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4 years ago

LG Optimus Vu non-unboxing unboxing

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You've gotta hand it to LG. The Korean manufacturer knows how to package a smartphone, at least when U.S. carriers aren't involved. 

Here we have the LG Optimus Vu. It's the crazy 5-inch, 4:3 aspect ratio half-phone/half-tablet mutant we first got our hands on at Mobile World Congress back in February in Barcelona. Now we've got it in our hot little hands, and we can easily say we've never seen a smartphone -- or tablet, or even the Samsung Galaxy Note -- packaged quite this way. And this isn't the first time LG's gone all creative on us -- you'll probably remember the excellent book that came along with the Optimus Black.

So kudos to LG for making our usual boring job of opening up a smartphone box and proving that there's a charger and maybe a set of earbuds inside just a little more fun.

And we'll have plenty more on the Optimus Vu coming right up.

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4 years ago

Accessory Tip: BlackBerry Premium Charger rapid-charges Android phones, too

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The Mobile Nations World Tour continues, and this time instead of asking Android Central readers for accessory advice I'm offering up a tried-and-true BlackBerry tip that also works for Android phone owners. Specifically, if you own an Android phone with a microUSB connection and are in the market for a spare charger, you may want to give the BlackBerry Premium Charger a try.

 

RIM released this charger last year with the launch of the BlackBerry PlayBook, and to keep the juices flowing with the bigger battery they cranked up the charging rate to 1.8 amps (most phone chargers that ship in the box tend to be in the 750 mAh to 1 amp range). We quickly put it to the test on our BlackBerry Smartphones and found we could charge them almost twice as fast!

On Android Central Podcast 98 we found out that both AC's Jerry Hildenbrand and Chris Parsons have been using this same charger with their microUSB Android devices for a long time now with great success. If you're going to spend the money on a spare charger, you might as well invest in one that charges at a higher amperage rate. Not every phone will allow for rapid charging, but for the ones that do you'll be glad you have a charger that takes advantage of it (and no, you won't damage your phone even if it doesn't make use of the higher amperage). In the last two days I've already receiveda hand full of tweets and emails from Android Central podcast listeners who went out and bought the BlackBerry Premium Charger after listening to the show and they are loving it. Good stuff.

Win a Free Charger Courtesy of CrackBerry Kevin: The BlackBerry Premium Charger has a MSRP of $39.99 but you can get it for a lot less at ShopAndroid.com. But just to share some Mobile Nations World Tour love, I'm going to give a lucky Android Central member a chance to win one for free, on me. To enter, just leave a comment to this post and you're in. Contest ends this Sunday at Midnight PT. Good luck.

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4 years ago

Pick up a refurbished Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini for just £50

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Are those 4.7-inch displays getting you down? If you're in the market for something small -- read really small -- and based in the UK, this could be for you. The tiny Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini can be had -- albeit in refurbished form -- on T-Mobile pay-as-you-go for just £49.90 plus a £10 top-up voucher, from retailer e2save. 

While not the most well known of phone retailers, e2save are part of the Carphone Warehouse group. The offer is only available on the black version too, the white variant still runs at full RRP. 

The best thing though -- as a 2011 Xperia smartphone, the Mini should have an ICS update waiting when it's fired up. Or, at the very least not too far off. Definitely not to everyones tastes, but should it be, you'll find more at the source link below. 

Source:e2save

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4 years ago

US Cellular Galaxy S III pre-orders now live!

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Pre-orders for the Samsung Galaxy S III are now under way (online) at US Cellular, with the 32GB version coming in Marble White, and the 16GB version coming in the same white or Pebble Blue. There's no official word on off-contract pricing, but with contracts and/or subsidies the 16GB version will set you back $199, and the 32GB version costs $249. Both prices are after a $100 mail-in-rebate, though, so you'll be paying more up front.

We figured US Cellular would be getting a version of the Galaxy S III, but hearing it announced at the same time (and delivered in the same timeframe -- "July") as the more-common carriers here in the states was a bit of a shocker. Customers on USCC are in for a treat we think, especially those in US Cellular's LTE areas. If you're thinking of picking this one up, hit the link below for more information. If you're on the fence, read Alex's über-review to help you decide.

Preorder now: US Cellular

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4 years ago

Editorial: Don't act surprised when new data plans sting a little

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Seems that folks aren't all that excited about Verizon's new Share Everything plans. I'm shocked. Change isn't exactly welcome in these parts. That's partially because we just don't like change, and partially because the changes don't always work in our favor. 

Why are we surprised?

I look at smartphone plans like I look at casinos. I'm going to get taken. I know this. From the moment I walk in the door, I know that I'm going to be handing over more money than I like. With casinos, I pretend I'm paying for service. I'm paying to play roulette or blackjack. I sit back, relax, have a little fun. (And, on occasion, I actually win something.) But I set a limit for myself. I know I'm going to lose something, but I try to minimize my losses. Same goes for my smartphone plans.

