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Samsung Galaxy Beam 2 appears in China

Posted by wicked April - 24 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

If 2012′s smartphone-slash-projector oddity caught your fancy, then its successor might also be your thing, if it comes to the market, that is. For now, however, the now slightly more stylish Samsung Galaxy Beam 2 is available for purchase only in China.

The Samsung Galaxy Beam seemed to be a device in search for a reason to exist. It was basically a pico projector crammed inside a mediocre Android smartphone. One can possibly conceive of possible uses for the device, but most of those could probably be better addressed by more dedicated hardware. The assurance of having a project in your pocket when and where you need it just didn’t seem to fly. That is why the rumors, and now arrival, of its successor is not just a surprise but also a bewilderment.

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Of course, the Galaxy Beam 2 does offer upgrades over the original device, though probably still not enough to justify getting one. This is, for all intents and purposes, a low- to mid-tier smartphone, running on a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, no mention of RAM, and a 4.66-inch 800×480 display. Even the Android version running on it is a slightly older Android 4.2.2. The projector has been upgraded a bit, though, and now sports a WVGA resolution. It does at least look a bit better now that it has a metallic sheen.

Perhaps there is indeed a market for such Android-powered pico projectors, as some devices at CES 2014 and MWC 2014 would seem to imply, though the Galaxy Beam 2 still has the distinction of being the only one that is also a smartphone. Samsung has not yet disclosed pricing yet nor if it has plans to bring the device to other markets.

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SOURCE: Samsung
VIA: SammyHub

Motorola’s Punit Soni reaffirms commitment to a pure Android experience

Posted by wicked April - 24 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Motorola just recently held a 30-minute Hangouts session with Punit Soni, the company’s VP for Product Management and software guy. In between answering questions from Motorola fans and users, Soni constantly reiterates the pervading philosophy behind Motorola’s software decisions, that of giving users the purest Android experience possible.

Among the top Android device makers, Motorola is perhaps the one with the least customized user interface to boast of. That might have been a by-product of being under Google‘s auspices when the Moto X and later devices were developed, but it has actually become a selling point for Motorola’s products. Punit Soni says that Motorola wants the real Android to shine through. At least, Android the way Google sees it. Sure, Motorola has injected some of its own custom features that have, indeed, brought it some piece of fame, like Active Display, Touchless Controls, etc, but never at the cost of distracting users from a vanilla Android experience. This, as well as offloading crucial parts of the system to Google Play Store, has allowed it to push out Android updates faster than others who have to go through various tests and certifications to make sure that their modifications work in newer Android versions.

This philosophy has also guided the way they add features to existing functionality. One could consider it a more level-headed, almost laid back, policy. Features aren’t added just to give more features, even if they are sometimes useful or popular. The new features must not detract from that Android experience. But more importantly, it mustn’t also have a negative impact on the existing system. One such example is Active Display. It might make sense to load more features, more shortcuts into this now-popular lockscreen functionality, but those could, in fact, negate the power-saving benefits of the feature. That said, Motorola isn’t shy about injecting a bit of whimsical fun, as its boot animations attest to.

That might be well and good for a company that was once under the direct purview of the Android creator. But soon Motorola will be answering to a different master, one that might have different, if not contrary, ideas of what a successful Android device might look like. Not that Lenovo has much experience in that area. Worst case scenario, Lenovo will be enforcing a new paradigm on Motorola’s future devices. But that would hardly be a smart business move, considering how popular Motorola’s smartphones have once again become. For his part, Soni is quite confident about his new overlords and is looking forward to having Lenovo’s broader hardware and market expertise at Motorola’s service. But then again, no one really speaks ill of his soon-to-be employers.

AT&T PadFone X ad arrives with no mention of launch

Posted by wicked April - 24 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

AT&T has once again released a video ad that touts the benefits of the ASUS PadFone X. Unfortunately, with 4 months having passed since its unveiling, the carrier is still quite mum on when its customers will be able to avail of this device’s hybrid goodness.

ASUS unveiled the PadFone X at CES early this year as a hybrid smartphone/tablet that is itself a hybrid of some of the sizes its other PadFone devices bear. The main smartphone has a 5-inch 1920×1080 display but, instead of going for a 10.1-inch tablet dock, it used an unusual 9-inch display with a resolution of 1920×1200. But perhaps the most important revelation during is announcement is that the PadFone X wlll be landing in the US, exclusively from AT&T’s catalog. This was later confirmed by AT&T who released a video detailing the specs of the device.

