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Samsung Z postponed again, spells trouble for Tizen

Posted by wicked July - 29 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

Samsung has finally confirmed what everyone already practically knows, or at least believes in their gut. Samsung Z, the Tizen-powered smartphone that was supposed to launch in Russia this quarter, is indefinitely delayed. More than just a disappointment to the already dwindling number of Tizen faithful, it is almost the writing on the wall for Samsung’s latest efforts to strike on its own without Google.

Samsung’s wild success in the mobile device industry can partly be credited to Android. After all, the company’s low-end Bada feature phones and sparse Windows Phone offering did not fare as well as even its lowest cost Android offering. But perhaps it is because of this deep reliance on Google that Samsung has tried to find ways to distance and differentiate itself, which has only served to further irk the tech giant. The latest sore point is Tizen, which Samsung is trying to put not just on smartphones but also on smartwatches, even while it tries to play nice with Android Wear.

Perhaps the fact that Tizen was a platform born out of controversy foreshadowed its current troubles. When Nokia abandoned its own MeeGo platform in favor of Windows Phone, Intel, who was supposedly Nokia’s partner in that endeavor, took refuge with Samsung and started Tizen, along with other industry players. However, it seems that Samsung is the only one deadly serious about profiting from the platform and has been bearing the brunt of the work, but with still no visible results. Tizen was envisioned primarily as a mobile OS, but, except for two smartwatches and one or two cameras, no other product bears that name. A few months ago, Samsung would have launched the first Tizen smartphone in Japan, but later pulled out, citing unfavorable market conditions. This month was supposed to be the launch of the Samsung Z in Russia, but Samsung pulled out at the last minute. Its reason? It wants to further enhance the software ecosystem, hinting at Tizen’s greatest problem: the lack of apps.

In a way, it’s a chicken and egg problem, one that cannot be resolved by delaying and waiting for the egg to hatch or the chicken to lay the egg. As many other mobile platforms will tell you, a platform is only as good as the apps that are available for it (though it is also only as good as how easy it is to develop those apps). But without a commercial device that will convince developers that there is even a chance of monetizing their work, they will not flock over to Tizen. It will never have that perfect moment when the software ecosystem is ready. Google was able to get around that problem by releasing Android early and letting it be open as much as it can. Unfortunately, Samsung cannot afford either of those at this point in time, which could mean that Tizen is almost doomed to fail.

SOURCE: Wall Street Journal
VIA: SlashGear

Samsung Galaxy Star 2 Plus launches in India

Posted by wicked July - 29 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

We’ve seen Samsung update their budget product line with upgraded devices running Android 4.4 Kitkat recently, and one of the first few markets that we’ve seen those migrate to is India, where the Galaxy Star 2 Plus has apparently landed. It is a small budget phone with modest specs, but notably, with Kitkat running the show.

The Galaxy Star 2 Plus has shown up at the Samsung India eStore bringing these specs – a 1.2Ghz dual-core processor with 512MB RAM, a 4.3-inch 800×480 capacitive touchscreen display, 4GB of internal storage expandable via microSD, and a 3MP camera with led flash. It looks to be an improvement from the Galaxy Star 2 that was announced just a month ago via the Samsung Blog – maybe that is why the “Plus” suffix was added.

The original Galaxy Star 2 was supposed to be a handy phone with a small 320 x 480 3.5-inch screen and powered by a single core 1.0Ghz processor, but this new phone looks to be an upgrade in most respects, except that they both carry Android 4.4 Kitkat out of the box. As seen in the pictures, the back cover has a textured finish for a better feel, and the phone is available in white and black colors.

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The new phone also carries the “Duos” branding that Samsung has pushed towards markets where dual-SIM phones are logical, and India is definitely one of those markets. The Galaxy Star 2 Plus has dual network capability, with the main SIM card giving you 3G HSPA+ connectivity. Powering all of this is a 1800mAh battery.

VIA: Fone Arena

Samsung Galaxy Alpha now leaked with 4.8-inch HD screen

Posted by wicked July - 29 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

A few new details are coming in regarding Samsung‘s supposed iPhone 6 killer. Now this semi-metallic smartphone is believed to have a screen size of 4.8 inches, instead of the previously leaked 4.7, and is being confirmed to have a resolution of 1280×720 pixels.

