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4 years ago

Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 to launch in UK by March

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Following last week's global Galaxy Xcover 2 launch, Samsung UK has revealed that the phone will be headed to British shores, with a UK launch for the ruggedized handset scheduled to occur "by March."

The Galaxy Xcover 2 is Samsung's most latest hardened, IP67-certified water and dust-resistant smartphone, powered by a dual-core 1GHz processor with 1GB of RAM, and running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean out of the box. Other highlights include a 5MP camera, 4GB of internal storage and a microSD slot.

We don't typically expect bleeding-edge internals in this kind of smartphone, but the Galaxy Xcover 2 certainly packs more of a punch than previous ruggedized phones. For more details on this device, head on over to our original announcement post, or check the presser after the break.

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4 years ago

EE lights up nine more UK towns with 4G, claims 45 percent population coverage

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Britain's sole 4G LTE carrier, EE (Everything Everywhere) sends word that it's switched on 4G coverage in nine new UK towns. From today, EE's LTE network will be available in Amersham, Bolton, Chelmsford, Hemel Hempstead, Southend-on-Sea, Stockport, Sunderland, Sutton Coldfield and Wolverhampton, bringing the total number of towns and cities covered up to 27.

The carrier claims its 4G roll-out is now ahead of schedule, and says it now covers 45 percent of the UK population, 90 days after its service first launched. EE plans to bring its total number of markets up to 35 by the end of March.

Meanwhile, the long-delayed UK 4G spectrum auction recently got underway, the first step in allowing other carriers to launch competing 4G services on 800MHz and 2600MHz bands. EE's competitors are expected to be able to launch their 4G networks by late spring or early summer.

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4 years ago

New mid-range Sony phones tipped as Xperia SP, Xperia L

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After unveiling the high-end Xperia Z at CES, Sony Mobile is widely expected to follow up with mid-range and entry-level  counterparts at Mobile World Congress next month. We've heard rumored codenames and specs for both phones, but so far we've been left guessing which of the remaining eighteen letters of the alphabet Sony will choose.

That mystery could be over today, as entries on Indonesian certification site Postel brings news of possible final branding. Records on Postel have a good track record in outing Sony branding -- almost a year ago to the day, it revealed "Nypon" and "Kumquat" as Xperias P and U, a month ahead of the official announcement.

Today listings show the mid-range "HuaShan" (C530X) as Xperia SP, and the entry-level C210X as Xperia L.

According to leaked specs, Xperia SP will feature a 1.7GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU, with a screen resolution of 1280x720, while the Xperia L is tipped to pack a 1GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus chip. Both phones reportedly run Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean.

We'll have to wait until Mobile World Congress for the final word on Sony's new mid-range stuff, but fortunately we'll be live from the show this February to bring you full coverage.

Source: Postel; via: Xperia Blog

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4 years ago

Acer Iconia B1 budget tablet appears at UK supermarkets for £99

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Unveiled to the world at CES, the Acer Iconia B1 is Acer's play at hitting the budget tablet space. While not offering bleeding edge specs, the B1 does offer a stock Jelly Bean experience on a 7 inch tablet, which, in the UK, goes for just £99. At CES we were told to expect launch in stores at the end of January, and true to their word that seems to be the case. 

The Iconia B1 has been spotted already for sale by British supermarkets, ASDA and Sainsbury's, both at that magic £99 price point. Appealing to the casual consumer at a price point that is bordering on impulse buy could prove successful for Acer, especially over the traditional 'no-name' cheap tablets we've seen for so long at this kind of price. The Kindle Fire is a big supermarket tablet line in the UK, so it will be interesting to see how the Iconia B1 fares. It under cuts the cheapest Kindle Fire by £30 while offering a more traditional tablet experience. 

Our hands on at CES showed a little lag, and a distinctly plasticky design, but also expandable memory and that Jelly Bean experience. But it all comes down to the price, and the Iconia B1 is the first tablet from a recognizable brand to hit that magic sub-£100 price point that makes it a compelling purchase for first time tablet buyers. If you've picked one up, or thinking of doing so, be sure to jump into the comments below and share your experience. 

via Eurodroid

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4 years ago

Nexus 4 charging orb listed online for $60, but it's out of stock

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We're not sure if this is a placeholder or if the information is accurate, but retailer Pure Mobile has the Nexus 4 charging orb in their online catalog. Currently listed as "out of stock", the OEM built charger is listed for $59.99, with free shipping. If you follow the link below and go to the source, you'll find you can hover over the thumbnail for an expanded view, and it certainly looks to be the real deal -- Nexus logo and all.

We're not sure if this is a sign that we'll soon be seeing the charging orb for sale as we saw with the Nexus 7 dock, and it's a little more pricey than we had hoped (although far less than the last time we saw the charger listed online), but we're certainly keen on getting one. I've reached out to Pure Mobile and will update everyone when they reply.

