Headlines

3 years ago

Security-conscious Blackphone now available for preorder

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After making a healthy splash following its announcement, the Blackphone is ready to preorder for $629 and will be shipping in June. The Blackphone runs a version of Android they're calling PrivatOS, which, as the name suggests, aims to provide users with the utmost security and privacy.

From a pure specs standpoint, the Blackphone packs a 4.7" HD IPS screen, 2 GHz quad-core CPU, 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB storage, an 8 megapixel camera with flash, and LTE/HSPA+ connectivity. We're all a bit more conscious of privacy after the Snowden leaks, though it's unrealistic to expect the Blackphone will suddenly make you impervious to NSA monitoring. We're going to hunt one of these handsets down at Mobile World Congress and get a look for ourselves.

Anyone interested in getting a Blackphone can get preordering over here, or you can check out their promo video for a full run-down. Any takers?

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3 years ago

Head-to-Head: The LG G2 Mini versus the LG G2

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The little G2 might look like its big brother, but the beauty is skin deep

LG pulled the wraps off the new G2 Mini here at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona yesterday. We've already gone hands on, but since we've got a regular G2 in our pockets we've put the two side-by-side to see how they stack up.

But, while the two look pretty much alike, the similarities end with the appearance. The G2 Mini has been trimmed down internally and given a much lower resolution screen. There's a couple of versions out there, but check out the video after the break to see the European G2 Mini and the European G2 in a quick side-by-side comparison.

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3 years ago

Next-generation YotaPhone ups resolution on secondary e-ink display

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We got up close and personal with the original YotaPhone at last year's Mobile World Congress, and this year they're refining the dual-screen formula with an improved e-ink display.

Users can lean on the 4.7-inch always-on touch-enabled e-ink rear display for variety of tasks, including answering calls, checking e-mail, and shooting out a tweet, and earn about 50 hours of usage time total. They've also tossed in a built-in light so the e-ink display is still useful in darker situations. The primary display is a 5-inch AMOLED screen, wireless charging is included, and the whole thing is powered by a quad-core Qualcomm 800 processor.

This whole party in the front, business in the back reverse-mullet thing is kind of interesting, especially if it can deliver the promised battery savings. It certainly would take awhile to get used to using a phone with two big screens like this, but the idea of not having to wake up your phone for at-a-glance information is certainly appealing. Expect to see the new YotaPhone in EMEA and Russia in Q4 2014, and another version in America and Asia three or four months later.

Source: YotaPhone

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3 years ago

Quick look: The Samsung Galaxy S4 Black Edition

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It actually looks pretty hot

Samsung recently announced the Galaxy S4 Black Edition for selected markets, and we've stumbled across one here at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. And you know what? It actually looks pretty darn hot! There's a lot to be said for a color change and a faux leather back.

Essentially that's what's different about it to any other Galaxy S4. Besides looking pretty fantastic, it makes a big difference to how it feels in the hand. We've never really been enamoured with the regular, glossy plastic back on the S4, but with the Note 3 style leather effect – and stitching – it feels so much better to hold.

Oh, and one more thing. The Black Edition on show here at MWC has Android 4.4.2 KitKat on board – as some folks in some places might be seeing already – and Touchwiz looks like Touchwiz. With time to really dig around there's bound to be new stuff, but to the casual eye it's business as usual.

Head on past the break for a few extra shots of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Black Edition. If only it had launched sooner. Much sooner.

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3 years ago

Head-to-head: Sony Xperia Z2 versus Xperia Z1 specs

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How does Sony's new Android flagship compare to last year's model?

The Sony Xperia Z2 is official today, bringing both software and hardware upgrades to Sony's flagship "Z" series. Today's launch — along with the Xperia Z2 Tablet and Xperia M2 — comes some six months after the arrival of the Xperia Z1, the company's current high-end Android offering. So how does this new Xperia compare to its predecessor? We've got a quick breakdown of some of the main specs after the break.

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3 years ago

Sony Xperia Z2 hands-on

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Iterative improvements across the board add up to a sleeker, more capable Xperia phone

Sony likes to release two flagship phones each year. We've bemoaned the fact before, but the Japanese electronics giant continues to persue an aggressive timetable of half-yearly replacements for its high-end "Z" series. Back in September at IFA, we met the Xperia Z1; just six months later we're getting our first look at the Xperia Z2 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. At first glance it's tough to tell the Z2 apart from the Z1 — they're both more or less the same size and shape — big, blocky phones, and products of Sony's "Omnibalance" design language. If you weren't a fan of Sony's Z series phones before, there's little here to change your mind. But even if it doesn't lend itself particularly well to good ergonomics, it's a solid look, and one Sony's sticking to.

