Friday, 30 December 2011

HTC Vivid review: Welcome to 4G

By on 21:44

The final member of AT&T’s LTE smartphone 2011 lineup is at the start line, ready to impress. The HTC Vivid is joining the company of the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket and LG Nitro HD in a bid to defend the reputation of the Taiwanese company.
HTC Vivid HTC Vivid HTC Vivid HTC Vivid
HTC Vivid official photos
Hardware wise, the HTC Vivid is a familiar sight. The smartphone is essentially put together from the parts’ bin of the HTC Sensation 4G and HTC EVO 3D, save for its 4.5“ screen and beefed up built-in memory - it packs a well familiar dual-core CPU, clocked at 1.2GHz and a Snapdragon S3 chipset.
We do suspect that HTC has intentionally omitted features such as an HD screen and a beefed up CPU in order to maintain the flagship status of the Beats Audio sporting, HTC Rezound for Verizon Wireless. Thankfully, the Vivid is priced accordingly as well.

Samsung aims to ship 374M phones in 2012, to rival Nokia

By on 21:43

Samsung had an excellent year in term of phone sales in 2011, and it hopes to replicate its success in 2012. According to Korea Economic Daily the company expects to see a growth in total sales by as much as 15%.
This means that the Koreans hope to sell about 374 million phones (including 150 million smartphones) next year, which should be enough to almost equal Nokia as the top cell phone manufacturer. The Finns are expected to ship about 399 million phones next year, so the gap between those two is as minimal as it gets.


Just two years ago Nokia had almost twice the market share of Samsung (36.4% vs 19.5%), so the Koreans are really making significant progress towards their goal of becoming the world's number one manufacturer.
And we also shouldn't forget that Nokia failed to meet its sales target in 2011, whereas Samsung exceeded it, so we might see a reversal of roles even sooner than expected. Then again, 2011 was a transitional year for Nokia and things should be much different now that it has finally started selling its first WP smartphones.

Argentina bans iPhone and BlackBerry sales

By on 21:41

The Argentinian government has banned the import and sales of Apple's iPhone and all BlackBerry smartphones, among others. The ban also extends over all foreign-made phones, but it seems Apple and RIM among the few of the major phone makers who don’t have factories in Argentina, so their ban is in focus.
Nokia, Samsung, LG and Motorola have already built plants in Argentina, so they all escape the recent Government ban.


Apple and RIM though aren’t so lucky. Their only option is to build a factory in Argentina. RIM is already looking for a partner to do so, while we don't have any info on Appleplans.
This ban is part of the government's anti-crisis policy and is temporary, until the Argentinian economy heals. Apple and RIM reportedly hold about 60% of the Argentinian smartphone market so this is no minor blow and we guess we will see some kind of response rather quickly.

ITG xpPhone 2 is out, promises Windows 7/8 in a smartphone

By on 21:39

Intel is looking forward to powering Android-based phones with its Medfield platform, but ITG still haven’t given up on the dream of running a proper desktop OS on mobile phones - namely, the Windows 7/Windows 8 OSes.
Yep, it's the new version of the xpPhone, the xpPhone 2, and it was just released in China with Windows 7 (it will jump to Windows 8 when Microsoft releases it). It's a device that ITG call a "post-smartphone" and have their sights set on beating the iPhone 4S and the other big names in the smartphone world (but the iPhone specifically).
The ITG xpPhone 2 packs a 1.6GHz processor (a single-core Atom Z530), which can be upgraded to 2GHz (it's unclear how), plus 2GB of RAM, which is double what current smartphone flagships have. But then, Windows 7 uses more RAM than a mobile platform.
   
ITG xpPhone 2
The xpPhone 2 has a 112GB of SSD storage, which ITG brags is way more than what current smartphones offer (we have to admit, though that 32GB internal storage plus 64GB microSDXC get pretty close).
Anyway, you also get things like a VGA port through an adapter (yes, real VGA port). With the xpPhone 2 ITG claims the smallest notebook PC in the world title. This we can believe actually - the xpPhone 2 measures 140mm X 73mm X 17.5mm. The screen measures 4.3", but the resolution is unclear (Windows 8 is said to require at least 1024 x 768 pixels), and there's a slide-out QWERTY keyboard.
Supporting Windows 8 is great too - it's where Microsoft and its partners are heading with their phones and the xpPhone 2 can probably run the beta OS right now. Plus, it will run any app for Windows 7 (though probably not very fast) and all Windows 8 apps too (Win 8 on ARM won't run x86 apps).
Hook it up to a keyboard, a mouse and an external monitor and you have something that works a lot like a traditional office PC. Even those laptop docks for Motorola phones don't provide that familiar desktop experience (Android just wasn't designed for that). This should be good for tech-unsavvy people who can't learn to control Android, we suppose.
   
