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3 years ago

Three UK launches Sony Xperia J, Alcatel One Touch 903

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Three UK has launched two new entry-level Android devices this morning, the Sony Xperia J and Alcatel One Touch 903.

The Xperia J is Sony's new budget-focused Android handset for late 2012. Unveiled alongside Xperias T, TX and V the IFA show in August, the Xperia J sports Sony's trademark "arc" chassis design, but with less meaty hardware. It's powered by a 1GHz single-core processor, with 4GB of internal storage and a 5MP camera. On the software side, it's on-par with other Sony handsets, running a skinned version of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

That's more than can be said for Alcatel's One Touch, however, which ships with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, a 2MP camera and a 650MHz CPU. It's a pretty basic smartphone experience, but the starting price of £49.99 (plus top-up) on PAYG doesn't leave much room for fancy hardware. (On-contract prices start at £10 per month, with the phone given away for free)

Meanwhile, Three's Sony Xperia J sells for £149.99 on PAYG, and is given away for free on contracts starting at just £13 per month. That's not a bad deal if you're not after the very latest hardware.

Source: Three

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3 years ago

UK 4G carrier EE holds back launch of SIM-only plans

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EE, the carrier with an effective monopoly 4G LTE services in the UK until next spring, has announced that it's delaying the launch of its SIM-only 4G plans by "up to two weeks." The SIM-only deals, which were due to become available starting today, will now launch towards the end of the month.

Writing on its official Twitter account, the operator said -- 

Sorry folks – there’s been a date change for our SIM-only plans. We expect to bring them in the next 2 weeks. Stay tuned for the new date.

A statement obtained by TechCrunch seems to indicate that the testing process has overrun, resulting in the availability of SIM-only 4G being pushed back.

EE's SIM-only deals are by far the network's most cost-effective price plans. working out significantly cheaper than contracts that include a bundled smartphone. SIM-free rates start at £21 per month for 500MB moving up to  £26 for 1GB, £31 for 3GB, £36 for 5GB and £41 for 8GB.

EE -- formerly Orange and T-Mobile UK -- became the first network to launch 4G services in the UK in late October, following an Ofcom ruling that allowed it to re-farm its existing 1800MHz spectrum for use with LTE.

Source: EE, TechCrunch

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3 years ago

From the forums: Is the Nexus 4 merely an 'S' upgrade?

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Writes Lanhoj in our Nexus 4 forums:

"I feel bad saying it but the Nexus 4 feels like an "S" upgrade (like Apple's upgrades)."

First off, don't feel bad saying it. Apple's update strategy has proved to be successful, if annoying for those who want the top-of-the-line phone year after year but grimace at the cost. And there's an argument to be made here, though I'm not sure it quite adds up.

The internals of the Nexus 4 are a significant improvement over the Galaxy Nexus, both on paper and in actual use. Just ask anyone who's tried Photo Sphere on a Galaxy Nexus. The Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro is a huge jump.

More: Our complete Nexus 4 review

Don't discount the improved camera, either. When I'd carry the Galaxy Nexus, I'd also carry a second phone, with a better camera. (Either the Galaxy S3 or the HTC One X.) That's not normal, I know. But that's how bad the Galaxy Nexus camera is compared to those two phones. And with the Nexus 4, I'll not be needing a second phone for proper photography.

Android 4.2 isn't a giant leap over Android 4.1, but there's enough there to keep it interesting, and we still don't know if the Galaxy Nexus will get all the improvements in the Nexus 4.

But maybe even more important is the price. You can get this phone for $299 or $349 unlocked. No contracts. In and out. And if it turns out you can't live with the anemic storage or lack of LTE data on AT&T in the U.S., (remember that there's no Verizon or Sprint-capable version, and T-Mobile still doesn't have any LTE) you'll be able to get most -- if not all -- of your investment back pretty quickly. What's it cost to upgrade to the latest iPhone or manufacturer's-best Android phone year after year?

More: Nexus 4 forums

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3 years ago

Galaxy S2 coming fashionably late to Virgin Mobile

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The Samsung Galaxy SII (S2) is making its way to Virgin Mobile. Yes, the Galaxy S2. Virgin Mobile has been reclaiming older devices and offering them at reasonable prices since Sprint has started moving to LTE and offloaded its WiMax network to prepaid operators. It started with devices like the Evo 3D coming to Virgin, and it will continue today with the Galaxy S2. We're going to go ahead and assume this device is going to look the exact same as Sprint's Galaxy S2 (Epic 4G Touch) from mid last year -- if the Boost Mobile variant is any indication -- save for probably a different logo on the back.

The device will be $369.99 without a contract, in both silver and white, from November 15th. Virgin Mobile "Beyond Talk" plans start at $35 per month for unlimited messaging and data.

