How to improve battery life on any mobile device

Poor battery life is a problem that affects all mobile users. This guide could help you better understand what is draining your battery.

We have written numerous articles with tips and tricks for improving battery life on iOS and Android, some of which you can find here, here, and here, but not everyone owns an iPhone or Android device. Despite which kind of mobile device you prefer, battery life tends to be an issue that we all face. Understanding what is draining your smartphone or tablet will help you squeeze the best possible battery life out of your device.
Display brightness

The screens on our mobile devices seem to be getting bigger and more vibrant with each passing year. We now have smartphones, like the LG G3 for example, with incredible 2,560 x 1,440-pixel resolution displays. While these screens are pretty to look at, they are killing our batteries. Unfortunately battery technology hasn't progressed nearly as fast as other sectors of the mobile industry.

Reducing the brightness of your display will help to improve battery life. You should also avoid using automatic brightness settings. This mode utilizes the phone's sensors, which, because they're in use all the time, actually drains your battery more rapidly than adjusting your brightness manually. Auto mode will also sometimes leave your display at a level that is far too bright for your environment.
No service

For cellular-connect devices, having no service can be a real pain. Unless a Wi-Fi network is available, your device becomes fairly useless if it doesn't have the ability to connect to the Internet. You may have also noticed that your battery drains more rapidly when you have an inconsistent signal. This happens because the device is continuously searching for a signal and attempting to communicate with a cell tower.

To conserve your battery, I recommend enabling Airplane mode or connecting to a Wi-Fi network (if available) if you will be in area with no service for an extended period of time.
Streaming video and playing games

As mentioned above, the display draws an incredibly large amount of power. Even more power is required when you are playing a game or streaming a movie. A few minutes of Angry Birds won't kill your device, but streaming an HD movie or playing a high-end video game can cut your battery life (and increase your data usage unless you are connected to a Wi-Fi network) by more than 50 percent.

If you will be away from your charger for a long time and don't have a portable juice pack, understand that battling your friends in the latest Clash of Clans war will see your battery life quickly reach zero.
GPS and location services

Have you ever noticed that your phone always seems to be on the verge of dying when you are lost? This is because of the GPS and navigation app you are using to try and get back home . Location services, which allow location-based apps and websites like Foursquare, Google Maps, and the camera to determine your location, can quickly drain your battery.

Using GPS and geotagging features, such as recording the location of your photos, sparingly will help keep your mobile device alive for longer. You can also disable location features for select apps and services in the settings menu of your device.

On an iPhone or iPad, head to Settings, select Privacy, and click on Location Services. Then, scroll down and choose System Services.
On a stock Android device, enter the settings menu, and click on Location.
For Windows Phone, click the Start button, select Settings, and tap Location
BlackBerry 10 users will find the option by entering Settings and selecting Location Services.

In addition to the GPS, having Bluetooth, NFC (if applicable), and Wi-Fi enabled will also cause some battery drain. If you don't use a pair of Bluetooth headphones or if your car doesn't have it, I recommend disabling it. The same goes for NFC, which many people don't actively use to begin with. As for Wi-Fi, I would toggle it on only when it's needed.
Background data

To ensure you never miss an email, headline, or an appointment, the apps on your mobile device are constantly pinging a server, satellite, or cell tower. This can sometimes lead to battery drain and even data overages. I recommend setting certain apps to only update and refresh over Wi-Fi, or not at all.

To disable background data on iOS, go into Settings, select General, followed by Background App Refresh. From here you can select certain apps you wish to prevent from running in the background or disable all of them.

On stock Android, enter Settings, select Data usage, click on an app, scroll to the bottom, and check the box that reads "Restrict background data." If you would like to restrict all background data, click the three-dot icon at the top-right corner of the Data usage menu and check the "Restrict background data" box.

Windows Phone 8.1 owners will find options to restrict background app data in the Data Sense app. As for BlackBerry 10 users, enter Settings, select Security and Privacy, followed by Application Permission, and change the Permissions bar to Run in Background. Once here, simply select an app from list that you would like to prevent from running in the background.

