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1 year ago

LG Spectrum 2 review

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It has been quite a year for LG, which despite its top spot among dumbphone sales has had a bit of a difficult time making it big in the Android world. Faced with stiff competition from fellow Korean handset maker Samsung, as well as HTC and Motorola, LG has struggled to create a brand for itself-- despite solid hardware, it has consistently failed to catch the attention of those who decide which Android devices sell and which ones flop-- the consumer. 

Then came the Optimus G and, subsequently the Nexus 4, both of which helped LG get back in the game. The Nexus 4 is widely considered to be the best Nexus to date, and the Optimus G has been called one of the best smartphones of 2012, besting even the Galaxy S 3 and the One X.

Not all of LG's releases this year have been as stellar, though, and unfortunately for Verizon customers, two of LG's misses have landed on Big Red's network. The LG Intuition was too "groundbreaking" for its own good with its awkward 4:3 display, and the Spectrum 2, despite its best efforts, manages to feel like an outdated afterthought and a slap in the face to Verizon loyalists who have had to watch LG's comeback from the sidelines. 

Read on for our full review.

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1 year ago

Samsung announces 5-inch mid range Galaxy Grand

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Samsung has just taken the wraps off of yet another variant in the Galaxy lineup, the Galaxy Grand. This looks to be a weird mash-up of the Galaxy S3 Mini and original Galaxy Note, but the end result is a decidedly mid range device. We're looking at a 5-inch WVGA (that's just 480x800) display here, a 1.2GHz dual-core processor (model not specified,) 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. There's an 8MP shooter on the back and 2MP on the front, a 2100mAh battery and the whole thing is running Android 4.1.2 with TouchWiz.

We're only seeing 21mbps HSPA+ as a connectivity option, with the standard 850/900/1900/2100MHz frequencies for most networks around the world -- no LTE to be seen here. The Galaxy Grand will roll out in two flavors: the GT-I9080 and GT-I9082, with the latter being identical but with dual SIM slots.

Given its specs and features we can assume this is going to be targeted at certain European and Asian markets, and we'd bet the U.S. carriers won't be picking this up unless Samsung makes some specifically different models for this market. By that time it'll likely be a completely different device. There's no pricing or availability information in this release, but we're not expecting Samsung to make too big of a splash about this device.

Source: Samsung

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1 year ago

Sony Xperia 'Yuga' prototype gets unofficial preview

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After it leaked photos of a prototype device yesterday, Russian site Mobile-Reviews has published a detailed preview of Sony's upcoming 2013 high-ender, currently known by its codename "Yuga." According to today's preview, the 5-inch, 1080p device packs a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU, 2GB of RAM and a glass-clad chassis. There's also expandable storage via microSD card, world LTE connectivity and a 12MP camera, so if specs alone are any indication, the "Yuga" should measure up favorably against other high-end phones in early 2013.

On the software side, the prototype is running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and Sony's own proprietary software. Highlights here include new live wallpapers, a re-vamped camera app with filters (because that's what everyone's doing these days), and a redesigned clock app. Visually, Sony's Xperia UI as seen on the prototype looks much the same as it did on earlier phones like the Xperia T and Xperia S.

You'll find a complete run-down of the prototype hardware and software at the source link below. Sony tends to announce its new high-end stuff at CES each year, so we expect we'll see the finalized design in Las Vegas in just a few weeks.

Source: Mobile-Review (Translated)

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1 year ago

Amazon once again rumored to be building their own smartphone

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It has been about six months since we heard rumor of Amazon building their own smartphone, so naturally it's time to hear it again. Making the rounds today on the Internet is news that Amazon has partnered with Foxconn and the new Amazon phone is already being built. Supposedly coming in the middle of 2013, it would bring yet another player to the mobile OS race, one with deep pockets and who likes to win.

If these rumors pan out -- and they could very well be true -- what can Amazon bring to the table that we don't already see from current competitors? Google has already delivered high-end hardware and rock-bottom prices, and Apple has a superb content library and delivery method with iTunes. It makes sense to think that Amazon is trying to do both.

As we see with the Kindle Fire line of tablets, Amazon can marry low prices and a great ecosystem together. It is reasonable to think that they would do the same with a smartphone. We can see a low priced, decently spec'd generic looking smartphone from Amazon, running some variant of Android, that is fully tapped into Amazon's content library.

For a lot of folks, this would be a compelling option. But until we see Mr. Bezos announce something, we only have rumors. This one is just getting interesting, folks.

Source: CENS; via Engdaget

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1 year ago

First Xperia Jelly Bean updates due Feb/Mar 2013, but some 2012 phones will be left behind

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Sony Mobile has provided another update on the progress of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean updates for its 2012 Xperia smartphones.

First up, the company confirmed that its high-end late 2012 devices, Xperia T, TX and V, are on target to receive Jelly Bean in February and March. Once those updates are out the door, Sony will upgrade the Xperia J, Xperia P and Xperia Go in late March. The remaining devices, Xperia S, Xperia SL, Xperia ion and Xperia acro S, will get Jelly Bean in the weeks following.

However, there's bad news for owners of the Xperia U, Xperia miro, Xperia tipo, and Xperia sola, as Sony has confirmed that it will not upgrade these devices beyond Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. That's particularly disappointing considering all these devices are less than nine months old.

So, as is often the case with Android software updates, it's a mixed bag. Sony has shipped more mid-range phones than ever in 2012, however it's been unable to provide upgrade support for these devices just a few months after release. On the other hand, at least all the more expensive devices are accounted for, although there's no official word on the fate of U.S.-specific phones like the AT&T Xperia Ion and Xperia TL.

