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2 years ago

ZTE Grand Memo hands-on

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ZTE, like local rival Huawei, is desperately trying to establish itself as one of the bigger international smartphone players, focusing more and more on high-end "hero" devices. To that end, at a very businesslike (and rather awkward) Mobile World Congress press conference this week, the company revealed the Grand Memo. A 5.7-inch Galaxy Note-class device, the Memo incorporates high-end internals and a massive 5.7-inch 720p display.

As per ZTE's presser, the Grand Memo runs Qualcomm's quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU, though ZTE says the chipsets used will vary depending on country. (Update: ZTE staffers on the show floor tell us that the demo units on display are running Snapdragon S4 Pro (8064) chips, and that several different versions of the Memo will be available, including the Snapdragon 800-powered model announced earlier this week.)

For what it's worth, the company also had an NVIDIA Tegra 3-based Grand Memo on show at its MWC booth, however that device was unstable and extremely hot to the touch.

Other hardware notables include 2GB of RAM (1GB on the S4 version), 16GB of storage, 4G LTE support and a 13MP rear camera. The physical hardware of the Memo is standard smartphone fare -- a black slab with a plastic back and three buttons down below. On the back, a plastic battery cover. We saw several different back covers on the Grand Memo demo units at the show -- glossy, textures and matte versions in white and various shades of blue. Overall, the hardware is perfectly serviceable, if not outstanding.

Head past the break for more first impressions, along with more photos and video.

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2 years ago

Samsung HomeSync - hands-on with the Android-powered TV box

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As a global electronics giant, Samsung has presence in every room in the home, most notably the living room -- the company recently claimed to be selling three TVs every second. And as we all know, Samsung currently dominates the Android smartphone landscape. So it was only a matter of time before the Samsung TV and Android worlds collided.

At Mobile World Congress this week we got our first look at Samsung's HomeSync, a 1-terabyte TV box with a Google Play-certified Android front-end. HomeSync delivers a full Android experience, with a TouchWiz-based UI that actually scales up really well to the big screen. The main view is a grid of running windows, and you've also got a standard app drawer view, along with on-screen keys you can hit using your pointer.

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2 years ago

Hands-on with the ASUS Padfone Infinity

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At the conceptual level, the ASUS Padfone series has always sounded cool, but it's never managed to translate that into mainstream success. Previous Padfones, though technically impressive, have been too expensive to win over consumers and carriers en masse. On top of that, ASUS has yet to present a really compelling use case for combining a phone with tablet dock.

Nevertheless, the Taiwanese manufacturer is back with a third Padfone iteration, the Padfone Infinity. The Infinity boasts superior specs, a redesigned, brushed aluminum chassis an Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. But is that enough to justify this class of device? Check out our first impressions from Mobile World Congress after the break.

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2 years ago

Hands-on with the ASUS Fonepad

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Android has a long history of playing host to ridiculously large smartphones. First there was the Dell Streak. Next came the original Samsung Galaxy Note. And now in 2013 we have the ASUS Fonepad, a 7-inch tablet that's also a 7-inch phone. On first inspection the Fonepad looks a little bit like a another 7-inch ASUS tablet, the Nexus 7. But unlike that device it's also a full 3G/HSPA phone, complete with earpiece and microphone. That's right, you can hold this seven-inch slab of electronics to your head and make telephone calls.

Where other large smartphones -- including Huawei's gigantic Ascend Mate -- trim down their bezels to make them more pocket and hand-friendly, ASUS has chosen to incorporate a tablet-sized screen trim on the Fonepad. As a result, using the device as a telephone in the usual way is the binary opposite of ergonomic. If you felt awkward making phone calls on a Galaxy Note, that's nothing by comparison. Assuming you posses digits large enough to palm the Fonepad to your ear, you're going to look and feel like an idiot walking around with it pressed to your face.

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2 years ago

Hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy Grand

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With devices like the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note, Samsung has been an integral part of the push towards bigger screens on smartphones. But traditionally these larger, higher-resolution devices have been aimed towards the high-end, carrying expectedly high-tier price tags. Today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, we saw a device that aims to defy that convention.

The Galaxy Grand is a mid-range smartphone with high-end ambitions. Its 5-inch screen and Galaxy Note-like aesthetic give it the appearance of a premium handset, though like most Samsung smartphones it’s bright, white shiny and plasticky. There’s no ‘S-Pen’ stylus to be found, but aside from that the Grand offers a fairly complete Samsung software experience. You’re getting the latest version of the company’s TouchWiz UI, which runs on top of Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. The software package even includes newer additions like multi-window support -- Samsung’s method for running more than one app on-screen at a time.