This new ad goes beyond the geeky aspects of hardware and briefly touches on what makes the PadFone X an interesting and potentially more useful device. In summary, a PadFone would give you all the benefits of the display size of a tablet when needed and the portability and handiness of a smartphone. Need to view or do something that requires a larger screen? Simply slide in the smartphone. Need to take a phone call? Slide it out again, instead of being forced to fumble around for earphones or, worse, use the tablet itself as a phone.Sure, it might have disadvantages, but it might beat needing to have 2 devices with you all the time.

Of course, all those benefits will practically be useless unless the device becomes officially available for purchase. The PadFone X also marks the line’s official foray into the US market, so it will be interesting to observe if this unique form factor will get any traction in the country. Now if only it came with a keyboard dock like the first PadFones.

VIA: Android Central

Samsung Galaxy S5 Prime rumors resurface in lieu of LG G3 expectations

Posted by wicked April - 24 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Talk of Samsung outing a ramped up QHD version of the Samsung Galaxy S5 has once again returned as rumors of the future LG G3 start pouring in. While both devices are, aside from being based pure speculation, a good few months away, this move might upset some of the fans and early adopters of Samsung’s latest flagship given how close the two releases would be.

Rumors and leaks point our attention to a device codenamed “kq”. For reference, the Galaxy S5 has a code of “klte”, which is what ROM makers like CyanogenMod labels the device. The rumors still keep on coming even after Samsung CEO JK Shin outrightly denied that a premium version of the flagship will be coming. However, sentiments and stances might have changed in light of the LG G3, expected to come sometime later this year, which is expected to arrive with, among other things, a 1440p 2K screen.

The specs rumored for this Galaxy S5 Prime sound mostly like those expected for the Galaxy S5 itself before Samsung proved them wrong. There is, of course, the QHD screen, offering users and improved viewing experience in 2560×1440 pixels. But more than that, there is also renewed expectation that the Prime smartphone will run on an Exynos 5430. If one can recall, this chip offers not only the usual ARM big.LITTLE setup but also one of the few to boast of a 64-bit architecture.

It sounds almost a bit ridiculous, almost suicidal, and more like wishful thinking brought about by disappointment that Samsung would be outing a higher end smartphone this close to the rather successful commercial launch of its flagship. But then again, the Korean manufacturer has been known to do ridiculous things in the name of rivalry. Still, there will be no small amount of backlash from among its own followers should Samsung prove these rumors to be correct. It might be better off putting such features in the Galaxy Note 4, though not everyone probably wants a poking stick with their slab.

VIA: SlashGear

iPhone 5s “Powerful” ad takes a stab at the Galaxy S5

Posted by wicked April - 24 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Proving that Samsung isn’t the only one that can take shots at its rivals, Apple has released a new TV spot simply titled “Powerful”. And in the process of showing the things you can do with an iPhone, it touches on one of the Galaxy S5‘s most advertised features: the heart rate monitor.

The 90-second video extols the iPhone 5s features, some of which come out of the box, like slo mo video recording. Others, however, are features you can achieve through apps or accessories, giving credence to the almost cliché expression “there’s an app for that”. You have apps and tools for enhancing your musical jamming sessions, control lights from a distance, play games on your TV, feel like a camera man, or even launch rockets into the atmosphere. One feature, however, that might catch some people’s attention is the heart rate monitor, the very same feature that Samsung is boasting in its latest flagship.

What makes the iPhone 5s’ version different is that the heart rate monitor comes purely via software. The iPhone 5s doesn’t have a hardware monitor sensor but the app, called Instant Heart Rate, uses the same principles. The app uses the device’s camera to try to discern the heart rate by monitoring the flow of blood cells on a finger. Such a method works better when light is shone on the right area, which is why the app recommends using it on a more recent iPhone model that has n LED flash. What Apple is saying, in effect, is that the iPhone 5s doesn’t need any hardware gimmick to implement a heart rate monitor the way that Samsung does.

Apple’s message is clear and explicit. You already have a powerful device right in your hands already, which, at least for Apple, is the iPhone. The ad might even give Android app developers some ideas, but it does make one wonder about the accuracy of such software-based implementations versus what is supposedly more dedicated hardware. It also calls into question the practicality and wisdom in the growing amount of sensors on our mobile devices, a trend that might not be slowing down any time soon.

SOURCE: Apple
VIA: SlashGear

OnePlus One arrives promising to never settle for second best

Posted by wicked April - 23 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

OnePlus has finally taken off the veils from its highly hyped device. It has promised to never settle for mediocrity and put out the best of the best, but the question now is whether it was able to deliver on its word. Like many devices, it’s a hit on some and a miss on others, but the market will be the final judge once it finally lands in the hands of users.