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3 years ago

ZTE makes Grand Memo II LTE official: 6-inch IPS display, Android 4.4 KitKat

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Huge display shows off the new-look MiFavor UI

Following precisely one year after the launch of the original Grand Memo, ZTE has made the Grand Memo II LTE official here at MWC 2014 in Barcelona. Although ZTE confirmed its existence and naming prior to the show, we now have all of the details on its new huge handset. The Grand Memo II LTE is sporting a 6-inch IPS HD (we're thinking 720 x 1280) display, 13MP and 5MP cameras, Snapdragon 400 processor (initially there was confusion it was an 800), 2GB of RAM and 3200mAh battery paired with proprietary power saving software.

The hardware comes in at a staggeringly-thin 7.2mm chassis that's angular and mostly made up of screen on the front. The back shows off a subtle carbon fiber pattern in either black or white. The screen takes up a full 80 percent of the front face of the device. That screen has Gorilla Glass 3, naturally, and offers a 178-degree viewing angle and is hyper-sensitive so that it can be used with gloves if you need.

On the software front ZTE has redesigned the interface, which it calls MiFavor 2.3, to give the experience a new look and make it easier to navigate. The interface has deep integration with ZTE's pre-loaded apps, includes a new camera app that offers several shooting modes and has the latest "split screen" functionality that lets you run two apps at once.

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3 years ago

Hands-on with the Android-powered Nokia XL

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Nokia this morning at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, announced three Android-powered smartphones — the Nokia X, X+ and XL. 

Make no mistake, folks — while these phones are based on the Android Open Source Project, the look, feel and purpose serve Nokia and Microsoft. This is in no way your typical Android device.

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3 years ago

Nokia XL goes large with a 5-inch Android phone

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Nokia wasn't content with announcing just two Android-powered phones today at Mobile World Congress — CEO Stephen Elop rolled out the oversized Nokia XL as well!

Nokia XL is sporting a 5-inch IPS display. It'll be available early Q2 for 109 Euros in "growth markets."

Nokia's Windows Phone-powered Lumia line is still its flagship product, Elop said here in Barcelona. "The X family serves the fast-growing, affordable smartphone segment," Elop said. It'll continue to be priced beneath its Lumia line.

Again, Nokia XL is running an AOSP build of Android (Elop didn't say what version it's based off), but it's all about getting folks into Microsoft's cloud.

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3 years ago

Quick look: The HP Slate 6 and Slate 7 Voicetabs

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Phone? Tablet? No, they're both

HP was on hand at Mobile World Congress today in Barcelona to show off its new Android smartphones, the Slate Voicetabs. We got a look at both the 6-inch and 7-inch versions that are most definitely part tablet, part smartphone. Both have earpieces, large displays and make phone calls.

Neither are particularly groundbreaking. The Slate 7 has a 1200x800 resolution display while the Slate 6 has a slightly better 720p panel. Both contain 1.2GHz quad-core CPU's, 1GB of RAM, 5MP rear camera and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. HP says KitKat will be pushed out to both, but didn't say how soon.

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3 years ago

Lenovo announces S860, 850 and 660 range of phones with affordable price points

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New range of devices targeted at price-conscious users in select markets

Building on its popular lineup of S-series smartphones, Lenovo today announced the S860, 850 and 660 at MWC 2014 in Barcelona. These latest iterations in the S-series focus on longer battery life, quad-core performance and key productivity features including the newly-announced DOit suite of apps.

Naturally as the flagship, the Lenovo S860 offers all-day battery life, including 24 hours of talk time and the ability to charge other devices off of the phone. That's paired with a quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM for increased performance.

Taking one step down the line, the new S850 is focused on style with a thin and lightweight glass construction and a 5-inch display. You'll again be getting a quad-core processor, and also a 13MP rear and 5MP front camera for the photo buffs out there. 

Rounding out the group is the S660, a solid mid-range device with a brushed metal construction, solid battery life and again a 5-inch display. Lenovo is focusing on a value-level price and comfortable design for a device that slots in well below the S860 and 850.

Now about the pricing — the S860 will cost just $349 unlocked, with the S850 at $269 and S660 at $229. Availability is set for select markets and will be available from Lenovo's online store.

