MetroPCS teases ‘huge announcement’ for next week, likely related to Galaxy S 4


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MetroPCS teases ‘huge announcement’ for next week, likely related to Galaxy S 4

Jul 5th 2013, 17:00


Samsung Galaxy S 4 White Frost

Heads up, MetroPCS customers, because it looks like your carrier’s got something up its sleeve. MetroPCS took to its official Twitter account this morning to tease a “huge announcement” that it’s got planned for next week. Attached to the tweet are the hashtags #Samsung, #Android and #MetroPCS, as well as a Vine video that shows a Samsung Galaxy S III followed by a plus sign, the number “1,” an equals sign and a question mark. The Vine video is embedded below.

While MetroPCS doesn’t come out and say exactly what its planning to announce next week, the combination of hashtags and the Vine video suggest that the carrier plans to begin offering the Samsung Galaxy S 4. The Galaxy S 4 is already available on a number of other U.S. operators, including prepaid carrier Cricket Wireless and MetroPCS parent company T-Mobile US, and so it’d definitely be good to see Samsung’s flagship land on MetroPCS’s shelves as well. Now we just have to wait for Metro’s announcement next week to get the full rundown on the carrier’s plans.

We’ve got a huge announcement coming next week. Can you guess what it is? #Samsung #Android #MetroPCS

— MetroPCS Inc. (@MetroPCS) July 5, 2013

Via @MetroPCS


HP Slate 7 receives $30 price cut

Jul 5th 2013, 16:15


HP Slate 7 silver

In the mood to continue your Fourth of July celebration going with the purchase of a shiny new Android tablet? HP may have just the thing for you, as the company today cut the price of its Android 4.1-powered Slate 7 tablet. The 8GB Slate 7 is now available for $139.99 from HP’s online shop, which is a full $30 less than what HP was asking for the device when it launched back in April. HP is also offering a 16GB version of the Slate 7 for $169.99.

Along with the Android 4.1 OS, the HP Slate 7 features a 7-inch 1024×600 display, 1.6GHz dual-core processor, 3-megapixel rear and VGA front cameras, Beats Audio, 1GB RAM and a 3,500mAh battery. It may not be the highest-specced Android tablet on the market, but for a total price of just $140, the Slate 7 could be worth a look for consumers that are interested in picking up a new slate but are also on a tight budget. For a quick peek at the Slate 7 in action, you can check out Aaron’s hands-on with the Jelly Bean device below.

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Via Android Central, HP Home & Home Office Store: 8GB HP Slate 7, 16GB HP Slate 7


It’s time to start early marketing for your upcoming devices, HTC

Jul 5th 2013, 16:10



Earnings reports can be some of the most pervasive and confusing bits of information to see their way into the public space. We wait to see these reports because we want to see how well, or how poorly, a company is doing when compared to no one else (that comes later), and just its own previous earnings. It’s one way that the analysts out there make up their own reports, to gauge whether or not a company will be around all that much longer, and if they’ll be profitable during that time.

It’s also a surefire way to see reports proclaiming a particular company is “dead,” and “on the way out.” When it comes to companies like HTC, though, these catch phrases aren’t new in the slightest. Last year, after HTC released a couple hundred (/exaggeration) different devices, and replaced their flagship One X device within six months of its launch with a One X+, people were quick to point to HTC’s impending, inexorable demise.

Then, earlier this year, they threw a powerful right hook with the One. No one saw it coming, and so far it’s been raking up the attention from Android and non-Android enthusiasts here in the United States. It’s one of my favorite phones of all time.

But, according to HTC’s earnings report earlier this morning, it doesn’t look like the One has had a huge impact on HTC’s fortune — especially not in the way that they had wanted. As my fellow editor Alex pointed out in his article covering the report, HTC’s June earnings are a bit of a mixed bag. I won’t go over the full report again, but basically HTC didn’t continue to see the income growth it wanted to into June, and the company’s year-over-year totals weren’t better, either.

Basically, it doesn’t look like the One has continued to bring the cash in.

There is some shining light, though, and a lot of the weight could be put on the One’s shoulders again. We know that Verizon Wireless is due to start carrying the high-end device here in due time, but we’re still waiting to hear exactly when. It’s supposed to be “later this summer,” and we’ve already seen how the branding will look on the upcoming device thanks to recent leaks.

It’s entirely possible that the momentum of the One has been lost since its launch, and that the Verizon-branded version will see some adoption, but not nearly at the level it could have had it been launched on the Big Red carrier at the same time as the other carriers. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, depending on how Verizon prices the unit and how aggressively HTC markets the handset on the largest U.S.-based wireless carrier, HTC could see quite a bit of adoption for the handset.

If HTC can make that happen, and  then carry the attention for its One brand into the end of the year, that’s great. That’s the best scenario.

If that doesn’t happen, then maybe it’s time that HTC starts powering up the early marketing for two rumored devices: the HTC One Mini, and the HTC One Max (or T6). Maybe it’s time that HTC starts doing some early marketing like Motorola is doing with their Moto X, and just get people ready in some kind of official capacity for what’s coming. We’ve all see the leaks and rumors, sure, but that’s different than hearing it come from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

If HTC were to start talking up the smaller and larger versions of the One, and prepare those niche markets for the specific device’s launch later this year, it could keep attention on the company, and the positive attention they need leading into the holiday shopping season. Especially considering that HTC will be going up against Samsung’s next Galaxy Note flagship device, and not to mention Apple’s newest iPhone around the same time.

HTC has to start building some goodwill, starting now and carrying it right into the announcement of their new devices. It has to start as soon as possible.

But, what do you think? Do you think HTC’s middling, if not disappointing, sales will continue to decline going into the end of 2013? Or can the company start turning things around with heavy marketing, the Verizon-branded One, and the impending launches of the One Mini and One Max? Can HTC compete head-to-head with Samsung and Apple later this year? Let me know what you think!


HTC’s Q2 2013 brings income growth from Q1, but year-over-year profit drops

Jul 5th 2013, 14:25


HTC One bottom

How about a nice cup of quarterly earnings to go with our bowl of cereal? HTC is happy to oblige, as this morning it released its results for both the second quarter of 2013 as well as the June numbers. The company says that it earned total revenues of NT$70.7 billion ($2.35 billion USD) for Q2 2013, which is in line with HTC’s guidance but is also a 22 percent drop from the NT$91.04 billion ($3.03 billion USD) revenue that it saw in Q2 2012. Meanwhile, HTC’s net income after tax for the quarter finished at NT$1.25 billion ($41.6 million USD), a drop from the NT$7.40 billion ($246 million USD) profit that it saw in Q2 2012 but an increase from the NT$85 million ($2.83 million USD) income total of Q1 2013.

Looking at June specifically, HTC reports that it saw revenue of NT$22 billion ($732 million USD) during the 30-day period. That’s a decrease from the NT$29.0 billion ($966 million USD) revenue that the Taiwanese firm earned in May 2013 and a drop from the NT$30 billion ($999 million USD) revenue figure reported by HTC in June 2012.

Overall HTC’s Q2 2013 and June 2013 performances seem to be a bit of a mixed bag. HTC’s Q2 2013 numbers met the company’s own guidance for the quarter and also showed quite a bit of growth from Q1 2013, but the company didn’t quite reach the NT$2.0 billion ($66.6 million USD) of income that analysts has estimated it would. The June numbers show that despite moving 5 million units in its first 50 days of availability, the HTC One couldn’t help its maker to keep up the growth in revenue that it’d been seeing in recent months, starting at NT$15.88 billion ($529 million USD) in March and cresting at $29.0 billion ($966 million USD) in May.

Looking forward, HTC is rumored to be prepping a pair of variants of its flagship One smartphone. The HTC One mini is expected to sport a 4.3-inch 720p display and could launch in either July or August. A larger HTC One Max is also said to be in the works with a 5.9-inch 1080p display, though The Wall Street Journal claims that that device may not arrive until sometime in Q4 2013. Having several size options when it comes time to buy a new smartphone is always a good thing for shoppers, and it sounds like HTC is hoping that offering different sizes of the One will be good for its numbers as well.

Via HTC, The Wall Street Journal


Purported inventory screenshot suggests ‘Nokia Lumia 1020’ hitting AT&T in black, white and yellow

Jul 4th 2013, 16:25


AT&T Nokia Lumia 1020 colors leak

Jonesing for some more AT&T Nokia Lumia 1020 goodness after last night’s image leak? That’s precisely what is being served up tonight, courtesy of the folks at WPCentral. The site has posted what it claims is a screenshot of a Microsoft Store’s upcoming inventory, complete with three entries for a “Nokia Lumia 1020 AT&T.” The image suggests that AT&T will offer the new Lumia in black, white and yellow. It’s not clear if or when other colors might be offered. The screenshot also shows that this store will be receiving 70 units of the device at a price of $602 each, though it seems possible that that cost is how much the store paid for the phone, not the amount that consumers will need to pony up.

Nokia has scheduled an event titled “Zoom. Reinvented.” for July 11, and it’s expected that the company will use the gathering to formally introduce this new Lumia. The source of this leaked screenshot claims that the “7/22/2013” date in the lower left corner of the image indicates when they might begin receiving shipments of the new phone and that a consumer launch could come a few days later.

This upcoming Nokia Lumia device has leaked out several times in recent months under the codename “EOS,” but there have been conflicting reports on whether it’ll be known as the Lumia 1020 or Lumia 909 at launch. Whatever it’s called, the headlining feature of this handset is likely going to be a 41-megapixel camera sensor, making it what many refer to as a “true” PureView device.

Along with that beefy camera, the EOS/Lumia 1020/Lumia 909 will also reportedly include a 1280×768 OLED display, 32GB internal storage and a body that measures 1mm thinner than the Lumia 920’s 10.7mm-thick frame. Those specs may not make the EOS sounds like a major upgrade over the Lumia 920, which also sports a 1280×768 resolution LCD display and 32GB of storage, but I’m betting that that 41-megapixel camera will convince at least a few consumers to pull out their wallets for Nokia’s newest Lumia.

Via WPCentral


There’s nothing wrong with loving the skin you’re in

Jul 4th 2013, 15:50


Android is a fascinating platform. You can customize your device to your liking right out of the box, and can do even more customization if you know how to root. One of the coolest things about Android is the ability to create custom skins over the interface to make it look different. It’s still Android underneath, but on top it looks like something completely different. The ability to create and use skins on Android is arguably one of the most important aspects of the platform.

As of late, consumers in the mobile industry have been fawning over the release of what’s called “Google Edition” devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and the HTC One. You’ve probably already heard about the Galaxy S 4, which runs on Samsung’s TouchWiz interface, or the HTC One, which runs on HTC’s Sense 5. But what are these devices without Sense or TouchWiz included on them? That’s what the Google Edition of these devices do. Google Edition essentially means that these devices will be stripped of their custom skins, and instead come with what is commonly referred to as “vanilla” or “stock” Android – no extra customizations, no extra skins, no extra apps, and no extra tweaks. The appeal to a Google Edition device is just that – you don’t have to deal with custom skins like TouchWiz or Sense, and can enjoy stock Android running on a superior piece of hardware.

But in some ways the user is missing out on what the device was optimized for. Sometimes, skins on Androids hold tweaks that are designed to make the phone unique and more useful. Although I think Google Editions are a good way to incorporate options for people who want something with better specs than the Nexus 4 while still running on stock Android, there’s also plenty of room to appreciate the skins that these manufacturers have created for us.

I myself am a Sense fan. I have always loved HTC Sense. I think the main thing that drew me to it was the iconic Sense clock. It was big, but in my opinion it was very well-designed. You never didn’t know what time it was. More important, I found the overall interface to be very pleasing to the eye. Little features that changed throughout time only seemed to make the features function better, like when the traditional ‘Slide Down to Unlock’ became a customizable ‘Pull Ring to Unlock’ It was nice to be able to access text messages or my phone straight from the lock screen if I chose to make it that way. Widget designs and functions always went over well with me, like when HTC introduced animated weather on the Sense Clock. I practically lived for rainy days just to see the windshield wipers drag across my screen. In more modern times, HTC Sense is essential for making devices like the HTC One stand out with features like Blinkfeed, and more importantly Zoe – which helps justify HTC’s decision to use the 4-megapixel “UltraPixel” camera.

Another popular skin comes from Samsung, who make the popular Galaxy Note and Galaxy S lines of products. Samsung’s TouchWiz isn’t my favorite, but it is necessary to have on a Note device if you want the ability to use the S Pen (which is what kind of makes a Note a Note). TouchWiz is also important for features on the Galaxy S devices like Smart Pause, Smart Stay, Smart Scrolling, and any other Smart features you can think of incorporating. And I’m probably in the minority here, but I also think that TouchWiz doesn’t look half bad. Regardless, a lot of the features that are in TouchWiz are absoutely necessary to make the device as “unique” as it is.

There are a lot of other skins that manufacturers use on their devices, and for once I think it’s time we give them some proper lovin’. Is vanilla Android great? Yes, yes it is! But sometimes we overlook the fact that the skins that are provided for us aren’t half bad either, and often hold the key to the reasons why we love the device so much.

So readers, with that being said, it’s time to discuss: Which skin is your favorite when it comes to Android devices? Do you like the S Pen functionality of the Note devices, the intriguing features of HTC’s Zoe, or something else completely? Share your favorites with me in the comments below!

Images via GSMNation, Samsung


Nokia Lumia 920 with Amber update shown on video

Jul 4th 2013, 15:25


Nokia Lumia 920 Amber video leak

Nokia’s Lumia Amber software update is slated to begin rolling out to the Finnish firm’s Windows Phone 8 sometime this summer, bringing with it new features like Glance Screen’s always-on clock and the ability to double-tap the phone’s display to wake it from standby. After getting an early peek at the Lumia Amber update running on the Lumia 925, which will launch with Amber preinstalled, today we get to see the update in action once again. This time, though, the software has been loaded onto a Lumia 920.

A brief video demonstrating the Lumia Amber update on the Nokia Lumia 920 has been uploaded by UnleashThePhones. The version of Amber that’s shown in the clip is said to be an early build, and so only a handful of the update’s features are included. The features that are demoed in the video include the aforementioned Glance Screen and double-tap to wake as well as Data Sense, some new wallpapers and Nokia’s Smart Camera app.

Along with the goodies that are shown off in this video, the Lumia Amber update will bring with it flip-to-silence functionality, CalDAV and CardDAV support and FM radio, the last of which is actually a feature that’s part of the broader Windows Phone 8 GDR2 update. Overall the Amber update looks like it ought to make Nokia’s existing Lumia handsets quite a bit better and possibly even stop those owners from drooling over newer models like the Lumia 925 and EOS (or at least reduce the amount of drool that comes out of their mouths). There’s no word yet on exactly when in the summer that the update will begin making its way to consumers, but hey, at least we’ve got leaks like these to keep us occupied until then.

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Via WPCentral, UnleashThePhones


Facebook for Android beta app update rolling out with bug fixes in tow

Jul 4th 2013, 12:10


Facebook for Android login

Facebook isn’t wasting any time in giving the users of its Android app beta to some new software to test. Exactly one week after first announcing the testing program, the company today pushed out an update to its Facebook for Android beta app that packs in a number of bug fixes for both the Facebook app and Facebook Home. As for the list of exactly what those changes are, it appears that Facebook has posted a couple of different changelogs and edited its original post, but the folks at Android Police managed to round up all of the tweaks into one big list:

Facebook App

  • Fixed an issue where timeline profile pictures might not update
  • Fixed a crash in the photo picker
  • Fixed a crash in the message list view
  • Fixed crash when tapping Nearby suggestions
  • Fixed an issue preventing image cropping from working in some cases
  • Fixed an error that some people saw while sharing feed stories in personal messages
  • Fixed an issue that preventing people from turning off Facebook after installing Facebook Home
  • Plus more bug fixes

Facebook Home

  • Various stability improvements in Facebook Home when using folders
  • Updated translations
  • Foreign language fonts are now available
  • Home settings moved from the fold in bookmarks
  • Home is easier to uninstall

Interestingly, Facebook says that the app’s version number won’t change after installing this update, so don’t think that you’re going crazy if you install this update and notice that the version number still reads “3.4.” The update will hit users as soon as it becomes available if they’ve got automatic updates turned. Those that prefer manual updating can grab the new software from the Google Play Store.

This Facebook for Android beta update may not contain any new features for users to get excited about, but it does pack in a number of bug fixes that show that the company is listening to the feedback. It’s also good to see Facebook pushing an update to its beta testers just a week after the program began. Here’s to hoping that the company keeps the updates coming at a speedy pace.

Via Android Police, Facebook for Android Beta Testers group, Google Play: Facebook for Android


Design choices are cool, but Moto X still freaks me out

Jul 4th 2013, 11:10


For the better half of the first part of the year we’ve been ranting and raving about Android flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S 4, the HTC One, and the Sony Xperia Z. But now that each of these devices is essentially old news, we’re starting to look forward to what the latter half of the year will bring us. The lineup of the hopeful devices we are waiting to see is the next generation iPhone, the Galaxy Note 3, and for this article in particular, the Moto X.

In the middle of watching yet another comparison video between the HTC One and the Galaxy S 4, I decided I was tired of trying to figure out which one I liked best. I decided to close the video and scope out the Internet in search of more interesting subject: the mysterious Moto X phone, which is set to arrive on the market sometime later this year.

We’ve seen recent teasers emerge from the Google-owned company stating that the Moto X will be the “first smartphone you can design yourself”, whatever that means. Evan wrote an article just the other day speculating what exactly that could entail, but until we know for sure it does make for an enticing marketing campaign to keep the dreamers a-dreaming. Even I was intrigued as to what it meant, but there is still one teensy weensy little issue that remained in the back of my head that turned me off from the idea of this phone in the first place: the “always on” sensors.

Ever since hearing about the “always on” sensors I’ve been pretty skeptical about the device. I guess it could be an ideal feature for some people, but then there are people like me who like to be in control of my own device on my own terms. Simply put, I don’t want my phone to think for me, and it doesn’t sound like there will be a way to turn the feature off. It’s even been described as being “the perfect spy”. That creeps me out. Not only do you have these sensors that are constantly monitoring your movements, but you also have the incorporation of Google Now that predicts what you want to do before you actually do it. This phone learns from you by reusing your information in nearly every possible way. This phone watches you. It’s the perfect real-life premise for a Will Smith movie if I’ve ever seen one.

I can see the appeal in having this type of technology in a phone, especially because some parts of it are being used to try and better how we use our phones; but I also think it sounds flawed. I have read that if you’re using a Moto X while traveling at high speeds, as if you were in a car, you wouldn’t be able to text anybody. This is great if you’re driving; not so great if you’re a passenger and need to shoot somebody a text for whatever reason. I guess that would be about the time that you’d have to dust off the old dialer pad and learn how to make a phone call again. It’s also my understanding that the phone does a lot of “predicting” when it comes to how you handle the phone. If you hold the phone out because you’re getting ready to watch a YouTube video, the camera might pop up. Well, thanks Moto X, but I really just wanted to watch this YouTube video in landscape mode, but I guess I could take a picture while we’re here.

I think that’s weird.

I just don’t think I could handle a device that tries to do everything for me. Granted, this is just speculation at this point considering we only have limited information on what this phone can really do. Until we know for sure, I’m going to remain skeptical of the device. Actually, I think the term I’m looking for is ‘nervous’. Maybe I just don’t understand how this technology works because I haven’t seen it before. I suppose only time will tell what this mysterious device will really entail. One thing is for sure – Motorola sure does know how to keep a person intrigued about a device that we know nearly nothing about.

Readers, what are your thoughts on rumors and speculation of Moto X so far? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below!


I want quick reply notifications to be a future standard

Jul 4th 2013, 09:35


Do you remember iOS’s old notifications? The ones that would pop up right there in the center of your display, interrupting just about everything else that may have been going on at the time? They were heralded as some of the worst notifications back then, and thankfully Apple switched them around to some small toast notifications that pop up at the top of the display. It’s less aggressive and in-your-face, and that’s just a big spoonful of winning right there.

Of course, it’s not all that new. Windows Phone has the same toast notification style, and they’ve had it right from the get go. The main difference, and probably the best difference? You can swipe away toast notifications in Windows Phone, just to make sure they’re out of the way completely while you’re doing other things. You can’t *technically* swipe notifications away in iOS 6 (or iOS 7 — just throwing that out there), but you can *trick* the notification away. Just swipe Notification Center down a bit while the toast is up there, and then swipe it back up. There. Notification gone.

I’m going to talk about Apple’s desktop OS right now, just for a second, because it’s relevant. When the Cupertino-based company unveiled their newest version of the operating system, Mavericks, during their Worldwide Developers Conference in June, they showed “quick reply” notifications. As you can guess from the name, it gives the ability to easily reply to some notifications, like iMessage, right from the notification that pops up at the right of the display. It’s easy, quick, and one of those features that should have been implemented right from the beginning.

And it’s a feature that is apparently still missing from iOS, despite the relative similarities between Mac OS X and Apple’s mobile platform. (They’re definitely trying to bridge the two, in certain areas.) One of those areas should be that quick reply notification. It’s a great feature in Mavericks, and it’s a good way to make iOS 7 benefit.

Especially when you look at Android, and the fact that there are quickly reply options within the notification shade, courtesy of certain apps. Replying to emails is quick and painless, if you have the desire to reply to an email from the notification shade, I guess.

And now, BlackBerry 10 has them! Well, they’re going to get them, according to leaks. We’ve already seen some of what BlackBerry 10.2 is going to bring to the new fleet of BlackBerry-branded hardware, but this latest leak has me very interested in the way that the company is handling notifications. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished I’d been able to just reply to a text right from the home screen, without digging into the text message app, or even the text message itself.

It’s just an unnecessary step these days.

A quick reply won’t be the prime response every time, but it’s at least a good option to have. Mix that with the ability to discard a notification with the swipe of your finger, and you’re  working on the best of both worlds. You’ve got the perfect notification, in my eyes.

Though, I will admit that the notification shade, and that notification bar at the top of an Android display, is still some strong work in the notification department. It’s small and out of the way, but provides just enough information if you have the right settings turned on. It’s good stuff.

I just want to say that quick reply notifications, ranging from email to text messages to whatever else might need it, is a feature that should be standard in today’s smartphone world. I shouldn’t be craving it from every platform — I should just have it.

Do you agree? Would you love more quick reply notification options in other platforms? If you have a BlackBerry 10 device, are you looking forward to the new feature being added to 10.2? Would you like to see Windows Phone, iOS, and other platforms integrate the feature? Let me know!



Happy 4th of July, Independence Day from Seattle, WA


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Have a Safe and Fun 4th of July!

Declare your Independence Today from the Normal Rat Race of the same old things!Upgrade your Future Today!

Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the National Day of the United States.

Why has Seattle had so much Prosperity? It started with Small Business

What constitutes a small business varies widely around the world. Small businesses are normally privately owned corporations, partnerships, or sole proprietorships. What constitutes “small” in terms of government support and tax policy varies by country and by industry, ranging from fewer than 15 employees under the Australian Fair Work Act 2009, 50 employees according to the definition used by the European Union, and fewer than 500 employees to qualify for many U.S. Small Business Administration programs, although in 2006 there were over 18,000 “small businesses” with over 500 employees that accounted for half of all the employees employed by all “small business”. Small businesses can also be classified according to other methods such as sales, assets, or net profits.

Two New Businesses that are going to thrive in Washington State!


High Tech Training and Marketing

Join us in Seattle and blow you Future out of the Water! See what the Ladies are doing!

Have a Great 4th of July!

AT&T’s Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 receiving Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update


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AT&T’s Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 receiving Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update

Jun 27th 2013, 15:45

AT&T Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 SGH-I497

After launching in late 2012 with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in tow, AT&T’s version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is now receiving an update to Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. AT&T announced the good news on its official Consumer Blog, saying that the update will begin rolling out to users today, June 27. The update is available through Samsung’s Kies computer software. Once installed, Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 owners can expect the following improvements:

  • Customizable widgets
  • Improved text input and spell-checking
  • New dictionaries for better error correction and word suggestion
  • Enhanced web browsing and personalization capability
  • Improved email management
  • New technology for better security options
  • Google Now with enhanced voice activation

Samsung does note that the update will reset the Tab 2 10.1’s home screen setup as well as its application menu sorting, so that’s something to keep in mind. Still, moving from Android 4.0 to Android 4.1.2 is a pretty big step that brings with it quite a few improvements and new features, and so having to reorganize the Tab 2 10.1’s home screen and apps list shouldn’t prevent any users from installing this new update. Full instructions on how to download and install the update can be found right here.

Via AT&T Consumer Blog, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 update

Apple’s request to add Galaxy S 4 to Samsung lawsuit denied by judge

Jun 27th 2013, 15:20

Samsung Galaxy S 4

Last month, it was revealed that Apple wanted to add the Galaxy S 4 to its patent infringement lawsuit against Samsung, much to the surprise of no one. It looks like Apple won’t get the opportunity to do so, though, as Judge Paul S. Grewal has denied Apple’s request to add Samsung’s new flagship to its complaint.

In a recent court filing, Judge Grewal explained his decision by pointing to Judge Lucy Koh’s instructions about the management of this case. Judge Koh previously told Apple that it needed to reduce the number of Samsung products that it’s targeting, which is currently sitting at 22. Apple had intended to replace one of those devices with the Galaxy S 4, but apparently that wasn’t acceptable.

The judge went on to say that adding another product to this suit would be a “tax on the court’s resources” and that every time Apple and Samsung meet in court, “they consume considerable amounts of the court’s time and energy, which takes time way from other parties who also require and are entitled to the court’s attention.” Finally, Grewal noted that Apple is likely to file a new case against Samsung so that it can reassert some products that it had to drop from this case, so it will have a chance to target the Galaxy S 4 anyway.

We’ll just have to wait and see whether or not Apple does end up filing a new complaint against Samsung, but given the history between these two firms, it certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Until then, Apple will have to settle for targeting devices like the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II in this ongoing case, which is scheduled to go to trial in spring 2014.

Via Bloomberg, FOSS Patents

Verizon’s 4G LTE network now available in 500 markets

Jun 27th 2013, 14:10

Verizon 4G LTE

Nine months after lighting up its 400th LTE market, Verizon is celebrating another 4G milestone today. The big red carrier has announced that its LTE network is now available in 500 markets in 49 states, with an official launch in Alaska slated for July. The 500th market to be covered by Verizon’s LTE service is Parkersburg, W.Va., and Verizon says that its LTE rollout is “substantially complete.” Verizon went on to share some data about its LTE network, saying that that the service is available to over 99 percent of its 3G footprint and more than 95 percent of the U.S. population, adding that 57 percent of its total network traffic goes over its LTE network.

Verizon originally flipped the switch on its 4G LTE network back in December 2010, activating the service in 38 markets and 60 airports. Since then, the operator has steadily been expanding that footprint, and today Verizon has the largest LTE network of any U.S. carrier. The news that Verizon’s LTE service is now available in 500 markets is pretty great to hear if you’re already one of its customers, and the fact that Verizon has spread LTE coverage to 500 markets in around two and a half years is a stat that it can be proud of.

Looking forward, Verizon CTO Nicola Palmer told The Verge that her carrier plans to begin deploying Voice over LTE (VoLTE) service in 2014, which is at the latter half of a previous estimate that the carrier had given. The good news is that, once the rollout begins, Verizon says that it’ll go quickly. Palmer also said that although Verizon’s LTE network is mostly complete, the operator doesn’t plan on offering LTE-only handsets until the end of 2014. Verizon then plans to begin refarming its 3G network and utilizing the spectrum for its LTE network sometime in 2015.

Via Verizon Wireless (1), (2), The Verge

G’zOne Commando 4G LTE to Verizon Wireless

Jun 27th 2013, 13:10

Made official two days ago, Casio’s G’zOne Commando 4G LTE is now available at Verizon Wireless.