On a more positive note, Sony says it's excited about some Xperia-specific functionality in its upcoming Jelly Bean software, so Xperia owners who do get upgraded will likely get some new stuff to play with. Sony is expected to unveil a new high-end smartphone at CES in Las Vegas next month, so it's likely that's where we'll get our first look at the company's new Jelly Bean-based firmware.

Source: Sony Mobile Blog

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1 year ago

Samsung 'conducting an internal review' on Exynos kernel vulnerability

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There was potentially worrying news for Samsung phone owners this weekend, as a serious kernel security vulnerability was identified in Android devices running Exynos 4210 and 4412 chips. The list of affected devices includes some of the most popular Samsung phones, like the international Galaxy S2 and Galaxy S3, and all Galaxy Note 2 models. The exploit in Samsung's kernel could give a malicious app free reign over a device's memory, allowing it to take complete control of it.

We reached out to Samsung for comment, and the company has today informed us that it is "currently in the process of conducting an internal review" into the matter. That's not a whole lot of information, but it at least confirms that Samsung's aware of the issue and is looking into it.

We'll keep you apprised of any further developments. In the meantime, if you're concerned about whether your own phone could be affected by this security vulnerability, check out our full report from yesterday.

More: The Samsung Exynos kernel exploit - what you need to know

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1 year ago

Expansys UK removes HTC Butterfly from listings, won't be flying into Europe after all

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Following the announcement of the 5-inch, 1080p HTC Butterfly for China, a lot of people -- including us -- started getting a little excited when some signs of the device appeared on European retailers websites. HTC confirmed to us at the time that the device was officially only launching in China, leading us to believe that any purchases made in Europe would be of grey imports.

Seems that even this many not be the case anymore. The chaps over at the UK based site Coolsmartphone, actually went and pre-ordered a Butterfly from UK based Expansys. Granted, there was no price, no mention of when they would become available, but a definite intent it seemed that they would be offering the device for sale. Over the weekend they received this email from Expansys, detailing that in fact the device would not be coming to the UK at this time: 

Thank you for your recent interest and preorder of the HTC Butterfly. Unfortunately, we have now been informed by HTC that this device will not be available in European markets, and as such we have had to remove it from our website and cancel your preorder.

We're not all that sure where the Expansys stock may have been sourced from in the first place, but it's pretty clear cut that we won't be getting any. But, then again, Mobile World Congress takes place in just a couple of months, so who knows what the future may hold. 

Source: Coolsmartphone

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1 year ago

Nexus 4 once again sold out in UK, Germany

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After a couple of weeks of being on sale with lengthy waits for delivery, the LG Nexus 4 is officially sold out on the Google Play devices store in the UK and Germany. While the 8GB model sold out within hours of the second batch of stock going on sale, it had been possible to order the 16GB model, albeit with a 6-7 week shipping estimate. Today both flavors of Nexus 4 are marked as "sold out," in Britain and "ausverkauft" in Germany.

The news follows difficulties in getting some orders out to customers. Some who'd received 3-5 day shipping estimates had not received their orders as of Sunday, leading to Google UK & Ireland boss Dan Cobley getting involved. In a Google+ post made over the weekend, Cobley apologized for the delayed orders, and said stock from LG had been "scarce and erratic." Orders with pre-Christmas shipping estimates, he said, should be processed this week.

Did you manage to bag a Nexus 4 while it was available to order? Has yours arrived yet? Let us know about your Nexus 4 ordering experiences in the comments.

Source: Google Play

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1 year ago

Sony Xperia 'Yuga' prototype revealed in leaked images

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It's been a while since we've had reliable leaked details about Sony's upcoming 2013 torch-bearer, codenamed "Yuga". The device had been rumored to sport a 5-inch 1080p display of the kind set to become increasingly common at the high end in the next twelve months. Back in November, the first set of leaked photos showed an unassuming slab-shaped design with Sony branding.

Today a couple of fresh images have emerged, showing what seems to be the exact same device. There's the same unique earpiece design, and the same back cover which, like LG 's Optimus G and Nexus 4, seems to be coated in glass. The source of the leaked shots, Russian site Mobile-Review, says the device will be powered by "the latest chipset from Qualcomm." presumably a Snapdragon S4 Pro. The site dismisses other recent rumors of a Samsung Exynos-powered Sony flagship.

The back design happens to match up closely with an FCC filing for the Japanese variant of this phone, which carries the model number SO-02E. That listing suggested the device would pack a 2330mAh battery.

For the past several years, Sony Mobile has used CES as a launch platform for its new high-end stuff. So, with the pace of leaks increasing, and FCC filings starting to appear, we think it's likely the "Yuga" could be revealed in just a few weeks in Las Vegas. Whatever Sony shows at its CES press conference, we'll be there to cover it live.

Source: Mobile-Review (Russian)

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1 year ago

Google UK boss offers 'unreserved apology' for delayed Nexus 4 orders

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Dan Cobley says pre-Christmas deliveries on track for this week, offers shipping refund for late orders

As we've reported in great detail over the past month, customers hoping to pick up the Nexus 4 directly from the Google Play Store haven't had the easiest time ordering the device. Even after dealing with a tumultuous ordering process, some in the UK have found that their orders had missed the shipping window they'd been given by Google Play.

As a result, some disgruntled customers decided to go straight to the top to get answers, reaching out to Google UK & Ireland Managing Director Dan Cobley on his Google+ page. Today Cobley has responded with an update on the situation, an apology to those affected, and a shipping refund for those whose orders had missed the quoted 3-5 day window. The bottom line is that orders with pre-Christmas shipping estimates should be processed in the coming week.

In his Google+ message, Cobley also addresses the subject of stock levels, saying supplies from Nexus 4 manufacturer LG have been "scarce and erratic." The first wave of Nexus 4 stock sold out in under an hour, and the second wave was back-ordered by over one month in under a day.

Check past the break for Cobley's message in full.

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