Laughing last, laughing best: Here comes the Xbox One

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Today, Microsoft tears down all of the rumors of the next generation Xbox console called “Xbox One.” It features a brilliant glossy hardware finish that is sleek and catchy. It is geared to take what you love and make it even better.

The ideals of the next generation console is to light up the bare essentials of television and entertainment which are simplicity, instant response and complete immersion. The Xbox One does not fail to produce world class software innovation and interactive applications to make the overall user experience pleasant. Very unlike Sony, Microsoft has gone all the way to blur the lines between a gaming console and a media center and created the all in one box for all of your living room magical needs.

 

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It is amazing; you talk to the Xbox One to turn it on and control all of its applications with integrated voice commands. Imagine switching between television and game in a second just by saying: “Xbox, play game” or “Xbox, watch television.” The new Kinect is bundled with every Xbox One which gives a new dimension to motion capturing technology and even conference calls on Skype with its 1080p HD Camera. From the start, your Xbox One remembers everything you did last and well, you can snap applications just like on Windows 8 on the Xbox One with full motion based or voice commands! It is stated that it would NOT require an internet connection to function. Seeing is believing right?

It packs quite a handful on the tech specs. 8GB RAM, 8 Core CPU power, 500GB Hard Disk and Blu-ray drive. It also has an 802.11n wireless device with Wi-Fi Direct, USB 3.0 ports and HDMI out.  Microsoft’s Marc Whitten stated clearly that “Variable power states” ensure a “practically silent” operation. The console is engineered to last “well into the future,” which, of course, is an obvious reference to the company’s engineering struggles with the Xbox 360.

Imagine a console with 3 operating systems. One for your gaming on Xbox, a windows kernel and a specific operating system that covers instantaneous switching between multiple running applications. With the newly designed Xbox controller and Xbox Smart Glass technology, users can choose various ways to control their console to provide a truly complete user experience.

Microsoft has partnered with Electronic Arts for new and exclusive innovations to their ongoing sport series, The NFL for custom sporting integration and is planning to host about 15 new exclusive titles for the Xbox One on release later this year. A new, most impressive Call Of Duty is also to be released so we can be sure that it would kick off to a good start.

So there we have it for now on the new Xbox. Rest easy till E3 later on in a couple of weeks.

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Hero… but NOT Savior: A BlackBerry Z10 Review

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The BlackBerry Z10 is the first smartphone to run the BlackBerry 10 OS. The company’s hope of holding on to its diminishing market share and its ability to right the ship that sent it from first to worst in smartphone relevance all rests on the shoulders of The Z10. Gone are the days when we consider the BlackBerry as a definitive smartphone. Today’s world of smartphones is not as it used to be as striking a balance between entertainment and enterprise is now the much desired standard. Can The BlackBerry Z10 be the savior that BlackBerry – the company and operating system – so desperately needs?

Design
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The BlackBerry Z10 has what many might consider a generic appearance. There are no eye-popping colors like we’ve seen with Windows Phone 8 devices, nor any bold curves to elicit the cliché labeling of a phone being “sexy.” It’s an all-business box, rectangular and overwhelmingly black except for the silver-colored buttons that appear in limited areas. That’s not to say that being all business is boring; The Z10 just so happens to have a design that favors minimalism. The 130mm x 65.6mm x 9mm (5.11in x 2.58in x 0.35in) frame is basically the “Little Black Dress” of smartphones.

A large edge and lines along the edges make the BlackBerry Z10 rather catchy but a user’s senses will quickly gravitate to touch. Hard plastic is used for the front and sides of the phone, but a pleasant soft rubber-like material is used for its back. It has dozens of tiny “dimples” similar to the Google Nexus 7, and it’s definitely one of the most comfortable smartphone materials to rest gently in your palm.

BlackBerry has shed the weight of a physical keyboard and trackball that has been the trademark of the handset maker. The Z10’s only distractions from its otherwise understated build are micro USB and microHDMI ports on the left; a power button and 3.5mm headphone jack on the top. There are also volume buttons, separated by a button that can pause music playback or be held down to prompt voice commands, on the right. The bottom of the phone houses a speaker that plays music at a decent volume, and there’s also a red notification light in the top right corner… as usual.