Released – Thursday June 27, 2013
Carrier: Verizon Wireless
Regular Price: $479.99
Phone Price: $99.99 New 2YR activation required
Hot Features: Ruggedized, 8MP camera, 1.3MP front-facing camera, WiFi, 4G LTE capable

Glamor Red HTC One makes its official debut

Jun 27th 2013, 12:35

Glamor Red HTC One official

Remember that red HTC One that briefly appeared on HTC’s websites after the company first revealed its new flagship? It’s back again today, and this time it’s official. HTC this morning announced a “Glamor Red” version of the HTC One, which is the similar to the existing Glacial Silver and Stealth Black models but with a brighter, more attention-grabbing outfit. This red HTC One will be available at U.K. retailer Phones4u starting in mid-July.

This is the second new HTC One model that we’ve seen in as many days, coming hot on the heels of the launch of the Google Play edition HTC One. Unfortunately for U.S. consumers that would rather have a bright red One over a vanilla Android-powered One, HTC hasn’t said when or if this Glamor Red will be making its way across the Atlantic. Stay tuned and I’ll update if you if that changes. Until then, you can find me over in that corner, researching U.K. to U.S. shipping rates.


LONDON, June 27, 2013 — HTC, a global leader in mobile innovation and design, today announces that the award-winning HTC One will be available in a distinctive, new colour. Available exclusively to customers of Phones 4u from mid-July, the new HTC One in Glamour Red packs the blistering performance and premium features that have garnered global acclaim since its launch earlier this year, into a body that makes a striking yet sophisticated statement.

Philip Blair, President of EMEA, HTC, commented, “We have always been committed to offering consumers the flexibility to share their personalities through their choice of mobile phone, whether through colour, customisation or features. The new HTC One in Glamour Red showcases the power of our flagship model in a colour that demands attention, whilst maintaining the high standards set for sophisticated design and build quality.”

Sitting at the top of HTC’s portfolio, the HTC One combines the latest in mobile innovation and design to offer the company’s most powerful experience to date. BlinkFeed aggregates multiple feeds from selected news sources, social networks and other in-phone features like the calendar or HTC Sense TV to create a customisable, real-time stream of relevant information direct to the home screen. HTC revolutionised photography with the introduction of the UltraPixel camera, for superior images in low light, and HTC Zoe, allowing you to capture the moment, not just a split-second snapshot. BoomSound brings your music to life with front-facing speakers and Beats Audio™ optimisation, placing you at the heart of the action, whether listening to music, playing a game or watching a movie on the stunning, 4.7”, Full HD screen.

Since its launch, the HTC One has attracted a host of editorial and industry awards which recognise its superior performance and benchmark design. Highlights include the GSMA’s Global Mobile Award for Best New Mobile Device or Tablet at Mobile World Congress 2013 and Computex Taipei’s Gold Medal in Design and Innovation.

Via Android Central

Would you buy a BlackBerry flavored phablet?

Jun 26th 2013, 16:50

It has been suggested that blackberries are at their best when they’re plump, juicy, and ripe. If you pick a blackberry before they’re ripe and try to eat it, it will still be a blackberry, but you might not like it as much as the fully ripened blackberries you’ll find later in the year. It’s much the same as if you picked a BlackBerry earlier this year, it’s still a BlackBerry, but you might not find it to be as sweet as the larger BlackBerry device that’s rumored to arrive later on during Q4 this year: the BlackBerry A10. That is, if you’re into larger devices.

Although nothing has been confirmed, rumors are ramping up about the mysterious phablet that’s supposed to be the successor to BlackBerry’s flagship BlackBerry 10 device, the Z10. The device is expected to have a 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm processor and a 5″ super AMOLED display. Sources say that the purpose of the A10 is to compete with other popular phablets like the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and the HTC One, but in my opinion the A10 has a lot of odds to overcome when it comes to being in direct competition with either of those devices.

The first road block that comes to mind when it comes to the A10’s potential success is timing: the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is supposed to debut sometime in late summer, the next generation iPhone is likely to launch at the very end of Q3, and the next Galaxy Note device is expected to follow shortly after at the start of Q4 if the last two years have held any indication. And, since we’re already talking about rumors, we might as well throw in the HTC “T6”, “One Max”, whatever you want to call it – the big(ger) HTC flagship device. With other popular phablet choices likely to appear in the market, can the BlackBerry A10 really stand a chance?

Even if you take specifications out of the equation, the BlackBerry App World still has much to be desired. Fortunately, you have the ability to sideload Android applications if you want to. Further still, the future release of BlackBerry 10.2 will also bring support for Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) applications, as oppose to the 2.3 (Gingerbread) applications it supports now. This update may encourage more developers to convert their Android applications to BlackBerry OS, which could be a huge bonus if released around the same time as this rumored phablet.

I can’t really compare specifications too much given that we only have the processor and the size of the screen at this point, and even those are subject to change. Since we’re on the subject of screen sizes, however, we might as well talk about it. I have to hand it to BlackBerry for trying to cater to all markets. Even though 5″ is the smallest a device can be in order to fit the Wikipedia definition of a “phablet”, it’s still a phablet nonetheless. The Z10 was a surprise from the company that specialized in phones with QWERTY keyboards, but the Q10 was a great way to keep the people who stuck around BlackBerry simply because of the physical keyboard. The BlackBerry Q5, which was announced shortly after the announcement of the Q10, is a great cheap alternative to other BlackBerry 10 devices for anyone not living in North America. So really, the only category of people they hadn’t catered to was the phablet phans… I mean fans. They might not be the most popular brand in town, but gosh darn it if they aren’t just the sweetest country peaches for wanting to make everybody happy when it comes to device design!

When it all boils down to the main question, I don’t think that the A10 will be saving grace for BlackBerry. I think we can all agree that in order for BlackBerry to truly catch up to the popularity of the likes of the Galaxy S 4 and the HTC One, BlackBerry is going to need more tricks up their sleeve than that. That being said, I think adding a phablet to their lineup can only help them in this day and age when phablets seem to be taking over.

Readers, what do you think? Have you been waiting for a phablet-sized BlackBerry, or is something else holding you back? Tell me your opinions in the comments below!

Images via MobileSyrup, Crackberry

T-Mobile roadmap leak tips July 17 launch for both Nokia Lumia 925 and Sony Xperia Z

Jun 26th 2013, 11:50

T-Mobile Nokia Lumia 925, Sony Xperia Z roadmap leak

With both the Nokia Lumia 925 and Sony Xperia Z officially headed for T-Mobile, customers of the big magenta carrier will soon have two new high-profile devices to choose from. The only problem is that we don’t know exactly how soon that’ll be, because T-Mobile hasn’t announced the launch date of either handset. Thankfully, our pals at TmoNews have saved the day by leaking a T-Mobile roadmap that contains possible availability information for both products.

According to the leaked roadmap, both the Lumia 925 and Xperia Z are due out on Wednesday, July 17. Today’s report also mentions that the Lumia 925 may be priced at $99.99 down, with 24 monthly payments of $20 each and a full retail price of $579. There’s also a mention of a “T-Mobile 768” that’s slated to launch on July 17 alongside the Lumia 925 and Xperia Z, and while it’s not yet clear exactly what the 768 is, it’s said that the mysterious product could be a prepaid device from Huawei or ZTE.

In addition to the Lumia 925 and Xperia Z release dates, this leaked roadmap mentions that a “major EIT release” is set for Sunday, July 14. It’s unclear just what this is, but TmoNews speculates that it could be the launch of T-Mobile’s new Simple Choice plan that requires no credit check.

Since the information contained within this leak hasn’t been confirmed by T-Mobile, any of you Magenta customers that are excited for the Lumia 925 or Xperia Z will probably want to use a pencil to circle July 17 on your calendar. However, it wouldn’t be a shock to see both handsets arrive so soon; the Lumia 925 is already making its way across Europe, and T-Mobile recently said that the Xperia Z is due sometime “in the coming weeks,” suggesting that its launch will go down sooner rather than later. I’ll give you a shout once we hear more. To help pass the time until then, you can check out Aaron’s hands-on with the T-Mobile-flavored Lumia 925, which is embedded below.

{Widget type=”youtube” id=”k7e3wlYglZI”}

Via TmoNews

Black HTC One Video Review and Gallery

Jun 26th 2013, 10:15

While it was announced at the same time as the silver model, supply constraints kept the black HTC One off of store shelves until recently.  Shown off at Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona and available on AT&T and Sprint, the black HTC One is beautiful and brings a different look to a very popular Android smartphone.  The spine is now a dark grey color, and the two-toned nature is toned down (no pun intended).

As a recap, the HTC One packs a 1.7 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 CPU, 4.7-inch 1080p HD display, 4-ultrapixel camera with 1080p HD recording, 2 GB of RAM, 2,300 mAh battery, and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with HTC Sense 5.  It’s available at AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, with upcoming availability on Verizon Wireless.

In addition to the video, take a look at the full gallery below!

View video here

Dish Network officially withdraws its Clearwire offer

Jun 26th 2013, 09:35

Dish Network logo

And just like that, it appears that the Sprint-Clearwire-Dish Network drama may have finally come to an end. Dish has announced that it has withdrawn its offer to acquire Clearwire for $4.40 per share, a bid that it made in late May. The company doesn’t offer much more detail than that, saying only that Clearwire’s recent decision to back Sprint’s $5.00 per share bid was one of the reasons behind its decision.

Dish originally entered this fray way back in January, surprising many in the wireless industry by making a bid to acquire Clearwire shortly after the company had already entered into an agreement to be bought by Sprint. Dish have been involved in a bidding war for Clearwire ever since, but it appears that Sprint’s offer of $5.00 per share and Clearwire’s decision to back that bid has finally convinced Dish to bow out. Sprint is currently involved in a deal that’ll see Japanese carrier SoftBank acquire a large stake in it, and this Clearwire deal plays a large role in Sprint’s SoftBank deal.

Dish has been working to find a way to enter the mobile space ever since it gained approval from the FCC to use its satellite spectrum for a wireless network. The company seemed determined to snap up either Sprint or Clearwire, putting in multiple bids for the two companies, but now Dish is out of the running for both. Dish hasn’t said what its future plans are, but previous rumors claimed that the company spoke with Deutsche Telekom about possibly merging with T-Mobile US, so Dish may not be done with wireless quite yet.

Via Dish Network

Is a ‘Pure Google’ experience worth the extra money to you?

Jun 26th 2013, 09:25

Reviews are in, and most folks think the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One Google Editions are pretty sweet. Most reviewers have reiterated the way they feel about the hardware, which is the biggest differences with these Google devices, and tend to lean toward the HTC One. That was expected since that’s what they all said in their reviews, including me. Moreover, many reviewers feel like the Google Editions of the Galaxy S4 and HTC One are liberating, namely because they were free of those pesky custom UIs. But here’s my question: Is being free from custom interfaces and getting early access to Android updates worth the extra cash?

The Samsung Galaxy S4 will cost you $649, and the HTC One $599. They’ll be unlocked, free of TouchWiz UI and Sense 5, and will get updates as soon as Google makes them available to its Nexus and Google Edition devices. But is it really worth that much to you? For the freedoms you gain, you’ll be paying more than double for the hardware itself. And as much as I dislike custom UIs sometimes, you’ll also be losing out on a number of features.

I’m not the biggest fan of TouchWiz, but some people might love its widgets and the camera features in the Galaxy S4. DramaShot and Dual Shot and other Samsung gimmicks are actually selling points for some people. For the HTC One, you may love BlinkFeed or HTC’s own camera tricks and overall UI design. So if you’re thinking of ponying up the cash to buy the Google Edition of either of these Android devices, consider the trade-offs.

For many of you, it’s going to be a no-brainer. You love the hardware, but you hate the software. You love the Google experience. Perhaps you’ve already forked over the money and are just waiting on the devices to come in. If that describes you perfectly, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments and why you decided to spend the extra cash just to have the device free from the shackles of carriers and manufacturers. Many of you have been pining for the Galaxy S4 or the HTC One in a Nexus-style version, and your wishes have been answered.

Just the other day, I wrote about why the HTC One kept me from going back to the iPhone 5. I actually like Sense 5, though I think it needs some work, and the camera software and features are excellent. On the other hand, I loved the Nexus 4 when I had it for review, except the battery life, and I wouldn’t mind having a “pure” Google Android experience on the HTC One. The hardware is beautiful, and that makes up for half the overall experience of owning the device. But again, I can’t imagine paying $600 for the phone just to be off contract and not have to look at BlinkFeed every now and then. I’m not so antsy for infrequent Android updates that I feel like I’ve been left in the dust when Nexus devices get a small handful of new features.

I also feel like the phones themselves have a kind of soul. I mean, they’re lifeless slabs of metal and glass and plastic (or mostly plastic, in Samsung’s case), but they do have a bit of personality to them. Part of that personality is defined by TouchWiz or Sense. Stripping the Galaxy S4 or the HTC One of those things is like stripping away a part of its soul. With stock or pure Android, or whatever you want to call and argue it, would it still be a Galaxy S4 or HTC One? Is it the hardware or the software that gives a device its identity? If you were to load iOS onto an HTC One, is it still an HTC One?

Let me know what you think, and how you feel about the cost/benefit relationship with these Google Edition devices.

LG Optimus G Pro Challenge, Day 1: LG is back

Jun 26th 2013, 09:20

When it comes to Android, Samsung and HTC dominate the headlines – and when it comes to the overall smartphone space, Apple and Samsung tend to receive most of the news.  While LG is a huge corporation on the scale of Samsung, the praise tends to end around their Android smartphones, as they haven’t had a huge presence in the US to date.

LG’s Optimus G Pro is the best LG handset I’ve used to date and is a top competitor to the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S 4, and Samsung Galaxy Note II.  I’m eager to see how the LG Optimus G Pro performs in day to day use.  The software is much-improved, and the specs under the hood are impressive to say the least.  That said, it’s lacking the S Pen for content creation – a feature that helped propel the Galaxy Note II to where it is now.  LG is back, but I’m curious to see whether they can get traction in today’s crowded smartphone space.

What features do YOU want to see covered during the 30 day challenge?  Let me know on Twitter @PhoneDog_Aaron!

View video here

NVIDIA SHIELD shipments delayed until July due to ‘mechanical issue’

Jun 26th 2013, 08:20

NVIDIA SHIELD open Android 4.2 home screen

Last week we got the good news that NVIDIA’s SHIELD gaming handheld was receiving a price cut to $299 and was slated to launch on June 27, but today we’ve gotten a bit of bad news to balance that out. NVIDIA just announced that shipments of the SHIELD have been delayed into July so that the company can address a “mechanical issue” that was discovered during the final testing of the device. The Tegra-maker hasn’t provided much information about exactly what the problem is, but it does say that it relates to a third-party component and that it’s working with that supplier to get that part improved.

As for a new ship date, NVIDIA has only said that the SHIELD is now expected to ship out in July, but it promises to share a precise date next month. The news is definitely a bummer for anyone that’s been eagerly awaiting the arrival of their Android 4.2-powered SHIELD, especially because it comes less than a week after the handheld’s price cut and just a day before the SHIELD’s former launch date. It’s not clear exactly how far into July this delay will take the SHIELD’s launch, but with July just a few days away at this point, at least the delay shouldn’t take more than a month. Have any of you pre-ordered an NVIDIA SHIELD?


Why I decided to roll back to iOS 6

Jun 26th 2013, 08:00

It’s been a little over two weeks since Apple’s WWDC kicked off. Here we heard about the much rumored iOS 7, and shortly thereafter several of us here at PhoneDog decided to toy with the beta release of the updated software. My initial impressions of iOS 7 were mostly positive, with a follow-up article of things I would have changed. After two weeks of using iOS 7, I’ve actually decided to roll back to iOS 6.

My phone was really bad at handling iOS 7. I’m 112% positive it has something to do with it being in beta, and those things were expected. However, after consulting with a couple of sources who were also testing iOS 7 using the iPhone 5, I found that none of them were having as much trouble as I was with force closes, battery issues, and random reboots.

I mentioned in one of my articles before that I think iOS 7 is the software that will start to really show the iPhone 4S’s age. iOS 7 will likely be aimed for optimal performance on the next generation iPhone, which we expect to see in the fall, and with the 4S being two generations behind the new phone I can only assume it will follow in the footsteps of the iPhone 3GS (e.g., “Going, going, gone”). The phone will be able to support the update, but the main focus will be on making the most out of the iPhone 5, and more importantly, the iPhone that comes after that. On a side note, I can say that through my experience with phones that Apple has done the best job of keeping the iPhone afloat for the longest amount of time between upgrades. Although I still think manufacturers should keep phones relevant for longer, I have found that Apple’s few and far in between releases is what help keep the devices relevant for longer than most other devices.

But more importantly, aside from the bugginess, I think I realized that the changes in iOS 7 weren’t that captivating. A lot of people have grown tired of the design on the “old” iOS, but personally (and especially after experiencing iOS 7 personally) I prefer the old design. I find it to be more alluring. I agree that there were some design aesthetics that were due for a change (for example, I absolutely despise the denim background for the notification center) but I find the entire redesign of iOS 7 to be a little too minimalist in some areas. The text seems a little harder to read, and I’ve also noticed that even though the stock icons have changed to be more simplified, you still have most of the 800,000+ apps in the app store that need to redesign their app icons to fit that minimalistic theme since most of them have created their icons to have a more complex design. The way the two designs clash on screen is pretty noticeable to me.

There are some really cool features about iOS 7 that I enjoyed. I mean, animated wallpapers have been around since flip phones were big, so it shouldn’t be anything to ooh or ahh about – didn’t stop me from getting excited about it anyway. I thought the parallax effect was pretty neat, because even the “still” wallpapers still seemed to be lively with phone movement. Also, since going back to iOS 6 I find that I still try to swipe up for control center settings. I especially miss my included flashlight. It was also easy to adjust to some of the new gesture-based features of the redesign, which was nice.

I’ve mentioned that it looked like iOS 7 took a step backwards in time when it comes to design, and I still feel this way. If I hadn’t seen either version of iOS and you placed two phones in front of me, one running on iOS 7 and the other running on iOS 6, I would have probably guessed that iOS 7 was some sort of pre-release design and iOS 6 was a final version (strictly speaking design-wise). The subtle shadows underneath the icons and text, and the slight glare that most applications used on their icons just make it look more advanced compared to iOS 7.

There was a lot that I enjoyed about the changes in iOS 7, and I suspect I would have enjoyed it more if I had a device that handled it better. I also realize that I was late to the iOS party – the first iOS device was released in 2007, but with me being primarily a Sprint customer (and for a short while, T-Mobile) my first real hands-on experience with an iPhone was fairly recent, in 2011. Since not even two years has passed since I was first introduced to the device, I think that I’m still not quite as tired of the design as people who have been using the design for about 6 years by this point. I get bored with it because I’ve had the phone for so long, but I also realize that this happens with just about every phone I have. And, as Marc pointed out recently, there are ways to renew interest in your phone once you grow bored of it.

I don’t think iOS 7 is a bad design; in fact, I think a lot of people are surprised by how much they enjoy it. I was even surprised by how much I didn’t despise it. Regardless, I still don’t really like it. The euphoria of having it on my device has worn off, and with each passing day I began missing iOS 6 even more. So, in the end, I’ve decided to roll back to iOS 6 – at least for now. I am still interested in seeing the changes that iOS 7 makes through its various beta stages until its launch; it will be interesting to see what the final product will be like.

Readers, what have your thoughts on iOS 7 been since its official announcement? Do you prefer the design of iOS 6 or 7 more? Whatever the case may be, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below!

Features user review Samsung Galaxy Note II 6-26-13

Jun 26th 2013, 06:51

HUMP DAY!  (Sorry, but that giraffe is funny!)   Today we feature a user review for the Samsung Galaxy Note II.  A device that has maintained a top three status for months now!

“Its a beast!”  By AKILESH YAMSANI on June 19, 2013

Used the phone for couple of months and I am completely impressed with it, the screen is a beast and I just love watching videos on the HD screen. Battery life is about a day. There are a couple of things you should be careful of, one, its huge size, second, its fragile screen, I broke my front glass with a 4 ft drop.

Display 5/5
Battery Life 4/5
Apps & Media Support 5/5
Reception & Call Quality 5/5
Design/Form Factor 4/5

Overall 4.6

Official Smartphone Rankings™, vote now then leave a review.

Did you pick up the Samsung Galaxy Note II?  Tell us about it here.

HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S 4 Google Play editions now available

Jun 26th 2013, 06:10

HTC One Google Play edition official

The day that many Android fans have been waiting for is finally here. Google is now accepting pre-orders for the “Google Pay edition” versions of both the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S 4 through its online Play Store, with pricing set at $599 and $649, respectively. Orders of both devices are expected to ship “by July 9.” The two phones come preloaded with vanilla Android Jelly Bean, meaning that they don’t feature the custom HTC and Samsung overlays that their regular counterparts do. While they’re not officially branded as “Nexus” phones, the phones will offer a Nexus user experience that includes timely Android software updates.

Besides the lack of custom manufacturer software, these Google Play editions HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S 4 are fairly similar to the models that have been on sale for months now. The HTC One comes with 32GB of built-in storage, while the Galaxy S 4 features 16GB of included memory along with a microSD card slot for additional space. Both devices work with AT&T and T-Mobile’s LTE networks and are also SIM-unlocked and bootloader-unlockable.

To date, Google has offered four Nexus phones with stock Android and speedy updates, but many consumers still want the option of buying other high-end Android phones that run the plain version of Android. Now HTC, Samsung and Google are teaming up to offer just that. They may not be cheap, but it’s good to see that the folks that’ve been clamoring for vanilla Android versions of the One and Galaxy S 4 can finally buy exactly that. Now we just have to wait for the two devices to begin shipping to consumers so that we can see how they perform without their custom Sense and TouchWiz overlays. Are you buying a Google Play edition HTC One or Samsung Galaxy S 4?

Via Google Play: HTC One Google Play edition, Samsung Galaxy S 4 Google Play edition

Samsung Galaxy S 4 Google Play edition

Winner of the Splash into Summer Giveaway

Jun 25th 2013, 11:25

A. Tandiama Congratulations to R. McCallum of AL on being our Splash into Summer Giveaway winner!   His vote in last week’s Official Smartphone Rankings got him entered into the giveaway and a spot into the drawing held live Tuesday June 25, 2013 for a brand new HTC One (AT&T) courtesy of Best Buy Mobile.  ” Keep it up Sony/Apple/HTC/Samsung/LG/Moto… the more ya’ll fight, the better it is for us, the consumers!  The HTC One is amazing. I can’t wait to get mine! Thank You Phonedog team.!”

Latest prototype iPhone 5S images suggest presence of A7 chip, offer closer look at dual-LED flash


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Latest prototype iPhone 5S images suggest presence of A7 chip, offer closer look at dual-LED flash

Jun 24th 2013, 17:30

iPhone 5S prototype, iPhone 5 leak

Just a few days after images of a purported iPhone 5S prototype found their way online, the device is back again in some new, clearer photos. The shots come to us from MacRumors, the same source as the first batch of photos. After examining the parts found within this iPhone 5S prototype (shown above left, with an iPhone 5 sitting to the right), it’s been discovered that the processor found in the device is labeled as an “APL0698,” which leads the site to suggest that it could be a new Apple A7 processor. The A6 chip found in the iPhone 5 is known by the model number APL0598.

In addition to possibly identifying itself as an A7, the processor’s markings show that it could be packing 1GB of RAM, the same amount found in the iPhone 5. Finally, MacRumors says that this prototype unit was assembled in December 2012.

Another photo contained in today’s leak offers a much closer look at the iPhone 5S’s dual-LED flash. Interestingly, the two LEDs appear to be differently-colored, with the top LED appearing to be a normal white color while the bottom LED looks to be more of an amber color.

Apple’s next iPhone is expected to look fairly similar to the iPhone 5, including a backside with an aluminum panel and two small glass panels on its top and bottom. The inside of the unit is likely where the iPhone 5S will differ from the 5. Along with today’s report of a new Apple A7 processor, previous rumors have suggested that the next iPhone could also sport an upgraded camera and flash, which could turn out to the dual-LED flash shown in this latest leak. We’ll have to wait until Apple actually makes its next iPhone official before we’ll know exactly how many of these changes make it into the new model, but it appears as though we may be starting to get some answers to the questions surrounding the upcoming device.

iPhone 5S Apple A7, dual-LED flash

Via MacRumors

Facebook rumored to be working on mobile news reading service

Jun 24th 2013, 17:05

HTC First Facebook logo

Facebook has made quite a few major mobile moves recently, including dropping $1 billion for photo-sharing service Instagram and releasing a new Android launcher known as Facebook Home.  Exactly what Facebook’s next major product launch will be is a mystery for now, but if a new report is to be believed, one possibility is a mobile new reading application.

Sources speaking to The Wall Street Journal claim that Facebook is working on a service known internally as “Reader” that collects news content from users and publishers and displays it in a mobile-friendly format. The project has reportedly been in the works for over a year at this point, and the current iterations are said to resemble existing mobile app Flipboard. The goal of Reader, the WSJ’s sources claim, is to get users to spend more time with Facebook on their smartphones and tablets and encourage them to get deeper into its content rather than simply skimming the News Feed.

One of the tipsters that contributed to this report says that Facebook’s mobile users typically spend only a few minutes inside the company’s apps, and so it’s no surprise that Facebook wants to get those folks to spend more time in its apps and view more ads. A news reader-type of service could do just that, getting users more engrossed in Facebook’s content with a new Flipboard-style format and keeping them inside of Facebook’s apps for an extended period of time.

Unfortunately, there’s no word yet on when or if Facebook’s Reader service might actually launch to the public, so for now we’ll just have to speculate about the project and wait for more details to leak out. Does Facebook Reader sound like a service that you would use?

Via The Wall Street Journal

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 family launching in the U.S. on July 7, available in white and gold brown

Jun 24th 2013, 14:40

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0, Galaxy Tab 8.0 gold brown

Hours after a new brown/black version of the Galaxy Note 8.0 began appearing at online retailers, Samsung has spilled the beans on the availability of some of its other Android-powered tablets. The company announced this morning that the Galaxy Tab 3 7.0, Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 and Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 will launch in the U.S. on July 7, with pre-orders slated to begin on June 25 at retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy, Newegg, Office Depot, Sears and Walmart. Each model will be available in both white and gold brown colors. The spec rundowns for the three tablets looks like this:

  • Galaxy Tab 3 7.0: $199 price tag, 7-inch 1024×600 display, 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 3-megapixel rear and 1.3-megapixel front cameras, microSD card slot and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
  • Galaxy Tab 3 8.0: $299 price tag, 8-inch 1280×800 screen, 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 5-megapixel rear and 1.3-megapixel front cameras, microSD card slot, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
  • Galaxy Tab 3 10.1: $399 price tag, 10.1-inch 1280×800 display, 1.6GHz dual-core processor (an Intel Atom Z2560), 3-megapixel rear and 1.3-megapixel front cameras, microSD card support and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

In addition to those features, Samsung says that its new Galaxy Tab 3 models will include a $10 Google Play voucher, a free year of Boingo hotspot service, three months of free Hulu Plus access and two years of access to 50GB of free Dropbox storage.

Samsung has kept a steady flow of Android tablets on the market ever since the original Galaxy Tab debuted in 2010, and these new Galaxy Tab 3 models are the latest members of that family. While it doesn’t look like any of them will blow a user’s hair back their raw specs, the new Tab 3 slates look like respectable hardware that could be worth considering for someone shopping for an affordable tablet. The fact that they come preloaded with Jelly Bean is a big plus, especially when it comes to the Tab 3 8.0 and Tab 3 10.1, both of which run the latest version of Android. A high-res gallery of the Galaxy Tab 3 models donning their new gold brown duds is below.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 Gold Brown

Via Samsung

I want a glove phone

Jun 24th 2013, 14:20

One of the things I remember distinctly from earlier this year, was the big focus everyone was supposed to have on wearable technology. And by everyone, I mean the big companies like Apple and Samsung, even Microsoft. Maybe LG, if memory serves. Didn’t Google’s name get thrown in there, too? In any event, way back at the beginning of the year you couldn’t go a day or two without hearing about one of them gearing up to launch their own version of a smart watch sooner rather than later.

