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3 years ago

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 review [Updated]

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The original Samsung Galaxy Note was never the likeliest candidate for a multi-million-selling Android device. Few expected it to succeed, and its inflated size and stylus input made it an easy target for ridicule. We were cautiously optimistic in our November 2011 review, but also skeptical as to its mass market potential. Yet somehow, in the ten months following its debut in late 2011, Samsung managed to turn this quirky technological showcase into something with sufficient mass appeal to shift more than 10 million units. And so here we are one year on with its successor, the Galaxy Note 2.

Samsung likes to talk about having created a new category of mobile device with the Galaxy Note, and the Note certainly stretches the boundaries of what can reasonably be called a smartphone. It’s even inspired a few imitators, including LG’s Optimus Vu and Intuition. But users of the original Note will concede that while the device was groundbreaking, it certainly wasn’t perfect. Samsung’s TouchWiz 4 software was hardly ideal for a phone of that size, and many usability hiccups remained in Android, particularly where the "S Pen" stylus was concerned.

In 2012, the Galaxy Note 2 presents Samsung with the chance to refine the Note formula, and possibly dominate this niche for another year. So have they succeeded? Read on to find out, in our definitive Galaxy Note 2 review.

Update, Oct. 6: This review has been updated in light of multi-window support being added via an over-the-air update.

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3 years ago

Motorola killing webtop, laptop docks

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Motorola has confirmed that it will no longer be pursuing its webtop program in the future. Famously announced to much fanfare with the Motorola Atrix, the laptop dock is going away. Starting with its latest release of devices -- the Photon Q, Droid RAZR HD, etc. -- webtop will no longer be preloaded and laptop dock devices will no longer be for sale. In an official statement, Motorola laid out the news:

"Motorola's Webtop app helps users extend their smartphone experience to larger screens. While consumers around the world have adopted Webtop and the concept spurred a lot of innovation in the industry, the adoption has not been strong enough to justify continued resources being allocated to developing Webtop on future devices. We have also seen development of the Android operating system focus on the inclusion of more desktoplike features. Beginning with Photon Q and Droid Razr M/Droid Razr HD/Droid Razr Maxx HD, we will no longer be including Webtop on our products moving forward."

This probably doesn't come as a surprise to many of us who have either completely forgotten that webtop existed (we wouldn't blame you) or saw with the high prices and anemic sales that the future wasn't bright for the product. Most importantly, this really symbolizes the end of an era for Motorola. Webtop may have been one of the biggest things left that symbolized the Motorola of the past. As if Google and Motorola's statements prior to its latest device launches weren't clear enough, it seems as though we're looking at a "new Motorola" going forward.

Source: CNET

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3 years ago

International RAZR HD and RAZR i now part of Motorola bootloader unlock program

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Two of Motorola's latest flagship devices, the international RAZR HD and RAZR i, have been added to the manufacturer's bootloader unlock program today. The program, if you're not aware, gives the more technically inclined users among us an official tool to unlock the bootloader on the device, which gives access to the hardware that would otherwise be extremely difficult to access. That means custom recoveries, ROMs and hacks can be easier applied to the device. Remember though that going through official methods to unlock your bootloader with Motorola's tools will void your warranty -- a risk most of us are willing to take -- and you may be out of luck getting the phone serviced in the future.

A list of the currently supported devices:

Previously, only the Photon Q, Droid RAZR M and Droid RAZR HD developer editions were listed as being supported by the unlock program -- which Motorola pointed out at the launch event -- so it's good to see even more models getting added to the list.

It's important to point out that these are the international models being added to the list today. As far as the US models coming to Verizon go, we're pretty sure those bootloaders will be encrypted like most Verizon devices -- hence the release of separate developer model SKUs. We can understand Verizon's motivations for wanting encrypted bootloaders on the devices they subsidize to run on their network, but we also think that having fully priced (unsubsidized) developer editions is happy middle ground. It's important for those of you who support the idea of unlockable bootloader devices to follow through and purchase the developer editions -- vote with your wallet, folks.

Source: Motorola; via Droid-Life

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3 years ago

Motorola RAZR i now available in Brazil

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Motorola and Intel's latest flagship device, the Motorola RAZR i, is available for purchase in Brazil starting today. The specs are exactly what we've seen previously with the launch of the device in Europe -- 2Ghz Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, 8MP camera (that actually took some good pictures in our testing) and a 4.3-inch 540x960 (qHD) Super AMOLED screen. Unfortunately -- but not surprisingly -- the RAZR i is shipping with Ice Cream Sandwich, but Motorola pledged to have these devices updated to Jelly Bean as soon as possible.

The RAZR i is available for R$1,299 (about $640 USD, no surprise there) starting today. Have a look at the full press release after the break.

