Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Google's Motorola acquisition finally approved

Just as they said they would, the European Commission yesterday reviewed the case between Google and the mobile division of Motorola, and has cleared the merger. The Department of Justice's Antitrust Division followed suit close behind and dropped its investigation, effectively legalizing the deal in the United States. Both the EC and DoJ worked in close conjunction during their respective investigations, so it is no surprise that these announcements arrived so close together.

The Department of Justice's investigation also examined Apple's acquisition of certain Novell patents, as well as Microsoft, RIM, and Apple's bids for patents in the 2011 Nortel bankruptcy auction. Such a widespread investigation by the DoJ is likely because of the large number of legal disputes between the big players in the smartphone industry, a trend that both the EC and DoJ claim should lessen through fair patent acquisition, like that by Google in regards to Motorola.

While these were the last of the major obstacles in preventing the acquisition, both governing bodies vowed to keep a close eye on how Google would handle the roughly 17,000 mobile patents it would acquire from the deal, and make sure they are licensed them to any third parties under fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

GPP SIM insert unlocks the AT&T iPhone 4S, no jailbreak needed

The carrier-locked iPhones became a much lesser problem since the iPhone hit most of the major carriers worldwide. But there are those people who still buy foreign carrier-locked iPhone for various reasons. Most of the locked iPhones come from USA's AT&T, so the GPP SIM tool should be good news for those people.

The GPP SIM tool reportedly unlocks successfully every AT&T-bound iPhone 4S as well as the Japan's KDDI and Softbank iPhone 4S. As with similar solutions such as Gevey and RebelSIM, you just put your SIM along with the insert into the provided SIM tray and insert the lot into the iPhone. That's it. Here is the video showing how the GPP SIM works.

According to the GPP Team, the GPP SIM unlocks every AT&T iPhone 4S phones running iOS 5.0 and iOS 5.01 no jailbreak needed. There is no mention whether the GPP SIM will work with other carrier-locked iPhones as well.

The thing that the GPP Team forgot to mention is the activation process. Even if that tool works properly, you still need to go through the Apple's servers for authentication. Of course, any active or inactive AT&T/KDDI/Softbank SIM card will do the trick and you should be able to get one from eBay.

The GPP SIM tool is not yet available, but it should be out soon. There is no website where you can check if it is available, but we bet you won’t miss the news for its release

Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos surfaces

Samsung keeps extending its Duos lineup and today we learned the popular Galaxy Ace is the next smartphone to grow an extra radio. The Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos went official for the Indian market.

You should keep in mind that the Duos part here doesn't mean a second SIM slot as it does on most other Samsung devices. Instead, the Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos will come with GSM and CDMA support, making it a truly global phone. You can still have two subscription plans with this one, but only if your country has both CDMA and GSM carriers.

The Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos will be mostly identical to the original Galaxy Ace, but it will get a larger battery to make up for the second radio. Instead of the 1350 mAh unit found in the original Galaxy Ace, the Galaxy Ace Duos will have a 1650 mAh Li-Ion battery. It's unclear if the new battery will be compatible with the original smartphone, though.

The Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos will retail for INR16,900, which translates to about €260 or $340. We don't know if Samsung has any plans of bringing the smartphone to Europe or America, but we should learn more about the company's plans soon enough.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Nokia Lumia 800 sports two new colors in a commercial

It looks like more colors are on the way for Nokia Lumia 800, following closely the white version, which we got to spend time with. The Windows Phone device showed up in red and green in a commercial for the Nokia BH-220 Bluetooth headset.

The colors are yet to be confirmed by Nokia, as the video cannot be found in the company's official YouTube channel. Check it out below.

HTC to announce the quad-core Endeavour at MWC?

We received word of HTC's quad-core monster back in November and not much has changed, except for two key points.

Firstly the name, the device we've been calling the HTC Edge now looks to be adopting the name Endeavour and more importantly, the HTC Endeavour will make its first official appearance at MWC in the coming weeks.