A lot of those same reports suggested that those devices, in all of their wrist-adorning glory, would be announced at key events. Samsung’s UnPacked, or Apple’s WWDC. These events would be where they’d show off their own vision of the future, which many believe will indeed be accessorized with smart devices.

Alas, events have come and gone. Samsung has announced the Galaxy S 4, and just about thirteen (exaggeration, of course) different models of the device, but a smart watch was missing from the mix.

Apple, too. The Cupertino-based company came out on stage and launched a brand new version of iOS, and managed to rile up plenty of people in the process, but what they didn’t have was a smart watch. No new iOS-inspired device strapped to an executive’s wrist, harkening back to the iPod Nano days of yesteryear.

But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that these companies aren’t still working on those rumored devices. No, it doesn’t mean that at all.

In fact, if you’ll recall, a Samsung higher-up did indeed confirm that Samsung was working on a smart watch, and that the company was working “very hard” to prepare for the device. That was back when it was rumored Samsung would launch the Galaxy S 4 with a bundled watch, but that didn’t pan out.

So, here we are now, without smart watches from a bunch of companies that most of us probably wish had already developed one. The future inexorably marches towards us, though, and the wearable tech niche continues to expand.

And by expand, I mean new ideas are being developed, which could very well catch on if given enough attention.

Sean Miles has a design studio called Designworks located in Windsor, in the United Kingdom. Recently, he was approached by O2 Recycling, and asked to create something from discarded mobile phone equipment. The rules? That there were no rules. He was able to create whatever he wanted with what he was provided.

So, he created a glove. Not just any glove, though. A glove that is equipped with Bluetooth-connectivity, and works in conjunction with your smartphone to receive calls. You can put the glove to the side of your face, and talk to whoever’s on the other end of the line through your pinky, while you listen to the conversation through your thumb. You know, the same way that we all used to “talk on the phone” when we were kids.

Now, this glove phone isn’t a marketable device, at least not in the state that Miles created it. This was just a design experiment, and he was able to pass with flying colors. But the idea is there, and considering the focus on applying technology to more pieces of clothing, it seems like something in this vein wouldn’t be too far off.

But would it be something someone would want? There’s no denying that putting your hand up to the side of your face, and extending your pinky and thumb to your mouth and ear respectively looks a little odd, but add actually talking to your hand into the mix, and that is sure to offer up some rude stares.

Considering I love new and exciting technology, I’d be all over this. I actually like that it’s an accessory, even more so than something like Google Glass. This is something that you’d wear only in certain circumstances, instead of, say, your watch, or even a bracelet that tracks your health. A glove isn’t something you’d want to wear all day, every day. A Bluetooth-connected glove, which gives you the ability to answer calls, is truly an accessory, and one that can indeed help the user given the right circumstances.

But what do you think about the idea of a glove phone? Is that something you’d think about owning, or using? Could you see the idea taking off, and becoming a new staple in wearable tech? Or is this an idea that could never really find any purchase in the real world? Let me know what you think.

Images via BBC

Huawei MediaPad 7 Vogue packs quad-core chip, Android 4.1 and voice calling capabilities

Jun 24th 2013, 14:05

Huawei MediaPad 7 Vogue official

Remember the Huawei MediaPad 7 Vogue? This 7-inch aluminum Android slab first popped up on our radar way back in March thanks to a DLNA certification/leak combo that gave us a pretty good idea of what makes the MediaPad 7 Vogue tick. Today the Vogue has made its return to the news, but this time around it’s appearing in a much more official manner.

Huawei today announced its new MediaPad 7 Vogue, a device that the company promises has “the perfect mix of functions from a tablet, smartphone and entertainment center.” On the front of the MediaPad 7 Vogue is a 7-inch 1024×600 touchscreen and a 0.3-megapixel camera, and around back is a 3-megapixel shooter. Buried on the inside of the slate is a 1.2GHz quad-core Huawei K3V2, 1GB RAM, 8GB storage, microSD slot and 4,100mAh battery. The MediaPad 7 Vogue comes preinstalled with Android 4.1 and Huawei’s custom Emotion UI 1.5 software.

In addition to all of those tablet-y features, Huawei has opted to include a built-in receiver with its 7-inch slab. That means that the MediaPad 7 Vogue features support for voice calling, SMS and MMS functionality, just like you’d expect from a phone. The MediaPad 7 Vogue’s cellular functionality includes support for quad-band GSM and 900/2100MHz UMTS, and Huawei says that the device allows for 3G data connections of up to 42Mbps.

The aluminum unibody MediaPad 7 Vogue will be offered in both black and white varieties, with a Chinese launch planned for this month. Huawei is planning to roll the MediaPad 7 Vogue out to other markets later on, but the company hasn’t said exactly where the slate is headed. The MediaPad 7 Vogue itself looks like a respectable addition to Huawei’s MediaPad lineup, which has included the original MediaPad and the MediaPad 7 Lite, and the fact that it boasts calling and SMS capabilities mean that it could be an option for consumers that want to downsize their mobile load (and aren’t afraid to carry a 7-inch phone in the process).

Via The Next Web, Huawei

Brown/Black Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 appears at online retailers

Jun 23rd 2013, 15:05

Brown/black Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

Brown isn’t a color that we see very often in the mobile world, but Samsung has shown that it’s not afraid to crack open its can of brown paint and give fans of that hue some hardware of their own. Samsung is back again this weekend with another brown device, but unlike the Galaxy S III, Galaxy S 4 and Galaxy Note II, this one’s not just a straight-up brown color.

A new brown/black version of the Galaxy Note 8.0 has made its way onto the virtual shelves of retailers such as Best Buy, B&H and Buy Dig this evening. The device’s paint job is listed as “Brown/black” at Best Buy and “Black & Brown” at B&H, and in the renders posted on the retailers’ websites, the Note 8.0 looks to be a mixture of both colors. Pricing for this new Note 8.0 is set at $397.99 at BuyDig and $399.99 at both Best Buy and B&H. It’s also worth noting that, just like its white sibling, buyers of the brown/black Note 8.0 can receive a $25 Google Play credit by registering their new S Pen-equipped tablet with Samsung.

Considering Samsung’s history of re-releasing its existing products in new colors, it was more of a question of when, not if, the Galaxy Note 8.0 would arrive with a paint job other than the white one that it debuted in. Now we’ve got the answer to that question, and while I’ll have to wait to make any final judgments until I can see it in person, this new brown/black Note 8.0 looks pretty handsome in its official renders. What do you think of this new Note 8.0 color?

Via Android Police, Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0: Best Buy, B&H, Buy Dig

Do sideloaded Android apps give you hope for BlackBerry 10?

Jun 23rd 2013, 11:45

I’ve had a lot of ups and downs when it comes to BlackBerry 10. When it regarded the release of the renewed platform, even if it didn’t work out for the best I still commended BlackBerry’s efforts for not entirely giving up and giving BlackBerry a solid second shot. As it turns out, BlackBerry 10 really didn’t do so hot, which I then contributed in large part by the lack of mainstream applications available in the BlackBerry App World. Although BlackBerry once seemed to mainly tailor to the business aspect of smartphones, it seems with their new profile feature that they would actually like to cater to both business and personal usage (for things like entertainment) through applications. But to be frank, by the looks of it, it just may never happen for BlackBerry 10.

At least not coming from the actual companies behind such applications themselves.

Some companies just don’t seem interested in the forward movement with BlackBerry 10. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings even said himself that he’s never used a BlackBerry 10 device, and doesn’t see Netflix being officially available through BlackBerry 10 because, like many, he views BlackBerry 10 as good for business, not for entertainment. Then again, you have other companies like Instagram (Facebook) who intially didn’t plan for a BlackBerry 10 release but if the rumors are true, it might not be long before we see an official version of Instagram on BlackBerry 10 devices (which might be a good way to kill two birds with one stone, considering their new Vine-like addition in the future).

But even if you’re not willing to wait for official versions, there is another way to get these beloved apps onto your BlackBerry 10 device: sideloading Android apps!

I’m pretty late to jump on this bandwagon (in fact, so late that I imagine I couldn’t even be considered jumping on the bandwagon – more like running clumsily behind it) but you know what they say, “Better late than never!” Although I’m just discovering about this whole sideloading wizardry I’m actually pretty thrilled about it, despite the drawbacks that any user is likely to encounter when directly porting an app from one platform to a completely unrelated one.

I was happy to see that programs like Netflix and even Instagram were pretty steady apps to sideload into a BlackBerry 10 device, but of course it didn’t come without warnings of the occasional bug and hiccup. It seems that the majority of people who talk about the bugs agree that it doesn’t render the app useless, and as long as you can look past a hiccup here and there they’re perfectly functional apps. This bugginess is partly due in part to the differences between Android and BlackBerry 10 (being that BlackBerry 10 is very gesture-based), but it also has to do with the fact that BlackBerry 10 only supports Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) applications. Although Gingerbread was a big step up for Android, it’s also taken a few more steps since then to get to Jelly Bean, which fortunately BlackBerry 10.2 claims it will be able to support. Given how fast technology improves, starting off 2013 with a statement that your phones can support applications from a platform that was running said version over 2 years ago may not sound that appealing to many; but hey, it’s a start, and at least they’re willing to catch up.

I’ve been looking for reasons to get the BlackBerry Q10 simply because I still have a love for the little click sound and feel physical keyboards make. Yeah, virtual keyboards vibrate and make the ‘click’ sound but it’s just not the same as actually pressing a button down. I don’t know how to explain it without sounding crazy, but the bottom line is: I just really like physical keyboards. Unfortunately, with BlackBerry 10 I was deterred from wanting the reminiscent Q10 in the first place due to A.) lack of mainstream apps and B.) high price tags that, as our own Aaron Baker put it, could be used to get a smartphone with a lot more power and features. The sideloaded Android applications options can at least somewhat make up for what the official BlackBerry App World is missing, and there’s enough sales going on to lower the price of a pricey BlackBerry 10 device. The question now is: is it really worth it?

At the end of the day, the more I think about it, the more I think I could deal with BlackBerry 10 with sideloaded Android applications. Netflix has become the most used application on my phone next to the native messaging app, and with that available I think I could deal with any other challenges that come my way. It’s definitely another option to consider, if nothing else.

Readers, what are your thoughts on BlackBerry 10 and sideloaded apps? Is the option to add Android applications enough to renew your love for BlackBerry, or are the bugs and hiccups something you’d rather not deal with? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below!

Images via CrackBerry, Pocket-Lint

Are you a deal-hunter when it comes to buying smartphones?

Jun 23rd 2013, 10:15

Do smartphone deals or discounts matter to you when purchasing a new smartphone? Right now, AT&T, Walmart, RadioShack and Best Buy are all offering deals, discounts and trade-in options on smartphones. Many of those deals include the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5, both of which are quickly aging as far as the smartphone world is concerned. Are you going to take advantage of any of those deals, or are you more concerned with getting the latest and greatest devices? Is money no object when considering a new smartphone purchase?

In my first post for PhoneDog, I mentioned that I used to be an active member of the Howard Forums community — especially as far as buying and selling unlocked, imported devices were concerned. At the time, it didn’t matter to me whether my phone was two weeks old or two months old: I was always on the lookout for something new, something better. The problem with doing that, obviously, is that when you’re selling or trading, it still gets expensive. You’re often losing a little bit of money on each transaction because you could never sell a device for the price you paid for it, and then there were shipping costs. It was a pricey obsession.

I’ve even known some folks who took it beyond the buying, selling and trading online. Many of my tech-obsessed friends would often open second or third lines with their carriers, or new carriers, just to be able to nab a new handset without a single care about the price of a monthly data plan.

On the flip side, I have many friends who are using phones that make me cringe. I have a friend with an iPhone 3GS inside a big Otterbox case, and it has a cracked screen, too. In bars, restaurants, and in other public places, I often see phones that are antiquated by today’s standards (two years old or more). Those smartphone users clearly don’t care about rolling with all the bells and whistles that today’s smartphones have to offer, nor do they care about the latest Android or iOS versions.

Having been in this business for some time, I’ll often ask them what has prevented them from trading up. I understand that some folks don’t want to upgrade until they’re eligible with their carrier, but when you see an iPhone 3GS or a T-Mobile G2, you know they’ve been due for an upgrade for years. Here are some of the responses I’ll get:

  • “The phone works just fine, and the battery life is OK, so I see no reason to upgrade”
  • “New phones seem expensive, so I’m just going to keep using the one I have until it dies”
  • “I hardly use my phone, anyway, so buying a new one seems a little pointless”
  • “I’m just waiting on a really good deal when I’m ready to buy a new phone so I save some money”
  • “The sales rep told me that I can’t upgrade my phone without upgrading my plan and I don’t want to lose my unlimited data”

These are all legitimate reasons that keep people from upgrading, and I often wonder if we’d all be better off finding some kind of happy medium. Or perhaps it would be nicer if carriers and manufacturers gave us more incentive to upgrade so that we wouldn’t have to carry cracked smartphones with grandfathered unlimited data plans.

A few years ago, a website called Last Year’s Model launched with the goal of getting people to hang onto their gadgets a little longer, instead of upgrading often. The site says, “It’s totally normal to lust after the hottest new geeky gadgets. It’s also cool to put some into what we buy, and what we throw away. So this is a place to show the world that a lot of us are choosing to use Last Year’s Model.”

Of course, choosing to hang onto a perfectly working gadget over buying a new one for the sake of owning the latest model has obvious benefits. You’re saving money and you’re also saving the environment by creating less waste. You may also contribute to the better treatment of workers in other countries — the countries where your gadgets are made, the same gadgets that are too expensive to own for the people actually assembling them in factories. Hanging onto your shiny new gadget a little longer seems like a win/win situation then, right?

If you’re the type who just has to have a new smartphone every one to three months or so, would you consider hanging onto your device just a little longer and maybe finding new uses for it so you don’t get so bored? And if you’re the type who hangs onto smartphones for two or more years, you have my blessing to upgrade. New displays look so much better, greater app support will make you happy, faster performance makes life easier and I’m sure that your ancient battery might not be getting you through the day anymore.

Please share your thoughts! I’d love to hear your take on this and where we agree or disagree on certain things.

Verizon’s BlackBerry Bold 9930 receiving update with battery life improvements and more

Jun 23rd 2013, 10:05

Verizon BlackBerry Bold 9930

Verizon Wireless may finally have both the BlackBerry Q10 and Z10 on its shelves, but the big red carrier is also still offering the BlackBerry 7.1-powered Bold 9930 as well. Verizon has shown this weekend that it’s still committed to supporting the Bold 9930 and its owners as well, as the operator has announced a new software update for the QWERTY-clad device.

Verizon has announced an update to OS for the BlackBerry Bold 9930 on the phone’s official support page. This update is a biggie, packing in a number of enhancements and bug fixes. Some of the tweaks that Bold 9930 owners can expect to see after the update dust settles are better battery life, enhanced Push to Talk and Bluetooth connectivity and improved trackpad responsiveness. The full changelog for the OS update is available at the bottom of this post.

There’s been no official word from Verizon about this update’s rollout, but it sounds like some Bold 9930 users have already begun receiving it. If you’re rocking a Verizon-branded 9930 and haven’t yet been bumped up to OS, you can check for the update on your device by going into Options > Device > Software Updates, by plugging your phone into your computer and pointing your web browser at or by running the BlackBerry Desktop Manager software. Once your Bold 9930 has finally been updated, be sure to swing by the comments section below to share your initial impressions of the update!


  • Push to Talk connectivity 
  • Bluetooth connectivity 
  • Audio boost feature 
  • The number of necessary device resets has been reduced
  • New time zone message will now provide more details
  • Download OTASL patch without receiving the error message “Download software is invalid. Try again later or update using BlackBerry Desktop Manager on your computer”


  • Enhanced Caller ID (Caller Name ID)
  • Wi-Fi radio can be enabled/disabled when in emergency call back mode
  • Wi-Fi radio will no longer activate when in tethering mode
  • Private/restricted numbers will now appear “restricted” (instead of “001”)


  • Call volume when using a wired headset
  • Battery life 
  • Multimedia and picture messaging reliability 
  • Software installation and download processes 
  • VZAccess Manager file downloads
  • Camera and camera mode
  • Video Player, sending videos and receiving video content
  • Trackpad responsiveness
  • Video quality when using YouTube application 
  • Error message when using YouTube application has been reduced

Via CrackBerry, Verizon Wireless

iPhone 4S price cut to $39, iPhone 5 reduced to $129 at Walmart


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iPhone 4S price cut to $39, iPhone 5 reduced to $129 at Walmart

Jun 23rd 2013, 15:15

iPhone 5 Verizon

There’s nothing quite like the smell of freshly-discounted mobile hardware in the morning, is there? Today its Walmart that’s doing the price slashing, cutting the cost of the 16GB iPhone 5 for AT&T, Sprint and Verizon from $189.97 all the way down to $129 with a two-year commitment. Consumers that’d like cheaper hardware can direct their eyes and wallets to the 16GB iPhone 4S for AT&T and Verizon, which has been discounted from $89.97 down to $39 with a two-year contract. The discounted pricing on the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 is only available in Walmart stores.

This is the third sale on iOS hardware that we’ve seen in as many days, but considering that a new iPhone model is looming, it’s not a surprise to see retailers discounting the existing units to help spur sales. What’s interesting is that Walmart has told Mashable that its new iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S prices are permanent price drops, which is something that we don’t often see with Apple’s mobile hardware. That’s good to hear, though, because it means that customers interested in snagging some discounted iOS wares can save up their cash without having to try to beat the end of a sale.

Via Engadget, Mashable, Walmart: iPhone 4S, iPhone 5

I’m keen on Ting’s switch to postpaid methods

Jun 22nd 2013, 11:50

Here in the U.S., it seems that customers are starting to realize that being with one of “The Big Four” doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re getting the best deal. Yes, they do have their benefits (Verizon has more coverage; Sprint has “unlimited data”; AT&T has bundling; and T-Mobile, previously, had competitively cheap plans despite locking you into a contract) but of course, you’re locked into a contract with each benefit. With T-Mobile being the first of the postpaid carriers here to break from the mold and essentially break down our monthly fees in Layman’s terms without locking us into a contract with a hefty, almost inexplainable early termination fee, customers are starting to realize that the way things are doesn’t necessarily mean that this is way things have to stay.

Thus, prepaid carriers are starting to gain more attention.

Take Straight Talk for example; although exclusively through Wal-Mart, anybody is able to bring in any GSM-operated device (T-Mobile, AT&T) and use a Straight Talk SIM card to take benefit of their cheap, contractless monthly plans. $30 gets you 1,000 minutes, 1,000 texts, and 30 MB of Data. For the more extensive user you have the $45 plan, which makes everything unlimited for only $15 extra a month. Of course, there is downside that the plan currently doesn’t include LTE and doesn’t guarantee HSPA+, so there’s that to consider. For many people, however, the amount of money they could be saving compared to plans of postpaid carriers is enough of a trade-off.

Straight Talk is only one example out of many who follow the same business model. However, one previously prepaid model, which was already considered unique in the fact that it let you design your plan depending on your usage, is turning into somewhat of a postpaid-type carrier; almost like T-Mobile, but maybe a little better in some aspects.

If you’ve been keeping up with the dogashians (oh man, that was a bad joke), you might have seen Alex’s post yesterday regarding Sprint MVNO Ting’s recent changes to their prepaid plans to move towards a more postpaid model. Instead of trying to figure out how many minutes, texts, and data you’ll use within the next month and then getting reimbursed for what you don’t use, the new model allows you to only get charged for what you use. Awesome? Yes. Does it have its drawbacks? You betcha, but what plan doesn’t?

The thing about Ting is that the drawbacks that come with the plan are almost the same problems that you get with any postpaid plan: you really don’t know what your bill is going to be at the end of every month. The plus side to Ting against other carriers that follow this same plan is that you won’t get charged an arm and a leg for spending five extra minutes on the phone than you originally intended. With other postpaid carriers it’s just that: You have the freedom to go over your limit if you want, but if you do you can expect to be charged a hefty fee because of it. Ting actually used this same model back when it was prepaid. You could certainly go over the minutes, texts, or data you thought you would use, but the rates would climb a little higher at the point that you passed your predicted amount. With this new move to postpaid plans, Ting also manages to take out most of the confusion that potential new customers experienced when inquiring about Ting, which apparently happened quite often. While it might not be as convenient as other prepaid carriers that let you know exactly how much you’re being charged, it seems like it would be beneficial to people who don’t necessarily have a

I’ve come to realize that there will never be a universally perfect plan model for everyone, but I do feel like there are ways that the industry could change things up in order to avoid what seems like the same song and dance and provide a better, frugal, and more pleasant experience for all. In a world where everybody uses their phone differently, I feel like both T-Mobile and Ting (among others) are doing the industry a good service by trying to make things more open and diverse. It’s a good start.

Readers, what do you think about Ting’s new postpaid idea? Is this a plan that would suit you? With the seemingly growing trend of carriers making changes to plans in order to keep and gain customers, what changes would you like to see within carriers? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Images via Ting

Samsung Galaxy Camera NX: Features over quality?

Jun 22nd 2013, 11:00

The Samsung Galaxy Camera NX has me scratching my head. On one hand, I love mobile technology, so having Android on a camera always seemed like a neat way to shoot, edit and share photos on the fly. On the other hand, I really love photography, so taking photos with better quality than a smartphone really matters to me. You’d think that with the two of these combined, I’d be saving up all my pennies for the Samsung Galaxy Camera NX, but I have no interest in it whatsoever. Why?

To start, it’s hard to say who this camera is for. The image quality on the Samsung Galaxy Camera was pretty good, but not so great that I would’ve chosen it over, say, a Canon S110. The Galaxy Camera NX has Android, which is really cool for those who love Android and Google’s services, but does the mobile platform really need to be on a camera? Lastly, there is cost. I can imagine the Galaxy Camera NX being on the more expensive size given its feature set and its lens interchangeability.

I really like Android. My daily phone is an HTC One, and that has a little 4MP camera on it. Most of the photos I shoot on my HTC One end up on Facebook, Google+ and Instagram. I’ve never considered printing any photo shot on the HTC One, nor do I intend anyone to view full, 4MP-sized images online, either. Image quality is good enough for the web, good enough for sharing and good enough for snapshots I take every single day. I can shoot photos, edit the photos a little in Snapseed, then send the photo on its way to my social networks. It’s easy.

When I want to take better photos, perhaps ones with better dynamic range, image quality or varying depth of field, I use my DSLR. My Nikon D600 has excellent image quality, and is far more capable than any smartphone camera in existence. If I’m printing a photo, or delivering high-resolution files to a client, I am definitely going to pick up my D600 over my iPhone 5 or HTC One.

Between my Nikon D600 and HTC One, what use would I have for a Galaxy Camera NX?

If you’re looking for a camera that produces decent image quality and can take a variety of lenses, you’re probably better off buying a low-end or entry-level DSLR or a mid-to-high range mirrorless camera. Chances are, those cameras will have better image quality than the Galaxy Camera NX. But if you’re looking to take really nice pictures to share online or with friends and family (hence the LTE capabilities on the Samsung Galaxy Camera NX), I promise you that the camera on your smartphone is good enough. If you end up sharing a photo that’s 800 pixels wide online or on your phone, no one will be able to tell the difference between an iPhone photo or a Fuji X100S, for example.

It’s really hard to tell what Samsung is trying to accomplish with this camera, or the market it’s trying to create or satisfy. When I think of a non-smartphone or non-tablet with Android on it, I immediately think that having Android on the device is just a gimmick or selling point. Then again, part of me thinks that Samsung created the Galaxy Camera NX just becaues it could — just like it can create an array of smartphones and tablets that come in nearly every screen size imaginable.

In most cases, I’d never steer anyone away from buying something unless it’s a totally crappy or outdated product. However, I’d urge you to think really hard about whether the Galaxy Camera NX is for you. If you’re taking lots of high-quality photos that might require different focal lengths, and you need to edit and send them out right away, perhaps this just might be the camera for you. In fact, if you’re a professional photojournalist and you need to get good images to your editor as news breaks, I couldn’t think of a better camera. But if you’re a casual photographer, your smartphone is more than just fine. And if you’re looking for a camera system that has interchangeable lenses and excellent image quality, you should consider a brand that has tons of lenses to choose from (like Nikon or Canon).

If you think I’m totally out of my mind and that the Samsung Galaxy Camera NX is the greatest thing since sliced bread, let me know why! I’d love to hear why you think this is going to replace your current camera system, or why it might steer you from investing in a dedicated imaging system that wouldn’t otherwise have Android. On the other hand, if you agree that the Galaxy Camera NX fits an odd and small niche market, and that image quality isn’t as great as proper mirrorless or DSLR cameras, let your voice be heard! Viva la resolution!

AT&T offering 50 percent discount on smartphones through June 30

Jun 22nd 2013, 08:10

AT&T 50 percent off smartphones offer

This weekend is turning out to be a good one for smartphone bargain hunters. Yesterday we learned about an iPhone 5 trade-in deal at Best Buy and an HTC One/$100 Google Play credit promo at RadioShack, and now it’s been revealed that AT&T is offering a 50 percent discount on all of its smartphones that are priced between $0.99 and $199.99.

According to AT&T’s website, customers interested in taking advantage of the 50 percent off promo just need to add a smartphone to their cart, and then the discount will be applied when they check out. All smartphones priced between $0.99 and $199.99 are eligible, including new devices like the Galaxy S4 Active. Interestingly, while the deal’s fine print says that a two-year agreement is required, I was able to get the discount applied to a one-year contract as well.

In addition to cutting the price of any smartphone in half, AT&T is waiving its $36 activation fee as part of the promotion. The offer runs through June 30 and is available in-store and online, though it sounds like customers that’d like to go the in-store route may need to trade in a working smartphone in order to get a $100 credit that can then be applied to a new handset. As I mentioned before, customers shopping online get the discount instantly applied at checkout.

Getting a 50 percent discount on any new smartphone is a pretty good deal, but what makes this offer even better is that even applies to new hardware. The fact that the offer appears to be working with one-year contracts is great as well, because as Android Police notes, the discount will result in a device that costs just a little bit more than it would with a two-year commitment. If you’re in the market for a new handset, you can hit up the AT&T link below and see if the big blue carrier’s 50 percent discount is enough to get you to pull the trigger on one of its smartphones.

Via Android Police, AT&T

Finally a Phone for the Right Job!

Vine for Android updated with sharing to Facebook and other improvements


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Vine for Android updated with sharing to Facebook and other improvements

Jun 21st 2013, 16:55

Vine for Android official

Instagram made waves yesterday with when it gained video capture capabilities, but there’s also some good news this week for bite-size video fans that use Vine. The company announced today on Twitter that its Android app has been updated to version 1.1, and in the process has gained new features like the ability to share to Facebook, search for users and hashtags and also clear the app’s cache. The full version 1.1 changelog is as follows:

  • Search for users and hashtags
  • Share to Facebook
  • Improvements to capture speed, quality, and audio/video synchronization
  • Clear cache option available in Settings
  • Other bug fixes and UI improvements

That list of changes may look small, but there’s some pretty major tweaks in there. Sharing to Facebook is a big addition, especially after the Facebook-owned Instagram added video to its service, and the various other enhancements ought to help users improve the overall quality of their Vines. If you’re rocking an Android device, you cm snag version 1.1 of Vine at the Google Play link below. Once you’re done installing, be sure to swing by the comments below to let us know what you think of the update and the improvements that it brings!

Via @vineapp, Google Play: Vine for Android

I want a smartwatch, but not in its current form

Jun 21st 2013, 16:45

I like smartwatches; really, I do. They’re awesome pieces of technology because they work with our smartphones to let us know the important notifications that come through without making us actually take our phone out of our pocket, or miniscule actions like changing the track on the music player. They’re little things, but it can add a lot of convenience to our everyday lives.

