There's a new over-the-air update rolling out for the international Samsung Galaxy S III (aka Galaxy S3 GT-i9300) this evening. The OTA message identifies it as a "stability update," but what it also does is remove local (on-device) search functionality in the phone's built-in Google Search app. The new version -- XXBLG6 -- is a relatively recent build, having been cooked just a few days ago on Jul. 20. A new baseband version, XXLG6, is also included, but we haven't noticed any other changes thus far.
Following legal action by Apple, which temporarily resulted in the Galaxy Nexus being banned in the U.S., Samsung has taken to pre-emptively disabling the ability to search within on-device data (like contacts and applications) on some U.S. Galaxy S3's. However, the decision to kill local search on the unlocked international model -- which isn't sold in the U.S. -- is a little perplexing, not least because Apple has yet to challenge Sammy over local search in the EU or UK, where the GT-i9300 is sold.
What's more, marking this solely as a "stability" update seems a little underhanded, as users aren't being informed that the latest OTA disables functionality which was included with their original purchase. Nevertheless, local search is now gone on the international Galaxy S3, a decision which makes Samsung's leading smartphone a little less smart. We're sure folks are working on hacking local search back in as we speak, just as we're sure Apple will pursue some other tactic in its efforts to block the S3 from sale.
If you're down with preemptively crippled search functionality, you can grab the 27MB OTA package through Samsung's software updates menu on the phone, or through the Kies desktop app.
In the past, traveling from the UK to mainland Europe could've landed you with a massive, unforeseen roaming bill. The EU recently imposed roaming price caps on European carriers, though, and as such, the major UK networks have been stepping up with a range of new roaming deals offering everything from inclusive minutes and data to reduced per-minute rates and even unlimited data in certain cases.
But there information from each individual carrier is often tricky to track down, and it's not always easy to know which network offers the best rate for your individual needs. That's why we've scoured the 'tubes for all the latest roaming rates and deals from the UK's leading mobile networks, and put them all in one place, along with a little guidance on which network might have the best roaming package for you.
If you're making the trip from the UK to Europe this summer, you'll definitely want to check out our definitive UK network roaming guide after the break.
The Droid Incredible 4G LTE is a solid phone on Verizon with a ridiculously long name.
It's easy to dismiss Verizon's new Droid Incredible 4G LTE. It's easy to look at the specs on paper, glance over at the HTC One line, shake your head and move on. After all, DInc 4G LTE, in addition to having a ridiculously long name that reads more like a spec list than anything else (seriously, Verizon -- stop it), isn't a member of the HTC 2012 Cool Club, whose ranks include the One X, One S and One V.
The Incredible (we're going to call it that from here on out -- have we mentioned how ridiculous its full name is?) lives in a sort of middle region. It's an obvious successor to the DInc 2, which we reviewed last year. But for as good as its hardware is, it's missing a few features that would otherwise put it on the top shelf. On the other hand, in shines in a few places where other phones don't as well.
So keep on keeping' on for our full Droid Incredible 4G LTE review.
With more ruggedized smartphones coming to market comes the opportunity to test them in a variety of visceral and cringeworthy ways. Last year we saw the Sony Xperia Active to head-to-head with a stanley knife and the wheels of a Jeep and live to tell the take, and this year its successor has been put through its paces in a similarly grueling ordeal.
German site A1 decided to test the Xperia Go's rugged chassis and IP67 water and dust resistance to its limits by pitting it against an increasingly tough series of challenges -- first strapping the phone to a soccer ball football and kicking it around a field, next dunking it in ice cream, before burying it in sand and then running over it in a car. Finally, Sony's latest, toughest smartphone was cleaned off with a high-pressure fire hose. Sure enough, just like the Xperia Active before it, the Go looked none the worse at the end of its ordeal.
British telecommunications regulator Ofcom has confirmed its plans for the auction of 800MHz and 2600MHz spectrum for deployment of 4G LTE services in the UK. In a statement published today, Ofcom said it expected the auction process to begin before the end of this year, with the bidding process getting underway by early 2013. It added that it anticipated that the first 4G services on these newly-auctioned bands should start being rolled out before the end of next year. 4G services on these frequencies should see some 98 percent of the UK population being covered by LTE in the next five years, as winning bidders will be legally required to meet certain minimum coverage levels by 2017.
Ofcom has also decided that consumers interests are best served by having four strong players in the 4G world, and as such it's set aside a minimum amount of spectrum for a fourth player in addition to O2, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere (Orange + T-Mobile). This spot is widely expected to be filled by the smallest major network provider, Three (Hutchison 3G UK), but Ofcom isn't ruling out the possibility of a new entrant taking this spot.