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Screen

The BlackBerry Z10 features a 4.2 inch screen with a resolution of 1280 x 768. The display looks excellent thanks to strong brightness, which can be adjusted on a sliding scale. With a pixel density of 356ppi, The Z10 creates a detailed picture that looks wonderful for videos and text. The brightness levels also translate to a legible screen when viewed outdoors.

Software, Apps and User interface

BlackBerry 10 is a new approach to smartphones that places an emphasis on gestures and hidden menus. There is no “Home” button like what’s seen on every other major platform, because the concept is more like “you shouldn’t go Home, you should move on to the next task or app.” Swiping from the bottom of the glass button of the Z10 will reveal the screen showing Active apps, which are the eight most recent that have been opened. Users can tap or visit or close an app, or swipe to the right to browse through a traditional app grid.

The BlackBerry 10 places a high value on its gestures because that’s how users interact with elements that typically don’t appear on screen. For instance, swiping down from the top of the phone will reveal a quick settings menu, and swiping to the right will go back to the previous screen within apps. The approach is not always the most intuitive because it’s hard to know when a gesture is appropriate. A downward swipe in the browser can expose the webpage’s title, but swiping towards the left doesn’t trigger the back gesture like it does in other apps. To go to the previous page, the user must tap the on-screen back button. Likewise, the camera app can tap in the bottom corner to make adjustments to the snapshot, but full settings are only available by swiping down from the top. The inconsistency is a minor annoyance, but it sparks frustration with the UI at times. The built-in software included with the BlackBerry Z10 represents BlackBerry’s effort to shake its reputation as the phone of choice for stuffy executives in suits. The Z10 is still the phone with the most enterprise-oriented background, but it branches out into other areas to be a solid consumer device as well. BlackBerry’s balance is a killer feature that enables a work and personal mode.

The work mode grants access to corporate data and apps in a secure environment that IT managers can use to push app installations or revoke access, and the personal mode lets employees retain control of their phone and install other apps or have some private, personal data. Balance creates a dividing wall between the enterprise and entertainment aspects, and either side can be accessed through a secure door that can be opened quickly.

BlackBerry doesn’t completely shed its stiffness, but it makes some admirable attempts. The Music, Photo, and Video apps follow a similar design and are effective at the basics, and they even include DLNA streaming to other devices. The Photo app looks rather plain, but it hides a capable editor that can enhance photos and apply filters. The Music app feels half-baked because it does a good job of organizing music and including cover art, but navigating large libraries may be a problem for some because there’s no option to browse with a list view until you’re choosing a specific song. Story Maker is one example where BlackBerry breaks from formation and has some fun. The app lets users select a collection of photos or videos and create a video that splices clips and photos with background music. The BlackBerry 10 isn’t blessed with many options for customization other than changing the order of content and applying some optional filters, but the app is a quick and clever way of creating personal videos on a smartphone. App results improve when BlackBerry sticks to what it knows best – communication and productivity.

BlackBerry enables Word, Excel, and PowerPoint document creation or editing in Docs To Go, a capable app that works well for light editing or computing. The BlackBerry Remember app creates notes that synchronize with Evernote, so users can manage their to-do lists and memory aids just as easily as they manage their work documents.

BlackBerry 10 includes a few quality pre-loaded apps, but the apps in BlackBerry World fall short of doing much to enhance the Z10. It’s true that BlackBerry has made strides to launch its new OS with more than 70,000 apps, but a sizable portion of those apps are junk or hastily-ported Android apps that perform strangely. While no one should reasonably expect all of the top smartphone apps to be included in BlackBerry 10, many of the headliners are absent, and the apps available to take their place are less than appetizing. Even the built-in Twitter and Facebook apps are disappointing because they lack features that have been available on the Android and iOS versions for months.

