Thursday, 31 January 2013

31/01/2013: EE light up 9 more markets, Nexus 4 charging orb popping up and much more!

EE announce 4G is now live in 9 more UK towns.


   EE's LTE expansion continues to march on! The 4GEE champions have now lit up nine more towns around the country. Residents of Amersham, Bolton, Chelmsford, Hemel Hempstead, Southend-on-Sea, Stockport, Sunderland, Sutton Coldfield and Wolverhampton all now have access to 'super-fast 4G'. 

   All in all this makes the total number of towns/cities which have the new connectivity to 27! This has led EE to proclaim that they are now ahead of their projected roll-out time plan. 

   Interestingly the network now covers nearly half of the UK population, 45% to be exact! If everything continues to go to plan the network will have 35 markets by March!

   If you're on another network then you'll have to wait until this 4G auction is completed and hopefully we'll start to see other companies offering 4G contracts in the not too distant future!
Via AndroidCentral.

The Nexus 4's charging orb starts popping up all over the place!
    Google's Nexus range of devices are all meant to have docks. Unfortunately their docks are very, very elusive! We've seen a couple of leaks of the dock for the Nexus 7 here and there, but we still don't have it for order anywhere. 

   So when it comes to the Nexus 4 dock, we knew how it would look when Google launched the Nexus 4, but we knew nothing of a release date or pricing or anything! There's a few websites around the internet which has started listing the wireless charging orb! Unfortunately, they're all out of stock at the moment, but they do offer us the model number WCP400 and it'll have a price of $59.99, which doesn't seem to be too expensive!

   We hope these listings mean that the dock will be on it's way to consumers soon, but we'll have to wait and see!
PureMobile, CesiumOnline Via DroigDog.

In other news:

  • Temple Run 2 has broken records and smashes through 50 million downloads already!
    Via AndroidCommunity.
  • Sprint and HTC are rolling out an update for the Evo 4G LTE, the OTA will bring the ability to stream audio/video to anyt device once you've connected a MHL cable. There's also a number of fixes and improvements which will affect WiFi, Bluetooth compatibility, and the proximity sensor while listening to voicemail.
    Via AndroidPolice.
  • Grand Theft Auto V will be coming to an Xbox or PlayStation near you from September 17th this year! Anyone excited?
    Via TheVerge.
  • Samsung has pretty much reaffirmed their commitment to Wacom displays because they've bought a 5% stack in the latter company!
    Via PhoneArena.
And finally, Google has erected a new statue in their grounds! We've been reassured that Google won't be merging Android and Chrome, but nonetheless this is a pretty sweet statue.
Via DroidLife.



Hi guys, if you've made it this far then thank you and sorry this is quite a short post, it's my birthday today so hopefully you can forgive this shortened post for today! I'll be back on it tomorrow!

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

30/01/2013: LG announce their earnings, Google and Microsoft extend EAS support, White Nexus 4's plus much more!

LG announce their Q4  results!

   LG have announced their Q4 2012 earnings and a more general report on the year as a whole. It turns out that things aren't too bad for Samsung's home turf rivals as LG sold a grand total of 15.4 million mobile phones worldwide in Q4 last year 2012. This totalled up to a revenue of $2.58 billion. 

    LG's phone shipments were up 7 percent quarter-on-quarter, but it was smartphone shipments which grew 23 percent from Q3 2012 to Q4 and that will undoubtedly have helped LG's margins. LG said that, "Sales of premium LTE smartphones such as Optimus G and Vu:2 increased in the fourth quarter, as did the L-series and Google Nexus 4." With today's release of more Nexus 4's across many markets hopefully LG will have a similarly strong Q1 2013.

   One thing LG's report did add was that they plan on increasing smartphone revenues and market share by launching follow-up devices to the Optimus G and the popular L-series as well as offering a new F-series. We literally haven't heard anything about the F-series up until now so hopefully that will be something which will be shown off at MWC!

Google and Microsoft work out syncing, kind of.

   You might have heard lately that Google and Microsoft have had a bit of an issue over Google services syncing with Windows Phones because Google is dropping support Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync protocol.

