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5 years ago

HTC brings Beats Audio to all Sense 4.0 devices


One of HTC's major (if questionable) maneuvers of 2011 was the purchase of Beats Audio. With the reportedly $300 million deal came better earbuds for a few phones released late in the year, as well as some on-board audio enhancements.

But from a software standpoint, the Beats improvements were fairly sandboxed. HTC's apps could play with Beats, but not much else.

That chances with Sense 4.0.

The Beats software has been rearranged in the audio stack so that all applications on a Sense 4.0 smartphone can take take advantage of the feature. That means just about any application you download -- any third-party music player, any third-party video player, any game -- use the Beats Audio enhancements in an HTC device.

Will you notice an improvement in, say, Google Music? Or Pandora? Maybe. Or maybe not. But the point is that with the upcoming HTC devices that were just announced this evening, you'll have the opportunity to find out.

Headphones image via Shutterstock

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5 years ago

Sense 4.0 takes HTC back to a more simple user interface


When the first leaks of HTC's new crop of devices started trickling out, a funny thing happened -- folks started to fall in love with HTC Sense all over again. Only this time, it was for what Sense wasn't doing. The on-screen widgets appeared to have been toned down. Gone was the large and inflexible series of buttons at the bottom of the home screens, apparentl replaced by a more traditional-looking launcher.

This is the new Sense 4.0.

Oh, there's no doubt you're using an HTC device when you look at Sense 4.0. But it's obvious the company was looking to pare things back a bit. And HTC told us as much directly, saying that it listened to customer feedback and that folks -- that's people like you and me -- said they wanted a more subued user interface.

And so while there's still very much a strong HTC influence over the Sense 4.0 phones -- you can't expect HTC to go completely stock, and nor would we want them to -- HTC made a conscious effort to give some of the power back, going with a less-is-more approach. Ice Cream Sandwich notifications work like Ice Cream Sandwich notifications. You get a more traditional dock. You get more customability. Icons rotate into landscape mode, as they should. (Hey, even HTC gets a little customization and flexibility back in this deal. HTC's excellent lockscreen with quick-launch icons remains, and we're glad to see it, as it's one of the best lockscreens we've ever used. 

We'll be giving Sense 4.0 a more thorough look in the weeks ahead. But so far, we're very much liking what we're seeing.

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5 years ago

Live from HTC's Mobile World Congress press event!


We're live from atop a converted bull ring (no kidding) here in beautiful Barcelona, about to find out what the next generation of HTC smartphones is going to look like. Liveblog's after the break!

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5 years ago

Sony taking Xperia Ion worldwide, Xperia S available now


We just heard what Sony had to tell us at Mobile World Congress, and while there was no one "big" announcement they did have a lot to say. The spent a good portion of the time telling us how the buyout of Sony Ericsson would lead to better, more connected products and how it would improve Sony by unifying their products and media company-wide. With things like a dedicated Movie and Music service from the entertainment group and games from the Playstation Network available on all Sony devices with a screen, we're going to have to agree -- Sony is a name to watch in 2012.

On the smartphone side, we had a good look at the Xperia Ion -- Sony's LTE device with a 4.6-inch HD display. Previously announced for AT&T in the United States, we learned that it will be selling world-wide soon. We'll be sure to keep an eye on that. We also had another look at the Xperia P and Xperia U, two stunners in their own right that we'll be seeing sometime in the second quarter of 2012. Last but not least, we were told that the Xperia S would be available starting today (Feb. 26) at the Sony store in Barcelona. 

It looks to be an exciting year for Sony, and they plan to launch their biggest advertising campaign ever for the Xperia line worldwide. Alex is on the floor getting some hands-on time with the phones, and we'll be sure to share with you.  

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5 years ago

Three and Orange UK to carry Sony Xperia U


We're only just leaving the Sony press conference at MWC, but we're already seeing first news from carriers who will be stocking Sony's latest. Three UK have confirmed that they will be stocking the Sony Xperia U on both pay as you go and contract terms.

No pricing or dates available at this point, but good news nonetheless that carriers are already picking up the new devices. Three have already confirmed previously that they will be stocking the Xperia S, which is expected to be launched in March. 

