Tag: nokia

Tech wants to solve our tech-related sleep problems

Technology is bad for sleep. It keeps us constantly exposed to an endless cycle of bad news, and the blue light emitted by smartphone and tablet displays suppresses our ability to produce melatonin. Combine that with the feelings of inadequacy generated by watching other people's picture-perfect lives on social media, and it's no surprise that we're all restless.

Sleep technology exists to solve this issue, and there were plenty of companies exhibiting new devices here at CES 2018. Many of them intend to tell you how well, or poorly, you have slept each night, in the hope you'll make better decisions the following day. But, as well as becoming more commonplace, sleep gadgets are going to become far more diverse, at least according to what we saw at the show.

Smartwatches and fitness trackers have tracked sleep for years, using the principles of actigraphy: Monitoring how you move as you sleep with algorithms used to calculate your cycles. The less you move, the thinking goes, the deeper your sleep.

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This week, companies like Nokia and Emfit both launched new underbed sensors that do the same job, but without a device on your wrist. The former will track your sleep duration and quality and offers a sleep-coaching function if you're having trouble nodding off. In addition, the Nokia Sleep sensor offers control of your smart home with IFTTT, triggering recipes as you begin to nod off.

Using sleep technology as an extension of the smart home seems to be the beachhead from which these companies plan to enter our homes. Sleepace exhibited a whole suite of connected home gear that'll automate your pad when it senses you're sleeping. Spend enough cash and your residence will turn off the TV and draw the blinds as soon as you climb into bed. When you're rousing the following morning, the system could gently turn on the lights and fire up the coffee machine.

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Wake-up lights were sleep technology well before sleep technology was a thing, using daylight simulation to trigger your natural circadian rhythm. It's probably best exemplified by Philips' Wake Up Light, and at CES 2018 competing products appeared from companies like Witti and Aromarest. The latter pulls double duty as a scent diffuser, much like Bescent's forthcoming night-time sleeping aid.

Other devices are attempting to appeal more to the marginal-gains crowd looking to get an edge on their bodies. Dreamlight, for instance, is an intelligent sleep mask that offers light therapy in the eye cups and sleep coaching. If you have taken a genetic test with 23andMe, you can even customize the sleep programs according to your DNA. Even to the point where, should your genetics indicate so, you can attempt to sleep like Leonardo DaVinci, who famously took 20-minute polyphasic sleep naps every four hours.

Sleep Number, which sells smart beds that cost upwards of a thousand dollars, claims that its SleepIQ platform is the "future of health and wellness." The company believes that its monitoring technology will soon be able to proactively spot and warn you of medical conditions ahead of time. For instance, its future beds may be able to identify symptoms such as an irregular heart rate or breathing pattern, look for signs of you being laid up with the flu and relay vital signs to medical professionals. Assuming, of course, that its users are comfortable with the sheer volume of data that is being collected against them.

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Then there are the more extreme interventions, like the recently launched bed from Magniflex, which will actually try to stop you snoring each night. Should its sensors detect your nostrils making the sound of falling rocks, the head of the bed will lift up by a couple of inches. That gentle motion should be enough to motivate your unconscious body to shift around, jolting you into stopping snoring.

There's also Somnox, a pricey sleep robot in the shape of a peanut, which you cuddle up to over night. The device is designed to simulate breathing as if you were snuggling up to a loved one or pet, playing soothing music to get you off to sleep. Although setting you back $550 to buy one might make you reconsider just how much you need to spend on getting some shut-eye.

Of course, the lingering issue over many of these products is if there is a genuine need for them at all. Professor Jean Tenge at San Diego State University believes there is a much simpler solution to solve our sleep-related woes: put down the phone. In an editorial at The Conversation, she explained that limiting smartphone use is the fastest way for us to enjoy more restful sleep. The rule of thumb is to avoid using your phone as an alarm clock, don't take it to bed and don't use it in the hour before you sleep. If we want to remain sane, our bedrooms need to be as analog an environment as possible. Not that the technology industry will tell you that, of course, because very few people get rich by not selling you things.