ITG xpPhone 2
The ITG xpPhone 2 is a curious device for sure - but the press release is more interesting still. It's good for a laugh and raises quite a few eyebrows too.

Samsung I8350 Omnia W review: By the playbook

By on 21:35

When Windows Phone launched a year ago, we were excited to first see it on the Super AMOLED screen of the Samsung Omnia 7. Twelve months or so later, Samsung are sort of in power-saving mode in the joint venture with Microsoft. Their Omnia W isn’t drawing all attention to itself by blowing the numbers out of proportion.
The Omnia W has shed weight and lost some of its predecessor’s screen estate. What you get in return is an upgraded processor and double the data speeds. The display technology, camera sensor and the general feel haven't changed much.
    
Samsung Omnia W official pictures
Well, yes, some would call it a half-hearted effort. Or maybe, Samsung are simply waiting for the dust to settle from Nokia’s grand entry into Windows Phone. Obviously, they didn’t want – or need – a European flagship along the lines of their US-based Focus S with AT&T. With a single Windows-phone handset on the Old Continent, it may’ve made sense to focus on the midrange instead of making another flagship without a fleet. Bottom line, as long as we remember that it’s not an upgrade of the original Omnia 7, the Omnia W is an easy phone to live with, for all its strengths and shortcomings.

Meizu MX review: Amaze U

By on 21:34

This is easily a phone you can pretend doesn't exist. And you don't have to try too hard either. The Meizu MX is something of a chimera. An iPhone body and a droid mind. It's not where you take things from - it's where you take them to. For a phone coming from China, the Meizu MX has no qualms with imitation. But it's not a characterless low-cost replica either.
Strictly speaking, the Meizu MX is an Android smartphone, but it goes to great lengths to emulate the Apple iPhone in its strengths and even some of its failings. The result is a unique Android experience that differs from iOS as well - it's a very curious device, the Meizu MX.
Meizu MX Meizu MX Meizu MX
Meizu MX official photos
It's hard to deny that the Chinese company went all out loading up the MX for a fight. The phone packs a 4.0" ASV LCD screen of 640 x 960 pixel resolution (the same res as the iPhone 4/4S) and an Exynos chipset straight from the Samsung Galaxy Note (a tad faster than the one in the Galaxy S II).

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Motorola wins injunction against Apple in Germany, again

By on 22:25
Apple has been having a lot of legal headaches lately and now there's a new one. Now, it's Motorola that's causing the Cupertino-based company trouble as it won a preliminary injunction against several Apple products in Germany. It's not the first time either.
Anyway, today's injunction affects practically all Apple gadgets with GPRS connectivity - the iPhone, iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4, iPad 3G and iPad 3GS have been named, but the 4S is infringing on Motorola's patent as well (it came out after the suit was filed so it's not mentioned explicitly).
Motorola hasn’t won the case yet, but if they choose they can enforce that injunction in Germany. To do that, they need to provide a €100 million bond. That's a risk for the company that only recently stopped its decline - if they end up losing the suit, the money will have to be paid out to Apple. Also, Apple might appeal this decision and win a stay of the injunction.
It's hard to say how things will go. Motorola's patent is probably vital for GPRS and Apple can't do without it. Motorola might be forced to offer a license to Apple, but for now Moto's lawyers have managed to avoid that, at least until Apple pays for past damages (starting from 2007).
Apple doesn’t want to pay for past damages - that can turn out to be rather pricy - and is seeking to invalidate Motorola's patent and solve its problem (in this particular case) outright.
A second hearing is scheduled for February, we'll see how things progress then. By the way, Apple is sued for that exact same patent in the US, too, but things seem to be going better for the iPhone maker there (that case hasn’t been resolved yet, either).
The world of patents is very complicated and often confusing. You can read FOSS Patent's blog post on the courts ruling if you have a head for such legal matters.

SIM-free BlackBerry Bold 9790 hits UK on January 9

By on 22:16
We can finally give those of you living in the UK and eager to get their hands on a BlackBerry Bold 9790 a date to circle on their calendars. According to an online retailer the latest Bold smartphone will hit the shores of the United Kingdom on January 9.
And we've also got a saving target for you - pre-orders for the SIM-free Bold 9790 are currently accepted at £399.95. Now that's certainly steep, but neither are BlackBerry smartphones known for offering lots of bang for your buck, nor are they often bought SIM-free.
Unfortunately, we don't know if any UK carriers will be launching the smartphone on the same date. The country is one of RIM's key markets, so the Canadians will certainly strike a deal or two there, but the exact details of those are to follow.
We'll certainly be on the lookout for more information about the new Bold 9790, given that it's one of the hottest RIM devices, so keep watching this space to stay up to date.
For now, you can book your place in the waiting line by placing a preorder, by following the source link below.
By on 22:15
We received an anonymous tip today with a picture of the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Y Pro Duos, a dual-SIM version of the Galaxy Y Pro.

