By now if you've been following the European Galaxy Nexus launch, you'll be aware of the infamous volume bug that results in volume levels spiking all over the place when the phone (or something else nearby) is in 2G mode on a 900MHz network. This morning Google and Samsung confirmed that they're aware of the problem and have a software fix ready to go. However that hasn't stopped the cries from across the blogosphere (and beyond) that the root cause is a hardware fault, and that Google is papering over the cracks by fixing it with software. Some have even called for Samsung to issue a recall of all Nexuses sold over the past week.
Enter systems engineer, app developer and all-round voice of reason Lee Johnston (known here on AC as britishturbo). He posted the following explanation in our comments section, and again on his Google+ page. For us mere mortals, it does a great job of explaining what's really going on, why it's a common issue with complex electronic devices like cellphones, and why we don't need to worry.
I'm a Systems Engineer and also a Developer. I deal with things like this every day. What we have here is indeed a hardware issue, in that the radio interference is coming in through the radio hardware. However things like this can be fix fairly easily in software. It's called debounce.
When you monitor an electronic input like the buttons on a phone there is always noise and flutter even when you just press the button. If testing by Google has shown that they just need to turn up the debounce time (the time which an input must exceed for it to be determined to be a genuine press) then it will more than likely just work and no one will ever see it again.
Like I said I deal with this kind of thing every day, it's not a big deal as long as your debounce time is not excessive. But noise happens down on the order of 1 to 40 ms, real inputs when you press a button last from 100 or 200ms if you tap the button, up to seconds if you hold it down.
This is nothing like Apple and the iPhone 4 antennae problems that could not be fixed in software. I'm sure everyone will see in due time, the problem will be fixed, and the dust will blow over.
And people will be saying "wow, I was wrong, Google rocks!"
Over on Google+, Google engineer Dan Morrill reshared the post, saying Lee's post was "completely accurate" description of a "very common phenomenon", with the increase in debounce time being the "classic fix". So that's that.
Our own Jerry Hildenbrand had similar things to say when this first cropped up a few days ago -- it's impossible to completely protect a complex device like a smartphone from all RF interference, and some of it has to be managed with code. As such, something like the Nexus volume bug can absolutely be remedied with a software update, just as Lee Johnston explains above.
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There's been quite the hoopla over the past few days around the Galaxy Nexus volume bug -- that's the nasty little issue which results in the phone's volume levels going crazy when it's on a 900MHz 2G/EDGE network, or when it's exposed to RF interference from another phone that is.
We reached out to Samsung for comment on the glitch, and they've responded today with the confirmation that a fix is indeed in the works.
We are aware of the volume issue and have developed a fix. We will update devices as soon as possible.
So hopefully that'll be the end of that. It's worth remembering that this shouldn't be an issue in the U.S., because neither of the GSM carriers in the States operate on 900 MHz. That and the fact that the U.S. has neither the phone nor a firm release date yet. D'oh.
And don't fret if it looks like the update's coming from Samsung even though this is a Nexus phone. Google has issued the exact same statement this morning, and we'd expect updates to roll out the same way as with other Nexus phones -- from Google directly.
The FCC chariman today recommended the $39 billion merger of AT&T and T-Mobile be sent for an official review by an administrative law judge. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski suggested this course of action to fellow commissioners, citing that the FCC found the deal "would significantly diminish competition and lead to massive job losses." Genachowski's order still requires the approval of a majority of the commissioners, and if approved would extend the review of the merger beyond AT&T's hopes to have things all wrapped-up at the FCC early in 2012. Of course, AT&T is none too happy, stating:
"The FCC’s action today is disappointing. It is yet another example of a government agency acting to prevent billions in new investment and the creation of many thousands of new jobs at a time when the US economy desperately needs both."
If you'll allow a bit of editorial comment, I'm a happy T-Mobile customer. I don't want to change anything about my service from T-Mobile, and am concerned that I will lose the legendary customer support T-Mobile offers, as well as gaining an additional $100 or so attached to my monthly bill. I'm also concerned that Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile's parent company no longer wants to retain control of the small U.S. carrier because of the huge financial drain that comes with. I worry what will happen either way -- having AT&T as my carrier is my rock, and having DT let T-Mobile die is my hard place, and I'm smack dab in the middle. Either case has me getting cell service from AT&T, unless the government has a contingency plan for T-Mobile should the merger fail to pass. Hopefully, the fellows in Washington have a plan to serve the consumer's best interests, but I'm skeptical. Unless another company like Google or Apple steps in and buys T-Mobile, our future looks shaky either way. For now, I, and 33 million others, just have to wait and see.
LG's got an event laid on for early next month in New York City. And while the invitation reads "All will be revealed on December 1," we're getting a little more than perhaps we were supposed to, as some versions of the invite image (ours was renamed) pointed toward the Nitro HD, otherwise known as AT&T's unannounced version of the Optimus LTE. And that's exciting not just for the high-speed data, but for the 1280x720 resolution as well.
Of course, we'll be there with bells on to bring you the whole thing as it happens. It's how we roll.
If you're rocking the new LTE Samsung Skyrocket on AT&T, you might want to check for an OTA update. An OTA to Android 2.3.6 is pushing out now, and we manually checked on our review unit (Menu>Settings>Software update>Check for updates) and sure enough, one was waiting. We're not quite sure what was changed here -- we know that 2.3.6 addressed a bug in Google voice search, but we imagine Samsung and AT&T packaged a bit more into this one. We're not seeing anything listed at the usual locations, so we've reached out to AT&T and Samsung for an answer. In the meantime, updates are always fun and make our inner Android geek feel good, so grab yours and we'll sort it out in the forums.