For its part, Everything Everywhere still plans to attempt 4G roll-out on its existing 1800MHz spectrum before the year's out. If successful, it'd give Orange and T-Mobile UK up to a year's head-start on other networks, which would have to wait for the early 2013 auction process to complete before deploying 4G on 800MHz and 2600MHz.
The perennially delayed 4G auction process, originally intended to begin in 2009, has seen the UK fall by the wayside as countries like the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. already have fully functional 4G LTE networks. At this stage we'll just cross our fingers and hope that the auction process isn't subject to any further delays, which might push 4G network roll-out further into 2014.
We've received a screenshot from Verizon's systems, showing an OTA in the works for the Galaxy Nexus. According to our tipster, the IMM76Q build is still Ice Cream Sandwich, but looks to have a newer baseband and software version. Any other changes would be pure speculation, but we expect them to be bug fixes and enhancements.
If the IMM76Q tag looks familiar, that's because it's been rumored for about a month. A lone user at XDA reported seeing the update prompt, and users in the Verizon Galaxy Nexus forums say they've been told by Samsung and Verizon that it will address the signal drop issues that plague some users in certain areas.
We know that everyone is champing at the bit to get Jelly Bean on their Verizon Galaxy Nexus, but we're not too surprised at this news. It makes sense for Big Red to get their ducks in a row and address radio issues before they push out a new platform version, potentially full of newer bugs. We'll all keep our eyes and ears open, and hope the update makes headway against the connection issues.
Some Galaxy Nexus users who've recently updated their devices to Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean have been experiencing issues with the phone's GPS capabilities. Specifically, some Gnex owners are unable to get a GPS fix, even with several satellites in view. It's a pretty nasty bug that, at worst, can leave you unable to track your location.
To check if you're affected, open up an app that constantly tracks where you are, like Google Maps, (and wait a while -- GPS takes time to kick in) then check the notification shade for a GPS message. If the text says "Searching for GPS..." and you're not seeing a flashing icon, that means you're not getting a GPS lock. To confirm that you're affected by the bug, you can download the GPS Test app and see if you have satellites within view.
Fortunately, there's an easy fix for anyone experiencing problems -- simply go to Settings > Location services, uncheck and re-check "Google's location service," and you should be good to go. We've confirmed that this remedies the situation on our own phones, and we've heard that it's worked for others, too. It looks like this is just a weird server-side glitch, and clearing and re-enabling Google location services resets things on the phone's side.
If you've been experiencing GPS issues on the Galaxy Nexus, let us know how you're getting on down in the comments.
While it's been releasing quirky low-end phones like the Xperia Miro and Xperia Tipo, there's one Sony phone we've been fawning over, the Xperia GX. So far the GX is exclusive to Japan, though we've heard rumors that an international variant, dubbed the LT29i Hayabusa, is headed for Western markets in the third quarter of the year.
Now it seems we have confirmation that such a device is in the works, as photos of the purported phone have cropped up over on XperiaBlog. Though we can't confirm the specifications of the device shown in the leaked images, it looks almost identical to the Japanese version, except for the lack of an NTT Docomo logo. That phone has a 4.6-inch 720p display, a dual-core Snapdragon S4 CPU and a 13MP rear camera, along with on-screen buttons and Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich. The device pictured seems to sport the same slimline, Xperia Arc-style chassis with a slight camera bulge up top. On the "About phone" page, it identifies itself as an LT29i.
Nothing's been confirmed just yet, but we're hoping for an announcement at this year's IFA show in Berlin at the end of August. The device recently piqued our interest when it appeared at the FCC sporting a pentaband HSPA+ radio.
HTC has sold half of its 50.1 percent stake in Beats Audio, less than a year after it acquired its share of the company for $309 million. The move leaves HTC with a 25.57 stake in Beats, with the remaining 24.53 percent being bought back by the company's founders, Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, for $150 million. This comes after a year in which Beats failed to emerge as a major differentiator for HTC's smartphones, and after the company reversed its decision to include premium Beats-branded earphones with its high-end HTC One series phones.
In a statement, HTC said it will continue to "work closely" with Beats, and despite the sale, it's expected HTC will continue to include Beats software enhancements in future smartphones.
HTC remains in a somewhat uneasy position, following strong competition from Samsung and Apple in the mobile space. The company's second quarter numbers showed a 57.8 percent year-on-year fall in net profits, following lower-than-expected sales of the HTC One series. Despite this, HTC remains a major force in the smartphone world, as recently released Nielsen numbers show the manufacturer with a 14 percent market share in the U.S., behind Samsung's 17 percent.
