Headlines

2 years ago

5-inch devices - a great half-way to tablets, or a phone only a giant could love?

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I'm 6 feet, 8 inches tall. For our metric friends, that's 203 centimeters. I have, on more than one occasion, been called the tallest blogger in the world. (And may well be.) I can palm a basketball without any trouble. I cheer on the giants in Skyrim when they punt my lackey into orbit. Sometimes I imagine them doing cute little drawings on the Samsung Galaxy Note, mapping out the constellations the poor soul will be visiting shortly. The fact is, when someone first sees a 5-inch smartphone, be it the ill-fated Dell Streak or Samsung's latest stylus-toting follow-up, most folks think only an unnaturally gigantic person could use the thing to make a call. Well, they're wrong; even for us Gigantors, it's pretty unwieldy. 

I have to say, my time with the Samsung Galaxy Note has definitely helped me appreciate what you little people are going through with ballooning screen sizes. 4-inch displays are now the norm among Android hardware, and make the 3.5-inch screen on the iPhone 4S, sharp as it may be, feel extremely cramped. While 4 inches is perfectly fine for me, cranking it up to 5 makes me realize just how unrealistic it is to use a bigger phone one-handed.  Those larger screens also mean tighter pockets, awkward grips when making a call, and can be a significant drain on the power supply, even if the battery gets an equivalent up-size.

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2 years ago

LG unveils Optimus Vu, complete with 4:3 aspect ratio and stylus

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LG has made the Optimus Vu official, announcing the 5-inch phone on their Korean Newsroom site early this AM.  Running Gingerbread (Android 2.3) and packing a 5.0-inch display with a 4:3 aspect ratio and a specialized stylus, the size alone makes this one a force to reckon with.

The full list of specs according to LG:

  • 139.6 x 90.4 x 8.5mm
  • Weight: 168g
  • 5-inch IPS 650 nit display at 1024x768
  • 8MP rear camera, 1.3MP front
  • 32GB storage
  • 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm processor
  • Android 2.3 Gingerbread
  • 2080 mAh battery
  • HDMI
  • DLNA
  • Wifi Direct

We've already seen the Optimus Vu holding hands with the other member of the ginormus-phone club, the Galaxy Note (which went on sale for AT&T hours before this announcement), but it's nice to see some clearer press shots.  No word on any worldwide release, but we're told to expect it in Korea on SK Telecom in early March.  LG also says to expect more at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona about the Vu, and we'll be right there to hear and see it.  

We've got more pics and the full presser after the break.

More: LG Korea (Korean)

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2 years ago

Samsung Galaxy Note available today on AT&T for $299

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The the Samsung Galaxy Note is finally available in the United States, hitting Best Buy and AT&T's websites right this second, and brick-and-mortar stores just as soon as the sun rises. (And, you know, the stores actually open.)

The Galaxy Note is no stranger to these parts. We reviewed the European version some months ago -- it's already shipped more than 1 million units worldwide -- and we've had the AT&T version for a few days now. They're larger the same (large) smartphone. It's got a hulking (but beautiful) 5.3-inch Super AMOLED display -- with a whopping 800x1280 resolution -- powered by a 1.4 GHz dual-core processor running Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread.It's got an 8-megapixel camera in the back, and a 2MP shooter ujp front.

The AT&T version varies slightly by switching to the traditional 4-butoon scheme below the display, whereas the Euro version opts for a larger, centered home button. That's not unusual -- the Galaxy S and Galaxy S II lines did the same. AT&T's Galaxy Note also throws in a 4G LTE radio in addition to the HSPA+ radio. (Take that, Europe!)

It's a smartphone, to be sure. Makes phone calls and everything. But the noted feature of the note -- and really the reason it's so big -- is the included stylus, called the S Pen. It brings a whole 'nother level of functionality to the traditional Android experience. And when not needed (or wanted), it tucks away neatly into the phone itself, out of sight, out of mind.

There's your teaser. We've got lots more coming in our full AT&T Galaxy Note review. If you're the early adopting type, head into a store today, or hit the links below.

Buy the Samsung Galaxy note: AT&T, Best Buy
More: Galaxy Note forums

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2 years ago

Motorola Droid RAZR, RAZR MAXX update pushing out

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Update: Because so many people are just starting to get the update (thanks for the e-mails, everybody!), we're going to bump this post -- something we try to avoid doing for obvious reasons.

