Wednesday, 30 January 2013

HTC gives a huge smartphone its own Mini feature phone

Huge smartphones and phablets are great for some customers. They provide more screen real estate, and can double as miniature tablets. But the bigger these devices get, the more awkward they become for phone calls. If your 5-inch smartphone has you feeling like Zach Morris, then HTC has a solution: give it its own personal dumbphone.

HTC's Mini lets your Butterfly delegate the whole phone thing to a little helper

A phone's phone

The HTC Mini is light and ultra-portable
Meet the HTC Mini. Though you might mistake it for the phone you had in 2006, it's an accessory for the HTC Butterfly (known as the Droid DNA in the U.S.). Chinese Butterfly owners can use the Mini to make and take calls without removing their super-sized phones from their pockets.
The device connects to the Butterfly via Near Field Communication (NFC). It's small, light, and could be dropped in a shirt pocket while the much larger Butterfly sits in a deeper pocket or purse. In addition to making calls, it can show messages, calendar appointments, and call history on its monochrome display.
The HTC Mini has a few other tricks. With the Butterfly tethered to a TV set, the Mini can also serve as a remote control for menu navigation. And if you misplace your smartphone, the Mini will ring it to help you to quickly find it.

Joke or genius?

Is the Mini an innovative stroke of genius, or an illustration of how ridiculously oversized our phones have become? Though we still call them phones, smartphones are really pocketable computers. Perhaps if you see the Mini as an ultra-portable phone accessory for your primary computer, it sounds a bit less absurd.
The HTC Mini is only available for the Chinese market, and only compatible with the Butterfly. We inquired with HTC about any future availability outside of China, but the company has nothing to announce at this time.

Budget iPhone details, 128 GB iPad 4 reportedly leaked

The Apple rumor mill loves to speculate. Two of its favorite subjects are the next-gen iPad and a budget iPhone. Apple, as always, is mum about its future plans, but there's been a lot of recent chatter on both fronts. Today two separate leaks may shed even more light on both products.
Our quick render provides a rough sketch of the budget iPhone

Budget iPhone details

In the first leak, iLounge claims to have some new info about the mythical budget iPhone. The device, aimed at China's off-contract market, will combine elements of the iPhone 5, iPod touch 5G, and the iPod classic.
Like the iPhone 5, the budget iPhone will allegedly tote a 4-inch display with 1136 x 640 resolution. The handset will be imperceptibly longer and wider than the iPhone 5, but almost a millimeter thicker.
The cheaper iPhone will sport some curves. Unlike the first three iPhones, though, its curved edges will bleed into flat sides and back. This is similar to the casing for the iPod classic – though it would be plastic, rather than the iPod's stainless steel.
Other rumored details include elongated volume buttons, a headphone jack on the bottom, and the iPhone 5's camera sensor.

128 GB iPad

Will Apple soon be adding a 128 GB option to the iPad?
At October's iPad mini event, Apple surprised us all by announcing a 4th-gen iPad. This sparked speculation about whether the company would still release a new iPad in its traditional March slot.
Multiple rumors are gradually painting a picture, and it isn't looking like we'll see an iPad 5 anytime soon. According to 9to5Mac, Apple is prepping an additional model of the iPad 4 – almost certainly a 128 GB version – for imminent release (update: it's official, the 128 GB iPad will go on sale February 5). The iPad is currently only available in 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB models.
How does that relate to the next-gen iPad? Well, if Apple were putting the finishing touches on a March iPad 5 release, it's doubtful it would bother upping the current model's storage. Why not just wait for the new model?
Coupled with multiple (alleged) supply chain leaks, October looks like a decent bet for the iPad 5 release.

Product gap?

Previous leaks pointed to a June or July release for the new iPhones (including the budget model and the iPhone 5S). If that holds water – and Apple waits until October for new iPads – there may be a gap of eight months or more between Apple events.
For other companies, such a lapse would risk losing headlines and fading into the background. Apple's rumor mill, though, isn't likely to stop spinning anytime soon. If anything, a lengthy gap in releases could amp up the rumors and speculation.
As always with Apple, remember that these rumors are unconfirmed. Though most of its recent products have leaked in advance, no individual rumor can be verified until we hear it from the horse's (or Tim Cook's) mouth.

Is a 1080p Nexus 7 successor coming in May?

If you're shopping for a budget tablet, you can do much worse than the Nexus 7. It's a quad-core workhorse, you can easily hold it in one hand, and its US$200 price is right. But there's always room for improvement. Though the Nexus 7's display is sharper than those of rival tablets, it isn't quite "Retina." That may soon change, with reports that Google and Asus are working on a 1080p follow-up.
The second Nexus 7 is rumored to have thinner side bezels, and a sharper display


According to DigiTimes, Google is partnering with Asus on a second-generation Nexus 7. The device's big upgrade would be its 1080p (1920 x 1080) 7-inch display. That would crank the Nexus 7 2G's pixel density up to a crisp 315 pixels per inch (PPI), up from its predecessor's solid 216 PPI.
The report cites "several specifications" seeing upgrades. The only other specific change it mentions is thinner side bezels, a la the iPad mini. That would also likely mean that the new Nexus 7 would tip the scales a bit lighter than its predecessor.
The report doesn't mention an upgraded processor, but we wouldn't be surprised to see NVIDIA's Tegra 4 chip make an appearance. No matter what engine lies under the hood, the tablet will supposedly ring up at the same $200-250 price points as the O.G. Nexus 7.
The sources say that the tablet will run "Google's upgraded Jelly Bean." That likely refers to Android 4.2, but a summer release could potentially coincide with the next major Android upgrade (Key Lime Pie?).


