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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.

MetroPCS ‘Bring Your Own Phone’ program goes live in select markets

Jun 12th 2013, 17:00

MetroPCS Bring Your Own Phone program

A leak that earlier this month outed MetroPCS’s plans for a new “Bring Your Own Phone” program that would allow consumers to bring their own unlocked Android, iOS and Windows Phone hardware onto the T-Mobile-owned operator. Today that service went live, inviting customers to bring their own smartphones for use with MetroPCS’s prepaid plans and T-Mobile’s GSM network. The BYOP program is currently only available in Boston, Dallas, Hartford and Las Vegas, but MetroPCS has told FierceWireless that it plans to expand the service to more cities soon.

As far as device compatibility goes, MetroPCS says that its BYOP program supports AT&T and T-Mobile iPhones, as well as the Sprint and Verizon versions of the iPhone 5. GSM Android and Windows Phone products are also supported. Unfortunately for BlackBerry fans, hardware from the company formerly known as RIM is not compatible with MetroPCS’s program, nor are tablets or mobile hotspots. MetroPCS offers a compatibility checker on its website so that users can determine whether or not their phone is supported by the BYOP program.

Before the MetroPCS-T-Mobile deal was completed, one of the benefits that the two companies touted was that the merger would give MetroPCS customers a wider hardware selection thanks to T-Mobile’s GSM network. Now MetroPCS customers can do just that, and it’s good to see that Metro and T-Mobile are rolling out big changes just a hair over a month after finishing their merger. If you’re interested in bringing your own GSM hardware onto MetroPCS, you can hit up the Metro link below to see if your device is compatible.

Check your Device Here!

Via FierceWireless, MetroPCS

Samsung Galaxy S III to Virgin Mobile

Jun 12th 2013, 16:50

Looking to add a new Android smartphone to a Beyond Talk, unlimited date and messaging plan with Virgin Mobile?  Well stop looking, because as of today you can add the Samsung Galaxy S III.

Released – Wednesday June 12, 2013
Carrier: Virgin Mobile
Phone Price: $399.99
Hot Features: Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), 1.5GHz processor, 4.8″ touchscreen Super AMOLED Plus display, Samsung S Beam, 8MP camera with LED flash and video capture

HTC’s One Mini is sounding better with each new rumor

Jun 12th 2013, 16:30

The HTC One is pretty popular. If you’ve been watching (and participating with!) the Official Smartphone Rankings, then you know the One has been sitting atop the list for both the Expert’s and People’s Choice ever since it debuted. There was a lot of speculation that Samsung’s Galaxy S 4 would have been able to knock the reigning champ from its throne, but that didn’t happen. The One is still sitting pretty up there at the top, soaking it all in.

And that makes sense. The One is a ridiculously good phone. With its 1080p 4.7-inch display, all metal construction, BoomSound front-facing speakers, and the UltraPixel camera on the back — plus so much more, there’s no reason to doubt the One’s popularity. The only thing that we can hope at this point, is that that popularity is transferring directly to HTC, and they’re seeing even better sales than what we’ve heard so far.

Time marches on, though. Just as this is an inescapable truth, so is the fact that HTC has other phones in the work. No matter what the release plan is for those future phones, we know they exist. And, more than likely, the company has a road map they’re trying very hard to follow, which includes launch time tables for those new devices. We’ve seen HTC shoot themselves in the foot in the past by releasing too many devices, and replacing handsets too quickly. However, as it stands right now, it would seem that the manufacturer has at least figured out that issue.

That isn’t to say that new phones aren’t coming. As it stands right now, there are two “One-like” devices that are rumored to be landing on store shelves later this year. The first? A larger One, which would be set up against the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy Note III, which is believed to be launching later this year, too. That larger phone is known as the T6, and probably like me you’re already looking forward to seeing what that phone has to offer when HTC finally gets around to announcing it.

On the other side of the spectrum, though, is the One Mini. And, as you can tell from the title, we’re talking about a smaller One. This newer rumored handset will reportedly feature a 4.3-inch display, with “only” a 720p HD panel. Other features include an UltraPixel camera on the back, and a slower Qualcomm processor tucked away inside. There’s no word on which version of Android it will be running, how much memory it will hold, or how much it will cost, though.

All of that will come in due time.

HTC’s One Mini is actually a good idea, if it is indeed a real phone. Making the display size smaller, even if you are sacrificing that 1080p HD display, makes the phone a lot more accessible to more people, simply because some folks out there don’t like a display that’s bigger than 4.3-inches. Moreover, dropping the processor in specs a bit will probably lead to a pretty significant price decrease from the original One.

