Quick Take on HTC U11 Selfie Camera

My wife has been using the Oneplus 3T for some more than half a year, and it has been a great upgrade from her previous HTC Desire Eye. The OP3T is smoother, faster and she isn’t frustrated with Instagram crashing so often anymore.

With better image sensor, the front and back camera also takes better photos especially in low light. However the color coming out of the image from Desire Eye is better and more pleasing than from the OP3T, which says a lot about the way HTC processes the photos. The Desire Eye front camera has a ultrawide angle lens too, and on HTC software, it is able to do HDR, which is very useful during mid-day when the sunlight is harsh.

When HTC announced the U11, I was very excited and hoping to see if it can be a better selfie camera phone for my wife. With the flagship specifications, I don’t think she will be disappointed. Most of the reviews online are very positive too. The absence of headphone jack isn’t a problem for her because she never use the headphone before.

It is however, very difficult to find people who really look into the performance of the front camera. I guess most of the reviewers aren’t into selfie. And the people who does a lot of selfie, isn’t interested of the technical details of the front camera. I really need to test it out the old-school way by using the actual product in my hand.

Both the Maxis Centre and HTC store in Sunway Pyramid has a demo unit of the HTC U11, so that mall is the best place to go. Maxis also has the silver blue version in stock if my wife were to upgrade her phone since she is already on Maxis.

The selfie camera is the ONLY thing we ever tested when my wife and I went to the store for a test use. My wife took a few photos with the U11 alongside of her OP3T, so it is nothing scientific. At first glance, the image comes out really nice. The color is much natural compared to those from OP3T, the auto HDR is also a very welcoming feature which prevent some parts of the photos from over exposed.

But there is just one big problem. Auto-focus, or the lack of it. I couldn’t believe there is no auto-focus on the U11, and the photos comes out soft when zoom to pixel level. I just couldn’t make it shoot crisply sharp photos and the sharpness is so much worse than the 3T.

Then there’s the shutter lag. Without any sort of AF, I shouldn’t see any lag at all, but the U11 exhibit some kind of shutter lag from the moment you press the shutter button to the time it actually take a photo. I could say it took longer for the 3T to shoot since it to need focus before shooting, but at least if it pre-focus correctly, it shoot faster than the U11.

I also make a quick test on using the new Edge Sense feature to take a photo. I can think of how useful is it during winter when we’re using thick gloves and unable to use the screen, but there is no winter in Malaysia. Using it to take photo also is also less stable than a shutter or on-screen button, which make taking low light photos really useless. So yes, the new feature is still gimmicky.

So the search for the best selfie camera phone continues. A lot of phones for the selfie crowd doesn’t have flagship specs, and the flagship phones only emphasize on the main shooter. The Google Pixel probably has one of the best selfie shooter for now but it is not officially sold in Malaysia, what a bummer.

Quick Take on HTC U11 Selfie Camera

Clearing Jass’s Phone

My gf has been complaining that her phone is out of storage space. It has become so bad that she couldn’t update the apps anymore. She was using HTC Desire Eye, which I got her for her birthday. The phone has built in 16GB of storage and I’ve gotten her additional 32GB MicroSD card for to store photos.

I’ve checked the MicroSD card, it is not full. The internal 16GB is one that is full, only left some 200+MB. The last time I was left with so little space was when I was using the HTC One X and it was also very limited by its 8GB app storage (even though it has 32GB internal storage, stupid design by HTC).

Looking thru the internal storage, the app definitely took the majority of the space, but it shouldn’t have made the 16GB full. I try to move some apps to the SD cards, and too bad Android doesn’t allow many big apps to be moved to SD eg. Facebook, Google Map, Chrome. I tried clearing her bloated WhatsApp folder, shrinking it to 700MB. With all that I managed to make a total free space of 1.7GB.

Time to hit that overdue system update by HTC. I hope the Desire Eye gets Android 6.0.

 

Clearing Jass’s Phone

CM10.1

I’ve never been happier after the upgrade to CM10.1. It’s a combination of few improvements that makes the phone so useable again.

The biggest improvement, IMO, would be Fast Charge. I cannot believe the phone, or its kernel is crippled to only draw only specific (read: reduced) amount of power when it detected it’s charging on USB. USB port only supply 5V 0.5A on standard, so even if your computer or car charger’s USB port is able to supply 1A or 2A charging, the phone is still going to charge at 0.5A.

0.5A is not even sufficient to counter the discharge when the phone is running Waze. Now with the fix, I am finally able to really charge the phone in the car even when it is running Waze. Moreover, charging over USB on computer is dramatically faster now.

Second improvement will be S2W or Sweep to Wake function. In the past, to have this feature, a custom kernel, namely the Bricked Kernel has to be used. It was very unstable while I was using the kernel, which gave quite a lot of SOD (Sleep Of Death). The phone just wouldn’t switch back on when pressing the power button, the only way is to reset the phone is to do the power-volume buttons combination.

