PAYG discounts, prize giveaways and contract deals
Despite being based in the UK, where today is just another Thursday, British retailer Phones 4u isn't being left out of the post-Thanksgiving sales season. The chain is offering Pay As You Go customers the chance to win a selection of gadgets by entering on its holiday prizes website. Prizes include Sony TVs, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles, Samsung's Galaxy Camera and tablets, Phones 4u arena VIP tickets, as well as accessories and vouchers.
P4u is also offering £15 off certain PAYG smartphones, including the Moto G and Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini (£119.95) and even cheaper phones like the Galaxy Y and Sony Xperia Miro — which will be live tomorrow.
"Limited edition" contract deals are available too, including the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Gear for £37 per month on Vodafone. And the retailer's Galaxy Note 3 accessory deal is still running, giving Note 3 buyers a free Galaxy Tab 3 and S View case, and a wireless speaker if they sign up for a 4G plan. Other deals include the Galaxy S4 Active for free on a £21.99 per month deal with Orange (with an admittedly small 250MB data allowance). Perhaps more tempting is the retailer's Sony Xperia Z1 offer — online contract buyers will get a free Sony Smartwatch 2 with their phone, and a free wireless speaker if they sign up for a 4G plan.
Some of the deals appear to be live right now, the rest should follow on Friday.
Carrier offers 25 percent reduction in cost of buying out contract to get subscribers onto 'O2 Refresh' plans
O2 UK has announced a new promotion designed to tempt existing customers onto its O2 Refresh price plans, which decouple the cost of customers' phones from their monthly service payment. Dubbed O2 Speed to Refresh, the new deal gives existing customers 25 percent off the cost of buying out the remainder of their contract if they upgrade to an O2 Refresh plan.
O2 Refresh is part of a growing trend which has seen some operators offering a clear distinction between the price of cellular service and the cost of payments towards the value of handsets. The plans mean customers' monthly bills are reduced after they've finished paying off their phone, and they can pay the full cost of the device up-front in exchange for lower monthly fees.
O2 Speed to Refresh is open to O2 Pay Monthly customers who have been with the carrier for at least three months.
HTC has announced that it'll bring a dual-SIM version of its flagship HTC One handset to the UK. The dual-SIM HTC One will also feature a removable back panel, like the HTC One Max, and expandable storage via a microSD slot supporting up to 64GB cards. Dual-SIM devices allow users to stay connected through multiple numbers at the same time, and HTC says it's targeting this specific model at "foreign nationals and students studying in the UK and business users who regularly travel abroad." A similar dual-SIM device has been available in China since April.
Aside from the extra SIM slot and microSD support, we're looking at the essentially the same device that's been on sale since the spring, with a Snapdragon 600 processor, 2GB of RAM, a 4-megapixel "Ultrapixel" camera and a 1080p SuperLCD display. It's worth noting however that the spec sheet makes no mention of LTE, meaning you'll max out at 3G data speeds on this device, with the first SIM slot supporting quad-band HSPA.
The handset is available for pre-order now, priced at £494.99; HTC says it's in talks with retailers and carriers to offer the dual-SIM HTC One to consumers and businesses.
Only black and red models being sold by the retailer directly
Pebble's presence keeps expanding, and now arguably the most popular online retailer has them up for order for the same price as the others. Well, sort of — Amazon is taking $1 off the price, so you'll pay $148.99 with free shipping of course, just about what you'd pay anywhere else.
Amazon is listing the Pebble in black, grey, orange, red and white, but only the black and red models are sold directly. You'll be choosing another retailer and likely paying more if you want another color. Still, it's a big deal for Pebble to be available on Amazon right before the big holiday shopping season, and we're sure a few more people will be picking one up because of it. Hit the link below if you're interested.
Get your family in front of the camera this holiday weekend
For those of you in the U.S., Thanksgiving week is the time when you're likely to spend some time with the closest family and friends you have. And for those of you outside of the states, we can venture that you'll be spending some time with family this week as well. For this reason this week's photo contest prompt is "family," and we can't wait to see how you and your family are spending the holidays together this week.
Entering is easy. Just drop your entry in a forums post at the link below. Tell us what Android you used to get the picture, and any back story you want to add to it. We'll pick a winner Tuesday (December 3) night at 11:59 PM ET, and announce them on the blog with next Wednesday's contest.
Two updates are pushing to get everyone on build MK2
AT&T and Samsung have reissued the Android 4.3 update for the Galaxy S4, and according to AT&T it should start pushing out to devices today. The update seems identical to the last round, which was pulled for unknown reasons by Samsung shortly after things got started. We imagine there are important changes under the hood, though.
Anyhoo, if you're not yet on Android 4.3 your update will be a wifi-only 727MB download, and when all is said and done your device will be current as far as things stand now. If you had previously installed the 4.3 OTA, your update will be a small 28MB update. In either case, you'll be running version I337UCUEMK2.
Got that? Don't fret if you're not up on all these numbers and versions. Just wander into the forums, where you can get all the help you need from people just like yourself. OTA days make the forums especially love-filled, so don't miss all the good feelings and karma.
The official CyanogenMod blog this afternoon gave word that the CM Installer — an Android app that aids in the process of getting the custom ROM onto a device — was voluntarily pulled from Google Play. Here's the rub:
Today, we were contacted by the Google Play Support team to say that our CyanogenMod Installer application is in violation of Google Play’s developer terms.
They advised us to voluntarily remove the application, or they would be forced to remove it administratively. We have complied with their wishes while we wait for a more favorable resolution.
To those unfamiliar with the application, it has a single function – to guide users to enable “ADB”, a built in development and debugging tool, and then navigates the user to the desktop installer. The desktop application then performs the installation of the CyanogenMod on their Android device.
After reaching out to the Play team, their feedback was that though application itself is harmless, and not actually in violation of their Terms of Service, since it ‘encourages users to void their warranty’, it would not be allowed to remain in the store.
Read award winning titles in Google Play Books on your HD Android tablet or phone
Publisher Image Comics has brought their library single edition and series comics to Google Play Books. Titles you know and love, like Saga and The Walking Dead (yes, it started as a comic) are now found right in Google Play and available to read today from your Android phone or tablet.
Over 500 titles, including numerous Eisner Award winners and New York Times best sellers are available for purchase, and to kick things off with a bang Image is making the first issues of The Walking Dead, Saga, Chew, Invincible and Super Dinosaur series for free to Google Play customers.
The comics are still available through other venues, such as Comixology and the Amazon Kindle. Publisher Eric Stephenson says:
It’s exciting to bring digital versions of Image Comics titles to the Google Play Store. Our philosophy toward digital content is expanding as the market evolves and grows, and this is just one of many steps we're taking as we continue to move into the future.
Check out the full list of titles from your browser or your Android at Google Play.
Sometimes holiday deals are best ignored — we've got your guide to get the most bang for your buck
It's that time of year. Everywhere you look, you'll see incredible deals on "official" tablets that run "Google Android," often times starting at well under $100. Huge retail discount sales — whether real or imagined — during the holiday season are part of American culture. But we're here to help you not get burned by falling into the trap of buying a craplet.
Android is free. People can debate about that issue all they like, but the fact that we see Android installed on pieces of hardware from companies we've never heard of for sale at the local gas station pretty much proves the point that anyone can use Android in any way they like. Free software is a wonderful thing, and we're glad that anyone can build it and use it.
That doesn't mean we think you should buy just any cheap tablet, though. Money doesn't grow on trees, right?
We've got your guide to the best low-cost tablets we'd be willing to spend our own hard-earned cash on.