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2 years ago

LG's 'VR Panorama' puts Photosphere on the Optimus G Pro

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LG Photosphere from the Nexus 4 and improves it on its newest device

It's no secret that I'm a pretty big fan of the 360-degree Photospheres you can shoot with the Nexus 4. Fire up the camera app, spin around a few times and you get a really cool shot that can be panned and zoomed, and shared on Google+, or embedded with Google Maps. It's a novelty, yeah. But I'm enjoying the hell out of it, and there are some great Photospheres being published every day from remarkable locations.

But so far the only phones with that feature have been Google's Nexus 4 and Galaxy Nexus. Until now.

LG, which also manufactured the Nexus 4, has a new version of Photosphere built into the camera application on its Optimus G Pro, which the company is showing off here in Barcelona, Spain, at Mobile World Congress. (The phone actually is available already in Korea.) And we recently took it for a spin in Plaça de Catalunya to see how it works.

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2 years ago

ASUS Padfone 2 launching in the UK on March 1

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Way back in October last year we first heard word that ASUS planned to bring the Padfone 2 to the UK in early 2013. It's now early 2013 and true to their word ASUS is indeed bringing the Padfone 2 to the UK on March 1 for £599.

For some it may seem an anti-climax given the recent unveiling of the Padfone Infinity at MWC. But, the Padfone 2 is still an impressive device packing a Snapdragon S4 Pro, 2GB of RAM, a 13MP camera and a HD Super IPS+ display. It isn't quite the powerhouse the new Padfone Infinity is, but the hardware specs are still impressive. And of course, the Padfone 2 will be around £200 cheaper than the Infinity. 

Both white and black versions will be available, and several big name retailers will be picking it up including Amazon and Carphone Warehouse. The full press release can be found after the break.

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2 years ago

LG showcasing wireless Ultra HD transmission technology at Mobile World Congress

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Last month's CES over in Las Vegas had a whole lot of 4K Television news. After HD, comes Ultra HD, and with it some pretty amazing looking TV sets with an amazing price to match. If you were sat there wondering; "when will I be able to push my smartphone content to one of these," then wonder no longer. Over in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress, LG is showcasing what they're saying is the world's first wireless Ultra HD transmission technology. 

It's pretty much as simple as it sounds. Wirelessly transmitting content from a smartphone, to a 4K TV in real time. Further more, LG claims the technology consumes less than half the power of some other wireless transmission technologies. You'll find the full release after the break. 

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2 years ago

Hands-on with the Lenovo K900

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At CES in January Lenovo unveiled the K900, a high-end, big-screen smartphone aimed at the Chinese market. And at Mobile World Congress this week, the manufacturer gave us a closer look at this dual-core, Intel-powered beast.

At 5.5 inches diagonally, the K900 dwarfs even the Galaxy Note 2, and like other devices in this half phone space, half tablet it's easy to see how this might not be ideal for every smartphone buyer.  But the overall design is attractive enough, with a metallic chassis and squared-off edges. On the front is a 1080p display, which looks about as sharp and clear as you'd expect. On the inside, Intel's Clovertrail+ -- a dual-core, HyperThreaded CPU -- provides enough horsepower to keep things running smoothly, and around the back is a 13MP Sony Exmor R camera with f/1.8 aperture. On the hardware side, we came away pretty impressed.

The K900 is running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, along with Lenovo's own software layer software, and although it's great to see 4.2 finally rolling out to devices, the manufacturer's UI customizations leave something to be desired. Visual gimmicks such as a rotating cylindrical app drawer persist, and the sleek minimalism of stock Android has been replaced by cartoonish buttons and a lack of overall visual cohesion.

Lenovo is a relative newcomer to the smartphone market, and like many in the early days, they're doing better in terms of hardware than they are software. Nevertheless, our brief time with the K900 has our interest piqued, and we'll be keeping a watchful eye on what's next from the manufacturer.

We've got more photos and your first hands-on video after the break.