   It seems that the two companies have worked out some sort of short-term arrangement and Microsoft posted on their website that:
"You may have seen a recent announcement from Google regarding changes to the Google Sync service used to connect devices to Google services (Google Sync utilizes the Exchange ActiveSync, or EAS, protocol from Microsoft to synchronize email, contacts, and calendar).  We’re happy to share today that Google will extend their support for new Windows Phone connections via Google Sync until July 31, 2013.
At the same time, the Windows Phone team is building support into our software for the new sync protocols Google is using for calendar and contacts—CalDAV and CardDAV. These new protocols, combined with our existing support for the IMAP protocol for email, will enable Windows Phone users to continue to connect to Google services after July 31, 2013."
   Hopefully that will help you for a little bit! But, if Microsoft doesn't work out something more concrete before the end of July then we suggest you check out Microsoft's advice for Windows 8 and Windows RT here, it'll fix the problem indefinitely!
Microsoft Via Twitter.



In other news:
  • Rovio has teased new updates for Bad Piggies and Angry Birds Star Wars. The latter will reportedly be getting an update called 'Escape from Hoth'! Anyone out there actually follow a story through the Angry Birds games?
    Via AndroidCommunity.
  • RIM Blackberry are currently working on pushing the BB10 update to all Playbooks. We're not sure of the timescale we're looking at here, but everyone with a Playbook will get the update! For the moment the company doesn't have any plans for a new tablet. Instead, they're looking at ways of adding value to them which can't be offered by phones!
    Via AllThingsD.
  • Blackberry devices will be sticking with the same screen sizes and resolutions for future devices to help make the app development easier, but we're not sure how many ways Blackberry devices can emerge if they all have the same screens sizes and resolutions!
    Via Engadget.
  • Sprint has started pushing Android 4.2.1 to their Galaxy Nexus'!
    Via AndroidPolice.
  • Nokia has managed to beat out both Sony and Samsung to win the title of most trusted brand... In India! To be fair Nokia still has a good reputation in the UK too, they just haven't been offering the devices they needed to inspire purchases, so we might see some more news like this from Finns slightly nearer to home soon!
    Via WPCentral.
  • Samsung probably won't be holding a press conference at MWC this year! PocketLint's sources 'familiar with the matter' believe that there isn't enough to show off to warrant one!
    Via PocketLint.
  • ZTE has teased that there will be a Firefox OS based device arriving during MWC. In a press release sent to Engadget they said, "ZTE would like to invite you to the announcement of two major new mobile devices at MWC 2013. To whet your appetite – the hashtags for the announcements will be: #ZTEGrandDemo #ZTEMozilla."
  • Google has offered enough money to buy 15,000 Raspberry Pi's for UK schools in a bid to help foster a new computer culture in the region!
    Via BitTech.
   And finally, it seems that a white version of the Nexus 4 is in the works! The device has been spied quite widely around the internet today and Slashgear have got their hands on a tonne of pictures of the new device! It looks good to us, shame that the front of the device is still black, it'd be nicer to see a whole white device!
Via Slashgear.

Everything from the BB10 announcement!


   This afternoon we were finally treated to the software that RIM, or should I say Blackberry, have been cooking up over the last two years! Based on QNX we now officially have BB10! There was one heck of a lot of news from the event so we're going to break this one down into sections and we'll try to be as systematic and thorough as humanly possible!

Heins with the Z10 and Q10.
RIM rebrands itself as Blackberry!

Well this first bit of news we can't say we were expecting, but it all seems to make sense. Before Blackberry was the handset arm of Research In Motion. In all honesty RIM doesn't do too much aside from their Blackberry phones, so it seems to make sense that RIM becomes Blackberry! It seems to make a lot more sense to standard consumers and no one can claim to be confused who makes Blackberry's now. One this we will miss are the cheesy jokes us and our peers have made about the name RIM, but heyho, that might be one of the reasons they changed the name!

The Blackberry Z10!


Ahh the Z10, finally it's official and my goodness this was one terribly kept secret! It's now official and it comes with:

  • 16GB of Internal storage.
  • A 4.2" Full Touch display with a 1280 x 768 resolution, which is 356ppi.
  • A 1.5Ghz dual-core processor.
  • An 8MP rear and 2MP front camera capable of 1080p and 720p both at 30fps.
  • 4G LTE connectivity.
  • 1800mAh replaceable battery. 
  • Up to 10 hours* talk time (3G).
  • Up to 13 days* standby time.
  • A MicroSD memory card slot.
   If you're wondering when you can get your hands on one of these bad boys well we have good news for you if you're in the UK! You guys can get your hands on the device from tomorrow morning! The white version is a Phones4U exclusive for a while, but you can get the black variant from EE, Three, Vodafone and O2, it can also be bought through the Carphone Warehouse!

