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3 years ago

Android Central International round-up - October 6, 2012

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Another busy week in the Android world device launches and announcements galore. First up was the HTC One X+, which will be coming to Europe and U.S. carrier AT&T in the weeks ahead -- it's a re-vamped One X with snazzy red accents, a faster CPU and a larger battery. It's also packing a new version of HTC's Sense software, Sense 4+, along with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

The Galaxy Note 2 also launched in the UK and Europe it the past week, and we published our exhaustive review of Samsung's latest phone/tablet hybrid. Without spoiling too much, we'll say that we've been impressed -- and surprised -- by the quad-core, 5.5-inch device. Buyers in the UK can pick up the 3G/HSPA version now, or the 4G LTE version on EE in a couple of weeks.

And in other UK 4G news, EE reached an agreement with the other carriers, meaning it'll be able to launch its LTE network on Oct. 30, and the 4G spectrum auction that the other networks are relying on will be moved forward. The result should be widespread 4G coverage across multiple UK carriers by spring 2013.

Check out the list below for some of the main international Android stores from the past week. If you've got news, be sure to submit it to the usual address.

Special features:

News: 

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3 years ago

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 review [Updated]

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The original Samsung Galaxy Note was never the likeliest candidate for a multi-million-selling Android device. Few expected it to succeed, and its inflated size and stylus input made it an easy target for ridicule. We were cautiously optimistic in our November 2011 review, but also skeptical as to its mass market potential. Yet somehow, in the ten months following its debut in late 2011, Samsung managed to turn this quirky technological showcase into something with sufficient mass appeal to shift more than 10 million units. And so here we are one year on with its successor, the Galaxy Note 2.

Samsung likes to talk about having created a new category of mobile device with the Galaxy Note, and the Note certainly stretches the boundaries of what can reasonably be called a smartphone. It’s even inspired a few imitators, including LG’s Optimus Vu and Intuition. But users of the original Note will concede that while the device was groundbreaking, it certainly wasn’t perfect. Samsung’s TouchWiz 4 software was hardly ideal for a phone of that size, and many usability hiccups remained in Android, particularly where the "S Pen" stylus was concerned.

In 2012, the Galaxy Note 2 presents Samsung with the chance to refine the Note formula, and possibly dominate this niche for another year. So have they succeeded? Read on to find out, in our definitive Galaxy Note 2 review.

Update, Oct. 6: This review has been updated in light of multi-window support being added via an over-the-air update.

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3 years ago

Motorola killing webtop, laptop docks

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Motorola has confirmed that it will no longer be pursuing its webtop program in the future. Famously announced to much fanfare with the Motorola Atrix, the laptop dock is going away. Starting with its latest release of devices -- the Photon Q, Droid RAZR HD, etc. -- webtop will no longer be preloaded and laptop dock devices will no longer be for sale. In an official statement, Motorola laid out the news:

"Motorola's Webtop app helps users extend their smartphone experience to larger screens. While consumers around the world have adopted Webtop and the concept spurred a lot of innovation in the industry, the adoption has not been strong enough to justify continued resources being allocated to developing Webtop on future devices. We have also seen development of the Android operating system focus on the inclusion of more desktoplike features. Beginning with Photon Q and Droid Razr M/Droid Razr HD/Droid Razr Maxx HD, we will no longer be including Webtop on our products moving forward."

This probably doesn't come as a surprise to many of us who have either completely forgotten that webtop existed (we wouldn't blame you) or saw with the high prices and anemic sales that the future wasn't bright for the product. Most importantly, this really symbolizes the end of an era for Motorola. Webtop may have been one of the biggest things left that symbolized the Motorola of the past. As if Google and Motorola's statements prior to its latest device launches weren't clear enough, it seems as though we're looking at a "new Motorola" going forward.

Source: CNET

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3 years ago

Ideas for NFC use, What are your top five favorite apps? [From the Forums]

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Just in case you missed out on some of the Android news today, now is the time to go ahead and get yourself fully caught up. Here on the blogs and in the Android Central Forums there is plenty to talk about. Have some questions? Need some help or just looking to chat Android? You know where to go, check out some of the threads below to get started.

We've got nearly 1 million members helping members and nearly 2 million posts in our Android Forums. Are you one of them? Join today!

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3 years ago

FCC planning to release 300MHz of spectrum to carriers by 2015

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Speaking yesterday at the University of Pennsylvania, chairman of the FCC Julius Genachowski explained how he plans to release another 300MHz of wireless spectrum to high speed wireless carriers by 2015. A large portion of the spectrum will be auctioned off in the AWS (Advanced Wireless Services) band, which isn't exactly what you'd call "prime real estate", but is where AT&T currently operates some LTE and T-Mobile has historically ran its HSPA+ network. New chunks of AWS being available could give a much-needed boost to these networks.