Samsung Mobile head JK Shin has reportedly told the Korean press that the company's flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S III, has sold more than 10 million units worldwide. The news follows earlier reports that Samsung intended to reach the 10 million milestone by the end of July, which it's now achieved with weeks to spare. In the two months since the device made its international debut in London, the Galaxy S III has gone on sale in all major smartphone markets, including the U.S. and Sammy's native South Korea, where it enjoyed record first-day sales.
As we predicted during CTIA when Kyocera first announced the Rise, it looks like it will be headed to Sprint at some point in the future. A leaked press render showing the SprintZone app and Sprint ID button pretty much nail this one for the Now Network, and the source says to expect it on Virgin Mobile as well. If you have a look at our hands-on with the Rise, you'll see that it's a solid phone for the budget conscious. With a 1GHz Snapdragon and 512MB of RAM under the glass, the Rise fares well against other entry-level phones like the HTC One V, and if the "Tissue Conduction" audio technology ends up working as advertised, the Rise could be one of the best phones on the market for folks who need a phone.
While it's not packing quite the punch that the EVO 4G LTE or Galaxy S III is, it's nice to see options of all shapes and sizes. We'll be on the lookout for any official word from Kyocera or Sprint.
After all the confusion surrounding the status of the HTC Desire HD's Android 4.0 update, we have confirmation from HTC that it's completed its analysis of the software and reached a decision. Unfortunately, it's disappointing news for Desire HD owners -- the manufacturer has decided not to update the phone to Ice Cream Sandwich, saying it has the best software experience possible for its hardware on the current Android 2.3/Sense 3 ROM.
Here's the company's statement in full --
"After extensive testing, HTC has determined that the current version of HTC Sense with Android provides customers with the best experience on the HTC Desire HD. When we consider new versions of software, we weigh a number of factors, but ultimately the customer experience on the product is the deciding factor. We apologize for any confusion this change may have caused our customers."
So it's sad pandas all around this evening. It looks like Desire HD owners will need to rely on the custom ROM community if they want a taste of Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean. In any case, the device already has several unofficial Android 4.x ROMs available, so at least those brave enough to root won't be short of options.
"Save the date" e-mails are landing for a special event to be held by Samsung Electronics America next month, where the manufacturer promises to show off its "newest Galaxy device." The e-mail sent out today indicates that this will be a "major product announcement," but gives no real clues as to what exactly will be unveiled. We're pretty sure the Galaxy Note 2 is on the horizon, but all indications are that that device will instead be making its debut at the IFA show in Berlin in late August. That aside, other candidates for the August 15 event include the newly-announced T-Mobile Galaxy Note, and the Galaxy Note 10.1, which we first saw at Mobile World Congress, and which is said to have recently undergone some hardware changes.
So we'll probably be in for a bit of a surprise, but our money's on some sort of tablet announcement, whether or not it's a model we've seen at a previous event. If you've got any wild theories, let us know down below...
We broke the news yesterday that some GSM Nexus S models were starting to see their Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean update rolling out, and now we have the official confirmation from Mountain View. Google took to its +Nexus Google+ account to bring news that Jelly Bean is currently pushing out to customers on at least five carriers around the world, as well as the unlocked GSM models, presumably. Here's the official word --
"We've started rolling out Android 4.1, Jelly Bean, to Nexus S phones on a number of carriers including T-Mobile, H3G [Three], O2, Rogers as well as Vodafone in most countries, with more to come. Enjoy!"
No word on Sprint's Nexus S 4G just yet, but given that phone's history with updates, owners could be in for a fairly long wait. If you've already gotten Jelly Bean on your Nexus S, shout out in the comments and let us know how you're doing.
Since then we’ve been in touch with TELUS, which insists that it’s been informed that the update had been suspended, and that it was an HTC decision unrelated to TELUS’s network, testing or software. TELUS said that if HTC was to go ahead with the ICS update after all, it'd gladly test it and put it out for its customers. And after seeking further clarification from HTC, we were given a revised statement indicating that it’s still examining the Desire HD’s ability to run ICS --
"HTC is committed to providing the best customer experience on our devices and are currently determining the ability to support Ice Cream Sandwich on the HTC Desire HD. We'll provide more information when we've completed our analysis."
So it looks like the future of ICS on the Desire HD is currently hanging in the balance, and that HTC is in the process of working out if it can support Android 4.0 without compromising the user experience. This could also be worrying news for owners of the Desire S and Thunderbolt, which sport almost identical internals, and which are also due to receive an ICS upgrade.
Whatever happens, we’ll keep you posted with any further developments on HTC ICS updates.
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