Monday, 31 December 2012

Africa's home-grown mobile phone and tablet pairing officially come to market!

   In a world where phones are typically designed in highly developed countries by companies with billions of pounds of research and development money and where these designs are then brought to life in China and then shipped around the world, it's fantastic to hear that a small company has managed to get as far as having the product available on the market. There's a few companies at the moment who are trying to challenge the conventional path; we've got Jolla with their Meego-based project, we had Palm with their stunning WebOS software, Geeksphone with their Android based devices and now there's VMK with their Android phones and tablets. VMK are unique because a few companies have claimed to be African designed devices, but have been mere re-brands of Chinese tablets.

Image credit: VMK.
   Now this isn't actually the first time we heard about VMK's efforts early in September 2012 as they announced their plans to produce their Way-C tablet and they pledged to follow it up with their Elikia smartphone, both of these devices were fully designed by VMK without the help if European or any external companies. Way-C means "the light of the stars," and Elikia means "hope", which are quite apt names and reflect the importance of this sort of project to Africa.

   So what we're looking at here isn't new information, but these devices are now finally officially ready to buy! On the Elikia phone there's a 3.5-inch QVGA (480x320p) display, 512MB of RAM, a 650MHz processor and a 0.3 megapixel front-facing shooter and a rear 5 megapixel option. The specs might not be so appealing if there's a Galaxy S3 or HTC One X sitting in your pocket, but we're not the target audience here. The cost of the device is $170 US without the need to commit to a contract! A price which is much more realistic for the more affluent residents of Congo, because the average yearly wage is $140, so this is targeted towards the high-end of the Congolese market. The software on board is Android 2.3.6, although because of the incompatibility of Congo's credit cards and Google Play's payment system VMK had created their own app store, which has the option to use prepaid gift cards. The phone is available for 85,000 Congolese Francs on both Airtel and Warid, which works out to around £57 or $93.

   The tablet on the other hand is 150,000 Congolese Francs and that works out to around £101 or $164 and is a relatively powerful device for the money. There's a 7" 800x480p screen, a 1.2Ghz processor, Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread and 4GB of internal storage which is MicroSD expandable. This is a competent device in its own respect.

   The main story here though is that Africa now has a first tentative step into the tech world and hopefully this is a foundation which will flourish in the near future. If we hear any more from VMK or any other similar project we'll be sure to let you know and seeing as Africa is fastest growing mobile market in the world we expect there will be plenty more news coming out of Africa in the future! But, in the meantime if you want some more information on either of the devices you can find full information about the Elikia phone here and the Way-C tablet here.

Happy New Year and a look to the future from The Tech Front!

It's that time of year again ladies and gentlemen: the presents are all opened and the left over turkey is all but gone. So we wish you a very happy new year wherever you are and we hope you have a very enjoyable evening!

There's a lot to come in the new year; there's CES in a couple of weeks time and we will have a few reviews on the way. Incidentally we're approaching our first birthday and so we're working on a way to celebrate at the moment!

We're hoping this year we'll be able to branch out a bit more and bring you give aways and a lot more app reviews! So stay tuned and we're insanely grateful for your support! 

Happy New Year!
Thanks and kind regards,

James and Shri.

Friday, 28 December 2012

28/12/2012: Motorola to create a Razr M HD? More Galaxy S4 rumours and BB10 features leak! The HTC HD2 refuses to die and much more!

Motorola to unleash a Razr M HD?

   Earlier this year Motorola's super thin Droid Razr and Droid Razr Maxx got HD buddies, an according to one of PhoneArena's anonymous sources the Razr M will soon have a HD brother too! It would seem fitting that the Razr M's refresh would maintain a mid-range price and so the suggested spec sheet does seem to fit in with that.

   Apparently the device will launch with Android 4.1, which will be updatable to Android 4.2 at some point after launch and on the spec front there will supposedly be a dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus processor running the show on a 720p 4.5" screen, at that resolution the screen will have a Retina display matching 326ppi. To round the device off there will also supposedly be 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage which is MicroSD expandable and a 3300MaH battery, although there was no mention of any camera specifications. 

   Would you be interested in a device like this? If it could come in at a reasonable price point it could prove to be a very popular device, especially with the very good battery size! If you would like to see the full spec sheet given to PhoneArena then hit up the source link below!
Via PhoneArena.

More Galaxy S4 rumours arrive suggesting an April launch date!

   Hot on the heels of the best render of the Galaxy S4, which we published yesterday and that is embedded above, we got wind today that there is another set of juicy rumours from Korea regarding Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S4. 

   Today's rumours suggest that the device will be launching in April, which is to be expected given Samsung had to delay the launch of the S3 because of the discolouration of their blue cases last year. But, that's the mundane part of this rumour. The juicy bit is that the rumours suggest that the Galaxy S4 will come with an S-Pen and a 5" 1080p AMOLED display. The S-Pen rumour is the intriguing part because it suggests that this could be a merger of the Galaxy Note and the Galaxy S series. We find this hard to believe because the separation of sizes in the different ranges gives users exactly what they want depending on their preferences and a 'happy medium' might be enough to discourage both camps.

   Other than that it's expected that there will be Android Jelly Bean on board which will be powered by a quad-core Exynos 5440 chip which will be made using a 28nm process which uses high-K metal gate technology. There's mumblings of a using ARM's big.LITTLE process, but because that's very much still in it's infancy we don't think that one is very likely either. Just to conclude the rumours there is also mean to be a 13-megapixel rear auto-focus camera and the body of the phone is expected to be 9.2mm thick to house that S-Pen!

   We think the screen size and quality are quite likely as is the camera spec, but other than that we find it hard to believe Samsung would merge the Note and S series and we're not convinced the S-Pen is ready for the big time either! What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!
Via PhoneArena.

