4 years ago

Leaked docs show U.S. Galaxy Gear support rollout dates, concern over high return rate


Best Buy documents leaked to Geek.com show Gear support slated for Galaxy S4, Note 2, S3 and S4 Active by end of year — but return rate could be higher than 30 percent

It's fair to say the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch has had a mixed reception, with early reviews, including our own, complaining of poor support for non-Samsung apps and the fact that the Galaxy Note 3 was the only phone supported at launch. Today newly-leaked documents from a major retailer show that Samsung appears ready to bring Galaxy Gear support to other U.S. handsets before the of the year, while also revealing a potentially troubling return rate for the wearable gadget.

The internal Best Buy documents obtained by Geek.com show that like their international counterparts, U.S. Samsung phones will get Galaxy Gear support with their Android 4.3 updates. They also show tentative launch dates for the Gear-enabling updates on the Galaxy Note 2, S3, S4 and S4 Active across all major carriers. The documents underscore the fact that these dates are subject to change, so don't consider them set in stone just yet. But as it stands, it looks like Samsung wants these devices up-to-date with Android 4.3 and Galaxy Gear support by the year's end, in line with its earlier statements.

Perhaps more intriguing, the leaked material also states:

The Galaxy Gear attachment rate within Best Buy is the highest among all channels; however the overall return rate is trending above 30%

That means Best Buy is selling a lot of Galaxy Gears to Note 3 customers, but almost a third of them are returning the smartwatch. In today's report, Geek.com says Best Buy "have asked that Samsung employees on site help try to figure out why this is." Samsung has yet to release any Galaxy Gear sales figures, but if accurate, a 30 percent return rate at a big-name retailer is far from ideal.

Elsewhere, Samsung began rolling out the international Galaxy S4's Android 4.3 update in the past week, which includes Galaxy Gear connectivity. The international Galaxy S3, S4, Note 2, S4 Mini, S4 Active, Mega 5.8, Mega 6.3, and S4 Zoom are also set to receive updates with Gear support, with some devices' updates slated for the end of October.

Source: Geek.com

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4 years ago

ZTE Nubia 5 review


A solid set of specs and features taken to their logical conclusion and sold for a good price - is that enough to make a sale?

With a string of carrier-commissioned and cheap unlocked handsets, ZTE has been struggling to work its way into the U.S. market. The same can actually be said for most areas outside of Asia and its home country of China, as ZTE has tried to expand its mainland success out into the rest of the world. It can likely be said that the unveiling of the Grand S LTE was its best shot back at CES in January of this year, but that launch was generally fumbled and the device really didn't make any waves.

But as the Grand S finally makes its way to the U.S. in an unlocked form sold directly by ZTE, another handset with similar specs but a new design has emerged — the Nubia 5. With a nice display, simple look and an adequate spec sheet, the Nubia 5 actually seems as though it might have a few things going for it. And at $450 unlocked with a full U.S. warranty, it may just be a handset sold in the states that ZTE can be proud of. Read along after the break for our full review of the ZTE Nubia 5.

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4 years ago

We're podcasting live at 4 p.m. EDT!


OK, boys and girls. It's time to strap it on. Gear up. Put your game face on. Get limber. Don't swim for 15 minutes after eating. Look both ways before crossing the street. Hold hands in the parking lot. Put on your pants one leg at a time. Tie your shoes in a double knot. Turn on your low-beams in the rain. Watch for motorcycles. Always wear a helmet. Keep your hands and feet inside the car at all times.

The Android Central Podcast returns today.

We get going at 4 p.m. EDT. On tap this week: The sordid tale that is the BBM launch, Plants vs. Zombies 2, the Nexus wait continues — and more of your questions! Join us at the event page, or directly on our live page. See you this afternoon!

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4 years ago

Call of Duty: Strike Team now available - latest postmodern war shooter is $6.99


Full campaign and survival mode with both first-person and third-person action

The latest in the Call of Duty line, Strike Team, has just hit the Play Store for everyone to get their hands on. With a new story line based on modern combat in the year 2020 between the "world's superpowers," Strike Team will certainly appeal to any CoD fan out there. In terms of gameplay, Strike Team is introducing an interesting idea — you'll be able to quickly switch between first-person and third-person game modes, giving you control over your squad and individual actions.

The game offers both a full-features campaign mode that delivers the same CoD experience you know and love, and a survival mode to test your skills against waves of incoming enemies with increasing difficulty. Survival mode also has an online community leaderboard component, which will keep things frustrating competitive.