Sharp's new smartphone has a bezel that's barely there

The company's new Aquos Crystal line is rumored to be making its way to US shores, bringing a dazzling edge-to-edge design along with it.
If you believe the latest iPhone 6 rumors, the next Apple handset will have considerably less bezel surrounding the screen than its predecessors.

But nothing quite like this.

According to photos and news discovered today by PhoneArena, Sprint will unveil the new Sharp Aquos Crystal smartphone line at a press event Tuesday, August 19. And if the event's name, Take the Edge Off, is any indication, that line will feature at least one model with an almost frameless design.

Indeed, when you look at the Crystal head-on, you see only the tiniest border surrounding three sides of the screen. There's definitely a chunk of bezel at the bottom, one that appears to contain a camera lens and possibly a microphone and speaker. But, overall, there's never been anything quite like this, at least not in the US.

As detailed in press materials from SoftBank, the Japanese company that owns Sprint, the Aquos Crystal (which is rumored to be unveiled at Tuesday's event) is a 5-inch phone that measures 0.39 inch thick -- not far off from the LG G3, a recent model known for its minimal bezel.

Its specs include a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 720p display, 1.5GB of RAM, 8GB of (hopefully expandable) storage, and a 2,040mAh battery -- definitely on the smaller side for a phone of this size. The Crystal will reportedly run Android 4.4.2.

Of note, according to PhoneArena, the phone is "equipped with a Harman Kardon sound effects engine with support for 'Clari-Fi' (restoring of information lost when compressing music), 'LiveStage' streaming, and native compatibility with the Harman Kardon ONYX Studio Bluetooth speaker."

Sharp also unveiled a 5.5-inch version of the phone, the Crystal X, featuring a faster processor, 1080p screen, lots more storage (32GB), and a larger battery (2,610mAh). But this model is not expected to launch in the US., at least not immediately.

Pricing has yet to be revealed, so we'll have to see what Sprint's event reveals (CNET will be reporting from it). In the meantime, what are your thoughts on the Aquos Crystal? Does it realize the dream of the (mostly) bezelless smartphone?

HTC One M8 for Windows debuts

The phone, available for purchase for $100 with a two-year contract starting Tuesday, is being sold exclusively through Verizon Wireless.
HTC on Tuesday debuted the new HTC One M8 for Windows smartphone, bringing an operating system option other than Android to the handset maker's flagship phone.

For now, the device is a Verizon Wireless exclusive and only available in the US. It's available for either a promotional price of $100 with a two-year contract or $30 a month through the Verizon Edge financing plan. Customers can purchase the device online starting at noon Tuesday and at retail stores starting Wednesday.

Verizon also sweetened the offer using its exclusive deal with NFL Mobile. Customers of its More Everything plan will get NFL Mobile for the entire 2014-15 pro football season, including access to live streaming games and NFL Network, on their smartphone at no additional cost.

HTC has been working to hold onto customers following many months of weakening sales. Despite offering critically acclaimed products, the Taiwan company has dropped out of the top rankings of smartphone makers, unable to match the much larger advertising budgets of powerhouses such as Samsung or Apple.

Adding a model using Microsoft's Windows Phone could open the HTC One M8 to that operating system's loyal fan base. However, that group of customers remains small, with Windows Phone capturing just 2.5 percent of the smartphone market as of the second quarter, according to market researcher IDC.

Prior reports had anticipated a Windows Phone version of the HTC One M8, which is already available with Google's Android operating system.

The only difference between the Android and Windows Phone versions is their operating systems. They both have the same hardware, including 1,920x1,080-pixel 5-inch displays, dual-lens rear camera, front-facing "BoomSound" stereo speakers, and an aluminum construction. CNET's Scott Stein got an early look at the device -- be sure to check out his hands-on with the HTC One M8 for Windows.

AT&T Stadium offers high-tech way of rallying fans

AT&T installed a 130-foot interactive LED "fan experience board" in its namesake sports arena in Dallas.
For AT&T, it wasn't enough to have the naming rights to the mega stadium where the Dallas Cowboys played. The telecommunications giant wanted to leave a bigger impression.