Meanwhile, not to be outdone. Rival UK carrier Orange have made their own announcement that they intend to carry the Xperia U. Orange will exclusively be offering the white version from Q2 2012.

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5 years ago

LG Optimus 3D Max hands-on


LG started this whole 3D craze a year ago at Mobile World Congress, and now the Korean manufacturer is stepping things up a bit with the Optimus 3D Max. On one hand, it's very much the same experience. A 4.3-inch display, Android 2.3, and a pair of 5MP cameras that get the 3D ball rolling.

Look, this part's simple: If you weren't sold on 3D displays a year ago, the Optimus 3D Max probably isn't going to change your mind now. It's very much the same experience. But LG has thrown real-time editing of 3D (and 2D) videos into the mix. The camera shutter button and 2D/3D toggle have been merged. Very cool stuff.

But it's software tweaks that really make the difference here. In addition to the video editing, the 3D Max has the ability to convert standard 2D applications to 3D applications. Something like Angry Birds, for example works, and actually it's almost a better experience than dedicated 3D games because it's not quite as in-your-face. Google Earth in 3D? Very cool.

Another interesting upgrade is real-time range-finding. Because the space between the dual-cameras is a fixed distance, some simple triangulation can be done, and the phone can tell you the distance to a given object in real time. Or, it can give you the distance between two objects. Dunno how much we'd use that in our daily lives, but it's cool to see.

We've got some more hands-on goodness after the break.

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5 years ago

Hands-on with the LG Optimus Vu


Here we go again, folks. Another monster phone. The LG Optimus Vu is a 5-inch behemoth. It's big. It's got a 4:3 aspect ratio, so it's wider than you're used to. And you know what? It works. Mostly.

Just like with the Samsung Galaxy Note, once you get over the size you're left with a pretty good smartphone. It's got LTE baked in as well, so that's an obvious plus. And the XGA screen resolution is great at that size. Apps that are designed for this sort of palm-reading form factor are really nice -- news reading and the included comics app to name but two.

Where the Optimus Vu falls short is with its uninspired user interface. A good bit of that blame can be placed on the fact that it's running Android 2.3 Gingerbread and not Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. But a larger display like this screams out for something other than a grid of icons. Le sigh.

The included stylus works well enough, but the rubber tip certainly doesn't have the same sex appeal as the Wacom system on the Galaxy Note, and the rubber gives the writing experience some serious drag, where as the plastic tip on the GNote keeps things smooth.

We've got some hands-on pics and video after the break.

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5 years ago

Video hands-on with the Huawei Ascend D quad


We're live at Huawei's Ascend D series announcement, where the manufacturer's just taken the lid off its first quad-core smartphone, the Ascend D quad. The device sees Huawei challenging top-tier Android manufacturers with a device offering super high-end specs in just about every area. Read on to find out what we thought of the phone, along with the first video of it in action.

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5 years ago

Hands-on with the LG L-Series Android smartphones - L3, L5 and L7


When it comes to style, you've either got it or you don't. And wth its new L-Style series of Android smartphones, Korean manufacturer LG has a trio of phones looking to turn heads.

It's two thirds of the way there.

The LG Optimus L3, L5 and L7 bring three levels of smartphones in terms of hardware and software prowess. Sounds good on paper -- a smartphone for every walk of life, right? Here's how LG puts it:

L-Style’s design philosophy is comprised of five aesthetic elements: Modern Square Style for a comfortable grip, Floating Mass Technology for a slimmer look, Seamless Layout for a more intuitive arrangement of keys, Harmonized Design Contrast utilizing metallic accents and Sensuous Slim Shape that naturally draws one’s attention.

And that's pretty much true with the L-Style, save for the baby of the bunch. The L5 and L7 are obviously cut from the same cloth, with 4- and 4.3-inch dislays, respectivey. Both are have Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with high-resolution displays, and both would be at home in our pockets out of the box. The LG L3, however, is an undersized, low-resolution (QVGA) Android 2.3 device that looks oddly out of place next to such high end fare.

All three phones feature a custom user interface that certaily is more stylish than what we've come to know from LG. Some of that is Ice Cream Sandwich, of course -- the launcher has applications and widgets separated -- and some of that is LG's doing as well. Menus are nicely skinned, and options are easily accessible.

