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AT&T’s LTE Galaxy Note 8.0 launching on June 21 for $399.99, smartphone bundle also planned Jun 17th 2013, 17:30
Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0After announcing plans to carry a 4G LTE-enabled version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 last week, AT&T today spilled the all-important pricing and launch information of its upcoming slate. AT&T has revealed that the Galaxy Note 8.0 will be available on June 21, complete a price tag of $399.99 with a two-year commitment. Customers that are interested in a Galaxy double whammy will be able to pick up the Galaxy Note 8.0 for just $199.99 on contract when they also buy a Galaxy S 4, Galaxy S 4 Active or Galaxy Note II.AT&T’s flavor of the Galaxy Note 8.0 is largely similar to the Wi-Fi-only model that was introduced earlier this year. The AT&T version packs an 8-inch display, 1.6GHz quad-core processor, 5-megapixel rear and 1.3-megapixel front cameras, 16GB built-in storage, microSD card slot and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Of course, there’s also 4G LTE connectivity included with this model, allowing owners to get online without a Wi-Fi network. AT&T is also offering 50GB of free storage in its AT&T Locker service for a limited time.

While many folks are content with using their tablets on Wi-Fi only, some consumers like to be able to get online with their slate while out and about. That’s where connected tablets like this AT&T Galaxy Note 8.0 come in. AT&T has offered Galaxy tablets in the past, but those were straight up tablet models and note S Pen-equipped Note devices, so it’s good to see an LTE-enabled Note tablet joining AT&T’s roster. Now that AT&T has come forward with the availability details for its Galaxy Note 8.0, will any of you be buying one?

Via AT&T

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Which Android features would you bring to Windows Phone? Jun 17th 2013, 15:35
Building a smartphone, and filling it with features that will speak the loudest to the most consumers, is a hard thing to do. You’ve got to get a lot right, even while you understand that you may get a lot wrong. Some people may not like the hardware that you created, while others will praise your software. Or vice versa. It’s all about the gamble.When it comes to proprietary software, it’s like the gamble intensifies tenfold right out of the gate. We’ve seen some impressive phones in the past get the raw end of the deal, simply because the custom software “wasn’t good enough.”

Then again, something not being good enough is completely relative. Our needs and expectations are so different from person to person, that all a manufacturer can hope is that they’ll speak to the majority, even if the minority bemoans certain aspects of a new device.

Software is the biggest opportunity for a manufacturer to bring some of the best value to a device. The hardware may be the way that you get the customer to pick up your new shiny phone, but it will be the software that keeps them coming back. Samsung is a company that’s put a lot of focus on their software over the last few years, and there are a lot of people out there who see the value in that.

It’s up to you, and only you, to determine how many features you need on your phone.

When iOS 7 was unveiled, the immediate reaction from quite a few people that I saw was that Apple had, once again, drawn quite a bit of inspiration from Google’s mobile platform, Android. But, you don’t have to look too hard from one platform to another to see “inspirations” here and there. It’s just the way things go.

I’m in agreement with Anna when it comes to Windows Phone needing apps, as I’ve made that perfectly clear over the last couple of years. They also need a bigger focus on their own proprietary features, like Xbox LIVE (especially with Google creating their own LIVE-like service for Android). But I’m wondering if Microsoft should start taking a few more cues from some other platforms out there, much like we’ve seen other mobile operating systems do over the years.

As I just mentioned, many would suggest that iOS has been picking Android’s best new (and old) features and adding it to the iOS features list. So I want to know which features from Android, any at all, you’d want Microsoft to gain inspiration from and bring to Windows Phone.

For me, there’s only really one: the notification shade. This is, by far, one of my favorite Android features, as it makes notifications so dang easy. And, as we’ve seen from Apple since it introduced its own “Notification Center,” you can tweak it enough to make it look different, and still hold the same functionality, as the Android original. And based on a particular leak we’ve seen in the past of what Windows Phone’s notification center could look like, I think Android’s notification shade is the perfect implementation.