Performance, Memory & Battery

For an Operating System built entirely on the concept of fluidity, it has to feature a strong processor, and the BlackBerry Z10 fits the bill with a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor and 2GB of RAM. The processor keeps the Flow and Peak elements of the BB10 software moving freely, and the phone seems to buzz along with only a few hiccups. It also comes with an internal storage memory of 16GB and is expandable to 32GB via microSD.

Battery life is pretty much on the average on the BlackBerry Z10, The 1800 mAh battery will deplete sooner with LTE enabled or using power-hungry features like video calling. The Z10 won’t last a full day for a power user, but the slim battery is replaceable and easy to store, so one advice: if u’re a power user, it would be better to keep a spare battery to swap in when necessary.

Camera

BlackBerry has never been famous for exceptional camera qualities and the BlackBerry Z10 keeps to that tradition. The 8 megapixel rear camera produces good photos when there’s a lot of light nearby, but it does a poor job in low or moderate conditions. Photos are dark, noisy, and often out of focus, which can be frustrating because there are no manual controls in the camera software.

Browser Connectivity

The BlackBerry 10 browser is not that great from a design standpoint, but it’s pretty good behind the scenes. The browser loads webpages fast enough and could be one of the best of the modern webKit-based browsers when it comes to handling various websites and designs. There are some issues with sites failing to recognize the BB10 as a mobile device, even when the Desktop preference is disabled, but the browser is as good, if not better, than the default options on other major phones. There’s obviously the usual bundles of radios as well, including 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi, dual-band, GPS, GLONASS, Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP, the BlackBerry Z10 supports HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100 – STL100-1 networks along with EDGE 850/900/1800/1900.

The BlackBerry Z10 does not support FM radio.

Conclusion

With all the rumors and hype… we waited for the BlackBerry Z10 to impress compared to its other smartphone counterparts. BlackBerry Z10 has impressed in its own way. However, there are still some areas of concern with BlackBerry 10: navigation issues, lack of useful apps and a not very okay camera are letdowns on sensitive spots. It shines on several things though, communication and its browser, making this a sensible purchase for business-minded individuals and BlackBerry loyalists. But others will see The BlackBerry Z10 as just another smartphone that doesn’t quite do what they’ve already managed to do on their existing device. Would I drop my Android or iPhone for the BlackBerry Z10? Heck! Never!!

BlackBerry can’t yet convince most consumers that the Z10 makes more sense than more popular and mature options. The BlackBerry Z10 is a hero device, but it’s no savior. Many thanks to Andrew Kameka for making this article a success.

Microsoft’s new Surface Pro remains on the surface!

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Some dreams come true! With the release of the Microsoft Surface RT, I can bet a a good number of people wished for that tablet to run the revolutionary Windows 8. “Definitely charming!” wouldn’t it? Well, the Surface Pro from Microsoft has come and even with its chin itching price tags – $899 for the 64GB and $999 for the 128GB version, the Microsoft Surface truly makes a demanding statement – that from the looks of it, may be worth it.

Preceding the new Surface Pro was a Surface RT which as at now seems to be more or less a preview to the good things to come. True, the design was something new and some of the hardware features were worth a good chat over a cup of tea; but so many things seemed absent and yes! The Surface Pro delivers all of those inner cravings you desired for it. Microsoft Windows fans and Windows 8 enthusiasts will certainly not mind putting down all more than a couple of bucks for it. The Surface Pro gives the complete Windows 8 experience which still is the most popular and most dynamic entry in the world of operating systems as of date. The Surface RT would pretty much be for those who would just prefer a windows like tablet experience without paying too much for things they would not probably use. Its not a bad idea if you look at it; after all, it comes along with the very excellent Office 2013.

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The new Surface Pro competes on par with its ultrabook rivals in a unique and most challenging manner. Compared to the earlier Surface RT, it is larger and to house some of its powerful hardware components, packs in a little more weight with a thicker form of its “VaporMg” magnesium composite casing. It comes with the basic expectations of a regular ultrabook: front and back 1.2 megapixel  cameras, a full size USB port, an intel Core i5 CPU, Intel HD Graphics, 4GB of RAM, solid state storage up to 128GB, expandable memory through a memory card reader, Bluetooth 4.0 technology and Wi-Fi 802.11a, b, g and n. It also comes with exciting features as a tablet such as a scratch resistant glass surface, 720p HD video recording with video calling abilities, accelerometer, gyroscope and compass sensors. Surface is indeed a delight to behold and touch.