And that’s the kicker. Right now, the HTC One is one of the most attractive devices on the market because of its price tag. No, it isn’t ridiculously cheap like the Nexus 4 or something, but you get way more for your buck when you pay full retail, or even the contract price, for the One because of what it offers out of the box. Like 32GB of storage for the base model.

That just leads me to believe that the One Mini will see that same aggressive pricing model, and for a mid-range device like the One Mini is apparently going to be, I can’t help but think it will be an exciting device this holiday season. If it launches in that time.

I think it’s a good way to round out a real One family, too. The previous One-branded devices were a jumbled mess because there were too many iterative devices. However, HTC can fix that this year (and into the next, and the next….) by simply providing three different options: small, medium, and large. Easy, and the best way to offer up options for the consumer.

Now, HTC, do the unexpected thing next year and announce all three devices at the same time. Just go crazy, HTC.

What do you think of the rumors about the One Mini? Did you skip the One because it was too big? And, if so, would you consider buying a One Mini if the price is indeed right? Or do you think a smaller One doesn’t make any sense? Let me know!

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Verizon puts Galaxy S III update on hold after some users were ‘negatively impacted’

Jun 12th 2013, 16:15

Verizon Samsung Galaxy S III rear

Last month Verizon Galaxy S III owners began receiving an update that brought with it a number of nifty new features, including Multi-Window and the ability to bill app purchases to a Verizon Wireless account. Unfortunately, some Galaxy S III users ran into some other, not-so-exciting additions, including issues with connectivity and battery life. Verizon today confirmed to Android Central that “a small number” of S III owners have had problems with the I535VRBMD3 update, and as a result, the big red carrier has decided to put it on hold for now. Verizon’s full statement is as follows:

“A software update was recently pushed to the Samsung Galaxy S III, and while a majority of customers downloaded and installed the update successfully, a small number were negatively impacted. As a result the software update push has been postponed as a precaution for customers. We will notify them when a new software update is available for download.”

The I535VRBMD3 update is pretty big deal for Galaxy S III owners on Verizon, so it’s a bit of a disappointment to see that some users have run into issues after installing it. It’s not clear when the push will resume, so for now it looks like those folks that have been “negatively impacted” by the update will have to hold tight and maybe keep a charger or extra battery pack nearby. At least we now know that Verizon is aware of the issues, though, and is working on a new update that’ll (hopefully) be bug-free. Have any of you Verizon Galaxy S III owners had problems with this new I535VRBMD3 update?

Via Android Central

HTC One mini reportedly slated to launch ‘by August’

Jun 12th 2013, 15:05

HTC One rear

Did you like what you saw in that HTC One mini leak from earlier this month? If so, you’ll be pleased to hear that it may not be long before that shrunken version of HTC’s flagship can make the trek from store shelves to your pocket.

According to sources speaking to Bloomberg, HTC is working on a smaller variant of the 4.7-inch One that will be released “by August.” This miniaturized handset is expected to feature a 4.3-inch display that features a lower screen resolution than the One, which touts a 1920×1080 display, as well as a “less-powerful” Qualcomm processor.

A recent image leak claimed to show the HTC One mini next to the full-size One in the wild. Along with photos that showed a One mini looking fairly similar to its larger sibling, the report claimed that the shrunken handset will feature a 4.3-inch 720p display, dual-core processor and UltraPixel camera. If those specs hold true, the One mini would make for a good competitor to Samsung’s Galaxy S 4 mini and could be an interesting option for consumers that want a “small” Android smartphone. What do you think of the HTC One mini? Would you consider buying one if the leaks and rumors turn out to be accurate?

Via Mobile Syrup, Bloomberg

Samsung Galaxy S 4 Zoom

Jun 12th 2013, 14:59

The Samsung Galaxy S 4 Zoom 4.3″ touchscreen smartphone with 16MP camera was announced today but no pricing or availability was.