More than a year after AT&T won the naming rights to the former Cowboys Stadium, the company is poised to do just that with a 130-foot LED "fan experience board" that interacts with a specific AT&T-created app. Fans will be able to send photos to the board, and at critical times in a game, it will go into "Unite This House" mode, which will turn every smartphone in the stadium with the app into a rallying device for fans.

Fans will get their first glimpse of the board, which sits on the eastern platform of AT&T Stadium, this weekend in the Cowboys's first pre-season game, with the official season to start on September 7.

The AT&T Stadium fan experience board represents a step up in the kind of attention a sports venue has received from a carrier. Carriers are increasingly looking to packed stadiums and arenas as a place to make their name when it comes to network quality, often boasting about the amount of traffic they are able to carry and the amount of equipment they have installed.

"It's critically important," said Scott Mair, senior vice president of network planning and engineering for AT&T. "People judge us by our performance."

AT&T and Verizon Wireless have over the past year jousted over the claim of the most reliable wireless network. Networking testing firm Root Metrics ranked Verizon as the best overall network in July, while AT&T has cited Nielsen's research for its own claims of network superiority. T-Mobile meanwhile, has cited as evidence of its claims as the fastest network.

With the AT&T name emblazoned on the stadium, the coverage better be ubiquitous. Since the naming rights deal was struck last July, the carrier has increased the wireless capacity by 50 percent by bringing in 1,300 antennas and 1,500 wireless access points. There's enough equipment in AT&T Stadium to power a good sized Texas neighborhood, or a typical medium-sized city, according to Mair.

"That's a lot of horsepower packed into one stadium," he said.

Mair, however, said that's the typical treatment a sports venue would get. AT&T covers 75 percent of all major sports venues, he added.

It's clear why AT&T, and the other carriers, would care about hooking up these venues. With so many people packed into one place, the congestion and strain on the network is inevitable. But the last thing a carrier wants at a high-profile event such as a football game or concert are people complaining about coverage. That's a far cry from just a few years ago, when carriers struggled to keep up with rising wireless traffic demands, with AT&T in particular barely able to handle the torrent of iPhone traffic on its network.

Beyond stronger coverage, AT&T has pimped out the stadium. There are eight "experience columns" that look like large mall directories. But instead of directions to Old Navy, there are high-definition videos of Cowboy players and cheerleaders. The content can also be changed to fit a concert or other event.

The highlight is the large LED panel, which is made of 40 independent, robotic, mirrored, louvered panels that can rotate for different images. Fans can upload photos to the board, and some of their names will appear on it, connecting through the AT&T Stadium App, which will be available for iOS and Android devices. The app is free, and you don't have to be an AT&T customer to use the app; you just need to be within the immediate vicinity of the stadium.

"Unite This House" is its marquee feature. At specific times, a message will pop up on the phone of every fan who has downloaded the app, asking them to touch the screen. That triggers the phone to vibrate "significantly" and flash its camera LED like a strobe light. The idea is that every fan in the stadium participates, creating a massive rumble and light show that crescendos with a boom on the LED display.

"It made me feel it this morning," Mair said, noting it was his first time experiencing "Unite This House" in action. "When 80,000 strobe lights go on and off and vibrate, it's going to be really impressive.

Mair teased more features to come, and said "it would build over time."

Xiaomi to launch $13 fitness band next week

The ridiculously cheap fitness band will go on sale Monday, but don't pull our your wallet just yet. There are a couple of caveats.
Chinese vendor Xiaomi will launch its new rock-bottom-priced fitness band on Monday. Known as the Mi Band, the device will sell for 79 yuan, which translates to about $13 or 10 euros.

The first wearable gadget from a company known for its increasingly popular smartphones, the Mi Band can monitor and help with your exercise routine, wake you up when you oversleep, and last for 30 days on a single battery charge. The Mi Band can also track your swimming routine since it's water resistant at a depth of more than three feet.

So what's the catch?