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One issue people may have with the Surface Pro though is its kickstand, which only gives a single angular view. This does not tend to be a problem until you get into a place with heavy fluorescent lighting or worse, the sunny outdoors. You might spend some extra time adjusting to suit your convenient viewing. Furthermore, an honest truth is that it doesn’t do as well as the earlier Surface RT in terms of battery life but you should be able to get about 4 hours out of it or so. Nevertheless, Surface will do pretty well to impress newcomers and  even existing customers in the tablet purchase market.

Surface Pro comes along with a Wacom-made, pressure-sensitive stylus that is is a very welcome accompaniment. Surely you would enjoy touching around Windows 8 with it. It has a nice feel; especially when you are using applications such as Adobe Photoshop and the like. The touch and type covers remain as optional accessories and require a separate purchase to an already quite expensive pricing but of course, that completely depends on the customer in question.

In conclusion, the Microsoft Surface Pro is a stylish welcome addition to the world of portable and personal computing. There are a number of things to consider though but it works. It is fast, beautiful, the screen is gorgeous and… it runs Windows 8.

Ubuntu-based Smartphones!!

It appears Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS are about to face some new competition: Ubuntu Phone.

Ubuntu Phone is a mobile platform developed by Canonical Ltd for smartphones and they aim to give us a similar user experience as the Ubuntu desktop edition. The OS which was previewed on January 2013 will be release officially in February 2013 . Ubuntu Phone is not an operating system for Mobile phones, it is the standard Ubuntu operating system that is used on desktop computers deployed on smart phones, so the same native applications can be run on both. There is uncertainty about when first devices will ship with the OS preinstalled since no OEMs have committed to producing hardware yet, though first estimations are set at the end of 2013 or the beginning of 2014.

The new smartphones will include an “entry level” model powered by a 1GHz Cortex A9 with 512-1024MB of RAM and 4-8GB of flash storage and a “high-end superphone” handset, which will feature a quad-core A9
or Intel Atom APU, 1GB or more RAM and pack 32GB of internal storage.
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Ubuntu for smartphones appears to take some cues from Palm OS or even BlackBerry 10, favoring gestures like
finger swipes and taps to intuitively reveal settings, display features and switch tasks. Interestingly, Ubuntu mobile should work on ‘any’ Android-based device, as both operating systems share the same driver module support. Ubuntu has already been adapted to run on chipsets using the ARM and Intel x86 architectures relevant for mobile devices, with the core system based around a typical Android Board Support Package (BSP). So chipset vendors and hardware manufacturers do not need to invest in or maintain new hardware support packages for Ubuntu on smartphones. In short, if you already make handsets that run Android, the work needed to adopt Ubuntu will be trivial.
When it comes to apps, Ubuntu hopes to flex its partnerships with big players like EA and Valve. Additionally, the OS will fully support HTML5 for both easily written and easily ported apps. If native apps are your thing though, developers may also take advantage of Ubuntu’s C/C++, OpenGL, QML and JavaScript support.

Ubuntu is also pushing its boundaries beyond just PCs and smartphones though, hoping to land itself on your television or even alongside your existing Android device. Canonical is touting its OS as the only truly “universal” OS that can find a home on virtually anything. Many thanks to  Rick Burgess.

Sony Xperia Z

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http://www.sonymobile.com
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Combining incredible photography with style and power, Sony really are not  only competing in art and beauty anymore, they are taking the bazookers to the war front. The Xperia Z is a real master/power piece.

Being one of the new Z Xperia line smartphones by Sony, which was announced at the CES 2013 show, set to be released before April; it is the first smartphone with high dynamic range imaging (HDRI) full HD video and, at the moment, the phone with the highest resolution front facing camera at 2.2MP. Here are the goodies, Xperia Z will be bringing to our pocket (shortly after draining our wallets :p).

