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4 years ago

UK 4G spectrum auction gets underway today

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After years of delays, the UK's 4G spectrum auction finally gets underway today, with seven organizations -- including the country's four major carriers -- bidding for 28 lots of spectrum across 800MHz and 2600MHz bands. UK telecommunications regulator Ofcom says bidding will continue over several rounds, and that the bidding process may take "several weeks" to complete. The process is designed "[to put] the spectrum in the hands of the bidders who value it most highly, while also ensuring they pay a competitive price," Ofcom says. 

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4 years ago

International Galaxy S2 gets Jelly Bean update and new Nature UX

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The official Jelly Bean update for the international Samsung Galaxy S2 (GT-i9100) has started to roll out, starting with unlocked handsets in Spain. The update is based on Android 4.1.2, and features all the benefits you'd expect from that version of the OS, including "Project Butter" performance enhancements and the new Google Search with Google Now.

What's also new is the "TouchWiz Nature UX" from Samsung's 2012 line-up, which has been back-ported to the Galaxy S2 along with Jelly Bean. This means S2 owners will be in for some pretty sweeping visual changes when they apply this latest firmware update. (The ICS update for 2011 Samsung phones was of course based upon the older TouchWiz 4 UI.) Galaxy S2 owners are also set to inherit a bunch of Galaxy S3 features in their Jelly Bean update, including Direct Call, Smart Stay and Pop-up Play (picture-in-picture video).

Right now the update is only available for Spanish Galaxy S2 phones, so other territories may have to wait a few days or weeks for localized firmware to be released. In particular, we wouldn't hold our breath for an immediate release on any of the U.S. Galaxy S2 models. Regardless, it's great to see the latest updates rolling out for an almost two-year-old handset.

Source: SamMobile, via XDA

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4 years ago

Nexus 4 back in stock on T-Mobile website

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We heard last week that the Nexus 4 would be back up for sale from T-Mobile directly starting January 23rd, and it has shown up right on time. Provided you're willing to sign up for 2 years on a Classic Plan at T-Mobile the 16GB Nexus 4 can be yours for $199.99, or if you decide to keep it off-contract (seriously consider this route) you can have it for $499.99 after mail-in rebate.

We're not sure how many are available, but hopefully it's enough to at least let some people have their chance at the latest Nexus. As for proper availability in the Play Store at $299 and $349... who knows. Here's hoping that this new wave of stock to T-Mobile means there's more on the way to Google as well.

Source: T-Mobile; Thanks, Frank!

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4 years ago

New LagFix application promises to fix mystery lag on some devices

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LagFix is an app (rooted phones only) with an unimaginative name that uses a standard Linux tool to help fix "lag" on Android devices. Lag is a term that gets thrown around pretty liberally, without any real definition attached to it. In this case, I'm familiar with the tool being used so I know what this app attempts to address -- times when your system is stopped, waiting on the memory controller to be told which storage blocks are free and which are in use, so it knows where it can write data to the device storage. While this is happening, the system is halted until the memory controller gets the answer it needs. This is a standard process in every operating system, and in reality is a lot more complicated than I've explained here. For our purposes today, this covers the important things to know.

This can be done on the fly (and this is how stock Android does things) or it can be done using a Linux utility called Fstrim. When a stock Android system does it on the fly while data is being written, sometimes some folks (this is important, and we'll talk more about it later) see their device slow down while the memory controller is waiting to know which storage blocks are in use, and which are free. People call this a form of lag, and lag is universally hated. 

A solution, one often used on Linux desktops, is to use the Fstrim utility. It goes through the storage and tells the memory controller which blocks are really free, and which are in use. The memory controller doesn't have to ask, because it has just been told. Eventually, this all changes and the memory controller needs told again. On the desktop, people set up Fstrim to run at a specific interval to keep things in sync. 

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4 years ago

AT&T buys Alltel for $780 million, gains spectrum and 585,000 customers

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AT&T has announced today that it will completely acquire the Alltel brand and assets from Atlantic Tele-Network, Inc. for $780 million in cash. This purchase encompasses all of the Alltel assets, from spectrum, network licenses and wireless properties to retail store locations and about 585,000 subscribers. That's a good number of customers that will come under the AT&T umbrella, but what's likely more valuable is the spectrum holdings that AT&T will gain.

Alltel currently operates mostly in rural areas of Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina -- covering about 4.6 million people. Spectrum gains in these areas are in the 700, 850 and 1900MHz bands, which compliments AT&T's network deployment nicely. It's a cheap, all cash acquisition that will help AT&T continue its LTE rollout into the future.

