Android 7 – Nougat Coming to HTC Flagships

If you have a top of the line HTC phone, you might want to take a look at this…

nougatGoogle recently announced the release of Android 7, code named Nougat, to the general public. If you have a recent Nexus device, going back to the Nexus 9, you can download and install Nougat right now. Google is supporting the following Nexus devices under Android 7 Nougat:

  • Nexus 6P
  • Nexus 6
  • Nexus 5X
  • Nexus 9
  • Nexus 9 LTE
  • Nexus Player

These are also the devices that are going to run PURE Android… meaning that you’re going to get Android without a lot of the crapware that comes from other device manufacturers or carriers. If however, you don’t have a Nexus device, and like me, you have HTC Android devices, take heart. Well… sort of…

HTC has pledged support for Android Nougat, but as of this writing, Nougat is only pledged for specific phones:

According to RedmondPie, HTC is going to release it for a “slew of other unspecified devices;” but God knows what that means.

If you’re wondering when you can get Android 7.0 for your supported HTC flagship phone, according to Android Authority, if HTC holds to the same schedule as it did with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, you can expect to see Nougat arriving on supported devices about two months from now (or sometime during October 2016).

If you have a supported Nexus device and have already installed Android 7.0 on it, I’d love to hear from you. Give me all the details on how the upgrade went for you. If you plan to upgrade your supported HTC device or supported Sony, LG, Samsung, etc. device to Android 7.0, I’d love to hear from you as well. The best way to do this is to leave a comment in the Discussion area, below. I will get back to you ASAP.

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FEATURE REVIEW – HTC 10

HTC sent me their new flagship Android smartphone to review, and it’s awesome.

Introduction
I’ve always been a gadget guy. If its electronic and it has buttons of any kind, then I’m usually all over it. Smartphones have always been a favorite gadget, as I’ve always been a huge Star Trek fan (it’s a well-known fact that the idea for the cell phone came from the Star Trek communicator). So yeah… gadgets.

Back in the day, an obscure company out of Taiwan began making smartphones for a company out of Dubai called i-mate. These smartphones were the elite of the smartphone world. EVERYONE that was anyone in the tech journalism world went out of their way to try to get one of them in their hands, including me.

Fast forward to today. That obscure little company out of Taiwan, turned out to be HTC… and their flagship phones are some of the most sought after devices on the market today. Case in point – the HTC 10 is HTC’s latest offering in their Android line. This one is going to be kinda quick; but let’s see how well it does…

Hardware
As I said, HTC has one of the best hardware reputations in the industry. It’s always been great at hardware engineering. That being said, let’s take a look at what you get when you purchase an HTC 10.

What’s in the Box?
When you get a new smartphone, you nearly always expect to find a few things included with the device. Back in the day, you got a number of different gadgets and goo-jams in the box. This nearly always included the device, some kind of device cradle or charging station, a USB cable, some kind of carrying case or pouch and a set of earbuds. Today, that’s just not the case. Nearly NO ONE includes a cradle or charging station. I find that very problematic, as I don’t like to leave my device – in a case or not – just sitting by itself on a desk. More likely than not, I’ve got a glass of something sweet and sticky also on my desk, and I’m the kind of guy that works cluttered, as I like to spread out. This potentially makes the desk a water (read: liquid) hazard zone for nearly EVERYTHING on my desk. I’m fairly good about NOT bumping or spilling anything, but accidents do happen. Having the device off my desk surface at least gives my smartphone a fighting chance; and that only happens with a sync/ charge cradle.

The ICE View Case
When I got the HTC 10, I was really surprised that it didn’t come with w case. The HTC One (M8) came with the Dot View case. It was included with the device. The HTC 10 has a similar case, but it – the ICE View Case – is a $50 USD add-on purchase. It’s not included.

Now the ICE View case is a cool HD update to the M8’s low-red DOT View case, but it’s expensive, and honestly, I don’t think it’s worth $50 USD. I happened to be fortunate enough to catch the case on sale for $20USD, direct from HTC, and my device is in one now. It’s nice and I think the device needs to have some kind of protective case. The ICE View case does a good job at $20 bucks, but a horrible one at $50 USD. At that price, it should do a lot more.

But enough about the case that should be, but isn’t, there…

OK, So What IS Included?
To be honest… not much. You get exactly the following:

  • HTC 10
  • SIM Card Removal Tool
  • USB-C Cable
  • Wall Wart Charger
  • Warranty Documentation

Notice, that you do NOT get any ear buds or other type of headphones with the device. I contacted HTC about the lack of accessories included with the device and got the following response:

“I know we used to include earphones but this time around we are teaming up with JBL to bring the highest quality earphones to consumers in a bundle package that will be coming soon to htc.com. The earphones have not hit the market yet. What you received in the package is partially due to carrier agreements as well.”

According to my contact at HTC, the JBL bundle was supposed to the partnership with JBL was supposed to come together in late June. From what I can see, it hasn’t happened. The JBL ear buds that they do show on the site, are just that – earbuds; and they’re currently priced at $200 USD. I don’t care how great they are. No earbuds are worth $200 bucks. Period.