Additional photography: Nicole Lee and Chris Ip.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2018.


Nokia’s sleep sensor controls your smart home

Nokia has announced the Nokia Sleep, a bed sensor that sits under your mattress to provide you with data about what you get up to while unconscious. Like many of its rivals, the device will track your sleep duration, interruptions and the quality of the shut-eye you're getting each night. In addition, the pad integrates with IFTTT, letting you automate your smart home to operate in tandem with your rest periods. If you're having trouble sleeping, then you will also be entitled to try out an eight-week course on improving your sleep, designed by Dr. Christopher Winter.

Those with long memories will remember that Withings, which Nokia bought in 2016, produced a device that was pretty much this, called the Aura. Back then, the Aura was a combination lamp and bed sensor that worked in tandem to help you get better sleep. The lamp would blast you with red light to help you doze off in the evenings, waking you with whiter and bluer shades the following morning. The bed sensor would then tell the lamp to shut down if it detected you'd zoned out ahead of its program.

One of Aura's biggest strengths was that it also integrated with Nest, enabling it to turn your home's heating off when you were safely asleep under a comforter. Unfortunately, the hardware never gained IFTTT integration, although it's not clear if such a feature was ever considered in its original incarnation. The revamped Nokia Sleep, which is more properly known as the Nokia Sleep and Home Automation Sensor, is intended to right that particular wrong.

It's going to be very interesting to see if there's a market for the sensor, shorn of its night-and-day-light simulation lamp. Not to mention that other sleep sensors that offered similar insights — such as the Peter Thiel-backed Sense Hello — have foundered. That won't deter Nokia, however, which is pushing out the sleep pad at some point in the next few months, priced at $99.95/under £100.

The other big announcement to come out of the company this year is the addition of a new colorway to its Steel HR hybrid smartwatches. The rose gold version of the Steel HR will ship with two different face designs: black and white, and a choice of black or blue leather straps, or gray and black silicone bands. The timepiece will drop in February this year, with prices starting at $180 and running all the way to $250.


The Nokia 6 is no longer an entry-level smartphone

Much like how HMD kicked off 2017 by bringing its first Android smartphone, the Nokia 6, to China, today it unveiled an updated model for the same region. Based on a similar aluminum unibody design, the most obvious changes on this second-gen Nokia 6 are the added colors on the chamfer, with the black version featuring copper highlights and the white version with rose gold. Similarly, the centered vertical camera bump has gained a shiny rim of the corresponding color. The old capacitive buttons below the 5.5-inch full HD IPS screen have also disappeared, with the rectangular fingerprint reader now residing on the back in a circular form.

In terms of specs, the most interesting part here is that this new Nokia 6 has swapped its entry-level Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 chipset for a much nicer Snapdragon 630 -- the same piece of silicon inside the HTC U11 Life, Moto X4 and ASUS ZenFone 4 -- along with faster LPDDR4 RAM (China still offers 4GB) to run Android 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box (Android 8.0 Oreo update due to arrive later). Similarly, it has finally ditched the micro-USB socket in favor of USB-C.

While the phone has gained a second microphone to support Nokia OZO Audio's spatial audio capture, it's lost its second speaker which potentially makes video viewing less fun, plus Nokia OZO Audio wasn't that convincing when we tried it with the three microphones on the Nokia 8. On the flip side, there's still a 3.5mm headphone jack for quickly plugging in other audio peripherals, or you can just go wireless with the Bluetooth 5.0 radio.

Everything else remains the same, especially the cameras: on the back there's a 16-megapixel f/2.0 main imager with a 1 um sensor plus dual LED, and for selfies there's a 8-megapixel f/2.0 front camera with a 1.12 um sensor plus 84-degree wide-angle capture. And yes, the Dual-Sight mode aka "bothie" mode introduced by the Nokia 8 is also supported here. Other tidbits include a 3,000 mAh battery, LTE Cat 4 radio, dual SIM slots and storage expansion via microSD card (though this takes up the second SIM slot).