Here you have the expected specs that have been teased little by little in the past. A fast, in fact the fastest, 2.5 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 drives the device and the 3 GB of RAM ensures to keep things snappy. Internal storage configurations include 16 GB and and 64 GB, both boasting the latest and fastest EMMC 5.0 specification. The camera isn’t exactly spectacular at 13 megapixels at the back and a high 5 megapixel shooter in the front, but they’re quite on par with almost everyone else. You have your staple of connectivity options, such as WiFI 802.11 a/b/g/n, 2G, 3G, and 4G network, and Bluetooth 4.0. The 3,100 mAh battery will help keep all of the above functioning throughout the day. The Chinese company claims that the OnePlus One is the first smartphone to sport bottom-facing stereo speakers, though there might be some ready to dispute that. What isn’t so easily disputable, however, is the help that JBL gave in order to make that design a possibility. As leaked before, 13 megapixel rear camera sports Sony’s IMX214 Sensor with a 6-element lens and f/2.0 aperture. No tricks here, like building up a 50 megapixel image, but you do get pretty pictures even in low light conditions.

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OnePlus has given a lot of though into the form of the device. After all, they have a more than a dozen similar looking shapes and designs to contend with. One of the biggest things that differentiates it from other smartphones is the lack of any distinctive marking on the face of the device. Without the need to make room for any type of branding or logo or even a home button, they are able to dedicate the entire surface to the display. At least that’s the theory. Unfortunately it seems that they have gone with capacitive buttons instead of software ones, which takes away a good chunk of space at the bottom. The other unique thing about the OnePlus One is that, while most have been trying to do away with bezels, it embraces it to some extent. The smartphone features a rather strange recessed bezel, separating the screen and the edge by a gap of 0.7 mm. It is a unique design, no doubt, but whether our hands and thumbs will agree is something that still needs to be tested. As far as form factor goes, the OnePlus one is your typical 5.5-inch smartphone, with dimension of 152.9 mm x 75.9 mm x 8.9 mm. However, the screen edge has its own separate measurement, at 4.6 mm thick.

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In terms of personalization, OnePlus has taken a page from Motorola’s book. Though not exactly offering the same level of freedom like the Moto X, OnePlus reveals that buyers will have a choice of personalized textures, including bamboo, wood, denim, and even kevlar. For those looking for less fancy appearances, the OnePlus One is available in Sandstone Black and Silk White. OnePlus itself just recently teased the customized CyanogenMod 11S experience that owners will be facing in the new smartphone. Indeed, this particular brand of CyanogenMod will be sporting a flatter than usual theme, but users will be given more freedom in customizing their device’s appearance. But beyond just theming, OnePlus says that users will also be able to install the different custom interfaces from its competitors, like OPPO’s ColorOS or Xiaomi’s MIUI.

The OnePlus One will initially be available in 16 countries consisting of Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, UK and the US starting the second quarter of this year.. It will also come with very tempting prices. The 16 GB will only cost $299 while the 64 GB isn’t that far away at $349. Considering these will be offered unlocked and without contracts, that is definitely a bargain that is hard to refuse.

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T-Mobile bribes BlackBerry users to switch to a Samsung Galaxy S5

Posted by wicked April - 23 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

T-Mobile is at it again with another “promo” that will surely ruffle BlackBerry‘s feathers once more. This time, however, the US carrier is encouraging its BlackBerry-toting subscribers to switch not to an iPhone but to any Samsung smartphone.

In exchange for jumping to a Galaxy S5 or a Galaxy Note 3 or any of Samsung’s other Android devices, T-Mobile will be giving $200 worth of gift cards. But if you are not a fan of the Korean manufacturer’s plastic lineup, you can still avail of a lower $100 trade by switching to any smartphone that isn’t a BlackBerry. Wherever you go, there is something in store as long as you denounce your allegiance to BlackBerry.

This act is sure to fan the flames of enmity between these two companies. T-Mobile fired the opening salvo in February when it tried to subtly suggest BlackBerry users to jump ship and switch to an iPhone. This, naturally, did not sit well with BlackBerry who, after a tirade against T-Mobile, cut its ties with the carrier by not renewing its licensing agreement. T-Mobile CEO John Legere later issued an open letter to its BlackBerry subscribers trying to appease and at the same time convince them to stay, even if it means giving up their BlackBerry devices.

This latest move is unlikely to make its remaining BlackBerry users happy, but T-Mobile probably more interested in really getting them to switch smartphones anyway. The offer is supposedly available to T-Mobile customer who purchased a BlackBerry unit any time in the past up until April 3 and the offer stands until the end of the year.