HTC also offers as set of HTC Pro Studio Earphones for $80 bucks and a set of HTC Hi-Res Audio Earphones for $30 bucks. The Pro set has a better dynamic range, and support HTC’s BoomSound audio profile. The plain Jane set don’t. You have to ask yourself if the HTC BoomSound audio profile is worth $50 bucks. For me… it’s not. Quite frankly, their entry level ear buds aren’t worth $30 bucks in my opinion. If you want a decent set of headphones, do some research on the internet and then go to an electronics store. If you’re looking for earbuds to get you listening to audio on the go, go to Wal-Mart or some other value retailer and buy a pair for $10-$15 bucks. Save yourself some money. Earbuds aren’t worth much more than that, in my opinion.

The Full 360
As you can see from the pictures, below, the device is similar in form factor to its cousins, the M8 and the M9. However, the first moment I took it out of the box, the first thing I thought was, “wow. This looks exactly like an iPhone.” In fact, for a split second, I thought I was holding an iPhone instead of the HTC 10.

To be blunt, the hardware is awesome looking. Check it out!

 

IMG_5490 IMG_5491 IMG_5492
FULL FRONTAL: The HTC One (M8), (M9) and HTC 10 LEFT SIDE: From top to bottom – the HTC One (M8), (M9) and HTC 10 TOP: From top to bottom – the HTC One (M8), (M9) and HTC 10. Notice the audio jack placement on the HTC 10
IMG_5493 IMG_5494 IMG_5495
RIGHT SIDE: From top to bottom – the HTC One (M8), (M9) and HTC 10. Both the M9 and the HTC 10 have power, volume rocker/ buttons and SIM card slots on the right side. BOTTOM: From top to bottom – the HTC One (M8), (M9) and HTC 10. The M8 and M9 have microUSB connectors, off-centered. The HTC 10 has a centered, USB-C connector & a bottom speaker instead of the headphone jack. BACK: The HTC One (M8), (M9) and HTC 10. The M8’s dual camera setup was so disappointing, they did away with it.

Camera
I’ve been shooting amateur photographs for quite a while now. I’ve become pretty good, though I will be the very first to admit that I have a great deal to learn when it comes to the manual settings on my cameras. However, one of the things that I do well is compose and take a good picture.

So, when I found out that the HTC 10 supported RAW camera files, I got very excited. For those not familiar with Camera RAW and its benefits, here’s a quick explanation. Camera RAW is basically a dump of the actual camera image that the camera captures when it snaps a shot.

Usually when you take a picture the camera will take the data that it captures and then convert that data into a file that your PC – either Windows PC or Mac – can read. In many cases, in order to conserve space on the SD card you’re camera uses for storage, it also compresses that file. While the choice of this file type and its compression level is user controllable, compressing a file always strips detail out of the file, degrading the image. This happens with JPEG’s and JPG’s regardless of the compression level you use. JPEG/ JPG by default has some compression to it, even when you choose a compression level of “0.”

This is an issue because when you go to tweak your photos, you want to work with as much detail and data as possible in order to insure that you get the best results. When you add compression, you strip detail away, and well, by now, you get the point – you don’t get the best results. Camera RAW is the FULL detail of the image you took, and is really the one that every photographer wants access to when they go to retouch their images.

However, most consumer based digital cameras don’t support camera RAW. While it’s mostly because 1) Most consumers don’t care about or understand how the loss of detail effects their pictures, it’s also about 2) The camera manufacturer doesn’t want (for whatever reason) to write the translation filter for your computer so it can read and edit the RAW files for that camera (and yes, each camera/ camera brand has its own RAW file format).

With this in mind, you’re going to need to do a couple of things

  1. Understand that RAW files are big. Pictures normally range in file size from 20MB to 30MB, depending on the lighting, detail, type of shot (macro, zoom level, etc.)
  2. You’re going to want/ need to store files on an external SD card. If you keep files available on your phone, you’re going to run out of space, quickly.

All this said, I was very pleased with the performance of the camera on the HTC 10. Full camera specs can be found below.

Primary
  • 12 MP,
  • f/1.8, 26mm,
  • OIS,
  • laser autofocus,
  • dual-LED (dual tone) flash
Features
  • 1/2.3” sensor size,
  • 1.55µm pixel size,
  • geo-tagging,
  • touch focus,
  • face detection,
  • HDR,
  • panorama
Video
  • 2160p@30fps,
  • 720p@120fps,
  • HDR,
  • stereo sound rec.
Secondary (Front-facing)
  • 5 MP,
  • f/1.8, 23mm,
  • OIS,
  • autofocus,
  • 1.34 µm pixel size,
  • 1080p,
  • HDR

The camera here has decent low light exposure and a decent depth of field, but it’s strictly your basic point and shoot camera. This isn’t going to do pro or pro-sumer level photography. Don’t expect that. The pictures that it takes are decent at best. I’ve noticed that zoomed in photos taken near dusk (some are below) can be grainy, even when using camera RAW.

Here are some unretouched photos that I took with the HTC 10. These are in fact JPG’s, as the RAW files wouldn’t have displayed in this review. However, they are done with minimal compression. However, if you’ve got a good eye, you may see some image degradation and graininess in them. I can; but that’s due more to the “Save for the web” feature that I used in Photoshop Elements than anything else.