Aside from the new name, the purported specs of the Endeavour remain unchanged with that all important quad-core Tegra 3 chip clocked at 1.5GHz powering a 4.7" 720p HD display, an 8MP camera complete with an f/2.2 lens and 1080p video capture capability.

There's also a gig of RAM and 32GB of inbuilt user-storage, presumably with a microSD slot offering expansion of another 32GB, but at this stage, that's an estimated guess. Radio wise, we'll see quad-band support, 21Mbps HSDPA speeds but there's a strong chance we'll receive LTE functionality too.

Naturally such a device will come running the latest version of HTC's UI overlay, Sense, running atop Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.

HTC's CFO, Mr Winston Yung explained that moving forward, his company would be looking at different component suppliers. Tying that into to Nvidia's claims of a quad-core menagerie of devices expected to appear at their MWC booth and the progression to Tegra 3 is obvious, along with the increasingly frequent leaks regarding this device.

We've already seen the potential of quad-core mobile devices, courtesy of the Asus Transformer Prime, but as HTC look to be the first with a quad-core phone on the market, we can't wait to get our hands on it.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

HTC Sensation lineup gets Android ICS in late March

HTC just gave us some welcome extra information on the planned Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich updates for their smartphone portfolio.

The wait is almost over for the owners of the original Sensation, the Sensation XE and the Sensation XL. The Sensation and Sensation XE will get the ICS treatment by the end of March, while the XL update will follow shortly after.

There is more good news - HTC EVO 3D, Incredible S, Desire S and Desire HD updates are also in the works and will be released later this year. That's as specific as HTC got, but just knowing that the updates for those are on the way is still pretty exciting for their owners, we guess.

HTC promises to release more information on the update schedule in the following few weeks, so stay tuned.

Motorola launches Motoluxe and DEFY Mini in Germany, UK

Motorola announced the availability of its latest Android smartphones for the German and UK markets. The company, which is soon to be acquired by Google, will be taking the Motoluxe to Germany and UK, and the DEFY Mini to Germany.

The Motorola Motoluxe will be hitting the UK in late February at a yet undisclosed price and Germany the following month for €279. Deutche Telecom (T-Mobile) will be one of the carriers offering the Motoluxe, but there's no saying what other stores and carriers will get it.

Motorola MOTOLUXE XT615

As for the rugged and compact Motorola DEFY Mini - it will be catching the plane to Germany in March. Pricing and carrier availability is yet to be announced, but we are hoping it will be able to offer the attractive bang for buck ratio of the original Defy.

Motorola DEFY MINI XT320

Motorola unveils Gleam+ - a clamshell featurephone

We were almost going to bet that clamshell featurephones are extinct in these parts of the world, but here comes Motorola announcing one. The company just unveiled the Gleam+ - a simple folding handset that should rely on an attractive price to lure in customers.

The Motorola Gleam+ comes with a 2.8" main LCD of WQVGA resolution (400 x 240 pixels) and an external display consisting of 144 LEDs. A modest 2 megapixel fixed focus camera should cater for your photography needs, while Bluetooth 2.1 and USB 2.0 are all the Gleam+ has to offer in terms of connectivity.

Motorola Gleam+

The internal memory on the Motorola Gleam+ is just 50MB, but you can expand that by up to 16GB, thanks to the built-in microSD card slot. And FM radio and a 3.5mm audio jack complete the (admittedly short) highlights list for this one.

The Motorola Gleam+ will cost €99 off contract, when it hits the shelves in March. The clamshell will be available in silver and winter white.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Nokia 803 is rumored to have the largest camera sensor to date

A new batch of rumored specs has emerged for Nokia's yet to be announced 803 Symbian smartphone. The device will likely be the last phone running the OS to come from Nokia.

Reportedly, the Nokia 803 will feature a 4" AMOLED screen - not the 3.5" unit, which we've stumbled upon before. HDMI port, NFC connectivity and microSIM slot complete the rumored specs.