In other news:

  • There's been some controversy on YouTube view numbers on music videos being cut today. At the moment there's some ambiguity whether the drop in numbers is down to Google cutting the figures because they were artificially inflated by record labels or because songs have been transferred between accounts. We'll let you know what's going on when everything becomes clearer in the next few days!
    Via TheVerge.
  • There's also suggestions that Instagram lost a quarter of their users after last weeks Terms of Service scandal. We're not sure exactly whether this is true or whether data has been affected by the Christmas holidays, but again The Verge have offered some insight on the matter.
  • Sony has announced that they are discontinuing the Playstation 2 in Japan, but don't worry Sony isn't going to cut off your PS3 yet, as they pledged they would support it through to 2015. The PS3 launched in Japan in November of 2006 so that would mean the device would have been supported for nine years, which given Sony's record with updates for their Android devices looks positively stellar!
    Via Slashgear.
  • According to Reuters China has unveiled tighter Internet controls which now make it legal to delete posts or pages "which are deemed to contain "illegal" information and requiring service providers to hand over such information to the authorities for punishment." Given China's reputation for the 'Great Firewall of China' it's not surprising that the country is cracking down on this and the use of VPN's to bypass their extensive censorship programme!
    Reuters via Slashgear.
  • Sprint is currently offering you a $100 off a new tablet from them if you take a phone contract. You can redeem your voucher on an iPad Mini, standard iPad, Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 or a Motorola Xoom! You can check out the full details here!
    Via IntoMobile.
  • RIM's upcoming BB10 features seem to be leaking left, right and centre at the moment. We've heard about Blackberry Remember which will act as a task app, BBM video for face to face video calls and  that would go very nicely with BBM Voice which is already out in the wild! Are you excited for BB10? We certainly can't wait to see what Canada's finest come up with!
    Via IntoMobile.
  • Fijitsu CEO, Masami Yamamoto, confirmed that the company would be bringing the Raku-Raku Smartphone, an easy to use device targeted at the older population, to the U.S. and Europe in the near future. Although at the moment there's no word on how much it'll cost, but the device is available in Japan at the moment with a 4-inch 800x480 display, 1.4GHz Snapdragon S2 processor and a modified version of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
    Via PhoneDog.
  • It turns out that RIM's undisclosed first payment to Nokia came in at a whopping $65 million or 50 million Euros! We're not currently sure what the ongoing payments will be but analysts expect it to be somewhere between $2 and $5!
    Via AllThingsD.
  • Apple has received a slap on the wrists from China which ran to the tune of $165,000 because they allegedly published books from Chinese authors without their copyright permissions! We're not sure of the details of this case because it was in China and it is all rather hush-hush, but if there's any more details we will let you know!
    Via Slashgear.
And finally, it seems HTC's eternal HD2 now has the ability to run Windows RT! A post on Twitter from CotullaCode shows the software up and running! The image and tweet are embedded below for your viewing pleasure!

Ever wondered what Christmas sales do to device activations?

   We all know that Christmas is a vital time for retailers, not just in the technology industry, but some research by a firm called Flurry shows us just how vital that one special day is to Android manufacturers and Apple, in this particular case. 

   The image above demonstrates the change in activations that Flurry's app analytics detected between the average day in December and Christmas day! This year there was a whopping 17.4 million devices activated according to Flurry's data. Compared to your average day that is an increase of 332%! This was a bumper year as Flurry only detected 6.8 million activations on the same day last year, whereas there were 17.4 million this year, which is nearly a 160% year on year increase and it shows the growth in demand for smartphones and especially tablets, something which is shown in the pie charts to the right. Flurry said that they think that Kindle Fire's and both standard and the mini versions of Apple's iPad were the main drivers of tablet growth, although we're surprised to hear that Google's Nexus 7 wasn't widely gifted!

   So what did all this activity mean for them vital apps? Well the app download numbers built on last Christmas' figures and they increased more than 110% compared to the average December day! Flurry produced an interesting hour by hour download monitor which is embedded below! Were you one of the lucky ones who became part of these statistics?

AppDownloads perHour Xmas2012 resized 600
Flurry via Forbes.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

27/12/2012: Samsung eyes half a billion phone sales for 2013, Google outs the Play Store's 'best of 2012', iWatch rumours and the Xperia Z gets pictured? Plus much more!

Google offers their 'Best of 2012'!

   With a mere four days left of the year it seems fitting that we see one of the tech giants and their insanely popular platforms offering a 'best of apps and games' list. Today Google have offered up their favourite picks from the Play Store! So without further discussion here are the highlights.

This was unsurprisingly a closely fought category, but Google thinks that out of a list which included the likes of Pocket, Expedia, TED, Ancestry and Pinterest the first app on the list, shouldn't surprise too many people, it was Evernote. You can see the full list here.
Games, just like apps, was always going to have a very stiff set of competitors. You might be surprised when you see some of the games on the list, we were. There's no Angry Birds or Bad Piggies in sight, instead Google has opted for games like Granny Smith, Need for Speed and ShadowGun : Deadzone. The last one is definitely worth a download and we can't wait to see that running on OUYA! If you need some ideas to kill some time over the holidays you can find a full list of Google's recommendations here.
Via DroidLife.

Samsung eyes half a billion phone sales in 2013!

   The latest reports from Korea are suggesting that Samsung plans to best their already notable successes from 2012 next year! The South Koreans reportedly want to move half a billion phones next year. Yes, they really do want to have a brand new phone in the hands of one fourteenth of the world's population within the year!

   The Korean Times says Samsung wants to see 20% growth on their 420 million sales and that would work out to 504 million sales within a year! That figure would be split down intp 390million smartphones and the rest would be feature phones, either way that would be another stellar year for Samsung if that were to come true!

   Naturally much of Samsung's success will depend on their next flagship, the Galaxy S4, or whatever they settle on because of the negative connotations of the number four in Korea! Incidentally, today we got a great look at a render of one guys ideal Galaxy S4, you can see it in the video embedded below! What do you think? Are you interested if it looked like that?

Via TechRadar and Slashgear.