Given the same 1,699 yuan price (about $260) for the 64GB version with 4GB of RAM, this new Nokia 6 is a tad more attractive than its predecessor. Better yet, there's also a 32GB flavor priced at 1,499 yuan (about $230) for those with a tighter budget. There's no word on when this model will arrive in other markets, but for now, folks in China can reserve one ahead of the January 10th launch, and they should receive their new phones well ahead of Chinese New Year.

Source: HMD Global (China)


BlackBerry will pay Nokia $137 million to resolve contract dispute

Today, BlackBerry accepted an International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) decision that the company pay Nokia $137 million due to a contract dispute. The latter allegedly accused the smartphone maker of failing to make payments on patent license contracts and brought the matter to the ICC's arbitration panel. While BlackBerry bowed to the ICC's ruling, the company affirmed that it is still bringing two patent infringement cases against Nokia in US and German courts.

"BlackBerry is disappointed that the Court of Arbitration did not agree with our arguments in the case but we accept their decision. This ruling does not change BlackBerry's assertion that Nokia is infringing on our intellectual property and we are continuing to vigorously pursue legal remedies in both the U.S. and Germany," BlackBerry said in a statement.

Both companies are attempting to bring their brands back into the consumer forefront. While BlackBerry started the year with effectively zero market share in smartphones, it's been licensing out its name to more products. Likewise, this year Finnish company HMD started producing Android phones under the Nokia name, including a middling 'flagship' device released back in September. To complete the nostalgia train, Nokia also re-released its 3310 dumb phone in a slim(mer) package a few months ago.

Source: Market Wired


The Nokia 2 is a very cheap Android phone with a huge battery

HMD continues to slide in more Nokia phones where it sees an opportunity. This time around? A very cheap smartphone that doesn't look awful and has enough battery to go the distance. The Nokia 2, priced at 100 Euros (roughly $120) walks that fine line between dreary specifications and the fact that it's just really really cheap. Oh, and a giant 4,100mAh battery that puts it ahead of a lot of flagship smartphones.

Notably for this price, it's running Android Nougat with Google Assistant in tow. Processor-wise, there's a Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 processor to power a 5-inch 1280x720 LCD display. Camera-wise, there's an 8-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front-facing shooter. There's only 8GB of built-in storage, but there's the opportunity to expand that to 128GB with the microSD slot. The spec sheet reminds me of Samsung's Galaxy S2 -- secretly one of my most-liked phones ever. That, however, launched back in 2011.

Juho Sarvikas, Chief Product Officer at HMD Global, says that "every component of the Nokia 2 -- from the display to battery, chipset to system design — has been engineered to draw as little power as possible from the huge battery." That's the main... draw here, alongside that cheerfully cheap price tag.

The renders suggest the phone is rather tasteful looking, but we'd reserve judgement there until we eye the thing in real life. It could be the true "festival phone", and it will reportedly go on sale next month in certain regions, with a launch in the UK, at least, penned for 2018.

Source: Nokia


Nokia halts development of its $45,000 VR camera

Nokia created the Ozo spherical camera to get into the virtual reality market without having to compete with head-mounted devices like the Oculus Rift. Alas, things didn't go as well as the company wanted despite not having to compete with a plethora of VR goggles -- it's halting Ozo's development and cutting up to 310 jobs in the process. Nokia said the "the slower-than-expected development of the VR market" forced it to optimize its investments in virtual reality, and the rig happened to be one of the casualties. It now plans to focus on its digital health projects, particularly the ones it acquired when it purchased Withings, and its profitable patent licensing business.

Nokia announced the Ozo camera back in 2015 with a $60,000 price tag. That pricing made it pretty clear that it's a professional-level 360-degree 3D camera capable of live streaming, live monitoring and automatic stitching. Disney, UEFA, Sony Pictures and other big-name companies nabbed one to create VR content, and other companies followed suit after Nokia dropped the price to $45,000. Unfortunately, the camera's sales might not have been enough to sustain its continued development, but Nokia promises to continue providing support to its current customers.