But I want to hear from you. I want to know which Android-based features you’d want to bring to Windows Phone, in an effort to make Microsoft’s mobile platform better overall. And, of course, be sure to tell me why you’d want these new features added to Windows Phone. And . . . Go!

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Sprint 4G LTE now available in 22 new cities, expected to hit more towns in the coming months Jun 17th 2013, 15:25
Sprint 4G LTE logoIt’s been a couple of months since we’ve heard any news on Sprint 4G LTE network expansions, but today Hesse and Co. broke their silence by announcing that their LTE service is now available in 22 additional cities. The list includes some major markets, including Miami and New Orleans, as well as some smaller locales. The full list of 22 areas that are gaining access to Sprint’s LTE network today is as follows:

  • Baton Rouge, La.
  • Centralia, Wash.
  • Clarksville, Tenn.
  • Corsicana, Texas
  • Dalton, Ga.
  • Dunn, N.C.
  • Fond du Lac, Wis.
  • Gainesville, Fla.
  • Henderson, N.C.
  • Kingsport, Tenn.
  • Lansing/East Lansing, Mich.
  • Longview, Wash.
  • Miami
  • Napa, Calif.
  • New Orleans
  • Palatka, Fla.
  • Raleigh, N.C.
  • Sebring, Fla.
  • St. Cloud, Minn.
  • St. Joseph/Benton Harbor, Mich.
  • Tampa, Fla.
  • Warsaw, Ind.

That’s a fairly large list of cities, and I’m sure that residents of the major markets in that group are glad to finally be hopping aboard the Sprint 4G LTE train. This latest LTE expansion pushes Sprint’s LTE network past the 100-city mark, bringing it up to a total of 110 LTE-covered markets. Sprint also named a handful of cities that it says will be hit with LTE in the coming months, so any Sprint folk in those locales may want to keep an eye out for a little “4G” or “LTE” indicator on any LTE-capable hardware that they might own. All 13 of the upcoming LTE markets can be below.

  • Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • Aberdeen, Wash.
  • Allegan, Mich.
  • Ann Arbor, Mich.
  • Battle Creek, Mich.
  • Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Eagle Pass, Texas
  • Flint, Mich.
  • Laredo, Texas
  • Marshfield/Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
  • Mount Pleasant, Mich.
  • Oak Harbor, Wash.
  • Watertown/Fort Atkinson, Wis.

Via Sprint

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Instagram rumored to be gaining ability to capture short videos Jun 17th 2013, 13:45
Instagram iPhone 4SVine launched on iOS back in January, followed by an Android release earlier this month, giving users an easy way to shoot six-second videos and then share those clips with friends. Now it appears that fans of quick video hits may soon have another way to express themselves.A source speaking to TechCrunch claims that Instagram will soon add support for capturing and sharing short videos. Facebook, which owns Instagram, will reportedly announce the news at an event on June 20. Details on how the video side of Instagram would work are still light, but a report that surfaced a few weeks ago claimed that Instagram was testing the ability to upload videos that measure between 5 and 10 seconds in length.

Vine has become widely adopted among iOS and Android users, sitting at the No. 4 and 5 spots on each platform’s “Top Free” app charts. This suggests that people are indeed interested in sharing the short videos, which give users new ways to express themselves that aren’t possible with photos, but also forces them to be creative with the short amount of time that they’re given.

While Vine has become a firm part of the iOS and Android ecosystems, Instagram is popular as well, claiming the No. 15 spot on the iOS App Store’s “Top Free” chart and the No. 4 position on Google Play’s free app standings. If Instagram were to gain video sharing capabilities, some folks could decide to ditch Vine and use Instagram full-time as their one-stop app for capturing and viewing both photos and video rather than having to hop between separate apps. What do you think of the short videos produced on Vine? Would you try video capture on Instagram if today’s rumor holds true?