The game is live now in the Play Store at $6.99, but that's not too big of a price to pay for a full-featured shooter nowadays. Heads up if you're not on Wifi though, the download weighs in at 1.9GB.

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4 years ago

Custom Moto X now $99.99 from Moto Maker site


$100 price cut for customized AT&T Moto X on contract

Motorola has halved the cost of getting hold of a customized 16GB Moto X from its MotoMaker.com site. The customization tools are still exclusive to AT&T's Moto X, which incidentally still costs $199 on-contract from the carrier. If you're after the 32GB model, that'll set you back $149.99, down from $249.99.

So there's really no reason not to pick up a customized model if you're in the market for an AT&T Moto X. Moto's customization site lets you change the back color, accents and texture of your Moto X, before adding accessories and custom greetings, giving you a more personalized device.

There's been no official word on when Moto Maker will be coming to other carriers, but Verizon is rumored to get it Nov. 11.

More: MotoMaker.com; via: Android Central forums

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4 years ago

Sprint's Samsung Galaxy Note 3 gets update for audio fixes, keyboard improvements


The Sprint version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is getting a software update this morning. New in version MJ3 (that's according to Sprint's website — but the updates themselves are showing MJ4) are:

  • Call audio improvements
  • Samsung Keyboard Handwriting Mode (which also changes the theme on the keyboard)

And that's that, folks.

More: Sprint; Galaxy Note 3 forums; Thanks, Brandon!

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4 years ago

Google Sound Search lands in Canada [Update: not anymore]


Update: Looks like things have reverted back, and the Sound Search widget is once again unavailable in Canada.

Original story: Though they're still unable to stream from Google Play Music, Canadians now have the ability to use Google's Sound Search widget to identify music. The widget works on home screens and lock screens, and uses your phone or tablet's microphones to match what's playing against Google's vast library of music. (The same library still unavailable in Canada.)

Strangely, MobileSyrup reports that asking Google Now "What's this song" still returns an error message in Canada, while the standalone widget works as expected.

Would it be overly optimistic to think Sound Search's launch in Canada might signal the arrival of more Google music content for Canadians in the near future? Who knows, but surely it's about time.

Source: MobileSyrup

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4 years ago

Updating to HTC Sense 5.5? Claim 25GB of free Google Drive space


40GB total free cloud storage for HTC One owners who update

Yesterday we brought you news of HTC Sense 5.5 and Android 4.3 hitting some European HTC One devices, and now there's another reason to eagerly await the latest update for the phone. Similar to the Google Drive promotion for the HTC One Max, which gives owners of that phone 50GB of free storage, HTC Ones running Sense 5.5 can claim 25GB of free Drive space. Added to the basic 15GB allowance, that's a total of 40GB of free cloud storage.

Claiming your free space is as simple as starting up the Google Drive app once you've updated to HTC Sense 5.5 and hitting the "Redeem" button. Like the HTC One Max offer, the additional 25GB is good for two years and must be claimed before Jan. 1, 2016.

The official Google FAQ page notes that the Developer Edition HTC One isn't eligible for this offer due to its unlocked bootloader. For the same reason you'll be unable to claim your free storage if you've unlocked your HTC One's bootloader — though relocking it will allow you to redeem the offer. 

HTC Sense 5.5 also offers deeper integration with a couple of Google's key services. Google+ is now supported in BlinkFeed, Google Drive can be used with the integrated HTC Backup tool and Google+ sign-in can be used to log into HTC's account services.

Also see: HTC One getting Android 4.3 + Sense 5.5 update in parts of Europe

More: Google Drive offer FAQ

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4 years ago

Basic 'Avoca' tablet now £49 from Carphone Warehouse


Race to the bottom continues

UK retailer Carphone Warehouse has announced that it's dropping the price of the budget "Avoca" 7-inch tablet to just £49 — half the usual price of £99. The new price makes the device one of the cheapest Google Play-certified tablets around, and significantly undercuts low-cost rivals from Argos and Tesco.

Though at such a low price you'll get exactly what you pay for. The Avoca 7-inch tablet is powered by a 1GHz CPU, with a WVGA (800x480) display and 512MB of RAM — so don't expect an exceptionally speedy experience in Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. You do at least get a reasonable 8GB of storage and microSD expandability, as well as a promised 8 hours of battery life.

However considering it's essentially a disposable tablet, you can't really argue with what you get for the price. CPW says the Avoca tablet will remain at £49 while stocks last.

Source: Carphone Warehouse

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4 years ago

Is T-Mobile starting to offer free tethering on prepaid plans?