Source: Nokia


Microsoft canceled an ‘all-screen’ Windows phone in 2014

All-screen phones may be all the rage in 2017, but Microsoft apparently had chance to beat everyone to the punch 3 years ago... and whiffed it. Windows Central has obtained the prototype of an unnamed Windows phone (believed to be the precursor to the Lumia 435) that had extremely thin display bezels save for the bottom, where a chin held the front-facing camera. The performance would have been modest by 2014 standards with a 5-inch 720p screen, a Snapdragon 200 chip, 4GB of expandable storage and a 5-megapixel rear camera, but you'd have had an eye-catching design for under $200. To put it another way, you wouldn't have had to buy a Sharp Aquos Crystal to impress your smartphone-toting friends while sticking to a budget.

It's not certain why Microsoft axed this design. If it was meant to become the Lumia 435, Microsoft may have decided that the eye-catching screen was too expensive for the intended price point. If not, though, it's trickier. Microsoft might have determined that it couldn't mass-manufacture the phone, that it didn't fit well into the overall product lineup, or that there wasn't much of a market for low-cost Windows phones that didn't quite sit at the lowest end of the spectrum.

Either way, it's hard not to see the handset as a lost opportunity -- Microsoft could have had a visually exciting yet affordable device, but passed on it in favor of far more pedestrian hardware. And in some ways, it helps explain why Microsoft's late-stage mobile strategy kept flailing to the point where the company effectively quit development. Simply put, few exciting phones reached the market -- whether it was due to technical issues or an excess of caution, Microsoft kept canceling bleeding-edge projects (like the fabled McLaren) that could have lured people away from Android and iOS. The all-screen phone wouldn't have turned around Microsoft's fortunes by itself, but it could have been part of a larger effort to reel you in with phone designs that had few if any equals.

Source: Windows Central


Nokia remakes its remade 3310 with… 3G

As companies continue to pull open our wallets through the nefarious magic known as nostalgia, Nokia is back with another attempt to syphon some more disposable income from millennials and... whichever generation came before them. The re-reheated Nokia 3310 3G has, yes, 3G, which upgrades the 2.5G of the relaunched dumbphone, but still trails the LTE (4G) speeds we're used to. (Not that technical specs matter if you're interested in buying one.) It'll arrive with new Azure and Charcoal color options -- and silver buttons -- but that's pretty much the only other things that have notably changed.

If you want to experience touchkey input and 3G's achingly-slow mobile web from two decades earlier, you'll have to wait until October. Nokia hasn't announced prices yet, but due nostalgia fatigue, we're... we're cool. We'll stick to our phones that need recharging every day, thanks.


The Nokia 8 flagship is available to pre-order in the UK

There's a new Nokia flagship in town. Okay, so the "Nokia" name is a bit of a red herring, given it's now HMD Global, a young Finnish startup, using the brand for a fresh suite of Android phones. (Oh, and a reborn Nokia 3310.) Still, the Nokia 8 is a top-end phone bearing the old iconic logo. And starting today, it's up for pre-order in the UK. You can reserve the handset in steel or "tempered blue" for £499 from Carphone Warehouse, EE, Virgin Mobile and Nokia.com. It'll then hit store shelves on September 13th in every retailer you would expect, including Amazon and John Lewis.

The phone, if you need a refresher, comes with a 5.3-inch, 2560 x 1440 display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and 4GB of RAM. Pretty standard stuff for an Android flagship this year. The design, however, is a little different. The aforementioned blue and copper variants are unusual in a marketplace awash with black and silver slabs. The bezels are noticeable, especially in comparison to Samsung and LG's latest offerings. Still, it's an attractive device running stock Android out of the box. The dual-camera system on the back is also decent, but far from best in class.

For more impressions, check out our initial hands-on post and my colleague Mat Smith's camera test from IFA in Berlin, Germany.