The report expects Google to announce the new tablet in May. If it's released soon after, it would prove an even more compelling alternative to the iPad mini. Apple's second-gen miniature tablet (possibly toting a 2048 x 1536 Display) isn't expected to be released until October.
Google is also rumored to be working with Samsung on a 2nd-gen Nexus 10, which could launch by August or September.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Pantech Vega No 6 goes official in South Korea

Pantech has unveiled yet another excitingly sounding smartphone from the Vega lineup. Unfortunately, just like most of its siblings the Vega No 6 as the new device is called will remain exclusive to South Korea. It packs a 5.9-inch 1080p display and is powered by a quad-core 1.5GHz Krait processor.
The Pantech Vega No 6 also offers 2GB or RAM and generous 32GB internal storage, which can be expanded further through the microSD card slot. A 13MP primary camera and a 2MP front-facing snapper take care of your photography and video-chat needs.

The connectivity department of the Vega No 6 has everything - from Bluetooth, NFC, Wi-Fi and USB for local transfers to LTE for high-speed internet access on the go.
Pantech Vega No 6 runs on Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean skinned with Pantech's own Flux UX. It will launch on all three South Korean carriers in February. It will cost KRW849,000 (about €580/$780) SIM-free, but if you are willing to sign a long-term contract you might get a sweeter deal.

HTC M7 parts shown on video, point to a 4.7-inch screen

The still HTC M7 Android smartphone is once again the star of the Rumorland show. This time the back and front panels of the smartphonewere shown in front of Etrade Supply's camera and posted on YouTube.
From the video we can gather that the HTC M7, touted as the One X successor, will drop the curved design in favor of a more angular one with flat edges and back. It also looks very similar, shape-wise, to the DROID DNA and HTC Butterfly.

The screen will reportedly be a bit smaller at 4.7", but still of 1080p resolution, which aligns nicely with previous reports of 468 pixel per inch density.
There's no word when we might expect the HTC M7 but a good guess is at the MWC 2013 in Barcelona next month. The M7 will likely premiere Sense 5.0, the latest version of HTC's custom UI for Android.

Mid-range Sony C530X HuaShan stars in spy photoshoot

The Sony C530X HuaShan has leaked a couple of times before, but this is the first time it has been caught on camera. A photo of the Android software info screen puts the OS version at 4.1.2 Jelly Bean (which is what the Xperia Z will launch with).

Sony C530X HuaShan spy shots
The C530X HuaShan uses the same design language as the Xperia Z – rectangular with slightly rounded corners and the trademark metallic grey Power/Lock key. Results from GLBenchmark point to a 720p screen, while another leak (a photo uploaded to Picasa) revealed the camera to have a 5MP sensor.

A look at the Android OS version and dialer of the C530X HuaShan
The benchmark scores list the chipset as Qualcomm MSM8960T, which has a dual-core Krait CPU @ 1.7GHz and Adreno 320 GPU, along with support for LTE connectivity.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about the Sony C530X HuaShan, but there’s a good chance we’ll see it (in official capacity) at the MWC in about a month.

Sprint announces Kyocera Torque, rugged LTE droid

Today Sprint and Kyocera announced the Torque Android smartphone. The handset brings support for LTE, a Qualcomm MSM8960 chipset with dual-core 1.2 GHz Krait CPU, 1 GB of RAM, 5 MP rear camera and 1.3 MP front-facing one.
The Kyocera Torque will be running on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. It will be sporting Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC connectivity as well as a microSD card slot for expanding the built in storage by up to 32 GB.

Now comes the interesting part - the Kyocera Torque is both IP67 certified and is built to Military Standard 810G. This means that in addition to being able to withstand water up to a meter deep for 30 minutes the smartphone can operate for up to three hours at -4° to 122°F (-20° to 50°C). It can also handle drops from four feet, withstand heavy dust and exposure to salt fog, 95% humidity, solar radiation exposure, low pressures up to 4572 meters, etc.
The Torque can literally withstand more than its owner in some cases.
Kyocera has placed its Smart Sonic Receiver tech inside the Torque, which enhances the sound in the ear and eliminates the need for a traditional speaker in the device, helping achieve the remarkable element resistance. This is done by transmitting sound via vibrations directly to the eardrum.
Pricing and specific availability will be revealed this quarter and the device will hit the shelves in the Spring.

Sony C210X camera sample leaks on Picasa

A camera sample from a yet not officially announced Sony smartphone surfaced earlier today. The smartphone used for capturing them was the Sony C210X, a future entry level device by the Japanese company.
While the image itself is rather uninspiring, likely snapped and auto-uploaded to a Picasa account by an unaware Sony employee, it does tell us that Sony hasn't given up on the low-end Android market.