Well, for now the device apparently will be sold only in China, and Xiaomi has yet to reveal any global availability. Like other fitness bands, the Mi Band takes on extra powers when paired with a smartphone such as unlocking your phone when the two devices are nearby -- but this bonus works only with Xiaomi smartphones. Of course, you can still use the Mi Band as a fitness tracker without pairing it with a phone.

Outfitted with Android 4.4 and Bluetooth, the Mi Band comes in a range of colors, including blue, pink, brown, black, purple, and gray.

Based on price alone, the Mi Band could be a hot seller whether it stays in China or branches out to the rest of the world. Other fitness bands sell for considerably more, notably the Withings Pulse O2 at $120, the Jawbone Up24 at $150, and the Pebble Steel at $250.

Android, iOS dominate smartphone market as Q2 shipments hit 300M

Google's Android and Apple's iOS have combined to downright dominate the smartphone market, but it's Google's mobile operating system that continues to make its presence felt, according to new data from research firm IDC.
During the second quarter, over 255 million Android-based devices shipped worldwide, representing an 84.7 percent market share, IDC reported on Thursday. Apple's iOS came in second place with 11.7 percent market share and 35.2 million shipments. Combined, the Google and Apple operating systems own 96 percent of the global smartphone market, according to IDC.

Vendors shipped a total of 301.3 million smartphones worldwide between April and June, said IDC.

"It's been an incredible upward slog for other OS players," Melissa Chau, a senior research manager at IDC, said in a statement. "Windows Phone has been around since 2010 but has yet to break the 5 percent share mark, while the backing of the world's largest smartphone player, Samsung, has not boosted Tizen into the spotlight."

Windows Phone was only able to nab 2.5 percent of the market in the second quarter on 7.4 million shipments. Blackberry came in fourth place with 0.5 percent share, according to IDC.

During the same period last year, the Android and iOS combined to own 92.6 percent of the space. Still, IDC's study shows further consolidation in the marketplace and even more power for Google.

During the second quarter of 2013, Android owned 79.6 percent of the worldwide smartphone market, meaning Google's software saw a 33.3 percent growth rate over the last year. Save for iOS, which saw shipments jump 12.7 percent year over year, all other operating systems' market share fell during the period. Android's success during the period had everything to do with its value for budget-focused device makers, according to IDC.

"With many of its [original equipment manufacturer] partners focusing on the sub-$200 segments, Android has been reaping huge gains within emerging markets," Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC's Mobile Phone team, said in a statement. "During the second quarter, 58.6% of all Android smartphone shipments worldwide cost less than $200 off contract, making them very attractive compared to other devices."

Looking ahead, things don't appear to look any better for other operating systems. IDC says that Android's iron-like grip on the sub-$200 market will only boost its market share in the coming quarters. The research firm also believes that software developers will drive more customers to iOS and Android as they see little value in creating apps for less-popular platforms.

"The biggest stumbling block is around getting enough partnerships in play - not just phone manufacturers but also developers, many of which are smaller outfits looking to minimize development efforts by sticking to the two big ecosystems," Chau said.

Intel wearable devices to aid Parkinson's disease research

The chip maker partners with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research to use wearable devices and data analytics to help monitor patient treatment.

Intel's upcoming wave of wearable technology won't be aimed at helping the chip maker establish itself in the budding consumer electronics' space now filling up with smartwatches and fitness bands. Rather, Intel's devices will serve a grander purpose: helping research on and treatment of neurodegenerative brain disease.

Intel announced Wednesday a partnership with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, the nonprofit founded in 2000 by the "Back to the Future" movie actor and Parkinson's advocate who has suffered from the illness since 1991. The goal will be to combine Intel's hardware and software -- specifically an upcoming mobile app, new wearable devices, and a data analytics platform -- for a multi-phase research study that will take advantage of monitoring techniques unique to technology.

The hope is that wearables and analytic studies of the data they produce could better record a patient's symptoms, such as hand tremors, and offer new insights into Parkinson's disease and its drug treatments, which have been difficult to study objectively on a widespread scale in the past.