Source: Virgin Mobile Newsroom

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3 years ago

All Samsung phones going on sale at T-Mobile for two days

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It's no secret that the Samsung devices are huge sellers for T-Mobile. Unfortunately, sometimes T-Mobile's on-contract pricing is a bit higher than other carriers, as we've seen with the recent launch of the Galaxy Note 2. Luckily if you're planning on grabbing the Note 2, Galaxy SIII (S3) or any of the several Samsung phones available on T-Mobile it looks like many will be free -- or very cheap -- on contract (with a Classic Plan) on November 16th and 17th.

T-Mobile's pricing structure is set up to try and incentivize you to buy phones on their Value Plans or Monthly 4G Prepaid plans, but if for some reason you're looking to stick with a Classic Plan, this next weekend will give you a good opportunity to save a few hundred dollars up-front.

Source: TmoNews

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3 years ago

Ask AC: Is Android Linux?

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While trawling through the Internet today I came across the Linux Foundation's page, and my eyes were pulled to their top story. Now this is nothing new, I often find plenty of great articles and news to read there, but this was different. This was a post that was about Android. 

It got me thinking (sometimes I do that) -- is Android Linux? The folks at the Linux Foundation seem to think so (and seem awfully happy about it), and I'm going to have to agree with them. Now before you purists come to West Virginia to beat some sense into me, I'm not saying that Android is unadulterated GNU Linux. Clearly it's not, there's far too many differences and psudeo-open source licensing at play to call it pure. But for all intents and purposes, it's close enough.

Android now runs on top of a standard Linux kernel, and uses many of the same kernelspace utilities and code that my desktop does. Essentially, that's what Linux is -- the heart of many different systems. Google, and the Android partners like Samsung, HTC, and CyanogenMod, then build things out to present the user with an interface to interact with the kernel. The kernel does stuff, all our taps and swipes and presses are telling it the stuff we want it to do. Just like any of the popular Linux distributions that you can install on your computer at home or work.

Android looks and acts a little different because it needs to look and act a little different to be useful on a small touch screen device. Of course, this is the simplified version of things, but if you're the type who understands how the kernelspace and userspace interact, you see where I'm coming from. Too much nerd is often too much.

So the next time you grab your Android-powered phone or tablet, just remember that you're part of the long standing tradition that is Linux. It's a good place to be.

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3 years ago

AT&T giving $100 off on tablets

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  AT&T’s giving customers $100 off tablets purchased under a two-year data plan.   The offer starts tomorrow, Friday, and applies to devices bought online or at AT&T-owned and selected agent retail stores.   AT&T has three DataConnect plans:
  • 250Mb for $15
  • 3Gb for $30
  • 5Gb for $50
  It also charges $10 under its Mobile Share plan for customers to share between 1Gb and 20Gb of data with up to nine other devices. 

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3 years ago

Sony Xperia S removed from AOSP, project will live on at Sony GitHub

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The Sony Xperia S has been kicking around in the Android Open Source Project for a while now. It never was an official target, but with the work from Sony and JBQ it was a usable option for those willing to tinker around, and by most accounts a success. With things ramping up and preparing for the AOSP to move on to Android 4.2, it has been removed.

The project will still live on, though, as Sony has set up a dedicated git for the Xperia S at their GitHub space. Interested parties can still hack away at Android 4.1 for the device, with plenty of community and official support. Full instructions for pulling and building are available, and folks interested should find the experience hasn't changed much.

As for why it was removed, Sony engineers explain that Google can't commit time and resources to maintaining anything other than Nexus devices in the official AOSP. We still see the Pandaboard in AOSP though, so there's more to the issue. It appears that Sony is unwilling to release all the binary files needed to boot the Xperia S into a usable state, which is a good reason to have it removed from the AOSP. We're not sure if the move was mandated or voluntary, but it certainly wasn't unexpected with needed files being withheld.

Update: Jean-Baptiste Quéru, Google's "Android Open Source Tech Dude" and wrangler of the huge AOSP, has taken the time to reiterate that there is no conspiracy going on, and that Sony is now the company with the expertise needed to carry on the project, not Google. In addition, none of the current devices have all the proprietary files available, and never have. Thanks for taking the time, JBQ! 

Sony, we applaud you for taking an interest in the AOSP, and for the time you've spent working with the community and Google to come this far. We're not so happy about the binaries not being made available, but it's good the see a strong base being continued by your own engineering team instead of just abandoned.

