Mobile World Congress is just a month away, and already we’re steeped in news of devices reportedly due to be shown off in Barcelona. Alongside all the crazy rumors and leaks, we’ve also had a steady trickle of device announcements and updates to contend with.
Needless to say, it’s been a busy few days in international Android news. Join us after the break for a rundown of some of the biggest stories of the week.
Galaxy Note 8.0
This week the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet went from the stuff of rumors to a real glass-and-plastic device that you can see. Leaked photos of the Note 8,0 emerged from two different sources this week, showing a tablet with a curved design and, surprisingly, traditional back, home and menu buttons in place of the usual on-screen keys. Essentially, it’s looking like the Galaxy Note 8.0 will be a super-sized version of the Galaxy Note 2, in much the same way that the Note 2 was an enlarged Galaxy S3.
The latest reports suggest the Note 8.0 will come in Wifi, 3G and 4G versions. We’re expecting the device to be made official by Samsung at Mobile World Congress late next month.
Nexus 4 launches in more territories
After a tumultuous Google Play Store launch in certain countries late last year, Google and LG’s Nexus 4 looks set to spread its reach further across the globe. This week saw announcements from Fido and Videotron in Canada, as well as a general retail announcement for Australia.
The Nexus 4 is one of our favorite phones of 2012, and this past week we also published a summary of how the device has held up for us after two months of daily use.
4G LTE in the UK
After years of delays, the UK’s auction of 800MHz and 2600MHz 4G spectrum got underway this week, with bidders including all four major carriers fighting it out for 28 lots of spectrum. The auction is expected to last for several weeks, with the first LTE networks on these bands expected to light up in late spring or early summer, bringing more competition to a market currently dominated by 4G incumbent EE.
Speaking of which, EE announced plans to launch some “limited edition” LTE contracts this week. There’s a budget-centric £31 per month contract, in addition to a “super-user” plan with a 20GB data allowance. But while the new plan offers an enormous data bucket, it does so with an equally huge price plan. On a SIM-only contract, you’re looking at £46 per month; throw in a subsidized phone and you’ll pay an eye-watering £61 per month.
Galaxy S2 gets Jelly Bean and a wealth of new features
Samsung continues to lead the pack with upgrades to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and this week the venerable Galaxy S2 (international version) got its Jelly Bean update. But S2 owners didn’t just have standard 4.1 features like Project Butter and Google Now waiting for them -- Samsung also bundled a new version of TouchWiz into the S2 Jelly Bean update. That means S2 owners get access to Galaxy S3 features like Smart Stay, Pop-up Play and a completely re-vamped UI.
Right now Jelly Bean is rolling out for unlocked S2 models in Spain, with other countries and carriers expected to follow in the weeks ahead.
That’s it for this week’s international Android developments. As always, if you’ve got news, you can tip us at the usual address.