"Nearly 200 years after Parkinson's disease was first described by Dr. James Parkinson in 1817, we are still subjectively measuring Parkinson's disease largely the same way doctors did then," Todd Sherer, CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation, said in a statement. "Data science and wearable computing hold the potential to transform our ability to capture and objectively measure patients' actual experience of disease, with unprecedented implications for Parkinson's drug development, diagnosis and treatment."

The Michael J. Fox Foundation will supply funding to equip patients of the study around the country with wearables. An added benefit will be the ability to rope in those with Parkinson's who do not live near research facilities, widening the research pool. Though Intel has thus far provided patients with its own wearables, the study is allegedly device-agnostic and will use a wide range of devices to measure patient activity.

Intel has become increasingly interested over the last few years in wearable technology that can be used not so much to capture consumers that, at the moment, are being courted by Google with its Android Wear smartwatches and will be the primary target for Apple with its forthcoming wearable device. Intel cares more about what those wearables can do with data for health science purposes.

"We're exploring how to pull data out of devices in real-time," Ron Kasabian, general manager of Intel's Big Data Solutions group, told Reuters. "We can mine data to improve research, and better understand the behaviors and progression of the disease."

Intel acquired Basis Science, a maker of health-oriented smartwatches, in March of this year, but has also dabbled in the consumer space. Intel is an investor in Recon Instruments and Thalmic Labs, two consumer focused companies working on heads-up displays and human-computer gesture control technology respectively.

Intel's Big Data Center Group is the division responsible for helping integrate the company's technology with the foundation's medical research tools. The open-source analytics platform will gather real-time anonymized patient data from the wearables, where it will be aggregated and analyzed.

"The platform supports an analytics application developed by Intel to process and detect changes in the data in real time," the company explained. "By detecting anomalies and changes in sensor and other data, the platform can provide researchers with a way to measure the progression of the disease objectively."

In the next phase of the study slated for this fall, Intel will use both wearables and a dedicated mobile app to monitor patient data and integrate with self-reported information like medication intake and mood. 

Futuristic fuel cell charger still no match for old-fashioned batteries

The Good - The Upp charger's fuel-cell technology is interesting and innovative, and could be useful in certain circumstances. Its clever app, which knows when to stop charging, should point the way for all phones.

The Bad - The charger is far too heavy to be portable, far too expensive to be practical, and doesn't get as many charges as you'd hope for the size and cost.

The Bottom Line - We'd love to recommend this innovative technology, but at this early stage the Upp fuel cell charger is just too cumbersome and too expensive.

Clean energy could change the world, which is why lots of people are excited about fuel cell technology. The Upp fuel cell charger is one of the first consumer fuel cell products, converting hydrogen into electricity without any harmful by-products to charge your phone when you're far from home.

The Upp is a USB charger into which you plug a cartridge containing hydrogen, forming a Proton Exchange Membrane fuel cell. It works by creating a chemical reaction that produces electricity. The only by-products are heat and water vapour.

Unlike battery packs, Upp won't degrade over time, so the hydrogen cartridge can be refilled by the manufacturer and you can continue using the charger indefinitely. The 5W, 5V charger charges as fast as the mains and is well-suited for phones, although less so for power-hungry tablets such as the iPad.

Upp claims its hydrogen fuel cells are much better for the environment than current chargers. It's worth noting that like any gadget, Upp contains plastic and metal and so has a cost to its production and disposal. But fuel cells have for a while been touted as the next big power source, especially for cars, potentially replacing or at least reducing reliance on fossil fuels. That sounds great, which is why it's a shame that the Upp has several problems.

The charger is available now from Upp's website for £149 in the UK. It's not yet available in the US, but the company has said it will cost $200 from the retailer Brookstone, and presumably the same from its own site.

How it works

The Upp charger couldn't be simpler to use: just take the cap off the end of the charger and connect the hydrogen fuel cell. They attach magnetically so the fuel cell snaps satisfyingly into place.

At the end of the charger is a familiar USB socket. Plug your phone or any USB-charging device into the cable as normal, turn the charger on and away you go.

Simple it may be -- portable it is not. The Upp is touted as a power source when you don't have access to the mains, whether you're in a campsite in Cornwall or deep in the wilds of the developing world. But you need a few hydrogen cartridges with you if you're spending any time off the grid, and they ain't light.

