3 years ago

Motorola Droid 4 available now on Verizon for $199 on contract


The Motorola Droid 4 is now available from Verizon's website (and will be in stores in just a few short hours) for $199 on contract. As the name implies, this is the fourth phone in the line that for all intents and purposes put Android on the map.

As you'll recall from our hands-on at CES, the Droid 4 takes the classic Droid stylings -- a larger screen and a physical keyboard -- and refines them even further. From the front, it looks like a cousin to the new Droid RAZR MAXX, albeit a tad smaller with a 4-inch display at qHD (540x960) resolution. Slide open that 4-inch display and you've got what might well be the best physical keyboard on any smartphone. The keys are backlit and laser-cut and are extremely easy to navigate. 

One odd feature of the Droid 4 is on the backside. You can remove the battery cover -- and must do so if you want to get to the microSIM card (which is what provides the 4G LTE data) and microSD card. But it takes a weird little unlocking tool (included with the phone) to do so. But even then you can't actually remove the 1785 mAh battery -- at least not without likely breaking anything. That could be a deal-breaker for many. Check out our Droid 4 walkthrough video for more on that.

The phone's running Android 2.3.6, and Verizon is already promising to update it to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Other specs of note:

  • 1.2GHz dual-core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8MP rear camera
  • 1.3MP front-facing camerea
  • Serve as a 4G LTE hot spot for up to eight other devices.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Look for our full Droid 4 review in the coming days.

Source: Verizon Wireless

More: Droid 4 specs, Droid 4 forums

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3 years ago

Australia to get LG Prada 3.0 in April, coming to Vodafone


The global rollout of the latest in the LG Prada family continues, with the news that Vodafone Australia will be offering the device from April. 

The release of the Gingerbread powered device will be exclusive to Vodafone, and is being launched for use on its 850MHz network. RRP is said to be AUS$799, but the carrier has indicated that exact pricing and availability will be announced in "coming weeks." 

Prada branded phone not enough? A range of branded accessories will be accompanying the launch to include cradles, Bluetooth headsets and phone pouches.

In other LG Prada news, the went on wider release at retailers in the UK this week, following a short exclusivity period with Phones4U.

Source: Ausdroid

More: Hands on with the LG Prada 3.0

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3 years ago

Late-night poll: Do you carry a spare battery?


We had another good look at the Motorola Droid 4 today, non-removable battery and all.  Well, the battery door cover is removable (unlockable even!), just not the goods underneath.  We're seeing how well it's 1785mAh battery lasts on LTE, but that's another story for another day.  Tonight we wanna talk about phones that do have a removable battery, and get an idea just how many folks use that feature regularly. 

So let us know in the poll!


Do you carry a spare battery?

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3 years ago

Is Google planning to open a retail store in Dublin?


According to documents unearthed by Bloomberg, Google just might be building a dedicated retail outlet in Dublin, Ireland at their European headquarters. 

A planning application submitted to the local authorities there states that the "Google Store" would be open to the public and include 123 square meters of space. At present Google has tried out the retail experience in a smaller setting, by setting up a dedicated space for their Chromebooks in PC World and Currys in the UK. 

Google has a retail store for their merchandise in California that isn't open to the general public. But this planning application passed on Jan. 23 this year paints a different picture. There are also plans for a staff swimming pool at the facility should this all go ahead.

Source: Bloomberg
More: Read the planning application in full


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3 years ago

LG Phoenix Gingerbread update now available via LG Support Tool


We've got good news, and we've got bad news.  The good part first -- The LG Phoenix has a shiny new Gingerbread update waiting for it, bumping a bit of new life into one of last years best "beginner" Android phones.  You'll get all the goodness that sits under the hood in Gingerbread, and because LG is light on the changes you'll see a lot of the new goodies as well.  Everyone loves an update, no matter how long they have had to wait.

Now for the bad news.  You'll have to use LG's notoriously bad Mobile Support Tool to update the phone.  It's Windows only, and has a pretty bad track record when it comes to working as it should.  I'll go on record saying it's as bad or worse than Kies, and I hate Kies.  