Announced Release date: n/a
Announced Carrier:  n/a
Announced Price: n/a

AT&T’s 4G LTE network goes live in more cities, expands in others

Jun 12th 2013, 13:20

AT&T logo Samsung Galaxy Exhiliarate

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s small-ish 4G LTE network expansion, AT&T this morning has announced another, larger rollout of new and expanded LTE coverage. The big blue carrier has revealed that it’s growing its LTE footprint in several different parts of the country, including Camden, Ark., and Astoria, Ore. Here’s the full list of fresh AT&T LTE service that’s been announced so far:

New markets

  • Flagstaff-Sedona, Ariz.
  • Prescott, Ariz.
  • Camden, Ark.
  • El Dorado-Magnolia, Ark.
  • Quad Cities and Sterling, Ill. (includes parts of Sterling and the area of the Quad Cities contained within the Route 80/Route 280 loop, including parts of Rock Island, Moline, East Moline, Davenport and Bettendorf)
  • Duluth-Superior, Minn.
  • Southern New Jersey Shore Points (includes Ocean City, Avalon, Stone Harbor, Sea Isle City, North Wildwood, Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, Cape May and Villas)
  • Kinston, N.C.
  • Dayton, Ohio
  • Astoria, Ore.
  • Brookings, S.D.
  • Watertown, S.D.

Expanded markets

  • Salinas, Calif. (now includes portions of Carmel Valley)
  • East-Central Mississippi (now includes parts of Philadelphia, Carthage, Kosciusko, Lena, Camden, Choctaw and Edinburg)
  • Reno, Nev. (now includes portions along I-80 connection and Spanish Springs)
  • Scranton, Clarks Summit and Harveys Lake, Pa. (Philadelphia, Hatfield, Montgomeryville, Lansdale, Doylestown, Chalfont, Lancaster, Easton, Harrisburg, Linglestown, Mechanicsburg, State College, Reading, Allentown, Thorndale, Bethlehem, Wilkes-Barre, Williamsport and York, Pennsylvania, Avalon, Stone Harbor, Sea Isle City, Ocean City, North Wildwood, Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, Cape May, Villas, Princeton, Woodbury, Swedesboro, Millville, Vineland, Bridgeton, Paulsboro and Bridgeport, New Jersey and Wilmington and Dover, Delaware)

That’s a pretty beefy list of new and expanded coverage, and I’m sure that AT&T customers in the newly-lit cities are pretty happy that they’re finally being admitted to their carrier’s LTE club. It’s also worth mentioning that AT&T previously named a large list of markets that it planned to bring LTE service to this summer, so if your city hasn’t yet gotten a taste of AT&T LTE service, lay your eyes on this list right here to see if the coverage is coming you way soon. So, are any of you located in one of today’s new or expanded markets? If so, how’s the service treating you?

Via AT&T (PRNewswire)

Samsung Galaxy S 4 Zoom official with 16-megapixel sensor, optical zoom and Android 4.2

Jun 12th 2013, 12:30

Samsung Galaxy S 4 Zoom official tall

Samsung’s recent streak of new product announcements continues this morning with another Galaxy S 4 variant, the Galaxy S 4 Zoom. Just as the name suggests, the Galaxy S 4 Zoom is a smartphone with a 10x optical zoom strapped to its back, giving new meaning to the term “cameraphone.” The Galaxy S 4 Zoom’s camera also features a 16-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor and built-in optical image stabilization to help reduce blur.

Moving around to the non-zooming half of the Galaxy S 4 Zoom, Samsung has packed in a 4.3-inch 960×540 Super AMOLED display, physical home button and 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera. A dedicated shutter button rests on the Galaxy S 4 Zoom’s side, and packed within the phone is a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 8GB storage, microSD card slot, 1.5GB RAM and a 2,330mAh battery. Android 4.2 Jelly Bean will come preloaded on the Galaxy S 4 Zoom, as will Samsung’s TouchWiz overlay and a suite of apps, such as In-Call Photo Share for quickly sending images via MMS to the person on the other end of a call.

Samsung hasn’t yet revealed when the Galaxy S 4 Zoom will launch or how much it’ll cost when it does. The device will come with 3G and LTE connectivity, though, giving buyers the ability to share photos using a high-speed wireless connection if they’ve got one available.

Overall the Galaxy S 4 Zoom looks a bit like a mashup of two other Galaxy products, the Galaxy S 4 mini and Galaxy Camera. Some folks are likely a bit disappointed to see that the “phone” half of this cameraphone has more in common with the Galaxy S 4 mini than the Galaxy S 4, but for anyone that wants a device that’s a bit more camera-focused than most smartphones, the Galaxy S 4 Zoom could be worth considering. Now we just have to wait for the thing to actually be released so that we can begin seeing what kind of images it can produce. Until then, there’s a gallery below with product photos that show several different views of the Galaxy S 4 Zoom.

Via Samsung

Weekly Bone: HTC One Mini, iOS 7, and more!