Unfortunately for us, there was no additional information regarding the phone so we'll just go out on a limb and say it will mostly be identical to the existing Galaxy Y Pro. The only difference that we spotted from the picture, other than the presence of the Duos logo above the display, is a front facing camera for video calls.
Sadly, once again, we have no information regarding the price and availability of the handset.

O2 new lease plans for iPhone 4S let you have it with no upfront costO2 new lease plans for iPhone 4S let you have it with no upfront cost

By on 22:10
You are living in the UK, desperately want the new iPhone 4S, and you are currently running a little low on cash? If you tick all the boxes, you might be interested to hear that O2 will let you have your dream smartphone on a lease with no money required upfront.
The carrier will let you have the smartphone on a 12-month lease without demanding any cash up front. For £55 per month you are getting the 16GB version of the Apple iPhone 4S without any initial investment, whereas on a regular 12 month contract you'd need to pay at least £49.99 upfront and that's if you go for the £62/month deal.
The lease offer includes 750 minutes per month, unlimited texts, 500 MB of data and unlimited UK Wi-Fi plus insurance for the precious phone. That's roughly equivalent to what you are getting on the regular £42/month contract.
Naturally, there's a catch. And if you ask us it’s big enough to steer anyone that's not completely desperate away from these lease plans. Under the conditions of the Lease contract you are not the owner of the phone and you need to return it to O2, when the 12 months are over, so it's actually more of a rent kind of deal.
So, it turns out that O2 believes that the iPhone 4S will be worth under £100 after 12 months, as that's how much you are saving for giving up on it. And no, it's not that they suppose that customers will treat it badly and that will drop its price. There's a dedicated clause saying that "with O2 LEASE, the phone isn't yours and if you don't return it in satisfactory condition at the end of your lease, you may have to pay substantial charges".
Any takers remaining may head to the source link or just head to the nearest O2 store to get their shiny new Apple iPhone 4S.

Apple releases iOS 5.1 beta 2 to developers

By on 07:02

The second beta for the upcoming iOS 5.1 update has been seeded to developers. The big change in this update is the ability to delete individual images from Photo Stream.

Currently, when you take a picture on an iOS device, Photo Stream (a feature in iCloud) automatically syncs it with all of your Apple devices. With iOS 5.1 beta 2 onwards, you can manually delete an image on a device running this update and it will automatically get deleted from other iOS devices running this update. Older images, however, will have to be deleted manually from all the devices.
In other news, Apple has also released iTunes 10.5.2 update that brings "several improvements for iTunes Match" and "fixes an audio distortion problem when playing or importing certain CDs".

HTC Desire HD, Incredible S and ChaCha getting Android 2.3.5

By on 06:55

We reported a couple of days back that HTC is seeding the 2.3.5 Gingerbread update to the Incredible Swith the Desire HD in the waiting list.


HTC UK have confirmed that the 2.3.5 update has been released in the UK for the Incredible S and Desire HD, which will get some good Sense 3.0 loving along with all the bug fixes and optimizations in the update.
While the update has been confirmed for the UK only we've received reports from other European countries as well, so be sure to check your Desire HD for an update even if you live outside the UK.
Reportedly the HTC ChaCha has been also getting an OTA update to 2.3.5 (at least in New Zealand) but its Sense version has remained on 2.1. We'll update as soon as we get some official information.
Thanks, Cosmin Gaman and Ryan Brown for sending this in!

EXCLUSIVE: Big Sony Ericsson Arc HD (Nozomi) live shots pop up

By on 06:51

Now look what we found in our mailbox this morning. We just received photos of the upcoming Sony Ericsson flagship and some specs to go with them. Unfortunately, we didn't get the name cleared out so we don't know if the earlier, Sony Ericsson Arc HD rumors carry some water or not.
The smartphone codenamed Sony Ericsson Xperia Nozomi will come with Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread at launch and will be built around a 4.3" LCD display of HD resolution (1280 x 720 pixels). The 12 megapixel camera with FullHD video recording was also confirmed by our tipster.
Next, the rumored Snapdragon chipset featuring a couple of 1.5GHz Scorpion cores and the Adreno 220 GPU is indeed what you will be getting on the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc HD. There will be an HDMI port as well, so sharing 1080p content with your HDTV will be a breeze.
Sadly, the Arc HD will lack a microSD card slot and you'll have to make do with the 16GB or 32GB of onboard storage (depending on the version you pick). At least, with 1GB of RAM your multitasking needs should be taken care of pretty well.
Interestingly, though, the handset uses a microSIM slot and the battery seems non-user-removable.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc HD Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc HD Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc HD Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc HD
Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc HD a.k.a. Sony Ericsson Nozomi live shots
The tipster couldn't provide us with an official launch date, but we are keeping our fingers crossed for an announcement at CES at the start of next year.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc HD Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc HD Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc HD 