Anyhoo, if you're rocking an LG Phoenix, a Windows computer, and can set up drivers and hardware, grab the update.  Full instructions (you're gonna need them) are at the source link, and always shout out in the forums with questions.

Source: LG

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3 years ago

Google Wallet under attack again - this time by a feature, not a hack


Ahhh, Google Wallet. It's a giant target, both because it involves the almighty dollar and because people love to go after Google. This being the case, we're seeing an old trick being rehashed that will give someone access to your prepaid Google Wallet card. It's not a hack, per se, nor is it new -- but it's a poor design choice that keeps the prepaid card tied to the phone hardware instead of with your Google Wallet account, which is more sandboxed. It goes like this:

  • Find a Nexus phone with NFC laying around somewhere
  • Wipe the app data on Google Wallet and enter a new PIN
  • Profit?

So what you're hearing about now is what happens when you clear the app data from Google Wallet. That means stored information -- the PIN you entered -- is no longer attached to the app on your phone. Next time time you open Google Wallet, you're told to enter a new PIN number.

And then it once again asks which Google Account you want to tie in to Google Wallet. Because you're still logged in to you Google Account, suddenly the phone says "Hey! I recognize that user name! And you must be that user on your phone! Here's the free $10 Google's already given you, or whatever else you've added, too."

Thing is, in the example you're hearing about now, you're not actually that user. Someone has stolen your phone. And they can get to the Google Prepaid Card. And that's actually a feature that's documented in Google Wallet's Switching Devices help pages. Emphasis ours.

Your Google Prepaid Card balance may be transferred if you have completed your account registration. Contact us for more assistance.

There are a lot of ways this could be fixed. Maybe the best, but likely the least popular among users, would be to implement an Exchange-like security policy across the entire device where an ID and a PIN must be entered to do things like unlock the phone, or change settings. It would seem easier to secure the entire phone that it would be to change the architecture of the payment system, and if nobody can unlock your phone or get into the Wallet app settings (to clear data), this problem is solved. The new problem is that nobody likes to have to enter a PIN, and Android hackers will find a way around this in short order and call it a "feature" of their ROM. Hopefully Google has people smarter than I tackling these types of issues.

In the meantime, set some sort of screen lock.  Just do it.  If someone finds your phone, and can't get in, they can't wipe the data on your Wallet and change the PIN.  Your Google Wallet, unlike your old wallet, can be locked down.  Hit the break to see a video of this one in action.

Source: Smartphone Champ

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3 years ago

Pre-ordering the Galaxy Note, Optimus S ICS ROM [From the Forums]


Thus far, we've looked at some Google rumors today, a quick look at the Droid 4 and dealt with some Google Wallet concerns plus more. If you missed out on anything, get yourself caught up and then head on into the Android Central forums for some more discussion.

If you're not already a member of the Android Central forums, you can register your account today.

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3 years ago

Verizon Droid XYBOARD tablets getting updates to enhance browser performance, touch response and prepare for global roaming


If you've got your hands on either a Droid XYBOARD 10.1 or 8.2 then you have some updates from Motorola and Verizon headed your way. The XYBOARD series will be getting getting enhancement to improve the browser and touch responsiveness and possibly more importantly for some -- Global roaming capabilities:

The update will enhance browser performance, touch response and prepare the XYBOARD for global roaming. The global roaming feature will be added in a two step process. This software update will add the global support to the hardware and a second over the air update will be pushed soon after to update the SIM card and make the tablet Global Ready. The second software update will be pushed within two weeks of receiving the first update. Once the second update is completed, customers will be able to take their XYBOARD tablets overseas and use data in over 205 countries, and more than 150 of those with 3G speeds.

Customers who have signed up for e-mail alerts will receive an email notification after the second update alerting them that the tablet is Global Ready. Before traveling outside the United States, customer will need to power on the tablet and establish a data connection on the Verizon Wireless network for 15 minutes to ensure the update takes effect and also enroll in a Global Data Plan that fits their travel needs at www.verizonwireless.com/global.