Despite that they’re able to make our lives easier to an extent, there hasn’t really been a smartwatch to hit the market that also made it “big”. And I don’t mean “big” like it was talked about for a few weeks and then forgotten about (which has been pretty much all of them); I mean big enough to make people think, “Wow, this is totally the next big thing to hit this industry!” It hasn’t happened yet, and with about 16 smartwatches that have come and gone on the market, you have to wonder why they’re not doing so well. I mean, it is a pretty cool idea.

At least, Sony must think so: on their Xperia Twitter account, Sony teased that “1/3 smartphone users want smart wrist wear. #itstime #MAE13” which makes us think that Sony plans on unveiling a second smartwatch during Mobile Asia Expo in Shanghai next week. I can’t disagree with the Twitter statement, though; I do want a smartwatch!

However, I still haven’t bought one yet. Even though I said that the Pebble smartwatch was (is) a good idea, I can’t get over the design of it. It’s pretty much the same reason I’ve never been a big “watch” person my entire life. They’re just too uncomofortable for me to get used to. The design that smartwatches currently have just seem like they could be improved upon. A smartwatch shouldn’t just mean that the inside of the watch got smarter – the design could use some reworking too.

The way that the Pebble smartwatch, among others, is designed is too reminiscent of how regular watches already are. It’s chunky, and the design was originally made for a gadget that was primarily made to tell time (which means that smaller faces are completely acceptable). These smartwatches, which require a pretty sizeable screen, could easily utilize some of that technology that we have been hoping for when it comes to our smartphones, and in that sense could make smartwatches even more revolutionary – not to mention, some of the designs we’ve seen for “future” smartphones could actually function better as a smartwatch, in my opinion.

For instance, take the flexible graphene displays that I’ve mentioned in past articles. The thin, bendable, and nearly indestructible material would work perfectly on a smartwatch. Not only does the bendable display make sense as a smartwatch (conforms to the shape of your arm) but it could also work great as a tester to see if this type of technology is actually something that consumers want to use. Being that smartwatches only perform a few select functions for our smartphones (notifications, music selection, notes) along with other watch-like functions (time, date, stopwatch) it would seem to be a lot easier to utilize this material in a smartwatch form over an entire smartphone.

Not only would graphene displays pair well with the smartwatch idea, but I would also be willing to bet that a smartwatch is one of the few things in life that could actually work with a transparent display. We’ve seen that engineers were working on a transparent smartphone prototype earlier this year, but as a phone I just don’t see that technology working out very well. As a smartwatch, however, the material would already be against your skin so you have a constant ‘background’ of sorts. I mean, the actual use for a transparent display in general is really only there for the “coolness” factor, but if you’re going to incorporate that into any gadget a smartwatch would be a better solution than a smartphone in my opinion.

I would like to see smartwatches improved upon in the future, and don’t get me wrong: the design that current smartwatches have are still relevant, just not to everybody (like me). But I would be all over a transparent graphene smartwatch like gravy on mashed potatoes, I can tell you that.

Readers, what do you think of the current design of smartwatches? What changes would you make to them? Share your opinions with me in the comments below!

Images via Slash Gear, Wired

LG Optimus F3 Unboxing

Jun 21st 2013, 15:45

Aaron unboxes the LG Optimus F3, a mid-range smartphone from Sprint.  Packing 4G LTE connectivity, the Optimus F3 has a 1.2 GHz dual-core CPU, 4-inch display (480×800 pixels), 5-megapixel camera with 1080p HD recording, 2,460 mAh battery, and Android 4.1 with LG’s UI.  It has nothing on the LG Optimus G, Samsung Galaxy S 4, or HTC One, but brings some great features over from the LG Optimus G Pro, including the notification light behind the home screen.

View video here

HTC One paired with $100 Google Play credit in new RadioShack promotion

Jun 21st 2013, 12:10

HTC One box

iOS users aren’t the only ones that are the target of a new retailer promotion today, as RadioShack has announced that it’s offering a $100 Google Play credit with the purchase of the Android-powered HTC One. The offer is good with both the AT&T and Sprint variants of the One, with pricing for the two variants set at $149.99 and $79.99, respectively. The fine print of the deal states that customers will need to sign a two-year commitment with their carrier of choice and that the Google Play credit must be used within two weeks of purchase. The promotion runs through June 30.

The One is HTC’s current flagship smartphone, packing a 4.7-inch 1080p display, 1.7GHz quad-core processor, front-facing BoomSound speakers, UltraPixel rear camera, 2.1-megapixel front camera and 4G LTE, all of which is crammed into an aluminum unibody frame. RadioShack’s prices for the AT&T and Sprint versions of the One are decent deals by themselves, but adding in a free $100 Google Play credit for apps, games, media and other content makes them definitely worth a look if you’re in the market for a new Android smartphone. You can check out the promotion yourself by hitting up the RadioShack link below.

Via Android Central, RadioShack

If not Nokia, then which company can propel Windows Phone forward?

Jun 21st 2013, 11:00

While I was chatting with a sales associate in a wireless retail location, a customer heard us talking about the Lumia series, and the state of Windows Phone in general, and came over to ask us some questions. Granted, she was talking more to the sales rep, but that’s to be expected. She was looking for a new phone, so obviously she should be talking to the person who can actually sell her a phone.

In any event, she played around with one of the Windows Phone-based devices on the wall, moving the Start screen up and down, watching as the Live Tiles did their animated thing, and she seemed pleasantly surprised by what she was looking at. As she inspected the device, she was busy asking questions, like, “How many apps are there?” “Can I get that photo sharing app that my daughter uses?” “How’s the camera?” And plenty more.

The rep had answers for all these things, and answered them dutifully. It only took a few minutes, but by the end of it the customer had walked away, found a Galaxy S III, and started talking to another rep about that particular handset. I should have kept watching, because she was in the store for a bit longer, but I didn’t see what phone she walked out with.

All I know is, it wasn’t a Windows Phone device.

As I sit and write this, and think about the core of what we’re going to be talking about here, I should have caught up with that nice lady and asked her why she didn’t go with Windows Phone. Why, for whatever reason, she decided to go with another platform, another device, instead of going with the handset that the sales rep had spoken so highly of. (And, for the record, it is rare that I hear sales representatives talk highly about Windows Phone.)

But I didn’t, and here I am, not necessarily speculating on why someone may not pick Windows Phone, but something a bit finer. I want to look at Nokia. I want to look, and talk about, the company that, as far as I can tell, is the only company that honestly cares about Windows Phone as a platform. And, moreover, I want to talk about the other options. Because let’s face it, there are other options.

But, as the title suggests, if not Nokia, then who?

Hardware is important to the Android market, but it doesn’t have to the most important part. The software can play a much bigger role, depending on how you look at it. Between HTC, Samsung, LG, and every other hardware manufacturer that includes a proprietary user interface with their devices, they bank a lot of money on that software standing out against everyone else. Sure, they’ve got to make sure that the hardware stands out, but the software is just another piece of the puzzle that can make or break the whole thing apart if it doesn’t quite fit.

For Windows Phone partners, though, the hardware absolutely has to stand out. I think that’s one reason why Nokia went with such colorful devices with the original Lumia 900. But obviously HTC jumped on that bandwagon, and now HTC is venturing out into other areas. They’ve got the aluminum Lumia 925 coming down the line. There’s the Lumia 928 with “the best low-light photos,” thanks to the camera. The hardware changes are a necessity, because if the hardware didn’t stand out against companies like HTC or Samsung, then all these devices would just look the same, thanks to Windows Phone.

And I agree with Anna that Nokia seems to be the only company putting any real effort into making Windows Phone succeed, and there’s an obvious reason for that. Ever since 2011, when Nokia and Microsoft came together to work in a “strategic partnership,” there shouldn’t have been any confusion about Nokia’s push to get their brand out there with Windows Phone on their devices.

But ever since the Windows Phone 8X by HTC launched, and Microsoft seemed to be cozying up to another company, things have been strange. Nokia used to sell both the hardware and the software in their ads, and now they’re focusing a lot more on just the hardware. As if they don’t want you to pay so much attention to Windows Phone, and focus more on the high-quality products Nokia creates.

But is that working? It’s anyone’s guess at this point. Windows Phone could be gaining ground, but the question remains: Is it because of Nokia? Or is it due to Microsoft’s software? Is Nokia outpacing HTC and Samsung in Windows Phone-based sales? And, would that be surprising, considering Nokia’s the only company here in the States to offer up more than one phone running Microsoft’s latest version of their mobile operating system?

So, my question to you, is if not Nokia, then who? Because Nokia does seem to be the only company putting any real effort into selling Windows Phone, while every other company is just tossing out a handset when they feel like it, and focusing on other platforms (Android). I’ve written about how I’d like an HTC One running Windows Phone 8, and that still stands true. I think that’d be a killer device. But would you buy something like that? What about a Galaxy S 4, or a Galaxy S4 Active, running Windows Phone? An LG Optimus G Pro?

Are HTC, Samsung, LG or any other company in a position to rake in better sales, or draw in more people to the Windows Phone fold than Nokia? Since reports are saying Microsoft is no longer interested in buying Nokia’s device business, should Microsoft start putting a bit more focus on HTC and Samsung to create high-end WP8 devices? Let me know!

Instagram gets video and rips off Vine, but do you really use short video that much?

Jun 21st 2013, 10:55

Instagram now has short video sharing capabilities, and Anna did a pretty good job of comparing it to Vine and HTC’s Zoe and examining the pros and cons of each. Short videos are clearly gaining in popularity, or Instagram wouldn’t have bothered copying Vine and adding more time and filters to the videos to distinguish itself. But do you actually shoot videos in everyday life?

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a six or 15-second video clip may be worth a little novella, right? Or is a picture worth a thousand words because it’s a very specific moment in time — a fraction of your observations that can never be reproduced again? Since there isn’t much to see outside of the frame of a photo, and there is often just a little action within it, our minds are left to interpret everything else. Did something happen just before or after that photo to make it more interested? We’ll never know, and that’s where these little video snippets come in.

However, as a photographer, I really do wonder whether short video snippets from Instagram or Vine or Zoe will be the way we communicate visually. Before any of these short video services became available, how often were you recording quick video snippets and sharing them with friends or even keeping them to yourself? Is this medium becoming more popular now just because it’s available, and its novelty still hasn’t worn off?

Maybe I’m being too snobby about videos, especially short videos. There are times when a six-second clip can be more powerful than a still image (e.g. when it’s of a band playing a song, motion accompanied by sound can have more impact than a photo of the band just standing on stage). The nice thing about Zoe is that it does hybrid video and still photo clips, although it doesn’t give you the flexibility to customize those clips yourself.

A few days ago I suggested that a cure to smartphone boredom is to create new content, so Instagram’s announcement couldn’t have come at a better time. The thing with Instagram videos or Vine is that it makes sharing small slices of our lives so easy, and digesting the video clips that our friends share is simple — it’s all in one stream. Perhaps this new short video fad could be the start of new trends or art projects in addition to just sharing the minutiae of our lives.

So that’s where my question comes in. Do you use services like Instagram and Vine to share what’s happening with your life, or do you prefer crafting and editing your photos and videos so that they can be considered artistic and interesting? I’ve seen everything from documentary photography, art, food, cats, sunsets, fingernails and make-up and more on Instagram, so I’m very curious to know how PhoneDog readers use Instagram and Vine as part of their social media presence.

Let us know how you use these services, and whether you keep a tight-knit circle of friends or share it publicly and hashtag everything to death so that the whole world can see.

Samsung Galaxy Ring tipped to be headed for Boost Mobile

Jun 21st 2013, 09:10

Samsung Galaxy Ring Boost Mobile leak

Just a few short days after first appearing in Virgin Mobile garb, a new leak has shown that the Samsung Galaxy Ring may be headed to Virgin’s MVNO brother as well. Images posted by @evleaks have revealed a white version of the Galaxy Ring with Boost Mobile software on its homescreen, including a “Boost Zone” application. There’s no word on exactly when the Boost variant of the Galaxy Ring might launch or how much it’ll cost when it does.

The Galaxy Ring is mid-range handset with a 4-inch display, 5-megapixel rear and 1.3-megapixel cameras, 1.4GHz processor, 4GB storage and a microSD card slot. Android 4.1 is also on board, meaning that buyers will have access to Jelly Bean-specific features like Google Now. While we’ll have to wait until the Boost Mobile Galaxy Ring is official before we know anything about it for sure, but it seems likely that it’ll be pretty similar to Virgin’s variant, including its $179.99 price tag. Stay tuned and I’ll give you a shout once Boost makes an announcement.

Via @evleaks

Iron Man can save a lot of things, but I don’t think HTC is one of them

Jun 21st 2013, 08:10

When it comes to the entertainment industry, over the past several years we’ve seen an emphasis and a strong interest in “superheroes”. We’ve seen popular characters from old comic books like Spiderman, Batman, Captain America, The Hulk, and Iron Man adapted to become featured in live-action films. Time and time again these characters appear on the big screen to save the day, in one way or another. In recent news according to Bloomberg, HTC, a struggling manufacturer in the mobile industry, is planning to hire one of the actors that is most recently known for playing Iron Man: Robert Downey Jr.

HTC hasn’t officially commented on the celebrity endorsement, which is said to be costing HTC around $12 million for the two-year global marketing campaign, but Bloomberg used two people who know about the company’s plans as their citation. Assuming it’s true, I have to admit, I don’t think that this will necessarily do HTC any significant favors in the long run.

It’s been reported that Robert Downey Jr. will be endorsing HTC’s products as himself, not as his on-screen counterparts. This aspect of the business strategy is good, considering that not everybody necessarily sees Robert Downey Jr. as “Iron Man”; he’s played several important roles in TV and movies, so limiting the endorsements by one of his many characters would only be limiting whatever potential that he could bring in for the company.

Despite all of that, though, I feel as if HTC could have spent their new marketing budget a little more wisely. Just last year HTC had a marketing budget of only $1 million, which may sound like a lot to you and me until you consider the fact that Samsung dedicated $10 million to their marketing budget. This year, HTC surpassed Samsung’s marketing budget by $2 million, but is banking their success on one person. Although I’m sure this budget includes more publicity (commercials, billboards, Internet ads, etc.) HTC needs to put the focus back on their phones, not on a celebrity they paid for to endorse them.

I’m no marketing guru by any means, but as a run-of-the-mill customer I have always found it more humbling when celebrities endorse phones they like simply because they like them. For example, back in 2011 Katy Perry tweeted that after she switched from her beloved BlackBerry to an iPhone 4S, she didn’t dig the loss of physical buttons and returned to her BlackBerry. Whether she was paid to say that or not, I have no idea. But if she was, it was a brilliant side-marketing campaign for BlackBerry through a simple celebrity tweet. And what about the iPhone? The popular Apple device is still frequently seen in the hands of celebrities on and off screen, and I’m sure they’re not paying every single one of them to flash that darling Apple sign once in a while during events and galas. And if they are, well, that’s just another sign of good, subtle marketing. It’s not all “in your face” about it; they just walk around and carry the phone because they like it.

HTC has had a pretty great run with the HTC One so far; I think a lot of people were surprised at how much they liked the device, given HTC’s dry spell for a couple years running at this point. But that’s just one phone; we still need to see more from HTC that proves to us that the One doesn’t stand for “One Hit Wonder”. In my opinion HTC is doing a good job of staying away from incessantly throwing an influx amount of devices at us like Samsung has, but at the same time I think they’re really jumping the gun (in the wrong direction) by spending so much on a celebrity endorsement. I mean, I could be way off about this, but I seriously doubt that Robert Downey Jr. will be able to save HTC if they can’t keep a constant flow of impressive products over the next couple of years. I think that’s what HTC needs to focus on in order to build itself back up from the ladder they fell from.

Readers, what are your thoughts on this marketing move from HTC? Do you think that a celebrity endorsement from the famous Iron Man actor is enough to save them from sinking? Share your thoughts and opinions with me in the comments!

Images via Talk Android, Movie Web

Ting ditches old billing model and adopts postpaid system

Jun 21st 2013, 08:05

Ting logo

When Ting originally launched in early 2012, the Sprint MVNO’s big draw was its customizable rate plans that let a customer select how many minutes, messages and megabytes that they’d want each month. The customer would then go through their cycle like normal, and he or she would be credited for any unused voice, text and data or would be bumped up to the next plan tier if he or she went over the allotted amount.

Ting has announced that it’s making a big change to the way that it operates, deciding to do away with its original plans and instead have more of a postpaid model. Under the new system, customers will use however many minutes, messages and megabytes that they need each month, then pay for the usage levels that they hit. Minutes, messaging and data are all still separate categories, and Ting says that there’s no change to its $6 per month per device fee. Existing Ting customers that are in the middle of a billing cycle right now will reconcile with Ting at the end of their billing period and then be moved to the new system.

Ting says that it made the decision to move to a new payment system because it’s previous plan and reconciliation setup was too confusing and took too much time to explain to potential customers. The operator also says that it makes more sense for the customer to keep their money and pay at the end of each period rather than paying Ting and then possibly getting a credit. Finally, Ting felt that it’s previous system was “too much like the sort of games the whole industry plays with rollover this and ‘unlimited but not really’ that,” saying that it didn’t want to look like it was operating like other carriers.

While Ting’s actual rates haven’t changed with its new system, now customers won’t need to worry about setting up a plan or wondering how much of a credit or additional payment they’ll run into at the end of the month, which ought to simplify things for both Ting and its customers. If you’d like to learn more about Ting’s new payment system, you can check out a video from the operator below. What do you think of Ting’s decision? Would you consider switching to Ting because of it?

{Widget type=”youtube” id=”2tog8YOMO7g”}

Via FierceWireless, Ting

Best Buy running ‘Trade Up to iPhone 5’ promotion through June 29


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Best Buy running ‘Trade Up to iPhone 5’ promotion through June 29

Jun 21st 2013, 17:25

Best Buy iPhone 5 trade-in promotion

Thinking about picking up an iPhone 5? If you’re looking to upgrade to the bigger-screened iPhone from an iPhone 4 or 4S, you may want to mosey on down to your local Best Buy. The retailer has announced that it’s kicking off a special trade-in offer today that’ll give consumers a $150 Best Buy gift card in exchange for a working iPhone 4 or 4S. That gift card can then be put toward a 16GB iPhone 5, which is available for $149.99 with a two-year commitment. The promotion is available in Best Buy stores and will run from June 21 through June 29.

As with almost any promo, there’s a bit of fine print to be aware of with Best Buy’s offer. The retailer says that the deal excludes T-Mobile, so interested consumers will need to sign up with AT&T, Sprint or Verizon. Customers that do decide to trade in their iPhone 4 or 4S will receive a minimum credit of $150, but Best Buy will add more to a gift card if it determines that a trade-in is worth more than $150.

This is actually the second time that Best Buy has held this promo, originally running it for a single day on June 1. The retailer told USA Today that that was the single-biggest day that its trade-in program has seen in its four-year existence, so it’s no surprise to see that Best Buy is bringing it back and running it for an extended period of time.

Some may think that it’s crazy to buy an iPhone 5 just months before the iPhone 5S is expected to debut. However, the iPhone 5S is rumored to be a somewhat modest update with a few upgraded internals, and so consumers that don’t feel like waiting may not miss out on much if they just want a new phone now.

There’s also the fact that folks could possibly get more for their used iPhones by selling them through Craigslist or eBay. Doing so can take quite a bit more time and effort than trading a device in to Best Buy, though, and for some the convenience of just going to a store and handing them an old phone will outweigh the extra cash that they may have gotten otherwise. What do you usually do with your old mobile hardware when the time to upgrade comes?

Via USA Today, Best Buy Trade-In

Would you have bought the Galaxy S4 Active instead?

Jun 21st 2013, 15:15

Getting a phone here in the United States has been about two things for as long as I can remember: a phone and a contract. We’ve come to expect such high price drops for these devices, thanks to that two-year commitment, that we’ve grown used to them. It doesn’t matter about the “particulars,” or even the truth about what we’re paying each month. It just boils down to whether or not you want to pay $200 (maybe $300), or around $600 right out of the gate to get your hands on a shiny new phone.

The trouble with that contract, the only one we’re going to talk about for the sake of this article anyway, is that it doesn’t just tie you to the carrier and your chosen plan for two years, but also to the phone you just purchased. The carrier doesn’t want you to do anything with that phone once you pass a 14-day return period. After that, you better hope you don’t get bored quickly, because you’ll be looking at it for several more months.

(As long as you don’t find a way around that particular dilemma.)

If you’re someone who doesn’t care about which phone you have (and I’m sure you’re not, since you’re here), then you probably don’t care that manufacturers release phones pretty quickly. Even if they have a flagship device, and even if you bought that flagship handset with your new contract, the chances that something better is coming down the line in a matter of months are pretty high. In fact, if you signed a two-year contract, you should fully expect your flagship phone to get refreshed and replaced before your contract is up.

That’s the most annoying part of the whole thing to me. Phone manufacturers need to make new devices to keep raking in cash and customers, but isn’t there a point where they look at who they’re selling to, and the situations they are, for all intents and purposes, forced into, and react accordingly?

The easy argument there is that not everyone has the same contract expiration date. In fact, some manufacturers would probably suggest that their models of releasing phones so quickly benefits everyone, simply because there are so many people out there qualified for a new phone at any given moment.

Unfortunately, there are probably just as many people out there tying themselves to a phone, and then finding out just after their return window that another phone, maybe even a particularly better phone, is coming out from the same manufacturer.

Our own Anna Scantlin wrote about why she thinks the Galaxy S 4 and Galaxy S4 Active should have been one phone, and I tend to agree. Her argument is that most people could probably benefit from having a water-proof, or overall more “rugged” device. It is a strange exclusivity, I agree, and I agree with her sentiment simply because the Galaxy S4 Active isn’t a bad phone. Actually, I like the display on the S4 Active more than I like the original Galaxy S 4’s. So there’s that.

The truth is, I think the Galaxy S4 Active is a phone that most customers would have liked to have the option to buy, at the same time that the Galaxy S 4 became available. Should they have been the same phone? Probably not, simply because choice isn’t a bad thing, and Samsung likes to offer as many devices as possible to fill as many particular niches as it can. They want to speak to every customer looking for a new phone, and the only way to do that is to have as many phones as possible, all with a certain set of stand-out features.

That’s fine. You can keep throwing devices at the market. However, when AT&T launches the Galaxy S 4 at the end of April, and less than two months later you’ve got the Active coming down the pipe for the same carrier, well, that just boils down to not being cool.

I realize that after that 14-day return window it doesn’t matter when Samsung, or any other manufacturer, launches a new device because of that two-year contract. One month, three, or even six months down the line, it doesn’t matter, because that new phone they’re launching isn’t necessarily for the person who bought the previously released handset. It’s for the other folks who are gearing up to sign a new, two-year contract to get a new phone.

The easy fix here is that Samsung announces all of these Galaxy S 4 variants at the same time, even if they don’t plan on making them available at the same time. You announce every variant at the same time, and then you talk about release windows. That way, people can know they’re waiting, but waiting for something worth getting. Staggering these announcements and launch windows is frustrating.

So my question to you is whether or not the Galaxy S4 Active looks compelling to you. Did you buy a Galaxy S 4, along with a new, two-year contract, and are now upset because the Galaxy S4 Active is coming down the pipe? Or did you wait on pulling the trigger on the original Galaxy S 4 because you wanted to see what else was coming this year? Let me know!

AT&T’s Pantech Flex to receive Jelly Bean update starting today

Jun 21st 2013, 15:10

Pantech Flex AT&T

Looks like today just got quite a bit sweeter for Pantech Flex owners. AT&T just announced that the Flex’s update to Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean will begin rolling out today, June 21. Along with a bump from Android 4.0 to 4.1, AT&T says that the over the air update will bring with it goodies like Google Now, AT&T Drive Mode, widgets that automatically resize when they get too large and improved accessibility options.

It’s always good to see Android phones getting major updates because it usually means that users are getting a whole new set of features to tinker with. That’s definitely the case with this Pantech Flex update, as a move to Jelly Bean brings with it features like expandable notifications and the aforementioned Google Now with its various information cards. AT&T says that Flex owners will receive a text message when their update is available for download, so if you’ve got a Flex laying around, be sure to keep an eye on your SMS inbox in the days ahead.

Via AT&T

iPhone 5 launching at Virgin Mobile on June 28

Jun 21st 2013, 14:25

iPhone 5 Virgin Mobile coming soon

After launching both the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S a little over a year ago, Virgin Mobile announced today that it’ll soon be expanding its iOS offerings with the iPhone 5. The Sprint MVNO says that it’ll begin selling Apple’s latest iPhone in both black and white on June 28, which is just one week from today. Pricing will be set at $549 for the 16GB model, $649 for the 32GB version and $749 for the 64GB variant. Virgin notes that only the 16GB iPhone 5 will be available in stores, meaning that customers will need to hop online if they want a more capacious model.

As far as plans go, the iPhone 5 will be compatible with Virgin Mobile’s no-contract Beyond Talk plans. Those offerings start at $35 per month for 300 minutes as well as unlimited messaging and data (2.5GB of high-speed data). There’s also a $45 per month plan with 1200 minutes and unlimited text and data or a $55 per month option with unlimited talk, text and data. Customers that sign up for automatic monthly payments can receive a $5 discount on their monthly rate.

Considering that Sprint already sells the iPhone 5 and that Virgin Mobile has been offering the iPhone 4 and 4S for over a year now, it’s not a total shock to see that Apple’s latest handset is making its way to Virgin’s shelves. Still, it’s exciting news for customers on the Sprint MVNO, especially since the iPhone 5 supports 4G LTE connectivity. Are any of you Virgin Mobile customers prepping your credit card in anticipation of the iPhone 5’s arrival next week?

Via 9to5Mac

Samsung Galaxy S 4 Active to AT&T

Jun 21st 2013, 13:05

Another ruggedized smartphone joining the AT&T line-up today is the Samsung Galaxy S 4 Active.

Release Date – Friday June 21, 2013
Carrier: AT&T
Regular Price: 594.99
Price: $199.99 after instant savings and with a two-year agreement
Hot Features: 5″ touchscreen display with Gorilla Glass, Android, ruggedized, WiFi, 1.9GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor

NEC Terrain to AT&T

Jun 21st 2013, 13:00

Available through AT&T’s Business Solutions or online, the NEC Terrain can be purchased starting today, Friday June 21, 2013.

Release Date – Friday June 21, 2013
Carrier: AT&T
Regular Price: $429.99
Price: $99.99 after instant savings and with a new two-year contract
Hot Features: Android, WiFi, full QWERTY keyboard, 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-core processor, Push-to-Talk, ruggedized

iPhone 5S reportedly appears in leaked photos with dual-LED flash

Jun 21st 2013, 12:35

iPhone 5S rear leak

There have been several purported iPhone 5S leaks and rumors sprinkled throughout 2013, claiming to show an internal part or have details on what new features may be included in the unannounced device. Today the iPhone 5S leak train continues, but rather than staring at images of some random component, we’re getting a peek at what may be an assembled prototype unit.

Some new photos posted by MacRumors claim to show the backside and inside of Apple’s upcoming iPhone 5S. Looking at the device’s rear without its cover, we can see a battery with a capacity of 5.92 Whr, which is larger than the iPhone 5’s 5.45 Whr battery. Meanwhile, the processor of this iPhone 5S prototype has a code that reads “1243,” suggesting that it was made in October of 2012. The chip isn’t labeled, so it’s not known if it’s the same A6 processor found in the iPhone 5 or something else.

Moving on to the backside of this device, we can see a rear shell that looks pretty much like the iPhone 5 that many folks have in their pocket right now. The one big difference is the flash that’s sitting to the right of the camera; rather than the circular, single LED flash found on the iPhone 5, this appears to be a taller, dual-LED flash that’s similar to the layout shown in a recent case maker design leak. That new flash also up with a rumor from earlier this year that claimed that the next iPhone will sport an improved flash. A separate report suggested that the iPhone 5S camera could be beefed up to 13-megapixels, but it isn’t clear if that’s the case with this unit.