Most importantly however, the last Symbian handset is rumored to feature the largest camera sensor to date. Add to this the suspected optical zoom and we might end up seeing one of the greatest camera phones on the market.

Nokia 803 is expected to be released sometimes in May. Don't be surprised however, if the device is Nokia's major announcement at MWC.

HTC Sensation XE coming to Clove UK

The HTC Sensation already got a white dress and now it's time for the Sensation XE to change from black to white too. The white version is already available in some markets, but now the e-tailer Clove is bringing it to the UK.

The HTC Sensation XE is a souped up version of the regular Sensation and also the first phone to pack Beats audio and the iBeats headset. Clove's site shows the black headset, but we hope that's just the wrong promo image as the white iBeats headset will look better with the white XE.

The headset alone costs a cool £54, so getting it in the box is a pretty sweat deal.

HTC Sensation XE in white and the iBeats headset

The red "Beats audio" logo and red accents of the black Sensation XE are preserved and look even better on the white version.

Anyway, Clove UK will sell the white HTC Sensation XE for £408 and you can pre-order it right now. The first units are expected to be in stock in the week which starts on February 20.

By the way, there's no price difference between the white and black XE - the black one currently goes for £408 too. We're talking about SIM-free phones in both cases

Prada Phone by LG 3.0 starts mass selling in the UK

The Prada Phone by LG 3.0 has been on sale in the UK for a couple of weeks now, but its availability was limited to Phones4U only. Now a couple of other major UK retailers have the third edition of the LG Prada Phone in stock.

UK online store Unlocked Mobiles has the LG Prada 3.0 for £424.98, while Clove sells it for £429.99. You can tell that LG have been pricing the phone and not Prada.

Moreover, considering that the Prada Phone 3.0 sports a 4.3-inch 480x800 touchscreen, 1GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of built in storage, the price isn't all that bad. And you know, bragging about your new Prada smartphone is worth every quid.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

First-time smartphone buyers chose Android over iOS in Q4

According to analytics firm NPD, Android managed to steal the top spot from iOS by a sizable amount following Q4 last year, making Google's mobile OS the more popular choice amongst newcomers to the smartphone market.

Between October and December 2011, US buyers deliberating over which device would take their smartphone virginity, opted for an Android-based phone rather than a member of the iPhone family.

57% of first-time buyers picked up a droid, followed by 34% joining the Apple family and a further 9% taking up a smartphone OS of a different flavor entirely.

Smartphone buyers in general, across the same time frame, helped narrow the gap between the two front runners, but Android still came out on top with 48% of the market over the 43% belonging to iOS users.

These numbers aren't that astonishing when you consider the market. First time buyers are more likely to put extensive thought into their first smartphone and with the plethora of form factors and brands out there running Android, the iPhone might not seem like the obvious choice for everyone.

Another aspect to consider is reach; whilst the iPhone is now comfortable running on three of the top US carriers' networks, Android devices feature on all four of the leading names.

That being said, these findings go against previously anticipated figures, which pinned iOS as top dog following the launch of the iPhone 4S, which probably account for the narrowing gap in general sales during this time frame.

Android continues to grow in the US, despite many already proclaiming its over-saturation in the market. Between both Apple and Google, they have accumulated the lion's share of sales, leaving only the scraps to the likes of BBOS and Windows Phone, but all good things must come to an end; the question is, when?

LG Miracle WP smartphone with NOVA display press shot leaks

LG is obviously about to complete the development of yet another WP smartphone. We just got a press photo of the handset, dubbed LG Miracle, and while it's not coming from an official source, such images normally only appear shortly before the device becomes official.

Along with the image we also got information about the key features of the LG Miracle's spec sheet. The most interesting bit is that the smartphone will be using a WVGA NOVA display, which will be a first for a Windows Phone handset. The super bright NOVA screen will help the Miracle stand out in the WP crowd, which is becoming an increasingly difficult task lately.

Unfortunately, the LG Miracle will feature a Snapdragon chipset with 1GHz Scorpion CPU, instead of the 1.4GHz and 1.5GHz units which we saw on most second generation WP smartphones. Its 5 megapixel camera will be able to capture 720p videos and there will be a VGA front-facing camera on board.