That should help some folks out if you're planning on doing any travelling or if you experienced and issues with the browser or touch responsiveness on your tablet. You can hit the source links to check out the software update pages for each device.

Source: Verizon (10.1), (8.2)

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3 years ago

Google said to be developing a home entertainment system


Google is developing a wireless, streaming home entertainment system to be released under their own brand, according to insider tips given to the Wall Street Journal.  This would be a big change for Google, who so far has developed only software and allowed other companies to use as they please (mostly) on their own hardware.  Supposedly, the Android team has been developing this one, and it should be available this year.

We already have Google Music, Google Movies, and Google TV.  A mashup of the three featuring a set-top box and audio visual receiver (possibly made by Motorola) makes a lot of sense.  Seeing it sold under a Google brand makes less sense, but it's not impossible that the company is going forward an idea like this.  Their proposed purchase of Motorola Mobility, which includes the cable box division, would give them access to hardware design and manufacturing, as well as engineers to do it.

We'll have to wait and see how this develops.  Personally, I'm excited about a full home theater-like system powered by Android, and controlled by my smartphone.  I think more than a few of you guys would be as well.  

Source: WSJ

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3 years ago

Motorola Droid 4 has an unlockable ... battery cover?


So here's the Motorola Droid 4. We're about to do our thing to it as only we can in our full Droid 4 review, but here it is in a nutshell: Fast device, blue display, good build, great keyboard, and the craziest damn battery cover contraption we've ever seen.

Check this out: The little plastic thing you see here -- sized up against a 2005 California quarter -- is the battery cover unlocking mechanism tool device thingy, or BCUMTDT for short. It's not unlike the iPhone's "SIM unlock tool," which is a fancy way of saying "thing you put in a hole to remove some other thing." It's craziness, we say.

What's hiding under that battery cover? Well, not a battery, for one. As you no doubt by now know from our hands-on with the Droid 4 at CES, you can't actually remove the battery from the phone.

So why bother with the battery cover unlocking mechanism tool device? There are other goodies tucked away under there -- mainly the micro SIM card for 4G LTE data, the microSD card -- and one last surprise, which we'll uncover in the video after the break.

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3 years ago

Netflix for Android updated with Facebook sharing and various fixes


The Netflix app for Android has just hit version 1.7, bringing a handful of improvements for tablet and smartphone users. Today's update allows Netflix customers to share content on Facebook (in Canada, Latin America, the UK and Ireland), which should make it easier for your Netflix-subscribing friends to stay up to date on your latest Doctor Who marathon.

The update also includes a handful of bug fixes and additional features, including software volume controls for tablets, improved audio/video sync and a solution for video flickering problems on certain tablets.

If you've already got Netflix installed, you can grab the new version from the Market app. If not, we've got links and QR codes after the break.

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3 years ago

Chrome vs. Safari - Galaxy Nexus vs. iPhone 4S


Check out our Chrome for Android Walkthrough!

The race for the best mobile browser is just about dead even. Android's browser has certainly competed with its Webkit cousin in mobile Safari for several versions now, partially from borrowing bits and pieces of Chrome code. (Anybody remember this demo from Google IO 2010?) But while the browsers might have been fairly level under the hood, Safari's definitely had the edge in what the end users see, with scrolling and zooming that's buttery smooth.

With the introduction of the Chrome browser on Android (currently available in beta form), the mobile browsing playing field has been leveled that much more. Behind the scenes, things are running as fast as ever. And out front, on the display, the Android's browsing experience has taking another evolutionary leap forward.

We've got a quick comparison video and some more benchmarks after the break. We're not looking for the most scientific of results here -- though the benchmarks speak for themselves. Really, it's the feel of the Chrome browser on Android (and, again, remember that it's still a "beta" product, for what that's worth) that we're most interested in.  

Click on through to the other side, and be sure to check out our pals from iMore.com for their thoughts on the Chrome-Safari showdown.