In other news:
  • Toshiba's Excite 10 tablet is getting its pack of Jelly Bean today. The update is available in the US at the moment and given the history of Toshiba's roll outs it should be available to the rest of the world in the next 3 to 4 weeks. Incidentally, the Excite's 7.7" sister tablet also received the update earlier in the week.

  • OUYA is currently shipping their developer consoles out to those who backed the project through Kickstarter! Any devs or very eager players received theirs already? (Source embedded below)

  •  Samsung's ChatON app has received a rather major overhaul for both Android phones and tablets today and it might be worth checking out if you're looking for a good cross-platform alternative to WhatsApp! You can download it here!
    Via AndroidGuys.
  • Samsung has a few nifty features in their Galaxy devices and one of them is Smart Rotate. Essentially this little perk rejects the information from the accelerometer, which normally rotates the phone and it instead uses facial recognition to hold the phone in the right orientation, something which is extremely useful for us bed readers! You can now get this device, courtesy of XDA on any device! Head here for all the details!
    Via DroidDog.
  • Microsoft has revealed that their app catalogue for their mobile devices has grown by 75,000 apps recently, which is impressive growth since the launch of Windows Phone 8. The company also revealed that people who own their devices downlaod an average of 54 apps to their WP8 devices, which may sound like quite a lot, but compared to iOS users it isn't too favourable. Apple's customers install, on average, more than 100 apps on their devices!
    Microsoft Via TheVerge.
  • Samsung has officially confirmed that their original Galaxy Note users will be getting an update to Android 4.1 and the update will have some of the 'Premium suite' features which are currently landing on the Galaxy S3's in the wild. Naturally Android 4.1 brings Google Now, but the Premium Suite update also includes 'multi-window, popup note, popup video, popup browser, photo note, photo frame, easy clip and paper artist as well as handwriting on S Planner and email and the enhanced version of S Note'. It's good to see Samsung offering a good level of support for their older devices and hopefully this update will pave the way for the Galaxy S2 update as well!
    Samsung Via Engadget.
  • Bluestacks, the Android app emulator, is now available for Macs albeit in a Beta form. You can download it here now!
    Source embedded below.
  • Apple and Intel are rumoured to be working on a Smartwatch for next year! Given the success Apple saw with the last iPod Nano and their Wrist straps for the device, it wouldn't be too much of a leap to see Apple do something like this! You can find more details here!
  • Apple also slipped up a little on customer satisfaction from their online store this holiday period. 9-to-5 Mac is reporting research from a firm called Foresee. Foresee have said that Apple 'stumbled from their usual focus on the customer experience', and their satisfaction score dropped to 80, a score which puts them equal with HP's online store and one point ahead of Sony's equivalent. Naturally Amazon came out head and shoulders above the rest with 88 points! It's an interesting report and it's well worth a read! You can find it here!
    Foresee Via 9-to-5 Mac.
And finally, is this Sony's upcoming Xperia Z? It's been leaked left right and centre and according to Chinese site ePrice this is what the finished article will look like! We'll be covering the details from CES so you'll hear about the device when it officially launches, assuming Sony has it ready for that show!
Via PhoneDog.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

26/12/2012: Google wants Office customers + Scan and Match Problems, Nokia rumoured to release a Windows RT tablet, HTC One S gets JellyBean and Festive Play Store discounts!

Google is gunning for some of Microsoft's Office customers. Hoping to tempt people with their free offering.

   When you or one of your family members turns on a computer to do some word processing or to update your financial or dieting spreadsheet, you will most likely open up your copy of Microsoft's fantastic Word and Excel programmes. But, to have the pleasure of using those programmes you probably forked out a fair bit of money.

   Well from next year buying Microsoft Office will be a thing of the past if Google has their way. Google plans to push their free Google Apps to 'the 90 percent of users who don’t need to have the most advanced features of Office'. That's the plan of Google VP and head of the Google Enterprise unit, Amit Singh, who wants to win customers over with the promise of free and suitably functional products from Google as the search giant is seeking to build on the functionality of their apps!

   What do you think? Could you get by without Microsoft Office? We're pretty sure we could manage but Microsoft Office, in our experience, just works, so we think Google has a challenge on their hands winning people over!
Forbes Via Slashgear.

Is Nokia set to enter the tablet market with a Windows RT offering?

   We all know that Microsoft and Nokia are rather cosy at the moment, indeed the pair almost rely on each other for success in the Smartphone market, but according to The Verge's sources they speculate that Nokia could well be focusing on launching a Windows RT tablet in the new year.

    The Verge's sources believe the tablet will include a HDMI and USB ports and a 10.1-inch display, as well as cellular connectivity that will be compatible with AT&T to begin with. The USP of this tablet is expected to be a battery-equipped cover which cradles the tablet 'like a book' and will have a built in battery, keyboard and kickstand. Supposedly the tablet will have a nifty 'quick-charge' feature which will bump the devices battery up to 50% in as little time as possible. Other than that The Verge expects there will be two USB ports and we could see something official about this device at MWC in February!

   Unsurprisingly Nokia refused to comment on market speculation and rumour!
Via The Verge.

HTC's One S finally get some Jelly Bean love!

   When HTC released their One S it caused quite a stir. It was a phone with a then top of the range dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, a high build quality, AMOLED screen and it was an all round stylish but still pocketable alternative to the company's flagship HTC One X.

   HTC has a good track record of updating their devices and naturally we were pleased to hear that the One S was going to be getting an update too! So a mere month after the One X got an update here is the update for the One S too! The update will bring the software to Android 4.1.1 and it'll feature the Sense 4+ enhancements as well.

   For the moment the update is only available to a certain set of these One S', but there's no sign of an American roll out just yet. You can check XDA here to find out if your CID number is one of the lucky ones who can update right now! If not the update should be on the way in the near future!
Via Engadget.

Google's Scan and Match feature on Google Music is keeping it clean!

   Google's popular cloud music solution, aptly named Google Music, is causing quite a stir this holiday season as it's come to light that the company's 'Scan and Match' feature, which saves you uploading every single one of your songs also gives you the 'clean' version of songs.