Source: Pure Mobile

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4 years ago

NVIDIA explains how Project Shield was built

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NVIDIA has posted a great blog post explaining just what it took to get Project Shield ready for CES. We all pretty much fell in love with the idea from the minute we first saw it (see Phil's time with the device), a gamer's device that does more than play games, but we tend to forget that the 20 minutes worth of Project Shield we saw was just a short part of the entire process of getting Project Shield from the minds of engineers to the keynote stage.

According to NVIDIA, Project Shield started in early 2012, as a game controller fastened to an Android smartphone via a block of wood. Spending the rest of the year designing and testing things, the first two real prototypes were delivered on December 18, just a few weeks before it was to be shown to the world in Las Vegas. 

During the final weeks of hustle to prepare for CES, engineers spent long days assembling the units that would be demonstrated at CES in a contract partners facility somewhere in Silicon Valley. The work these fellows did -- putting batteries in place and carefully fitting together the device's shell -- will be used to assemble the units as they roll off the line. It's important, tedious, and surely frustrating work under a tight schedule.

Of course they pulled it off, as we witnessed the day before CES officially kicked off. Project Shield looks awesome, and we can't wait until there are units out there for all of us to play with. The story is a great read, be sure to visit the link below to have a look.

Source: NVIDIA

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4 years ago

Sony Music Unlimited now offers 320 kbps AAC high-quality streaming

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Sony's Music Unlimited streaming service is being updated today to offer high-quality 320 kbps AAC music on all platforms, including Android. The service, which offers unlimited (go figure) music streaming for the monthly price of $9.99, is hoping to persuade users to try it over competing services like Spotify and Rdio. 320 kbps AAC is generally regarded as a high enough quality streaming that general users won't notice the difference between it and locally stored files, but also keeps data usage from streaming reasonably low.

You can download the Music Unlimited app from the Play Store link above, and there is currently a 14 day free trial available when you sign up. The higher quality audio may be enough to have more users trying this service going forward.

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4 years ago

T-Mobile launching GoSmart prepaid MVNO nationwide next month

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T-Mobile looks ready to start offering its new "GoSmart" prepaid MVNO service nationwide at some point in February. We heard back in early December that T-Mobile was planning to launch a new MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) under the brand name "GoSmart" as it started market-specific trials of the service near the end of the year. FierceWireless is now confirming that the service will be going live on a nationwide scale in February. The prepaid service, although completely owned and operated by T-Mobile, will carry no T-Mobile branding and offer three plans:

  • $30 per month for unlimited talk and text
  • $35 per month for unlimited talk, text and 2G data
  • $45 per month for unlimited talk, text and 5GB of "high speed" data

It still isn't clear what T-Mobile means by "high speed" data, but we have to assume at this point that it means HSPA+. Similarly to current T-Mobile plans, users hitting that 5GB threshold will be throttled to 2G speeds rather than charged overages. T-Mobile is indeed planning to prioritize it's own postpaid and prepaid customers over GoSmart customers, however, meaning that in times of congestion the GoSmart customers will be a lower priority. This can often be the case with prepaid providers, and at the prices you see above it's not surprising.

The service is said to launch with a "mobile SIM kit" for $8 that lets users bring their own unlocked GSM devices. This may be a compelling option for many of us looking to cut down the monthly cost of our phone bills, but we'll have to wait and see what the fine print says when these plans come out officially.

Source: FierceWireless; More: GoSmart Mobile

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4 years ago

This week's sidebar poll: Are you interested in BlackBerry 10?

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It's not every day that a major tech company reinvents itself like RIM has done. With Android and iOS gobbling up damn near all of the mobile market, RIM saw it was time to shift gears and deliver a revamped version of their BlackBerry operating system. I think they've done a fine job, and hope that investors and customers let it run its course to see what it can turn into. But enough of what I think.

What say you, fine readers of Android Central? We're not asking if you plan to jump ship and rush out to buy a BlackBerry Z10, only if you're interested in what the platform delivers, and more importantly, what it will blossom into. There's a poll in the sidebar to the right, and we've embedded it after the break to make it easy to find. Answer it, and tell us what you think.

Before we go, a look at last week's poll:

Are you ready to upgrade your phone?

If posed as a yes/no question, it looks like three quarters of the folks reading AC are ready to upgrade. That's good news for Android OEMs, and watching them all deliver great gear to win out hearts and minds should be fun!

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4 years ago

Google+ app adds new notification tray, links when posting

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The Google+ app has just been updated to add a few bits of functionality and a new notification system. With the previous update we received a new post composition screen that let you add a photo or mood to the post, and this update is putting a "link" option between the two. Tapping on it lets you manually add a URL, although we'd bet most people will be copy/pasting URLs in. On the main UI side, notifications have been redesigned as well. Instead of being hidden underneath the navigation controls in the left slide-in panel, you get a separate notification number between the refresh and settings buttons, that when tapped brings in a full notification-specific panel from the right.

