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3 years ago

Late-night poll: Buying a smartphone off-contract

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The way many of us buy our phones is like nothing else bought or sold. Carriers world-wide will subsidize about half the cost of the phone itself as long as you sign a multi-year contract to use their service. Imagine if Comcast or Time Warner sold televisions the same way -- it sounds crazy. It's a model that's been going on a while, and for the most part doesn't look like it's going away any time soon.

But what if it did? What if a company like, let's say Google, offered a phone not connected to any carrier, like the Nexus One was? Two years ago that model didn't work, and Google abandoned it completely, but a lot can change in two years. The mobile landscape has changed, and so has the way we use our devices. Has the way we would buy them changed as well?

If the next "Nexus" phone was only sold off contract and carrier-free, would you buy it? Let us know in the poll.

 

Would you buy the next "Nexus" phone off-contract?

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3 years ago

Samsung announces ICS for the Galaxy Note will come in Q2, bring 'premium suite' apps

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Samsung mobile has issued a press release all about the Galaxy Note and it's upcoming "Premium Suite" software upgrade. Sometime in Q2 of this year, Samsung expects to update the 5.3-inch Note to their version of Ice Cream Sandwich and bring better application support for the S pen as well as unnamed extra multimedia features. 

The three applications mentioned specifically are S Note, a tool that combines notes or drawings with other digital content as well as using "Shape Match and Formula Match applications that help correct and digitize geometric shapes and even solve numeric formulas hand-drawn with S Pen"; My Story, which appears to be an application that helps you design e-cards and notes with multimedia content; and of course Angry Birds Space -- the newest iteration of the Angry Birds franchise from Rovio. In addition, Angry Birds Space will be available (sans the extra-special Galaxy Note level) for all Galaxy Series devices. 

Of course the biggest draw for most of us will be the update to Android 4.0, which Samsung teased Note users about on Facebook earlier today. The version for the Note is said to include the features we've come to expect from ICS, including Android Beam and Face Unlock, as well as an "entirely new look and feel" to the Android operating system. The Q2 timeframe is coming up shortly, and International Galaxy note users are ready and waiting. Hopefully, the AT&T version follows quickly. Hit the break for the full press release.

More: Samsung's Angry Birds site

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3 years ago

SDK tools and ADT up to version 17, now available via the SDK manager

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We first looked at the new SDK tools and various resources coming with version 17 at the beginning of the month, and today they have become available for installation through the SDK manager program. The new download is chock full of goodies for developers, with things like more Lint rules, support for custom views and custom attributes in libraries, and much needed improvements to the emulator. And of course, hackers and coders alike will love the new DDMS views, including the detailed network traffic meter.

It's also worth mentioning that there's an x86 image you can download for the emulator, but for now it's stuck at Android version 2.3.3. We expect that to change soon enough, as Intel has shown they're serious about Android.

Getting the update is easy enough -- just fire up the SDK manager and install. Now get to work making some killer apps, and be sure to let us know about them so we can share them with the world.

Source: Android Developers

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3 years ago

Motorola Motoluxe now available in France

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Motorola's new Motoluxe sure does get around. Fresh from recent launch announcements for Scandinavia and Greece, the latest sees the device go on sale in France from today. 

In such a style aware country as France, Motorola will be hoping to make a splash with the Motoluxe. What it lacks in specs, Motorola are hoping it makes up for in style. The Motoluxe is available now on Orange France and selected retailers, for a price of €299 off contract.

Source: Motorola 

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3 years ago

Google reportedly 'rethinking' Google Wallet strategy

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Google is said to be considering a few changes in their Google Wallet strategy because of poor adoption rates. According to Bloomberg, Google is contemplating sharing revenue with the carriers to make the service more appealing and get them to embrace G Wallet like they have done with the ISIS competitor. Of course we have to take all this with that big grain of salt, as Bloomberg is unable to name their sources because of the sensitive nature of the discussions. But this seems completely plausible. 

Google is facing the same sort of opposition on all sides that they had when they tried to introduce the original Nexus phone -- what Google thinks is good for consumers isn't good for carriers and manufacturers. NFC payment systems in our phones depend on three things -- hardware, adoption, and participation. OEM's have to build phones with the correct NFC hardware, which they have been slow to do. Even upcoming phones like the HTC One S don't include the necessary hardware, and the fabled NFC-enabled battery and/or stickers have yet to show their face. Without the hardware, nobody has access and the interest is low. With low consumer interest, OEM's have no incentive to make the hardware. That's a tough nut to crack.

There are many of us who are interested, and would use Google Wallet if it became widely available. But many is subjective. It's readily apparent there isn't a high enough consumer interest in adoption to tackle the problem Google is having with carrier and financial participation. If we cry for it enough, the carriers, banks, and retailers will jump to give it to us, and we're not crying for it enough. Security issues, and a lack of a solid advertising campaign aren't helping much on this front. When the only press you get about your product is bad press, nobody will be lining up to use your services.