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3 years ago

Huawei announces the Ascend G6, a €249 unlocked phone with mid-range specs and high style

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Design that set you back $450 last year makes it to a lower-end device

​Alongside the MediaPad X1 and TalkBand B1, a less-flashy device, the Ascend G6, was announced to round out Huawei's mid-range effort. If you're familiar with the Ascend P6 from last year you'll know the design here — but the G6 trades specs in some places and in return adds a much-wanted LTE radio. You're getting the same plastic front and metal back with some nice accents and visual features like a 7.85mm thickness, as well as interesting color choices (our white balance isn't bad, that phone is actually pink).

The Ascend G6 steps down the screen most notably, going to a 4.5-inch 540 x 960 (qHD) display from 720 x 1280 in the P6. It keeps the same camera setup and 2000mAh battery though, but that could be considered a downgrade considering the Ascend G6 is being released several months later. The Ascend G6 benefits from the same software tweaks and improvements that we see on the MediaPad X1 — including a few UI tweaks and new camera software features.

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3 years ago

Hands-on with the Acer Liquid E3

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Acer's latest Android handset on show at Mobile World Congress

Before Mobile World Congress even started, Acer announced a pair of new Android smartphones in its liquid series. Of the two its the Liquid E3 that's a little more interesting, with a more premium looking design and the better class – though still mid-range – of hardware.

To recap, the Liquid E3 has a 4.7-inch 720p IPS display, 1.2GHz quad-core CPU and 1GB of RAM. Acer is making a play for photographers especially those who like to take 'selfies' with its 2MP front facing camera and LED front facing flash. Round the back we find a 13MP shooter with a button that can be used to quick launch a designated app or the camera. Software is Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean at launch, but a KitKat is promised at some point down the line.

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3 years ago

Huawei MediaPad X1 7-inch phone hands-on

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An impressive display of hardware quality in a gigantic phone form factor

Huawei is making a big deal about its latest huge phone, the MediaPad X1, here at MWC 2014. Yes, this 7-inch device is technically a phone, but Huawei is marketing it more as an intersecting point of phones and tablets. We've seen Sony do it with the Z Ultra and Samsung with the Galaxy Mega, and now it's Huawei's turn.

This is basically just a gigantic phone, with little to make it easy to use one-handed. Huawei does its best by offering small bezels — less than 3mm on the left and right sides — and extreme thinness of 7.18mm. It accomplishes this thickness with an impressive build quality of an all-glass front and aluminum back and sides that uses an interesting nanotechnology to keep it rigid.

On the inside, Huawei is going with a relatively unknown Kirin 910 1.6 GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM — in our time with the device the UI seems snappy and fluid with not a single slowdown. The display comes in at an impressive 1200 x 1920 and looks absolutely great to our eyes with solid viewing angles and colors. Huawei is still doing some weird things with its interface that keep icons and settings overly-colorful to our eyes, but if you know its interface than you'll feel at home here.

Stick around for a closer look at the phone, including video, after the break.

The rest of the device rounds out just like most of Huawei's other devices — a 13MP Sony Exmor R camera on the rear and wide-angle 5MP camera on the front, a few new camera modes and the ability to charge other devices off the USB port. The hardware design is a step in the right directon for Huawei and really feels like a more premium device. The software still needs some work, we think, but is also heading in the right direction.

Huawei says that the MediaPad X1 will be coming to China, Russia, Western Europe, Middle East, Japan and Latin America in four colors starting in March. The price is an impressively-low €399, and we'll have more pricing details as they become available.

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3 years ago

Hands-on with the LG G2 Mini

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LG G2 Mini fits into a weird, but targeted place in the smartphone spectrum

Let's just put this out in the open here. We're a bit perplexed by the prospect of the LG G2 Mini, which we've just taken a look at here at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. On paper, it's not exactly a scaled-down version of the LG G2 — more like a scaled down, under-spec'd model, actually. A mere 4.7 inches — but at qHD 960x540 resolution. Whereas the G2 has a Snapdragon 800 processor, the G2 Mini sports either a Qualcomm MSM8926, or an NVIDIA Tegra 4i (not insignificant, but also not exaclty hard-core). A mere 8GB of total on-board storage, 1GB of RAM — but with a 13-megapixel camera, minus some features.

The LG G2 Mini is, simply put, not a smaller version of the high-end G2. What it basically is, however, is a lower-cost device, somewhere in between the even-lower L series (that's not what L stands for, but we can't help but make that distiction now). That's a murky area — but also not all that surprising given that it appears to be targeted for specific regional markets. That's something to keep in mind, we suppose.

But, bottom line? Not the worst "affordable" device we've ever seen. Low-end certainly isn't as low as it used to be.

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