While some may be disappointed that the alleged iPhone 5S in these photos looks fairly similar to the current iPhone 5, many expect that 2013 will bring a new iPhone that looks similar to its predecessor but sports a few upgraded internals, just like when Apple followed the iPhone 3G with the 3GS and the iPhone 4 with the 4S. That may not be the most exciting news ever, but the good news is that at least iOS users will be getting some totally refreshed software to play with this year thanks to iOS 7. Are you planning on upgrading to the iPhone 5S when it’s released?

Via MacRumors

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active Unboxing

Jun 21st 2013, 07:00

Aaron unboxes and takes a first look at the AT&T Samsung Galaxy S4 Active.  While the review is still a few days out, the phone packs similar specifications as the flagship Galaxy S 4, including a 1.9 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 CPU, 5-inch 1080p HD LCD, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of internal storage, 2,600 mAh battery, 4G LTE connectivity, and Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with TouchWiz.  That said, its camera is only 8-megapixels (with 1080p HD recording), and it loses a few software features that the Galaxy S 4 offers.  It’s available at AT&T in grey or blue for $199.99 with a two-year contract.

View video here

The ATIV Q is like the chips and dip of hybrid devices

Jun 20th 2013, 16:35

Sometimes you come across things in life that just go well together: peanut butter and jelly, milk and cookies, chips and dip, Dungeons and Dragons, Anna Scantlin and Johnny Depp… I mean, there’s an infinite list of things that just go together! Adding on to that list today is the announcement from Samsung of the ATIV Q tablet/laptop hybrid, which actually happens to be ‘hybrid’ in more ways than just one.

On the one hand, you have a laptop that converts into a tablet (and vice versa); on the other hand, you also have your choice between two operating systems: Windows 8 or Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean). Or, if you’re unsure of which operating system to use, you could simply use both at the same time. Yes, this device really does seem to do it all. Did I mention it has S Pen functionality? I know what you’re thinking, and don’t worry; I’m having a hard time keeping my pants on as well.

Let’s take a quick look at the design aspect of the ATIV Q: This device has a 13.3″ touch-screen display that can be conformed to look like many different devices: you can lay it flat to act as a tablet, fold the screen up to reveal the integrated keyboard, flip the screen backwards to essentially use the keyboard as a stand, or even have the screen lay parallel above the keyboard (to where you can still use the keyboard, but you would be looking down at the screen). The design of the ATIV Q is extremely versatile and if you ask me, Samsung did a great job covering a lot of ways that people would want to view and use such a device.

The ATIV Q has been described as feeling “lightweight” at 2.8 pounds (1.3kg) and “skinny”, yet has also been described as “chunky” at 0.55 inches (14mm) thick when it comes to being used as a tablet. Considering that the device is packing one of Intel’s new Haswell Core i5 processors, a thicker tablet in exchange for powerful processing power is an acceptable trade-off in my book. Intel’s Haswell processors were created to enhance battery life and enhance graphics (which is pretty much what any new processor is trying to do). What supposedly makes the Haswell processor so great is that it’s supposed to extend battery life and graphics for mobile computing to a much greater level than what we’re currently used to. And what is the ATIV Q? A mobile computing device! So while the battery life of the ATIV Q remains a mystery at this point, here’s to hoping that the Haswell processor really does bring forth a new era when it comes to battery life in mobile computing.

But enough about the design, let’s talk specs! I’ve already mentioned the 13.3″ touchscreen display and the Intel Haswell Core i5 processor, but what I haven’t mentioned yet is that the device also has a pretty awesome display resolution at 3200×1800 pixels (275 ppi~). This puts the ATIV Q’s display at the highest pixel count for a 13-inch display yet. The ATIV Q features 4GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage, and a 720p camera on the front. It also includes a microSD card slot, micro HDMI port, and two USB ports within the hinge of the device.

So far we’ve discussed the awesome versatility and some of the top-notch specs to be introduced with this unique device, so what’s left? Oh yeah, that whole dual-boot thing.

For a lot of people, a Windows/Android tablet/laptop (there has to be an easier way to say that… we’ll just call it a Windroid lablet) is going to be far too much mobile computing for them to really benefit from what the ATIV Q has to offer. But for the people (like me) who sometimes just can’t decide which platform to use or how to use it (tablet or computer?) an all-in-one device like this one could actually be a solid solution. On top of the fact that it dual-boots with Windows 8 and Android, there’s an added bonus – you can add apps from Android on to the Windows 8 side of the device, and run them from there. Pretty. Friggin’. Sweet.

In my opinion, this device is truly the definition of the best of both worlds from both a design and a multi-platform aspect. You get all of the benefits of PC computing when you need it, plus the added functionality of tablet computing whenever it’s more convenient. Samsung was also clever enough to know that if you have a touch screen device that serves as a tablet half the time, why not include the S Pen? Worse comes to worse, it’s there if you use it, it’s not if you don’t (and you might be surprised how often you’ll use it once you have it – I know I was).

All in all, I have to say I’m thoroughly impressed with what I’ve seen so far from Samsung’s ATIV Q. I’m almost certain that a hybrid with features like this will probably come with a high price tag, but regardless of the price I feel like Samsung deserves credit for what they’ve come up with here.

Readers, what are your thoughts on the ATIV Q? Do you think that a hybrid device as complex as this one will be a big seller in the market? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below!

Images via Geek, The Verge

LG holding event on August 7 in New York City

Jun 20th 2013, 15:00

LG Optimus G rear

Jonesing for some more of the excitement and surprise that only a mobile event can provide? If so, I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is that LG announced tonight that it’s holding an “international media event,” inviting Android Central and others to a shindig that’ll take place in New York City. The bad news? The gathering is scheduled to go down on August 7, which is well over a month away.

As is usually the case with these event invitations, LG hasn’t said exactly what it’s got planned for the event. That doesn’t mean that we can’t speculate, though! One possibility is that we could see the Optimus G successor that LG was talking up last night. Not only was the company just teasing the upcoming device and its Snapdragon 800 processor, but LG has previously said that the next Optimus G device will debut in Q3 2013, a window of time that August is a part of.

Another factor that points toward a new Optimus G is the fact that LG refers to the gathering as an “international media event.” That suggests that it’s got something big in store, like a new flagship product. For now we’ll just have to wait and see if an Optimus G follow-up truly what LG’s got up it’s sleeve, so keep it locked to PhoneDog and we’ll find out together.

Via Android Central

Samsung Galaxy Camera NX First Look

Jun 20th 2013, 11:35

Aaron goes in-depth with the Samsung Galaxy Camera NX, announced tonight at Samsung’s Galaxy and ATIV event.  The Samsung Galaxy Camera NX is the original Galaxy Camera on steroids.  Featuring a 1.6 GHz quad-core processor, 20.3-megapixels, and Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with TouchWiz, the camera – while not pocketable – brings LTE and exchangeable lenses to the masses.  It’s a great device for those that enjoy taking pictures yet want the flexibility of an always-on solution.

View video here

The Bite-Sized Video: Vine, Instagram, or Zoe?

Jun 20th 2013, 11:30

It all started on January 24, 2013: the day that Vine was available on iOS devices. “Vine”; what exactly is Vine? For those who don’t know, Vine is a unique video-sharing application (now available on both iOS and Android) that allows you to record 6 second videos, either in snippets or all in one recording session.  Vine was acquired by Twitter in October of 2012, and within 6 months of its acquisition Vine became the most downloaded free application on the iOS store on April 9, 2013; arguably, Vine’s “bite-sized” videos could be one of the most popular concepts for media sharing in social networks.

It’s hard not to see the benefits of being able to easily record bits and pieces of video within 6 seconds, especially when it comes to Twitter, which the Vine application was initially built for. People look to Twitter for short snippets of information from news outlets, websites, celebrities, and of course friends and family. The ability to mention other people in a Tweet or use hashtags make it easy to reach out to anybody you want – it’s a social media world that has very little limitations, aside from how many characters you can type into a single status or reply. The one element that brought the Twitt-o-sphere together was taking the same time-saving concept they applied to their statuses and putting it into a video app. Thus, Vine was born, and phenomenally so.

The concept that Vine uses certainly has its benefits whether you use it specifically for Twitter or not. Instead of spending hours on a video editing program trying to figure out how to cut scenes from your own video, you have the ability to simply touch anywhere on your screen for the duration of time that you want to record. When your six seconds are up, the application strings these snippets together to create these short, personal videos. To put it in to perspective on just how easy Vine is to use, I have no prior knowledge of how to edit videos and I created my first Vine video within a minute. “So easy, an Anna can do it.”

It’s a simple concept that caught on like wildfire, so naturally it comes as no surprise when other companies want in on the action as well – especially when it’s another popular company, like Instagram. In recent news, we find out that Instagram is adding its own video recording feature to its application which will allow users to do the same things that Vine can do, except the videos last for 15 seconds and you can include your favorite Instagram-y features, like filters. According to Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom, it’s taking “everything we know and love about Instagram, but it moves”. So basically, it’s Vine… with filters. Depending on what you’re looking for in a short video-making application, 15 seconds and filters might be just what you need.

And then you have the granddaddy concept of them all, which features concepts from both Vine and Instagram and rolls them into one: HTC Zoe. Zoe’s strong point is taking the popular features from both Instagram (photos with filters) and Vine (short video snippets) and rolling them all together to make a creation called a “Zoe”. Zoe creations can vary in time allotments (meaning that you’re not limited to 6 second videos or 15 second videos) but they seem to be directed towards more personal use rather than mass social media use – like bringing a photo album to life, in a sense. The major drawback to HTC’s Zoe back is the fact that it’s not an app that anybody can download; it’s only available for use in select HTC devices (as of right now, only in the HTC One. HTC claims to be releasing both Blinkfeed and Zoe into previously released HTC devices sometime in the future). So while it might not be considered direct competition for Instagram and Vine in the app market, it could be a deciding factor for people who are looking to upgrade or purchase a new smartphone in the future if that kind of feature is important to you.

So which one should you use? If you’re not carrying an HTC device or don’t plan on carrying one, obviously Zoe is an automatic out for you. Also, if you’re using a BlackBerry 10 or Windows Phone device you’re on the outs for any of these applications officially (for now, but rumors suggest that it might not be long before both platforms receive Instagram). But between iOS and Android users, which one is better? Vine would most likely be more suitable for people who frequently use Twitter, and who also don’t care for the filters and photos that Instagram is most infamous for. Instagram, on the other hand, would probably be a better choice for people who do enjoy the use of filters or perhaps need longer than 6 seconds to create a bite-sized video.

So readers, between these three bite-sized applications, which one would you rather use? Do you like the convenience of the 6 second snippets from Vine, the filters from Instagram, or the use of both through Zoe? Tell me what you think in the comments below!

Images via Rachel Simmons, Forbes

Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom First Look

Jun 20th 2013, 11:10

Aaron takes a first look at the Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom after Samsung’s Galaxy and ATIV premiere event.  Specifications include a 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU, 4.3-inch qHD display (540×960 pixels), 2,330 mAh battery, Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with TouchWiz.  The winning feature is (obviously) the 16-megapixel camera with optical zoom.  Think Galaxy Camera fused with Galaxy S4 mini, and you have the Galaxy S4 zoom.  No word on whether we’ll see it on US carriers, but if we did – would you buy one?

View video here

Samsung Galaxy S4 mini First Look

Jun 20th 2013, 10:40

Aaron gets some hands-on time with the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini.  Featuring a 1.7 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU, the mini packs a 4.3-inch qHD display (540×960 pixels), 8-megapixel camera with 1080p HD recording, 1,900 mAh battery, and Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with TouchWiz.  It’s a compelling alternative for those that love the Galaxy S 4 but don’t want to deal with the added size.  While it loses some of the high-end specs like the quad-core CPU and 1080p HD display, it’s much easier to manage on the size front.

View video here

New Galaxy S 4 colors shown off by Samsung

Jun 20th 2013, 09:00

Samsung Galaxy S 4 Blue Arctic, Red Aurora

After teasing new Galaxy S 4 colors last month, Samsung today offered a look at the new paint jobs that its flagship smartphone will be receiving. The company says that the Galaxy S 4 will be available in Blue Arctic, Red Aurora, Purple Mirage, Brown Autumn and Pink Twilight, in addition to the Black Mist and White Frost models that are currently available.

Samsung didn’t offer exact availability details for these new colors, but it has previously said that the blue and red devices will arrive this summer, with the brown and purple models following sometime after. AT&T is the only U.S. carrier that’s currently stocking one of these colorful S 4’s, having recently launched the Red Aurora model.

It’s no secret by now that Samsung is a big fan of choice, offering hardware that comes in a range of colors and sizes. That’s why it’s no surprise to see the Galaxy S 4 getting several new paint jobs, just like the Galaxy S III before it. We’ll likely have to wait for individual carrier announcements before we know where these different S 4 colors will be headed, but considering that each major U.S. operator got its own colorful model last year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar situation again this year. Which of these new Galaxy S 4 colors do you like best?

Samsung Galaxy S 4 Purple Mirage, Brown Autumn

Samsung Galaxy S 4 colors June 20 event

Via Android Central

Sprint ups Clearwire bid to $5.00 per share, secures recommendation from Clearwire’s board

Jun 20th 2013, 08:35

Sprint logo CTIA

Sprint may have previously said that its bid of $3.40 per share for Clearwire was its “best and final offer,” but it looks like the big yellow carrier has had a change of heart. Sprint just announced that it has upped its bid for the portion of Clearwire that it doesn’t already own to $5.00 per share, besting Dish Network’s recent offer of $4.40 per share. Sprint’s latest bid for Clearwire is nearly double the original $2.97 per share offer that it made late last year.

In addition to announcing its new bid, Sprint has revealed that a large group of minority Clearwire stockholders have agreed to vote in favor of this new $5.00 per share bid. Sprint says that 45 percent of Clearwire’s minority shareholders have agreed to vote in favor of its new bid. Meanwhile, Clearwire announced that its board of directors have switched their recommendation from Dish’s offer to Sprint’s. Clearwire has also decided to postpone its June 24 shareholder vote on this situation until July 8.

It’s kind of crazy to see Sprint boost its bid for Clearwire from $3.40 per share to $5.00 per share, even though it previously said that $3.40 was its “best and final offer,” but I wouldn’t be surprised if Sprint has gotten even hungrier for Clearwire now that its deal with SoftBank looks like it’ll happen. Dish and Sprint are clearly now locked in a bidding war for Clearwire, and it’ll be interesting to see what Dish comes back with. The company recently dropped its attempt to acquire Sprint and said that it planned to focus on its Clearwire offer, so I’m sure that Dish will have something to say about this new $5.00 bid from Sprint. Do you think that Dish will come back with a higher offer for Clearwire?

Via Sprint, Clearwire

Here’s what I hope makes it to the final version of iOS 7

Jun 20th 2013, 07:55

All right then. iOS 7. It’s about time that Apple’s mobile operating system got a kick in the you-know-what, and now that it’s here there’s plenty of conversation swirling around about it. There are people who love it, and there are people who hate it. There are, somewhere, even people who are “sitting on the fence,” and holding judgment until the final version of the software is released to the public. You know, acting rationally, maybe. Maybe.

Either way, iOS 7 is out there, in the wild, one way or another, and people can check out the early build of the latest update to the platform. We’re on the first beta of this particular version of iOS, and there are going to be plenty more down the road before it finally releases this fall. As those new versions come out, there will be new features added, some tweaks removed, and things will change over time, just as they should.

Nothing is set in stone. The iOS 7 we’re seeing now, and indeed what we saw announced on stage at WWDC, could very well be quite different than what we see later this year.

Not too long ago, my fellow editor Anna wrote about her first impressions with iOS 7, and what she thinks of the overall changes that Apple brought to its mobile OS. She liked it for the most part, but there were some things she’d change. And, yes, there are some things that I’d change, too, but that’s not what I want to talk about this time around.

Instead, I want to talk about things I’d keep.

For the most part, these are things that I think may not be kept around in the final version of iOS 7, for whatever reason. Whether it’s a design choice, or a bug that’s actually working, I just believe they’ll get switched out by the time the final product is ready to go.

First and foremost, the lock screen music controls. In the current public version of iOS, you double-tap the Home button and you get media controls, “Play/Pause”, “back”, and “next.” It’s an easy way to control your music without having to dig into whatever music app you’re using.

In iOS 6.1.x, those music controls disappear, and it goes back to the normal, control-less, lock screen if the display goes dark. So, you’d have to double-tap Home again to get the controls back. However, in iOS 7, they actually stick around a bit longer. If I’ve activated the controls, hit the Power button to shut off the display, and then turn it back on? The controls are still there, ready to go.

I have no idea if this is a bug or not, but I hope it’s not. Double tapping the Home button all the time is not something I like to do.

I also really hope that the new Clock app icon sticks around, because it works. As in, it actually tells you the time. Why anyone would look at it instead of, say, the actual time displayed at the top of the display is beyond me, but it shows that Apple’s actually paying attention to the idea of app icons that aren’t just static pictures.

Seriously, Apple. Now that you’ve got the Clock app icon to work (was that on someone’s “to-do list?”) make the Weather app icon show the accurate temperature! Just do it already!

The other thing I’d keep? The new stock app icons. Yep, that’s right, I’d keep them. Just as they are. I know, that’s crazy talk, but the truth of the matter is I like how different they are to their previous iterations. Sure, the GameCenter app icon doesn’t make any sense, but what exactly does a “GameCenter” look like? An arcade game cabinet? No. A living room? Maybe. Whatever the case, it probably doesn’t look like four globules of varying colors. Which is why I think it’s awesome. It’s just so random, and unexpected.

There are a ton of other things that I’d keep, but those are things I have no doubt will be kept. Features buried within iOS 7 and what not. Are there hiccups with the first beta? Yes, of course, but I can’t say anything negative about them, or even really talk about them in general. It’s a beta. It has bugs. Guess what? The next beta will probably have bugs, too. In fact, depending on what new features Apple adds to the mix, it could have more bugs! Scary, right? Not so much.

In any event, I think Apple’s given iOS the injection of life and difference it needed over previous versions, but still kept the system functional in the way that iOS users expect. So, it’ll be fun to see what the final version looks like on the next iPhone.

Based on what you’ve seen of iOS 7 so far, is there anything that you’d change immediately? Something you can’t stand to even look at? The whole thing? Just an app icon in particular? Or do you think this is the best next step for iOS? Let me know what you think.

Samsung Galaxy NX camera packs Jelly Bean and LTE, ATIV Q slider outed with Android and Windows 8

Jun 20th 2013, 07:20

Samsung Galaxy NX rear

Samsung has introduced a number of new Galaxy-branded products in recent weeks, including the Galaxy S 4 Active, Galaxy S 4 mini and Galaxy S 4 Zoom. Apparently the company still had room up its sleeve for a few more new devices, though, as Samsung today announced the new Galaxy NX camera and a pair of ATIV tablets.

First up is the Galaxy NX, an Android 4.2 Jelly Bean-powered camera with interchangeable lenses. The Galaxy NX packs a 20.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, ISO of up to 25,600 and a built-in pop-up flash. Samsung says that there are a number of interchangeable lenses for Galaxy NX users to choose from, including pancake lenses, fisheyes, and longer prime and zoom lenses. Galaxy NX owners also have the option of capturing 3D images and video using Samsung’s 45mm 2D/3D lens and the True 3D Creator feature of the NX.

Rounding out the Galaxy NX’s spec list is a 4.8-inch HD LCD touchscreen, 1.6GHz quad-core processor, 16GB storage, microSD slot, 2GB RAM and a 4,360mAh battery powering the whole package. As far as connectivity goes, the Galaxy NX will be available with 42Mbps HSPA+ and 4G LTE support, depending on the market.

The Galaxy NX isn’t Samsung’s first Android-powered camera, as the company launched the aptly-named Galaxy Camera last year with Jelly Bean in tow. The Galaxy Camera is more of a point-and-shoot-style camera, though, while the Galaxy NX looks to be a higher-end, more professional device. There’s no word yet on when the Galaxy NX will launch or how much it’ll cost when it does, but you can bet that I’ll update you as soon as that information becomes available.

Along with the Galaxy NX, Samsung today took the wraps off of the ATIV Q. This convertible device runs both Android and Windows 8, allowing users to choose the OS that best suits their needs at a particular time. It also features a hinge design that lets users place the ATIV Q in a tablet-style mode, laptop mode, a floating-display mode or a stand mode for easy video-watching. One other major feature of the ATIV Q is its 13.3-inch display, which sports a QHD+ 3200×1800 resolution.

In addition to its crazy hinge and high-res display, the ATIV Q packs an Intel Core i5 processor, Intel HD Graphics 4400, 4GB RAM, a 128GB SSD and camera with 720p HD video support. There’s also a variety of ports on this convertible device, including USB 3.0, USB 2.0, microHDMI and SD. The ATIV Q also supports Samsung’s S Pen stylus, just like the company’s Galaxy Note line of products.

Rounding out the new batch of Samsung products is the ATIV Tab 3. As the name suggests, this is a new Windows 8 tablet that features a body similar to the one found on the Android-powered Galaxy Tab 3. The ATIV Tab 3 features a 10.1-inch 1366×768 touchscreen on its face and a camera on its backside. Buried inside the ATIV Tab 3’s 8.2mm-thick frame is 64GB of flash storage, microSD card slot, 2GB RAM and an Intel Atom Z2760 processor. Like the ATIV Q, the ATIV Tab 3 also includes support for Samsung’s S Pen. A gallery with images of all three new Samsung products is available below.

Samsung Galaxy and Ativ event liveblog!

Jun 20th 2013, 07:00

Samsung takes the stage this evening in London to announce the latest additions to the Samsung Galaxy and Ativ product lines.  While we’ve seen several announcements from the Korean giant in the weeks leading up to the event – Galaxy S 4 Active, Galaxy S 4 Zoom, and Galaxy S 4 Mini, to name a few – there’s always room for a surprise announcement.  The event kicks off at 7:00 PM BST (that’s 2:00 PM Eastern).

Will there be any surprises?  Join us starting at 1:45 PM Eastern/12:45 PM Central/10:45 AM Pacific and we’ll find out together!

Instagram officially set to gain video capabilities

Jun 20th 2013, 06:15

Instagram video official screenshots

Today is an event double-whammy, with Facebook starting things off and Samsung following shortly thereafter. Facebook used its event this afternoon to announce that Instagram is gaining video-sharing capabilities, confirming the rumblings that first started popping up earlier this week.

With its new video support, Instagram will allow users to capture 15 seconds of action and then apply one of 13 custom filters that are only available for video. After the video is capture, a user can select a custom Cover Frame for the clip that will appear in their friends’ feeds and entice them to watch them entire thing. Instagram is also enabling a feature called “Cinema” for its videos, which is a cinematic stabilization capability that will help cut down on the shaking in users’ clips.

Video for Instagram is coming today to both Android and iOS, which is exciting news for the Android users that endured a lengthy period of Instagram iOS exclusivity before the app finally came to Android last year. The update is already available for iOS users in the App Store, and while it’s not showing up quite yet in the Google Play Store for Android, it should be arriving soon.

Instagram has been one of the most popular ways to share photos on mobile for some time now, but the service has recently been splitting its content-sharing throne with Vine, an app that allows users to capture and post six-second videos. With today’s announcement, it looks like Instagram has decided that it wants a slice of that video action as well. What will be interesting is seeing how many people begin using Instagram for video, which supports 15-second clips, rather than dedicated video-sharing app Vine and its six-second videos. What do you all think of today’s announcement? Will you begin recording and posting videos on Instagram?

Via Instagram blog, Instagram: iOS App Store, Google Play for Android

How important are app reviews to you?


, , , , , , , – Latest videos, reviews, articles, news and posts
Cell phone news, in-depth expert reviews, interesting video reviews as well as pricing comparisons for new and used phones, with and without service plans.
How important are app reviews to you? Jun 20th 2013, 16:20
Every day in my Twitter stream, I see people talking about applications. The best, or newest, calendar replacement app. Or the newest and flashiest calculator. Maybe it’s a way to aggregate a bunch of news pieces from across the Internet, or just a news app in general. Of course, there are plenty of people talking about the next best game you should download, too. Whatever the case, the conversation about apps hasn’t grown quiet since their introduction all those years ago. In fact, the focus on the apps, the ecosystems they inhabit, and the sheer number available has only intensified.

So it’s easy to surmise that apps are important. It’s one reason why some people refuse to use mobile operating systems like BlackBerry 10. It’s another reason why some think a platform like Windows Phone may never really take off. And, others would point to Apple’s iOS success because of the apps made available. The angles you can take on how important apps are, both in the negative and positive for a company or developer, are innumerable.

The end result is the same, though: They’re too important to ignore.

And consumers don’t ignore them. They download them by the tens of thousands, if not millions. If you gain enough popularity within any specific digital retail location, be it the App Store, the Appstore, Google Play Store, Windows Phone Store, or BlackBerry World (or any other), then your chances to rake in the dough multiply exponentially.

Gaining that popularity can be a tricky slope, though, can’t it? The same can be said for gaining any type of popularity I imagine, but with apps it can make or break a developer’s dream. With so many different avenues, though, the chances are at least good, one can hope. At least there are chances, right?

One way to get a quick head start? Attention from websites that review applications. If you make a good enough app, you’ll gain the attention of these sites, and even more down the line. It’s a good way to get your foot in the door, at least, especially when you look at how jam packed with apps these digital stores are.

The other way, though, is from app reviews right there in those stores. The reviews that people can see right when they check out the app. Where there are ratings, words, +1s, thumbs pointing up, or whatever else to signify an app is good or bad. Worth the download, or not really worthy of anything at all.

I download my fair share of apps every month. So many, sometimes, that a monthly allowance wouldn’t be a bad idea. And, from time to time, I’ll check out the app reviews before I hit that download button. I have found, though, that I read these just to pass time, or to see what others are saying about the app or game I’m currently installing. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a review that has prevented me from downloading something.

While I may not read reviews to sway my decision one way or another, I know that they do play a role in whether or not I even see an app in a digital store. Those ratings that I may not read are all aggregated to put together an overall score, which will lead to a higher placement in the store rankings if that’s how the rankings work.

So, they still matter to me. I may not read the details, but I get the gist thanks to those ranking stars. It’s like the Cliff Notes version, and I’m okay with that. Oh, and while I’ve rated apps in the past, I don’t think I’ve ever actually written a review for an app or game in an online store. Not yet, anyway.

So how do you feel about app reviews? Do you actually read the reviews people have written for some apps, before you buy or download it? Or do you just look at the stars, and make a determination from that? Do you skip them entirely, and just go off what you find out on your own? Let me know!


Aio Wireless rolls out 4G LTE service and expands to new markets, says ZTE Overture coming soon Jun 20th 2013, 16:05
ZTE Overture Aio WirelessIt was just a little over a month ago that Aio Wireless first launched as a prepaid provider that operates on AT&T’s HSPA network, but today the company announced a pretty major addition to its service that ought to make it more appealing to consumers in the markets where Aio is available.

Aio revealed this morning that it’s rolling out 4G LTE service, giving customers with LTE-capable hardware access to the AT&T LTE network that’s available in 278 markets. The company currently sells a couple of LTE-capable handsets, including the Galaxy Express and iPhone 5, and Aio says that it will push a software update to consumers that will enable their hardware to access the LTE network.

In addition to its existing LTE offerings, Aio announced today that it plans to launch the LTE-enabled ZTE Overture within the next month. The Overture features a 4-inch touchscreen, 5-megapixel rear camera, secondary front-facing camera and a microSD slot with support for cards up to 32GB in size. ZTE’s Overture is powered by Android Jelly Bean.

Aio Wireless also provided an update on its service rollout. Both Ft. Meyers and Naples, Fla., have been added to the list of markets that Aio is available in, joining the existing group of towns that includes Houston, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville and Gainesville, Fla. Aio says that it plans to continue to expand its presence to more cities later this year.

Aio offers a handful of different rate plans for dumbphones, smartphones and tablets. A tablet-only plan is available for $15 per month and offers 250MB of data, while smartphone customers can sign up for a $55 plan that includes unlimited talk, text and data with 2GB of high-speed data or a $70 offering that’s also unlimited but bumps the high-speed data allotment up to 7GB.