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3 years ago

HTC One X+ goes on pre-order at Expansys U.S.A.

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Those that are itching to get their mitts on the recently-unveiled HTC One X+ may want to check out Expansys U.S.A., since they've started accepting pre-orders for the unlocked model. Unfortunately, it looks like this is the European model, so don't expect it to work on AT&T's LTE network. Of course, you could always wait for more info about the AT&T version and see what they're charging on-contract.  Though no price or date are given on Expansys, those that pre-order will be first in line for a unit and will be notified as soon as details get nailed down. 

We've spent some time with the One X+, and so far everything is looking good. Though some of it is looking familiar from the original One X, there's also lot that's got a bump upwards. Here's a quick run-down  of the specs. 

  • 1.7 GHz quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 CPU
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 2100mAh battery
  • 64GB of internal storage in the UK, other markets may vary
  • 4.7-inch laminated SuperLCD2 display at 720p (1280x720) resolution with Gorllla Glass 2
  • Internal speaker with built-in amplifier
  • 8.0MP rear camera with BSI sensor, f/2.0 lens and HTC ImageSense
  • 1.6MP front-facing camera with HTC ImageSense
  • HSPA+ 42Mbps connectivity in Europe, LTE connectivity in the U.S.
  • Wifi, Bluetooth and NFC support
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS with HTC Sense 4+
  • Size: 134.36 x 69.9 x 8.9mm
  • Weight: 135 grams with battery

So, anyone going to snag one of these on Expansys, or are you going to wait a month or two and get one right from AT&T?

Thanks Harel!

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3 years ago

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 update enables multi-window support, we go hands-on

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Well that was quick. Just a couple of days after it emerged that Samsung had shipped many international Galaxy Note 2 devices without the much-touted "multi-window" ability, a new software update is going out that enables the feature. Multi-window allows Note 2 owners to long-press the back button and bring up a menu allowing them to split their screen between two fully-fledged Android applications. Essentially, it's full multitasking on a mobile device with two apps in view and usable at the same time, which is pretty awesome.

Right now, not all Android apps are supported, but the multi-window feature isn't just limited to Samsung apps like it is on the Note 10.1. Multi-window on the Note 2 supports a wide range of Google apps, including Gmail, YouTube, Chrome and Talk. Third-party offerings like the official Twitter app are supported too, though many others are not.

Today's update to version XXALIJ1 also comes with a new baseband version and Google Chrome.

If you've picked up a Galaxy Note 2 in the past week, you should see an update notification waiting for you this morning. If not, head to Settings > About device > Software update to get started. In the meantime, be sure to check out our quick hands-on demo video above.

More: Samsung Galaxy Note 2 review

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3 years ago

AT&T unveils holiday lineup in New York City, we go hands-on

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If you're looking for Android devices that are headed to AT&T in time for the holiday season, look no further. At their event hosted in New York City AT&T unveiled a massive amount of Android devices and offered us a first hand look at them all. The line up hits just about every category you can imagine be it low cost all the way up to the high end offerings. So what all did they bring? Check out the full list below and hit the links to get a hands on look at the devices individually:

As you can tell, that's a lot of Samsung and HTC love right there however, there is also the LG Optimus G that will making its way to AT&T as well. You can check out our previous hands on with that, if that's what you're holding out for. All of that said; anyone going to be picking any of these devices up? if so, which are you getting? If not, what are you holding out for?

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3 years ago

First look at AT&T's take at the Samsung Galaxy Note 2

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New York seems to be the first stop for the US-bound Galaxy Note 2—we caught the first stateside glimpse last month at Pepcom’s Holiday Spectacular, and tonight we’re meeting AT&T version of the hotly anticipated device. Aside from AT&T’s logo and LTE connectivity, we’re dealing with the same exact device that our own Alex Dobie so eloquently reviewed just today. So dive right in to see what he liked and didn’t, and while we await final word on pricing and availability on Ma Bell, catch some shots of AT&T’s model after the break.

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3 years ago

First look at AT&T's Sony Xperia TL

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Not to be outshone by HTC and Samsung, Sony was on hand at tonight's AT&T holiday unveliling with a flagship of its own, the Xperia TL. It'll be on AT&T shelves in time for the holidays, and Sony is playing to win. On-board we've got a dual-core 1.5 GHz processor (more than likely a Snapdragon S4 of sorts), a full gig of RAM, and Ice Cream Sandwich, with Jelly Bean "coming soon." Essentially, it's an Xperia T with AT&T LTE support.

The TL isn't quite as thin and light as some of its competitors, but what it lacks in sleekness it makes up for with a beautiful display -- this 4.6-inch Sony HD Reality Display packs a 720 x 1280 resolution, powered by Sony's Bravia Engine. It's a stunner, and lands itself in the upper echelon of smartphone displays. Colors are crisp and remarkably natural, with impresive brightness and remarkable viewing angles.