Jun 12th 2013, 06:30

The Weekly Bone is here, and in this episode, Marco is talking all about the HTC One Mini, Apple’s new iOS 7, and more.  The HTC One Mini could be the answer for those seeking a gorgeous Android smartphone – but in a far smaller form factor than what HTC is currently offering with the One.  Apple’s iOS 7 is also discussed, and with a completely new form factor, it has the ability to take on Android and potentially snag some lost marketshare back.  Will it win you over?  Take a look at the latest episode of The Weekly Bone and hit the comments section with your thoughts!

View video here

AT&T to launch 4G LTE-equipped Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 ‘in the coming weeks’

Jun 12th 2013, 06:10

Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

Just a couple of months after the Wi-Fi-only Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 launched in the U.S., it’s been revealed that a cellular-enabled model will soon be available as well. AT&T just announced that it plans to offer its own 4G LTE-capable version of the tablet, with a launch slated to happen sometime “in the coming weeks.” There’s no word yet on how much the S Pen-equipped tablet will cost once it arrives on AT&T’s shelves.

As far as specs go, AT&T’s Galaxy Note 8.0 looks to be fairly similar to the Wi-Fi model. Included with the AT&T-flavored Galaxy Note 8.0 is a 1.6GHz quad-core processor, 5-megapixel rear and 1.9-megapixel front cameras, 16GB built-in storage, microSD card slot, 4,600mAh battery and, as its name suggests, an 8-inch display. The Galaxy Note 8.0 also features Android 4.1 Jelly Bean running beneath Samsung’s custom TouchWiz overlay. AT&T also says that it’ll be throwing in 50GB of free storage through its AT&T Locker service with the Note 8.0.

While the Wi-Fi-only version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 has been available in the U.S. since April, it’s good to see that a cellular-enabled version of the device will also be hitting the U.S. in the near future. It doesn’t look like AT&T’s version of the Galaxy Note 8.0 will come with the voice-calling functionality that the international cellular model has, but for folks that need to do some note-taking and S Penning on the go, this LTE Galaxy Note 8.0 could be a good fit. Stay tuned and I’ll give you a shout once AT&T shares its Note 8.0 pricing and launch plans.

Via AT&T

Google officially acquires mapping company Waze

Jun 11th 2013, 17:00

Waze Android, iOS apps

Looks like another big-name mobile app company is joining the Google family. Google announced today on its official blog that it’s acquired Waze, a community-based mapping service that gathers traffic and road information from users to help keep their maps and route info up to date. Google says that the Waze team will remain in Israel and operate as a separate entity “for now,” but El Goog does say that it plans to utilize Waze traffic data to improve Google Maps, enhance Waze with Google’s own search tech and to work with the Waze community to give it what it needs to “grow and prosper.”

Google Maps has been getting quite a bit of love lately; Google recently announced a fresh, new look for its mobile and web versions of Maps, and now the service will be enhanced with data from Waze. There aren’t a lot of specifics available about Google’s plans for Waze right now, but judging from Google’s announcement of the news today, it sounds like users of both Google Maps and Waze have something to get excited about. Have you ever used Waze?

Via Official Google Blog

Official Smartphone Rankings results – Week 66

Jun 11th 2013, 16:49

In week 66 of PhoneDog Media’s Official Smartphone Rankings™, the HTC One remained ahead of the Samsung Galaxy S 4 on the People’s Choice and Expert’s Choice charts.  Coming soon to Verizon Wireless, the HTC One has won praise for its metal design and powerful specifications.  Android smartphones are more powerful than ever, but with Apple’s announcement of iOS 7 at WWDC 2013, the iPhone 5 is poised for a comeback.  Can it return to the top of the charts after a long hiatus?

MT PLEASANT, SC – June 11, 2013 – For 66 weeks and counting, PhoneDog Media’s Official Smartphone Rankings™ (OSR) has become 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 454 votes and 49 expert points.  Available now at AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile now – and coming soon to Verizon Wireless – the HTC One brings together a metal housing and powerful specifications, making it a compelling smartphone for many.

Samsung’s Galaxy S 4 held the second place positions on the People’s Choice and Expert’s Choice charts with 150 votes and 43 points, while the Samsung Galaxy Note II kept its third place position with 58 votes.  The Google Nexus 4 retained its spot in fourth place with 48 votes, while the Nokia Lumia 920 fell to fifth place with 37 votes.  On the Expert’s Choice Chart, the Apple iPhone 5 remained in third place with 33 points, and in fourth place, the Samsung Galaxy Note II with 18 points.  The fifth place position went to the Nokia Lumia 928 with eight points.