We hear a lot about spectrum nowadays -- who has it? who doesn't? why does it matter? -- but the real takeaway here is that more spectrum being available for carriers to use is a good thing. It essentially means that carriers will have more room to allocate bandwidth to devices, especially in major metropolitan areas where its quite apparent that these networks are oversaturated

Source: FCC (pdf); via Slashdot

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3 years ago

AT&T LTE now live in Jackson, MS.

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AT&T tells us that they have turned on LTE in and around Jackson, Mississippi today, bringing high speed data access to the Jackson metro and parts of Hinds County. AT&T currently has LTE deployed in over 75 markets and continues to roll out more, trying to keep pace with Verizon's year-long head start with the new 4G network.

AT&T offers numerous LTE devices, including some great Android phones like the Xperia Ion, the HTC One X, the Samsung Galaxy S3 (Galaxy S III) and the Motorola Atrix HD

Anyone in the City of Soul seeing outrageous data speeds, like the one pictured above from Chicago? Fire off in the comments and let us all know. 

Source: AT&T

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3 years ago

Follow Friday: Android Central on Google+

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Sure, you read all the blog posts. And you listen to the podcasts. And you're active in the forums. But that's just the beginning of all the ways you can let Android Central invade your life. We're all up in Google+, of course, with more than 63,000 satisfied customers.

And in addition to our main page, be sure to follow all of us individually as well. Here's a handy list, in handy bullet points:

And other Mobile Nations folks you should follow include:

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3 years ago

International RAZR HD and RAZR i now part of Motorola bootloader unlock program

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Two of Motorola's latest flagship devices, the international RAZR HD and RAZR i, have been added to the manufacturer's bootloader unlock program today. The program, if you're not aware, gives the more technically inclined users among us an official tool to unlock the bootloader on the device, which gives access to the hardware that would otherwise be extremely difficult to access. That means custom recoveries, ROMs and hacks can be easier applied to the device. Remember though that going through official methods to unlock your bootloader with Motorola's tools will void your warranty -- a risk most of us are willing to take -- and you may be out of luck getting the phone serviced in the future.

A list of the currently supported devices:

Previously, only the Photon Q, Droid RAZR M and Droid RAZR HD developer editions were listed as being supported by the unlock program -- which Motorola pointed out at the launch event -- so it's good to see even more models getting added to the list.

It's important to point out that these are the international models being added to the list today. As far as the US models coming to Verizon go, we're pretty sure those bootloaders will be encrypted like most Verizon devices -- hence the release of separate developer model SKUs. We can understand Verizon's motivations for wanting encrypted bootloaders on the devices they subsidize to run on their network, but we also think that having fully priced (unsubsidized) developer editions is happy middle ground. It's important for those of you who support the idea of unlockable bootloader devices to follow through and purchase the developer editions -- vote with your wallet, folks.

Source: Motorola; via Droid-Life

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3 years ago

Motorola RAZR i now available in Brazil

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Motorola and Intel's latest flagship device, the Motorola RAZR i, is available for purchase in Brazil starting today. The specs are exactly what we've seen previously with the launch of the device in Europe -- 2Ghz Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, 8MP camera (that actually took some good pictures in our testing) and a 4.3-inch 540x960 (qHD) Super AMOLED screen. Unfortunately -- but not surprisingly -- the RAZR i is shipping with Ice Cream Sandwich, but Motorola pledged to have these devices updated to Jelly Bean as soon as possible.

The RAZR i is available for R$1,299 (about $640 USD, no surprise there) starting today. Have a look at the full press release after the break.

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3 years ago

HTC One X+ goes on pre-order at Expansys U.S.A.

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Those that are itching to get their mitts on the recently-unveiled HTC One X+ may want to check out Expansys U.S.A., since they've started accepting pre-orders for the unlocked model. Unfortunately, it looks like this is the European model, so don't expect it to work on AT&T's LTE network. Of course, you could always wait for more info about the AT&T version and see what they're charging on-contract.  Though no price or date are given on Expansys, those that pre-order will be first in line for a unit and will be notified as soon as details get nailed down. 

We've spent some time with the One X+, and so far everything is looking good. Though some of it is looking familiar from the original One X, there's also lot that's got a bump upwards. Here's a quick run-down  of the specs. 