The TL flies, thanks to the Snapdragon S4 under the hood, and the 13 MP camera has some great editing features that Sony hopes will stand out among the crowd. We'll put it through its paces once we get a big closer to release date -- for now, enjoy some photos and video after the break. Stay tuned for more coverage of the TL's international cousin, the Xperia T.

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3 years ago

Samsung Galaxy Express hands on

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AT&T has set up shop high above New York’s Lower East Side tonight with its upcoming holiday lineup, including the just-announced Galaxy Express from Samsung. It’s an entry-level device that still manages to pack a punch, and AT&T says that the Express is an ideal choice for first-time smartphone owners. If the carrier keeps the price point low, it might just be onto a winner.

The Express packs a 4.5-inch Super AMOLED display, larger than what we’re used to seeing on “budget” devices, with a modest 480 x 800 resolution. Its quality is noticeably lower than the rest of Samsung’s portfolio, yet it manages to impress, with the same bold "pop" and high-contrast colors we've come to expect from AMOLED. Sacrifices must be made, and this one isn't as drastic as we feared.

Underneath the hood you’ve got a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor (AT&T hasn’t given specifics, but we’ll venture to guess we’re dealing with a Snapdragon S4 here), 1GB of RAM, and Touchwiz-skinned Ice Cream Sandwich. The Express’s performance is impressive, and not just in terms of budget devices -- everything here is snappy, smooth, and confident, a testament to the processor and a byproduct of the lower-res screen. The 2,000 mAh battery should be able to handle a solid day of usage, based on what we’ve seen from similarly-equipped Galaxy devices.

The Express feels great in the hand and lacks a certain bulk and girth that often accompany lower-end devices. It’s light and trim and retains the refinement and eye-catching style present on the GS3. In fact, calling it a mini-GS3 wouldn’t be too far off. If you simply can’t stomach forking over $200 for a shiny flagship device, the Express could be a viable alternative. We’ll keep our ears to the ground for pricing and release dates—for now, check out some hands-on after the break.

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3 years ago

First look at AT&T's Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro

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AT&T and Samsung are in store for a fairly busy holiday season, and Ma Bell is here in New York showing off what the two companies have put together this year. With the Note 2 on the top end and the Galaxy Express bringing up the rear, we’ve got the Galaxy Rugby Pro sitting pretty in between, offering some budget-friendly specs along with ruggedized features aimed at those who use their phone more as a tool than a fashion piece.

The Rugby Pro is the follow up to the Rugby Smart, and bumps up its specs just enough to keep it relevant. We’ve got a 4-inch Super AMOLED display at 480 x 800 that looks considerably better than the larger, less dense Galaxy Express. It’s definitely clear though that Samsung didn’t put its best foot forward with either of these displays, opting for more a more affordable, less gush-worthy experience.

Other than Android 4.0, LTE connectivity, and its 5-megapixel camera, internal specs are few and far between here, with AT&T opting to tout the Rugby Pro’s muscle rather than its brain. The Rugby Pro is waterproof, shock resistant, and dust proof, and can be submersed in one meter of water for up to a half hour. The Pro also supports EAS corporate email and push-to-talk functionality.

Its main competitor is the Motorola Defy Pro, another ruggedized smartphone, and I’ll give the Rugby Pro the one-up in this head-to-head, mostly due to its TouchWiz interface. While it’s not nearly as fluid or smooth as the rest of Samsung’s lineup, familiar aspects are here, and we’ve grown quite fond of Samsung’s UI as of late. The Rugby Pro also has ICS, compared to the Defy Pro’s Gingerbread, and it’s ligther and a bit more stylish that Moto’s offering.

If you’re looking for the hottest and sexiest phone out there, run far far away from the Rugby Pro, as its aesthetic qualities are severely lacking. But if you’re the type to abuse your phone and you’re not in the position to replace $600 phones every couple of months (who is?), this is definitely worth a look. And look away, at the photos and hands-on video after the break.

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3 years ago

HTC One VX hands on

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Perhaps the star of tonight’s AT&T Holiday preview here in New York is the One VX, the out-of-left-field entry from HTC that sits somewhere between the One V and T-Mobile’s One S. Like Phil said upon its unveiling a few days ago, this is a device in and of itself, and really brings the best of both worlds to AT&T’s LTE network. 

Spec wise, we’re following the new trend of high-end internals at low entry-level prices. The 4.5-inch Super LCD2 display is the same qHD resolution as the One S but the ever-so-slight bump in size makes a world of difference. It looks great too, and while it isn’t the mind-blowing 720p display on the One X+, it produces vivid color, excellent viewing angles, and admirable brightness. You won’t be disappointed here.