IMAG0028 IMAG0029 IMAG0031 IMAG0032
My family at my oldest son’s baseball game. My granddaughter making friends at the game The following pictures are of the coach’s review after the game (they won…) This shot is grainier at the top than it is at the bottom. I think that may be due to the stark color discrepancy between the top and bottom of the shot. Its more washed out near the extreme powder blue of the sky.
IMAG0033 IMAG0035 IMAG0036
The coaches review continues. You can see some graininess here The graininess isn’t as bad here, though, as the picture contains more elements of color than actual white.

Communication
The unlocked version of the HTC 10 that HTC sent me runs on both the AT&T and T-Mobile networks here in the US. The HTC 10 uses a nano SIM, and I was able to pull the card out of my iPhone 6 and immediately stick it in the HTC 10.

As expected, calls were clear. As expected coverage and radio reception were on par with my iPhone 6. The thing that DID go sideways with it was its communication with my car radio, the Pioneer AVH-X4800BS.

While the radio is Siri Eyes Free Compatible, it is neither Apple CarPlay nor Android Auto compatible. The radio uses an app called AppRadio One to display audio and video content and compatible apps on the radio’s 7-inch screen. If you want, you can call this the “poor man’s” version of CarPlay or Android Auto. It does much the same thing, but it’s a Pioneer product.

While I’ve learned that its nothing anywhere close to either Android Auto or CarPlay, I have found that the iPhone communicates and works much better than the HTC 10 does with this radio. I’m not certain if that’s a USB issue (the radio supports a direct, cabled, USB connection), a software issue (it seems to work better with iOS than with Android, in my opinion).

The radio does hands free calling via Bluetooth. That works, mostly, without issue. There are more minor Bluetooth communication quirks with the HTC 10 than with the iPhone 6. To be honest, it was one of the major reasons why I went back to the iPhone 6 much earlier than I had originally planned.

Android
The HTC 10 is an Android phone running Android 6.01 Marshmallow (or greater). The full platform specs are below.

OS Android OS, v6.0.1 (Marshmallow)
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8996 Snapdragon 820
CPU Dual-core 2.15 GHz Kryo & dual-core 1.6 GHz Kryo
GPU Adreno 530

I have been watching for updates to the operating system. Since I received the device about three months ago, I have received two OS updates and a carrier update. The device is running well.

The only real concern I have is how long HTC will support the device with upgrades. The device isn’t cheap, and one would usually expect to have it supported with updates and upgrades for at least 2 years (the average of a single “contract” term with any character. However, that may not be the case. HTC and the rest of the other OEM’s have made it clear they’d rather sell new devices than provide support.

Conclusion
I was impressed with the HTC One (M8), though it had its issues. The HTC 10 is a far cry better than the M8.

The HTC 10 is shy on accessories. You get little more than the device, a cable and a wall wart in the box. Even on HTC.com, the number of offered accessories is limited to the ICE View Case and a handful of headphones/ earbuds. If you want a lot of accessories for your smartphone, the HTC 10 may not be the device for you.

However, as the device has killer battery life, and a decent point and shoot camera. Marshmallow is a decent version of Android, though to be honest, while it does a good job with the HTC 10, it’s much like any other version of Android since Jellybean. If Android is your mobile OS of choice and you’re due for an upgrade or looking for a new mobile device, this is a GREAT device of choice.

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Blackberry is Dead

Blackberry has killed the Blackberry Classic

blackberryI’ve been decrying this the 2011-2012 timeframe, I think. Honestly, I’m really very surprised the company has held out as long as it has, but based on what’s just happened, the company is over and it needs to hang up its mobile devices (read; cleats).

In recent news, Blackberry has discontinued its Blackberry classic – the last current handset in the world running Blackberry OS. Instead, the firm has decided on the following strategy, according to their COO and GM for mobile devices, Ralph Pini,

We are committed to the success of both BlackBerry 10 and Android devices. To keep innovating and advancing…we are updating our smartphone lineup with state of the art devices… The Classic has long surpassed the average lifespan for a smartphone… We are ready for this change so we can give our customers something better — entrenched in our legacy in security and pedigree in making the most productive smartphones.

What this translates to is that Blackberry is releasing one Android phone every quarter, for the next three quarters.

  • Q3-2016: Neon
    This budget based phone should hit the streets in July-August 2016
  • Q4-2016: Argon
    This mid-range phone should be available in October 2016
  • Q1-2017: Mercury
    This upper mid-range phone should be available at the start of 2017 and is rumored to have a physical keyboard

While Blackberry – SAYS – it’s still committed to the success of both Blackberry 10 and Android devices, its immediate strategy doesn’t appear to include any native phones. In other words, I wouldn’t expect any, any time soon. This really makes Blackberry nothing more than yet another mediocre Android phone OEM, and with the devices they show above… I don’t expect them to do very well in the coming three quarters, regardless of price. Mid-range to low end Android devices don’t a lot of business in the enterprise. Those folks want flagship class phones. The market that does want affordable Android devices – emerging and “third world” markets – don’t want enterprise messaging services.

Back in the day, RIM – now called Blackberry – ruled the roost as the mobile device king, fighting off both Microsoft and Palm. Now, 12 – 14 years after their hay day, they’re just another company hanging on, trying to find a way to stay alive and remain relevant while continuing to rely on to IP and paradigms that just don’t resonate with today’s markets.

