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3 years ago

The best Android smartphones on U.S. carriers [late 2012]

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We've said it a number of times the past few months -- never before have we seen a time when there are so many good Android smartphones on so many U.S. carriers. We've practically been tripping over them all year. 

From T-Mobile to Sprint to AT&T to Verizon, most of the major manufacturers are represented. But when we get down to it, we're going in the same direction as we did in our international picks.

Best of the Best in the U.S.: Samsung Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2

Our all-around winner(s) for best smartphone remains the Samsung Galaxy S3, and its larger sibling, the Galaxy Note 2. OK, so that's two phones. We're adding the Note 2 here because it really is in a category all its own.

Back to the Galaxy S3, though. It's got the design. The whole "inspired by nature" thing is Samsung's most personable, fluid design yet. It makes a large, 4.8-inch phone feel good. The specs, while maybe not on the bleeding edge anymore, remain more than good enough for most smartphone owners. The inclusion of microSD storage and a removable battery give flexibility that other phones don't. (Those features have been trending off in the majority of other devices. And while we don't ding them for it as much as we used to, you can't overlook the fact that it's better to have a microSD card and removable battery and not need them, than to not have the option.)

What's more, the Galaxy S3 is the only phone on every major U.S. carrier (and a few of the regionals as well). The experience is largely the same whether you're on T-Mobile or Sprint or AT&T or Verizon, network issues aside. The camera is among the best you can get. The software remains on the newer side of things, with the phone starting to get its upgrades to Android 4.x Jelly Bean. Samsung's TouchWiz user interface isn't our favorite way to get things done, but, again, for most smartphone users, it makes life easier. 

OK. The Galaxy Note 2. It's also available on every major U.S. carrier. Picture the Galaxy S3, only bigger. Some 5.5 inches, to be exact. Take all the features Samsung's put into the Galaxy S3, and add some excellent pen input mechanisms and dual-screen viewing, and you've got another winner, hands-down.

So should you bother to look at anything else?

Absolutely.​ If we have to pick just one phone, the Galaxy S3 takes it. But as we said at the outset, there are a number of excellent options on each major carrier.

These aren't also-rans. We're not picking other phones to make their manufacturers feel good about themselves. The phones we've listed after the break are the phones that our in our pockets. They're the phones that we use day after day. We live with them. We work with them. We travel with them. We rely on them to document our lives. And we recommend any one of them.  

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3 years ago

NYTimes for Android updated with improved tablet support

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The official New York Times app for Android has been updated to version 3.0 today with a substantial improvement in UI and usability. The big news is that this new application is responsive to many more screen sizes, rather than just being optimized for one size. Previously, the app was really only designed for phones and 7-inch tablets, but now users with 10-inch devices (and sizes in between) will be able to benefit from the increased screen real estate. The new UI will offer a better column setup for reading, along with larger images and scaled typography.

There are also several general improvements to the app, including improvements to breaking news alerts, a better "Top News" layout and general performance enhancements. You can grab a download of the app at the Play Store link above.

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3 years ago

Nexus 4 bumpers back in stock at U.S. Play Store

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Even if you've been lucky enough to pick up an LG Nexus 4 in the U.S., you may have had difficulty getting hold of the official bumper case to protect your new shiny. The bumper has been unavailable through the U.S. Play Store for a while, but today it's popped back in stock with a 3-5 business day shipping time and a $19.99 price tag.

The official LG-made accessory protects the sides of the Nexus 4 by covering them, and the glass back by raising it slightly, preventing scratches. We've given the bumper a once-over in our recent hands-on feature, so head on over there for more details.

More: Nexus 4 Bumper on Google Play

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3 years ago

Verizon announces Galaxy Camera with LTE, coming Dec. 13

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As rumored, and subsequently leaked, Verizon is indeed getting its own version of the Samsung Galaxy Camera, equipped with 4G LTE-capable radios. Other specs are identical to the international and AT&T-branded Galaxy Camera -- you've got a 16-megapixel sensor behind a 23mm Samsung lens capable of 21X optical zoom, equipped with optical image stabilization (OIS). On the software side, it runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean alongside Samsung's TouchWiz software. Internal hardware isn't mentioned, but we imagine it's running the same quad-core Exynos SoC found in the other Galaxy Camera, or some equivalent chip.

Priced at $549.99, it's $50 more than the already expensive AT&T version. But Verizon customers will be able to add a Galaxy Camera to their "Share Everything" plan for a promotional price of $5 per month, which sweetens the deal ever so slightly. The device will go on sale this Thursday, Dec. 13, in white and Verizon-exclusive black.

Anyone looking to pick up Samsung's first smart camera on Big Red's LTE network? Let us know in the comments.

More: Galaxy Camera sample images and video

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3 years ago

Google Play Books and Movies now live in Russia

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Google is continuing its expansive rollout of content to different countries today by offering Google Play Books and Movies to the Russian market. On the Books front, Google Play will be offering over 1,000 Russian-language publications, as well as best-selling books from numerous authors. For Movies, Russian users will have access to not only international new releases but also local films. Movies can be rented starting at 49 rubles (about $1.60), and purchased starting at 99 rubles (about $3.22).