The model listed is the C2105, although specs-wise its almost the same as the C2104, which is why we collectively refer to them as the C210X lineup.
What we do know about the upcoming devices is that they'll feature a 1GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor - the MSM8227 or MSM8627, complete with Adreno 305 graphics and FWVGA (480 x 854) screen. It'll run Android 4.1.2 out of box.
No news yet on pricing or availability.

Rendered images of RIM's BlackBerry Z10 look stunning

There's just two days left until RIM unveiles BlackBerry 10 and a batch of new devices to go with it. The most interesting of those will be the BlackBerry Z10, which we now get to see in some nice 3D images.
Granted, we've seen the BlackBerry 10 numerous times before (on video too), but these rendered images look so impressive and are so skillfully made that they make the smartphone look its best.

Looking at the images, we can't help but feel confident that RIM has a strong chance of getting back on the smartphone map. It should also be noted that the Z10 looks really impressive in white.
Now, we do realize those are just rendered images and the smartphone might not look as appealing in real life, but the good news is we only have to wait two more days to find out.
Here are some more images by Marin Hajek.

Hajek has even been kind enough to provide the BlackBerry Z10 3D models for everyone to enjoy.

Amazon US offers the Samsung Galaxy Note II for just $99.99

Samsung's latest flagship, the Galaxy Note II, is one of the most popular devices currently on the market. The powerful 5.5" phablet normally carries a price tag of $249.99 but right now it is being offered for the way nicer $99.99 by Amazon.

The offer is currently available for new Sprint customers only and it requires a two year agreement with the service provider.
If the existing customer chooses to add a line of service with the smartphone, the price would be $169.99 and if any existing customer decides to upgrade his smartphone, the price is $199.99.
Amazon's latest deal is live from yesterday and it may expire soon, so act quickly if you are to take advantage.
In case you are looking to find more about the phablet, check out our detailed review.

Apple outs iOS 6.1, widens LTE support

Apple has just rolled out an update to iOS bringing it to version 6.1. The latest iOS brings LTE support for 36 additional carriers offering the iPhone and 23 offering the iPad.

Siri is also updated and allows you to purchase movie tickets right off the app. For now, however, this feature is available only in the US. iTunes Match is updated as well giving its users the ability to download individual songs off iCloud.
Finally, there's a new button that allows you to reset the Advertising Identifier in addition to lots of other minor, under-the-hood bugfixes.
Available as a free download, the iOS 6.1 update is up for grabs for owners of the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS, the iPad (third and fourth generation), iPad mini, iPad 2 and iPod touch (fourth and fifth generation).

BlackBerry Z10 to reportedly go on sale in UK on January 30

There is still a day left for the launch of RIM's BlackBerry 10 platform and we have already seen a lot of the BlackBerry Z10 device, which will be one of the few being announced tomorrow.

The latest bit of information actually sheds light on when the phone will go on sale, which will supposedly be on the same day as the launch, that is Wednesday, January 30.
The information comes from an internal Vodafone UK document, which confirms that the phone will go on sale tomorrow from 5 PM onwards. Other things mentioned in the document include no need to use specific BlackBerry data plans to use services such as BBM or internet access and the device can be used on regular data plans, something that was not possible on previous BlackBerry devices.
The document also mentions that at launch the Z10 will be sold only in black, with a white colored option arriving later in mid-February.
According to The Verge, the phone will cost you £47 per month for 3GB of data and unlimited talk and text for 24 months with no upfront cost. You can also go for a £25 plan with an upfront cost of £229 that includes 100MB of data, unlimited texts, and 100 minutes of talk time.
We should find out more information about the device itself tomorrow, so watch this space.

The Galaxy Express is Samsung's new affordable LTE handset

Samsung has just announced the latest member in its Galaxy range of Android device, the Galaxy Express. In case the name sounds familiar, it's because Samsung has already used it before for a phone available on AT&T's network in the US. This international version is mostly the same with just a handful of differences.

The new Galaxy Express has a 4.5-inch, 800 x 480 resolution, Super AMOLED Plus display, same as the AT&T version, but instead of a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm processor it has a 1.2GHz dual-core processor of unknown origin.
Other than that it still has a 5 megapixel rear camera with 720p video recording and 1.3 megapixel front camera, 1GB of RAM, 8GB internal memory with microSD card slot, MHL, NFC, A-GPS + GLONASS, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with Samsung's suite of features such as AllShare Play, S Beam and the various Samsung Hubs and a 2,000mAh battery. And of course, it has 4G LTE connectivity, which is the main selling point.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

HTC announces low-cost Desire U 4

HTC has announced the newest addition to its Android smartphone range in the form of the Desire U. The Desire U is a budget smartphone and slots above the previous announced Desire C.

The Desire U has the familiar HTC family look to it, which has started becoming a bit too familiar now. On the front is a 4.0-inch, 800 x 480 resolution display. Inside, the Desire U runs on a unknown 1GHz processor with 512MB of RAM. You also get 4GB of internal storage space with microSD card slot, 5 megapixel camera on the back with WVGA video recording, Beats Audio, 1,650mAh battery and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
For now the handset is only announced for China and no pricing or availability information is available at the moment.

Samsung Q4 reports is out: profits reach record $6.6 billion

Samsung, the South Korean manufacturing giants and the current cellphone market leader, has revealed its financial results of the fourth quarter of 2012. The reported revenues for the whole company were 56.06 trillion won, a 7% quarterly increase.