The LG Miracle spec sheet highlights continue with 14.4Mbps HSPA, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0 and, quite interestingly, NFC.

The pricing and availability of the handset are still unknown at this stage, but if we are lucky enough to see it announced at the MWC at the end of the month, we'll know more about them shortly.

Samsung Star 3 hits UK in March as Tocco Lite 2

he Samsung Tocco brand is still enjoying pretty good reputation in the UK and Samsung is doing all it can to squeeze every possible penny out of it. The company just introduced the Samsung Tocco Lite 2 feature phone for the British market.

The Tocco Lite 2 is basically a rebranded Samsung Star 3, featuring an identical 3" QVGA LCD, a 3.2 megapixel fixed focus camera and fitting in a compact 102 x 58 x 11.5 mm body. There's also Wi-Fi b/g/n support, a 3.5 mm audio jack, Bluetooth 3.0 and an FM radio on board the TouchWiz-powered handset.

The Samsung Tocco Lite 2 offers just 20MB of internal storage, but the microSD card slot lets you expand that by up to 16GB, so there will be plenty of space for your tracks and photos.

The Tocco Lite 2 will be available across a range of the UK’s major networks and retailers from early March 2012. There's information about its pricing, but we bet it won't cost too dearly and if contracts are your thing you'll certainly be able to get it for free.

Monday, February 6, 2012

New HTC Ville photos leak, slim waistline and specs reconfirmed

We got yet another portion of leaked HTC Ville live photos, garnished with a nice specs sheet. The Android smartphone is expected to be unveiled by HTC at their press conference on February 26 and slide beneath the Edge in the company's chain of command.

The HTC Ville will reportedly be the slimmest HTC smartphone to this day, having a profile of just 8.9mm. Previously we heard that the Ville will measure just 8mm, but 8.9mm sounds quite great too, especially for a mid-range device. To achieve this, the Taiwanese used a qHD AMOLED panel, which is supposed to have a diagonal of 4.3".

HTC Ville live photos

A 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU will be keeping things going under the hood, while Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and Sense 4.0 will provide the eye-candy at the front. The chipset which will power the Ville hasn't been specified just yet, but we are guessing it will be the MSM8260 Snapdragon which we came to know from the Sensation XE.

The HTC MWC event is now just 20 days away, so we'll soon find out the complete specs sheet. As you probably already know, we'll be on site covering it live for you, and making sure you don't miss a thing.

Samsung Galaxy S III to be 7mm thin, rumors say

It seems that thinness is the new race to the moon for smartphone makers, and Samsung, not to be outdone by Motorola's RAZR XT910 7.1mm waistline, is reportedly aiming at the 7mm milestone with the new Galaxy S III. Surprisingly, Huawei is also in the race with the upcoming Ascend P1 S, which comes in at 6.7mm, and should see a global release in Q2 of this year.

Rumors continue that the S III thickness won't be uniform, and it will allegedly have the same camera 'hump' found on the S II. This new generation should also feature LTE support, although that's almost expected considering the growing list of Galaxy models already released with LTE.

The S III will also supposedly launch an entire lineup of S III models, just like the previous Galaxy flagship, and we may see as many as seven S III variants this year, sporting various specifications with nomenclature ranging from '3D display' to 'stylus'. We can add these to the list of recent Galaxy S III rumors we've heard, which include a quad-core processor, 8MP camera, and of course, Android 4.0.

While manufacturing has supposedly been underway since October of last year, we may have to wait until May to see the new S III. And while it's confirmed that we will not hear an announcement regarding the S III at MWC, numerous rumors about a March announcement are floating about, including this latest one from French website Frandroid.com, where they claim they already have an invitation for a mysterious Samsung event that's to be held on March 22.

