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3 years ago

LG has a homeBoy for you at Mobile World Congress

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Yes, that really is its name

We have to confess the name is why we stopped to look at the LG homeBoy. Perhaps offering more hilarity in the west than LG's native Korea, the device itself is basically a large Bluetooth entertainment system for the LG G Pad 8.3. You dock and connect the tablet, then all sound from apps or music comes out through the actually pretty good sounding speakers on your homeBoy.

You can also connect your homeBoy to your TV and use it to mirror content to the screen while still retaining the sound through the devices speakers. It looks pretty good, has NFC and is personally tuned by a chap called Mark Levinson. But you'll still have to go into a store and ask if you can buy yourself a homeBoy. Thanks, LG!

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3 years ago

Sony ditches permanent screen protectors for Xperia Z2 devices

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'Anti-shatter film' no longer used on Xperia Z2 and Z2 Tablet

Good news for would-be Xperia Z2 buyers today, as one of our major bugbears with previous Sony smartphones has been consigned to history. At a meeting today at Mobile World Congress, Sony confirmed to Android Central that fixed screen protectors — officially known as "anti-shatter film" — are not used on the Xperia Z2 and Z2 Tablet. Instead Sony's latest smartphone and tablet are furnished in bare glass and metal, just as nature intended.

We've long bemoaned the use of the anti-shatter film on Sony phones, which scratches more easily than the reinforced glass of the display and gives the devices a more plasticky feel, while also picking up smudges and fingerprints. So it's great to see this finally addressed as Sony launches its 2014 portfolio.

Be sure to check out our Xperia Z2 and Z2 Tablet hands-on posts for more on both devices.

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3 years ago

Marvell announces Armada PXA1928 SoC, a single chip solution for advanced mobile devices

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CPU, GPU, LTA modem and multi-radio support all in one 64-bit chip

Geek out with me for a bit if you will, because it's time for some chip porn.

Marvell has pulled the wrapper off their latest Armada chip, and it shows that they are ready to tussle with the big dogs in mobile silicon. The Armada PXA 1928 brings just about every controller you would ever want into a single 64-bit package, and if their past holds true, they will be able to do it at a substantial savings for the people designing and building phones and tablets.

Currently a major player in the Chinese market, Marvell is a strong partner with folks like Lenovo, Hisense and Coolpad. Right now they power plenty of entry-level LTE devices with their affordable and existing solutions. The new PXA 1928 should give quite the bump in performance and power effeciency, and hopefully foster some competition worldwide in the mid-range category. Every phone running a Snapdragon is no good for the consumer.

A few quick details, followed by the full press release.

  • Production ready 5-Mode Cellular Modem Solution for LTE Cat 4, UMTS Release 7, TD-HSPA+ Release 8, and class 12 GSM/EDGE, and supports multi-radio, CSFB, and VoLTE voice solutions for LTE networks
  • 3G/4G protocol stacks certified on major carrier networks and validated via extensive IOT, GCF and field trial testing
  • Quad-core ARM Cortex A53MP Application Processor Subsystem
  • Support for 1080p display, and 1080p video encoding and decoding
  • Support eMMC NAND Flash memory interface
  • Complete wireless capabilities with WLAN/Bluetooth/NFC solutions
  • Support advanced mobile security features, including secure boot, root key protection, Widevine® Level 1 support, and FIPS 104-2 level3 and 140-3 level 2 compliant

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3 years ago

Papyrus note-taking app goes 1.0 with PDF import

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Now you can mark up docs easily with an S Pen

Papyrus is a promising note-taking app for Android that we first spotted at the Samsung Developer Conference, and they've finally reached the 1.0 milestone.

Papyrus has been enjoying quite a bit of popularity in their beta period, having built up the core functions, but the latest update includes a premium feature for PDF importing. This means you can take documents sent to you by e-mail or elsewhere, and mark it up within the app. You can also export the final product as a PDF if you like.

Papyrus is a pretty slick app. Besides being optimized for active styluses like S Pens, the app is vector-based, meaning anything you write or draw can be scaled up without any loss of quality. Though the core app is free, there are a few of extras, like the new PDF import and a cloud storage feature pack, that are tucked away behind in-app purchases.

My handwriting is horrible, so apps like this usually get a pass from me, but I could see artists getting interested in this kind of thing, provided more brush types get introduced. On iOS, an app called Paper has done a phenomenal job of offering these kinds of functions, but without an Android port, I could see Papyrus laying the claim as the handwriting king of the Play Store. What about you guys? What are your favorite note-taking apps? Do you get enough usage out of your stylus? If you're thinking of getting Papyrus, check out our demo video below.

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3 years ago

HTC One wins GSMA's top smartphone of the year at Mobile World Congress

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LG honored for its innovation, AT&T lauded as well

We're all patiently awaiting HTC's March 25 events in London and New York, where it's all but official that we'll get a new version of one of our favorite smartphones of the past year. (We did get a smaller announcement this week, with the Desire 816.) But today, at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, HTC's current (and very much still relevant) flagship is receiving a pretty major accolade by the GSMA, the group that puts on this little show that we call MWC.