VIA: BGR

Samsung Galaxy S5 now supported by TWRP recovery

Posted by wicked April - 23 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

Tinkerers and modders who desire the Galaxy S5 for its hardware but with very little interest in Samsung’s bloatware now have a fighting chance. The latest 2.7 version of the Team Win Recovery Project, better known as TWRP, is now available for Galaxy S5 devices of the “klte” variant.

TWRP rose through the ranks at a time when Clockwork Recovery or CWM was seemingly stagnating in terms of new features, primary among them being the lack of a touch-based interface. Although Koushik “Koush” Dutta is back to developing CWM, he has also signified that he doesn’t really want to take CWM beyond the simple and focused recovery that it is. This leaves TWRP a bigger room to grow.

One of TWRP’s most popular features is that it is fully touch driven, without the need to use volume rockers or power buttons. It can even display an on-screen keyboard when needed. Beyond the basic functionality, however, TWRP also allows for certain customizations via XML themes, making it possible for ROM makes and other integrators to define all aspects of the look and feel of the recovery screen.

With TWRP now available for the Galaxy S5, it is easier for developers, and eventually end users, to take the smartphone beyond what Samsung dictates. There are various methods available for installing TWRP, with varying levels of difficulty but all with the usual risks associated with installing recoveries. The easiest would be to install TWRP via the GooManager app from Google Play Store. This method requires a rooted device, which has already been done. The dd method is probably the hardest, requiring some amount of command line knowledge and confidence. But there is a middle ground in the form of a flashable tar image that can be used with the Odin flashing utility.

SOURCE: TWRP
VIA: XDA

Samsung is failing to draw users into its contents and apps says study

Posted by wicked April - 23 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

Samsung might often be in headlines when it comes to gadgets and devices, but the rest of its mobile ecosystem isn’t faring as well as it hopes. A study done by Strategy Analytics shows that while Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones are faring quite well, its users do not necessarily prefer its own apps and services.

The Korean company has dreams beyond being just a consumer electronics manufacturer. It wants to be a hardware maker, a software platform, an app and content marketplace, and a social hub. Unfortunately, even the fans and users of its Android smartphones seem to be looking elsewhere when it comes to their content and services. Using the Galaxy S III and the Galaxy S 4 as basis, Strategy Analytics revealed that users spend as little as 7 minutes a month on Samsung’s own apps and content. Interestingly, the most used of them all are S Memo and S Voice. On the other hand, these same users spend an average of 149 minutes on the likes of Google’s apps and services. Of course, Samsung doesn’t really have a counterpart to YouTube and Google Search, but 7 minutes is still a pretty low number. For a more direct comparison, these users spend around 64 minutes on Google Play Store but less than a minute on Samsung Apps and Samsung Hub.

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It is no wonder, then, that Samsung is increasingly being aggressive about the services it is offering. Its Samsung Hub for music, books, and films might not have taken off like it wanted, but now it’s taking another stab with soon to be subscription-based Milk Music and, more recently, a deal with Amazon producing the Kindle for Samsung app. However, Google still holds the lion’s share of the content market and while it may be possible for Samsung to catch up, it’s is highly unlikely. Others like ChatOn, which does have a following, probably don’t have a prayer against more popular messaging services.

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It’s not all bad news for Samsung, however. Strategy Analytics also emphasized that Galaxy S III and Galaxy S 4 users are ahead of the crowd when it comes to content consumption, watching 14 percent more videos and using up 24 percent more data. It just so happens that they prefer to do those elsewhere and not on Samsung’s own turf.

SOURCE: Strategy Analytics

New UI for LG G3 possibly spotted in leaked images

Posted by wicked April - 22 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

LG’s new flagship could bring a fresh interface as well. LG’s Android skin is fairly in-depth, and typically up-to-date with styling cues. Leaked shots, said to be from the LG G3, show a design that offers up flatter icons, rounded shapes, and a different color scheme.


The G3, expected to launch in the summer, is likely in the final stages of software tweaks. From top to bottom, i seems as though LG has reimagined their UI, and we must say — we like it. The natural comparison is to Samsung or Apple, and that’s fair, but those are both great as well. The icons are a touch smoother, and have a bigger color shceme than we’re used to. Rather than light up the actual shape of the service when in use, the entire icon now captures your eyes.

The icons in the settings menu are also flat and round, unlike the transparent background that’s been in use. LG has also redone their own apps, bringing in the flatter design in lieu of the skeumorphic icons that are going away altogether. The contact cons have also changed, again sticking with the rounded format.

There is no word on an official launch date for the G3, but we would expect to see this UI along with it. The real question remaining is whether or not LG will follow in the footsteps of Motorola and HTC, splitting their apps from the OS skin to allow for faster updates of older devices. Their software support comes slowly, and that’s a big reason why.

Source: Digital Trends