Are you or your company still using Blackberries? If not now, and you did previously, when did you stop? Do you feel that Blackberry has a chance at continued survival, or are they in an unstoppable death spiral? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area below, and give me your thoughts?

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Rooting the HTC 10

If you truly want to make it your own…

Introduction
There are legitimate reasons for rooting an Android device. They aren’t all about custom ROM’s and the like. And since its now LEGAL to jailbreak devices, some of the sexy and taboo has gone out of the game and for some – me included – its now often more hassle than its worth.

However, there are often some good reasons for rooting an Android device that go beyond the desire for a custom ROM. Some of those reasons speak to the need for a backup app like, Titanium Backup. Besides, it’s been a while since I’ve jail broken or rooted any kind of smartphone. I wanted to give it a try…

Improved Rooting Process
To be very blunt, I’ve always owned either a Nexus or HTC Android Phone. My daughter had a brief dalliance with the Samsung Galaxy (1) smartphone a number of years back, but that proved to be a bit challenging when it came to customization. It also cured her of any interest in Android as I recall, as a matter of fact.

Rooting and customizing an Android device is NOT an easy process. However, in the seven or so years that I’ve been looking into it, it has gotten a LOT easier. The process used to involve invoking commands that ran a process and then invoked a known security hole. Once invoked, the process that you ran was “broken,” leaving you with access that had elevated privileges where you could then run commands that made those privileges permanent. Once that happened, you could unlock the bootloader (if locked and needed to be unlocked), install a better recovery partition and SU (or Super User) that made root access system wide.

Doing all of those things in the right order, at the right TIMES, wasn’t easy. In many cases you might have to perform some steps multiple times, or depending on how things worked, you may even brick your device. I know I had more than one harrowing moment where I thought I had bricked more than one device. I have been fortunate, however, NOT to have had that happen. I’ve always been able to get a wayward (or device that I thought I had bricked) back. However, this is a REAL issue, so, hence, the following notice:

WARNING – Rooting your Android device involves modifying some very key and deep system level settings and files. It (can, and likely will) void your warranty. It may also brick your device and make it permanently unusable if things turn sideways. You do any and ALL of it at your own risk, and neither I nor Soft32 sanction, suggest or encourage you to undertake these activities. No offer of warranty is expressed or implied. You move forward with any of this AT YOUR OWN RISK. Period.

Full instructions can be found on this easy to follow video. Please note that the instructions are for a Windows system. If you use a Mac or Linux system, you will need to sub in the appropriate tools (like Terminal, etc.)

The video is just under 15 minutes in length and should be easy enough for nearly anyone and everyone to follow, provided you’re familiar using the Windows Command Prompt. I’m not going to go over everything here, despite the step-by-step stuff you’re going to see, largely because the video is really very, VERY good; and because there are a LOT of How to Root articles and videos available for the HTC 10. However, there are some specific things that I do want to touch on and say.

Process
The process is fairly simple, but you’ll need to complete everything in order. You can start and stop if needed, but you should complete each of the noted steps in full before stopping. It’s not recommended that you start and stop unless you really know what you’re doing. The entire process will likely take you two to three (2-3) hours, especially if you’re new to this, so again, make sure you watch the video and have everything you need before you start.

1. Gather the software
2. Prep the device
3. Unlock the bootloader
4. Install the Recovery Image
5. Install SuperSU

Gather the Software
You’ll need the following tools. Links are not provided here. These are readily and freely available all over the internet. Please make certain you have everything that you need before you start and that each title has all of the required files.

This is especially true for Fastboot and ADB. I had to download the software separately, as I couldn’t find the software with all of the same files in it as described in the video. Take your time. Get all the files, as you will need a fully functioning Fastboot in order to do this.
1. Fastboot
2. TWRP 3.0.2.1 (or greater) recovery image
3. SuperSU v2.68 or greater
4. ADB
5. Android SDK
6. HTC Driver 4.10.0.001.msi (or greater)

Device Prep
You don’t need to do a lot here, but this stuff is important.

Developer Mode
This process is documented, like, nowhere. Or at least it isn’t documented anywhere any regular user would learn about it or find it. However, without this stuff, you’re never going to be able to get the job done.

Go to Settings – About – Software Information – More. Tap on the build number 10-15 times (or more) until the device tells you that Developer Mode has been enabled. This will enable other device communication options in Settings that you will need to check in order to root the device.

Go to Settings – Developer Options (this is a new option that appears after the above is done). Turn on OEM Unlocking. This will give you the permissions to actually go through the process of unlocking the boot loader.

Power off the device. The next step is unlocking the bootloader. Make certain you’ve got all the software you need downloaded and installed before moving forward. It will make things a lot easier, and you won’t have to start and stop with some of the things as you see in the video.

Unlocking the Bootloader
You’re going to need Fastboot for this, and you’ll need to work from a command prompt in this section. Again, watch the video, as it will take you step by step through the entire process, and it will show you the exact screens you will see while doing all of this.

Again, I’m abbreviating this process, so, please, watch the video. Though the author does initially make a mistake about this section and then corrects himself.

Connect the device to your USB cable. Turn your device back on, but when doing so, press and hold both the power button and the volume down button until you see the HTC logo. You’re going to be put into bootloader mode. The bootloader will state that its locked, and you’ll see a split screen display.