But let's forget about Verizon for a minute. This is bigger than Big Red.

We're all getting fleeced.

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4 years ago

Vodafone UK announces EuroTraveller roaming service

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On account of the EU's recent decision to impose price caps on mobile roaming, European operators have been forced to change price plans to abide by the new Europe-wide rules. Vodafone UK is the latest network to announce new roaming plans, with the launch of its optional Vodafone EuroTraveller service, along with lower European roaming rates for all its customers.

For £3 per day, Voda customers who opt into EuroTraveller can use their UK price plan and balance on the continent. For heavy data users who travel frequently from the UK to Europe, this is almost a no-brainer. But customers who don't opt in will also see lower rates for calls, texts and data in Europe. Calls to the UK will now cost 28.8p per minute, texts will cost 8.9p, while data will be charged at 69.6p per megabyte. The new rates kick in from July 1.

Vodafone isn't the only UK network that's slowly making it less painful to use mobile data in Europe. O2 UK announced its new Euro roaming rates last month, and we can expect more operators to join the party as the July deadline imposed by the EU approaches.

Unfortunately, roaming outside of Europe remains exorbitantly expensive on UK networks -- Vodafone charges £5 per megabyte in its "rest of world" zone, and other major operators offer equally eye-watering rates.

More: Vodafone EuroTraveller

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4 years ago

'Next Xperia' announcement countdown clock already down to three days

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Sony Mobie's countdown clock for its new Xperia smartphone has counted down more than eight days in the past 24 hours. The clock, launched yesterday on the manufacturer's Facebook page, allows customers to speed up the announcement for Sony's next big thing (we're expecting the LT29i "Hayabusa") by clicking a "fast forward" button, signing up to win the device, and sharing the page with friends. Each click apparently takes 20 seconds off the countdown.

Right now the clock stands at just over three days, though if the past day's developments are any indication, we'll be hearing about Sony's new device much, much sooner.

More: Sony Fast Forward

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4 years ago

C Spire announces it's getting the Galaxy S III

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The march of the Galaxy S III continues, with regional carrier C Spire announcing that it plans to carry Samsung's latest. Pricing and availability will be relayed "in the coming weeks," said the carrier formerly known as Cellular South. The GSIII will be one of C Spire's first LTE-capable devices, and the 4G network is still slated to launch in 20 markets in Mississippi in September.

C Spire didn't specify whether it'll carry both the 16- and 32-gigabyte versions of the phone, but it did mention that "it comes" in marble white and pebble blue, which suggests it'll carry both colors.

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4 years ago

Spotify for Android officially updated, all new UI and Last.fm scrobbling on board

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The Spotify app for Android has always been a let down to what is otherwise a first rate music streaming service. We recently got a preview of their latest efforts in the form of a preview edition, and the difference was staggering. For some people -- myself included -- it rekindled a love affair with the service. Suddenly, Spotify for Android had become beautiful as well as functional, following the Android 4.0 design themes superbly. Today sees the end of the preview, and the general release of the update into the Google Play Store.

But, not content with what we've already seen and played around with, Spotify has gone and added yet more new features. One of which being Last.fm scrobbling, another being a new widget. 

So, what do we actually get? The answer, quite a lot: 

  • Totally new app with full support for Android 4.0
  • Top-to-bottom redesign
  • All-new slide-out navigation
  • Even more social - check out friends’ profile pages and playlists on the go
  • Artist imagery in high resolution
  • Related artist view - available for the first time on mobile
  • ‘Extreme’ sound quality setting for 320kbps listening
  • So much faster!
  • Play queue
  • Last.fm scrobbling
  • Crossfade/gapless playback settings
  • Widget – control Spotify from the home screen
  • Folder support

The update now seems to be live in the Play Store, so head on over and grab yourselves a copy. As always though, please remember it does require a Spotify Premium account to use on mobile. But, if you've ever thought about signing up, now is definitely as good a time as any. 

Download: Spotify

Source: Spotify

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4 years ago

Verizon launches Share Everything Plans

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You knew it was coming. First, the death of Verizon's unlimited data plans, and Verizon today announced its new "Share Everything Plan," which lets up to 10 devices on a single account share data while keeping unlimited voice minutes and text messaging. Let's get right to it:

Initial smartphone access runs $40 a month. Voice minutes and text messages are unlimited. After that, you can share data with as many as 10 devices (so that'd be nine additional devices) with the following breakdown.

  • 1GB shared data - $50
  • 2GB shared data - $60
  • 4GB shared data - $70
  • 6GB shared data - $80
  • 8GB shared data - $90
  • 10GB shared data - $100

So, for example, say you and your spouse each have Android smartphones (as you well should). That's $80 up front. You could then share 4 gigabytes of data a month for $70, which brings you bill to $150 a month. Have an Android tablet? You can add one to the shared plan for another $10 a month.