“The battle continues between the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S 4, though Apple is back in the game with iOS 7,” said Aaron Baker, Editor-in-Chief of PhoneDog.  “As fall approaches and iOS 7 is released to the general public, I’m eager to see whether it can obtain enough mindshare to surpass Android.”

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 PhoneDog.com or directly at /rankings and voting can be completed using login credentials from Facebook, Twitter, or the PhoneDog website.

First impressions of the changes in iOS 7

Jun 11th 2013, 16:45

With Monday having been and gone and the new knowledge we have of what iOS 7 officially looks like, it’s time for me to discuss my first impressions of the new version of iOS now that I’ve had about 24 hours to play with the new beta software. iOS 7 went through a rather extensive overhaul of its design to make it look more simplistic, but even becoming simplistic can be a complicated thing.

The first and most obvious change you’ll notice is the overall design. I’m sure most of you have already seen the redesign at this point, but for reference here’s a picture of the differences between iOS 7 and iOS 6’s home screens:

 

My first impressions of iOS 7 are going to try and focus as much on the new features and redesign as possible. I’m trying to keep most of the negative experiences I’ve had so far to a minimal because as many of you know, I’m working with A.) beta software and more importantly B.) outdated hardware (the iPhone 4S) – I was prepared for bugs and hiccups galore. Nonetheless, my new experience with iOS 7 has been mostly pleasurable so far. Let’s dive into the details so you can get a better understanding of what I mean.

The visual changes that Apple has introduced with iOS 7 is vastly different than what we’ve seen in the previous versions of iOS – no surprises to be had, the design really can be described as flat and stark. However, I am pleased to say that despite being flat and stark Apple has provided other changes to make the device still seem multi-dimensional, and it all has to do with the wallpapers.

I’ve described how much I enjoy personalizing my devices in the past, so it probably comes as no surprise that one of the first things I did once my iPhone updated to iOS 7 was to check out the new wallpapers. I was surprised to see that there are now two categories for wallpapers: dynamic and stills. Well, someone slap me sideways and call me Suzie; welcome to the 21st century, iOS users! We now have animated wallpapers. But you know what they say, better late than never. I like the dynamic wallpapers because the animations are subtle, but noticeable. You can set the dynamic wallpapers as your home screen or lock screen backgrounds.

However, as many of us know from experience, generally by choosing to use extra animations on your phone you’re sacrificing precious battery life. Although I enjoyed the preview of the dynamic wallpapers, I think I enjoyed the next Easter egg even more.

I opted to go for the still wallpaper in order to save battery. With most beta software you’re likely to experience poor battery life (which I have, but my 4S had been experiencing battery issues in iOS 6 as well) so opting for still wallpapers was the smartest option. However, as ‘still’ as they may be you might be as pleased as I was to find out that Apple employed the use of what is called a “parallax effect” on the phone, which moves the background as you move the phone to give it a “3D” effect. I thought this was pretty cool and I enjoy this feature immensely. You can kind of see what I’m talking about in our ‘First Look’ video of iOS 7 by our Editor-in-Chief, Aaron Baker. Now instead of looking like a moron holding your phone in the air to get reception, you can look like a moron tilting your phone from side to side watching the background move! Sweet!

Although the parallax effect on the home screen certainly adds some dimension to the home screens of the device, the rest of the device really is mostly minimalistic design. Messaging, Calendar, Clocks, and every other stock app all became minimalistic in design with hardly any depth at all to them. It is very stark compared to what we have grown accustomed to in iOS. It definitely takes some getting used to, but I think I’m beginning to somewhat enjoy it. There are certain design aesthetics that I don’t agree with, but I plan to cover those in a more extensive way in the future. Overall, I feel that the simple changes made have actually made a huge difference in iOS – whether you will see it as a good change or a bad change, the changes are definitely there.

One of the things I have been enjoying about iOS 7 is the gesture-based functionality. I initially thought it would take a lot of getting used to for such a feature, but once I figured out what swipe does what it’s incredibly easy to incorporate into web-page browsing and the Mail app, making a lot of things more convenient to navigate. One of the new gesture-based options includes a set of toggles when you swipe from the bottom of the screen upwards – something that has already been introduced in other smartphone platforms, but is nonetheless a welcome change in my opinion. You can toggle your basics like Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb, Brightness, Volume, and Portrait Orientation; you can also toggle other useful features like Flashlight, Clocks, Calculator, Camera, and Music.