After you have your device connected to your PC via USB cable, the device booted to the bootloader and Fastboot can see it, you’re going to get a identifier token from the device that you will then enter into a special page on the HTC website.

With the HTC10 connected to your system, open a Command Prompt window and change the directory to where ever you have Fastboot installed. Once in that directory, type the following command into the Command Prompt window and press enter:

Fastboot oem get_identifier_token

Fastboot get Token

This will return a huge string of numbers that will display in the Command Prompt window. You will need to use the Copy-Paste function out of the DOS window to grab everything from

<<<< Identifier Token Start >>>>

to

<<<< Identifier Token End >>>>

including those banner lines.

Fastboot Retrieve Token

You will then need to go to HTCDev.com and create an account. After creating your free account and logging in, click the Unlock Bootloader icon. Follow the links. When you get to the Unlock Bootloader page, you’ll follow these instructions:

1. Click the device dropdown
2. Select HTC 10 from the supported device list
3. Click the Begin Unlock Bootloader button
4. Click Yes on the, “Are you sure…?” dialog
5. Click the checkboxes on the Legal Terms dialog
6. Click the Proceed to Unlock Instructions button
7. Follow the instructions on page 1 of the unlock instructions page. (It also contains links to Fastboot, if you don’t have it; and will also show you how to retrieve your Identifier Token. You can breeze through this, as you’ve already got Fastboot AND the token by this point, if you’re following the video…)
8. Click the Proceed to Step 5 button
9. Scroll to the bottom of the second page of the process. It’s here where you’ll paste in the Identifier.
10. Click the Submit button

Get Unlock Token

You’ll be emailed a file that you’ll use to unlock the bootloader of your phone. You’ll use Fastboot for this. You’ll need to save the file that HTC emails you, Unlock_code.bin, to your Fastboot directory and then type this command in the DOS window and then press enter:

Fastboot flash unlocktoken Unlock_code.bin

Once flashed, reboot your device. It will rebuild itself. Go back to the bootloader and it should read that it is now unlocked, but your device isn’t rooted yet.

Install the Recovery Image
At some point, you should have downloaded a copy of the TWRP recovery image. This is an image file of a new recovery image that will give you a number of different options that are more advanced than the recovery image that comes with your HTC 10. It will make installing the last part of this process – SuperSU – a lot easier and will also allow you to install custom ROM images that may become available for the HTC 10.

Follow this process to install the recovery image.

  1. Copy twrp-3.0.2-2ppme.img to your Fastboot folder
  2. At the DOS prompt window, while still in the Fastboot directory, type the command:
    Fastboot flash recovery twrp-3.0.2-2ppme.img. The file will copy over to the device.
  3. On your device, hit the power key to reboot to bootloader
  4. This will bring up the device’s actual bootloader.
  5. Press the down volume button until Boot to Recovery mode is selected on your phone and then press the power button. This will activate TWRP Recovery.
  6. Press the cancel button on the device.
  7. Keep everything read only.
  8. Press the Wipe button
  9. Press the Format Data button
  10. When prompted, type the word, “yes”. This will format the Data partition on your device.
  11. Once complete, tap Reboot, then tap Bootloader. The device screen will quickly flash and put you back in the white bootloader screen.
  12. Press the volume down button until you get to Reboot to Recovery mode. Press the power button. This will put you back in the TWRP recovery screen.

Next, proceed to the Install SuperSU section. You’re device still isn’t rooted. The next section, accomplishes this.

Install SuperSU
Please remember that you shouldn’t do this lightly. It’s at this point, that you will be able to raise the privileges on your device and actually root it.

  1. In the TWRP recovery screen, swipe to allow modifications.
  2. On your PC, go back to the folder that you downloaded SuperSU to and right click it. Click Copy from the context menu.
  3. Find your device in the Windows Explorer window’s left pain and click on it. Double click to open the internal storage.
  4. Copy the ZIP file to your device’s internal storage.
  5. Back on the device, tap the Install button and select SuperSU from the screen that displays.
  6. Swipe to install.
  7. Once that installs, tap the reboot button

Your device will completely wipe and reboot itself. You’ll need to go through the full setup process again. When all is done, tap the app tray folder icon to show all the apps that are on your device.
Find the SuperSU icon and tap on it. If you don’t get any errors, you’re all set.

Conclusion
There’s a lot here; and I honestly went into more detail and actual how-to than I had originally planned. However, better safe than sorry.

Again, watch the video. Its short, very informative and it’s VERY easy to follow.

If you’re HTC 10 was carrier unlocked (like mine was, directly from HTC) unlocking the bootloader and rooting the device won’t necessarily void your warranty. However, for devices locked to any specific carrier, like either Verizon Wireless or to AT&T, then you may void your warranty if you do this.

Are you an Android fan? Do you have an HTC 10; and if so, did you root it? Why don’t you join me in the discussion area and let me know your thoughts on the process and of your results.

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Opening up the HTC 10

HTC sent me an HTC 10 to review…

HTC-10

Introduction

I love mobile devices. For me, when it comes to electronics, smartphones and mobile devices are some of my most favorite things. So, you can imagine my delight when HTC contacted me two weeks ago and offered to send me an HTC 10 to review.