The company's consolidated operating profits were reported at 8.84 trillion won ($8.3 billion), a 10% quarter-on-quarter increase and the net profit was disclosed as 7.04 trillion won ($6.6 billion). However, Samsung's full year operating profit reached a new high with 29.05 trillion won ($27 billion) on revenues of 201.10 trillion won ($187.2 billion).
Samsung mostly has the strong sales of its popular Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 smartphones to thank for this outstanding performance. Furthermore, strong sales of the company’s display panels and consumer electronic products like LED TVs also resulted in the Samsung's strong performance.
Samsung expects its low-end and mid-priced smartphone sales rise this year as the company doesn't face any competition from Apple in those segments. The smartphone shipments are expected to exceed 300 million units in 2013, a 50% rise from previous year.

Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 rugged Jelly Bean droid goes official

Samsung just announced the Galaxy Xcover 2, an IP67-certified Android phone. It improves an all the specs of its predecessor, from a bigger screen to a more powerful processor.
The Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 has a 4” WVGA TFT screen, dual-core 1GHz processor, 1GB of RAM and runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with Samsung’s TouchWiz customizations. The 5MP main camera can shoot 720p video and there’s a dedicated shutter key, plus a front-facing VGA camera.

The Galaxy Xcover 2 measures 130.5 x 67.7 x 12 mm, bigger than its predecessor, and it’s heavier too, at 149g. It has a 1,700mAh battery that’s secured into place by a special lock.
On the connectivity side, there’s 3G with 14.4Mbps HSDPA and 5.76Mbps HSUPA, Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS + GLONASS. The Galaxy Xcover 2 packs 4GB of built-in memory and a microSD card slot.
The official press release is mum on details like launch dates and prices, but Swedish site CDON already has the Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 on pre-order for 2,690 Swedish krona ($415, €310). The estimated shipping date is February 21 (the leaked roadmap also pointed to a February release).

A pair of new BlackBerry Z10 press pics make the rounds

Courtesy of @evleaks, we get to see a pair or high-quality press pics of the yet unannounced BlackBerry Z10.
It's not like we haven't seen tons of image material devoted on the BlackBerry's upcoming flagship, but the clarity of press shots like these can hardly be matched by any of the previously leaked mugshots.
We can't really judge the quality of materials used, but design-wise, the Z10 seems fine. Yes, it's a tad conservative. And yes, the sheer width of the screen bezel may be bit over the board for some, but it would nicely suit any guy in a suit (pun intended). Our point is, it may not be an instant eye-catcher but at least it won't look out of place both in the meeting room and in a bar.

BlackBerry Z10
BlackBerry will hold a press conference next week - on January 30 - where it's supposed to unveil its next generation BlackBerry 10 OS along with the pioneering flagship, pictured above - be it called Z10 or something else.

Samsung teases with image of Exynos 5 Octa chipset

The Samsung Exynos 5 Octa chipset caused a lot of excitement and the SamsungExynos Twitter account is slowly fanning the flames with little teasing tidbits of info like this image of the chipset.
It’s a 3D render of the SoC rather than a photo of a production unit. In the same tweet, Samsung is talking up the energy efficiency of the chipset.
In case you missed it, the Exynos 5 Octa uses ARM’s big.LITTLE design. It has two groups of four processor cores – the big group consists of four blazing fast Cortex-A15 CPUs, while the LITTLE group has four power-efficient Cortex-A7 cores. That’s eight-cores in total, hence Octa. Only one of the groups is active at a time, the other goes to sleep (similar to how NVIDIA's Tegra 3 chipset works, but with more low-power cores).
Samsung claims a 3.3x reduction in power usage thanks to the A7 cores, which are enough to handle menial tasks and are only 13% of the size of an A15 core, so they’re cheap. The overall performance is reportedly the same as an A15-only design. The switch between core groups happens in 30-50ms.
You can read more tech details on the Samsung Exynos 5 Octa chipset over here and get even techier details in this PDF.

Huawei now in top 3 smartphone makers as Samsung extends lead

Samsung and Apple have posted strong Q4 numbers with smartphone shipments reaching tens of millions of units, but as IDC points out in its latest report they were the only winners in 2012. Two Chinese companies have now made it to the top 5 of the smartphone manufacturers, overtaking makers like RIM, LG, HTC and Nokia in the process.
Huawei's smartphone shipments grew by 89.5% year-over-year, allowing the company to capture 4.9% of the market. This makes the company in third place, even if some way off Apple with 21.8% and Samsung with 29.0% market share for Q4.
In fourth, Sony managed to ship 9.8 million smartphones for a market share of 4.5% in the previous quarter, scoring a nice 55.6% YoY growth. ZTE stands fifth, accounting for 4.3% of all smartphones in Q4.

For the full 2012, the picture is rather different, Samsung holding an even larger advantage over the second-placed Apple.
Nokia and HTC, RIM did enough work in the first three quarters to get third and fourth and fifth spots for the full year, respectively.