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3 years ago

New SwiftKey X Alpha now available with improved punctuation


SwiftKey X has a new Alpha now available for download to VIP members. This release looks to address user concerns with punctuation in certain languages with French, Arabic, or Greek be some of the key focal points. As noted on their forums, users should be on the look out for the following changes:

Closing brackets: The space before } ] ) is removed and a space after the closing bracket is added. So if you write SwiftKey) by selecting SwiftKey as a prediction, the space between SwiftKey and ) is deleted and another space is inserted after the closing bracket.

Closing quotes: If you type "I like SwiftKey" by selecting SwiftKey as a prediction the space between SwiftKey and " is deleted and another space is inserted after the closing quote. This behaviour is adjusted for quotation marks used in other languages such as « », „ “, etc.

You can access the various quotation marks by long pressing the " key in the 123 panel of the keyboard.
French: There is now a space both before and after ! and ?

So if you write Bonjour ! by selecting Bonjour as a prediction, the space between Bonjour and ! remains and another space is inserted after the exclamation mark.

Notice that typing another ! gives you Bonjour !! (without a space between the two exclamation marks).

No space is added after : and ; to allow you to write smileys without having to delete this space.

Arabic: Arabic inverted comma, semicolon and question mark now behave like their English counterparts.

Greek: The Greek questionmark now behaves like its English counterpart.

Those changes aren't all that is involved with this release, there are a few others but those are the highlights. As always, if you're joined up for the Alpha testing make sure you offer feedback to the developers. Apps get better with feeback and that's what alpha testing is for.

Source: SwiftKey

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3 years ago

Vonage Mobile for Android available now in the Android Market


That other VoIP company, Vonage, have launched their new mobile offering with Skype firmly in their crosshairs. The app listing in the Android Market even goes as far as name-dropping the Microsoft owned competitor, while advertising their own service including free worldwide texts and calls.

Vonage Mobile promises high definition audio calls over WiFi, 3G and 4G worldwide, and cheap-rate international calls to people not using the application. You don't have to be a current Vonage customer to take advantage of the service either. Credit can be applied to your account via your Android Market account and it uses your existing phone number and contacts list. Any of your existing contacts using Vonage Mobile will be indicated, leaving it straight forward to take advantage of free communication. 

As a launching offer, all calls to any phone in the US, Canada or Puerto Rico are free from anywhere in the world for a limited time. Terms and conditions naturally apply to this so be sure to check them out first. You'll find a handy promo video after the break, along with download links if this looks like something you want to try for yourselves.  

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3 years ago

HTC says first Ice Cream Sandwich updates coming in March, adds more phones to the list


Manufacturer HTC today on its Facebook page gave word that its initial round of Ice Cream Sandwich updates will be available by the end of March. First up are the HTC Sensation, Sensation 4G and Sensation XE, with the Sensation XL to follow. (Note to HTC: Got enough versions there?)

That's just for starters, of course. Back in November, HTC told us that the Rezound, EVO 3D and EVO Design 4G also would receive updates as well. And today, HTC has added the Vivid, Incredible S, Desire S and Desire HD to the update list. There's no word on when they'll be updated (other than "later this year"), but it's certainly a good start.

Here's HTC's full statement:

HTC has been working hard to get its Ice Cream Sandwich upgrades ready, and we’re excited to announce that our first round of ICS upgrades will roll out by the end of March for the HTC Sensation, HTC Sensation 4G and HTC Sensation XE, followed soon there after by the HTC Sensation XL.

In addition, we can confirm Ice Cream Sandwich upgrades will be coming later this year to the HTC Rezound, HTC Vivid, HTC Amaze 4G, HTC EVO 3D, HTC EVO Design 4G, HTC Incredible S, HTC Desire S and HTC Desire HD. Stay tuned for more updates on Ice Cream Sandwich releases in the coming weeks.

Not a bad roster, indeed. But notabily absent remains the likes of the HTC ThunderBolt, one of the more popular Verizon smartphones of early 2011. Anyone feeling left out?

Source: HTC Facebook; thanks to everyone who sent this in!

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