Source: AT&T

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4 years ago

Google reiterates Motorola still in transitional phase, with 12- to 18-month product roadmap

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As part of its Q4 2012 earnings call, Google execs expanded on the current status of Motorola, the division's financials and future integration between the companies. Responding to a question about the current state of Motorola's financials, Senior VP and Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette reiterated that when Google purchased Motorola it inherited a 12- to 18-month product pipeline that isn't easily changeable. Google bought Motorola, which already had products promised to customers. That's business.

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4 years ago

Google CEO: Fixing supply woes 'a priority for our team'

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Larry Page, from this afternoon's Q4 2012 earnings call:

Clearly, there’s work to be done managing our supply better, as well as building a great customer experience.  And that is a priority for the teams.

Certainly nothing there we didn't know -- the Nexus 4 is still unavailable on Google Play, and the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tend to come and go as well.

But it is nice to hear the boss acknowledge it.

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4 years ago

Google's Q4 2012: Revenue at $14.42 billion, not counting Motorola

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Google has just posted its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2012. The big strokes:

  • Some $14.42 billion in revenue, up 36 percent compared to Q4 of 2011. 
  • Motorola, which Google continues to operate as a separate company, saw revenue of $1.51 billion, but an operating loss of $353 million. 
  • Google has about $48 billion cash on hand
  • Google's head count remained relatively even to Q3, with some 37,544 at Google proper, 11,113 at Motorola Mobility and 5,204 at Motorola Home.

Google's earnings call is coming up in a few minutes. We'll kibitz for any Android-specific news.

Source: Google

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4 years ago

Verizon Q4 2012 earnings: 2.2 million net customer additions, $20 billion in revenue

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Verizon has just reported its Q4 2012 and full 2012 earnings for both its wireless and wireline (FiOS) divisions, and wireless growth was through the roof. We're just going to focus on the wireless portion of the earnings, and start with the Q4 2012 report first. Here are the highlights:

  • 2.2 million net customer additions in the quarter, highest in company history
  • $20 billion in revenue ($16.4 bn being service revenues) for Q4, up 9.5-percent year-over-year
  • Postpaid ARPA (Average Revenue Per Account) grew 6.6-percent y-o-y to $146.80/month
  • Retail postpaid churn rate of 0.95-percent, up 1 basis point year-over-year

The upward trend is visible in the full 2012 earnings reports as well. Here's the breakdown:

  • 5 million net customer additions for the year, the highest in four years
  • $75.9 billion in revenue ($63.7 bn being service revenues) for 2012, up 8.1-percent year-over-year
  • Ended the year with 98.2 million retail connections (92.5 mm postpaid), up 6.6-percent year-over-year
  • Those customers are dispersed over 35.1 million accounts, up 4.3-percent year-over-year

Verizon reports that its LTE network as of today is live in 476 markets, covering 276 million people (about 89-percent of the population.) Those are some pretty impressive numbers, but is only just the tip of the iceberg. If you want a more detailed look at the report for yourself, it can be found at the source link below.

Source: Verizon

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4 years ago

Nexus 7 dock review

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The long-overdue Nexus 7 accessory brings contact charging and audio output - if you can find one

After what's felt like an eternity, we finally have our mitts on the official ASUS dock for the Nexus 7 tablet. This would be the dock that finally takes advantage of those four little gold contacts on the side of the tablet , allowing you to charge the device without having to worry about plugs. That's a technology that goes back to the Nexus One days (and you'll recall how that dock took its sweet time to get to us, too), and we're glad to finally have it with Google's premiere 7-inch tablet.

Google's still not selling this dock, though, and availability is spotty with other online retailers. We picked ours up for about $40 before shipping.

This isn't an intricate accessory by any means, but it's very much a welcome one. A few quick thoughts after the break:

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4 years ago

Galaxy Note 8.0 to launch in March, says Samsung roadmap

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Galaxy Young, Galaxy XCover 2, Galaxy Pocket Plus also on the way according to leaked docs

The past week has seen the Galaxy Note 8.0 go from mere rumor to being more-or-less officially confirmed by Samsung. Now, thanks to a leaked Samsung roadmap obtained by TechnoBuffalo, we have our first clear indication of when the Note 10.1's little brother might become available to purchase. A slide on the Galaxy Note 8.0 says we can expect it to launch in March, so we're looking at a pretty quick turnaround following the tablet's expected Mobile World Congress debut.