Along with gesture-based navigation you also have the introduction of a “card-based” multitasking feature when you double tap the home button. Now, I’m not here to point figures or anything, so all I’m going to say about it is that I enjoyed this feature in iOS 7 almost as much as I did when I had webOS.

A couple of extra tidbits that I’m also enjoying is a new ‘Blocking’ feature that allows you to block certain people from calling you (which I previously had to use a jailbreak app for in the past) and the ability to place what I considered the most useless space-waster on my phone, Newsstand, into a folder.

Thus far I’m enjoying the changes more than I thought I would, but there are definitely things that I would like to see changed before its official debut in the fall this year. Many people have asked me if I think that the changes in iOS 7 would make me stick with the iPhone for my next device. I think if enough improvements from the beta are made and the next iPhone is drool-worthy enough, it may be high time that I begin carrying two devices with me (I’ve still got my eye on the Nokia Lumia 925). I think that the changes in iOS 7 can be placed in the “better” category, which is good considering I thought the changes would be for the worst upon hearing the terms “flat” and “simple” used to describe such changes.

Readers, what are your first impressions of iOS 7? Have you had a chance to experience the beta for yourself? If not, are you interested? Tell me about your first impressions below!

Image via Reddit

OSR Week 66: Can the iPhone and iOS 7 beat the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S 4?

Jun 11th 2013, 10:50

Aaron’s back to round up the best smartphones as voted on by YOU in PhoneDog’s Official Smartphone Rankings!

For week 66, the HTC One remained solidly ahead of the Samsung Galaxy S 4, keeping the first place spot with a total of 454 votes!  On the People’s Choice chart, the Galaxy S 4 stayed in the second place spot with 150 votes, while the Galaxy Note II remained in third place with 58 votes.  In fourth, the Google (LG) Nexus 4 with 48 votes, and rounding out the list in fifth, the Windows-powered Nokia Lumia 920 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 third place.

Apple is back with iOS 7, debuting in the fall with a wealth of new features.  Will it win over those disenfranchised with Android?  Which smartphone will win next week?  Be sure to submit your vote for week 67 at http://www.phonedog.com/rankings and be a part of the conversation!

View video here

Verizon’s upcoming Casio Commando 4G LTE shown off in new image leak

Jun 11th 2013, 10:40

Verizon Casio Commando 4G LTE leak

After originally getting outed in April by a Federal Communications Commission entry, Verizon’s new Casio G’zOne Commando is back again today in a new image leak. The render, shared by @evleaks, shows a device that looks fairly similar to the one that we previously saw at the FCC. There are some silver and red accents on the new Commando’s face, along with some screws and a set of capacitive Android navigation keys. Unsurprisingly, this new Commando will also include support for Verizon’s 4G LTE network.

Additional spec details for this Casio Commando are fairly light right now, but the user manual included with the aforementioned FCC listing did mention that the device will sport front and rear cameras, an 8GB microSD card and a ruggedized body. So far there doesn’t appear to be anything terribly shocking about this new Commando model, but I’m sure that there are some Verizon customers that are interested in a toughened smartphone that will be glad to see an update to the aging G’zOne Commando.

Via @evleaks

Google adds new shipping options to Play Store

Jun 11th 2013, 10:05

Google Play Store Ground and Saver shipping options

Google has been selling hardware through the Play Store for over a year now, having launched its Devices section with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus in April 2012. Since then we’ve watched the company add new accessories and hardware, like the Nexus 7 dock and the white Nexus 4. Today El Goog made a couple more additions to its store, but instead of placing new products on its virtual shelves, the company has given shoppers some new shipping options.

As spotted by Android Police, Google is now offering Saver and Ground shipping options for orders from the Play Store. A support document explains that Saver is available based on the weight of an order, and it appears that most accessories will be eligible. Saver shipping is priced at $4.99 and will get a product to its buyer in 5-10 business days. Ground shipping is available to devices and accessories, with pricing set at $9.99 for the former and $7.99 for the latter and delivery expected within 3-5 business days. Finally, the original Two-Day shipping option is still available for devices and accessories, with pricing set at $13.99 and $11.99, respectively.

While they may not be quite as exciting as fresh hardware, these new shipping options are welcome additions to the Google Play Store. After all, more choice is always a good thing, and the new shipping methods will allow customers to save a few bucks if they aren’t necessarily in a hurry to handle their new toys. You can check out the new Saver and Ground options for yourself by hitting up the Google Play link below. And hey, if you feel the need to “test” the shipping methods by purchasing a new gadget or accessory, I won’t stop you.