   At the moment the details are a little thin, but we do know that you can get a Z10 from O2 for free on a £36 per month 24 month tariff for the next two weeks. If you opt for EE and get you 4G data you can get the phone for a £50 fee on top of a £41 a month contract, which seems extortionate to us, but you can get that here. Vodafone has the handset priced at £29 for a £42 per month Vodafone Red Data plan, which has unlimited calls and texts with 2GB of data, you can find out more about Vodafone's deals here. We're not sure what Three will be offering in terms of price plans, but they will be carrying the phone, they just haven't given us any details yet. Phones4U will have both colours, but there's no prices yet and the Carphone Warehouse will let you have the Z10 free on contracts of £36 per month.

   If you're in America then you will be able to get the Z10 all on four major networks, but with a little compromise. That is that you'll have to wait until March. You can register your interest, but pre-orders are a little way away yet. Verizon will be charging $199 with a new two-year agreement or it'll set you back $599 off contract. We're not sure about the others, but we know Big Red has the exclusive on the white version.

   For those of you in Canada and UAE We'll quote Blackberry directly:

  • In Canada, the BlackBerry Z10 will be available on February 5th. Pricing will vary by carrier partner, but it will retail for around $149.99 on a 3-year contract.
  • In the UAE, the BlackBerry Z10 will be available on February 10th. Pricing will vary by carrier partner, but unsubsidized it will retail for AED 2,599.

   As if all of that wasn't enough then the device has already been unboxed! In fact we tweeted out this video before the official announcement arrived, so don't forget to follow us on Twitter!
Via Blackberry.




Blackberry Q10.


   With the Z10 stealing the show, it is almost easy to forget that Blackberry also showed off their new qwerty and touch Q10! This device is rocking:

  • A LCD 720 x 720 pixel 3.1 inch display with a ppi of around 328.
  • A dual-core processor running at 1.5Ghz.
  •  2GB of RAM.
  • 16GB of internal storage.
  • MicroSD card slot.
  • An 8MP rear and 2MP front camera capable of 1080p and 720p both at 30fps.
   So interestingly this one has a lot in common with it's all touch sibling. Blackberry have also said that the Q10 is rocking a special glass fibre back, which they'll have us believe is thinner, stronger and lighter than plastic.

   Blackberry haven't told us any pricing or carriers yet, but the device will be available in April!
Via Blackberry.

Software!

   Blackberry showed us so many of the new features of BB10 today. Everything looked excellent to use and we particularly liked a couple of the features, we'll cover them here and the rest of the new stuff we'll link to Blackberry's blog!

Blackberry Balance:

   Balance was shown off today as a new way which the Canadian guys have come up with for balancing your work and personal lives. Essentially you have both on your phone and you can switch between them almost effortlessly.

   All if takes is a simple pull down from the top of your screen and you can flick between your totally separate work and personal areas.

   We would love to see this in action and hopefully it works just as smoothly and simply as they showed us in the video earlier!

Blackberry Hub:

   There's only one way of explaining this... You know how on your current smartphone, if you get an email you go into the email app, to retrieve your Facebook notification you go into the Facebook app, Tweet, Twitter app, etc, etc.

   Well on BB10 you don't. It all comes to you, all in one place, everything in the Hub! You can respond to all notifications through it and it seems to be an elegant and beautiful solution to the problem of having tonnes of apps!

   One other huge feature of the hub, especially for business people, is that the service will automatically pull down photos from social networks and recent statuses so you know who you're meeting (and what mood they're in)!


Blackberry Peek:


   The Hub ties in very nicely with the new 'Peek' feature. Essentially this is all about multitasking, if you're watching a video then there's a little gesture which will let you have a cheeky 'peek' at you notification to help you decide how important it is or whether you can finish watch the latest Rihanna video! It's cool and we expect it will be very useful for those super busy people!






There were a few other cool things which Blackberry's official blog explains better than we ever could so be sure to check them out over there:



Tuesday, 29 January 2013

29/01/2013: Apple announce 128GB iPads to compete with the Surface Pro, BB10 in polls and the ZTE Blade C! Plus much more!

Apple announce the iPad will be available in 128GB models!