The Samsung Galaxy Ace Plus gets UK pricing

As we expected, the new Samsung Galaxy Ace Plus comes in at a reasonable £249.99 in the UK according to mobile retailer, Expansys. As such we're anticipating a free device on contracts around the £15-per-month mark and upwards once carriers release their plans for the Plus.

Vodafone UK currently appear to be the only carrier to have confirmed that they will offer the Galaxy Ace Plus, but we will no doubt see its compact proportions crop up amidst the catalogs of the other leading UK carriers not to far down the line.

We've already spent some time with the Galaxy Ace Plus and we decided it would be a device well suited to those either taking their first steps into smartphone territory, or for those who want the features, without the cost.

The beefed-up Ace Plus comes running Android Gingerbread 2.3 with Samsung's TouchWiz UI on top. Hardware sees a 3.65" HVGA display, WiFi, Bluetooth, HSDPA support and all the usual connectivity options we've come to expect from a mid-range droid. The Ace Plus is powered by a 1GHz S1 Snapdragon processor and an Adreno 200 GPU, there's also a 1300mAh battery and a usable 5MP snapper on the back.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Is the Nokia N8's successor to be the last Symbian device ever?

Say 'bye bye to Symbian' is essentially the message coming from Nokia as it looks to bring about the end of its legacy platform sooner than many expected.

Despite talks of Symbian Carla and even Symbian Donna in the works for current and new devices alike, it now appears that the successor to the Nokia N8 might be the last new Symbian device we shall see from the Finns.

Nokia had originally promised continued support for Symbian following their plans to switch to Windows Phone as their primary OS last Mobile World Congress, with the intention of selling 150 million more Symbian devices before completely phasing the OS out.

It would seem their good intentions didn't inspire enough Symbian fans out there and as such last month Nokia admitted that sales of Symbian devices were falling faster than they had anticipated (no doubt due in part to the aggressive promotion of Nokia Windows Phones).

Nokia's CEO Stephen Elop blamed the lackluster figures on ever-changing and increasingly difficult market conditions, influenced in particular by the demand for lower cost smartphones.

"We now believe that we will sell fewer Symbian devices than we anticipated," he explained.

Outside of the passionate Symbian fan base, Nokia's move to hasten the demise of the platform also has implications for a number of key partners as well.

Accenture acquired some 3000 Symbian developers from the Finnish mobile giant last summer and it would appear that now such a resource will be seldom used. A particularly sticky situation for Accenture who's agreement ties them into providing continued Symbian development until 2016.

ST Ericsson hinted at Nokia's unstable Symbian sales figures in guidance to their investors issued last week. The company cited a "very significant decline" in net sales expected this quarter as a result of a “reduction, in the short term, of new product sales with one of our largest customers."

We will have to wait and see how this news develops as there's still time for the trend to change, but is it too little, too late?

Sony Ericsson announces Xperia active Billabong edition

Sony Ericsson and the extreme sports brand Billabong have entered into a partnership, which will bring the Xperia smartphones closer to the adrenaline junkies, who are fans of the popular Australian clothing and gear company. The first product of the partnership is the Sony Ericsson Xperia active Billabong edition.

There is no difference between the newcomer and the tough as nails, regular Xperia active, which we came to like quite a lot, save for the Billabong branded back cover and some software additions. The latter include exclusive Billabong screensavers, preloaded videos, and an app to keep you up to date on surfing news.

Yet another product of the newly formed partnership between the two companies is the Billabong Surf Trip - a Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY exclusive video game.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia active Billabong edition is already available in selected markets.

Apple pulls iPhone 4, 3GS and iPad 2 from German online store

Apple has been forced to remove some of its 3G products from the German online stores. This includes the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 4 and the 3G version of the iPad 2.

FOSS Patent's Florian Mueller says this is due to the injunction won in Manheimm by Motorola against Apple related to the FRAND patent. Coincidentally, Motorola won another permanent injunction against Apple related to iCloud in Germany on the same day but that is a completely different case and not related to these products being pulled from the stores.