This pretty much puts it on the same page as the Galaxy S III, which was somewhat implied in the previous leak. The screen resolution is being confirmed by the developer console for the device as well as the user agent profile on Samsung’s own website. Furthermore, the name of Galaxy Alpha is also being confirmed by that same source. While this brings a bit of stability to the rumor, presuming, of course, it is all true, it is also slightly disappointing. With a larger diagonal size, the Galaxy Alpha’s screen will have a slightly lower pixel density than if it were 4.7 inches as earlier believed.

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But why is this rumored Galaxy Alpha being billed as an iPhone rival? It isn’t much about screen size but also about the design. This smartphone will supposedly bear a metallic frame, though still with a faux leather rear cover, a nano SIM card slot instead of the convential micro SIM, and a 32 GB internal storage without any expansion option. Taken individually, these features can also be found in other devices like the HTC One M8 or a Nexus, but together, they more easily remind one of an iPhone. That it will be coming from arch nemesis Samsung and in almost the same size definitely fans the flames of the rumor.

That is, of course, if Apple really does have a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 planned for this year, which itself is already a contentious topic. If it turns out to be a dud, then the Galaxy Alpha will end up as an odd duck in Samsung’s lineup. But then again, Samsung never really needed any justification for its innumerable and sometimes inexplicable smartphones, so it can simply pass this off as yet another experimental foray into a new smartphone design.

VIA: SamMobile

Motorola Nexus phone possible after Lenovo assimilation

Posted by wicked July - 29 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

The Android world is waiting with bated breath on who will be making the next Nexus device later this year, whether it be a tablet, smartphone, or even a phablet. That honor might be bestowed finally on Motorola, Google’s former subsidiary, but the wheels might only start turning once Motorola is fully under Lenovo’s purview.

The next Google device maker is always a fun guessing game, trying to pit manufacturers against each other in something that almost resembles a game of Magic the Gathering. Google has chosen already chosen some of the top Android OEMs in the market, once for HTC, twice for ASUS, thrice for Samsung, and twice for LG. With this pattern, some believe that HTC might be next chosen one, but The Information believes Motorola is actually next. It might seem that Motorola should have been the perfect candidate for the Nexus 5, considering it was still owned by Google back then but it might have been for that exact reason that it wasn’t chosen. Although Google is practically choosing one out of many manufacturers, it has to be careful not to play favorites. At least not too much.

But that’s no longer the case and Motorola is no longer with Google, leaving it free to be chosen as a rightful heir to the Nexus name. If things do go that way, the next Nexus device, let’s call it Nexus 6 for now, will be interesting, as a device and as a story. As the name might imply, the Nexus 6 is believed to be the first Nexus phablet, which could make it a perfect partner for the Moto 360 smartwatch, since you wouldn’t want to pull out your giant phone all the time. It will also be one of the very few deep relationships Google will have with Lenovo beyond the Chromebook sector. Motorola has definitely showed its chops when it unveiled the Moto X, putting prime features in hardware that wasn’t exactly high-end even at that time. It will definitely be interesting to see what the new Lenovo-Motorola duo will be able to pull off this time.

As much as the prospect of a Motorola, or any manufacturer, Nexus phablet is an exciting topic for discussion, it might not equally be when it comes to business talk. LG, when denying rumors that it will be making the next Nexus, revealed how the Nexus line, though popular, isn’t exactly profitable. Google dictates the number of devices to be made, which is quite low by OEM standards. Lenovo, and Motorola, aren’t exactly the biggest sellers in the Android world, which may make them not overly eager to sign up for the Nexus program. But then, depending on how the Nexus 6 turns out, this might exactly be what Motorola and Lenovo need to put their names right at the top.

SOURCE: The Information
VIA: SlashGear

Nokia X update gives endangered phone one last hurrah

Posted by wicked July - 29 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

Microsoft might have formally closed the doors on its brief Android venture, but it isn’t completely pulling the plug on its already existing Android smartphones. Nokia has just announced an incoming software update for the Nokia X, X+, and XL devices, bringing in a wealth of new features and apps, which might also be the last substantial update the smartphones will get.

The biggest UI improvement in this update is the new App Switcher feature, basically like Android’s own Recent Apps display. Users need only swipe down from the top edge of the phone to bring down the quick control panel and then select the app switcher icon. This will take them to a cards like layout of currently running and recently used apps, where they can switch to those apps or close the app. It’s a few steps more compared to the regular Android way, but considering Nokia/Microsoft’s custom UI doesn’t have a navigation panel, it’s a necessary evil.

The update will also bring a load of pre-installed Microsoft apps to the phone. In particular Outlook, OneDrive, and OneNote will now be baked into the phone’s firmware. Outlook brings Microsoft’s email and calendaring service to the phone, while OneNote Mobile will let users access notes stored on OneDrive. They can also create notes right from the phone, though curiously limited to a maximum of 500 notes.