   We can actually sympathise with people on this one, we're not sure if the 'clean' versions are simply leaving the rude bits blank or whether they give you a totally different version of the song with all the rude words substituted for clean words, like what you'll hear on the radio. 

   This isn't the first time we've seen this become a problem, the same issue happened when people started using iTunes Match a little while back. But, if it bothers you that much you may have to turn to alternative offerings because we're not sure if Google has any plans to change their format. If we hear anything more we'll let you know!
Via DroidLife.

Get some festive discounts in the Play Store!
And finally, what better way to spread some festive love than with a comprehensive list of the Play Store's bargains! If you check the following link to HotUKDeals you will find a huge list of apps which are on sale. Don't worry if you're not a UK resident they should be on sale in your country too! One of our favourites was Jump Desktop, which we'll have a review of soon!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas from TheTechFront!

   Good morning, firstly we'd like to thank you for visiting TheTechFront, as we near our first birthday our visitors are at an all time high and so it seems fitting to spread some Christmas cheer. So to each and every one of you Merry Christmas and we hope you have a fantastic New Year!

   If there's anything you'd particularly like to see on the site, be it a post or a new feature, be sure to leave a comment or get in contact with us through our contact form, we'll be more than happy to listen to and hear your feedback!

   And once again have a great holiday!

Kind regards,
James and Shri.

24/12/2012: Huawei's Ascend Mate shown off in store, Raspberry Pi becomes a basestation and Google trying to ruin Christmas?

   As that special day approaches the news always tends to die down, but don't fear there's still a few things to report, it just won't be quite as much as normal!

Huawei's 6.1" phablet gets shown off again, this time in a retail store.

   Huawei's upcoming 6.1" phablet may be causing quite a stir because of its size, but since we caught wind of the device last week the phone hasn't been able to keep itself concealed. That may have something to do with Huawei's CEO, Richard Yu, whipping his phone out every where he goes!

   Over the weekennd Yu made an appearance at a Huawei retail store in Guangzhou, and he showed off the Ascend Mate to a relatively excited group of onlookers. We're still not entirely sure when this phone is meant to be released but judging by the amount of airtime it's receiving we would expect to see it arrive at CES in a couple of weeks.

   So far we don't know everything about the phone, but the phone is expected to by 9.9mm thick, have a 1.8Ghz quad-core processor and 2GBs of RAM, something which will become the standard next year. None of this is confirmed but the rumour mill is usually pretty spot on. You can see the full meet and greet below, but in the meantime what do you think about this device? Too big? Just about right? Let us know in the comments below!
Weibo Via TechnoBuffalo.

A Cambridge team makes the Raspberry Pi work as a cellular basestation!

   By now most of you will probably have heard of the humble Raspberry Pi, but for $25-30 you might be surprised to learn that this little piece of kit can, with a little bit of extra work, be turned into a private mobile network! Now what the guys at PA Consulting did wasn't entirely legal, which is why they secured their own signal-proof room, but they did successfully get two phones sending texts to each other through the Raspberry Pi.

   The team connected the Pi to a radio interface, they twinned this with Open Source software, which together gave them their mobile basestation! Frazer Bennett, one of PA's experts, said:
 "We've shrunk a 30ft basestation into a 3in Raspberry Pi and created our own mobile phone network. This proves what can be achieved through low cost off the shelf systems."
   If you're intrigued how they did it then check out the video below, but remember there is a legal minefield if you want to try this yourself!
Via NewElectronics

Is Google trying to ruin Christmas?

   And finally, is Google trying to ruin Christmas? We've seen them release their very own Santa trackerwhich shows Santa delivering presents at this very moment! (You can also get it as an Android app!) But, there's also been a slightly humorous post on Google's issue pages for Android as one user has dug up a 'Santa with a sad face', which we all know is totally unrealistic and unrepresentative of the man himself! You can see the bug report followed by the offending emoji embedded below! First Google cancelled December and now this, maybe Google planned for the world to end!
Via AndroidPolice.

Please describe the problem in detail. Be sure to include:
- Steps to reproduce the problem.
1. Enable Emoji keyboard.
2. Use Emoji keyboard to type the Santa icon.
- What happened.
A Santa with a sad face appears, ruining Christmas.
- What you think the correct behavior should be.
A Santa with a jolly smile should appear, representing his unending joy he derives from gift giving; a joy he wishes to communicate to Android users during the holidays.
Version: 4.2.1 (Via GoogleCode).

Friday, 21 December 2012

21/12/2012: Gangnam Style reaches the 1billion milestone, Galaxy S3's randomly dying, iOS 6.0.2 issues and much more!

Gangnam becomes the first video ever to receive One Billion hits!

   Deep down, whether we wanted to or not, we all knew that this day was coming. We're not quite sure what it is about 'the Gangnam' which gives it so much style. It could be the incredibly catchy 'eyyy sexy ladies' line or perhaps it's the simplicity of the dance and the smiles it puts on faces everywhere. One thing we do know though is that Psy and his song are now written into internet history for ever. 

   Having a smash hit that peaked at Number 1 in the charts in at least 34 countries is nothing to be sniffed at, but one billion hits on YouTube is something no one else can claim to have achieved. We know this isn't necessarily accurate maths but in theory one in seven people on the earth have listened to Gangnam Style on YouTube and when you factor in radio play time and television plays, the reach of this one single song is quite staggering!

   We'll leave you with this thought, the video was posted in July and Google works it out that the video was watched somewhere between 7 and 10 million times every single day since. Perhaps we do have too much free time! But, we did re-watch the video while we were writing this... It's hard not to be tempted!
Via BBC.

Is iOS 6.0.2 killing your battery?

   Today Apple has rolled out the latest update to their iOS software, version 6.0.2. This is meant to bring with it a fix for "a bug that could impact Wi-Fi". That's great news if you happen to be having some problems at the moment, but some users have been reporting issues with that update. 