I was wanting to do a video unboxing of the device, but honestly… there’s little to nothing to unbox.  The device comes in a white, square shaped, box with rounded corners. It contains the device, a SIM tray ejector tool, a wall wart and a USB-C sync/ charging cable.  There’s also some minor regulatory documentation booklets that are included by law, but other than glancing at them to see exactly WHAT they are and maybe to see which side of the device the SIM tray is on, you’re never going to look at them… EVER.

I’m working on a full review for Soft32.  I’ve been in the device since late Sunday 2016-05-22, Chicago time. I’ve got a few first impressions that I’d like to pass on to everyone, without going into too much detail at this point. I’d like to save it for the review that I hope to file before the end of May 2016.

Hardware

When you open the device, the first thing you think is, “iPhone,” or “Samsung.” The device really looks like an iPhone wanna be.  That’s too bad, from a form factor perspective; but it’s not all doom and gloom or any kind of “fanboy” put down.  While the device REALLY does look like an iPhone, the hardware is pretty awesome.

I’ve got the device running around nekked right now; and that’s a bit of a shame. The device itself is truly impressive looking; but as I said, the contents of the box are a bit Spartan. Again, you get the device, the AC wall wart and the USB-C cable.  Clearly missing in my opinion, is a basic case, and a set of ear buds.

NOTE: I shot out an email to HTC on this while I was writing this inquiring about both the HTC Ice View case and the missing earbuds.  HTC is partnering with JBL on a set of exclusive earbuds for the HTC 10.  HTC will be offering them in a bundle package that will be “coming soon” to HTC.com. What I received from HTC was due to this as well as “carrier agreements.”

If you get your HTC 10 now, that’s all you’ll get. Starting in late June, HTC will ship the HTC 10 with JBL earbuds.  The bundle that I mentioned, will be an exclusive offer available only at HTC.com.

Battery

The battery life on the HTC 10 is simply amazing.  The device has 27 hours of talk time and up to 19 days of standby time.  The device can go from zero (0) to 50% charged in as little as 30 minutes with its Quick Charge 3.0 charging system.

I’m still trying to see how well the device lasts without a charge. During the week, I often listen to podcasts and make calls while driving, with my smartphone connected to my Pioneer AVH-4800BS in dash DVD receiver.

As such, battery life on my phone doesn’t usually drop below 60% by the time I leave the office during the day.  However, the weekends are a much different story. My phone usually ends up spending most of the time in my jacket, without being connected to power. We’ll see how well the battery holds up over this American Holiday three day weekend.

UPDATE: As of this writing, I last charged my HTC 10 on Friday 2016-05-27 at 6pm.  It’s been off the charger ever since, fully active and with moderate use – gaming, email, calls, etc. – as of 3pm 2016-05-30, I got my first low battery warning at 15%.  This battery is amazing and you should have no issues with the batter lasting you when using this device.  Normal use should have you no lower than 65% at the end of a normal day.

Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow

Suffice it to say I wasn’t too impressed with Marshmallow when I covered it last.  That hasn’t changed much. I am finding that Marshmallow – perhaps Android in and of itself – gets in its own way.  Half of the stuff that I’m trying to do with it seem simple enough, but it just doesn’t seem like it wants to work.

It may not be the mobile OS for me… and I’ll have more on this in the full review.

Connectivity

As with any smartphone, connectivity is the key to making any mobile device a success. Today’s mobile devices have a number of different radios in them, and the radios in the HTC 10 have a few quirks that you will need to be aware of.  While I hope to have more information on this in the full review, there are a few things that I need to cover here.

BT performance & connections

If there’s one thing that I really hate about Bluetooth is that its inherently unreliable.  In fact, more often than not for me, it doesn’t work right.

Now, while that is a general statement, it does hold true for the HTC 10.  All of the Bluetooth accessories that I have used with the HTC 10 do not perform as I, or anyone, would expect them to, as you’ll see below.

Olio Model One

This is the one device that seemed to work better with the HTC 10 than with my iPhone 6.  The watch seemed to connect with much form consistency and accuracy with the HTC 10. It connected with much more consistency and accuracy to the HTC 10 than it ever did with my iPhone 6.  However, I’m finding an issue with notifications that I hope to have more on in the full review.

Pioneer AVH-X4800BS
This car accessory is an issue.

Not only does it connect via Bluetooth for phone calls and the like, but it also connects via USB.  Both have issues.  The HTC 10 itself often doesn’t connect to the radio consistently without manual intervention.

Android phones also don’t automatically make any of their multimedia content available again, without manual intervention. Worse yet, this manual intervention must be done every time you connect the device to the radio…and that’s a pain in the butt.

USB Type C

This was an interesting choice for the HTC 10. While it does offer higher speed synching than nearly every other serial connectivity out there, USB C, like all other serial connections, it has its roots in RS-232, and in a technology that is well over 40 years old. As such, it’s not as reliable as you might think, or want it to be, especially when it comes to my car radio.  Yes, it charges well, and audio does play through the cable, but not as well as you might think or hope.  In fact, it doesn’t play through the cable consistently at all; and then, it doesn’t resume audio where you left off. It starts everything from the beginning again – beginning of the song that last played, beginning of the podcast, etc.