Like any other regular Android device, this software update will be arriving via OTA but can also be manually queried from the phone’s Settings app. Unfortunately, this isn’t the same Nokia X software platform 2.0 that was unveiled with the new Nokia X2, but considering that platform 2.0 will never make it to the older phones because of hardware limitations, this might be the closest that Nokia X owners can get to that experience. And since there is no certainty that Microsoft will continue supporting the platform after it has laid off most of the old Nokia‘s workforce, Nokia X owners might want to savor this update as much as they can.

SOURCE: Microsoft

New leaked Sony Xperia Z3 photos show start of production

Posted by wicked July - 28 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

Ah, leaked photos, we love you and hate you at the same time. You ratchet up the anticipation while not giving us much new details as expected. The new photos of what is supposedly Sony’s new flagship phone, the Xperia Z3 does not give us anything new really, except to show that mass production of the anticipated gadget has already started and that it will come in at least one basic color, for now.

The leaked photos seem to be coming from a manufacturing facility where the Z3 is allegedly preparing for mass production or maybe it’s already in the middle of the production process. The photos also show that the white backing of the phone has a glossy finish and looks a lot like the current flagship, the Xperia Z2, with its simplistic and minimalist design. You can even see a cameo from the photographer, but let’s hope it’s not a clear enough look or someone’s getting fired for sure.

Previous leaks earlier this month seemed to confirm some of the speculation with regards to the specs of the Z3. It will most likely run on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor at 2.5GHz and an Adreno 330 GPU. It will supposedly have a 5.15-nch full HD screen, 3GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, and a main camera with 20MP while the front facing one is at 2.1MP.

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Just like its outward appearance, there seems to be not much difference with the Z2, so Sony should have something different up its sleeve to convince users to upgrade to the new flagship. The Xperia Z3 is expected to be announced at the IFA this coming September 5, although the OEM has not made any announcements to confirm this, or any other detail about the upcoming smartphone.

VIA: NWE

LG G Vista officially confirmed for Verizon, AT&T

Posted by wicked July - 28 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

The LG G Vista – if the leaks were to be believed – was supposed to be a “mini” version of one of LG’s higher tier phones, and that’s what it’s actually turning out to be as the confirmations are streaming in. The new LG phone has now been semi-confirmed for Verizon and AT&T via internal product leaks. Let’s see what it looks like.

Verizon’s leak was in the form of an internal (or at least, unreleased) product description document that highlighted some of the product’s specs without going into much specifics. According to the document, the phone will have a pretty large screen at 5.7 inches, but people will be slightly disappointed with the declared qHD resolution (that is, 960 x 540 pixels). An unnamed 1.2GHz quad-core processor is also declared in the slide, and it will most likely be a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 with an Adreno 305 GPU.

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AT&T has also let out an internal user’s manual of what it calls the G Vista (see the source link). The specs are pretty much the same, but the Verizon version has been rumored to pack 1.5GB of RAM rather than the 1GB rumored for the AT&T version. There is a possibility that the companies could put out different models, but there is very little logic in doing that. Both have also confirmed the 3200mAh battery that the phone will come with, a very strong feature that will see users of the LG G Vista last the whole day without charging.

From the looks of it, Verizon and AT&T users may not have long to wait before this new LG mid-tier smartphone is unleashed upon them, with the sources pointing to a very near date in July 31, 2014 as the date of launch. The phone – while not really packing powerful specs – has LG’s innovative UI approach to bank on, and the G Vista is sure to have that rear-key design that’s found on LG’s premium phones, as well as multi-window capabilities for multitasking.

VIA: Pocket Now, My LG Phones

Samsung officially launches 7-inch Galaxy Tab Q in China

Posted by wicked July - 28 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

Ladies and gentlemen, we are now entering a time of unsurpassed phablet craziness and the push for bigger screens on devices as Samsung officially unveils a 7-inch (!!!) phablet in the Galaxy Tab Q. The device is officially under the “Tab” – which ostensibly pertains to tablets – family, but see here, the Galaxy Tab Q is also a phone! The device was launched in China this weekend.

Samsung is clearly pushing its own definition of what a phablet is – and yes, the company expects you to use this 7-inch beast as a phone. It has an earpiece and a built-in microphone, so we assume that Samsung wants you to bring this up to your face with your hand and make calls the standard way. We’re having doubts if we can.