The Snapdragon S4 MSM 8390 is just a few clicks below the One S in terms of clock speed, but based on my short time with it tonight, it gets the job done. The One VX chugs along with nary a hiccup or stutter, and seems to be able to handle just about anything you throw at it. No, this isn’t the biggest and baddest processor/RAM combo you’ll find, but that doesn’t mean the VX doesn’t offer exceptional usability. The same can be said for the camera—its 5 megapixels are lower than the 8 on the One X and One S, but thanks to its ImageSense processor and advanced optics, we’re expecting exceptional photographs.

Physically, the VX really hits a sweet spot in terms of screen size and portability. It’s absolutely stunning, as we’ve come to expect from the One series. Slim and light, the VX looks quite similar to the One S with its rounded corners, super-slim profile, metal trim, and matte silver/white finish. It’s also the perfect balance between big and small- despite the 4.5-inch display, the VX is perfectly pocketable.

I do have some small gripes, like HTC’s decision to ship with Ice Cream Sandwich while the rest of the One line is queued up for its Jelly Bean upgrade. And don’t get me started on the name—HTC ruined a great thing with this choice, and completely screws up its super-clean One branding. Why not the V+? Or even the S-?

I’m on pins and needles to see what kind of pricetag AT&T slaps on the VX, as I think this phone has the potential to be huge at the right price point. Until we get a chance to put it through its paces, sit back, relax, and enjoy some hands-on after the break.

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3 years ago

First look at the HTC One X+ for AT&T

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Perhaps the most anticipated arrival on AT&T this holiday season is the follow up to the HTC One X, one of the best Android smartphones on the carrier (and any carrier, for that matter). The HTC One X+ is a modest yet attractive step up, complete with a beefed-up processor, a bigger battery, the next iteration of HTC’s Sense, and the buttery-smooth Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. What we’re seeing tonight here in New York is identical to the international version our resident Brit Alex Dobie got his hands on just two days ago,  save for AT&T LTE radios and branding. 

I’ve got to echo Alex’s sentiments—the screen is absolutely phenomenal, even if it isn’t any improvement over the already stunning HTC One X. Performance does indeed seem a bit snappier and more fluid with the over-clocked processor and new iteration of Android, and the camera is as impressive as ever. And physically, just like the original One X, the One X+ is one of the most striking, svelte, attractive devices available today.

I see where HTC is coming from with this release—with LG’s Optimus G and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2 on the horizon, it needs to stay relevant enough to compete. I do wonder why HTC didn’t opt for 2 GB of RAM as its competitors have recently adopted. Despite the choice, the One X + is a nice stopgap between the original and HTC’s follow up, which will more than likely arrive early next year.

Some hands-on shots can be found after the break.

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3 years ago

Google says Motorola downsizing may be more expensive than anticipated

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Motorola has been undergoing significant "restructuring" for awhile, and Google recently said that even more than expected. Google increased the estimated cost of severance-related charges from $275 million to $300 million for the third quarter, and that another $40 million in facilities costs were possible. Google addressed these changes in a statements.

"Motorola has continued to refine its planned restructuring actions and now expects to broaden those actions to include additional geographic regions outside of the U.S. ... Motorola continues to evaluate its plans and further restructuring actions may occur, which may cause Google to incur additional restructuring charges, some of which may be significant."

Between the uphill battle of making Motorola profitable and the patent disputes that it has exposed Google to (nevermind defended them from), it's getting harder to see the $12.5 billion acquisition as a good idea. On the other hand, Motorola wasn't in particularly good shape when Google acquired it; one can only imagine how much longer Moto would have lasted on their own. 

What do you guys think: has Motorola still not had a chance to prove itself as a worthwhile investment to the Android ecosystem, or is it becoming too expensive for Google to reasonably keep around? Was the acquisition worth it for the patents alone, or are we likely to see some really excellent devices come out of Motorola with Google behind them? 

Via: Reuters

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3 years ago

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 launches on Vodafone UK

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Vodafone UK sends word that it's just launched the Galaxy Note 2, Samsung's latest 5.5-inch phone/tablet hybrid device. The device is available on Vodafone's "Red" price plan from £47 per month, which includes unlimited calls and texts, and 2GB of data. Other tariffs are available, although you'll pay an up-front fee for the phone if you go this route. For example, £33 per month will get you 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB, with a £150 up-front fee for the Note.

Currently, Voda's offering the Galaxy Note 2 in "marbel white" only -- there's no sign of the "titanium grey" version available from other vendors.

For more on the Galaxy Note 2, check out our hands-on coverage.  We'll publish our full review later today.

Source: Vodafone UK

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