The biggest issue I have with USB C is that now, I have to get new cables to go everywhere I have and need cables – my home office, work, the car, and any other place I need to charge.  Type C cables are new, and are, unfortunately, somewhat expensive… and they will be until they become ubiquitous.

Call Quality

Call quality both via Bluetooth and the handset are good… much better than I would have hoped.  However, I’ve used HTC devices on and off for over 12 years. I have yet to run into one of their devices that doesn’t do well with call quality. The HTC 10 is no exception here.

Conclusion

So far, the HTC 10 is a decent device.  It’s got some state of the art hardware that includes one of the best batteries and battery technology that I’ve seen in the history of smartphones. It’s also running the latest version of Android Marshmallow, version 6.0.1.

It’s got some connectivity issues to get over, but this is one heck of a smartphone. If Android is your mobile OS of choice, and you’re in the market for a new device, then you really need to stop and give this one a serious look.

Over the next few weeks, I will be putting the HTC 10 through its paces. I’ll have a full review with pictures and additional information. I may also have some extra articles on the HTC 10 during this time as well.

Related Posts:

Upgrading an HTC One (M8) to Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Why Verizon makes life so difficult is beyond me…

android marshmallow

About 12 years ago, I wrote a couple of reviews for pocketnow  related to very early PocketPC phones – the Samsung i700 and the hands free kit that went with it.  The i700 itself was about $500 – $600 depending on the length of the contract that your got with the phone. The hands free kit (read: car it), which in today’s much more advanced Bluetooth enabled world would be handled by your car radio and some kind of universal mounting kit, made it safe and easy to make and place calls on the go. It was $200. (I paid a combined total of $700, which translates to $987 in today’s dollars when you factor in inflation.)

The point in heading down memory lane is that back in the day, when anyone at Verizon Wireless saw a PocketPC phone coming, the store associates ran the other way. None of them understood it, and knew that their company made working with the devices very difficult.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t changed much…

If you remember, I spent a great deal of time with the HTC One (M8) about two years ago.  Thankfully, I was able to keep the M8 on an “extended loan;” and I’ve been covering Android using this device ever since.  If you’re interested, you can see the unboxing video I did of the device, here.

The M8 came with Kit Kat (Android 4.4.2). It got an upgrade to Lollipop (Android 5.0 and Android 5.0.1) in 2015.  The upgrade for Marshmallow (Android 6.0) for the M8 was announced in late 2015. It was actually expected in December 2015, but was (obviously) delayed.  The device finally got its upgrade on 2016-03-07; and in order for me to get it on this device, I had to jump through some pretty big and complicated hoops.

In the process, I learned some very interesting things about Verizon.  I’ll get to all of them as I run through this; but suffice it to say… I’m very glad they are no longer my carrier of choice.  If I had to do crap like this for every smartphone OS update, I’d probably dump them all over again.

Anyway, here’s what I learned:

  1. There’s no direct download for the upgrade
    The upgrade for Marshmallow for this phone is OTA (over the air) only. You used to be able to download device updates to a PC and then flip a couple of settings on the phone, connect it to your PC via USB cable and then push the device to the phone.  Not so much anymore…
  2. You MUST have an Active SIM
    The HTC One (M8), unlike many traditional Verizon Wireless devices, actually has a SIM card.  However, that SIM card is tied to one number and one number ONLY (it can’t be recycled like AT&T or T-Mobile SIM’s can after 3-6 months of inactivity), and its tied to ONE specific device. Period.Over and above that, I found that if you want any kind of device update from VzW, you have to have an active SIM card, which means that you have to have an active account, with that device on that account; or have to have had an active account, and a SIM card that is still able to communicate with VzW Towers as a “valid” SIM card.If your SIM card/ device has been out of service for more than 3 months, you’re kinda hosed. An active Wi-Fi connection and internet access is not enough to pull down the upgrade to the device.

Given these restrictions, the only way I was able to upgrade my M8 to Android 6.0 Marshmallow is to try to activate the device.

Long story short, I opened and closed a VzW account for that phone over a 24 hour period.  After getting the SIM recognized by the local Verizon towers, the upgrade and its associated pre-requisites were quickly installed on my M8.

Please note that I had three updates waiting for me after my device was back on the VzW network. One of them was an Android 5.01 related update.  It should have been installed months ago and didn’t due to my SIM card going inactive.

I’ll have a write up on Android 6.0 Marshmallow next month. At this point, I’m still playing with the device, trying to figure out the ins and outs of the update (and I’m also still arguing with Verizon about getting the $84 bill vacated for less than 24 hours of active service without ANY data, TXT or voice call usage).

Related Posts:

Keep caught up on the latest news with Next News Lock Screen

nextnews-logo-300If you’re like me, then you’re busy. Very busy. Down moments are either in between meetings, or often at night just before you go to bed. Yes. There are a few moments here and there, but there’s never really a chance to catch up on anything that may be happening in the world.

Often you have to make the most of those free moments of downtime between meetings, or during the morning or evening commute on a bus or train to and from the office. Its during these moments that I’m really glad I have Next News Lock Screen. Its an Android app that helps you catch up on the news in the world that interests you most.

Next News Lock Screen is a next generation lock screen that delivers the latest trending news, based on your reading and news category interests. You can choose news categories for sports, good, world news, technology, health, fashion, etc. You choose only the topics that interest you, and then you get the news, straight to your phone, complete with full screen color pictures.