The charger weighs 235g (8.3 ounces) and each spare cartridge 385g (13.6 ounces), for a combined weight of 620g (1.4 pounds). The whole unit is about the size and weight of a medium-sized torch, one of the big ones powered by a batch of C batteries.

As it charges, the fuel cell vents water vapour every few minutes. Unfortunately, that makes a clearly audible "click-click" noise. It's not loud enough to scare anyone, but if you've got your phone charging next to you, the noise gets annoying fast. If you were camping, for example, it might keep you awake at night.

Replacing cartridges

Not only are the cartridges far from light, they ain't cheap either: you get one with the charger but after that a spare costs £35, and swapping empty for full costs £10 a pop. That converts to $59 and $17 respectively, but expect it to be a little cheaper in the US.

Swapping for a full cartridge limits where you can use the charger. The included app and Upp's website show you where you can get more hydrogen cartridges on a map, with dozens of locations in the UK and US. Currently they're all listed as "coming soon", however, and tend to be clustered in highly populated areas. In the US, many of the locations will be at branches of Brookstone.

Huawei prepares to launch first Chinese phones into tough Korean market

Huawei hopes its Honor 6 will carve a path into the saturated South Korean mobile market.

Entering a saturated foreign market made up of 85 percent domestic manufacturers is risky business, but that's exactly what Huawei is preparing to do.

Huawei's current flagship model, the Honor 6, is reportedly being tested under Korea's LG Uplus network to be approved for the Korean market. This would be the first time a Chinese-branded handset entered the Korean market through an official distribution channel.

Huawei representatives confirmed the phone is in compatibility testing, "but it does not signify that a product launch in Korea is imminent".

Unveiled last month, the Honor 6's specs are bound to turn some heads in the Korean market whenever they do decide to release the model. The handset boasts an octa-core CPU, 3GB RAM, 5-inch full HD Display and 13-megapixel rear camera.

The affordable $369 (AU$396, £219) price tag, roughly half of what it costs to buy Samsung and LG's flagship models, is also one of its biggest selling points. The Korean version will be adapted to take advantage of LG Uplus' LTE-A broadband network, as well as Category 6 and VoLTE technology.

This is also a sign that Pantech's -- Korea's number three phone maker behind Samsung and LG -- recent struggles have created a significant rift in the Korean mobile market. Even after being saved from bankruptcy last week, Pantech now finds itself incapable of selling new units because of the sizeable stockpile of unsold Pantech inventory held by Korea's carriers. This may be an opportune time for a foreign player to enter the fiercely competitive Korean mobile market.

In 2011, Korean mobile carriers tested Taiwanese HTC phones with domestic customers but were met with disappointing sales, leading to HTC pulling out of South Korea within a matter of months.

Apple, Samsung agree to bury overseas litigation

A deal settles all lawsuits pending outside the US, but US patent lawsuits between the two are unaffected.

Apple and Samsung on Tuesday said they have agreed to settle all lawsuits filed against each other outside the United States, ending some aspects of their long-running patent dispute but allowing the companies to continue their litigation in the US.

"Samsung and Apple have agreed to drop all litigation between the two companies outside the United States," the companies said in a statement. "This agreement does not involve any licensing arrangements, and the companies are continuing to pursue the existing cases in US courts."

Apple and Samsung declined to comment beyond the joint statement.

Apple and Samsung have been fighting over the designs and functionality of their smartphones and tablets since 2011. For the companies, the long-running battle is about more than money. What's really at stake is the market for mobile devices. Apple now gets two-thirds of its sales from the iPhone and iPad; South Korea-based Samsung is the world's largest maker of smartphones; and both want to keep dominating the market. At the same time, they're also facing tougher competition from new vendors in emerging markets, such as Xiaomi in China.

While Apple and Samsung have fought long and bitter patent battles in the US, they've also duked it out in courts in Asia and Europe with mixed results. A Japanese high court upheld a lower court ruling last year that Samsung did not infringe on an Apple patent related to synchronizing music and video on Galaxy smartphones and tablets with servers. After a German court initially sided with Apple's patent infringement claims and banned the sale of Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 within its borders in 2011, Samsung eventually was allowed to sell a revised version of the device.