Via Android Police, Google Support, Google Play

Huawei Ascend P6 spec leak includes 4.7-inch 720p display, 1.5GHz quad-core processor and more

Jun 11th 2013, 08:40

Huawei Ascend P6 Emotion UI leak

Huawei hasn’t yet announced the Ascend P6, but considering how many details of the device have surfaced, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it had. Today more information on the Ascend P6 has surfaced, with @evleaks sharing a purported list of the handset’s specs.

According to this latest leak, the Ascend P6 will measure in at 6.18mm thick, which lines up with previous rumors concerning the device. The front of the P6 is expected to sport a 4.7-inch 720p display along with a 5-megapixel camera with a feature called “Face Enhance.” Around back of the phone is said to be an 8-megapixel shooter with 4cm macro, and rounding out the spec list is a 1.5GHz quad-core processor as well as a new version of Huawei’s custom Emotion UI.

So long as these rumored specs hold true, it looks like the Ascend P6 could be a pretty nice little Android handset once it launches. Some may be disappointed that Huawei didn’t bump the screen resolution up to 1080p, but the remainder of the P6’s alleged spec list looks high-end, and of course it’s got that thin body to help draw attention as well. The Ascend P6 is expected to make its official debut at an event on June 18, so it won’t be long before the device finally becomes a citizen of Officialville. I’ll give you a shout once it does.

Via @evleaks

Are you going to switch to iTunes Radio?

Jun 11th 2013, 07:50

Even before Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference kicked off yesterday, a lot of focus was being put on iTunes. Specifically, how Apple was getting ready to change how we listened to music, with the help of their digital retail outlet. In fact, I’d venture to say that the feature that would eventually become to be known as iTunes Radio was one of the most talked about, one of the most rumored and speculated over new features coming to iOS and iTunes. All of that speculation and rumor milling only got us so far, though.

Much like we saw with iOS 7 in general, Apple did a ridiculously good job of keeping all their secrets secret right up until the last moment. Of course, in the case for iTunes Radio, it “helped” that it sounds like Apple went right down to the wire to secure deals with the major music labels.

If you were like me, you were probably paying close attention when they started talking about iTunes Radio. It was definitely one of the features I was most excited about, if it did indeed get talked about at all. I had been keenly tuned to all the rumors and talk about Apple’s streaming music service, because the general consensus was that it was going to be a service to directly compete with Spotify, or Rdio. Apple was gearing up to take on the heavy hitters, and why shouldn’t they? They’ve got iTunes bolstering the service. You’d think if anyone out there had the guts to take on the steadfast front-runners, it would be Apple.

Unfortunately, that didn’t turn out to be the case.

Instead, some of the other rumors panned out. (Basically, you realize, that if you just throw enough speculation out there, something will stick, and someone out there will be all excited because they got it right. So, you know, hooray or something.) iTunes Radio is exactly what it sounds like. It isn’t a streaming service like Spotify or Rdio, where you pay a monthly subscription to have access to as much music as you want, and where you can build your own library and download the tracks to listen to while you’re offline. No, iTunes Radio is a Pandora competitor. A Slacker competitor. A radio competitor.

And I’m just kind of at a a loss.

Can I admit that I was kind of caught up in the excitement of the rumors? Yes, I’ll admit that. I’m not exactly sure why I was caught up in the rumors, considering that I don’t have a problem using a service like Spotify, but I was. And I’m sure that plays a small part in my disappointment in the iTunes Radio announcement, but I also know that it goes beyond that.

I have absolutely no idea why Apple would want to work so hard just to create a competitor to Pandora or Slacker. Not because I don’t think anyone will use it. I know people will. I’ve even already tried it out. But because I don’t’ see people switching from what they’ve already been using for years just to use something that’s exactly like it.

If you use Pandora, for instance, then you have probably been working diligently to get your music stations right where you want them. With the right mixture of songs, artists, and genre. If you’re like me, then you’ve been using Pandora for a long time, and there’s been a lot of input in which songs should play in each station. Sure, Pandora does a good job of that on its own –for the most part– but we all know there has to be some loving care infused with the effort, too, if you don’t want some random track getting thrown in there to throw you off your groove. (Yep.)

Apparently Apple expects folks to just toss that out and essentially start over, just so they can have it be from Apple. I can’t help but laugh because I know people who are going to do that, for that specific reason.