It’s good to see Aio add LTE service, especially since it’s only been a little over a month since the provider first broke onto the scene. AT&T recently added LTE support to its own GoPhone prepaid service, meaning that consumers interested in a prepaid operator with LTE service now have a couple more options. Looking at the plans available from Aio and AT&T, it looks like AT&T’s GoPhone service could be good for lighter data users, while Aio and its bigger data buckets may be a better option for power users (provided you live in an area where Aio is available, natch). Now that it’s added LTE service, what do you think of Aio Wireless? Would you sign up for Aio if it were available in your town?

Via AT&T (Image credit)


NVIDIA SHIELD price cut to $299, launch set for June 27 Jun 20th 2013, 14:20
NVIDIA SHIELD openNVIDIA announced a little over a month ago that its Android 4.2-powered SHIELD gaming handheld would launch in June for $349, but today the company has announced a small change of plans. Fortunately for anyone interested in picking up a SHIELD of their own, the change is a good one.

NVIDIA took to its official blog this morning to reveal that it has cut the price of the SHIELD by $50, meaning that the device will now cost $299. The company also confirmed the precise launch date for SHIELD, saying that it will officially be released on June 27. The SHIELD is currently available for pre-order from NVIDIA’s online shop. Customers that’ve already placed a pre-order for the handheld will receive the lower $299 price.

The NVIDIA SHIELD is a handheld gaming system that’s powered by Android Jelly Bean and features a 5-inch 1280×720 touchscreen. Inside the SHIELD is a quad-core Tegra 4 processor, 2GB RAM, 16GB storage, microSD card slot and 802.11n 2×2 Mimo Wi-Fi support. All of those specs form a recipe for what looks to be a beefy handheld gaming machine, and I’m sure that anyone that’s already pre-ordered a unit will be pleased to learn that they’ve now got an extra $50 to drop on new games to help break it in. What do you think of the NVIDIA SHIELD? Has this $50 price cut convinced any of you to pull the trigger (button) on one?



Verizon Galaxy S III maintenance update rolling out to users [UPDATED] Jun 20th 2013, 12:55
Verizon Samsung Galaxy S III VRBMDF1 updateSome Verizon Samsung Galaxy S III owners began experiencing issues with their handset after installing the recent I535VRBMD3 update that brought with it Multi-Window and a host of other tweaks. The good news is that a week after Verizon acknowledged the problem, it appears to be rolling out a new update to address the connectivity woes caused by the previous update.

As noted by Droid-Life, Verizon’s Galaxy S III is currently receiving an update to software version I535VRBMDF1. Several owners of the device have already been bumped up to the latest software, reporting that their data connectivity appears to have returned to normal after installation. Verizon hasn’t yet posted its official documentation for the VRBMDF1 update, so it’s not yet clear exactly what’s inside, but we could see that information posted soon now that the new software is making its way to users.

It’s never good to hear about consumers having issues with their handset after installing an update, and that’s especially true with this recent update for Verizon’s Galaxy S III. It was a major update for the device that brought with it several new features and bug fixes, but some folks ended up holding off on installing it, missing out on those goodies so that they didn’t have to risk running into the same connectivity issues that others were having. Thankfully, it didn’t take Samsung and Verizon too long to put together a new update to address the issues caused by the previous one.

I’ll update you once Verizon posts the changelog for the VRBMDF1 update. Until then, you Verizon Galaxy S III owners can let us know once the update hits your device down in the comments below.

UPDATE: Verizon has posted the full changelog for the I515VRMMF1 update. The new changelog is pretty similar to the old one, but it does add support for the VMWare Horizon Mobile Switch app as well as a mysterious “Google Security Patch.” The update is listed as weighing in at 116MB. You can find Verizon’s VRBMF1 changelog below:


  • Access your Wi-Fi connection easily on multiple devices when in Hotspot mode
  • Use ‘bill to my Verizon Wireless Account’ when buying apps from Google Play
  • Access phone screen without unlocking device when connected via Bluetooth headset
  • Use two apps simultaneously side-byside with Multi Screen and Multi Window
  • Categorize and display images, photos and videos with Samsung Gallery
  • Sync two devices and share content seamlessly with S Beam’s ‘Auto Share Shot’
  • Transfer content easily between devices with Samsung Smart Switch tool
  • Get popup suggestions from Page Buddy when connected to accessories like a wired stereo headset
  • Tag weather, people and place information in photos and video with Contextual Tag
  • Arrange apps in order of frequency of use for faster access with Contextual App Link
  • Pick the perfect group picture from five burst shots with ‘Best Shot’
  • Select and customize specific folders by category and file type with My Files tool
  • Save MMS attachments in your Gallery for quick posting and sharing
  • Create a variety of image styles with Paper Artist tool


  • Removed pop-up messages ‘Refreshing SIM Data’, ‘No SIM’ and ‘SD Card Inserted’
  • New message notification tone is no longer clipped
  • Devices remain in 4G mode without dropping to 3G when Hotspot is on
  • The Burst Shot setting is no longer the default setting in the Camera application
  • Consistent functionality of the Screen Time Out feature
  • Applications running prior to sleep mode will remain open when home key is pressed
  • Backspace button will no longer clear an entire sentence – only the intended word
  • Support for VMware Horizon Mobile Switch Application has been added to provide a secure, separate environment for your business appllications on the same device. For more information, please visit
  • Fixed an issue where web browsing would sometimes cause the device to reset
  • Lock screen function improved when screen is idle
  • NFC is now easier to turn on
  • Device is now recognized by the computer when connected via USB cable
  • Audio distortion fixed when connected to some Car Kits is resolved
  • All devices can now receive over-the-air software updates
  • Voice recognition performance is improved with the updated S Voice Application
  • ‘Remove All’ is now ‘Close All’ in the Task Manager menu
  • Google Security Patch has been added


  • Catch up on news easily with the Flipboard
  • Recognize contacts quickly with Caller Name ID application version 1.14.16

Via Droid-Life, Verizon Wireless


Nokia Lumia 920 Challenge, Day 22: Benefits of Windows Phone 8 Jun 20th 2013, 12:40
In this update to the Nokia Lumia 920 challenge, I’ve talked at length about the challenges Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 needs to overcome in order to be successful in the mobile space, so in this video, I’m flipping topic to the benefits of Windows Phone 8. Microsoft’s OS is easy to use and offers fantastic fluidity across the board, but beyond that, it brings to the table some fantastic features like an integrated People Hub and Live Tile integration for customization. The ecosystem could be better and Microsoft’s Store needs more of the big-name apps,but make no doubt about it – there are some great things to like about Windows Phone.

What would you like to see covered in the final videos of the Nokia Lumia 920 challenge? Let me know on Twitter @PhoneDog_Aaron!


Smartphones that are centered around social networking platforms will never work Jun 19th 2013, 16:45
As a person who has grown up with social networking websites, I can honestly say I’m addicted to them. It started out as a simple Xanga blog with gems like, “AUUUUUUGHHHHHH WHAT IS UP WITH MY COMMENTS?! THAT’S RIGHT, NOTHING, BECAUSE THERE ARE NONE!” (Actual excerpt from my Xanga in 2005). After Xanga fizzled (probably because I didn’t get any comments) I moved to MySpace, where you never really updated anything other than your profile picture and/or relationship status. I’m not sure when I decided to jump ship from MySpace to Facebook, but I imagine it was at the point when music and entertainment became the main focus of MySpace instead of connecting with your friends. Facebook is still where I currently spend most of my social networking time, but along with Facebook you have other popular choices like Twitter and Google+.

Along with the rise and fall of different social networking sites, the methods used to visit these types of websites have also changed. Physically sitting at a computer used to be the easiest way to visit these websites, but with the development of smartphones and the app markets that come with them social networking has been taken to a whole new level of convenience when it comes to updating your status, uploading a photo, or sharing media with each other. A designated application was the perfect solution to give users the full experience of a social network from our phones without having to deal with the limitations of traditional “mobile” versions. And that’s all that social networks ever needed.

We’ve seen HTC come to pass with not one, but two “Facebook phones” that have tried and failed. The HTC ChaCha was the first Facebook phone that flopped. This was back in 2011, back when nobody was joking when they called an Android phone “low end”. It was pretty much guaranteed to give you problems sooner rather than later. Top it off with the fact that any Android phone could download a Facebook app just as easily and this phone didn’t offer anything extra special other than a designated Facebook button – whoopty-doo! The phone was pretty much doomed from the start.

The second device was more recent – the HTC First. The HTC First was advertised as the new “Facebook phone” featuring a new launcher, Facebook Home. This is likely what truly threw off its sales. After we got our hands on the product, we found out that it actually made a pretty solid nearly-stock Android device once you turned the Facebook Home launcher off. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done: it had already been branded as “The Facebook Phone”, and therefore anybody not interested in a Facebook phone most likely dismissed it without question.

Facebook Home makes for a nice alternative launcher for those who are interested, but I feel like it should have only ever been launched as that – an alternative launcher. The HTC First should have been launched as an almost-vanilla Android device with an emphasis on the option to download Facebook Home.

So we already have two failed phones that tried to make it work with a modern, popular social networking platform. Today, tech news website Ars Technica revealed that Samsung reportedly turned away Facebook, who was springing the idea to make yet another Facebook phone. Good on you for learning from HTC, Samsung; but Facebook… come on. The whole “third time is a charm” thing doesn’t work for everything.

Realistically, a phone that’s created to center around one social network will never work. I mean honestly, every smartphone is already a Facebook phone; every phone is also a Twitter phone, a LinkedIn phone, a YouTube phone, a Reddit phone, a whatever you want it to be phone. That’s what we like about them – the ability to add and remove different elements as they come and go from our lives. Social networking sites are unpredictably disposable. They come and go. They start off simple, they get big, they get greedy, and people leave; to the left, to the left. Move on to the next social networking site, delete the previous app, and download the new one. Voila. Everybody’s happy.

We don’t need a Facebook Phone, a Twitter Phone, or a whatever-other-website-happens-to-be-popular at the time phone; just let the manufacturers stick to making good hardware, and the social networking sites stick to honing on their respective apps. It’s just that simple.

Images via Facebook, Technology Review


LG: Optimus G successor will be powered by Snapdragon 800 processor Jun 19th 2013, 16:25
LG Optimus G rearLG hasn’t officially announced the follow-up to last year’s Optimus G flagship, but tonight the manufacturer revealed one of the pieces of hardware that’ll be inside the upcoming smartphone. LG and Qualcomm have confirmed that the successor to the Optimus G will be powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor.

The two companies say that the Snapdragon 800 offers 75 percent better performance than the Snapdragon S4 Pro that powered the original Optimus G (OG OG?) as well as an enhanced architecture that’ll offer dynamic power sensing and control, which will lead to optimum performance from each core as well as improved battery life. Also included with the Snapdragon 800 is an Adreno 330 GPU, Ultra HD video capture and playback capabilities and support for 4G LTE Advanced Carrier Aggregation, which maximizes spectrum bandwidth to provide faster data speeds and lower latency.

There’s not much else that we know about LG’s Optimus G follow-up, but the fact that it’ll come to market with a Snapdragon 800 chip means that it’ll like be a device that spec hounds will want to keep an eye out for. LG previously said that the next Optimus G will debut sometime in Q3 2013, so as long as the company can stick to that timeframe, we should start hearing more about the future flagship in the coming months. What other features would you like to see LG include in its Optimus G successor?

Via LG Newsroom


U.S. Cellular’s Samsung Galaxy S III receiving update with Multi-Window and other new features Jun 19th 2013, 11:55
Samsung Galaxy S III Marble WhiteMulti-Window is one of the most popular features of Samsung’s Galaxy series of Android products, allowing the user to run two apps at once by giving each app half of their device’s screen. The feature has been steadily making its way to U.S. carrier branded Galaxy S III models recently, including those on T-Mobile and Verizon, and today another operator is bringing Multi-Window to its Galaxy S III.

U.S. Cellular has announced a new update for its flavor of the Galaxy S III that will bring it up to baseband version R530UVXAMD4. The update brings with it Samsung’s Premium Suite of features that it originally announced for the Galaxy S III late in 2012. U.S. Cellular’s list of features that are included with this Premium Suite update is as follows:

  • Multi-Window – 2 applications can be operating at the same time by dividing the screen into 2 windows
  • Contextual Page – Device suggests the apps and the widget related to status of device
  • Contextual Tag – (1) Tag Weather, place and people information automatically when user take photo or video. (2) Add place and time information on voice recordings file name when it was created.
  • Contextual Menu – Arrange applications in order of frequency of usage in Task Manager and Attachment list
  • Samsung Gallery – Categorize and show photos and videos
  • My Files – My Files option is turned on like Galaxy Note II

U.S. Cellular says that this new update is currently making its way to Galaxy S III owners over the air, so if you count yourself as part of that group, you’ll want to keep an eye out for an update notification in the coming days. A manual update method is also planned for those users that don’t want to wait for the OTA push, but that option is currently unavailable because the new software hasn’t been uploaded to Samsung or U.S. Cellular’s sites yet. While we wait to hear more, why don’t you U.S. Cellular Galaxy S III owners watch for the OTA and start making a list of all the apps that you want to run side-by-side with Multi-Window?

Via Android Police, U.S. Cellular: Facebook, Android downloads


Megapixels still matter to me, just not as much Jun 19th 2013, 11:00
Alright, so I kinda sorta have a confession that I feel like I need to get off my chest: Despite all that has been said about the subject, megapixels still matter to me. It’s taken me a little while to realize this, but it’s true. I have a total bias against cameras that don’t have at higher megapixel count, despite the fact that we’ve recently found out that it’s really not so much about the megapixels that make a good image, but more so the type of features that a camera uses.

Taiwanese company HTC recently attempted to debunk the theory that just because a camera has a higher megapixel count doesn’t necessarily mean that the resulting pictures have better quality. They did this by releasing a 4-megapixel “UltraPixel” camera, which ultimately (to make a long explanation short) means that a sensor in the camera is bigger in order to help capture light better in a photo and help reduce noise. There’s a far more technical way of explaining it, but without knowing much about photography myself I’m fairly certain I would butcher the terminology into oblivion. I initially applauded HTC’s execution of showing the world that megapixels don’t always mean “better”. However, even comparisons show that the HTC’s low megapixel count can sell itself short in some aspects of a photo.

I can’t shake the opinion that megapixels still mean something, and I know that it has something to do with the fact that the word ‘megapixels’ have been drilled into my head since the very early days of camera phones. The first camera phone that was introduced to the market was the Nokia 7650 in 2002 – that’s just a little over ten years ago. It featured a 0.3-megapixel camera, and if you asked anybody what they thought of a camera phone at the time, they’d probably tell you it was the bees’ knees. Phones with a camera included would quickly become an industry standard from that point on.

As time passed, the shooter on the back of a phone only seemed to get better: 0.3-megapixels, 1.3-megapixels, 3.2-megapixels, 5-megapixels, 8-megapixels, 13-megapixels, and even 41-megapixels. Up until the point where the HTC One arrived on the market we had primarily been focused on increasing the megapixel count. Did the images really improve from the 0.3-megapixel cameras of the early 2000’s to the 8 or 13-megapixels we have today? Of course they did. If you compare any 0.3-megapixel image with a 13-megapixel image you’re going to notice a world of difference: less “noise”, easily identifiable objects, and clearer images are what you’re going to find. Megapixels aren’t entirely irrelevant – I believe there is still a pretty big importance to them to an extent.

While megapixels still matter to me, I think we have passed the point where they really need to expand for the average user. There is a finite point where megapixels provide any relevance to how good an image turns out; the rest depends on other features. That being said, I think HTC is on the right track with the One in getting the most out of a smartphone camera (we do have to realize that these cameras are not meant to offer us a professional experience – they will have flaws). Through most comparisons I’ve seen between the HTC One’s camera and other cameras of higher megapixel count you can see that the UltraPixel camera does something right, especially in low-lit situations. Many tests determined that the HTC One has even matched up with the highly-praised Nokia Lumia 920 camera (which has impressed me in almost all types of photographic situations). It’s when you start to crop and zoom with the UltraPixel camera where the real problem becomes evident. Phones with higher megapixel count will give you better detail with crop and zoom compared to the UltraPixel, and as a person who often crops and zooms on images, that becomes somewhat of a problem for me.

My point here is that smartphone cameras like the UltraPixel, which does a decent job of proving that other features of a camera are also important, also show that megapixels still have an advantage in ways that sensors alone cannot enhance. So instead of me saying that megapixels don’t matter, I’m going to change my stance and rephrase it by saying that megapixels don’t matter as much as I once thought they did. They still matter, but megapixels aren’t the only thing that make a camera take good pictures.

Readers, what is your stance on a camera’s megapixels? Do you still take megapixel count into consideration when comparing smartphone cameras? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below!

Thumbnail Image via Digital Trends


Microsoft was reportedly close to buying Nokia’s devices arm Jun 19th 2013, 09:55
Steve Ballmer, Stephen ElopMicrosoft and Nokia have been working together as a Windows Phone team ever since they formed a “strategic partnership” in early 2011, but according to a new report, the two companies very nearly became much more than that. Sources speaking to The Wall Street Journal claim that Microsoft and Nokia were recently involved in “advanced discussions” about a deal that would see Microsoft buy Nokia’s device business.

According to the tipsters, Microsoft and Nokia made “significant progress” on a potential deal and were close to reaching an oral agreement. The talks are said to have taken place in London as recently as this month. However, the discussions have reportedly hit a snag as of late, with one source adding that the two firms are unlikely to start up the talks again. Microsoft allegedly walked away from the potential deal due to its price and Nokia’s standing behind Apple and Samsung in the mobile industry.

Microsoft and Nokia have been close partners ever since early 2011, but a straight-up Microsoft purchase of Nokia’s devices division would’ve been huge news for the mobile industry. Not only would the deal involve the sale of a part of a major manufacturer, but it’d also mean that Microsoft would be getting more involved in Windows Phone hardware. It’d definitely be interesting to see what kind of products a Microsoft-owned Nokia would churn out, but that could also have the potential to drive off some other Windows Phone device makers (even though Nokia is responsible for a majority of the existing hardware). What do you all make of this rumor? Do you think it’d be a good idea for Microsoft to buy Nokia’s phone business?

Via The Wall Street Journal


Featured user review Samsung Galaxy Note II 6-19-13 Jun 19th 2013, 08:53
This is one of our giveaway weeks via the Official Smartphone Rankings so be sure to get your vote in! If last week’s third place finisher, the Samsung Galaxy Note II is what you want to win, get to voting! It is currently trending 4th.“Great device overall” By JOE GERARDI on June 18, 2013

Display: Very bright vivid colors on a HUGE 5.5 inch display

Call Quality: Speaker phone was great and produced loud sounds. Non speaker on the other hand, not so great in my use.

Battery Life: What an impressive battery for such a large bright display. Very impressed. Did I say how good it was?

Design: Feels a little better (maybe being heavier) than the s4 with some nice touches with the chrome edges.

Apps: What can I say about Samsungs bloatware and features. Most will never be used by myself but the things I do use work great and have become a staple for my daily use. S pen is not a novelty.

9/10 for this premium device. On a side note i will say there are certain issues with Wifi, namely not being able to keep a stable wifi connection. Eats data if you were unlucky enough to have this problem.

Display 5/5
Battery Life 5/5
Apps & Media Support 5/5
Reception & Call Quality 3/5
Design/Form Factor 4/5

Overall 4.4

Official Smartphone Rankings™, vote now then leave a review.

Did you pick up the Samsung Galaxy Note II? Tell us about it here.


PhoneDog PhoneFacts, Episode 5: Uber Nerd Jun 19th 2013, 07:45
Aaron Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3Jonesing for more PhoneDog PhoneFacts after last week’s information-filled episode? Well you’re in luck, friend, because episode five of PhoneDog PhoneFacts is here.

Titled “Uber Nerd,” the latest installment in the video series from PhoneDog and Tiny Galaxy covers phone/tablet hybrids. Whether you call them phablets or just really big phones, there’s no denying that the product category is growing quickly. In this week’s episode of PhoneDog PhoneFacts, Aaron highlights some of the positive aspects of these large devices and gives suggestions on new ways to use them. If you’re currently rocking a big phone or are in the market for one, this is episode of PhoneDog PhoneFacts is for you!

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PhoneDog 101: How to use Google+ Jun 19th 2013, 06:35
Our world is a fascinating place, and one could argue that it has never been more diverse, opinionated, and ever changing than it is right now. Today we stand connected to our friends and families in more ways than ever before, and Google has given us the perfect tool to help build and maintain those connections with Google+.

Google+ is a cross platform social networking tool that lets us organize how we discover and share information that’s important to us. The mobile industry is always looking for ways to bring people closer together and Google+ lets us connect in ways we have never seen before, utilizing tools like Hangouts, Communities, Circles, and an extensive photo backup and sharing system. So let’s take a closer look at the social network in this PhoneDog 101: How to use Google+.

Stay connected

The point of any social network is to connect with the people, artists, and interests that are important to you. Google+ takes that to a whole new level by providing you with tools like communities and circles. My personal favorite feature of Google+ is the Communities feature. With Google+ Communities you can search for a larger group of people who share a common interests like cooking, technology, or sports for example. If you’re like me, a Boston Bruins fan who lives in a Chicago Blackhawks favored area during the Stanley Cup, the Bruins community on Google+ is a great place to come together with other fans.

However, staying connected with the people in your life gets even easier with circles. The idea behind Circles is that when you don’t necessarily want to share with your boss at work what you would with your friends, you don’t have to. Circles let you choose which people to share with, without the mess of blocking or hiding people. This creates a much more realistic relationship- based network, much like how we interact with people offline day to day. Users create a new Circle or add people to existing Circles, when you connect with them on Google+. This keeps your friends, for example, separate from you’re co-workers.

Never lose a photo again

With Google+ you can set up your profile so that anytime you take a picture with your smartphone, you automatically find the photo backed up on your personal Google profile. You can choose to keep the photos private for your viewing only, or to share them with your Circles and Communities. Not only does the photo backup feature keep a personal stockpile of your life’s precious moments, but it also allows you to enhance the photos with an extensive amount of filters and tools.

To upload and share a photo, first turn on auto upload from Google+ settings (remember its private so nobody else can see your photos). Take your picture and then go into your Google+ application. The application will prompt you to select the photo right away to share, place a location, or edit. Go ahead and tap the picture to select it, and hit the share button. From here, it will let you choose which Circles or Communities to share the photo with. You can also write a description and tag a location to go along with the photo. Again tap share, and you will have uploaded the photo for your specific Circles.


Talking about Google+ wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention the awesome Hangouts feature. This cross platform application lets you continue the conversation no matter where you are. This feature is especially handy when it comes to groups of people that use different operating systems for their mobile devices. For example, the group texting feature works really well from iPhone to iPhone, but once someone joins in on an Android device, the group gets broken up.

With the separate Hangouts application, you can keep the gang together. You can group chat or even video conference on the go. This feature keeps you in the same Google ecosystem no matter what you’re using. For iOS and Android users, be sure to download the separate application from the App store or Google Play Store. Once the application is downloaded, simply log in using your Gmail log in information. You will notice all of your Google contacts are ready for you to interact with already. From there, go ahead and start chatting!

All in all, Google+ provides its users with an immersive and personal experience that is in some ways unmatched by any other social network today. Although the application is only for iOS and Android devices, users can still receive and send updates and photos through any mobile browser and SMS. With the great photo backup tool, Hangouts application, and an easy to use interface that lets you collaborate and discover with others; Google+ is a great application for any mobile user.

Now to turn it over to you, the reader: Do you already use Google+ or do you prefer other applications for social networking? Do you have a favorite Community on Google+ or do you use the service for photo backup? Let us know in the comments!


NEC Terrain hitting AT&T on June 21 for $99.99, packs physical keyboard and rugged body Jun 19th 2013, 06:20
AT&T NEC Terrain officialJune 21 might have to be declared “Physical QWERTY Smartphone Day” for AT&T customers, as the big blue carrier has announced that a new keyboard-packin’ Android phone will be launching alongside the BlackBerry Q10 on that date. AT&T just revealed that the NEC Terrain will be hitting its AT&T Business Solutions channels and its website on June 21, with pricing set at $99.99 with a two-year commitment.

As you can see in the image above, the NEC Terrain sports a portrait QWERTY keyboard, a feature that we don’t often see on Android phones. Along with that ‘board, the Android 4.0-powered Terrain packs a 3.1-inch display, 8-megapixel rear and 0.3-megapixel cameras, 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor and 8GB of built-in storage that can be supplemented with a microSD card. The rugged outer shell of the Terrain offers resistance to both dust and water and also meets military specifications for shock distribution. Rounding out the Terrain’s feature list is 4G LTE connectivity and support for AT&T’s Enhanced Push-to-Talk service, including a dedicated PTT key.

With its ruggedized body, PTT support and physical keyboard, the NEC Terrain is definitely a device that’s targeted at enterprise customers. However, the Terrain is a noteworthy product for the rest of us because it’s a new Android smartphone with a hardware keyboard bolted on (and a portrait one, at that), which is something that we haven’t seen in a while. Its spec list may not set your pants on fire, but if you’re an AT&T customer that absolutely needs to feel a physical QWERTY under your thumbs, the NEC Terrain may be an option to consider.

Via AT&T (Image credit)


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Verizon confirms that it’s considering a move into Canada, identifies Wind Mobile as one option Jun 19th 2013, 17:45
Verizon logo Pantech MarauderWell, that didn’t take long. Shortly after a report claimed that Verizon is considering an entry into the Canadian wireless market with an acquisition of Wind Mobile or Mobilicity, the big red carrier has confirmed that it is thinking about making a move to the north.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo said that his company is “looking at the opportunity” of entering the Canadian wireless market and taking part in a Canadian spectrum auction that’s set for January. However, Shammo went on to explain that Verizon is currently just “dipping [its] toe in the water,” saying that the company is still in the early stages of weighing an entry into Canada and warning that such a move could be complicated by regulations.

Shammo wouldn’t say which Canadian carrier(s) that Verizon is currently in talks with, but Verizon spokesman Bob Varettoni later confirmed that Wind Mobile is one of the entities that Verizon is interested in. “We constantly evaluate a wide variety of business opportunities, and this is one of many,” Varettoni said in a statement to Bloomberg.

Verizon is currently one of the two largest U.S. operators, and with the Canadian government’s desire to create a fourth major wireless operator to take on Rogers, Bell and Telus, Verizon could very well decide to enter the Canadian market. With its experience in rolling out LTE service and spectrum purchases, it’d be pretty interesting to see what Verizon could do if it does end up invading Canada. Now we just have to wait and see if the Verizon thinks that the possibility of becoming a major player in the Canadian wireless market is worth the effort of buying up a smaller carrier and taking part in a spectrum auction. Do you think that Verizon will make a move into Canada?

Via FierceWireless, Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal


Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 Video Review Part 2 Jun 19th 2013, 16:45
If you thought the Galaxy Note II and LG Optimus G Pro were enormous, take a look at the Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3, because it takes “big” to a whole new level. It’s packed to the gills with some nice features, but it’s a huge piece of phone. Specifications include a 1.7 GHz dual-core Snapdragon CPU, 6.3-inch HD display with 223ppi, 8-megapixel camera with 1080p HD recording, 1.5 GB of RAM, 3,200 mAh battery, and Android 4.2.2 with TouchWiz. It’s available for purchase through online specialty retailers like Negri Electronics.

From a hardware perspective, it’s a mid-range smartphone, but it offers a new display size for those that want to merge their tablet and phone experiences into one. Better yet, by virtue of being new, it brings over some of the features from the Galaxy S 4. Is it worth buying unlocked (and unsubsidized)? Part 2 of 2.


Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 Video Review Part 1 Jun 19th 2013, 16:35
If you thought the Samsung Galaxy Note II was huge, take a look at the Galaxy Mega, because it’s even bigger! It’s packed to the gills with features, but it’s a gigantic smartphone. Specifications include a 1.7 GHz dual-core Snapdragon CPU, 6.3-inch HD display with 223ppi, 8-megapixel camera with 1080p HD recording, 1.5 GB of RAM, 3,200 mAh battery, and Android 4.2.2 with TouchWiz. It’s available for purchase through online specialty retailers like Negri Electronics.