Samsung is also king as far as total number of phones sold in Q4 is concerned (smartphones and featurephones). Holding 23% of the market, the Koreans are followed by Nokia, which thanks to its Asha and cheap S30 series of phones managed to climb to the second spot with 19.6% market share. However, the Finns have allowed they shipments to slip 19.5% YoY.
Apple could only manage third here, as it only manufactures smartphones, while the final two top 5 spots are occupied by Huawei and ZTE. is still on top with a market share of 23.7 percent, which is 22.7 percent more over last year's results.

The final numbers released by IDC concern total phone sales in 2012. Samsung accounted for 23.7% of the 1.7 billion hadnsets shipped last year, having a comfortable lead at the top.
Nokia came in second with 19.6% of the market, while Apple was a very distant third with its 8% share. ZTE and LG completed the top 5 list with 3.8% and 3.3% of the shipments, respectively.

Alpha version of the Jelly Bean ROM for Xperia T now available

Those first rumors of the update being released turned out to be a hoax, but Sony seems to be working hard on bringing Jelly Bean to its Xperia T flagship (and probably other smartphones too). The company just released alpha version of the ROM to any one who can't wait any more.
To install the ROM you'll need an unlocked Xperia T, and you'll have to unlock your boot loader and follow some instructions. Keep in mind that according to Sony, unlocking a bootloader will prevent you from getting the real update when it's released and is an irreversible action. 

The alpha version of the ROM is quite poor though and is recommended only for developers. All connectivity services are NOT working as Sony is still waiting for an approval from the authorities - GSM, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC and FM radio are a no-go.
Also, the UI is not yet updated to the final Jelly Bean looks and the Google Mobile Services are not pre-installed - so there are no Play Store, Gmail, Google Maps, etc.).
Basically this ROM is impossible to use as a daily driver and only good for developers who need to test their apps.
Sony promised to deliver the Jelly Bean update by the end of March and it seems it's going to be on time.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Verizon sells 6.2 million iPhones in the holiday quarter

Verizon Wireless has activated as many as 9.8 million smartphones in the recently ended Q4 and according to Verizon's chief financial officer Mr. Fran Shammo, the 6.2 million of those were iPhones. Surprisingly, the report says that only half of those were able to take advantage of Verizon's LTE network, suggesting that the other half consisted of iPhone 4S and 4.

Predictably, the bulk of the remaining 3.6 million smartphones activated during the quarter were Android devices. Of those 95% tapped into the 4G LTE network, attracting a larger consumer base.
Verizon's investments in its LTE network has surely paid off, with more than 7.3 million 4G devices being sold in this quarter alone. Furthermore, more than half of the total Verizon data traffic now travels over its last-gen network.
More than 30% of the 9.8 million activations are new subscribers and the company has certainly benefited from the popular new releases including Droid Razr M, Droid Razr HD, Droid Razr Maxx HD and HTC's Droid DNA.

Verizon Wireless to launch DROID RAZR M in pink tomorrow

Verizon has been offering the DROID RAZR M for a while now, but the carrier is all set to launch a new color variant of the smartphone. The pink DROID RAZR M will be debuting alongside the Samsung Ativ Odyssey,
The pink DROID RAZR M is designed with the upcoming Valentine's Day in mind. The device will be made available through online and retail stores beginning on January 24. The handset will be priced at $99.99 along with the standard two year agreement.
The Motorola DROID RAZR M sports a 4.3" Super AMOLED Advanced display and packs a 1.5 GHz dual-core Krait processor along with 1 GB of RAM. DROID RAZR M also offers an 8 megapixel rear camera, 0.3 megapixel front camera, 8 GB of Internal memory and is powered by Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
Just in case you are looking for the detailed features of the DROID RAZR M, take a look at our detailed review.

Apple posts record breaking financial results for Q1, 2013

Apple has announced the financial results for the first quarter of the 2013 fiscal year (which ended in December 29, 2012) with some record breaking numbers.
The following table shows the results of the first quarter, compared to results from the previous quarter and the same quarter last year.

As you can see, the both the revenue and the profits have gone up considerably over the last quarter. The sales of the iPhone, in particular, have seen a massive increase, especially over the previous quarter, no doubt thanks to the introduction of the iPhone 5.
The iPad sales saw a similar increase, again likely helped by the new iPad mini and the refreshed iPad with Retina display. There was no breakdown of the iPad sales according to the different models (similar to the iPhone and iPod sales) but it's safe to assume the iPad mini got the lion's share.
The only numbers that were down this quarter were for the iPod and the Mac. The iPod sales were considerably higher compared to last quarter thanks to the new iPods and the holiday season but were down from the same period last year. The Mac sales have seen a considerable decline, which Apple believes was due to the delays in the production of the new iMac.
But even though numbers sound impressive enough, they failed to meet analysts' expectations, which pointed to 50 million iPhones sold, causing Apple's stock to drop by 10% in the after-hours trading.