Source: Nokia.com


Nokia 8’s dual-camera is good, but rival phones offer more

The Nokia 8 broke cover in the run-up to IFA 2017, so while it wasn't officially launched at the show in Germany, it's one of several phones vying for your cash ahead of a certain company's next phone. It's the most accomplished Android phone that Nokia has made, but with a tradition of pushing mobile imaging forward, how does it fare against the mighty cameraphone competition in 2017? We took an early device around Berlin to see how it fared.

So has Nokia kept up? It's certainly tried to. Pairing two camera sensors together is the 2017 thing to do with flagship phones, and with the Nokia 9 it's a combination of two 13-megapixel sensors. One deals in monochrome, the other in color. That monochrome sensor helps the phone to deal with low-light and other difficult shooting environments, while also offering the opportunity for true black and white photography -- right from the source.

My monochrome shots turned to be some of my favorite images -- it was a feature that several editors at Engadget also loved on Huawei's P10. However, it doesn't quite pack the punch of that phone, which used a mightier 20-megapixel sensor -- that's seven megapixels beyond the Nokia handset, and so images are a little flatter, a little less textured.

Mat Smith, Engadget

So how about 'twin' mode, which combines the input from the two sensors all at once? They're good, but not stellar. Damning with faint praise perhaps, but while some pictures came out wonderfully, I was often disappointed by either the dynamic range (blue skies would wash out anything else in frame), or underperforming focus. Many of the test shots you see here are my "best" ones: 13 megapixels should be more than enough for crisp shots, but the Nokia 8, despite those Zeiss lenses, delivered merely good images — not great. Color accuracy was generally good, but I felt many of my images were a little muted compared to reality, even with HDR mode turned on. A sunny day in Berlin is the chance for a smartphone to shine, but my photos don't seem to show that. This was further compounded when comparing the results against LG's V30 in similar conditions.

Mat Smith, Engadget

Also, after being spoiled with the camera app control options of Nokia's Lumia phones years ago, the lack of true manual controls and tweaks was also disappointing. There are three focus modes: include center-weighted, evaluative -- which generally involves face detection -- and old-fashioned auto, while there's similarly limited options for focal range photography. Macro, infinite distance and auto are your three only options. And that software-driven bokeh mode that we're seeing on most smartphones with two lenses? The Nokia 8's interpretation of it is just not that good. It typically smeared objects outside of the main area of focus, and usually neglected to take into account the details of, say, the stag statue antlers.

That's not to say there's nothing to play with inside the camera app. The simple control UI includes the ability to combine the front facing camera with the rear-facing duo for simultaneous photos and video. This is what a "bothie" is made out of.

The good parts: The cameras on both the front and back use the same resolution, so your images don't look particularly uneven. There were, however, times when the front-facing camera struggled with changes in lighting. The biggest problem was the physical challenge of lining up what you're trying to capture. I took some "bothie" video as we drove around the Berlin Victory Column during the photography testing, and it was hard to balance capturing both the building and myself in the back of the car. You could say that's fine for rough-and-ready live broadcasts, but it's difficult to make anything look particularly good. A wider-angle lens on the front facing camera would have alleviated things.

And about that livecasting: Nokia added the ability to livestream directly from the camera app to YouTube or Facebook -- which is a smart idea. However, when trying it out, I barely seemed to notice that hyped-up Nokia OZO-branded audio recording. Despite promises of 360-degree directional audio, and three microphones embedded inside the phone, the quality was pretty rough. My voice blasted out on Facebook, while video compression wrecked the quality of the video. This isn't completely the fault of the Nokia 8: phone signal quality and Facebook's own compression tricks are all involved. But the point is that I don't want to share something that sounds grating and looks muddy. What's the point in that?

Another issue I had was the delay in switching between the two sensors on the back of the Nokia 8. This was an problem with several of the first wave of dual-lens camera phones last year, but most have figured out how to speed up this transition. We got to test this Nokia 8 ahead of its retail launch in Europe, so there is the chance that the company can tweak some of these issues through software updates. At this point, there's certainly plenty for the engineers to work on.

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