From a hardware perspective, it’s a mid-range experience, but it offers a new display size for those that want to merge their tablet and phone experiences into one. Is it worth buying unlocked? Part 1 of 2.


LG Optimus F7 expanding Boost Mobile’s 4G LTE lineup on June 27, pricing set at $299.99 Jun 19th 2013, 15:50
LG Optimus F7 Boost MobileJust like the rumors foretold, Boost Mobile today announced its plans to launch the LG Optimus F7. The Optimus F7 will be hitting Boost’s shelves on June 27 for $299.99 sans commitment, and when it does, it’ll boast compatibility with the Sprint 4G LTE network. Sprint recently expanded its LTE coverage, growing the network’s footprint to 110 markets.

Along with LTE connectivity, Boost’s flavor of the Optimus F7 features a 4.7-inch True HD IPS touchscreen, “Instant Alert” home button with LED and a 1.3-megapixel camera on its face, as well as an 8-megapixel shooter on its rear. Inside the Optimus F7 is Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and compatibility with Sprint’s 3G and 4G LTE networks. The Optimus F7 comes preloaded with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and some LG-exclusive software add-ons, like the VuTalk app that lets users share notes with one another in real time and the QuickMemo app for taking screenshots and scribbling down a note or two on them.

As with other Android phones on Boost Mobile, the Optimus F7 can be used with the operator’s $55 Android Monthly Unlimited plan with Shrinking Payments. The plan includes unlimited talk, text and web, though users will see their speeds slowed after consuming more than 2.5GB of data in a single cycle. For every six on-time payments that a customer makes, his or her monthly cost will drop by $5, eventually getting as low as $40 per month.

With its large, high-res display and 4G LTE connectivity, the Optimus F7 slots nicely into the higher-end of Boost Mobile’s lineup. It’s also worth noting that the Optimus F7 is Boost’s fourth LTE-capable smartphone, which is an impressive stat considering that the Sprint MVNO only began offering LTE-compatible handsets a little over three months ago. If you’re interested in getting a better idea of what the Optimus F7 is all about while waiting for its arrival on Boost’s shelves, Aaron’s hands-on with the international variant of the F7 is available below.

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Via Boost Mobile


LG’s rumored always-on voice commands sound amazing Jun 19th 2013, 14:45
When you saw the laundry list of features that the Samsung Galaxy S 4 boasts, what was your initial thought? After you looked over the list, and you saw all those fancy features with the word “smart” in front of them, did you immediately think they were all gimmicks? Just cheap tricks to get you to buy the phone? Or did you think all those new abilities added to the overall quality of the device, and justified its price tag?

Where you fall on either side of that fence depends on a lot of things. The truth is, I personally think that some of those features are indeed just gimmicks. However, I will also admit that I believe Samsung does indeed add quite a bit of value to their devices, courtesy of the built-in software features. If they are gimmicks, then they’re simply gimmicks because they’re new technology, or even just new ideas using old tech.

If they are a gimmick, then they are a gimmick now, and will hopefully become the standard at some point in the future.

Samsung’s marketing played a big role in my attitude towards the features they’ve packed into their newest flagship device. If you just see them on paper, or even two pieces of paper, you may just shake your head and dismiss the majority of them, simply because you’re a traditionalist and you want to use your phone like everyone else (who doesn’t own a GS 4), or even how you used to use your phone before you picked up the new shiny toy from Samsung.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to use your phone the way you used to use your phone. The touchscreen on our phones are still there to be touched after all. But obviously Samsung wants you to interact with your phone in new and different ways. And, in some specific situations, they want you to interact with your phone that makes it easier on you.

So, what’s easier than waving your hand in front of your phone’s display? How about voice? Voice is pretty easy, right? I mean, sure, you’ve got to hit a button to activate the voice controls, but once you get passed that little hurdle, you’re good to go. Just tell your phone what you want, and as long as the command is supported, it gets done. No taps on the display. No digging in menus. No reading text messages. Your phone is there to serve you, and with a gentle prod from your vocal chords, your wish will be done.

How can we make voice easier? Well, what if we remove that whole button pressing thing, and just have voice controls always on?

Wait, wait. You’re telling me that already exists, sort of? Why yes, yes it does! The Galaxy S III, and now the Galaxy S 4, both feature the ability to wake the device from its slumber by saying something like, “Hi, Galaxy.” After you do that, you’re able to throw a few more voice commands at your phone, courtesy of S Voice. Easy, right?

Apparently that isn’t easy enough, because LG wants to try their hand at making it even more streamlined. According to a report from Gotta Be Mobile, LG is currently gearing up to launch a phone in 2014 with always-on voice commands. So, your phone is always listening, just waiting for you to tell it to do something.

The obvious question you should be asking yourself is, “How is that different than what Samsung has?” Well, S Voice’s abilities are pretty restricted, just as Apple’s Siri is restricted, and Microsoft’s Windows Phone’s voice controls are pretty straight forward in their role. Google Now, too, just can’t quite do everything (except read your mind). So, how is LG planning on making it better?

Well, they plan on incorporating the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, for one. But, more than that, they plan on making it possible for someone to literally tell their phone to do anything, and it will do it. In the initial report, it’s suggested that the owner of this new LG-branded device could open Google Maps, and then tell their phone to zoom in, or pan right, or zoom out.

You’d be able to switch home screen displays. You’d be able to open, start, close, transition, and everything else on your device without ever touching it. All by telling it what to do. This is, obviously, just the next logical step for voice commands on our devices, and indeed there are rumors out there that hint that LG may not be the only company planning this sort of new movement in their phones.

Samsung would be an obvious shoe-in for this sort of thing. But, could you imagine a phone like Motorola’s upcoming X Phone with this technology? Combine the action of voice commands for every part of your phone with the sensors that know where your phone is at all times? That’s a pretty exciting idea right there.

I love new technology in phones, and if LG (and any other manufacturer working on this idea) can make it work flawlessly right out of the box, then I think there’s definitely a place for always-on voice commands in our phones. Though, I can only imagine how it would look with someone sitting in a coffee shop, telling their phone over and over again to pan in and out of a Google Maps session.

So tell me what you think of the idea. Would you use a feature like that at all? If you have a Galaxy S-branded device with S Voice, do you use the similar feature now? Would you use it more of its functionality was broadened significantly? Or, do you think this is a pointless idea? Let me know!


AT&T grows 4G LTE footprint with new and expanded coverage Jun 19th 2013, 13:15
AT&T Samsung Focus 2One week after its previous 4G LTE network expansion, AT&T has announced that its LTE footprint is growing once again. The big blue carrier said this morning that its LTE service is now available in five new markets and that it has expanded in an additional four locales. The announcements made so far are as follows:

New markets

  • Florence-Muscle Shoals, Ala.
  • Gallup, N.M.
  • Rio Grande Valley, Texas
  • Tri-Cities, Wash.
  • Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Expanded markets

  • Logan, Ohio (now includes portions of Hocking and Meigs counties)
  • New Bedford, Mass. (now includes portions of New Bedford, Acushnet, Berkley, Freetown, North Dighton, Marion, Rehoboth and Westport)
  • Providence and Kent counties, R.I. (now includes parts of Chepachet, Coventry, Exeter, Glocester, Johnston, North Smithfield and West Greenwich)
  • Salinas, Calif. (now includes parts of King City)

More LTE coverage is always a good thing, especially when the new and expanded service is sprinkled throughout the U.S. like today’s AT&T’s expansion is. If you live in one of the areas listed above and are rocking some AT&T LTE-compatible hardware, be sure to swing by the comments section below and let us know how the network is treating you on this fine Wednesday morning!

Via AT&T (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), (7), (8), (9)


HTC Butterfly S debuts with 5-inch 1080p display, quad-core chip and 3,200mAh battery Jun 19th 2013, 12:30
HTC Butterfly S colors officialJust a week after posing for some “in the wild” glamour shots, the HTC Butterfly S has been made officially official. This new entry in HTC’s Butterfly series doesn’t look terribly different from the model that launched last year, which hit Verizon in the U.S. under the “DROID DNA” name, save for the addition of dual front-facing BoomSound speakers. However, the Butterfly S does sport some upgraded internals that make it a pretty nice successor to the original Butterfly:

  • 5-inch 1080p Super LCD 3 display
  • 1.9GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor
  • UltraPixel rear camera, 2.1-megapixel front-facing shooter
  • 16GB storage, microSD card slot
  • 2GB RAM
  • 3,200mAh battery
  • HTC Sense 5 with BlinkFeed
  • HSPA+ connectivity
  • Available in gray, red or white versions

In addition to adding an “S” to its name, this new Butterfly appears to have borrowed some features from HTC’s flagship One smartphone to help cement itself as one of the manufacturer’s top high-end handsets. One big improvement that the Butterfly S has over both the One and the Butterfly is its 3,200mAh battery, which is considerably beefier than the One’s 2,200mAh pack and the Butterfly’s 2,020mAh battery. A larger battery may not be the most attractive-sounding spec upgrade ever, but it is a pretty major feature that ought to keep Butterfly S owners connected for quite a while.

HTC says that the Butterfly S is slated to arrive in Taiwan in July with a price tag of NT$22,900 (around $767 USD). There’s no word on when or if the Butterfly S might make its way to other regions, but the OG Butterfly ended up hitting places like Japan and the U.S. in addition to Taiwan, so it’s certainly possible that we’ll see something similar happen with the Butterfly S. Until then, you can check out an quick HTC promo video for the Butterfly S below.

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Via HTC Taiwan (Google translation), HTC Butterfly S product page


AT&T Street Charge program bringing 25 solar-powered charging stations to New York City Jun 18th 2013, 17:45
AT&T Street Charge solar-powered charging stationThe smartphone industry is made up of many different platforms and manufacturers that can divide users into different camps, but one of the few things that affects everyone is battery life. Sure, your Galaxy S 4 may have a ton of extra software features or you might be rocking an iPhone 5 with iOS 7, but none of those things matter all that much if your phone’s battery is dead. Battery life is becoming (slightly) less of an issue for residents of New York City today, though, because AT&T is launching solar-powered charging stations throughout the city to help keep devices topped up.

AT&T has teamed up with design firm Pensa and mobile solar tech company Goal Zero to install 25 solar-powered Street Charge charging stations in New York City, including places like Metrotech Plaza, Rockaway Beach and Union Square Park. The New York Times notes that each station can charge six different devices at a time and features plugs for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry hardware as well as standard USB cables. The stations are capable of filling a phone’s battery in two hours, but they can also provide a 30 percent boost of juice in 30 minutes.

The structures themselves are 12.5 feet tall and feature a trio of solar panels at the top. They’ll be rotated throughout different locations in New York City, with stations getting moved every three to four weeks through October. The companies involved also prepared these charging stations for situations in which they might go without sunshine for a period of time; each unit features a 168-watt battery pack that can keep the station going throughout the night.

These Street Charge stations look like pretty handy ways for cellphone owners to top up their devices while out and about. Not only can it be tough to find an outlet in some areas, especially in places like parks where many of these stations will be located, but not everyone wants to carry a charger and cable with them at all times. That’s where this charging stations come in, and the fact that they harness solar power to juice up gadgets make them even neater.

The Street Charge program is currently in its pilot phase, by AT&T says that it could roll the service out to other cities if it proves successful. A promotional video highlighting the charging stations can be found below.

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Via The New York Times


Weekly Bone: Galaxy S 4 vs. iPhone 5, iOS 7 changes, and more! Jun 18th 2013, 17:40
The Weekly Bone is back, and Marco is talking about Aaron’s dogfight between the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and iPhone 5, along with changes to iOS 7. It’s a complete overhaul for Apple, and while the new design is receiving mixed reviews, it is a ground-up revision of what we’ve seen in the past. Also discussed, the next iteration of Apple’s iPhone and what it will bring to the table against its competitors. It was a busy week in mobile – catch up with it all in this week’s episode!


Dish Network doesn’t submit revised bid for Sprint, says it will focus on Clearwire offer Jun 18th 2013, 12:30
Dish Network logoJust a day after the Sprint-Clearwire-Dish Network love triangle took its craziest turn yet, some news regarding Dish and SoftBank’s battle for Sprint has surfaced. Dish announced this evening that it doesn’t have a new offer for Sprint following the revised agreement struck between Sprint and SoftBank last week.

In a statement issued this evening, Dish explains that factors like the “extreme deal protections” included in that agreement make it “impractical” for it to put together a counteroffer by the June 18 deadline set by Sprint and SoftBank. As a result, Dish says that it will “consider” its options regarding Sprint and focus on getting its deal with Clearwire done.

Sprint and SoftBank first announced their plans to get together back in October 2012, and the two companies recently announced a new agreement that will see SoftBank dropping $21.6 billion for a 78 percent stake in Sprint. Their agreement has already been approved by several U.S. regulatory bodies, including the Justice Department and the Committee on Foreign Investment.

Dish’s attempt to acquire Sprint threw a bit of a wrench into SoftBank and Sprint’s plans, but now it appears that their deal just got a lot closing to its finish line. While it must still be OK’d by the FCC, neither Sprint nor SoftBank seem concerned about gaining approval, saying that they expect their agreement to reach completion by early July.

Dish today also issued a statement regarding the lawsuit that Sprint has filed against it and Clearwire. Dish describes Sprint’s suit as a “transparent attempt to divert attention from its failure to deal fairly with Clearwire’s shareholders,” going on to accuse Sprint of trying to block Clearwire’s stockholders from getting a fair price for their shares of the company. Finally, Dish says that it’s confident that its offer for Clearwire will be upheld. Both of Dish’s statements can be found at the links below.

Via Dish Network: Sprint proposal, Sprint complaint


Bored with your smartphone? Create something new Jun 18th 2013, 11:05
You’re getting bored with your smartphone. It’s OK to admit it. My fellow editor, Evan, wrote a post not long ago asking how you all keep from becoming fatigued and uninterested with your devices. My question is, why? Why do we look at our current handsets — these powerful little computers that once seemed impossible — with a little dreariness and disdain?

We’re bored because we’re obsessed. It’s almost simple as that.

My smartphone obsession started almost 10 years ago, when I’d spend a good chunk of my days browsing Howard Forums. We’d talk about the hot new phones at the time, like the $500 Motorola RAZR, and there was even a community of buyers and sellers where we’d sell or trade phones. Exotic phones were all the rage, like the Motorola Ming, and it was pretty exciting.

Then, it was a new BlackBerry, Nokia, Helio, iPhone, Sidekick, and eventually, I moved to Android devices. Phones became prettier, more exciting, and very powerful.

After a while, though, smartphones have become pretty homogenous. There are few slider phones, flip phones, double-slider phones, back-flipping phones, swivel phones, and so on. Today’s devices are slabs — giant slabs of screen and apps and processing power. What distinguishes one manufacturer’s flagship smartphone from another’s flagship just doesn’t seem terribly exciting anymore.

For a little while, apps saved us from becoming completely turned off. But like the devices themselves, apps have also saturated us to tears. There are hundreds of camera and photo editing apps, boring games, social networking apps, and utilities. Many of you suggested that downloading new apps or new skins and launchers were temporary fixes for your boredom.

However, I believe our boredom is a symptom of something bigger. I’m not sure what that is, but it’s probably the same thing that keeps us wanting new cars, clothes, shoes, appliances, computers, and other junk when what we have now is perfectly fine.

If new apps, cases, skins, and launchers don’t help in giving you that out-of-the-box feeling all over again, try creating something new with your phone.

I’ve seen incredible photos and videos that have been shot and edited with smartphones, for example. We’re not talking shaky home videos here, but featurettes and shorts that make you question whether they were really shot on smartphones.

If still photography or videography isn’t your thing, why not create a little art? We’ve all seen the New Yorker cover that was painted on an iPhone, but if you’re not up to that speed yet, it couldn’t hurt to try and hone that craft.

Or you can make sweet music on your smartphone or tablet. Think of all the music and instrument apps there are out there. Remember the iPad DJ? Or the band that played together in the NYC subway using their smartphones?

Whatever it is you’re into, don’t just think about it. Do it. Go make a crazy video that has us scratching our heads as to how you made it. Explore street photography with your smartphone’s discreet camera. Make music. Download apps to learn a new language. Create fun projects for yourself that uses your smartphone as a tool, because that’s what these things are — powerful and versatile tools. And they’re affordable and fit right in our pockets.

Pick something, or a few things, and create something every day. Stick with it and keep consistent. Just remember that the things you can create with your device are more powerful and moving than just customizing your launcher so that it looks different from the way it did last week.

When you do make that cool new video, painting, or music track that you’re proud of, share it with us!


Windows Phone 8 beats stock Android in PhoneDog’s Official Smartphone Rankings! Jun 18th 2013, 09:50
Aaron’s back to round up the best smartphones as voted on by YOU in PhoneDog’s Official Smartphone Rankings!

For week 67, the HTC One remained in the first place spot, beating the Samsung Galaxy S 4 with a total of 442 votes! On the People’s Choice chart, the Galaxy S 4 stayed in the second place spot with 147 votes, while the Galaxy Note II remained in third place with 62 votes. In fourth, the Nokia Lumia 920 with 42 votes, and in fifth place, the Google Nexus 4 with 37 votes. On the Expert’s Choice chart, the HTC One remained in the first place position for another week while the Apple iPhone 5 held onto its third place spot.

Windows Phone 8 jumped ahead of a stock Android smartphone this week, proving that Microsoft’s OS still has a leg in the OS fight. Which devices will win next week? Cast your vote and be part of the conversation!


Samsung Galaxy Ring now available from Virgin Mobile with Android 4.1 and $179.99 price tag Jun 18th 2013, 09:15
Samsung Galaxy Ring Virgin MobileHot on the heels of its launch of the Samsung Galaxy S III 4G LTE, Virgin Mobile today added another Galaxy handset to its lineup. Dubbed the Samsung Galaxy Ring, the new device is a bit more affordable than its Galaxy S III sibling, coming in at just $179.99 without a contract.

Along with having one of the most appropriate “Galaxy” names in Samsung’s Android-powered roster, the Galaxy Ring includes a 4-inch display, 1.4GHz processor, 5-megapixel rear and 1.3-megapixel front cameras, 4GB storage, microSD card slot and 1GB RAM. Android 4.1 Jelly Bean comes preloaded on the Galaxy Ring, and there’s also a 1,750mAh battery powering the whole package.

While the Galaxy Ring is obviously a bit of a step down from the Galaxy S III in terms of specs, its feature set still seems respectable, and its price tag is also $120 lower. Meanwhile, the fact that the Galaxy Ring comes with Android 4.1 preinstalled helps it to stand out among the multitude of other 3G-only Android handsets in Virgin’s lineup. Both the Galaxy Ring and its big “Add to Cart” button are waiting for you at the link below.

Via Virgin Mobile


Featured user review Samsung Galaxy S 4 (6-18-13) Jun 18th 2013, 08:33
So, you should know by now, yesterday, we launched a new Official Smartphone Rankings giveaway, Splash into Summer! As long as you vote for a smartpone this week, you’ll be entered* into the drawing. (*Official rules here). The smartphone with the most votes, will be the smartphone given to one lucky winner! So will enough of you vote the second place, Samsung Galaxy S 4 into the lead? Time will tell so be sure to vote for your favorite!“AWESOME” By ALEJANDRO COLLADO on June 17, 2013

The S4 is a perfect form, and it is superior to all other cells phones in software. Samsung really focuses on the usability and the quality of the software. It is smooth, beautiful screen, so many different settings, that makes the phone customizable to you. However, the phone does lack in designs. Samsung should be using premium material like metal, and compared to its others competitors it does lack in a solid feel.

Display 5/5
Battery Life 5/5
Apps & Media Support 5/5
Reception & Call Quality 5/5
Design/Form Factor 3/5

Overall 4.6

Official Smartphone Rankings™, vote now then leave a review.

Did you pick up the Samsung Galaxy S 4? Tell us about it here.


Huawei executive says company is ‘open-minded’ about acquiring Nokia Jun 18th 2013, 07:40
Huawei logo CESAlong with its announcement of the new 6.18mm-thick Ascend P6 today, Huawei today teased that it would be interested in acquiring Nokia as a way to help grow its business. Speaking to the Financial Times, Huawei consumer product chief Richard Yu said that his company is exploring ways that it could get bigger, adding that an acquisition is one avenue that Huawei is interested in. Yu then name-dropped Nokia, saying that the two firms might have “some synergies,” but that such a deal would require Nokia to be onboard. As for Huawei? “We are open-minded,” Yu said.

While Yu did specifically call out Nokia as one company that Huawei would like to acquire, it’s worth noting that there’s been no evidence that Huawei and Nokia are actually holding discussions regarding a buyout. If there any whiffs of acquisition talks between Huawei and Nokia were to surface, I’m betting that Microsoft would fight pretty hard to ensure that Nokia keeps cranking out Windows Phone products since Nokia is clearly a huge part of that platform’s ecosystem. Still, it’d be interesting to see what a combined Huawei and Nokia would look like and what types of products it would create. Do you think that Nokia would ever actually get acquired by Huawei? Or is such a deal unlikely for one reason or another (like Microsoft)?

Via PhoneScoop, Barron’s, Financial Times


PhoneDog 101: How to backup contacts Jun 18th 2013, 07:15
We’ve all been there, or at the very least heard horrific stories about that phone that was dropped in the deepest, darkest puddle in the parking lot. You know, the one where the phone was recovered, but the user was left with nothing but a very wet and expensive piece of plastic. Today, it seems we store our entire lives on our smartphones, but the very foundation of our personal information is in fact our contact list. Without it we would be lost. So this week I want to talk about a few ways you can prevent losing your contact list for both smartphone and basic feature phone devices.

Basic feature phone backup processes

There are many different ways to backup your information from your smartphone, but I want to start off with just the basics including a couple tips that will also help those with more basic feature phones. With any contact list management process, you first want to find where you can store your contacts. If your phone has a SIM card you can start there; traditional GSM carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile us these small cards to put your account profile on your device. Often, you can opt in to simply save every new contact as a SIM contact, other times you may have to simply select to export or copy your contacts to the SIM card. Doing this will ensure that wherever your SIM card goes, your contact list will follow.

Another card that a majority of devices utilize for extra storage space, is a micro SD card. It’s always good practice to have at least a small capacity SD card where available. Like SIM cards in a way, microSD cards allow the user to save valuable information to them. However, unlike SIM cards, the SD format isn’t limited to just contact storage, but can store data like pictures, video, and music as well. They come in various sizes from various brands, so be sure you know the capacity limit of your device before you purchase an extra card.

Carrier backup systems

There are some situations still where the user doesn’t have an SD card slot on the device and the carrier they’re subscribed to doesn’t utilize SIM cards. In these instances you may have to get creative. Some carriers like Verizon and AT&T for example, provide users with a wireless contact backup system. With these backup options users can store and manage their entire contact list on the carrier’s network. With these systems you still want to make sure that you are frequently backing up your contact list, depending on how often you add contacts. You don’t want to get stuck with a list from last year, so backup when you can.

Google to the rescue

For Android users, your Gmail account is a critical part of your life. The information kept on this account not only keeps your phone running smoothly and efficiently, but if used correctly can help you recover personal data when something happens to your device. On most Android phones, the user can now simply go to the contacts application, and within the settings select the “contacts merge” button and your Gmail account should synchronize with your contact information. For devices that don’t have a “merge” option, simply export your contacts to an SD card and then import them back onto your Gmail account instead of the phone.

You want to always double check on this process by logging in to your Gmail account and selecting the contacts tab to see what has been backed up. Be sure to take advantage of Google’s intelligent system, as you can delete duplicate contacts and thoroughly manage your list.

iCloud makes your life easy

For iPhone users, backing up contacts is a painless process. The easiest and most popular way to backup information like a contact lists is to utilize the free iCloud service. Any iPhone using iOS 5.1 and higher will be able to log into an iCloud account and start backing up immediately. To do this, go to your Settings application and scroll down until you see the iCloud option tab. Select the option and log in using your iTunes account information. Once logged in you can select what information you would like to have backed up to your iCloud profile, including contacts.

Once you have selected the contacts option, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and tap the Storage and Backup tab. This will bring you to your storage page where you can turn on the backup feature. With iCloud backup turned on, the device will automatically backup whenever you have the device plugged in, locked, and under a Wi-Fi network. Having this option on means that you will never have to manually connect the device to your iTunes program on your computer, and you will never go without your contacts ever again, no matter what happens to your device. Once again it’s always good practice to check and make sure your information is in fact being backed up. To double check go to and log in using the same log in information as before. From this website you can access the features of your iCloud including your contact list, calendar, Find My Phone feature, and many more.

Please note that these methods are not by any means the only way to backup information. You can utilize applications like Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, and even backup and synchronize contact information with Outlook on your Windows phone 8. But, by utilizing these basic services you will be walking down a much more secured path in terms of contact list insurance.

So readers, do you have a different method for backing up important information like contacts? Do you prefer one over another? Let us know in the comments down below!


AT&T to launch BlackBerry Q10 on June 21 for $199.99 Jun 18th 2013, 06:25
AT&T BlackBerry Q10 officialAfter kicking off pre-orders for its version of the BlackBerry Q10 earlier this month, AT&T today revealed exactly when the QWERTY-fied BlackBerry 10 handset will be landing on its shelves. The BlackBerry Q10 will be available from AT&T’s stores and website starting on June 21, aka this Friday, with pricing set at $199.99 on a two-year contract or $584.99 without a commitment. AT&T is also running a trade-in program that will allow consumers to knock at least $100 off of the price of a new smartphone when they trade in their current device.

Following the launch of the full-touch BlackBerry Z10 earlier this year, the BlackBerry Q10 recently launched on T-Mobile and Verizon and is now headed to AT&T, giving anyone that’s still addicted to hardware keyboards a new device to check out. Smartphones with physical keyboards seem to be a bit of a dying breed lately, and so the Q10 is kind of a big deal for folks that still prefer to type on actual keys rather than a piece of glass.

The BlackBerry Q10 also features a 3.1-inch touchscreen, giving users the option of tapping on their device’s display if they’re in a touchy mood, as well as support for AT&T’s 4G LTE network. The Q10 product page on AT&T’s website can be found bit hitting up the appropriate link below.

Via AT&T announcement, BlackBerry Q10 product page


LG Optimus G Pro achieves sales of one million units in Korea


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LG Optimus G Pro achieves sales of one million units in Korea Jun 18th 2013, 17:40
LG Optimus G Pro one million sold KoreaAfter achieving sales of 500,000 units in early April, LG announced today that the Optimus G Pro has crossed the one million sold milestone in Korea. The Optimus G Pro first launched in Korea in February, meaning it took the device four months to hit the one million mark, which LG says is the shortest amount of time that any of its devices have hit sales of one million units in Korea. Breaking things down even further, the company explains that the Optimus G Pro has moved 8,000 units per day since its debut.

The Optimus G Pro is LG’s entry into the growing phone/tablet hybrid market, touting a 5.5-inch 1080p display that LG says is large but still usable with one hand. That large display and other high-end specs make the Optimus G Pro a flagship product for LG, and I’m sure that the company is pleased to see that sales of the device in its home country are strong. Since its Korean debut in February, the Optimus G Pro has made its way into several other parts of the globe, including AT&T in the U.S. Have any of you used an Optimus G Pro?

Via Android Central, LG Newsroom (Google translation)


PhoneDog Media acquires Android and Me Jun 18th 2013, 14:44
It is with great pleasure that PhoneDog Media announces the acquisition of Android and Me, a premiere Android news publications.

Launched in 2008, Android and Me has established itself as one of the go-to news publications for breaking Android news, reviews and hands-on. The site currently boasts more than two million pageviews per month and a Twitter account of more than 148,000 followers. The combination of PhoneDog Media and the Android and Me brand goes hand in hand with a similar vision and approach toward the wireless news market. The deal brings together two strong and well-known properties and overnight increases PhoneDog Media’s reach into the Android news market.