Via TechCrunch

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Samsung Galaxy S 4 with LTE-Advanced support slated to launch in the near future Jun 17th 2013, 12:55
Samsung Galaxy S 4 Black MistSamsung Galaxy S 4 family has grown quite a bit in recent weeks thanks to new additions like the Google Edition Galaxy S 4, Galaxy S 4 mini, Galaxy S 4 Active and Galaxy S 4 Zoom. It appears that the company’s got at least one more Galaxy S 4 up its sleeve, though, as co-CEO J.K. Shin has revealed that Samsung will soon release a new version of the Galaxy S 4 with support for faster 4G data speeds.Speaking to Reuters, Shin revealed that Samsung is prepping a Galaxy S 4 model that will be capable of accessing LTE-Advanced service. The device will be powered by a Qualcomm processor and is expected to be “slightly more expensive” than the regular Galaxy S 4. Shin said this new LTE-Advanced Galaxy S 4 will hit South Korean shelves as early as this month, adding that Samsung is currently holding discussions with multiple overseas carriers about launching the speedier S 4.

As its name suggests, LTE-Advanced is an improved version of the LTE service that many operators already offer. LTE-Advanced isn’t nearly as widespread as plain ol’ LTE quite yet, though, with Russian carrier Yota launching the first commercial LTE-Advanced network in October 2012 that produced speeds of 300Mbps. In the U.S., AT&T is aiming to begin work on its own LTE-Advanced offering later in 2013, and Verizon has confirmed that it’s planning to support the speedier data service as well.

With so little LTE-Advanced service available right now, it appears that only a small number of consumers will actually be able to use this upcoming LTE-Advanced Galaxy S 4 to its full potential. Still, it’s kind of exciting to learn that we’ll soon see a new LTE-Advanced smartphone hitting store shelves, with Samsung’s shin claiming that this new Galaxy S 4 will be the first LTE-Advanced product to commercially launch. The unit won’t really be much different in use than a regular S 4 for most of us, but hey, that doesn’t mean that we can’t drool over high network speeds that it’ll be capable of producing, right?

Via Reuters

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Ting to launch Windows Phone 8-powered HTC Tiara and Samsung device in July Jun 16th 2013, 15:20
Ting logoTing teased earlier this year that it “definitely” had Windows Phone 8 devices coming, but the operator didn’t share any other details on its WP8 plans at that time. There’s some good news for Live Tile lovers on Ting this weekend, though, as the Sprint MVNO has now given us some more information on the Windows Phone products that it’s got in the pipeline.Over on its official blog, Ting has announced that it plans to offer Windows Phone 8 hardware from HTC and Samsung in the mid to late July timeframe. The HTC device will be the Tiara, a mid-range Windows Phone that’s also rumored to be headed to Sprint. Ting says that the Tiara will be a 4G LTE-capable device. According to the rumor mill, the Tiara will also sport a 4.3-inch WVGA display, 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 8-megapixel rear and 1.6-megapixel front cameras, 8GB storage and an 1,800mAh battery.

When it comes to the Samsung device that’s headed to Ting’s shelves, things are a bit more mysterious. The operator says that it can’t confirm the handset itself quite yet, but it does say that the phone will sport both LTE support and an unlocked GSM SIM card slot, meaning that it would be ready for use on GSM networks in other parts of the globe.

While Ting has been adding some high-profile Android phones to its lineup lately, including the Samsung Galaxy S 4, Galaxy Note II and HTC One, we haven’t really seen Ting officially launch any Windows Phone products yet. That’ll be changing soon, though, which makes sense considering that Sprint will soon be landing its first Windows Phone 8 devices as well. It’s also worth noting that, since Ting is expecting to offer both these HTC and Samsung WP8 handsets in mid to late July, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sprint launch the same two phones in the near future.

Ting will also be adding a pair of Netgear-made mobile broadband devices to its shelves this summer. One device will sport Sprint 3G and 4G LTE connectivity, while the other will support Sprint’s LTE network as well as GSM 3G service.