Source: Sony. More: Sony on GitHub

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3 years ago

Sprint spending additional $200 million on 3G network as LTE rolls out

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Although Sprint's "Network Vision" project -- which will eventually move customers off of CDMA and to LTE -- is in full swing, the LTE network just isn't lighting up in as many places as customers would like. Seeing increased load on its 3G network because of a spike in customer additions in the recent months, Sprint has strategically decided to invest $200 million in improving the speeds on the legacy technology.

Its unfortunate to see Sprint having to make a tactical decision to invest in 3G with money that could surely be better spent on an LTE rollout, but the speeds can only get so slow before something has to be done. Hopefully as more of Sprint's customers move over to LTE the carrier will be able to better balance its network.

Source: FierceWireless

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3 years ago

GroupMe version 4.0 hits beta for willing participants

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One of the more popular group messaging services out there, GroupMe, has just released a beta of its latest update -- version 4.0. The whole idea of version 4.0 is a cleaner and simpler to use interface, and looking at the screenshots it seems to be the case. To participate in the beta, hit the source link below. It'll involve allowing installation of 3rd party apps in your device's settings and installing it manually, but may be worth a look if you're a big GroupMe user.

GroupMe is hoping to get participants to try out the beta who have already been using the most recent stable version to get the best feedback, but if you're interested in trying out the beta you can always download the previous version first (at the Play Store link above) and register to move to 4.0.

Source: GroupMe Blog

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3 years ago

Angry Birds Star Wars review

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After a few weeks of teasers, Rovio has finally released the next iteration in their Angry Birds franchise, this time with a focus on the classic Star Wars brand. Recognizable settings such as Tattoine, Degobah, and Hoth make an appearance, not to mention all of the birds are dressed up as characters from the movies, each with their own signature special abilities.

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3 years ago

Music and Movies coming to Google TV in more countries (update)

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Update: The Google+ page has been updated to reflect that Canada and Australia won't be getting the update, and Google TV won't support Play Music and Movies in these countries.

The official Google TV page on Google+ just announced that Google Play Music and Movies will be expanding its reach to more countries. Users in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Canada and Australia can now use both Music and Movies on their Google TV devices without restrictions.

It's always good to see Google's content deals expanding to bring a full-featured experience to all markets that have Google TV available.

Source: +GoogleTV

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3 years ago

Humble Bundle for Android 4 features Superbrothers beta

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The latest Humble Bundle for Android has been kicked off, and includes a bunch of exceptional games. Splice, Eufloria, Waking Mars, Crayon Physics Deluxe, and an early Android beta for the excellent Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery are all available. If you pay more than the average (currently $8.89) you also get Machinarium. 

You get to pay whatever you want for these, and the money is split up between developers, the Humble Bundle organizers, and charities like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Child's Play as you see fit. Every signle one comes with the original soundtrack, and is available on Windows, Linux, and Mac PCs. 

A lot of these games aren't in Google Play, so, go get the bundle! It's a great deal, and for a good cause. Hey, if you're in the charitable mood, why not contribute to the MO-bile Nations Movember run? We're raising money for men's health by sprouting exceptionally poor facial hair. Seriously, I don't know how I'm going to go out in public like this.  

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3 years ago

Inside Android 4.2: The new clock app

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What's that? A separate piece about a clock app? It still tells time, right?

Yes. A separate piece about a clock app. And, yes. It still tells time. Actually, the new clock app in Android 4.2 is wearing four or five hats. Here's the breakdown:

  • Clock.
  • World clock.
  • Alarm clock.
  • Timer.
  • Stopwatch.

And what's more -- this thing looks good.

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3 years ago

HTC One X+ review

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Six months on from the One X, a turbo-​charged successor arrives

After a tumultuous year, HTC needs to score some big wins this holiday season. Many critics, including ourselves, have been full of praise for its HTC One series, led by the venerable One X. But every passing quarter seems to bring depressingly familiar news for the Taiwanese manufacturer -- record sales and profits for Android rival Samsung, and tumbling revenues for HTC.

On the Windows Phone side, the HTC 8X -- a great handset by any standard -- looks set to make a big impact in the coming weeks. But what of Android? Well, as the year draws to a close, HTC is hoping to put the One series back in the spotlight with a revamped high-end offering, the One X+. On paper it’s a tantalizing proposition -- one of our favorite early 2012 phones re-imagined in a soft touch polycarbonate shell, with a larger battery, a faster CPU and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean out of the box.

But as HTC knows, specs alone have never been enough to guarantee a device’s success. Today the One X+ is but a drop in a sea of quad-core, 720p Androids, The high-end mobile space is a lot more crowded than it was back in March, when we reviewed the original One X.

And speaking of that device, what does the One X+ mean for those who’ve already invested in the HTC One series?

Answers to all these questions, and many more, are waiting in our full review of the HTC One X+. Read on.

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