With the announcement comes the closure of PhoneDog Media’s existing Android property, which will be folded into Android and Me in the future.

We couldn’t be more excited about the future of both properties and look forward to all of the exciting things to come.

PhoneDog Media Expands Network With Acquisition of Android and Me

Acquisition increases PhoneDog Media network readership and reinforces company’s position as a leader in online publishing

Mt. Pleasant, SC and Richardson, TX – June 17, 2013 – PhoneDog Media is pleased to announce the acquisition of Android and Me, a popular and influential Android publication in the mobile technology space. Launched in 2008, Android and Me receives more than two million pageviews per month and boasts over 148,000 Twitter followers.

David Beren, Director of Network Content, will lead Android and Me as part of PhoneDog Media’s expanding network group. In addition to Android and Me’s current staff, writers will be transitioned from DroidDog, PhoneDog’s outgoing Android publication. The combined editorial staff will continue to offer unique content, increased social media engagement, and expanded video content.

As part of PhoneDog’s Media portfolio of online publications, Android and Me will utilize PhoneDog’s established brand awareness and editor influence to reach untapped Android markets. Under PhoneDog Media’s guidance, Android and Me will continue to evolve through a design and user experience that will align with the PhoneDog Media vision.

The acquisition of Android and Me strengthens PhoneDog Media, a network that leverages the voice and influence of Aaron Baker, David Beren, and Cam Bunton. Current publications include, T-Mobile-focused, and Apple-focused “We are proud to welcome Android and Me to the PhoneDog family of mobile technology websites,” said Tom Klein, CEO of PhoneDog Media. “Taylor and his team from Android and Me have done a beautiful job in establishing one of the most visually pleasing publications in the technology space, all while providing its large fan base with outstanding coverage of all things Android.”

As PhoneDog continues on its path to become the undisputed home of passionate technology enthusiasts worldwide, the company will continue to build and acquire online publications that provide both a unique point-of-view and an engaged community.

About PhoneDog Media

PhoneDog Media is a mobile technology publisher which operates four well-established mobile news and review sites and attracts more than 2.5 million unique visitors and 10 million pageviews each month. The company may have a cute name, but it offers up serious editorial content and video reviews that users rely on to make important decisions about their mobile purchases. Established in 2001, PhoneDog Media is a privately owned and operated company based in South Carolina.


Why aren’t you using BlackBerry 10? Jun 18th 2013, 14:35
Being a fan of technology means being excited for new things. It just comes with the territory. Sometimes you may not even be able to help it. When it comes to manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, Apple, or many others, what they unveil next can mean an impending purchase, or unfettered disappointment. It only gets worse when you start throwing in rumors and speculation. It builds up the anticipation, and then boom. It’s either great, or it’s a pass.

If you’re excited for the next thing, or the next big thing, that isn’t a bad thing. In many circumstances it’s good to be excited about what’s coming next. There’s a hope there, even if we know a particular device may just be an iterative addition to a long line of previous handsets, that this new thing will change the game somehow. Maybe it’s ridiculously thin, or has an amazing display. (Or both!) Maybe it boasts some new software features that make life easier. Whatever the case may be, we’re all looking for the new phone or tablet that adds value not only to the market, but to our lives.

Things may get tricky when that new thing launches, though.

Let’s look at scenario one: Let’s say you’re brand new to smartphones, and you’re looking for your first phone. You may or may not have had a phone before, but even if you did, it wasn’t a smartphone. No apps. Not even a touchscreen. This is your first step into that new world, and you’re excited as all get out. So you find yourself in your carrier’s retail location, and your ogling at all the shiny new toys, knowing full well that one of them is going to be in your hand, purchased and activated, when you walk out of the store.

Scenario two is similar, yet different: You are certainly not new to the smartphone world, and you’ve been using them for years. You may or may not have switched from one platform to another at some point in the past, but for the most part you know exactly what you’re looking for when it comes to things like applications. You have your needs, and your phone has to serve them.

Something new like BlackBerry’s BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system will fit the needs of some, and won’t with others. If you fit into the first scenario, then you may not have any issues picking up a device like the BlackBerry Z10, or the Q10, and walking out of the story a happy camper, simply because BB10 is something new, fresh, and offers an interesting new way –especially for BlackBerry-branded devices– to interact with your phone.

Things change if you’re a smartphone veteran, though, and expect to find certain apps, or even games, on your mobile device every time you pick it up. If you’ve grown accustomed to using certain apps, and may even have a routine in your day-to-day usage, going to a new platform like BlackBerry 10 may not be possible, as the mobile OS hasn’t garnered the attention of a lot of major app developers yet.

But I keep hearing that BlackBerry’s new operating system is indeed growing in popularity, and devices like the Q10 are helping to fuel the fire. And that’s great for BlackBerry. It’s also great for users, too, because it may mean more support from developers at some point down the road.

As I’ve done with iOS and Android in this series, I want to know why you have skipped BlackBerry 10 so far.

For me, while I did like certain features of the BlackBerry Z10’s hardware (like the camera), and the software was pretty great and refreshing, I felt like it was more of a sabbatical from applications than anything else. Especially the apps that I use every single day. And, unfortunately, I just can’t give those apps up quite yet. That means, plain and simple, that no matter how badly I may want to use BlackBerry 10, it is simply just not an option for me quite yet.

So this is where you need to chime in, and tell me why you have decided to skip BlackBerry’s newest mobile platform. Is it just too different from what you’ve used in the past? Is it too new, and lacking the apps you need? Or are you just too big a fan of what you’re already using, or a certain platform? Let me know!


T-Mobile’s Sony Xperia Z officially official, launching ‘in the coming weeks’ Jun 18th 2013, 14:15
T-Mobile Sony Xperia Z officialThe parade of smartphone announcements marches on this morning with the introduction of T-Mobile’s Sony Xperia Z. T-Mobile just revealed that it plans to offer the Xperia Z in the coming weeks, making it the first big U.S. operator to officially pick up Sony’s flagship smartphone since its debut at CES in January. The T-Mobile Xperia Z looks fairly similar to the international model, save for that T-Mobile branding on the back, and it features a pretty similar spec list too. Here’s what we know about the Magenta variant of the Sony Xperia Z so far:

  • 5-inch 1080p HD Reality Display with Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2, which is said to provide “super brightness and clarity”
  • 13-megapixel rear camera with Exmor RS for Mobile image sensor that packs support for HDR video
  • IP55 and IP57 rated for resistance to dust and water
  • T-Mobile HSPA+ and 4G LTE connectivity
  • Will be offered in black and purple, with the latter color being a limited time option

While it may have taken the Xperia Z a good bit of time to find a home on a major U.S. carrier, it’s nice to see that consumers will finally be able to snag Sony’s latest flagship through an operator. The Xperia Z has actually been available from Sony’s U.S online shop since early May, but that unit was unlocked and priced at $629.99 full retail, which is a buying method that most U.S. wireless users aren’t accustomed to. So now that it’s officially official, will any of you be picking up an Xperia Z once it finally arrives on the T-Mobile’s magenta shelves?
Via T-Mobile


Huawei Ascend P6 debuts with 4.7-inch display, Android 4.2.2 and body that measures 6.18mm thick [UPDATED] Jun 18th 2013, 13:10
Huawei Ascend P6 officialWe’re not exactly strangers with the Huawei Ascend P6 thanks to the string of leaks that the device has appeared in recently, but today’s the day that Huawei has given us a formal introduction to its newest Android smartphone. Announced at a press event in London this morning, the Ascend P6 features a body that’s 6.18mm thick, making it even thinner than the 6.68mm Ascend P1S that Huawei debuted last year.

Packed into the Ascend P6’s crazy-thin frame is a 4.7-inch HD display that features Huawei’s “MagicTouch” tech for increased touch responsiveness, even if the user is wearing gloves. There’s also a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 2,000mAh battery and Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean running beneath Huawei’s Emotion UI, which includes software add-ons like a Me Widget, enhanced security and new camera features like panoramic shooting and facial recognition.

Speaking of cameras, the Ascend P6 features a 5-megapixel shooter crammed into its frontside as well as an 8-megapixel BSI rear camera with F2.0 aperture and 4cm macro view. Huawei has also included its IMAGEsmart software on the Ascend P6 that offers photo-editing capabilities such as contrast and color enhancers, automatic scene recognition and “instant facial beauty support.”

Huawei says that the Ascend P6 will be available in black, pink or white versions with matching color cases. The super-thin phone will begin hitting China in June and Western Europe in July, with carriers and retailers such as Vodafone, Telefonica, Orange, H3G, O2, Carphone Warehouse, TalkTalk, Media Markt & Saturn, TIM and online via Amazon and CDiscount expected to offer the device. There’s no word yet on which other parts of the globe that the Ascend P6 will travel to, but Huawei does promise that other markets will follow.

Now that it’s officially official, the Ascend P6 certainly looks to have the makings of a flagship smartphone for Huawei. The device features a very thin body but still manages to include a large display and quad-core processor, meaning that buyers won’t have to settle for lower-end specs in order to get a thin handset. The inclusion of Android 4.2.2 is also a welcome sight, as the latest version of Jelly Bean is still somewhat of a rarity outside of Google’s Nexus family. What do you all make of the Ascend P6? Does it have the makings of a smartphone that you’d consider buying?

UPDATE: Huawei has shared a few more details on the Ascend P6 at its official London unveiling. The new handset packs in 8GB of built-in storage, a microSD card slot for additional memory and 2GB of RAM. Huawei says that the Ascend P6 will launch in more than 19 countries by July, including Britain, China and Germany, with contract-free pricing set at €449 (around $600 USD). There’s no word yet on when or if the P6 will make its way to the U.S. I’ll update you once I hear more, but until then you can find a Huawei video on the Ascend P6’s design below, as well as a gallery with some more images of the device.

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Via Huawei, @HuaweiDevice


HTC Desire 200 official with a 3.5-inch display and Beats Audio in tow Jun 18th 2013, 12:40
HTC Desire 200 officialFollowing the debut of the Desire 600 last month, HTC this morning introduced another addition to its line of Desire-branded smartphones. This one’s the Desire 200, a fairly entry-level handset with a design that appears to a design cue or two from HTC’s flagship One.

The Desire 200’s spec list includes a 3.5-inch 480×320 touchscreen on its face along with a 5-megapixel camera around back. Crammed inside the handset’s smallish frame is a 1GHz Snapdragon S1 processor, 4GB storage, microSD card slot for additional memory and 512MB RAM. There’s also support for 7.2Mbps HSPA, and a 1,230mAh battery powers the entire package. Rounding out the feature list is an undisclosed version of Android running beneath HTC’s Sense overlay and an “Intelligent Display” feature that HTC says will automatically resize text for easier viewing, store articles for offline viewing and allow users to zoom in and dial a phone number with a single step.

Two details that are still missing are availability and pricing, but considering the Desire 200’s lower-end spec sheet, I’m sure that it won’t be terribly expensive whenever it does arrive on store shelves. Overall the Desire 200 looks like a nice little smartphone with a design that’s a bit more handsome than some folks might expect when they think of an “entry-level” device. Now we just have to wait for HTC to spill its Desire 200 launch plans so that we can find out when we’ll be able to check out that design in person.

Via Engadget, HTC


Verizon reportedly interested in acquiring Canadian carrier Jun 17th 2013, 17:55
Verizon logo HTC DROID DNAVerizon is currently one of the top two carriers in the U.S., recently boasting 98.9 million retail connections and a 4G LTE network that’s available in nearly 500 markets. Now a new report claims that Verizon Communications, parent company of Verizon Wireless, may be planning to try its hand at the Canadian wireless market as well.

Sources speaking to The Globe and Mail claim that Verizon has held early discussions with Canadian operator Wind Mobile about a possible acquisition. The tipsters explain that Verizon would like to purchase a smaller Canadian carrier like Wind Mobile and take part in the country’s upcoming spectrum auction, grabbing up enough airwaves to help create a strong fourth operator to take on Bell, Telus and Rogers. “They [Verizon] are definitely taking a hard look right now,” one of the sources said.

The report goes on to say that while Wind Mobile is most attractive to Verizon, the company could also take over Mobilicity, which recently tried to sell itself to Telus but had its deal shot down by the Canadian government. The government has recently relaxed its restrictions on foreign ownership, though, which could help lead to a Verizon or some other carrier snatching up one of Canada’s smaller operators. Along with Verizon, it’s said that AT&T, Britain’s Vodafone Group Plc and Norway’s Telenor Group are all interested in investing in a Canadian carrier.

As I noted previously, Verizon is a large U.S. carrier with experience rolling out LTE service, two traits that’d likely help it to turn around one of Canada’s struggling smaller carriers. Verizon also has past experience in the Canadian wireless industry, having been a major shareholder in Telus before selling its stock in the company in 2004. All of those attributes make Verizon an attractive investor that the Canadian government would likely be happy to have in their country if Verizon ultimately decides to pick up Wind or Mobilicity. Whether or not that will happen is still up in the air, but it’s definitely interesting to hear that the top two U.S. carriers are thinking about extending their presence to the north.

Via FierceWireless, The Globe and Mail


Nokia Lumia 920 Challenge, Day 20: Apps and messaging Jun 17th 2013, 15:50
It’s day 20 with the Nokia Lumia 920 and I’m two-thirds of the way through the challenge of using both Windows Phone 8 and a Nokia smartphone – two things I haven’t done in a while. Going back to applications, there are a lot of things missing on Windows Phone 8, and I find that (lack of) ecosystem to be a very important thing. It’s a challenge for people that enjoy apps and the ease of use that often come with them. That’s my biggest issue – if I had to pick one thing out of 20 days with the phone, it would be that. Switching gears, I’ve gotten used to the messaging and notifications on Windows Phone 8, and overall, the multitasking works relatively well.

Let me know what you want to see in the final ten days by tweeting to me @PhoneDog_Aaron!


Sprint files lawsuit against Dish Network and Clearwire in attempt to block Dish’s bid Jun 17th 2013, 13:25
Sprint logo CTIAJust when you thought that this whole Sprint-Clearwire-Dish Network love triangle couldn’t get any crazier, well, it did. Sprint announced tonight that it has filed a lawsuit against both Clearwire and Dish, claiming that Dish’s recent bid of $4.40 per share for Clearwire violates both Delaware law and the rights of Sprint and Clearwire’s other investors under Clearwire’s charter and the Equity Holders Agreement. Sprint’s complaint with the Delaware Court of Chancery.

In its complaint, Sprint says that it feels Dish has attempted to fool Clearwire’s shareholders into thinking that its bid is actionable in an attempt to gain Clearwire’s spectrum and block Sprint’s deal with Clearwire. Sprint outlines a number of arguments as to why Dish and Clearwire should be blocked from reaching an agreement, including one that says that under Clearwire’s charter and the Equity Holders Agreement, Dish’s offer can’t be completed without approval from both Comcast and 75 percent of Clearwire shareholders, the latter of which is unlikely to happen since Sprint holds a 50 percent stake in Clearwire.

Sprint is asking that the court block the completion of Dish’s offer for Clearwire and revoke parts of their agreement. The carrier is also seeking “declaratory, injunctive, compensatory and other relief.” Whether or not Sprint gets all of that remains to be seen, but considering that Sprint and SoftBank are hoping to gain Clearwire’s spectrum to aid in their expansion efforts (if their merger reaches completion, that is), it’s no surprise to see that Sprint is putting up quite a fight for Clearwire. Stay tuned and I’ll update you with more on this increasingly dramatic situation as I get it.

Via Sprint


Introducing PhoneDog’s Splash Into Summer smartphone giveaway! Jun 17th 2013, 12:50
As you’ve probably figured out by now, we absolutely love giveaways. Between the One-Pawed Bandit and the regular giveaways we do on YouTube, it’s our way of saying thank you for being part of our community. Keeping that spirit in mind, we’re proud to introduce PhoneDog’s Splash Into Summer giveaway, where we’re giving YOU the chance to pick the phone that we offer! The phone that receives the most votes in PhoneDog’s Official Smartphone Rankings will be the phone that we give away in the contest.

Entering is easy. Head over to, and cast your vote for your favorite smartphone. That’s it! Once you vote, you’re entered to win.

Will it be the Samsung Galaxy S 4? HTC One? Apple iPhone 5? LG Optimus G Pro? YOU’RE in charge, so cast your vote and you’ll be entered to win!

Splash Into Summer contest details:

  • Voting dates: Monday, June 17th through Sunday June 23, 2013 before 11:59PM Eastern Time
  • Eligibility: Anyone from the United States, United Kingdom, or Canada that voted and is 16yrs or older with a valid Facebook or Twitter account (minimum 10 friends/followers)
  • Prize: The smartphone receiving the most votes between June 17-24, 2013 will be the selected prize awarded (ONE smartphone will be given away)
  • Drawing day and place: Tuesday June 25, 2013 at 6 PM EST – LIVE at


iOS 7 for iPad previewed in screenshots from tweaked simulator Jun 17th 2013, 11:25
iOS 7 for iPad Notification Center, Control Center leakIt’s now been a full week since Apple took the wraps off of iOS 7, and since then many folks have been digging into the new software and discovering all of the changes that’ve been made. However, one aspect of iOS 7 that’s still a mystery is how it’ll look on the larger screen of the iPad, as said during WWDC that the tablet-specific version of iOS 7 would be arriving in the coming weeks. German site and registered developer Sonny Dickson apparently don’t feel like waiting until then, though, and as a result they’ve tweaked the iOS 7 simulator to support the iPad and posted screenshots of what they saw.

This tweaked version of the iOS 7 beta doesn’t look terribly different from the version that’s available for the iPhone right now, but there are some changes that are worth taking note of. For example, the Control Center is shorter on the iPad than it is on the iPhone, which is a result of the iPad’s larger display and its ability to show longer rows of icons rather than stacking them on top of one another like on the iPhone. The iOS 7 Notification Center for iPad is also different from previous versions of iOS, taking up the full screen when its pulled down rather than just a tiny portion at the top of the screen. Safari appears to be different on the iPad compared to the iPhone version, with changes that include a Private Browsing toggle right above the keyboard.

Because these screenshots are from a tweaked iOS 7 simulator and not from an iPad-specific version of iOS 7, they shouldn’t be taken as evidence of exactly what the official version of iOS 7 for iPad will look like. Instead, they’re meant to give us an idea of how iOS 7 might look on Apple’s tablets once the iOS 7 beta for iPad is released. We’ve also heard that iOS 7 is still a “work in progress,” so the software that’s actually released to iPhones and iPads in the fall could end up looking a bit different than what we’re seeing in screenshots and videos today. To get a better idea of how the iPad version of iOS 7 could end up looking, you can find more images at German site and in Sonny Dickson’s Twitter stream by hitting up the links below.

iOS 7 for iPad Spotlight, Safari leak

Via 9to5Mac (1), (2),, @SonnyDickson


Are you taking more videos than photos? Jun 17th 2013, 09:20
The TV killed the radio star. Right? That’s how that goes, I think. The TV is still seeing plenty of success, but I would bet that you’ve heard more times than you can count that TV is dying. Cable cutters and the like, all leading to one main culprit: the Internet. If you love TV, how does it feel to know you’re constantly, apparently inevitably staring at the death of your content distributor?

Anyway, the point is that we move forward. Just like the TV killed the radio star, and the Internet is killing the TV, we are caught in a river forward. It’s a river that cannot be stopped. Slowed, maybe, but never stopped. We are always on the course to discover something new, and if it’s good enough, replace it with what’s come before.

Newspapers. Physical books. Pens and pads of paper. Whatever the “old school” medium, it’s constantly on the cusp of being displaced and replaced with something else. Something digital, in this day and age. We’re all looking for that next flashy thing, or the service that better incorporates into our lives with the devices we already own.

Photographs are old, too, and have probably lasted the longest against the strides of the future. Of course, it helps that we’ve integrated photos into the present so well. In fact, many people buy their devices with a camera, simply because they want to make taking photos easier.

But is video killing the photo . . . Star?

That seems to be the case, if you’re reading the tea leaves. Or paying any attention to many social streams. Or read the news. I still see a lot of photos on my Twitter feed, for example, but while that number may not necessarily be diminishing, it’s certainly looking to be trumped by video.

Short video clips are quickly gaining popularity, most of which can be “blamed” or “celebrated” due to the likes of the application called Vine. That particular app lets you take quick videos, splice them together into one clip, and then share them with everyone you know, or don’t know. Vine’s popularity only increased after it launched on Android, a few months after its debut on iOS.

Now, the photo sharing app Instagram seems to be missing out on all the fun, and wants to take some of the attention back. According to a recent report, Instagram is looking to add short video support to their application here soon. That same report suggests Facebook, who owns Instagram, will announce the new feature as soon as June 20. So, not too much longer to wait if you’re a fan of Instagram, but have been itching to throw in some short videos in there, too.

Are videos replacing photos? It may not be that extreme. As I hinted at above, I think there’s a sweet spot that both can coexist, especially if services like Instagram offer both options. But, with manufacturers even getting on the quick video game, like HTC and their Zoe feature baked into the One, it’s interesting to see how videos could indeed become the new standard.

How do you grab those life moments? Are you someone who’s turned to shortened videos, just to get every single moment possible? Or are you a traditionalist, and will stick with the standard still photo for as long as you can? Let me know!

Official Smartphone Rankings results – week 67 Jun 17th 2013, 08:14
Week 67 of PhoneDog Media’s Official Smartphone Rankings™ saw the HTC One dominate the People’s Choice and Expert’s Choice charts, besting the Samsung Galaxy S 4 for yet another week. HTC’s One continues to receive rave reviews for its metal design and powerful specifications, and the upcoming availability on Verizon Wireless is sure to attract new customers. As summer approaches and new rumors surface from BlackBerry, Motorola, and HTC, will the One hold its first place crown for the foreseeable future?MT PLEASANT, SC – June 17, 2013 – For 67 weeks, PhoneDog Media’s Official Smartphone Rankings™ (OSR) has been the gold standard for ranking the best smartphones on the market by placing votes from readers and experts alike in respective charts each week. Week 66 saw the HTC One remain in the first place spots for another week, garnering 442 total votes and 45 expert points. Available at AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile – and coming this summer to Verizon Wireless – the HTC One marries a beautiful form factor with powerful specifications to create an exceptional Android smartphone.

Samsung’s Galaxy S 4 remained in second place on both the People’s Choice and Expert’s Choice charts with 147 votes and 39 points, while the Samsung Galaxy Note II kept its third place position with 62 votes. In a surprise twist, the Nokia Lumia 920 moved into fourth place with 42 votes, while the Google Nexus 4 dropped to fifth place with a total of 37 votes. On the Expert’s Choice Chart, the Apple iPhone 5 held its third place position with 38 points, and in fourth place, the Samsung Galaxy Note II with 13 points. The fifth place position went to the Google Nexus 4 with ten points.

“After weeks of dominating both charts, HTC’s One has established itself as the undisputed champion in PhoneDog’s Official Smartphone Rankings program,” said Aaron Baker, Editor-in-Chief of PhoneDog. “As we move into summer, I’m looking forward to the competitive new products rumored from BlackBerry, Nokia, and Motorola.”

View the full results at /rankings

About PhoneDog Media’s Official Smartphone Rankings™
PhoneDog Media’s Official Smartphone Rankings™ consists of two weekly charts voted on by users and a panel of mobile technology experts. The OSR can be accessed from or directly at /rankings and voting can be completed using login credentials from Facebook, Twitter, or the PhoneDog website.


Nokia RM-877 shows up at the FCC with AT&T-friendly LTE, may be the EOS Jun 17th 2013, 08:05
Nokia RM-877 EOS FCCThe Nokia EOS and its 41-megapixel camera have been making the usual rumor mill rounds in recent weeks, posing for some “in the wild” photos and even starring in a brief video. Today the EOS may have just marked off another item on the pre-release checklist that we see many handsets follow, as a new Nokia device has been spotted in the FCC that could very well be the upcoming PureView smartphone.

As noted by Engadget, the Nokia RM-877 has been given the green light by the FCC. The device’s filing reveals that it packs support for LTE bands 2, 4, 5, and 17, the same ones that have been found in past AT&T LTE products. There’s also pentaband WCDMA/HSPA+, quad-band GSM/EDGE, NFC, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

While there’s nothing in the FCC’s filing for the RM-877 that specifically says “Hey, this is the Nokia EOS,” there are clues that suggest that this is the 41-megapixel monster. Along with the aforementioned AT&T LTE connectivity, the device was apparently tested by the FCC with a “camera grip” accessory, which sounds fitting for a camera-focused handset. The entry also says that the EOS was tested with a wireless charging cover, which lines up with the two small dots on the back of a leaked EOS shell that would likely be used for wireless charging. Finally, the model number “RM-877” that’s used in the FCC’s report is one that’s been attached to the AT&T EOS in previous rumor reports.

The Nokia EOS is rumored to be the company’s first “true” PureView Windows Phone device, with many expecting it to pack a 41-megapixel camera just like its Symbian-powered 808 PureView brother. The EOS will also reportedly offer a 4.5-inch 1280×768 display, 32GB of internal storage and a body that measures 130.35mm tall and 71.4mm wide, making it just a single millimeter taller and wider than the new Lumia 925.

There’s no word yet on when the EOS will launch, but Nokia is holding an event on July 11 at which it’s expected to finally give the EOS a proper introduction. Now that it finally appears to be getting close, are you excited for the Nokia EOS and its beefy camera?

Via Engadget, FCC


Featured user review HTC One 6-17-13 Jun 17th 2013, 07:33
You keep voting and it keeps winning. That’s right, the HTC One finished in first place on the Official Smartphone Rankings for another week. Today we feature a user review by Angel Merino who believes the HTC One is a “gorgeous handset”.“Speedy, Beautiful, and Sexy” By ANGEL MERINO on June 13, 2013

The HTC One is a gorgeous handset, the screen is vivid even out in daylight. The build quality seems to be made from the hands of a craftsman. The speakers are loud, the bass is clear and no fuzz even on max volume. The camera takes great pictures plus the Zoe feature is an added plus. All in all this phone is awesome all around and I would highly recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a new phone.

Display 5/5
Battery Life 4/5
Apps & Media Support 5/5
Reception & Call Quality 5/5
Design/Form Factor 5/5

Overall 4.8

Official Smartphone Rankings™, vote now then leave a review.

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Windows Phone voice recognition receives improvements to be faster and more accurate Jun 17th 2013, 06:45
Nokia Lumia 920 Bing voice improvementsRemember that video demonstration of improved voice recognition in Windows Phone 8 that leaked out earlier this year? It looks like Windows Phone users will finally be able to try out those improvements for themselves, as Microsoft announced today that it’s made voice search on Windows Phone twice as fast and 15 percent more accurate.

Over on the official Bing blog, Microsoft has revealed that its Bing team has been working with the Microsoft Research group on Deep Neural Networks (DNNs) technology, which can detect patterns in a way similar to biological systems can. Microsoft was able to its Bing index to help the DNNs learn more quickly than usual, which lead to Bing voice search being able to recognize speech in a manner more closely to the way that humans do.

In addition to its work with DNNs, Microsoft says that it’s made tweaks to Bing voice capabilities that will help it to cut its response time in half and better ignore background noise. The company claims that these tweaks have helped to improve Bing’s word error rate by 15 percent.

Voice search is becoming an increasingly large focus of mobile operating systems and the apps that run on them. Apple recently announced that it’s made a number of enhancements to its Siri voice assistant in iOS 7, and we’ve seen Google improve its voice controls in Google Now and its other apps. Now its time for Windows Phone users to enjoy an improved voice search experience as well, which is great news considering the voice enhancements that we’ve seen popping up on other platforms as of late.

Microsoft says that its been rolling out the updated voice capabilities to Windows Phone users in recent weeks, so anyone rocking a Windows Phone should already have access to the speedier voice capabilities while composing a text or performing a search. For a more detailed dive into DNNs and a demo of the speedier voice controls, you can check out a video demo at the link below.

Via Microsoft Bing blog


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