   Over at Apple's support forum have said that they have been suffering with battery drain since the update. One owner said, "It is absolutely draining my battery... I can usually get through a day with about 75 percent of my battery power remaining. Today I've gone through 90 percent and I've done nothing special with it". It's possible that this is only affecting a small number of users as everyone else seems to be OK. 

   If your phone does seem to be draining a little quickly, pop back to your local phone store or an Apple store and we're pretty sure the nice guys there will be more than happy to swap the phone out for you! We don't think this is any sort of major issue though so don't be too concerned about updating! If you would rather not take the risk just hold off, if this is a widespread issue Apple will offer another update in the next couple of weeks, so there's no harm in waiting this one out!

Samsung Galaxy S3's silently dying and refusing to revive themselves?
Image credit:
   You see that shiny Galaxy S3 on your desk? Well all may look well on the outside but on the inside it may be a different story. Some reports are coming in that Samsung's latest darling is simply giving up the ghost. Some people have reported that their handset died overnight while it was simply charging and others have said that the handset died during a reboot.

   Irrespective of how they're dying, it doesn't disguise the fact that they are. Regardless of how it happens though, the end result is a handset that turns off and doesn't turn back on. The reports are saying that this is happening to phones that are between 150 and 200 days old. There hasn't yet been a confirmed reason why this is happening from Samsung, but some have suggested that the NAND is becoming corrupted and failing.

All said and done, Samsung has yet to offer an official statement on the matter, however based on the reports coming from xda users, they are replacing the handsets with no questions asked. In fact, Samsung is even said to be replacing handsets that were rooted.

  If you've had this very problem then head to this website and find your nearest Samsung Care Point. If you're interested in reading the full debate then there's a 61 page thread on XDA at the moment for you to flick through!
Via AndroidCommunity.
In other news:

  • Just like always at the time of year devices start popping up in benchmark tests. Today a new device with a dual-core 1.5Ghz Snapdragon S4 chipset has appeared on GLBenchmark. The device it's supposedly powering is the Acer V350. The benchmark didn't reveal too much aside from the processor and a display with the resolution of 1280 by 720 pixels, unfortunately we don't know how many inches this resolution will cover, although knowing Acer it won't be anything too much more than 4.5", they don't like to alienate people with large phones. Another positive to take from the benchmark is the presence of Android 4.1.2 on the V350, this will be a very good mid-range phone for next year!
    Via PhoneArena.
  • Phones4U is reporting that there is an update rolling out to those of you out there lucky enough to own an Xperia T from Sony. The update is 'incremental' and will bring 'extended standby mode, screen mirroring allowing content sharing with enabled TVs, microphone sensitivity improvements [and] improved battery indicated accuracy.'

    This sounds like a good maintenance update from Sony so if you do have an Xperia T it will be well worth heading to Sony's website to install the update, although at the time of writing Sony hasn't got round to updating the download link, but that should happen sometime soon!
    Via Phones4u
  • Sony's much leaked 'Yuga' smartphone which is rocking a 5" Full HD display, 12 MP Exmor RS sensor, 2 GB of RAM, a quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset with LTE radio, and a full suite of ports, including a microSD and microHDMI, may well be arriving with the title the 'Sony Xperia Z'. It's a rather cool name in our book. We just hope Sony can bring the device to market at a price which is somewhere near to that of Google's Nexus 4, although we think that's highly unlikely!
    Via XperiaBlog.
  • Research released today by KantarWorldPanel indicates that Apple now has a 53.3% dominance of the smartphone sales in the United States of America! Yes more than 1 in every 2 people in the US walks out of their local carrier store with a shiny new iPhone! Apple’s gain in this report came at the expense of Android and Blackberry maker RIM. Android lost 10% of last years sales figures, while RIM dropped 6%!

    This does make you wonder whether or not Apple's bubble is going to burst soon, is it really possible for people to just want what everyone else has indefinitely or will they look for something unique and distinguishing soon? What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!
    Via Slashgear.
  • AT&T has announced that LTE is now live in Lancaster, Pa., Ogden, Utah, Hartford, Conn., Bowling Green, Ky., Lexington, Ky. and Boise, Idaho! It's good to see America's second largest carrier is still committed to their LTE rollout plans!
    Via AndroidCentral.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

20/12/2012: $99 Nexus 7 rumours return with a cheap Iconia tablet leak! Flexible displays at CES, the UK's 4G bidders, tonnes of app news and much more!

Rumours of a $99 Nexus resurface as Acer's Iconia B1 leaks as a pre-release challenger!

  First things first rumours of a $99 Nexus 7 are nothing new, we hear about them every few weeks, but could it really happen? We have to turn our sites to the infamous website Digitimes for the latest round of rumours. The thing with Digitimes is that they post so many rumours that every now and then one of them comes to bare and so they do get it right some of the time.

   This time they think that Google and Asus will be able to work together to deliver a $99 (£60) Google Nexus 7 tablet. If the rumours are right this time it’ll be out sometime in the spring of next year. DigiTimes' sources believe the tablet could cost as little as $99, however their sources expect that a price of around $129-149 (£79-91) is considerably more likely.

   At this point we have no idea of the potential potency of a device with this sort of price tag. It would have to be in the same league as the current Nexus 7 with it's quad-core processor and solid IPS display makng the tablet so popular because of the power that came at such an affordable price point. The Nexus 7's horsepower has proved hard to match, even for Amazon, with their Kindle Fire line which is also 'sold at cost'.

   One thing which seemingly adds some smoke to this fire is that Acer has had it's Iconia B1 leaked today. You may recall that Acer release the Iconia A110 as a similarly priced competitor to Google's Nexus 7, it added the SD Card many people craved, but at the cost of a good screen and a couple of other features.