In total, the companies battled in eight courts outside the US -- Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Korea, Japan, The Netherlands, and the UK. Samsung also has sought to invalidate some of Apple's patents in Spain.

Just because the companies have settled their cases outside the US doesn't mean the battle is over.

"At this point it's hard to say whether this is the beginning of the end, or a mutual decision on the part of Apple and Samsung to focus their energy even more intently on US litigation, which was always the highest stakes between them," said Brian Love, assistant professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law.

Apple initially filed suit against Samsung in April 2011 in the US, accusing its rival of copying the look and feel of its iPhones and iPads. Samsung countersued, and it also launched suits against Apple outside the US. Apple countersued in five of the countries.

The initial case in the US went to trial in August 2012. A nine-person jury sided with Apple on a majority of its patent infringement claims against Samsung. It awarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages, much less than the $2.75 billion sought by the Cupertino, Calif., company. Samsung, which asked for $421 million in its countersuit, didn't get anything.

However, Judge Lucy Koh in March 2013 ordered a new trial to recalculate some of the damages in the case, striking $450.5 million off the original judgment against Samsung. A jury in November awarded Apple an additional $290.5 million in damages, bringing the total damages to $930 million. A third trial, which ended in May, came back more mixed, with Samsung ordered to pay Apple $119.6 million in damages and Apple ordered to pay $158,000 for infringing one of Samsung's patents.

Apple may have won about $1 billion from Samsung, but it hasn't seen any money yet. And it also was awarded much less than it asked for, particularly in the 2014 trial. Apple had wanted $2.2 billion for Samsung's accused infringement of five patents, but it received less than 6 percent of that total. In addition, neither company has been successful in banning its rivals products from sale in the US, something that could have had a real impact.

The long-running spat also doesn't exactly reflect well on either company. Apple and Samsung are two of the most secretive companies in the technology industry, with little known about the inner workings of their operations or about executives' private comments -- until the recent patent cases. Each side presented damning evidence during the trials about its rival and used its competitor's words, taken from emails and internal presentations including competitive analysis and marketing documents, against it. That included former Apple CEO Steve Jobs' determination to launch a "holy war" against Google's Android mobile operating system, which powers Samsung's smartphone, and a plan by a Samsung executive to use Jobs' death in 2011 as a marketing opportunity.

Following the most recent trial, Samsung attorney John Quinn told CNET that Apple wouldn't see a dime from the most recent judgment. Quinn -- a partner at the law firm of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, which represents Samsung, Google, and other Android handset makers -- also predicted that Apple would soon put an end to its patent infringement lawsuits because it hasn't been able to shift market demand away from smartphones built on Google's Android software.

The first US case is going through the appeals process, and the companies also plan to appeal the most recent verdict. Apple also has settled its lawsuits with other handset vendors using Google's popular Android operating system, including HTC and Motorola Mobility. 

Five reasons why Xiaomi is a serious smartphone player

Xiaomi has been relatively unknown outside of Asia, but a new Strategy Analytics report shows that the Beijing-based company has shot up to being the world's fifth-largest smartphone maker, behind Samsung, Apple, Huawei, and Lenovo.
What people outside of Xiaomi's home markets, such as China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and India, do know about the 4-year-old company often stems from the negative: Xiaomi's smartphone designs have been blasted for mimicking iPhone design, though the company has spoken out about this and has added some of its own flair. The Mi Pad tablet and the recent Xiaomi Mi 4 phone are two examples.

Yet Xiaomi is clearly doing something right, and despite arguably riding on Apple's design coattails, the company's more mundane smartphones, such as the budget Redmi phone and Redmi Note phablet, are the key drivers behind the company's growth -- a growth that promises to become even more explosive, especially when Xiaomi begins its planned expansion into Brazil and possibly other Western markets.

We'll be seeing a lot of the company in the next few years. Here are the five key reasons why Xiaomi will be a force to be reckoned with.