  • 1.7 GHz quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 CPU
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 2100mAh battery
  • 64GB of internal storage in the UK, other markets may vary
  • 4.7-inch laminated SuperLCD2 display at 720p (1280x720) resolution with Gorllla Glass 2
  • Internal speaker with built-in amplifier
  • 8.0MP rear camera with BSI sensor, f/2.0 lens and HTC ImageSense
  • 1.6MP front-facing camera with HTC ImageSense
  • HSPA+ 42Mbps connectivity in Europe, LTE connectivity in the U.S.
  • Wifi, Bluetooth and NFC support
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS with HTC Sense 4+
  • Size: 134.36 x 69.9 x 8.9mm
  • Weight: 135 grams with battery

So, anyone going to snag one of these on Expansys, or are you going to wait a month or two and get one right from AT&T?

Thanks Harel!

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3 years ago

Supertooth Disco 2 review: Our favorite speaker is sleeker, sexier, but a little softer

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I am not what I'd consider to be an audiophile. I don't look down on folks who don't listen to vinyl records (kids, ask your parents), and I don't use $500 headphones. I do, however, throw away earbuds that come with phones (with perhaps one recent exception), and it'll be a cold day in hell before I use an unpowered speaker.

That brings us to the object of today's affection -- the Supertooth Disco 2 Bluetooth speaker. We've long been fans of the original Disco. And we got our first look at the Disco 2 at CES in January. For sure, it's easier on the eyes. But how is it on the ears? Will it get us to give up the ghost of the original?

Only one way to find out.

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3 years ago

Rovio teases Star Wars-themed Angry Birds

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Rovio Entertainment has just slipped out a cryptic animated GIF of one of the Angry Birds with a lightsaber. Whether that means we'll see a full-blown Android game with little green pigs dressed up like stormtroopers is anyone's guess, but Rovio promises that we'll learn more at an event in Times Square, New York, at 10 AM EST on October 8 (next Monday). They also gently suggest that we hit up Toys R Us at 8 AM EST, so it's entirely likely that this is just some kind of new plushie they're selling.

Rovio is no stranger to licensing deals, having scored a fairly big one with Disney for the film Rio last year. More recently, Rovio is coming off of their launch of Bad Piggies, a physics-based building game featuring the antagonists of their first hit mobile game. An excess of cross-branding deals like this could make the Angry Birds brand even more stale than the plethora of toys, calendars, and other merchandise have. Then again, if they have a fresh spin on the Angry Birds gameplay and do the Star Wars franchise justice, it could freshen up the birds for another couple of months.

Are you guys optimistic about the next Angry Birds, or has it been done to death? Star Wars fans, do you find this kind of cross-licensing tacky or cute? 

Via: @AngryBirds

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3 years ago

Motorola successfully defends against Microsoft patent case in Germany

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Microsoft's latest patent lawsuit against Motorola was ruled in favor of Motorola in Mannheim, Germany regional court today. The patent in question related to the interoperability of software between handsets, which, as you could imagine, is a pretty big deal in the Android ecosystem. While this is great news for Motorola, and to a lesser extend Google, Microsoft still has a German sales injunction in place against the Motorola Atrix, the Droid RAZR and the Droid RAZR Maxx thanks to previous legal victories. Stateside, Motorola had previously suffered a hefty ban through the ITC for infringing on another Microsoft patent. 

Outside of courts, Google still has to pare down Motorola's operations even while they're still making strategic investments.  Motorola has a long road to recovery, but hopefully it can fend off future sales injunctions with Google behind 'em. 

Any German readers out there affected by the previous bans? Should tech giants be able to partially or completely lock out competitors from international markets in this way, or is there a better way to protect patents?

Via: Reuters

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3 years ago

LG's Nexus rumors grow stronger

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The chatter over who's making the Nexus device for Google is reaching a fever pitch, and MoDaCo's Paul O'Brien weighs in today with some of the strongest (and extremely possible) specs to date.

Basically, O'Brien says, we're looking at the internals of the recently announced LG Optimus G -- a phone with which we're pretty familiar after spending several days with it in Korea last month. It has, O'Brien says, the Qualcomm S4 Pro quad-core processor, 2 gigabytes of RAM and 1280x768 display (diagonal size unknown, but figure in the 4.5- to 5-inch range). 

Folks are gnashing their teeth over the lack of SD card, but as we've explained before, it's just not going to happen, and it has nothing to do with Google hating little pieces of plastic. The rumored 8GB and16GB storage options are worthy of consternation, however. Much as Google doesn't want to acknowledge it, offline storage is still a must for many of us.

Wireless charging? Hey, maybe it'll take off this time.

It's worth remembering, however, that ain't none of this official until it's official -- and we've seen Nexus products change dramatically before launch in the past.

Source: MoDaCo; more: Rumored devices forum

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3 years ago

Android Central Podcast 110: HTC's second act, the Galaxy Note 2 and ... a camera

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Audio-only stream below

Where did all of these new HTC devices come from? Plus, our review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, a Nikon Android camera, third-hand Nexus rumors that won't die, and more of your e-mails and voicemails.

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