   This makes news of the Iconia B1, pictured right, is all the more interesting because this is a decidedly budget device. There's a 1.2Ghz dual-core Mediatek SOC, 512MB of RAM, 8GB of storage, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, and a microSD card slot! The software version is Android 4.1.2 and this tablet will have to come in at less than the Iconia A110. One thing to say about the tablet is that blue streak around the side does give it an air of quality in the press photos, but the reality might be slightly different when you get hold of a device in person. Unless Acer is really engaging in a race to the bottom with Google, it would seem silly to offer a device at a lower price point than the A110.

   Either way if Google could squeeze out a £99 or $99 tablet would you buy it just to see what it was like anyway? And do Acer need to offer their B1 tablet in the first place or is the A110 good enough for the budget range already? Either way if you decide you don't like either of these rumoured tablets you can always give them to the kids!
Digitimes Via TheGadgetShow and PhoneArena.

In other news:
  • Samsung has started pushing the Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean 'Premium Suite' update to Galaxy S3's throughout Europe and South America. At the moment the update is known to be live in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, Colombia, Romania, and there is likely a few more locations on the list. At the moment we're stuck with the 'you're in a queue' message from Samsung, let us know if you've got the update already!
    Via AndroidPolice.
  • Archos have published their excellent video player app on the Play Store today and it can be all yours for £3.99 or $5 depending on where you live! All reports so far have been positive but it's up to you whether you want that extra codec support and quality video experience a renounced media company like Archos can offer you! You can check the app our here!

    Via ArchosTwitter (Tweet embedded below).
  • Amazon's Android app now has the ability to give you push notifications when the details for your package update whether that be shipping or delivery status. You can also get notifications for lightning deals on Amazon. To set this up you need to head to the apps settings by going to Menu-> More -> Notifications and you need to be running Android 2.2 or higher to get the notifications! You can get the update here or by heading to the Play Store on your device!
    Via AndroidCommunity.
  • Flipboard for Android has been updated to add tablet support!
    Via AndroidPolice.
  • Lenovo's elusive ThinkPad 2 tablet has arrived at long last! The device is available in three price variants, as promised, with a starting price of $649 for the 64GB WiFi version. An extra $30 will add pen input and a digitizer screen for you note-takers and students out there and if you're prepared to offer up $729 you can have Windows 8 Pro on the device. Unfortunately you won't be able to get one of these for Christmas unless you order now and have the patience to get through until the January 7th without your gift!
    Lenovo via Engadget.
  • The popular mobile messaging service WhatsApp is currently available for free to iPhone users, instead of it's normal $0.99 retail price. We expect this is because there are a lot of you out there opening up your new iPhone's this Christmas and WhatsApp would rather you used their service instead of iMessage or Samsung's ChatOn! We're not sure this offer will last for ever so it's worth a download now even if you don't intend to use it every day!
    TheAppStore Via TheNextWeb.
  • The list of bidders for the UK's 4G spectrum auction at the start of next year has been announced. The list includes the normal candidates; EE, Hutchison Whampoa (the network Three to you and me), Telefonica (O2) and Vodafone, as well as BT, MLL Telecom (a telecom network supplier) and PCCW (who are a major Hong Kong telecoms conglomerate). We'll have to see how the auction goes and if we learn any more about MLL and PCCW we'll let you know what their interests in the spectrum are.
    Via BBC.
  • A Nexus 7 Pogo dock is available for pre-order for B&H today! The dock will set you back $39.99 and there is a tentative delivery date of December 30th! We're not convinced it'll make it to you by then but it seems like the dock is finally getting nearer to a reality!
    B&H via AndroidPolice.
And finally, Samsung has said that they will be exhibiting their 5.5" flexible display at CES in January next year! This screen is exactly the same as the amoled offering in the firms Galaxy Note 2, with the same 720p resolutiom, except this one is flexible! This means we could be seeing this display in smartphones very soon, something which will hopefully add to durability and the screens resistance to accidental drops and bumps! Hopefully a 1080p version isn't too far behind!
Via CNet.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

19/12/2012: HTC cut backs start, Zuckerberg gives half a billion to charity, Samsung issues Exynos statement and much more!

HTC to cut back on device development and cutting Q1 shipments?

   Ohhh HTC, the company we all know and love for their use of premium materials and tiny batteries in their latest smartphones. It seems things really are starting to look bad for the Taiwanese manufacturer if Digitimes’ industry sources have got this one right. 

   Digitimes' sources believe that:
“HTC has suspended development of a number of new models for 2013, reducing the visibility of its orders for handset components.”
   They believe that HTC expects to see smartphone shipments rise somewhere in the region of 10-15% in Q1 next year, which is down compared to the 20-30% growth they saw in the same quarter this year!

   The reason HTC will welcome in the new year in miserable style is in part due to HTC’s Windows 8 smartphones, the 8X and 8S which have not set the world ablaze the way HTC and Microsoft had hoped, despite Nokia 'selling out' of their Lumia 920's.

   HTC seems to be stuck between pillar and post at the moment; they're aiming for a flagship set of phones per year, but they've been forced to develop more to generate extra sales. This is at the same time that Samsung and Apple have run away with the smartphone sales and even Sony has over taken HTC in sales in the UK!

   The HTC M7 or whatever the European equivalent of the Droid DNA turns out to be will be able to turn HTC's fortunes around assuming they can get it to market sooner rather than later. But, we fear a lot of people will be waiting to see what Samsung's Galaxy S4 will be as they will go out of their way to trump HTC's offering! HTC haven't commented on the issue, but we will update the post if we hear back from HTC!
Digitimes Via DroidDog.

Mark Zuckerberg gives $500million of shares to charity. That's what we call Christmas spirit!

   No matter what you think of Mark Zuckerberg it's hard to offer criticism for his latest good deed; a donation of $500 million of shares (that's 18million shares) in Facebook to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. This charity helps various organisations with health and education provisions, so it is certainly worthwhile! The full quote posted on Zuckerberg's Facebook Timeline is embedded below!

