutions were the only highlights for displays.We finally witnessed what had been teased a lot 2012,flexible displays.Not only did we get prototypes,there were consumer products,with curved OLED displays on sale.
And as the year drew to an end,we got phones with curved displays from LG and Samung.

Gaming Consoles:

It was like 7 years since Sony had a major refresh for the PS,and almost same time since Microsoft updated their XBox.So,well,come 2013 and both Sony and Microsoft updated their consoles to PS4 and XBox One,respectively.
With on paper specs which made the previous versions look like handheld,8 bit consoles,both the consoles took things online and cloud storage.Both a pro and con.

There was also OUYA's,ultra cheap Android based gaming console,Razer's and NVIDIA's,hand held consoles,Razer's gaming laptops,Android updating its Play Games app,and what not!

All and all,a good year for gamers. :)

Mobile Phones:

Two major headlines of the year,RIM renaming itself to BlackBerry,and BlackBerry with its final ace in the pack,unveiling the BB10,and failing.
Other being Nokia's takeover by Microsoft.

Samsung unveiling tons of mobiles under the Galaxy series,Apple,for the first time unveiling more than one iPhone,LG releasing the next Nexus series.
Amongst these,my picks were Sony giving huge support to the development community with the release of source codes for their flagship devices,and,Motorola.Boy,did Moto make its presence felt in 2013!
Firstly the Moto X,and towards the end of the year,the mid range Moto G.Again,embracing Open Source with open arms,and updating their devices to the latest software on offering.If only Moto,you'd release your phones all over the world!

And just before the year ended,Oppo released the first phone,with out-of-the-box after market ROM,CyanogenMod.

Oh,the usual patent trolls continued through the year.


All pc,mobile OS saw their yearly updates.
Biggest of them all,Canonical's preview of Ubuntu for phones.Ubuntu,by far cleanest Linux experience was finally a full fledged OS for the phone.Though just a preview,it got the ball rolling,with the OS ported to major Android devices.

Windows bumped both desktop and phones OS,with desktop version criticized for leaving out the iconic start button.The phone version getting incremental updates,to finally compete with Android and iOS.Also,helped with the merger of Nokia,Windows can finally develop the mobile OS,with control on both software and hardware.

BB moved to a touch-oriented OS with the BB10,betting all its fortune on this one piece of software.While BB10 did have it moments,it couldn't really connect as a whole OS,and failed to revive BB.

Android updated it self from 4.2 to 4.3 Jelly Bean and finally 4.4,Kit-Kat.With 4.4 came major Kit-Kat promotions and on the software front,Google's promise to optimize low end devices.To an extend,I did feel the 4.4 better than 4.3,on my i9000,and no,this isn't placebo!
With 4.4,Google also pushed it's new runtime environment,dubbed ART(Android Runtime).Set to optimize the startup time for applications,and amongst other things,its a step ahead from the Dalvik VM,but the downside being it's still in Beta phase and not many apps as of now.

And finally iOS completed its Android transformation with the release of iOS 7.Moving away from the black-white-grey colour scheme,iOS 7 was all about bold colours,for the software(and,it came with matching hardware).It included an improved notification center and a central command center.
Macs updated themselves to OS X Mavericks,shying away from the tradition of naming the OSes after cats,to places in California.That being the only major change,rest being the usual incremental updates on visual and functional line.


- CyanogenMod went from being an Open Source ROM to a corporate company,Cyanogen Inc.,and finding itself an OEM partner in Oppo,to release the Oppo N1 with out-of-the-box CyanogenMod
- Ballmer stepped as CEO for Microsoft
- JBQ quit. :(
- Hugo Barra left Google to join Xiaomi
- Bitcoin became serious moolah!
- Nokia released its Windows based tablet
- Fingerprint scanner on phones
..And lots more that I missed!