Finally, the participation of carriers, OEM's, banks, and retailers is what will really drive Google Wallet forward. We're not seeing that, and odds are it's because not enough dollars are being spread around. I'm no financial analyst, but I'm pretty sure the folks at ISIS aren't afraid to throw money at U.S. carriers to get them on-board. Once you have names like AT&T and Verizon behind your mobile service, getting banks and stores to jump on the bandwagon is much easier. 

We love the idea of having Google Wallet for everyone who may want to use it. We also realize that Google is going to have to grease many a palm to make that happen, and if these reports are right Google finally does, too.

Source: Bloomberg

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3 years ago

T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G available in select stores today

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Here's the T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G, which you can find in select stores today for $149 on contract. Dunno which stores those are, chances are they'll be the ones with smug looks on their faces. For everybody else, you'll be able to get this awkwardly named (but surprisingly decent, if not necessarily cutting-edge) Android 2.3.6 smartphone on March 28.

We're knee deep into writing our full review (spoiler: It ain't new, but it ain't bad, either), but for now check out our hands-on from Mobile World Congress if you haven't already.

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3 years ago

HTC One launch party planned for April 5 in Paris

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We've heard reports of an April 5 launch for the HTC One X over the past couple of weeks, and now it seems we have confirmation of the date, as HTC France prepares for a One series launch party. The manufacturer's French Facebook page invites fans to a "Soireé HTC One" in Paris on the evening of April 5. It looks like the event's open to the public too, not just press and HTC partners, so if you're in Paris in early April, you might want to drop in -- HTC certainly knows how to throw a party.

The Paris event takes place just a day after HTC and Sprint are getting together in New York City. Everyone's expecting a Sprint LTE-powered HTC One phone to be unveiled, and we'll be there to cover whatever's announced.

More: HTC France

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3 years ago

Sony announces global launch of the Xperia S

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It's been available in some parts of the world since late February, but today Sony Mobile has officially announced global availability of the Xperia S, its current international flagship device. Sony hasn't revealed pricing or carrier availability in specific markets, but in the UK, O2, Three, Orange and T-Mobile offer the black Xperia S, while Phones4U has exclusivity over the white version. SIM-free prices range from £370-400 in the UK, and around €450 in the eurozone.

Unfortunately this "global" release doesn't apply to the U.S., where Sony has no plans to release the Xperia S, or its mid-range siblings the Xperis P and Xperia U. The manufacturer will launch the 4.7-inch, LTE-toting Xperia Ion on AT&T during the second quarter, though.

We recently reviewed the Xperia S, and found it to be a capable handset with some outstanding features, including a great camera and sharp 720p screen. It's running Gingerbread out of the box though, and there's no specific timeframe for that ICS update beyond Q2 2012.

If you're thinking of picking up an Xperia S, or you've already dropped some cash on Sony's latest handset, be sure to let us know what you think in the comments.

Source: Sony

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3 years ago

Huawei Ascend D Quad reportedly shipping from July

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Back at Mobile World Congress we went hands-on with the Huawei Ascend D Quad and at that time, it was mentioned the device could potentially start shipping in June. Recent reports, however, indicate that may have been a little premature, as the device won't even go into mass production until June with shipments now expected to be rolling out in July.

As Huawei's 2012 flagship, the Ascend D Quad isn't short on specs. It comes loaded with Ice Cream Sandwich, with a 4.5 inch IPS HD (1280 x 720) display and an 8MP camera. It's powered by Huawei's own 1.2GHz quad-core processor, which looks every bit as impressive as the more widely-used NVIDIA Tegra 3. However, if the shipment dates are accurate then Huawei will be competing for sales against the like of the HTC One X, as well a rumored high-end device from Samsung.

Source: CNMO; via: Unwired View

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3 years ago

Sony Mobile offers up Xperia S open source archive, provides support for custom ROM devs

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If you're an OEM like Sony Mobile, looking to expand your reach, what can you do for Android custom ROM developers to appeal to them? Show them your source and offer them up the same tools you use, of course.

And that's exactly what Sony has done. In an announcement on its blog, the artist formerly known as Sony Ericsson has offered up access to the open source archive for the Xperia S, where folks who know what they are doing can build custom ROMs and kernels for the device.

Over the past year or so, Sony has openly courted the Android the developer community. Whether that stance will help them improve their market share is open to debate, but it's certainly something we'd love to see from more Android manufacturers.

Source: Sony Mobile Blog

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3 years ago

LG Optimus M+ gets detailed, headed to MetroPCS

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The LG Optimus M was the first Android device to arrive on MetroPCS way back in 2010, and now it looks like MetroPCS and LG are looking to follow it up with LG Optimus M+. Leaked details suggest a minor spec bump from the original Optimus M -- there's an 3.5 Inch screen, a 800MHz processor and an updated 5MP camera with flash. Bluetooth 3.0 support is included too, for what that's worth. A decent mid-ranger, but nothing to write home about. Leaked renders obtained by PocketNow also indicate a slightly re-vamped chassis.