Two years ago, Priscilla and I signed The Giving Pledge, committing to donate the majority of the money we earn to charity.
Our first major project has been around education reform with Startup: Education in Newark, NJ. I'm really proud of the work we've done there, helping leaders like Governor Chris Christie and Mayor Cory Booker sign the most progressive teachers contract in our country, opening four new district high schools, 11 new charter schools and more.
Today, in order to lay the foundation for new projects, we've made a contribution of 18 million Facebook shares to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Together, we will look for areas in education and health to focus on next. I'm hopeful we'll be able to have as positive an impact in our next set of projects.
Facebook Via HotHardware.

A statement from Samsung on their Exynos vulnerability.

   Over the weekend we learnt of and reported the vulnerability which affects Samsung's Exynos processors inside the Galaxy S2 and S3, the Galaxy Note 1 and 2 and every other device which is powered by Samsung's Exynos processors.

   Samsung France issued a statement French publication Le Monde and a separate one to Android Central. The statements reassured users that they are working on a "very quick" roll out of an update and they reiterated that the vulnerability is only an issue if "a malicious application is installed". If these applications are still very rare, but there are a lot of Android devices so someone somewhere will be affected. The full statement to Android Central read:
"Samsung is aware of the potential security issue related to the Exynos processor and plans to provide a software update to address it as quickly as possible.
The issue may arise only when a malicious application is operated on the affected devices; however, this does not affect most devices operating credible and authenticated applications.
Samsung will continue to closely monitor the situation until the software fix has been made available to all affected mobile devices."
   This is not perhaps a big of an issue as some people are making out, but it does have to potential to be problematic. Remember just to be vigilant when you're installing apps and only use trusted vendors in the Play Store!

   We'll let you know if we hear any more!
LeMonde Via Engadget and AndroidCentral.

In other news:

  • Ofcom has released their 7th quarterly report on the amount of complaints each service provider in their respective industries received compared to their competitors! You can see our full write up here!
  • Sprint has agreed a $120million break up fee if their deal with ClearWire doesn't go through for what ever reason, and there's a good few reasons why it won't! The way Sprint are looking at it is that the potential gains from this deal out weight the risk of losing that much money from the deal.
    Via DroidDog.
  • Google Play Books received a nice little update today which added in support for 'reading aloud', different zooming options and some note making features. The 'read aloud' feature is not quite as polished as Audible for Amazon's books, but it'll only get better with time and it is a good start! Do you use Google's book solution over Amazon's Kindle app? Let us know in the comments below!
    Via Slashgear.
  • A consortium of 12 companies including Apple, Research In Motion, Google, Samsung, Adobe, HTC, Facebook, Fujifilm, Huawei, Amazon, Shutterfly and Microsoft has teamed up and bought the digital-imaging patent portfolio as well as some other Kodak patents today. The acquisition set them back a total of $525 million which they'll split 12 ways!
    Via TechCrunch.
  • Vodafone UK has announced that the Nokia Lumia 920 will be available on their network at some point early next year! You can check out their full blog post here for more information!
    Via Twitter (Tweet embedded above).
  • Nintendo's head honcho, Satoru Iwata, has said that the Wii U will receive another software update at some point this month which will help to improve the frustratingly slow software loading times on the new console! We'll let you know when the update hits!
    Via Engadget.
firstataAnd finally, today a leaked picture of the Acer V360 has been leaked by one of Mr Blurrycam's best photo shoots to date! The device seems to be a mixture of the Nexus 4 and the HTC Sensation XE; with buttons which are part of the screen and the red speaker grills which remind us very much of the Sensation XE.  The red in this phone is symbolic of Acer's partnership with DTS on this phone, as you can see the DTS logo is stamped on the back of the phone above some interesting design circles which may well protect the camera when the phone it put on a desk!

   Other than that the rumours specs are said to include a dual-core processor, a qHD (960x540p) 4.5" screen, a 5MP rear-facing camera and a micro-SD card slot. This will all be running on Android 4.1.1 to begin with, although we're not sure there will be too many updates forthcoming for this one! The main selling point of the phone is obviously the sound partnership with DTS so we expect some beefy speakers and perhaps to EQ tweaks included in the phone too! The device itself is tipped to be released in Q1 next year! We'll have to wait and see how much this thing will be when it comes to market!
Via Slashgear.

Ofcom report names and shames the most complained about UK service providers!

Broadband complaints.
Ofcom released their 7th quarterly report today showing the number of complaints the regulator received about each service provider for a number of industries from Phone and broadband to television services! In some cases you may be surprised, but if you live in the UK the results were mainly what we expected to see!

   There was a surprising change in the broadband category as TalkTalk was finally knocked off the top spot by Orange who saw their complaints double to 0.5 in every 1000 customers. TalkTalk don't have too much to be proud of though as Ofcom told them their complaints remained "well above the industry average" and they secured the title of "Most complained about landline provider" category. Sky, on the other hand, did best with a mere 0.09 per 1,000 customers.

   In the mobile stakes T-Mobile were voted worst for pay monthly with 0.17 per 1.000 customers and ironically Ofcom says the problem was in part down to the complaints handling procedure. 3UK, Orange and Vodafone also received higher than average volumes of complaints, while O2 was considered the best in numbers of complaints, by quite a large margin! On the whole though mobile networks did relatively well!

   In the paid TV services category, BT Vision came off worst yet again, based on numbers of complaints. Despite a slight drop they still gained a title for complaints that were "six times greater than the industry average". Virgin Media attracted above industry average complaints at 0.06 complaints per 1,000 customers and Sky excelled again with the lowest number of complaints – 0.02 per 1,000 customers. So Sky came off best, it seems there is a positive little trend with Sky!

Ofcom Via Wired.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

18/12/2012: Samsung announces the Galaxy Grand while the Galaxy Young Duos is tipped, Facebook to get video ads, Nvidia Tegra 4 news and much more!

Samsung announces the Galaxy Grand and SamMobile tip the Galaxy Young Duos for early 2013!