HTC Wildfire S gets to Android 2.3.5 as well, no Sense 3.0 though

By on 06:49

HTC continues its series of Android 2.3.5 for its lineup of smartphones with the entry-levelWildfire S. The Taiwanese company is now seeding the new Gingerbread release to the most affordable of the trio of smartphones that it announced back at the MWC in February.
Much like the HTC ChaCha, though, the Wildfire S won't be getting to taste Sense UI 3.0. We suspect this has something to do with the hardware of these not being unable to handle the latest version of the HTC home-brewed UI.
Early user reports suggest that the update fixes the Wildfire S bugs with unlocking and call answering, but there's no detailed changelog provided just yet. We also don't know if it's already available globally or if it's only available to some markets for now, so if you happen to own a Wildfire S, feel free to drop us a line in the comments mentioning if you got the update and your country.
Details about further updates for the HTC lineup are also scarce for now, but we guess we will know more in the following weeks.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Asus Padfone with quad-core Tegra 3 coming in early 2012

By on 22:04

It seems that the elusive Asus Padfone is about to finally materialize. The smartphone that can convert to a tablet is now said to come in early 2012 and it will get a nice specs boost to make it up to us for the delay.
According to the latest rumor, the Asus Padfone will be running on a Tegra 3 chipset, featuring no less than four Cortex-A9 cores (okay, five if you count that helper core, but that doesn't really count here). That would make the Padfone one of the first smartphones to pack so much punch under its hood and will certainly make it one of the more desirable devices at the start of next year.
If the NetbookNews.com sources got everything right, the Tegra 3-powered Asus Padfone should be unveiled at MWC 2012, which is just under three months away now.
Asus managed to outplay many of the other manufacturers with its Transformer tablet at the start of 2011, and theTransformer Prime is looking to be the Android tablet to have this holiday season. Will they manage to achieve something like that with smartphones with the Padfone?

Samsung SCH-W999 is a 2xCore, 2xSIM, 2xScreen droid

By on 22:01

In collaboration with China Telecom, Samsung has unveiled the SCH-W999 Android smartphone. It's a clamshell phone with two 3.5-inchers of WVGA resolution - one on the inside and one on the outside. Both screens are of the SuperAMOLED variety too, which is a treat even now with the Plus out on a couple of devices.
   
Samsung SCH-W999 promo shots
The SCH-W999 comes with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, a dual-core 1.2 GHz Qualcomm MSM8660 processor, 5MP camera, dual-mode GSM/CDMA EV-DO 3G, Bluetooth 3.0 and dual-SIM support.
The SCH-W999 will arrive at China Telecom next year (no specific dates are available) and is expected to have a price as high as $1570 so it isn't what you'd call a bargain. Worldwide availability is unclear as of now but we can't really see too many people line up for the peculiar droid, but hey - we could be wrong.

Samsung demos a transparent flexible AMOLED on video

By on 21:51

We didn't need much convincing to believe that flexible and transparent screens have a great future. Smartphones and tablets these days are about the touch experience and any updates done to the screen itself have a great potential to improve the general user experience greatly.
Still, Samsung felt that it's a good time to release another visionary video demonstrating where the achievements of its R&D department can get us.
It's quite impressive right? Of course, it would be naive to expect anything like it from the first batch of flexible AMOLEDs, which should be out as early as next year. We are not sure when the transparent part of the deal described above will also come to the shelves, but we guess it will take another year at the very least.
Nonetheless, it's good to know that smartphone technology still has room for improvement and we might have something else besides pixel count and contrast to quarrel over in the works.

HTC Flyer is getting Android 3.2 Honeycomb, finally

By on 21:41

Flyer is HTC's first tab announced back in February and released in May with Android 2.2 Froyo. Later, it became clear the Flyer will be getting Honeycomb treatment later this year.
Well, the long wait is over. The Android 3.2 Honeycomb firmware has started rolling out. It is available as an OTA update and weighs in at 210MB, so downloading it over a Wi-Fi connection is probably a good idea.
Currently, the update is available in France for the 32GB Wi-Fi+3G version, but users from the Netherlands are reporting they are getting it too. We guess the process won’t be simultaneous but the update should be heading to every Flyer out there in the next couple of days (or weeks).
Got an updated Flyer, hit us up with what's new after the update in the comments below.