CM10.1

Updating OneX HBOOT

Here’s a log on what I did to update my One X’s hboot from 0.94 to 1.36

First I’d found and download the necessary files from XDA Developer’s website:
hboot 1.36 files http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?p=33308420
CM10.1 A4 Installer http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1786696

Backup phone log, sms log
Backup app using Titanium Backup
Backup the phone’s virtual sd card to computer
Run nandroid backup
Backup the nandroid files to computer
Get the Unlock_code.bin from HTC website: http://www.htcdev.com/bootloader/

In OSX terminal, input these code thru fastboot (from Android SDK):
fastboot oem lock – relocking the bootloader.
astboot oem rebootRUU – Rebooting the boot loader will show the HTC logo only.
fastboot flash zip firmware.zip – This will update the hboot 1.36 files.
fastboot flash unlocktoken Unlock_code.bin – unlock the boot loader.

This is the funny part, according to XDA http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1592355 it mentioned that the screen will change, but mine didn’t. I press Volume up and the power button anyway and the phone reset itself.

Since I haven’t flash the latest boot.img that’s compatible with the hoot 1.36, it didn’t boot into the OS. I soft-reset into bootloader and flash the boot.img with the last code: fastboot flash boot boot.img. Then I load into Recovery to flash the CM10.1 Beta ROMs, also installing the latest Google Apps, and then rebooted the phone.

After the phone rebooted, I was relief that my phone wasn’t wipe, and the content in the SD card is still intact.

Updating OneX HBOOT

Insufficient Storage Problem

I’ve been having Insufficient Storage problem for quite some time, and unable to update some Google core apps. It happened after one of the flashing of an updated CM10 ROM, and has gotten worse lately.

I used to delete the APK files from data/app, and the app would download and install, however recently the trick doesn’t work anymore. Today I did a little searching and found many user having same problem get fix by using an APP called Link2SD.

After installing Link2SD, I’m able to move some APP such as the bloated Chrome to SD card, which previously isn’t possible. Now I’m able to update my APPs again in PlayStore. I noticed that my Contact Storage is taking lots of space too – over 100MB! That’s mostly due to syncing my Facebook contacts and pics into the phone, and now I’m on the lookout for APPs that only sync photos of linked contacts, That’ll probably save tons of space.

For now I guess I’ll have to reduce the size of the image used for FB sycn.

Insufficient Storage Problem

One X SD Card Bad Sector

This morning I was trying out the 3-dot menu remover hack from XDA Developer forum, ended up causing my phone went into a bootloop or stuck at the boot screen. Flashing the revert to stock didn’t help, so I went into Recovery to see if I can do anything without factory reset my phone.

I made a bad mistake without making a nandroid backup before flashing the zip file. However I got a backup dated back to April 30th. Before I restore it, I make a backup on my current problematic image. I was surprised to find that I only have ~6GB left on the SD card storage (HTC OneX call it Phone Storage). I don’t remember using so much space before! Anyway, after the backup, I tried advance restore, first time using it. Basically I only restore the System mount.

Luckily it managed to boot back normally and sound works without crashing. I remember making the backup before flashing the sound fix thinggy. I’m wondering if it has the old A-GPS update address, will need to test outdoor for that. Back to the missing SD card space. I first try to clean and delete unnecessary files on the drive. Check one folder at a time to see what’s hogging the space. After all the deletion, all the files in the drive only consume ~10GB out of 25GB, so I should have 15GB left but driver properties showed that I have only ~5GB left.

I failed to do chkdsk on Win7, plugged the phone into my Macbook Air and disk verification from there showed that I have ~10GB of bad sectors! Then I remembered stumbling into this post in XDA. They recommended backing up (copy), reformatting the disk, and restoring it (paste) to recover the space. Also not to use USB data transfer for bad sector accumulation.

Currently I’m backing up the files as of time of writing. Hope things goes well.

One X SD Card Bad Sector

One X GPS Woes

A few times using Sygic Aura on my One X has led me to believe that the on-board GPS isn’t that accurate. While navigating, the current location will jump to nearby roads and speed is very inconsistence with my actual driving speed (speedometer should always over-read) and sometimes can show some crazy 200km/h figures.

A look in the XDA Developer shows that I’m not the only one having problem. In the thread, other than getting the phone replaced, there’s another method which is to clear the A-GPS data, get to GPS to lock in cold start (flight mode, restart, and locking on GPS). No one in Lowyat forum seems to have the problem.

I downloaded an app called GPS status to clear the A-GPS data, and tried to lock GPS at home but failed to lock on to any as I was partly indoor. Later during the day I went and try outside while on the way to meet my friends. The GPS locked but showed that I’m in the middle of the sea at Melaka Straits!

I’m speechless. I tried switching on the Google location service (which triangulate location from cell towers or wifi router) and initially I was able to get rough location of where I really was, but once the GPS lock in, it still shows that I’m in the middle of the sea. I cleared the A-GPS data a second time, put it through another cold start and the second lock was even further than the first one over at Sumatra!

Then I remembered reading something about flashing different A-GPS source into the phone might help on locking to more GPS sats at one time. I found the thread at XDA developer and followed the instruction there to flash the AGPS patch. I tried the 3.x Google Specific No-SSL. Basically just downloading it, reboot into recovery, mount /system and install the .zip file.

After that a quick try on Sygic shows fast GPS lock and accurate location and speed once again. I’ll continue evaluating it for the next few days and if the GPS still sucks, I’m gonna try getting the phone replaced.

One X GPS Woes