The update also allows for more moderation options in Google+ Communities, which were recently released. You can grab a download of the new Google+ at the Play Store link above.

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4 years ago

Google Play Music update improves widget, adds features, fixes bugs

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Google Play Music has just received a notable update to add a few features that have been bugging users for some time now. Right off the top you'll spot a proper reverse button on the music widget, letting you go backwards in albums or playlists without entering the app. Instant mixes can now continue on past 25 tracks as well, and you can shuffle albums, artists or playlists. The default album art is changed to a simpler grey tile also.

When you pin albums or tracks, you can now see the progress of the download from that album or playlist view rather than just in the settings. There is also apparently a bugfix that should solve the problem of some Galaxy SIII (S3) devices freezing when using the app. It's a whole bunch of useful fixes and improvements, so go grab the update from the Play Store now.

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4 years ago

RUUs, ROMs not the target of takedown, HTC says

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HTC today responded to concerns about the future of custom ROMs after a site that was hosting ROM Update Utility files -- HTC's proprietary full restore files -- received a takedown letter from a lawyer representing the manufacture. The site -- HTCRUU.com -- posted the apparent exchange at Reddit (and was later picked up by Rootzwiki). HTC on its blog today explains that it was the branding -- the use of the HTC logo along with the domain name -- that was really at issue. 

Wrote HTC:

The issue with the site in question was NOT that it provided custom ROMs or RUUs. The site used HTC trademarks without a license from HTC. The domain name contained ‘HTC’ and it used HTC logos, making it appear to be an official HTC website. Like any other company, we must protect our trademarks and brand. We cannot risk being associated with, and held liable for, software that we don’t have any control over that’s put onto an HTC device through a third party.

Stockpiling RUUs remains a bit of a gray area -- we've seen other sites taken down over the years -- but HTC pointed to its bootloader unlocking problem (which remains subject to the whim of its clients -- the carriers) as proof that it's committed to the modding community that that "we think the custom ROM community is valuable to the overall health of the Android ecosystem, and we have no intention of abandoning them."

Source: HTC

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4 years ago

Windows Phone-using Gmailers get a reprieve

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Google extends EAS sevice through July; Microsoft says it'll update to CalDav/CardDAV

Google is making a nice gesture today by extending the cutoff point for using EAS (Exchange Active Sync) to sync Google services to Windows Phone devices until July 31, 2013. If you'll recall back to December 2012, Google swiftly pulled support for EAS on Windows Phones, with the service set to expire today, January 30th. Google's hope was to move everyone over to using IMAP -- along with CalDAV and CardDAV for contacts and calendar -- to sync all types of devices. Because Android and iOS both support IMAP, CalDAV and CardDAV there were no issues to be had. Windows Phone, on the other hand, didn't have the extra protocols ready to go and was about to leave new customers out in the cold when they went to add Google accounts to their devices.

Luckily for both Microsoft and its customers, the new deal extends EAS support for Google Account syncing another 6 months. This will give Microsoft time to properly integrate CalDAV and CardDAV into Windows Phone, so that when this new extended cutoff period ends users will not be losing any features.

Source: Official Windows Phone Blog; More: WPCentral

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4 years ago

Android 4.2.1 pushing for the Sprint Galaxy Nexus

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It's been a scant couple of weeks since the Sprint Galaxy Nexus saw an update to Android 4.2. Today it's got another update rolling out. This one brings things to Android 4.2.1 build JRO03U.L700GA02) and includes the following:

  • Redesigned camera interface and new Photo Sphere feature (a 360-degree panorama mode)
  • Notifications Shade accessible by swiping top screen edge downwards; swipe down with two fingers to view notifications; tap the notification to expand and take action on it.
  • Lockscreen widgets to access certain apps without unlocking the screen; sidescroll right for camera or left for other widgets (time and weather, gmail, etc.)

You can snag the update over the air (hit your settings>about menu for that), or download manually from Google and apply  it that way. (If you need help with that, hit up this thread in our forums.)

Note that this update is for the Sprint Galaxy Nexus and not the Verizon Galaxy Nexus. Repeat: Verizon's Galaxy Nexus has not been updated. Still.

Get help in our Sprint Galaxy Nexus forumsMore at Sprint

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4 years ago

Waste time and flex your brain with Shift It

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There's no shortage of quick and fun puzzle games on Android, and Shift It still stands out as a great one. When you start up Shift It and play the first level, you'll instantly draw comparisons to the paradigm of a Rubik's cube. The basic idea of the game is to take the nine section grid of different colored blocks, and move it around so that the blocks of the same color are all connected. You are faced with a 2D view, but the blocks are effectively 3D -- moving blocks off of one edge, you will see them reappear on the other side.

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