Sweetening the deal just a little bit is that Wifi hotspot access is included. You'll be using the data from your bucket, but at least it won't cost you any extra for the privilege. 

The plans go into effect June 28.

So, who's jumping on board this one?

More: Share Everything Plans at Verizon Wireless

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4 years ago

Samsung Galaxy S III gets first official firmware update

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Samsung's latest flagship phone, the Galaxy S III, has received its first official firmware update, bringing the phone up to firmware version LF2. Right now we're seeing that the unlocked UK version of the Galaxy S III is the first to have the update pushed out through Kies, as well as over-the-air. Reports vary as to which route Galaxy S III owners are taking to grab the update, and we had to use Kies after our S III wasn't able to find any OTAs.

The update apparently includes "stability improvements," though we haven't noticed any immediate changes in our newly-updated Galaxy S III.

In any case, the latest firmware also boasts freshly-baked radios and kernel, and it's still based on Android 4.0.4, 'cause that's still the latest version. British S III owners should be able to update right now. Other territories should start to receive the update in the days ahead, so keep checking Kies and the built-in updater.

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4 years ago

Amazon Appstore set to finally launch in Europe this summer?

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We first got a hint of an International launch of the Amazon Appstore back in September of last year. Back then though, it turned out to be some kind of huge error on the part of Amazon, and access was soon revoked to anyone outside the US. If the latest rumors are to be believed however, Europe could finally be receiving official access as soon as this summer. 

Sources familiar with the matter have been speaking to the guys over at AllThingsD. And, while timing is a little vague at this moment in time, Amazon are apparently to announce plans next week over accepting app submissions from developers. 

The bigger question this poses -- will it be followed by a European launch of the Kindle Fire? While it is accepted that the Amazon Appstore monetizes well for developers, without the Kindle Fire following, many consumers will see little reason to use it aside from the daily free app. After all, Google Play offers up not only apps, but also books and movies too. Europe doesn't currently benefit from any of the Amazon online content services aside from the MP3 store, so we'll have to wait for the relevant deals to be done before there is any sniff of the Fire emerging. Bringing the Appstore could well be the first step though. 

Source: AllThingsD

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4 years ago

T-Mobile Galaxy S II Ice Cream Sandwich update now live in Samsung Kies

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T-Mobile and Samsung have made the Ice Cream Sandwich update for the Galaxy S II live and available via Samsung Kies. Because they have labeled this an "optional" update -- ICS brings a good many changes some may not like or want -- there will be no OTA firmware update. Yeah, we don't like Kies either, but what can you do?

Anyhoo, if you do want the optional update to 4.0.3, fire up Kies and follow the on-screen information to update to the latest available firmware. Besides all the goodness that comes with ICS, T-Mobile tells us there are enhancements to Wifi calling, the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS), and enhancements to user voicemail. We're just glad ICS is finally here.

Source: T-Mobile; Samsung

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4 years ago

Trade One X for S III, LED Notification on the S III [From the Forums]

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Although it'd been a busy day elsewhere on the web, if you're looking to escape all that we have a spot where you can hang out. Have some questions? Need some help or just looking to chat Android? You know where to go, check out some of the threads below.

If you're not already a member of the Android Central forums, you can register your account today.

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4 years ago

Linaro shows big improvements to Android 4.0.4 with ARM optimization

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If you're a fan of Linux on ARM hardware, you've probably heard of Linaro. If not, the short version is that they're a group of ultra-smart engineers who work on optimizing open-source and Linux software (and the tools to build them) for the ARM architecture. Yes, Linaro comprises the people who build the tools regular nerds use to build apps and software. Why am I rambling on about Linaro, you ask? First, because every embedded Linux nerd (hi there!) has a secret crush on the whole team, and also because they have shown off Ice Cream Sandwich built with their optimization process. It's fast. Very fast. Faster at benchmarks than you ever thought an OMAP 4430 could ever be. So much faster that it's going to translate into real-world benefits, unlike many of the other tweaks and tricks there are for Android.

How can this happen? In the video after the break, Bernhard Rosenkränzer, Android toolchain expert at Linaro,  puts it in perfect perspective. Google builds Android. Linaro takes it and tweaks it, squeezing out every bit of performance possible. Using the Android 4.0.4 source as a base, the fellows at Linaro have tweaked both the source (string routines in Bionic are mentioned by name) and the tools used to compile it. It's like those guys on TV who tinker with car engines to get performance that GM or Ford could never imagine. Make no mistake -- this is not something you can flash on your phone and make it work. Yet.

As Rosenkränzer explains, everything Linaro does is open source. The folks at CM can (and are) working with it, as well as the collective behind AOKP. Linaro is even submitting changes back to the Android Open Source Project so Google can review and use the tweaks that offer performance increase without affecting stability. Linaro working closely with Google would be like chocolate and peanut butter. This Linux and Android nerd hopes it happens. Be sure to watch the video after the break!

Source: CNX Software. More: Linaro

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