Nokia reports a profitable Q4, smartphone sales pick up

Nokia has swung its way back into profits with its Q4 report showing healthy €439 million ($585 million) in profit. Nokia managed to generate revenues of €8.04 billion ($10.73 billion).
Nokia's good performance was largely thanks to its Siemens Network division while Devices and Services is still some way from returning to profitability even though its performance is improving. Apparently, the holiday quarter is the best one Nokia has had for quite some time now, but even with that the company lost about $3 billion in the full fiscal year.
With the rise of its Lumia brand, the company successfully sold about 4.4 million Nokia Lumia smartphone, with about 700,000 of those sales taking place in North America.
Nokia's latest smartphones Lumia 920 along with PureView Phase 2 camera pushed its smartphones average selling price up to €186 from the €155 in the previous quarter. If you subtract the 2.2 million Symbian handsets sold, the ASP of the Lumia line-up alone is reported at €192 this quarter.
Nokia was also able to use its rich patent portfolio to fill up its coffers and it got another $250 million payment from Microsoft in the quarter for using Windows Phone.
Nokia, for the first time in over 20 years will not be paying its dividend, which allows the company to improve its liquidity position.
Undoubtedly, Nokia is a long way behind its smartphone rivals, but with the stronger sales of its latest Lumia smartphones, the company seems to have put the worst behind it. We are yet to see if it manages to keep the momentum going in Q1, when the demand for all smartphones is way lower compared to the holiday quarter.

Apple-Samsung patent ruling to be reviewed by the ITC

The US International Trade Commission will review ruling, which could lead to an import ban on few devices from Samsung.

The ITC will be reviewing the preliminary ruling, which found the Samsung smartphones and few tablets breaching upon the four patents held by Apple. The final verdict on the case was supposed to be come by March 27 and now that date is very likely to be rescheduled due to the trade body's review.
Samsung's hope of continuing its dominance in the mobile market relies heavily on the decision from the International Trade commission. However, the company remains confident that the commission will ultimately rule in its favor.

USB Audio Recorder PRO app brings USB audio device support to Android devices

eXtream Software Development, maker of the music multi-tracking app Audio Evolution for the Android and Windows platforms, has released a stand-alone app for Android devices titled USB Audio Recorder PRO. It’s a simple record and playback application that is the first to allow devices running Android 3.1 or higher to talk to a USB 1.0 or 2.0 compliant audio card, and vice-versa.

Android and audio?

It’s no secret that Android has been slow to catch up to Apple’s iOS in terms of functionality for niche-market users, especially in all matters audio-based. Developers often cite latency (the time it takes for audio to be processed before its played, measured in milliseconds) as being the problematic restriction that keeps them from designing code for Android that is commonly found on iOS devices.
Support for streaming to audio docks was added in Jellybean 4.1, but USB Audio Recorder PRO goes about connecting with your external audio card with its own piece of code written from scratch. When we asked Davy Wentzler, a developer from eXtream about it, said is “a first for Android.”

Your audio card’s the limit

USB Audio Recorder PRO completely bypasses the Android audio system by “supporting USB and USB OTG cables to enable Host Mode in your device, and convert from micro-USB to full-sized USB.” No root access is needed. This means it can record and playback audio obtained via the digital audio converters (DACs) of your sound card, with the functions of your – often expensive – unit, such as recording in 24 bit mono/stereo at sample rates of up to 192 kHz, there if your external device covers it. While not all cards may work, there is a growing list of officially verified sound card manufacturers available from eXtream’s website.

What’s on the screen

The app is clearly laid out, with a time read-out in the main window, record, play and stop buttons, a free-space indicator, and also options for file type, sample rate and buffer size. Your files can be recorded in three variations (wav, flac or ogg). There is also peak program metering (PPM) with a peak hold function and a handy level-check function. The second mixer page lets you adjust your levels.

The little green robot is growing up

Developers are finally beginning to get the most out of the Android OS, releasing functional apps for specific users, such as those who have a need to record high-quality audio while on-the-go. These upgrades then of course trickle down for casual users to take advantage of, too. As Davy Wentzler put it when he spoke to Gizmag, “People have been waiting for this for years and looked with envy at their friends recording with iOS devices.”
eXtream plans to integrate USB Audio Recorder PRO into its multi-tracking app, Audio Evolution, sometime in the first quarter of this year.
The USB Audio Recorder PRO is available on Google play for US$4.66.


Nokia Lumia 505 to land in Peru, Chile and Colombia

When Nokia officially announced the budget-minded Lumia 505, it was widely believed to be an exclusive to the launch exclusively at carrier Telcel in Mexico. However, those rumors have now been refuted as the Lumia 505 went available in a number of other South American countries.
The Windows Phone 7.8-running smartphone will hit the shelves in Colombia, Chile and Peru in the near future. In all of these countries the Nokia Lumia 505 will be offered by the carrier Claro.
Exact launch dates for the new countries hasn't been specified, but they shouldn't be too far away. Pricing is still not confirmed either, but the MXN 3,499 Mexican cost should be a pretty reference.