As might be expected for a budget handset, there's no Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich love had here -- this one will be Gingerbread. There's no set date for release, but we'll keep you posted if any further details emerge.

Source: PocketNow

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3 years ago

Sony to release Xperia Neo L with ICS in China

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Sony has announced the Xperia Neo L MT25i today -- a 4-inch, single-core device that will ship with Ice Cream Sandwich to China. The successor to last year's Xperia Neo and Xperia Neo V, it will be the first phone from Sony to ship with Android 4.0 out of the box. A quick look at the disclosed specifications and we can see that this one isn't a huge boost on the hardware front:

  • 4-inch 854x480 display
  • 5MP rear camera (with 720p recording)
  • VGA front facing camera
  • 512MB RAM
  • 1GB on-board storage
  • 1GHz single-core Qualcomm MSM8255 CPU
  • MicroSD card slot
  • 1500mAh battery

It's also not the thinnest and lightest phone in the world, checking in at 131.5 grams and 12.2 mm thick. The real draw to the Neo L will be ICS out of the box.

It's no powerhouse by today's standards. It's fairly thick and heavy. And it may not ever show up anywhere except China. I'm fine with the first two, but Sony, you're killing me with the last. This phone, like every Android phone you've ever made, comes in a version that will work just dandy with AT&T's network in the U.S., and most of the GSM networks in Europe. Why is it so hard to sell the phone unlocked from your website for worldwide delivery? Sony's various business ventures have to have a distribution network that can handle this. They're freaking Sony.

You've kept your best devices away from anyone in the U.S. who doesn't want to spend the time and money to get them imported by not selling them this way. Don't follow the trend other OEM's have set and release specific devices for different parts of the world. Please. I jump back and forth between what may arguably be the best Android devices available -- a Galaxy Nexus and a Galaxy S II. But I would be using a oh-so-sexy Xperia Arc S in "Pure White" if I could have entered my card info at your website and bought one without extra fees and the headache of buying it with no warranty through an importer. I'm shallow like that when it comes to electronics. I'm not the only one. 

The world wants to buy your phones. They are beautifully designed and usually extremely well built. Don't keep them from us.

Via: UnwiredView

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3 years ago

UK carriers reveal Galaxy S II Ice Cream Sandwich plans

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With unlocked European Samsung Galaxy S II models now being updated to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, owners of network-locked Galaxy S II in the UK are wondering when they'll be able to get the new software. As ever, this depends on which network your phone is locked to, and how long their internal testing processes take.

Initial bragging rights go to Three customers, as the network says Three-branded Galaxy S II's can now be updated to ICS through Samsung's Kies software. O2 customers have a little longer to wait, as the carrier's official Twitter account says that the update is due to roll out from "the start of April".

Things are a little murkier on the other three main networks, though. Vodafone UK says it's in the process of testing the ICS update, adding that it'll push out the software "as quickly as possible." However no release date is offered. Similarly, T-Mobile UK and Orange both say they have no information to offer on timings for the ICS update.

Of course, if you're willing to root your phone, then you needn't wait for your network to push out the update directly -- that's not for everyone, though. So it looks like it could be a frustrating few weeks for some network-locked Galaxy S II owners in the UK.

Source: Eurodroid, @O2, @OrangeHelpers, @TMobileUKhelp

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3 years ago

Unlocked 16GB GSM Galaxy Nexus going for $459 today

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If you've been holding off on buying a GSM Samsung Galaxy Nexus, you're starting to run out of excuses. The unlocked 16GB version is going for just $459 today on Daily Steals. That's still a chunk of change, to be sure, but it's much better than $700 or so some of us paid to import it back in the day.

And if you're worried about using the Daily Steals site, we've ordered from 'em before. Ask Jerry how his GNex is doing. Hit the link below to check out the whole thing.

More: Daily Steals

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3 years ago

International Motorola RAZR update adds new smart actions, battery and camera tweaks

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A new software update is available for the Motorola RAZR (that's the international GSM version of the Droid RAZR), according to Moto Europe's Facebook page. The new firmware is currently available in the UK, Italy, France and Spain. It's still based on Android 2.3 Gingerbread rather than ICS (although a leaked ICS build is available for the international model), RAZR users do have a handful of new features to look forward to.

New sample rules for Moto's Smart Actions feature have been added, including Auto Text and VIP Caller Mode. And the manufacturer also claims improved camera performance and increased battery life in this latest software update.

If you're rocking a GSM Motorola RAZR, head to Settings > About Phone > System Updates to grab the latest firmware update.

Source: Motorola Europe on Facebook; Thanks, @mad_caesar

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