The HTC One wins "Best Smartphone," breaking Samsung's two-year winning streak (for the Galaxy S2 and Galaxy S3).

For HTC and the smartphone industry, from the folks in the suits to the boots on the ground, this is a pretty big deal. 

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3 years ago

Stitcher updated with unlimited past episode listening and Listen Later

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Stitcher, a major podcast app for Android, has rolled out a new update with a few solid features. The first is the ability to mark podcast episodes to listen to later. This is perfect for lining up the listening for your commute.

Stitcher has also allowed unlimited listening on past episodes in the latest update. As always, you can listen in on live streams or enjoy offline playback, pick up listening where you left off last, see notifications for breaking news, and combine podcasts for a continuous, customized talk radio experience.

If you're into podcasts, Stitcher is hard to beat. Be sure to give it a go at the download link above. Oh, and if you do end up using Stitcher, be sure to listen to the Android Central podcast there.

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3 years ago

T-Mobile reports $20 million Q4 net loss, but adds 1.65 million customers

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T-Mobile's fourth quarter and year-end results came in today with losses but also a few victories

T-Mobile's Q4 financial results are in, and they're about what you'd expect given their recent strategies of giving away tablet data, removing device subsidies and their corresponding contracts, paying termination fees from competitors, wacky marketing campaigns, and free international data roaming. They lost money over the quarter, but gained subscribers. They're up to 46.7 million customers, which is up 1.65 million from last quarter, and quarterly revenue was up to $6.8 billion, which is a $39% increase year-over-year. Still, this resulted in a net loss of $20 million for the quarter due to the aforementioned costs.

It takes money to make money, as they say, and in that light, these losses may seem worthwhile in the long run. How many of you guys are T-Mobile customers? How many of you have switched over in the last couple of months? Do the changes they're making in wireleess merit all the marketing attitude? Highlights from the quarter and full-year results are below.

Source: T-Mobile

Fourth Quarter 2013 Highlights:

  • Total net customer additions of more than 1.6 million
  • 981,000 total branded net customer additions with 869,000 branded postpaid net additions, representing the best branded postpaid performance since the fourth quarter of 2005
  • Improving branded postpaid phone net additions of 800,000 and 69,000 mobile broadband net additions
  • Accelerating branded prepaid customer growth with 112,000 net customer additions
  • Continued low branded postpaid churn of 1.7%, flat quarter-over-quarter and down 80 basis points year-over-year, resulting in the best quarter of year-over-year churn reduction in 2013
  • Delivered third consecutive quarter of sequential service revenue growth
  • Strong Adjusted EBITDA of $1.239 billion and Adjusted EBITDA margin of 24% combined with significant customer growth
  • Successful modernization program delivers nationwide 4G LTE network coverage to 209 million people in 273 metro areas

Full Year 2013 Highlights:

  • Total net customer additions of more than 4.4 million on a pro forma combined basis
  • 2.4 million total branded net customer additions including 2 million branded postpaid and 359,000 branded prepaid customers on a pro forma combined basis
  • Branded postpaid churn of 1.7%, down 70 basis points year-over-year
  • Adjusted EBITDA of $5.317 billion and Adjusted EBITDA margin of 26% on a pro forma combined basis
  • Successful introduction and execution of major Un-carrier initiatives
  • Rapid progress with the integration of MetroPCS by expanding the brand into 30 additional markets
  • Currently 3.5 million MetroPCS customers on the T-Mobile network
  • Met or exceeded all company guidance targets for 2013

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3 years ago

Vector 32: The ultra-high definition future of television and transcoding

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Vector is Mobile Nations' cross-site, cross-platform analysis podcast where we talk about the biggest stories and issues in tech with the smartest people in the industry. On this week's episode, Don Melton and Guy English join Rene to get super geeky about 4K TV (aka UHD or 2160p), HEVC (aka H.265), VP8, and the future of televisions, physical and digital media, and transcoding.

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3 years ago

Sony Xperia M2 hands-on

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Xperia Z series look and feel gets more affordable in Sony's latest mid-range handset

Alongside its new Xperia Z2 flagship smartphone and Xperia Z2 Tablet, Sony's also showing off a new mid-range offering, the Xperia M2, at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Based on the look and feel of the Xperia Z series, the M2 brings Sony's high-end "Omnibalance" design language to a more affordable product. With a qHD (960x540)-resolution 4.8-inch screen, the M2 won't be winning any awards for display sharpness — but colors do at least look bright and vivid.

Performance, too, is decent across the board. The M2's 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor seems just a little snappier than rivals like the Moto G. Imaging is another area where Sony's looking to differentiate from the mid-level competition. The phone boasts an 8-megaixel Exmor RS camera alongside its modular camera app, which includes AR (augmented reality) functionality, along with Superior Auto, Manual and other shooting modes.