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This device was initially launched in South Korea as the Galaxy W, and now it’s hitting the stalls of stores in China with its 7-inch 1280×720 high definition TFT screen. Under the hood, it has an unnamed 1.2Ghz quad-core processor and a decent 1.5GB of RAM to push applications and pixels. It has an 8MP shooter and a 2MP front-facing cam. Notably, it has a 3200mAh battery to correctly power that gigantic HD screen.

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More importantly, the Galaxy Tab Q is 4G/LTE capable via a micro SIM card slot, which confirms that fact that it is indeed intended to function as a phone. The device is clothed in the same faux leather as the Galaxy Note 3, and while there is no info on internal storage capacity, the device is expandable to 64GB via microSD. There is also no info on what Android OS it will be carrying, but rumors say it would be Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. Having renamed this for the China launch, there might be a possibility that the huge phablet will again be renamed when launched for other markets.

SOURCE: Samsung

1Password to release new update, extends free trial

Posted by wicked July - 28 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

If you’re still not on board the 1Password bandwagon, you’re being given more time to explore the popular password manager for free, as they are extending the free trial until August 18. Developer Agile Bits will also releasing version 4.1 soon, which will add even more features to the first one launched just six weeks ago on the Android platform.

The password manager, which claims to be one of the most secure in the digital world as it uses a 256-bit AES “military grade” encryption, has long been a favourite of iOS and OS X users. And when finally it arrived for Android users just last June, the developers wanted the newbies to try it out for free for almost two months. The good news now is that they decided to extend the free trial for another 18 days to give others the chance to experience the app before deciding to “commit” to the freemium model.

The upcoming update v4.1 includes some new features, fixes and improvements on the app. Users can now create a new password vault on the app itself even without an existing account or vault. There are also now additional localised languages, including German, Spanish, Portuguese (European and Brazilian), Romanian, Russian, and Swedish and coming soon will be Chinese, Japanese, French, and Italian.

By August 19, 1Password for Android will switch to the freemium model, where users will be able to download it for free but in read-only format, then upgrade through a one-time in-app purchase of $9.99 to be able to edit, organise and create a new vault for your passwords. But for two weeks starting on the 19th, they are offering a 20% discount so you’ll be able to buy the Premium version for only $7.99. So if you haven’t yet started on your free trial, you can download 1Password from the Google Play Store now.

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SOURCE: 1Password

Samsung Galaxy S 4 under a pillow overheats and burns

Posted by wicked July - 28 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

Some people might think that Samsung‘s flagships are hot, though a 13-year old girl from Texas probably didn’t want that to be literal. And yet that is unfortunately how things are when Ariel Tolfree was woken in the middle of the night to the smell of the burning Galaxy S 4, which happened to be stowed snug and warm under her pillow.

The case starts out innocently enough. Given how teens incessantly message each other, post on social networks, or browse the Internet even in the late of night, it is quite convenient to just tuck the thing under your head to avoid having to fumble around reaching for a nightstand beside the bed. Unfortunately, that might have indeed been the cause of this unfortunate, but almost foreseeable incident. We’ve seen smartphones survive fires and even lawnmowers but this is not one case that had a happy ending. The resulting glob of plastic is almost unrecognizable as the glorious Samsung flagship that it once was. Thomas, Ariel’s dad, believed that the phone overheated, causing the battery to swell and start a mini fire. He immediately contacted Samsung to report the incident and then, of course, contacted the media.

Samsung’s response is both typical PR and, at the same time, common sense. According to the company spokesperson, the battery, which is being blamed for the accident isn’t a certified original Samsung battery. Of course, we’ve heard about cases where using replacement units are blamed by manufacturers, and yet people still flock to these because of the sometimes prohibitive price of original accessories. One other thing that Samsung points out is that, of course, there is a chance the device will overheat if kept under a pillow, mattress, or even thick clothing that will restrict the flow of air from cooling down the smartphone. In fact, this scenario is so predictable that Samsung even includes a warning inside its manual. But then again, who reads user manuals, printed or digital, these days anyway?

Thomas says that Samsung, and perhaps other manufacturers as well, should put those warnings where they can easily seen, perhaps on boxes, like in cigarette packaging. But given how many of these environmental warnings there are inside manuals, we might very well end up with boxes covered in nothing but warnings. Samsung, fortunately, takes such incidents seriously and will launch an investigation on the dearly departed smartphone so ascertain the true cause of the fire. They will also fortunately be replacing the burned pillow and bedding as well.

VIA: FOX 8