I would have been pretty amazed if Apple would have created a true Spotify competitor for the same price plan as their current iTunes Radio. $24.99 a year, with the ridiculously huge iTunes library backing it, and the ability to create your own library and download tracks for offline usage. It sounds too good to be true, and that’s probably why it doesn’t exist. But, I’m telling you right now, if Apple *had* unveiled that service? I would have been all over it.

Tell me what you think about iTunes Radio. Do you think Apple missed the mark with the service? Or is this something you’ve eagerly been waiting for? If you use Pandora, will you switch to iTunes Radio? Let me know!

Featured user review Samsung Galaxy S 4 (6-11-13)

Jun 11th 2013, 07:45

Another week passes, and the Samsung Galaxy S 4 maintained the #2 spot on the Official Smartphone Rankings.  With the addition of the Samsung Galaxy Mega or other new smartphones this week give the top three a run for their money?  Be sure to place your vote each week for your favorite.

“Still not sure”  By KYRA ASIA SOUTHWELL on June 4, 2013

I have previously been an Apple chick, but i decided to switch to android to change it up to see what the G-O is with a different OS and to help me in my new job by having a feel for android. 

I would love it greatly if we could meld an iPhone 5 and a GS4 together. I went for a plastic design for a grippier feel as i love using phones as they are intended in the hand (without always arming a case) but i was still not impressed with just how easily the bezel on the GS4 folded. Mine dinted super easy, but hey, it’s plastic. 

I prefer the app store on iOS as i feel there is more available and i prefer the layout over playstore.

The battery life of my iP5 was fairly poor but the 2600mA battery in the GS4 does an outstanding job even though i am usually where there isn’t a lot of 3G signal. But i do feel signal strength was better in the iP5.

My GS4 has been having a lot of glitching throughout the entire experience; gaming, processing etc. And like everyone else, the software and bloatware taking up so much internal space os a massive downer.

I’d love to have a go/trial with the HTC one as the boom sound looks fab. The speakers in the GS4 are pretty lame considering the price tag. People complain about sound quality when on loudspeaker and the output sound is a little tinny and very soft for such a large phone. 

The Amoled display is great but could be a little better in brightness at times.

I am enjoying having a little more stock customisation on this GS4 than the iP5 (which was jailbroken) And after using the Gs4 for some time now i still feel that with the software a lot of stock things run smoother on the iP5.

Overall though, i am liking the GS4 but i would love it if i could meld my two phones together!

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

Overall 4.2

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

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

Nokia planning to cease shipments of Symbian devices this summer

Jun 11th 2013, 07:25

Nokia 808 PureView Symbian

Ever since Nokia first announced that it’d be adopting Windows Phone as part of a “strategic partnership” with Microsoft, the Finnish manufacturer as steadily been turning its focus away from its Symbian-based products in favor of its Windows Phone-powered Lumia hardware and its affordable line of Asha handsets. Now a new report claims that Nokia will soon complete its transition from Symbian by ceasing shipments of products running the operating system.

According to the Financial Times, Nokia is planning to stop shipments of its Symbian-based smartphones this summer. The company isn’t expected to make a formal announcement regarding the decision since there’s still stock of Symbian hardware in some parts of the globe. In a statement to the FT, Nokia explained that it took the company 22 months to release a new Symbian phone, while the same process takes less than a year for a Windows Phone. The firm says that it can use that extra time to focus on apps and other “elements of the experience that make a big difference.”

While Symbian was a major part of Nokia’s mobile efforts before it cozied up with Microsoft, we’ve been hearing less and less about the operating system since then. The last Symbian device to come to market (and the last Symbian device, period) was the 808 PureView in 2012, and while that device’s 41-megapixel camera sensor got it a lot of attention, some folks were turned off by the presence of Symbian. Recent rumors suggest that Nokia will be incorporating a similarly-beefy camera in an upcoming Windows Phone product, meaning that the final Symbian device may soon lose its reason for existence. Have you ever owned a Symbian-powered device?

Via Financial Times

iOS 7 First Look

Jun 11th 2013, 06:10

Seven has historically been a lucky number, and if Apple is lucky, iOS 7 will be the driver that helps them regain marketshare lost to Android.  New features include Control Center, improved multitasking, a gyroscopic background that allows users to rotate the phone to see more of the wallpaper, AirDrop (a feature similar to S Beam and Android Beam), iTunes Radio, Siri enhancements, and more.  On top of the improvements, the overall look and feel has been overhauled and features a more minimalistic look and feel.  What remains to be seen, however, is if it’ll help Apple regain their dominance in the smartphone space.

What do you think of iOS 7?  Let me know in the comments below!

View video here