The products are only being pulled from Apple's online store in Germany and the brick and mortar stores will still have them in stock. This is because Motorola only sued the German subsidiary of Apple, which is only in charge of handling the online side of the sales.

Apple, meanwhile can still challenge this decision and get it suspended so that it can appeal in a higher court.

Update: Apple has won a temporary suspension, which means it can go back to selling the previously pulled products on its online store for now. We are not sure what their next step will be but will keep you informed.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Android in January: Gingerbread nears 60%, ICS gets 1%

The Google developers just published the updated charts, showing the version distribution of the platform in December. Gingebread keeps extending its lead at the top and now powers 58.6% of all droids - a 3.1 percent point increase compared to the previous month.

Froyo comes in a comfortable second, despite slipping 2.6 percent points to 27.8% share. At this point most of the phones that were meant to get Gingerbread updates have already gotten those, so the Froyo share will probably only be influenced by new sales and phones reaching the end of their lives from now on.

Android 2.1 Eclair is the third most popular release of the platform - its market share diminished by 0.9 percent points, but 7.6% were enough for the bronze medal.

Honeycomb comes in next, its three revisions gaining just 0.1 percent point this month, but still securing 3.4% market share.

Android's latest and greatest - 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is only the fifth most widespread release of the popular platform. Still, it gained 0.4 percent points of market share in January - not bad for a platform that's only officially available on a couple of smartphones and one slate.


Market Share, October

Market Share, November


1.5 Cupcake




1.6 Donut




2.1 Eclair




2.2 Froyo




2.3 Gingerbread




2.3.3 Gingerbread




3.0 Honeycomb




3.1 Honeycomb




3.2 Honeycomb




4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich




4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich




The Android 1.6 Donut and 1.5 Cupcake releases are still on the map, though with shares of 1% and 0.6% respectively, they are bound to disappear sooner, rather than later.

HTC Sensation coming in Ice White, ICS for all Sensations

A Dutch PR site broke the news that HTC will be releasing an Ice White color version of the HTC Sensation. To sweeten the deal, the phone will launch with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box. The whole Sensation line will be getting ICS too.

The press release goes over the selling points of the HTC Sensation - 4.3" qHD screen, 8MP camera and so on. The Ice White version will have all those things too.

HTC Sensation in Ice White

The Ice White HTC Sensation is supposed to launch on March 1.

The good news for owners of any Sensation (including the XE and XL) is that they'll be getting Ice Cream Sandwich as an Over-the-Air update soon. No separate date was given for the update, but those things are never simultaneous anyway.

The machine translation from Dutch is a little sketchy, but it seems that Sense UI will be updated too, with a shortcut dock at the bottom of the screen.

US Microsoft stores start accepting Nokia Lumia 900 pre-orders

LTE speeds, a 4.3" AMOLED screen, a 1.4GHz CPU and the oh-so-sweet non-painted polycarbonate unibody - the Nokia Lumia 900 looks like the smartphone to have if you are interested in the WP platform. And thanks to the Microsoft brick and mortar stores, you can now book your unit and make sure you will be among the first to get it.

It costs $25 to pre-order a Lumia 900 and you can have it in either cyan or black. Sadly, there is still no official confirmation of the rumored March 18 launch date, but barring any issues with the technical acceptance of the device, that should be the date to look forward to.

To get the actual Nokia Lumia 900, you will have to sign a two-year contract with AT&T and pay $99 upfront.

Meanwhile, Nokia's CEO, Steven Elop, went on record saying that salesmen are a part of the reason for the WP struggles in the market. According to Elop, the shop assistants aren't doing their best to promote Windows Phone devices, choosing to push other, easier-to-sell platforms instead. Mr. Elop went on to say that the guys and gals in the smartphone shops only "want their commission and tend to only show phones they think might sell".

To be honest that's a rather ridiculous claim - it's only natural that salespeople will show phones think they will actually sell and not waste both theirs and the customers' time instead. It's up to Nokia, Microsoft and the other Microsoft partners to make sure that WP smartphones are actually on that easy-to-sell list.