Rejoice, LG Optimus 3D owners, for your handset's long journey to Gingerbread is finally over. The European version of phone, which launched in August with Froyo, today received an update to version 21a, based on Android 2.3.5. As well as the usual goodies you'd expect from Gingerbread, you'll also get 21Mbps HSPA+ support, a 2D and 3D video editor, improved video quality and faster Gallery app performance, just as we reported earlier this month.
The V21a update is currently available in the UK and most of mainland Europe via the LG updater utility, and should be rolling out over the air shortly. We haven't heard any reports of the update arriving on the LG Thrill 4G, the Optimus 3D's American cousin, but hopefully Thrill owners should be on a fast track to receive the new software, now that it's out internationally.
I know some of you guys and gals (like myself) are suckers for white electronics. If that sounds like you, and you're a T-Mobile customer, you probably already heard the Galaxy S II was coming in white for the holidays. We still don't know when, or how much, but at least we get to see T-Mobile product managers playing with one. Now how about a white Galaxy Nexus? Hmm.
Cellcom, the Wisconsin-based regional carrier, is introducing three new Android smartphones into its smartphone lineup, just in time for the holiday season. The Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY and the LG Ignite (a.k.a. the Marquee) will both be available beginning on Black Friday, while the Motorola Milestone 2 is simply listed as "coming soon." All three devices will set you back $49.99 on a new two year contract. Not a bad deal for all you Cheeseheads out there if you ask us. You can visit Cellcom at the source link below.
Sony Ericsson has joined forced with Aston Villa's Darren Bent and rock band Kasabian to stage a slightly bizarre (and completely awesome) real-life soccer football match using Xperia Play handsets, location tracking technology and ten real live human beings. The five-a-side match saw England international Bent face off against Kasabian frontman Tom Meighan, with both controlling their teams from on high with specially modified Xperia Plays.
While you probably won't be able to command real, actual footballers using your Xperia Play anytime soon, SE is using this opportunity to remind everyone that Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 and FIFA 12 are both available (and optimized) for the device, with the latter being an Xperia Play exclusive until February 2012.
Samsung's being a bit shy with the details, but the T-Mobile version of the Galaxy S II will be available in white for the holidays. That's the same 4.5-inch device we've come to know and love -- be sure to read our full review -- only in white. We can't imagine it'll cost any more than the black version, but we'll let you know more on that when we get it.
We've spotted the Samsung Illusion a few times in the past but Verizon has now fully unveiled the device for all. Pulling in to the entry level market, the specs for the Samsung Illusion aren't mind blowing but not bad either especially as a starter device.
3.5-inch HVGA TFT display
1GHz Samsung Hummingbird processor
3MP rear camera
MicroSD card slot up to 32GB
Mobile Hotspot capability – share 3G connection with up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices
SWYPE Technology – input text faster and in a more intuitive way with one continuous finger motion across the screen keyboard
The Samsung Illusion will be available from Verizon on Nov. 23, and will be available in Verizon Wireless Stores in January 2012 for $79.99 on contract, or free from Nov. 24-28.
Pardon us a minute while we read way too much into something. The screen you see here is what indirect Verizon retailers -- as in not a corporate-branded store -- now see to order their own Samsung Galaxy Nexus stock. And note that it says Samsung Galaxy Nexus, not Samsung Nexus Prime, which reappeared on a Best Buy flyer first posted in our Galaxy Nexus forums last night.
Point is, it's still coming to Verizon ... eventually ... and we're still expecting it to be the Galaxy Nexus. Probably.
Look, we know the wait for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus here in the United States is making people act a little crazy. We get that, and we're not really blaming anybody. But this sort of thing isn't helping matters any. What you see here, according to new forums member mynewride, is a Best Buy Mobile flyer that is due to come out Dec. 1. And in it we have the Samsung Nexus Prime on Verizon. Or the Samsung Nexus Prime 4G LTE, if you turn the page. Or the Samsung Nexus Prime, member of the Samsung Galaxy S II family.
What. The. Hell.
OK. So, Best Buy doesn't exactly have a spotless record when it comes to Photoshop blunders. (See Exhibit 1, Exhibit 2 and Exhibit 3.) But the "Nexus Prime"-- the unofficial code name for the Galaxy Nexus that we all worked with for months -- has been seen in Best Buy's internal systems before, which might or might not mean anything here.
We're nowhere near sold on this one yet. But it's just one more chapter in the strange saga that's been the Verizon launch of the Galaxy Nexus.
We've got more pics after the break, and hit the source link for all the discussion from mynewride's original post.
There's a bit of brouhaha on the Internet today about the Samsung Galaxy Nexus being "rooted." While I applaud the gentlemen who take the time to build binaries needed to flash the superuser/switchuser files to the GNexus, I think it's more important to re-visit something from the past. Namely, you don't need to exploit a Nexus device to root it. The tools to unlock the potential of a Nexus phone are included, so pushing new software that allows more access to the system isn't really a surprise. Hopefully, someone can go further with this access and do something that does surprise us.
Mr. O'Brien, I tip my hat to you for taking the time to build your superboot image. Most users wouldn't take the time needed to learn how do it, and you've provided the easy path for them. Now there's no excuse for anyone with a GNexus to not jump in feet first and see what Android can do when given the proper tools, and openness.
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