Original from Feb. 6: If you're the proud owner of a Motorola Droid RAZR, or it's brother with a bit bigger gas tank the Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX, (read the review of the MAXX right here)  there's an OTA update ready and waiting for you.  Version 6.12.173.XT912.Verizon.en.US (there's no way we could make that one up) started slowly rolling out over the weekend and is now pushing hard and heavy, and chances are you can grab it yourself by simply going to Settings>About Phone>System Updates.  

The update itself is about 150MB in size, and updates the software to Android 2.3.6.  I know many were wanting Ice Cream Sandwich, but this update brings some welcome bug fixes and security patches, so we'll gladly take it.  The full change list, line by line:

  • Mobile Hotspot will now successfully allow other devices to connect to all
  • Improvements in the Mobile Hotspot security.
  • VZ Navigator has been updated with the latest 3D map improvements.
  • Visual Voice Mail messages can be marked as read.
  • Visual Voice Mail message playback resumes when audio is switched to speaker.
  • Visual Voice Mail will successfully subscribe or unsubscribe while connected with Wifi.
  • Successfully press back key after playback in Visual Voice Mail without error.
  • V CAST App now comes preloaded.
  • MotoCast installation steps have been improved for easier use.
  • Improved stability of data connectivity after Airplane Mode is disabled.
  • Improved data throughput performance in low-signal 4G environments.
  • Improved Battery life when using Phone Book Access Profile (PBAP) Bluetooth headsets.
  • Successfully save multimedia ringtones.
  • Favorite Contacts widget has been updated.
  • Improved device stability when moving between home screen panels.
  • Email icon has been updated for improved visibility.
  • When performing an Over the Air (OTA) update, the display will correctly show the remaining download time.
  • CMAS (Commercial Mobile Alert Service) feature has been added.

That's a hell of a list, and seeing improvements with 4G data connectivity is certainly something everyone likes to see.  Things should go smoothly after this one, but if you hit any snags or just want to discuss it all, be sure to hit the forums!

More: Verizon

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2 years ago

Late-night poll: Is your Android phone rooted?

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Since we started doing our polls each weeknight, the most popular requested subject from you guys was about root.  People want to know who is rooting their phones, and why they're doing it.  It's a choice everyone should consider before making, as these little (and not so little) pieces of glass and plastic can get pretty darned expensive to replace.  Futzing around with the software can be a risky move, and when your done your phone is a bit less secure.  

But man, can it be fun.  So let's take a poll and see what the average reader of Android Central has to say.  Do you root your phone?

 

Do you root your phone?

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2 years ago

HTC adds more North American phones to Ice Cream Sandwich update list

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HTC sends word via its official Facebook page that in addition to the handful of phones already announced, Verizon's Rhyme, Droid Incredible 2 and Thunderbolt will be getting the latest version of Android later in the year. And on the Canadian side, the manufacturer has confirmed that the HTC Raider on Rogers and Bell will also see ICS in the months ahead.

We have more good news related to Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, and can confirm that upgrades are planned for Verizon Wireless customers with the HTC Rhyme, HTC Thunderbolt, and DROID Incredible 2 by HTC, as well as the already announced HTC Rezound.   In addition, the HTC Raider is on the list to receive ICS for customers of Rogers and Bell in Canada. Stay tuned for more news on Ice Cream Sandwich releases in the coming weeks.

So great news for owners of those phones, especially the long-suffering Thunderbolt, which took long enough to get bumped from Froyo to Gingerbread. HTC expects to begin updating international handsets to ICS in the next month, starting with the Sensation and Sensation XE.

Source: HTC USA Facebook

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2 years ago

Archos 35 Smart Home Phone review

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If there’s one area of communications that remains firmly rooted in the 20th century, it’s the humble home phone. Dumb, unloved and tethered to a wall, these devices have been left behind, as cellphone technology continues to soar further into the stratosphere. With Android expanding its reach to ever more product classes, it was only a matter of time before someone attempted to bring the home phone up to date by introducing it to the leading smartphone operating system. And that’s precisely the idea behind the Archos 35 Smart Home Phone.

However, questions remain as to whether a smartphone OS belongs on such a device. Smartphones are personal, portable gadgets, neither of which applies to the typical home phone. And we have some concerns about the hardware too, particularly the nasty resistive touchscreen that’s been used.