Also confirmed on the Note 8.0 slide are previously-rumored specs, including an 8-inch 1280x800 Super Clear LCD, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and a quad-core 1.6GHz processor -- likely the same Exynos chip powering the Galaxy Note 2.

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4 years ago

EE launches limited edition 4G price plans - budget £31 contract and 20GB 'super-user' plans

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When EE (Everything Everywhere) first launched its 4G LTE service in the UK, two common complaints focused on the price of its subsidized smartphone contracts and the 8GB ceiling for data allowances. Today it seems the carrier's ready to test the water with some more adventurous price plans, as for a limited time it'll offer a budget-centric £31 per month, 24-month deal, along with a new "super-user" contracts with 20GB of data per month. 

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4 years ago

Deer Reader walks the line of appealing to casual and power RSS users

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Deer Reader, a Google Reader client for Android, has a great design and set of features that has the ability to appeal to a wide range of users. News reading apps usually fall into either the "casual user" (think Flipboard, Google Currents) or "power user" (GReader, Press) category, and Deer Reader is taking a shot right down the middle with its client. Integrating with Google Reader instantly pushes you towards a more involved setup, as most "normal" users aren't keeping curated news and podcast RSS feeds, but what Deer Reader does with the presentation of these RSS feeds is what makes it more user-friendly.

Stick around after the break for a video walkthrough of the UI on both phones and tablets, and to see if Deer Reader is a good choice for you. 

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4 years ago

Latest reports tip Samsung Galaxy S4 for April release following March 'Unpacked' event

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The latest round of reports have Samsung’s Galaxy S3 successor coming to market this April, following an unveiling at a March “Unpacked” event in the United States.

Firstly, Korean news outlet Asian Economies reports via “telecommunications industry” sources that Samsung is planning to unveil the Galaxy S4 at an "Unpacked" event in the U.S. in late March. Specifically, Friday, March 22 was highlighted as a likely date for Samsung Mobile Unpacked 2013, which is said to be the largest such event yet. If accurate, it’d be the first major Unpacked event in the U.S. since the original Galaxy S made its debut in 2010.

News of a possible Galaxy S4 unveiling this March, also fits with the second report we’re seeing today, which comes via Samsung fansite SamMobile. SamMobile’s sources have a pretty consistent track record in revealing details of pre-release Samsung handsets, and today the site claims that the Galaxy S4 is on track for launch sometime in April.

The S4, supposedly known internally by the codename “Altius,” is said to come in black and white color options initially. It’s reported that current shipping timetables call for the device to become available from week 15 of this year -- that's the week commencing April 15. Other information reported by SamMobile includes details of the phone’s battery -- allegedly a 2600mAh unit -- and apparent confirmation of earlier rumors of an optional wireless charging back. This accessory is to be sold separately within "a couple of weeks” of the S4’s launch, the site claims. (That’d be an improvement on the lag time of several months for official Galaxy phone accessories in years past.)

It’s worth taking reports of this nature with a pretty major pinch of salt until the official confirmation arrives. Nevertheless, the more reliable Galaxy S4 rumors seem to be crystallizing around a late Q1 or early Q2 launch window. A stateside unveiling would certainly make sense for Samsung, given the importance of the U.S. market. What’s more, an Unpacked event less than a month after Mobile World Congress would minimize the amount of breathing space given to Android rivals like HTC, which is expected to use MWC to unveil its major 2013 handsets. Keep it locked to Android Central in the months ahead -- it’s going to be a crazy year, and things are just getting started.

Source: Asian Economies via PhoneArena; SamMobile

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4 years ago

Phones4U to launch own virtual mobile network using EE's infrastructure

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'LIFE Mobile' to launch 3G service this March, 4G later

British phone retailer Phones4U has announced it's to get into the network operator game through a new virtual network operated on EE's infrastructure. The new "LIFE Mobile" network is scheduled to launch this March, with 2G and 3G services being offered at first, followed by 4G LTE options later in the year. EE is, of course, currently the only operator to offer 4G services to British consumers.

Phones4U has not yet revealed details of pricing on the new service provider, but says it'll offer "variety of tariffs and services" with a "broad appeal" to consumers.

According to today's press release, the deal with Phones4U brings EE's total number of MVNO partners up to 25. Phones4U's biggest domestic rival, the Carphone Warehouse, already operates its own virtual network, Talkmobile, through a partnership with Vodafone UK.

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