Next News Lock Screen

There are some really cool features, here. First, the app displays a full screen pictures with a descriptive headline. The picture is digitally zoomed in so that it takes up the full screen. Depending on the size and pixel depth of the original, you may see some pixelation here, but every shot I’ve seen thus far has been big enough so that it doesn’t look bad. The picture, regardless of orientation is moved around the screen in some kind of “animation,” giving the display some life. If you want to see the whole picture, you can tap and slide up on the screen. You can cycle through available articles with a screen slide to the left or right. If you find an article you want to read, tap and hold it. Your default web browser will launch, with the article loaded. Its all very fast and very easy to use.

Next News Lock Screen is a really nice app. I’m very busy and often don’t have time to stop and check out news and other important information. However, I do often have a free moment to check mail and such on my phone. In those cases, I now can also scan the headlines without having to specifically do anything else – like start a new app – other than turn on my phone.

I did have a bit of trouble with this on my HTC One M8. I had some issues getting to the lock screen and then the app had issues downloading content when turning the device on at times. I think this may be Verizon or One M8 specific issue here in the States, however; and shouldn’t deter anyone from giving this app a shot. Verizon is a quirky US-based carrier, and they often make changes to device configurations that has been known to cause issues with some apps.

download NextNews Lock Screen

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Hell has Frozen Over – Android Wear for iOS Launched 2015-08-31

I am totally beside myself…

moto-360-iphone-hero

I’ve been looking at smartwatches all year. I started in January and haven’t looked back since. Here’ s a list of what I’ve published so far:

My latest entry in that series is the Apple Watch, and as of this writing, that four part review is currently in editing.  I expect it to be published in part or in whole over the week of 2015-09-01.

While in this smartwatch mode, I’ve been very cognizant of nearly every smartwatch announcement that’s hit the wire.  Most haven’t been too earth shattering.  This one, however, really shocked me because it’s one that I never thought would happen – Google has released Android Wear for iOS.

Yep – iOS users can now buy an Android powered smartwatch and can use it with their iPhone.

I… am beside myself. Hell truly has frozen over.

According to a new blog post published on the Official Google blog, Android Wear for iOS is rolling out on 2015-08-31.  This brings Android powered smartwatches to an additional 43.5% of all smartphone users in the US.  The only requirements seem to be you need to be running at least an iPhone 5 or greater (so, iPhone 5/5c/5s, iPhone 6/6+) with at least iOS 8.2.

If you look at the blog post on this, some commenters are wondering why people are surprised over this.  Honestly, that’s fairly easy.  A couple of years ago (as I recall) the going thought was that Google wasn’t going to provide support for Android Wear under iOS.  Part of that was because Apple made it pretty clear that they weren’t going to support Apple Watch on Android.  Each wanted a compelling reason for users to pick their platform and stick with it.

While Apple still seems to be pretty adamant about Apple Watch only for iPhone, Google seems to have come around.  They’ve included the following features in Android Wear for iOS:

  • Info at a Glance: Check important info like phone calls, messages, and notifications from your favorite apps. Android Wear features always-on displays, so you’ll never have to move your wrist to wake up your watch.
  • Fitness Tracking: Set fitness goals, and get daily and weekly views of your progress. Your watch automatically tracks walking and running, and even measures your heart rate.
  • Google Now: Receive timely tips like when to leave for appointments, current traffic info, and flight status. Just say “Ok Google” to ask questions like “Is it going to rain in London tomorrow?” or create to-dos with “Remind me to pack an umbrella.”

Notification support is apparently included, though it won’t be as tightly integrated as it would be on the Android side of the world.  However, according to Google, it should be on par with support for the Fitbit Surge and the Pebble Time.

If this holds true, then Android Wear for iOS shouldn’t suck.  Notification support for both of those smartwatches, while not totally ideal in my opinion, isn’t bad.  Android Wear should be pretty functional.

All that remains is to figure out which smartwatch might be the most compelling for me and then to see if it fits in the budget. If it does, I’ll try to  include it in the smartwatch round up before it all concludes.  Currently, I’m only one device away from completing all of those reviews.

I’m waiting on the Olio Model One to ship.  According to the latest information that I’ve received from Olio, I should have the device in my hands before the end of October 2015, if everything goes according to plan.  It’s a bit later than originally planned and anticipated, but according to them, the hardware and software have both been improved over the original specifications, so we’ll have to see about all that.  Not only have the devices been incrementally improved since their first and initial announcement, Olio has added both yellow and rose gold collections to the Model One.  As of this writing, all watches in all collections – Steel, Black, Gold and Rose – are sold out. Unfortunately,  due to their sold out status, you can’t see current prices for the newer collections.  If I remember correctly, the rose gold watch with the rose gold link bracelet was $1200 USD.  The yellow gold wasn’t quite as much, but was comparable; and prices for both of those included the $250 USD “friends and family” discount.

What do you think?   Should I cover Android Wear, now that it’s supposed to work with iPhone and iOS devices?  Will it make a good addition to our round up, or will it simply be gratuitous at this point?  Why don’t you join me in the discussion area below and give me your thoughts?  If enough people think it will be worthwhile, I’ll try to include it in the round up before I publish the series conclusion.

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