We're glad to see Google is taking the international markets seriously. It's not just the devices, but the content and ecosystem behind them, that make Android a great platform. People all around the world deserve to have access to all of the great things Google Play has to offer.

Source: Google Russia Blog

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3 years ago

HTC One SV available for pre order in the UK, SIM free - coming Jan 2

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Unlocked-Mobiles.com dropped us an email today to let us know that the HTC One SV can now be pre ordered SIM-free in the UK. And it comes with a pretty decent  price tag -- £329.98 including VAT.

Shipping is expected on Jan. 2, although due to the holidays I would imagine that there could be some movement on that date. However, if you have had your eye on this one it would make sense to get your orders in quick. We already know that the 4G device will be arriving with EE in the UK, but if you prefer to go SIM only, this could be the perfect solution for you.

Spec-wise the HTC One SV falls nicely into the mid-range category, with its 4.3 inch SuperLCD2 display, 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 CPU with 1GB of RAM, 5-megapixel camera and 8GB of onboard storage which is expandable with a microSD card.

The only downside to the device is that it is shipping with Ice Cream Sandwich and when it will get an update to Jelly Bean is anyone's guess. That said, it still looks to be quite a beauty, and if you "need" an LTE Android device then this could be a decent option.

You can pre-order the HTC One SV from Unlocked-Mobiles.com here.

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3 years ago

Samsung Galaxy Camera initial photo and video samples

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The Galaxy Camera is a device Samsung hopes will usher in a new era of smart point-and-shoot cameras. With a 16MP sensor, a 23mm lens with 21X optical zoom capability and optical image stabilization, it's far beyond what you'll find on the average smartphone. And yet it's powered by Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and backed up by the latest mobile internals from Samsung -- a quad-core Exynos chip and 1GB of RAM.

We've spent the past few days getting to know the Galaxy Camera, shooting a vast quantity of photos and video along the way. Our first impressions are that it unsurprisingly trounces every smartphone out there in terms of image quality, and compares favorably to current high-end point-and-shoot cameras. But it also carries a hefty price tag -- $500 in the U.S., and upwards of €500 in the eurozone. So if you were to judge the Galaxy Camera solely on image quality, you might come to the conclusion that you're paying over the odds. But we'll save the argument for our full review, coming in the days ahead -- this post is all about the end results.

What we're presenting here is an 70-photo-strong gallery to give you an example of the kind of shots we've been able to produce during our first few days with the Galaxy Camera. Most of the outdoor daylight pictures are taken in automatic mode, while some indoor and close-up images (particularly device shots) were taken in "smart" and "expert" modes. Smart presents users with a list of presets to fit particular circumstances -- for example, macro, night mode, panorama. Conversely, expert mode gives you full access to S/A/P/M toggles, allowing you to tweak program modes, apertures, exposure, ISO and shutter times to your heart's content.

On the whole, we're pretty pleased with the photos and video we've been able to produce using the Galaxy Camera. It's not going to replace your DSLR, but it's surprising how much of a difference the Android-plus-TouchWiz combo makes to the usability -- and enjoyability -- of a point-and-shoot camera. And that point is reinforced when you go back to using a clunky traditional camera UI.

Check past the break for our extensive photo gallery and sample video reel. We'll have more for you in the full review later in the week.

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3 years ago

Sky Go for Android updated with support for 14 new devices, including Jelly Bean

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It looks like British TV network Sky is starting to catch up with the the pace of Android OS upgrades. Today it's launched a new version of its Sky Go mobile TV app, introducing support for 14 new devices along with Android versions 4.1-4.2.1 (Jelly Bean). Today's update brings Sky Go to a wider audience, after an update over the summer first opened it up to ICS phones.

From our own device history, we can confirm that Sky Go supports the Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Galaxy S3 LTE, Galaxy Note 2, Sony Xperia T, LG Optimus 4X HD and Jelly Bean'd Galaxy Nexus, amongst others. Notable exceptions include the HTC One X+ and One S, which unfortunately remain unsupported.

Other changes in the new version of Sky Go for Android include improved navigation and various other UI changes.

Sky subscribers can grab the app from the Google Play link above.

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3 years ago

International Galaxy Note 2 models get Android 4.1.2 update with new TouchWiz features

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It's not just the Galaxy S3 getting a generous helping of new features in its Android 4.1.2 update. According to reports from SamMobile, the international Galaxy Note 2 (GT-N7100) and Galaxy Note 2 LTE (GT-N7105) are also receiving new Samsung-flavored software along with the new OS upgrade.

The biggest changes seem to be focused around the top of the screen. The notification shade is now customizable, so if you're not a fan of extraneous toggles and brightness dials, you can turn them off. If you keep your notification shade quick-controls, you'll notice new additions such as the ability to toggle the multi-window feature on and off. The notification bar itself has also changed slightly, going from grey back to black. And the lock screen's been changed up a little, with a new, optional ink effect in the on-screen "pool" when unlocking the device.