Finally, Ting says that the list of products that are “officially supported” by its Bring Your Own Sprint Device program is now up to 15 devices. The fact that these devices are “officially supported” means that Ting offers instructions on how to port the hardware to its service. Ting also has a lengthier “whitelist” of products that are able to be brought to Ting but lack a set of instructions. The full list of devices that can be ported to Ting is available right here.

Via WPCentral, Ting

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Sometimes the best mid-range devices are last year’s flagships Jun 16th 2013, 12:00
Here at PhoneDog we tend to shed a lot of the limelight on the current flagships and current news surrounding the more recent smartphone releases – and why not? When people are in the market for a new phone a lot of the time they’re going to be looking for what has the best specs, features, and hardware. However, not all who are in the market for new phones are necessarily looking for the best of the best; sometimes what we might consider “mid-range” is perfect to many people.But what exactly makes a mid-range device? The spectrum for a mid-range smartphone is much broader than any other category we place our phones in; they’re not “top of the line” but they’re also not “lowest of the low”. It leaves for a lot of leg room when it comes to this type of smartphone, and having so many choices can cause confusion for somebody going into the market with little to no knowledge about what phone can provide you with a good smartphone experience without forking over an arm and a leg.

Many people who look to purchase mid-range smartphones are usually doing so in order to stay cost-effective. Why spend an arm and a leg on a phone whose primary features will probably never be touched or recognized? While a faster, smoother experience is optimal for any smartphone user – new or experienced – sometimes the cost of such luxury just isn’t justified.

Fortunately, not all mid-range smartphones will give you a so-so experience – some mid-range phones on the market can actually be quite good. You see, with each passing year several OEMs such as Samsung, HTC, Apple, etc. try their hand at making the next best flagship smartphone. By doing so, last year’s flagship smartphone loses a bit of value. Not only is the technology on these devices slightly outdated, but so are the prices. Cha-ching! This is the moment that budget-conscious shoppers have been waiting for.

While these phones would most likely be placed in the “upper” mid-range category (as I mentioned before, very broad range) you can still find pretty great deals on these smartphones that are running on decent specs and updated (or nearly updated) software.

For example, let’s look at the Samsung Galaxy S III. This phone has a 4.8-inch 720×1280 super AMOLED HD display running on a 1.5GHz dual-core processor with 2 GB of RAM and is currently upgradeable to Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean) software. It has an 8 MP camera on the rear, and a 1.9 MP camera on the front. Most major carriers in the U.S. are selling the 16GB variant for $99.99, which is $100 discount from summertime last year. Sometimes carriers have extra promotions that make the Galaxy S III even cheaper than that.

Another decent option for a mid-range Android smartphone, which has since been outdated by the HTC One, is the HTC EVO 4G LTE from Sprint. The HTC EVO 4G LTE is available to Sprint customers for $99.99. The EVO 4G LTE has a 4.7-inch 720×1280 HD display, dual-core 1.5GHz Krait processor, 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage with external microSD storage available up to 32GB. There’s an 8 MP shooter on the back, and a 1.3 front facing camera as well. Did I mention this phone has a kickstand? If you’re like me and enjoy watching movies while relaxing and laying down, but suffer from chronic dropphoneonfaceitis like I do then the kickstand is a welcome little feature that comes with this device.

If HTC or Samsung isn’t your thing you can also check out other honorable mentions like the LG Optimus G, Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX HD, or even the iPhone 4S (the iPhone 5 will presumably drop in price soon).

Just because you’re sticking to a budget when it comes to purchasing a new smartphone doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice decent functionality if you don’t want to; not every mid-range smartphone comes with an HVGA display and a 3.2 megapixel camera without flash. Most of the phones mentioned here are being sold for $100 or less, which is a pretty good deal for phones that were considered “top of the line” around this time last year.

Just remember: If you’re in the market for a mid-range smartphone, don’t automatically dismiss “old” technology for “bad” technology!

Image via ABC News

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