1. High-quality products

It's hard to deny that Xiaomi has great products -- apart from the company's high-end flagship devices such as the Mi 3 or the Mi 4, its budget line is impressive for the value it offers. Take the Redmi Note, for example. It's a 5.5-inch phablet with an octa-core processor that offers performance that punches above its price range, but that's not all. Xiaomi also has other products such as routers and a UHD TV that regularly sell out in China.

2. Affordable Prices

This leads us to the second point, affordability. The Redmi Note, for example, retails at around $154 (£95 or AU$170), depending on the country, which is way below what you'd expect to pay for a smartphone of its calibre. All prices are off-contract.

The company's flagship products are also priced as midrange phones, but have features that compete directly with the high-end devices. Then there's the MiTV2, a UHD TV sold in China that costs just $640 (£380 or AU$690), a far cry from what Samsung and LG typically sell theirs for.

Of course, you may be wondering how it's possible for Xiaomi to slash prices and still make a profit, but the company's business model is to simply sell as close to cost as it can, and then turn a profit over time when manufacturing costs drop.

3. Mi Fans

Like Apple and Samsung fans, Xiaomi has a dedicated consumer base that absolutely loves its products. In fact, these "Mi Fans" regularly attend the company's product launches in China, where they loudly cheer and applaud every announcement. These Mi Fans aren't just limited to China, though. Xiaomi regularly reaches out to fans in other countries to talk about its most important product, MIUI.


At the core of Xiaomi's products lies MIUI ("my UI"), a ROM skin based on Android that powers the company's smartphones and tablets. MIUI has plenty of features you can't find on Android or iOS, like navigation gestures and plenty of themes to jazz up your phone as well.

MIUI allows Xiaomi to offer a unique experience compared with other smartphones and the best part of the Android ROM is that you can download and use it on other Android phones as well. So if you want to use MIUI on your older HTC One, you can do so simply by just heading to the MIUI site and downloading the appropriate ROM.

5. Hugo Barra

Snagging a former Google exec from Silicon Valley to head the company's international expansion was quite a coup for Xioami. 

Barra represents the face of the company to English-speaking media (Barra himself hails from Brazil), and his past success with Google as Android's vice president carries tremendous weight for Xiaomi in the smartphone world.

Under Barra's direction, Xioami hopes to make true world phones in the next two years, blending Chinese and global perspectives for a universally appealing phone that achieves distribution along the lines of a Samsung or Apple flagship. With his extensive contacts and carrier relationships amassed during his time at Google, Barra has the reach to help Xiaomi succeed in the increasingly competitive smartphone market.

HP, Michael Bastian team up on new smartwatch

Hewlett-Packard is getting into the smartwatch game with help from fashion designer Michael Bastian.
HP has teamed with luxury e-marketplace to launch a smartwatch later this year, the companies announced this week. HP apparently reach out to Gilt about working with a fashion designer on its new smartwatch, according to Fashionista, which earlier reported the news. Gilt brought Bastian into the group to handle design, while HP built the technology behind the new smartwatch, said Fashionista.

Details on the smartwatch's components and software are slim at the moment, but Fashionista was able to pry some details out of the companies. The device's software will work with a round display, like the Android Wear-based Moto 360, and it will sync with devices running Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating systems. The smartwatch will display notifications and have the ability to control music and check for updates on a wide range of areas.

Unlike most other smartwatches on the market, which are designed by tech companies' in-house staff, HP enlisted the help of designer Michael Bastian to craft the look of its smartwatch. The smartwatch looks very similar to a real watch, featuring a circular dial and three strap options.

It's no surprise that HP is joining the smartwatch fray. While still a developing industry, the wearables market has exploded over the past couple of years. Financial consultancy Deloitte predicts that 10 million units will sell this year, generating a total of $3 billion. What's perhaps most interesting, however, is that the smartwatch doesn't appear to be running on Google's Android Wear OS for wearable devices, meaning it could be based on another as-yet announced platform.

HP and Gilt plan to start selling the smartwatch this fall. Pricing has not been announced. We will update this story when we have more information.