Web browser performance improvements are also noted, although we've always found Samsung's stock browser to be pretty fast. And finally, there's also a new Group Cast app for sharing music and photos with other Samsung device owners.

SamMobile says the Note 2 Android 4.1.2 upgrade is going live now in Poland (Note 2) and Sweden (Note 2 LTE). As ever, other countries are likely to vary, particularly when carriers need to get involved and certify the updates.

Are you seeing today's update on your international Galaxy Note 2? Let us know how you're getting on in the comments!

Source: SamMobile (2)

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3 years ago

HTC launches One SV for the UK, coming to EE

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Originally announced in Southeast Asia in September, the HTC One SV is now headed to Europe -- specifically the UK, where it'll launch on EE, the country's first 4G LTE carrier. An unassuming device with widely curved sides, the One SV is HTC's mid-range LTE offering for markets outside the U.S.

Spec-wise, we're looking at a handset that sits somewhere near the One S in HTC's Android line-up It's got a 4.3-inch WVGA (480x800) display, a 5MP ImageSense camera around the back, and is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 CPU with 1GB of RAM. 8GB of storage is included, along with a microSD slot for expansion. Crucially, the One SV also comes with LTE support, allowing it access to EE's fast lane of 4G data.

Unfortunately, however, this is another phone running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box, with no word of when a Jelly Bean update might arrive, or whether one is even in the works.

In any case, the HTC One SV is due to launch "in the coming weeks," which likely indicates a release date right before the holidays. We've got more photos of the One SV in white and blue after the break, along with today's press release.

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3 years ago

Daily news roundup: December 10, 2012

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3 years ago

Intel ready to shrink mobile SoC circuitry to 22 nanometers

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Intel is hoping to become more competitive in 2013 with new manufacturing processes that will shrink chip circuitry from 32 to 22 nanometers (nm) in size. The chip maker has been trying its best to make a run at the smartphone market, with a couple of devices like the Motorola RAZR i, but just hasn't seen the market share it was hoping for. One of the original issues with Intel processors for phones and tablets -- marketed under the Atom brand name -- was their power consumption, which seemed to lag behind that of comparable ARM units.

This new process, based on its "TriGate" technology used for its larger PC processors, uses three-dimensional transistor structures that help save space and therefore increase efficiency. Intel claims 22- to 65-percent performance improvements in its 22nm chips compared to current 32nm units. The company does admit that it is about 6 months behind schedule on releasing SoC's, but analysts expect them to become available in the second half of 2013.

Even if the technology checks out, Intel still has an uphill battle ahead of it. The next part of this equation will be convincing smartphone and tablet manufacturers that Atom is a better choice than price-competitive ARM units -- as well as consumers that "Intel Inside" is something they want in more than just their PC.

Source: WSJ

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3 years ago

Grab 999: Twenty-nine Original Tales of Horror and Suspense from Google Play for just 2 bucks [books]

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If you're a fan of classic suspense and egde-of-your-seat horror stories, you'll want to have a look at 999: Twenty-nine Original Tales of Horror and Suspense. It's an anthology of 29 short stories of the darker genre from names like Stephen King, Edward Bryant, and Nancy A. Collins. Read it, and  you're sure to find a new favorite, too.

The first tale, Kim Newman's Amerikanski Dead at the Moscow Morgue, is a mixture of post-apocalyptic horror and nightmares from bad LSD that is honestly one of the best shorts I've ever read. I think plenty of you guys and gals will like it, too.

I know, DRM free ePub files are the right way to do eBooks. I can't argue that one, and most of my library is just that. But sometimes you gotta say what the hell and give the devil his due -- this is one of those times. And to be honest, the app isn't half bad since the latest update. Give it a try before you hate it

Make sure you have Google Play Books installed on your phone or tablet if you want to read on a mobile device, or you can just read on the web. Click here to pick it up for two bucks.

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3 years ago

Youtube app updated with new 10-inch tablet layout

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There's an update to the Youtube app waiting for you in the Google Play store, and if you're using a 10-inch tablet (like the Nexus 10), you're in for a treat. The update adds a new layout for large screen devices that brings a great two-pane experience to everyone's favorite video service.

The update uses the concept of Android fragments, where both can act independently yet have influence over each other. The smaller fragment on the left allows for things like app navigation and selection, and your content appears to the right. It's a great way to build apps for large screen devices, and allows one app to have the best UI and layout for any size screen.

Hit the link above for the update, or just check your Google Play notifications.

Via: @WinDroidGuy

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3 years ago

Instagram update brings new filter, performance improvements

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Instagram is having a little spat with Twitter right now, but that's not stopping it from coming out with an update today. The update is bringing a new black & white filter called "Willow," as well as numerous bugfixes and performance enhancements. If you're a fan of filters you won't look down on this, and it at least shows that Instagram isn't forgetting about its app on Android.

Now unfortunately this isn't a UI refresh like those iOS users just got... but we'd expect to see that soon as well.

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