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2 years ago

ZTE launches Grand Memo with 5.7-inch display, Snapdragon 800 processor

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ZTE is taking the wraps off of its latest large-screen phone, the Grand Memo, at MWC 2013 in Barcelona. What we're looking at here is a 5.7-inch display at just 720x1280 resolution -- but curiously so as the previously announced ZTE Grand S has a 5-inch 1080P display. Underneath that display the Grand Memo has a quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor (unspecified clock speed), 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage and a quite enormous 3200mAh battery. There's a 13MP camera around back, much like the Grand S. The design is subtle and sleek, with a smooth plastic shell and protruding camera pod around back. On the front there are capacitive back, home and menu keys. It is also just 8.5mm thick, which is quite impressive considering the specs.

The Grand Memo is running Android 4.1, along with some of ZTE's own software customizations. There doesn't appear to be any special digitizer or stylus hardware available though, contrary to what the name would lead you to expect. Unfortunately, ZTE isn't yet giving any information on pricing or availability at this time.

Source: ZTE (BusinessWire)

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2 years ago

Samsung touts market share, infographic style

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Samsung shipped a hell of a lot of phones last year, and a bunch of them were smart phones -- 213,000,000 according to their latest infographic. That's a number which equates to over 30-percent of all smart phones shipped in 2012, and as we see is more than the total population of Brazil.

Samsung of course hopes to keep this trend going into 2013, with new releases like the Galaxy Note 8.0 and the upcoming Galaxy S4, as well as the multitude of entry-level phones and tablets for emerging markets. We'll have to see if this strategy works for them as well this year as it did in the last.

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2 years ago

Boost Mobile getting the HTC One SV on March 7

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The HTC One SV is a very capable mid-level Android phone, and today we found out that it will be available on Boost Mobile starting March 7 -- complete with 4G LTE service. With the Snapdagon S4 processor and 1GB of RAM, the extremely thin and well built One SV will certainly be a treat for existing -- and new -- Boost customers.

The One SV will be available on Boost's no-contract shrinking price Android plan. What that means is that the first month's service will be $55, and every six months the payments are on-time will drop $5 off the monthly price until you hit $40. The phone itself will cost $299.99, but remember that is the full, no contract price you're seeing.

A phone this nice (check the review, I thought it was dandy) for just $40 monthly on Boosts "unlimited" plan sounds like a sweet deal. Hit the break for the full press release.

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2 years ago

See the ASUS MWC press conference, and the unveiling of the Padfone Infinity and Fonepad

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Another busy day in Spain has drawn to a close, and center of a decent piece of todays new devices announcements was ASUS. In the way that only Johnny Shih and company know how, ASUS today introduced the new Padfone Infinity and the Intel Atom powered Fonepad tablet-cum-smartphone hybrid. Just in case you missed the Android Central liveblog, ASUS has kindly posted the highlights from the, interesting, press conference for us all to watch and enjoy. 

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2 years ago

NVIDIA details the T4i and Phoenix reference phone in latest video

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NVIDIA knows we're all interested in the new Tegra 4 and Tegra 4i platform, and today they are throwing us a bit of a treat, video-style. Formerly known as Project Grey, the T4i is designed to deliver great performance in a smartphone, along with an integrated 4G LTE modem. To showcase this, they have built the Phoenix reference phone.

It's a complete package, sporting a 5-inch 1080p display, 13MP camera with NVIDIA's "Chimera" tech 60 GeForce GPU cores, and the T4i with integrated LTE. Since this isn't something that is going to be widely available for most of us, having a look at it on video may be as close as we ever get. 

Source: NVIDIA

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2 years ago

Sony Xperia Z and Tablet Z to launch globally on March 1

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Sony is announcing today at MWC that its latest flagship Xperia Z and Xperia Tablet Z will both be available globally starting March 1st. The Xperia Z, which we've had extensive hands-on time with, has already been up for pre-order and sale in varying capacities around the world. The Tablet Z, on the other hand, was announced in late January in conjunction with a Japanese carrier launch, but without any launch specifics until now. If you need a little refresher on the specs, we've got a 1920x1200 display, powered by a Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and 2GB of RAM. It will be launching with Android 4.1, but Sony has specifically named an Android 4.2 update as being in the works. Sony is still touting the device as the thinnest tablet available, and is still both water and dustproof like its phone counterpart.

The Tablet Z will also have a few first party accessories out of the gate, such as a charging dock and leather carrying case. Both the Xperia Z and Tablet Z will launch globally on March 1st, with obviously varying prices within each region. We'll be sure to bring you specifics as they come available for each market.

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