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http://www.sonymobile.com

Processor and GPU

The phone features a quad-core Krait processor, clocked at 1.5 GHz and an Adreno GPU and Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064 SoC.
RAM and Storage: A whooping 2GB RAM, with an internal storage space of 32GB, supports microSD/HC of upto 32GB

Display

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http://www.sonymobile.com

A 5-inch screen full 1080p touchscreen smartphone, with a 1920×1080 resolution at a density of approximately 443ppi providing a superb display,

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with the new Bravia Engine 2 for images and videos.

Camera

It has both rear and front facing cameras, with the rear Camera being 13.1MP in resolution, with a back-side illuminated sensor with LED flash and Sony’s Exmor RS sensor, thereby making it the world’s first smartphone with high dynamic range imaging (HDRI) full HD video (< >wiki). The rear camera can shoot 1080P videos at 30FPS.

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Its front facing camera is 2MP, which also is the highest resolution of any phone front facing camera.

Design

It will have 3 colour variants, black purple and white. It is lsightly longer and wider than the ZL, it is however thinner and more sleek looking, albeit its glassy cover may reduce grip, it is unknown how sturdy and strong it is when dropped.

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The ruggedized(water and dust proof) phone was stated to be 139mm long, 71mm wide and 7.9 mm thick, it is covered with Dragontail glass manufactured by Ashashi Glass Co.

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The device was reported to weigh 146grams (including battery).

Connectivity

Supports GSM, GPRS, EDGE 850, HSPA and 4G LTE (80mbps). It also supports Bluetooth 4.0, Wifi, NFC and DLNA.

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Using NFC, the One-touch feature allows seamless zero-configuration connection with other NFC enabled devices

Sensors and Other Features

The mobile comes equipped with the usual motion, orientation, light sensors; noteworthy it also feature both GPS and GLONAS, a trend in the newest devices.

Software

The Xperia Z’s default OS will be Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and it is expected to have the regular Sony apps preinstalled.
Overall the Xperia Z is a very powerful mobile phone, the incredible features greatly reflects in its proposed price. Expect the Z line of devices to start hitting our bill boards.

The Good

Very powerful, and with a good better pricing system, it a may topple the Iphone.
Supports both GPS and GLONAS.

The Bad

A little too Xpensive for the average Nigerian.

Click for more on “Xperia Z smartphone”.

Please Note Ratings and Scores are absent as device has not yet been released, and may be subjected to some unexpected modifications, full review and score will be given after released as competing products are considered when rating devices at Nijaspecs.

NEXUS 10 and The Nigerian Tech Market

Nexus 10
Following the success of the very Cheap but powerful Nexus 7, Google released the successor of its legendary device. It was released fairly mid-way in November, 2012. The device is the successor to the commercially successful nexus 7. There was a change in developer/manufacturer partnership as the Nexus 10 was developed by Google and Samsung, you can’t help but wonder why Asus did not reprise their role as manufacturer even with the archived commercial success.
Will Nexus 10 be commercially successful in Nigeria?

Processor and GPU (10/10)

Featuring <Must be linked to wiki< Samsung Exynos 5250 system on chip>> a dual-core ARM Cortex-A15 processor clocked at 1.7 GHz, means the NEXUS clearly leaves up to its expectations in processing power.

A quad-core ARM Mali T604 GPU means games and videos are rendered smoothly on its incredibly large WQXGA resolution.

Memory and Storage (8/10)

The Nexus 10 has a 16G and 32G internal storage capacity, no sd card slot for extending memory. It also comes equipped with 2G RAM, although it is unlikely you’ll run a single app that’ll consume 60% of the RAM in an instance, you will definitely notice the amount of apps that are kept alive even after focus is lost for a long time. Nexus 10 is FAST!