Read on to find out our full thoughts, as we dive further into the Archos 35 Smart Home Phone.


Good call quality, DECT functionality works well. Offers a decent, if basic Android experience.


Abysmal resistive touchscreen, cheap build quality, awkward button placement and a couple of software bugs. No Android Market support.



We’re still not convinced that a home phone is the right place for a smartphone OS and matching hardware, and if we are to be persuaded, the Archos 35 Smart Home Phone isn’t the device to do it.

Inside this review

More info

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2 years ago

Android app permissions - How Google gets it right ...

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And how we, the users, still need to take responsibility

There's been a lot of news lately about a lapse in either security or judgment -- both, really -- at Apple that allows iOS applications to borrow your contact data and send it off to parts unknown without your consent. Apple has addressed the issue to members of the U.S. Congress, and will take steps to hold tighter control in a future iOS update. That's good news, and we're glad to see it happening.

But what about Android? During all this focus on apps doing things without explicit user permission, you see people referring to the Android permissions model. We're going to break it all down for you.  It's not perfect, but it works pretty well -- and it's certainly better than no permission system at all.

Let's walk you through permissions on Android, and how you need to be sure to do you part.

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2 years ago

Android 5.0 Jellybean in 2012? Better optimized for tablets? You don't say ...

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ZOMG A STORY ABOUT JELLY BEAN! But here's the thing. It's out of our favorite (not really) Taiwanese manufacturer rag, Digitimes. It's also as obvious as it is ridiculous. Here's the gist:

Android 5.0 Jelly Bean (neither the number nor the nickname is official, remember) is said to:

  • Launch in the second quarter. We dunno about "launch," but, yeah. Google IO is June 27-29. June is in the second quarter. And it's more than likely we'll get details on the next version of Android there. But "launch"? Nah.
  • Further optimized for tablets. We certainly hope otherwise, what's the point? Jelly Bean (or whatever it's called) probably will be further optimized for smartphones, too. Maybe even Google TV. Now will the UI undergo some major reconstruction for tablets? That's entirely possible, and it's not a bad idea at all. 
  • Integrating Chrome for "dual-operating system designs": Uh, OK. The idea, apparently, is to offer manufacturers the option of having an Android/Windows 8 system, without having to shut down. Hey, why not. BlackBerry's already doing that with its PlayBook tablet. But somehow we don't think adding a full second operating system and ecosystem is going to make choosing a tablet any simpler for consumers.
  • Google looking to get back into the netbook/notebook market with Jelly Bean: Sure. Why not. Android netbooks aren't new -- you'll recall our look at the HP Compaq Airlife 100 at Mobile World Congress in 2010. And you have the likes of ASUS' excellent Transformer line of tablet/notebook hybrids. Question is, should this have any legs to is, what happens with Chromebooks?

So, yeah. Really not a whole lot of meat there. A little patience, folks. We've got a good feeling that Google's got something up its sleeves for 2012.

Source: Digitimes

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2 years ago

Google Wallet pre-paid card exploit fixed

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Last week Google disabled the provisioning of pre-paid cards in Google Wallet, following the discovery that clearing app data could allow the PIN for these cards to be reset. Now Google says a fix is rolling out, and that pre-paid cards are available once again.

Writing on the official Google Commerce blog, VP of Google Wallet and Payments, Osama Bedier, said that the company was not aware that any pre-paid cards that had been misused as a result of the vulnerability.

Yesterday afternoon, we restored the ability to issue new prepaid cards to the Wallet. In addition, we issued a fix that prevents an existing prepaid card from being re-provisioned to another user. While we’re not aware of any abuse of prepaid cards or the Wallet PIN resulting from these recent reports, we took this step as a precaution to ensure the security of our Wallet customers. If you are unable to access your previous prepaid card balance for any reason, please contact our toll-free support for assistance.

So now we can all sleep a little safer at night, knowing that if someone steals your phone, at least they won't be able to pay for a Big Mac out of your pre-paid allowance.

The issue with obtaining PIN numbers on rooted devices via a brute-force method remains, however, as we discussed in our most recent podcast, a rooted device is by definition insecure. For its part, Google still recommends not installing Google Wallet on rooted devices.

Source: Google Commerce Blog

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