On the software side, the M2 is running the previous Xperia UI, not the Android 4.4-based firmware found on the Z2. So instead you're running Jelly Bean and a UI that looks just a bit dated compared to Sony's latest and greatest software. Nevertheless, the phone runs a full suite of Sony apps including Walkman with Music Unlimited, Video Unlimited and the PlayStation app.

Check out our hands-on video after the break, along with more photos.

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3 years ago

ZTE Grand Memo II LTE hands-on

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Early software and questionable build quality have us wondering what the future holds for this huge phone

ZTE has taken the wraps off of the second generation of its large device, the Grand Memo II LTE, here at MWC in Barcelona and we've had an opportunity for some quick hands-on time at the show. This device is definitely large, even in this world where 5-inch screens seem normal, with a full 6-inch 720 x 1280 display. ZTE mitigates some of the size issues with very small bezels around all sides and a 7.2mm thick body, but in the end it's still mildly unwieldy at best. While it feels pretty solid in the hand and isn't overly angular even with the lack of thickness, the build quality was really lacking on all of the units we had a chance to touch.

As a quick refresher, for specs we're looking at a Snapdragon 400 processor (although the confusion of whether or not it will eventually have an S800 still stands), paired up with 2GB of RAM, 3200mAh battery and a pair of cameras at 13MP and 5MP. The display looks pretty good to our eyes — it's an IPS panel — at the distance you usually hold large devices, although we do find the colors and brightness to be a bit lacking, at least in the trade show lighting scenario.

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3 years ago

In pictures: The Rose Gold Samsung Galaxy Note 3

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On sale now and surprisingly attractive

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is already on sale to some folks globally in the new Rose Gold color scheme, but we've only physically seen one for the first time here at Mobile World Congress. Available in a black or white version, the Rose Gold is actually a more bronze colored trim that covers the edges and trims the home button, earpiece, camera stack and the Samsung logo on the rear.

Up close, both are surprisingly attractive. The Rose Gold is tasteful and not over-the-top, and the black one inparticular is a most handsome looking thing. If you can get it, that'd be the one we'd go for.

Otherwise it's the same Galaxy Note 3 we know and love. Head on past the break to see more.

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3 years ago

Samsung Galaxy S5 chipsets confirmed, Snapdragon 801 on-board

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Also confirmed to be Octa-core Exynos variant for selected markets

The Samsung Galaxy S5 event passed by without too much detail on just what chipset is actually powering things. This morning, we've got word on two different versions for presumably different markets. Qualcomm has dropped word that its latest Snapdragon 801 is in fact inside the Galaxy S5, while there is also word from Samsung of an octa-core model that will launch in selected markets.

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3 years ago

LG G2 Mini and G Pro 2 QuickWindow cases hands-on

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Standard LG cases kick off the accessory market for these new phones

We've seen the recently announced LG G Pro 2, as well as the G2 MIni, here at Barcelona, but we haven't yet seen the range of accessories LG has on tap for its latest devices. A big feature since the launch of the original G2 is the so-called "QuickWindow" case that gives your device full protection — including the screen — while also giving you glanceable information through a cutout window on the front.

The cases come in a wide variety of colors — we have a salmon-like one on the G Pro 2 and silver on the G2 Mini — and are a nice woven cloth-like material all around for extra grip. The functionality seems to be the same as we've experienced on the G2 and G Flex as well. While cases that cover the entire front of the phone aren't always well-liked by the majority of people, the folks who want (or need) the extra protection will have this now-standard LG accessory for these new devices.

Be sure to hit the break for a closer look at the QuickWIndow cases for both the LG G Pro 2 and LG G2 Mini.

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3 years ago

Poll: Are you upgrading to the Galaxy S5?

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Is the new look and new software enough to make you go for it?

The Internet is on fire over the Samsung Galaxy S5. Generally seen as a nice device by those who have had their hands all over it, it retains the look we're familiar with, while being a little different — both outside and inside. But it seems like there is no instant "wow" factor to make everyone drop what they are doing and pull out their wallets.

This feels especially true if you're using a Galaxy S4. I'm seeing a lot of folks saying they will hold off this time, and keep the S4 in their pocket for another year. Of course, you have people complaining just for the sake of complaining, but most folks seem to be calm and genuine enough.

By now, you've had a few hours to think about it, talk about it, and complain about it if you wanted to. So we're just going to ask — are you going to upgrade to the Galaxy S5?

Hit the break, vote in the poll, chat in the comments. You guys and gals know how this works by now. 

My vote? Bring it on. Looking forward to having some one-on-one time with it.

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3 years ago

Attacking from the bottom: why Nokia's Android-powered phones make sense

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Today, at the start of Mobile World Congress, Nokia made it official. They are building Android-powered phones. I’m not going to rehash all of the data or walk you through the basics of the phone since that’s already been covered in-depth quite well today.

While some at Microsoft may be embarrassed by what Nokia is doing, I can see how it’s a smart move that will help.

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