Symbian is officially dead, 808 PureView is the last of its kind

We all knew this was eventually coming, but it's now official. Symbian on Nokia is dead.
Nokia managed to send off the once might platform in style. The 808 PureView will go down in history as the last Symbian device by the Finnish manufacturer.
Nokia announced the news alongside its great Q4 results today, which showed $585 million profit and $10.83 billion in revenue.
During our transition to Windows Phone through 2012, we continued to ship devices based on Symbian. The Nokia 808 PureView, a device which showcases our imaging capabilities and which came to market in mid-2012, was the last Symbian device from Nokia.
Symbian OS on Nokia devices has played a key part in the smartphone game over the past ten years, but its significance was severely reduced once the touchscreen revolution started. Some of the most notable phones to come out of Nokia were powered by Symbian - beginning with the 9210 Communicator. The Nokia E61 started a messenger phone hype that peaked with the E71, making Symbian OS the only viable competitor to the then-strong BlackBerry portfolio of messengers.
Then came the cameraphone era, which gave birth to devices like the Nokia N95, which was widely regarded as the king of the smartphone hill in its day. The Nokia N8 came at a time when Symbian was rapidly sliding into irrelevancy but still made a huge splash among camera-lovers with its large sensor and superb image quality. Heck we loved snapping photos with it and it's still the most popular smartphone in our database with over 25 million hits.
Nokia began a shift towards Windows Phone in the beginning of 2011 and starting now Redmond's mobile OS is Nokia's only smartphone platform.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Nokia to release a 38MP WP EOS phone this year

The Nokia 808 PureView was the company’s first PureView smartphone and it still holds the throne as the best cameraphone out there, despite the Lumia 920 challenge. It seems that this is about to change though as the company's Windows Phone camp is going to get its own PureView device.

According to the information that The Verge acquired, the device will include a sensor similar to the one inside the 808 PureView and the whole device will be made of aluminum. The latter coincides with the rumor for another upcoiming high-end Nokia Catwalk that’s also going to be made out of aluminum, according to previous reports.
The EOS is going to a high-end Lumia device, but isn’t clear whether it’s the aforementioned Catwalk, that’s going to replace the Lumia 920, or if it’s going to be a completely different animal.
What sources familiar with the matter have confirmed, though, is that AT&T will be offering the EOS, which isn’t much of a surprise considering the carrier's close connections with Nokia. As far as the design of the device goes, it’s believed to keep the square edges of the current Lumia line-up of smartphones.

Here's what your iPhone needs – a viewfinder

Although many people now use their camera-equipped smartphone for all their photo-taking needs, better-quality compact cameras still have some key advantages. Among those is the fact that most cameras have an optical viewfinder (along with an LCD screen), allowing users to view images even in bright sunlight. The Daylight Viewfinder aims to add that same functionality to the iPhone.

The Daylight Viewfinder is simply an extendable eyepiece with a screw-on suction pad, that allows it to be temporarily attached to the iPhone’s screen – it also works with the iPad or iPod touch.
The gadget is used with the free Daylight Viewfinder app, which shrinks the onscreen image from the iDevice’s camera to the point where the whole thing can be seen through the eyepiece. Due to the fact that reducing the size of that image also reduces its resolution, the app is only intended for devices that have the ultra-sharp Retina display.

Additionally, the app features touchscreen controls that are mirrored in an overlay on its viewfinder image, so users can see what button their finger is on without looking away from the viewfinder.
The Daylight Viewfinder is available for US$30 from Photojojo, or via its own website.

Samsung's Galaxy S4 event, release date, and other details reportedly leaked

Samsung's Galaxy S series may not be quite as popular as the iPhone, but it's inching closer. So too is the hype surrounding Galaxy S leaks and rumors. Today's series of rumors, then, is as hype-worthy as it gets. It claims to detail the announcement date, release date, and some specifications of the Galaxy S IV.

Coming soon?

According to Asia Economic News, Samsung will hold a Mobile Unpacked event on March 22 to announce the Galaxy S4.
The reveal will allegedly take place somewhere in the U.S. at a standalone event (rather than a convention like Mobile World Congress). The source surmises that the U.S. location is a symbolic strike on Apple's home turf.
Somewhat consistently, SamMobile adds that the Galaxy S IV will release on April 15. Their sources, however, diverge a bit on the event details, saying that it could take place in London, New York, or Korea.


The source also adds some new info about the Galaxy S IV. Developed under the codename “Altius(J)," it would sell in both black and white models, and feature wireless charging capabilities. Samsung will sell a wireless charging kit, to juice up the device's 2,600mAh battery.
Previous Galaxy S IV rumors point to a 5-inch, 1080p display, with an Exynos 5 Octa (8-Core) processor and ARM's Mali-T658 GPU under the hood. Other rumored details include 2 GB of RAM, and a 13-megapixel rear camera.

Unlucky number four?

In one of the more bizarre alleged leaks, Samsung won't necessarily call their flagship the Galaxy S IV. The number four is believed to bring bad luck in Korea, with buildings often skipping the fourth floor. Therefore, the company reportedly hasn't yet made a final decision on branding.
The Galaxy SX line is mobile's most valuable non-Apple brand. Samsung would be foolish not to use it again. We expect their less superstitious marketing execs to prevail, and ultimately call it the Galaxy S IV – at least outside of Korea.

Microsoft Surface Pro finally gets a release date

In late October, when Microsoft released the Windows RT version of Surface, the company estimated that the Windows 8 Pro version would arrive about 90 days later. Well, Microsoft didn't quite hit its own target, but it didn't miss by much. Today the company finally revealed a firm ship date for the Surface Pro: February 9.

High stakes

With the release date mystery solved, the biggest remaining mystery is whether the tablet will gain any traction with customers.
Early indicators point to the Windows RT Surface being a sales dud, with even bombastic CEO Steve Ballmer admitting that sales were "modest." The limited Windows Store and confusing operating system have forced Microsoft to pin all of its (short-term) tablet hopes on the Pro version.