DISPLAY AND RESOLUTION (9/10)

Features a crisp 10.1-inch LCD with capacitive multi-touch touchscreen, with 2560×1600 display resolution, highest by any tablet in 2012>>(linked to WIKI) and as expected of every Samsung manufactured device, it features a scratch resistant Gorilla Glass 2<<Read about Gorrilla Glass 3 here>>  (Nexus 7 corning fit, 10 corning Gorilla)

CAMERA (7/10)

Nexus 10 Camera

Features two cameras, A sharp 5MP rear camera, for those people who don’t feel shy to cover events with a tablet (I for one, I’m not a fan of that, recording with a tab looks very awkward in every perspective K). The rear camera is capable of recording full 1080P videos at 30FPS. The inbuilt camera app also supports the usual features such as autofocus, face detection and geotagging etc and a ~2MP front facing camera, for video caling and skype.

CONNECTIVITY (7/10)

Features a Bluetooth 4.0 and WIFI for data exchange and internet connectivity, It also features a dual side NFC for use in Android beam. Like the initial models of its predecessor, it also lacks cellular connectivityL.

Design (Score 9/10)

Nexus 10 Design

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The Nexus 10 is 8.9 mm in girth, 263.9 mm long, 177.6 mm wide, it weighs 603 g. The rear of the device comprises a smooth, plastic surface a very conspicuous “nexus” tag, and a less conspicuous “Samsung” tag. The volume control buttons and the power button are at the top of the device and a 3.5mm headphone jack, microUSB port on the devices left hand side. On the right lies the microHDMI port while the magnetic pogo pin used for docking and charging are at the bottom of the device.

OTHERS (10/10)

Nexus 10 comes equipped with the usual gravitation, motion and orientation sensing devices; an accelerometer, gyroscope; barometer, magnetometer and a digital compass; a proximity sensor and an ambient light sensor are also present. Like its predecessor, it also features an in built microphone. It’s equipped with a GPS and GLONASS, yeah, it has supports both so you can never get lost since both already cover the globe; you are doubly insuredJ.

SOFTWARE (10/10)

OS

The device comes equipped with stock Android 4.2 JellyBean. Like the Nexus line, its boot loader is unlocked by defaultJ. It also comes with preinstalled with all Google apps.

As expected of every successor, the Nexus 10 is more powerful than its predecessor, but the nexus devices have clearly been out sold by galaxy line of Android devices in Nigeria, even with their cheaper price.

Overall: ~8.75 / 10

Overall the Nexus 10 is a very good device and follows well in the tradition of its predecessor, providing easy OS customization at cheaper than believable price.

Why this Device Can Be Successful in Nigeria

  • Relatively cheap: although much more expensive than its predecessor, the Nexus 10 is relatively cheaper than devices of its class(16 GB: US$399 and 32 GB: US$499)
  • Powerful hardware

Why this device can’t be successful in Nigeria

  • Nexus device advert and promotion is very poor in Nigeria, Samsung, Nokia and Sony go considerable length to create awareness about their devices in Nigeria. (Being a fan of Google, I’ve never seen a Nexus bill-board on a popular expressway L)
  • Not as nearly as cheap as Nexus 7, yet lacking Cellular support
  • Given the lack of cellular network, the device lacks carrier promotion, reason why you don’t get text messages from carrier about discounted rate.

Corning introduces Gorilla Glass 3

Primate- themed glass giant Croning is ready for a third release, and going by what we’ve seen in its previous release, we expect the Gorilla Glass 3 to be tougher. Corning Gorilla Glass 3 is  a new glass with enhanced durability with a blend of a proprietary feature called Native Damage Resistance (NDR). The NDR according to Corning, reduces the propagation of flaws, the appearance of scratches and performs a better job in maintaining the overall retained strength of the glass. As a result, the Gorilla Glass 3 is three times as great in its resistance to scratch, 40 percent reduction in the number of visible scratches and 50 percent boost in retained strength after the glass becomes flawed. With all these enhancements, there’s no absolute guarantee that your phone or tablet will survive a five-foot drop onto concrete, but you’ll at least feel more comfortable keeping your keys somewhere close by.

Reference:
Brad Molen