We've got some hands-on pics and video with the LG L-Series devices after the break.

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5 years ago

Huawei Ascend D Quad Gallery

5 years ago

Huawei introduces the Ascend D quad, dubs it the World's Fastest Smartphone


Three new phones in the Huawei D series, including first quad-core handset

Huawei has been making some moves the past little while and now they've gone ahead an announced their latest series of Ascend devices that will be coming in April to China, Australia, Europe, Asia-Pacific, North and South America, and the Middle East in Q2 2012.

The Ascend D quad series of devices comes from Huawei and carries some pretty impressive specs to go along with it. They would have to be if Huawei is going to be putting a tag line such as the World's Fastest Smartphone on it.

  • Huawei's K3V2 1.2GHz Ascend D quad /1.5GHz Ascend D1 quad-core chip and power management system.
  • 720P high definition touchscreen (PPI 330)
  • Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound and Audience earSmart™ voice technology
  • 8-megapixel BSI rear-facing camera, 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera
  • 1080p full HD video-capture and playback capabilities

In total, there is three devices in the series -- Ascend D quad, Ascend D quad XL, Ascend D1, each with their own set of specs that slightly differ than the other. can check out the full press release past the break to get a full run down of the models in the series and stay tuned for a better look. We're sitting in with Huawei right now at BCN.

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5 years ago

Orange UK gets a little excited, unveils HTC One X early


By now, the HTC One X isn't exactly a secret any more. The device has leaked plenty of times already ahead of any official announcement but we can add another leak to that mix. It seems Orange UK got a little excited and already posted the device along with the specs to their site. Guess there is no doubt about them picking the device up now is there?

Source: Orange UK; via: Cool Smartphone, Thanks, Luke!

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5 years ago

Samsung outs Galaxy Note 10.1 Android tablet in Barcelona


Behold, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Android tablet! We're at Plaça de Catalunya in Barcelona where Samsung has unviled its oversized version of the already oversized 5.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Note. No official announcement has been made last we looked, but this one just went up in the past 24 hours or so -- it wasn't here when we swung by the Plaça de Catalunya on Saturday morning.

It's pretty clear to see we've got a 10.1-inch tablet on our hands, with another version of the S Pen. We can't quite tell from the billboard itself whether the Galax Note 10.1 is sporting Honeycomb or Ice Cream Sandwich, but we'd be willing to bet on the latter. And you can see the telltale signs of Sammy's TouchWiz improvements, which we've loved on its previous tablets.

Stay tuned for the official announcement on this one.

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5 years ago

From the Editor's Desk: Mobile World Congress edition


Welcome to Barcelona and Mobile World Congress. And things are already pretty insane. And we're not just talking tapas here. Though if you want to talk tapas, I can go on for days. And if history repeats, probably will for a week or two once I get home. My wife's already prepared for me to eat only (and, yes, many) small portions of meat and cheese for days.

But enough about the food. 

Saturday was a travel and decompression day for many of us here. Arrive in the early morning after flying through the night. Find your apartment or hotel, get settled in, and head out on the town. Eric from Phonescoop got about 30 or so of us together Saturday night. Great to see friends old and new. And, somehow, we made it home.

But enough about the drink.

Let's talk about about the news of the past week, and what we're about to see here in Spain.

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5 years ago

Yet another look at what LG's brought to MWC


We're still a full 24 hours from the official start of Mobile World Congress. But as you've no doubt read over the last week or two, LG Mobile's already announced its array of smartphones, which you see posing here in front of the Firea de Barcelona.

Look closely, folks. That's one-two-three-four-fix-six-seven-EIGHT smartphones of varying size, scale and capability.

LTE and quad-core are the crux of LG's offerings this year, with the massive 5-inch LG Optimus Vu and its 4:3 display (that's it on the left here), as well as the Optimus 4X HD and its quad-core Tegra 3 processor. It's tucked into that gaggle of phones in this picture here, along with the new "L-Style" phones, including the Optimus L3 L5 and L7. And the Optimus 3D Max is floating around as well. Plus LG's recently announced the Optimus LTE Tag and the Optimus 3D Cube. That makes eight.

Stay tuned this week as we give these phones the what-for.

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