A new – but pricey – hope


It's not a bad product to pin your hopes on. Surface Pro is a more logical extension of the company's "PC Plus" vision, allowing customers to run desktop Windows apps. It sports the same slick – though slightly beefier – design as the Surface RT, and uses the same (optional) keyboard accessories.
The Windows 8 Pro Surface has a sharper 10.6-inch display than its ARM-based cousin (1920 x 1080 vs. 1366 x 768). It also packs an Intel Core i5 processor, though Microsoft is mum on the chip's speed.
The Surface Pro's price, though, makes it less of an iPad rival, and more of a MacBook Air or Ultrabook rival. It starts at US$900 for the 64 GB version. For 128 GB, you'll need to pony up $1000. Neither price includes the tablet's keyboard, which will add at least an extra $120.
Will Surface Pro prove Microsoft's belated mobile strategy a success? Or will the tablet's MacBook-like price limit it to the Redmond faithful and enterprise customers? Stay tuned

The LG Optimus G Pro is official ... at least in Japan

LG's high-end Optimus G has sold over one million units, and LG recently passed Apple as the number two cellphone maker (including feature phones) in the U.S. Its next move? If the Japanese market is any indication, it will be an upgraded version of its flagship, the Optimus G Pro.


Japanese carrier NTT Docomo revealed its lineup for the next few months, and it includes the LG Optimus G Pro. The handset looks similar to the Optimus G, albeit with some nice upgrades.
It joins the Droid DNA, Xperia Z, and Huawei Ascend D2 in the 5-inch, 1080p display club. It also sports a faster 1.7 GHz Snapdragon Pro processor, a higher-capacity 3,000 mAh battery, and a 13-megapixel camera. The device runs Android 4.1 Jellybean.
Much of the rest is familiar. It retains the Optimus G's 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal memory, and LTE.

Global launch?

Unless you live in Japan, though, there's no guarantee you'll see the Optimus G Pro. LG hasn't officially announced the handset, and there isn't yet any confirmation of availability outside of the land of the rising sun.
We found its predecessor to be one of the best smartphones around, but in the fast-moving mobile market, its hardware will soon be old hat. If LG is going to keep playing the high-end game, we'd expect to see the Optimus G Pro popping up in North America before long.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Sony Xperia Z vs. iPhone 5

Every smartphone maker dreams of iPhone-like success, but only Samsung's Galaxy S series has approached the iPhone's popularity. One company hoping to move in that direction is Sony, with its high-end Xperia Z. Does it stand a chance next to the iPhone 5? Let's take a look.


The Xperia Z is a much larger phone

The iPhone 5 is larger than previous iPhones, but it's still much smaller than the Xperia Z. Some customers find huge phones like the Xperia Z to be unwieldy, while others appreciate the extra screen real estate. We'd recommend handling both and deciding for yourself.


The iPhone 5 is extremely light

The iPhone 5 is much lighter. The Xperia Z draws extra heft from its glass back, which helps to give it a premium feel.


The Xperia Z's display is both larger and denser

The Xperia Z joins the Droid DNA and Huawei Ascend D2 in the 440 pixels per inch (PPI) club. Is a 1080p phone overkill, or do those extra pixels really enhance the experience? The jury is still out.


The Xperia Z's Snapdragon chip delivers top-notch performance, but the iPhone's A6 elicits...

The Xperia Z has the same Snapdragon S4 Pro found in the Nexus 4 and LG Optimus G. It screams.
Apple's A6 doesn't look as good on paper. But it zips through apps and media in iOS 6, giving iPhone 5 owners few performance complaints.


The Xperia Z doubles the iPhone's 1 GB of RAM

The Xperia Z doubles the iPhone's RAM, with 2 GB.


The iPhone has more internal storage options, but the Xperia Z's is expandable

You can buy Apple's handset in multiple internal storage options, but you can expand the Xperia Z's 16 GB with a microSD card.


Both phones support speedy LTE data, where available

If your local carrier supports it, both phones will get speedy LTE mobile data.


The Xperia Z's battery holds more juice

The Xperia Z's battery holds more juice, but it also powers a display with over a million more pixels than the iPhone 5's. We'll need to wait for hands-on time with Sony's offering before drawing conclusions about battery life.


The megapixel trophy goes to Sony

Megapixels are only one element of great pictures, but the Xperia Z soundly beats the iPhone 5 in that department.


Water resistance or feather-lightness? (feather image: Shutterstock)

The Xperia Z's IP55/IP57 ratings mean that it is dustproof and can soak in three feet (0.91 meters) of water for 30 minutes and keep on ticking. Perhaps this could come in handy if you spend lots of time at the beach or are clumsy with your beverages.
If your priority is portability, then the light iPhone 5 is your winner. It's 34 g lighter than the Xperia Z, a hair thinner, and has a much smaller surface.

Summing up

Which is better? The iPhone 5's simple, unified, and familiar experience? Or the Xperia Z's gargantuan size and raw power? Half the fun is in deciding for yourself.
If you're drawing blanks, then perhaps you'll want to cast your net wider, and include the Nexus 4 or Galaxy S III in you considerations.