Tags

, , , , , , ,

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 7.1.0.991 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 7.1.0.991 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 7.1.0.991, 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 www.blackberry.com/updates 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!

ENHANCEMENTS HAVE BEEN MADE TO THE FOLLOWING AREAS:

  • 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”

SUPPORT HAS BEEN ADDED TO THE FOLLOWING AREAS:

  • 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”)

IMPROVEMENTS HAVE BEEN MADE TO THE FOLLOWING AREAS: 

  • 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