Plan pages and advertisement materials still make no mention of new tethering option

It seems as though some folks with T-Mobile prepaid plans are being given a free allotment of mobile hotspot usage, falling closer in line with the new UNcarrier postpaid plans. Although with its UNcarrier initiative T-Mobile relaxed its policies drastically on offering free mobile hotspot on postpaid plans, its prepaid offerings have still blocked tethering (either explicitly on the phone or with a browser redirect) and asked you to pay $15 monthly for the privilege of using your phone as a hotspot:

Some people using the T-Mobile My Account app on their phones with prepaid SIMs have started to notice a new line item of "Mobile Hotspot Usage" underneath their regular data usage — something that wasn't previously shown on prepaid accounts. On our own $30 5GB prepaid plan we're now seeing a 100MB balance for hotspot, and it does indeed only tick up when connecting to a hotspot and using data. Folks with the $70 unlimited prepaid plan are seeing a 2.5GB allotment for mobile hotspot.

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4 years ago

Samsung posts record operating profit of $9.56 billion on sales of $55 billion


Quarterly operating profit up 26 percent, semiconductor sales up drastically

It's earnings time, and the next company up to report its financials from Q3 2013 is Samsung. Riding solid growth in nearly all of its major divisions, Samsung posted huge sales and record profits for the quarter — here are the highlights:

  • Sales of $55.6 billion, up from $49.1 billion last year
  • Record operating profit of $9.65 billion, up from $7.58 billion last year
  • Net profit of $7.75 billion, up from $6.17 billion last year

Samsung saw year-over-year growth in nearly all of its divisions, with the largest jumps coming in the semiconductor and mobile divisions. In terms of smartphones, Samsung claims shipments increased quarter-over-quarter, primarily driven by "mass-market models" with high-end model shipments staying flat. Tablet sales "sharply increased" as well, due primarily to the launch of its latest Tab 3 lineup.

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4 years ago

Amazon Q3 2013 earnings are out - $17.09 billion in sales, operating loss of $25 million


Still seeing net losses despite huge sales numbers; no Kindle Fire sales figures given

Amazon has just posted its Q3 2013 earnings report, and the line seems to follow much the same trend as previous quarters. While the retail and online service giant posted a massive $17.09 billion in sales, up 24 percent year-over-year, it still posted an operating loss of $25 million (net loss of $41 million) for the quarter. That loss is improved from an operating loss of $28 million in the same quarter last year, and Amazon claims $7 million of that loss was due to negative foreign exchange impact, but losses are still never good to see.

As is the case every quarter, Amazon chose not to break out any sales figures of its Kindle Fire tablets, although it did take a moment to remind everyone that it has launched three new models and is offering a great experience with the Mayday button: "average Mayday response times are just 11 seconds!” said CEO Jeff Bezos.

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4 years ago

BBM updated to support more devices, doesn't list which ones


Performance enhancements and bug fixes also included in version

Just in case your device wasn't on the list of supported phones or tablets at launch, BBM has just been updated to support even more. Unfortunately the changelog doesn't indicate a complete list of supported devices nor does it say which were added in this round, but we're never going to turn down an update for wider support on a popular app.

The update also includes "bug fixes and performance enhancements," naturally, but again no specifics were given. If you were unable to install BBM before, hit the Play Store link above and see if your devices are supported now.

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4 years ago

Motorola 'Windy Day' video teases augmented reality app coming Oct. 29


Pixar animation technology seemingly making its way to a Moto X-exclusive game

The Motorola YouTube account has just posted a new video teasing upcoming news. Titled "Windy Day," the video shows several people being handed a Moto X and twirling around — as one would with an augmented reality app or game — with the video description reading:

A mouse, a red hat, a windy day and a smile. This is a new kind of story. Made by Motorola and Jan Pinkava. Brought to life only on the Moto X.

Jan Pinkava is a well-known director, and his work on a short called Windy Day was shown off at the recent Qualcomm Uplinq conference as a demonstration of a new real-time animation process from Pixar called OpenSubdiv. Motorola was listed as a client on the project, so we can connect a few dots and see where this is headed.

A little sneak peek at the very end of the video shows a screen capture of some sort of game running on the Moto X and the caption "Windy Day only on Moto X." Next week it looks like we'll be looking at the launch of a Moto X-exclusive app or game of some sort integrating this technology and design from Pinkava.

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4 years ago

It's not just you — Google's servers seeing sync struggles


Not a whole lot we can do here, folks. Everybody sit tight, and we'll ride this out together.

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