   The image above is the latest in a very long line of Samsung phones which sport both Android and an elegant and seemingly popular design. Today's device is no different to many of its sister devices, but again the Galaxy Grand offers that little something different which may tempt consumers to buy it.

   In this case we think this phone is a budget option for those of you interested in a Galaxy Note or Note 2! The phone has a mammoth 5 inch display, which runs at a rather disappointing 480x800p and it's a TFT screen rather than IPS or AMOLED which is a slight let down. There's also a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot which supports cards up to 64GBs, a 2,100 mAh battery, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS! Other than that you do get a pair of good cameras; there's a 2 megapixel front-facing camera and an 8 megapixel rear camera. These may well be the same cameras that are in the Galaxy S2, so we expect them to be very capable indeed! Just in case you're interested this phone will be available in both dual and single-SIM varieties and  their model numbers are the GT-I9082 and the GT-I9080 respectively.

   Because this is Samsung you'll also get some of their software perks, on this particular device you get; Direct Call, Smart Alert, Popup Video, AllShare Play and S Video. Direct Call is one of our favourite features and we explained why we don't want to live in an Android world without this set of features over here!

   Depending on the price that comes with this device we would be very happy to recommend it, it's not often you come by a dual-sim device with specs like this and you even have a recent version of Android on board too (Android 4.1.2)! So who's interested?

   Well if you're not then don't worry Samsung will reportedly have yet another option for you in the new year! SamMobile reports that the Galaxy Young Duos is a mid-end Android device and will also give you a dual-sim option. It's set to be available toward the end of February in in two different colours. We expect to see the Grayish Blue and White that we saw on Samsung's recent Galaxy devices and the phone will likely debut at MWC in Barcelona. Just for the sake of clarity, this will be a new device which is neither the GT-S5360 Galaxy Y or the GT-S6102 Galaxy Y DUOS. Instead it will be it's own unique device with the model number GT-S6312! If we manage to get our hands on a snap then we will update the post!

In other news:

  •  Nokia has reportedly cancelled their plans to showcase a set of new products at CES in January next year. The phone maker instead opted to delay until Mobile World Congress (MWC) which happens in February. Perhaps they needed to buy themselves a little bit more time to fine tune some new devices or work on their accessories a little more. Either way it seems Nokia wants to get it right so we'll have to wait an extra month to see their surprises!
    Via WPCentral.
  • A report from AdAge, has today suggested that Facebook is looking into the possibility of utilizing video ads in your news feed to generate some additional advertising revenue. There are no finalised details yet but the plan revolves are the idea of selling targeted video ads in your 'News Feed', something which would affect both mobile and desktop users. By the soudns of it these ads have the potential to be rather intrusive because they could start playing automatically and they could have the ability to widen out and encompass real estate in both the left and right-hand columns of your feed, we're not sure how prepared users would be to accept this though. Facebook has been known to be working on video ads at the moment so this is by no means a big shock. We're just not sure how much this would drive users away from the platform, there are after all plenty of alternatives! Any one remember MySpace?
    Via TheVerge.
  • More details have emerged on HTC's upcoming European flagship. Yesterday we confirmed it wasn't going to be a variant of the Droid DNA, instead it will be the 'M7'. The image from @EVLeaks, who are now working more closely with UnwiredView, explains the nitty gritty and if that battery size is true we'll be mighty relieved!

  • Sprint has flicked the LTE switch in a few more places today and residents of the following areas will now have access to Sprint's finest mobile signal! The areas are Indianapolis/Carmel, Ind., Santa Rosa/Petaluma, Calif., Vallejo/Fairfield, Calif., Southern Puerto Rico (including Ponce, Coamo and Guayama), York/Hanover, Pa., Franklin County, Pa. and the Metro area of Chicage!
     Sprint Via IntoMobile
  •  If you're into the Android Custom ROM scene you may well have noticed that there has been quite a few devices getting support for nightly releases over the past week! Well chalk the Samsung Galaxy S3 for both Verizon and Sprint as one of those devices now! Both devices are getting nightly releases along with Galaxy Nexus variants, 3G Nexus 7, Galaxy S, SII, and Galaxy Tab 2!
    Via AndroidPolice.
  • It was little over a year ago, in September of 2011, when Twitter proudly announced that they had 100 million active monthly users. So it's amazing to think that Twitter announced a year and four months later that they have just broken the 200 million active users per month figure! So warn your friends who are adverse to Twitter that they will probably need to have it sooner rather than later! You can see Twitter's Tweet embedded below and don't forget to follow us so you don't miss a thing!

    Twitter Via Slashgear.

  •  Brazil, soon to be the hosts of both the next Football World Cup and the next Olympic games, but it's also the country where Apple doesn't own the naming rights to the 'iPhone'. Instead, the name is owned by the Brazilian company, Gradiente, who secured the name all the way back in 2000! That phone pictured below is the first phone to use the name in Brazil and it's a slightly disappointing rival to it's worldwide namesake. There's Android 2.3.4 and a host of other decided average specs on board including a 3.7" screen, a pair of cameras and dual sim card slots! If you happen to live in Brazil you can pick one up for $235 off-contract, hopefully there won't be too many people who pick one up and end up severely disappointed!
    Via PhoneArena.
And finally, if this leaked slide is correct then we have our first hint at how powerful the next mobile processor from Nvidia will be and this is one little powerhouse! The chip is a 4-plus-1 configuration ARM Cortex A15 configuration, so it had twice the amount of cores as the Exynos processor in the Nexus 10 and comparable potency on an individual core basis! There is reportedly 72 graphics cores on this processor, that works out to six times as many GPU cores as the current Tegra 3 has. This added power means there is now support for displays with resolutions up to 2,560 x 1600 and the processor can manage 1080p output at 120Hz. There's a very brief mention of 4K, but we're not quite sure where they're going with that, we'll have to wait for more information from Nvidia to understand that fully. Tegra 4 will supposedly support USB 3.0 and dual-channel DDR3L memory! This made the prospect of CES and MWC even more exciting!
Via Engadget.


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