   Apple has only traditionally offered their devices in 16, 32 and 64GB versions, until today! Today the guys from Cupertino revealed that a new larger capacity iPad, with the same specs as the current fourth generation devices!

   It's interesting that Apple has chosen to bump up the storage offerings at this exact moment. It may well have something to do with those 128GB Surface Pro's which are right around the corner, but we doubt Apple would ever admit to that. We're not entirely sure those are head-to-head devices either, iOS isn't quite OSX and the Surface Pro tablets offer fully fledged Windows. Not to mention the Surface Pro tablets make the smaller storage options for iPads look relatively cheap too!

   But, nonetheless people always ask for extra storage and now we have it! You can get the 128GbB Wifi-only iPad for $799 (£639) or the 3G one can be yours for $929 (£739). Are you interested? Let us know in the comments below!
   
The press release is available here.

BB10 looks good according to poll.

   Everyone's looking forward to seeing exactly what RIM will be showing off tomorrow and if a poll of American's from YouGov and Bite Interactive is a representative one then quite a fair few other people are looking forward to the release of the operating system too!

   According to a poll of 1,127 adults who were told about the known features of the upcoming BB10 handsets nearly half of the participants found at least one of the improvements compelling and a total of one in eight said they would happily consider buying a BB10 device. With this last stat we're not sure whether it's a good or bad one really, but one in one hundred people polled said they have firm intentions to pick up a BB10 device right from the off. 

   The main issue people are concerned with here is that consumers are already invested in either iOS or Android and Microsoft already know how hard it is to get people to change their OS after attempts to push BB10. What about you? Are you interested in picking a BB10 phone up or will you try to pick up a cheap Playbook to get your BB10 fix?
Via PhoneArena.

In other news:

  • Samsung has today acquired NeuroLogica! They're a company that specializes in medical imaging! Things such as manufacturing portable computed tomography (CT) scanners and other medical instruments! This investment is part of Samsung's plan to become one of the world’s leading medical equipment companies by 2020!
    Via Slashgear.
  • HTC have called a press conference at 3pm on Tuesday 19 February! This means that the guys from Taiwan are going to try to get a little jump start over the rest of the competition who will be demoing phones during MWC itself! The event will take place simultaneously in New York, but we're not currently sure who will be where!
  • The Nexus 4 is in stock in select stores around the world at the moment. Germany, America and Canada have them and the bumpers in stock, we can't imagine that'll last too long though! Get going!
    Via PhoneArena.
  • YouTube may soon be charging you to watch certain channels and shows on the website. According to Adage, Google are going to trial it on around about 25 channels! A Google spokesperson said, "we have long maintained that different content requires different types of payment models. The important thing is that, regardless of the model, our creators succeed on the platform."
    Via TheVerge.
  • XBMC have released version 12 of their media center software. The update now means that there is full support for Android and the Raspberry Pi so you can get this running on any of those new USB Android computers. There's a tonne of new features as well! You can get check out the full details on XBMC's website here!
    Via Slashgear.
  • Google now have a few details about North Korea's road on Google Maps. We're not sure if this has something to do with Eric Schmidt's recent visit to the country, but there's still no Street View and we'll be surprised if we see that any time soon!
    Via Hothardware.
And finally, ZTE will soon be releasing their new Blade C on the world. This will be the third in the series which you might know better for being called the Orange San Francisco's! According to UnwiredView the device will arrive with a 4 inch WVGA display, 3G, 3MP rear camera, Bluetooth 4.0, a dual-core 1 GHz MediaTek MTK 6577 processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal memory, and a 1,600 mAh battery. This isn't a bad set of specs for a phone which will cost somewhere in the range of $112 off contract (That's €84 or around about £72).


Monday, 28 January 2013

28/01/2012: Nvidia to create reference devices to sell cheap? Acer on Chromebooks, European Commissions new projects! Plus much, much more!

Nvidia to develop reference designs to sell to regional manufacturers?

Image Credit: Nvidia.
    Nvidia are a company famous for producing GPUs for computers and more recently they've been starting to get their Tegra line of processors into mobile devices. Last year Tegra 3 chipsets ended up in a lot of tablets and a couple of phones, but if a rumour from Mobile Review’s Eldar Murtazin, is to be believed then Nvidia has grander plans for this year, it could conceivably offer the company a huge boost in market presence. 

   The logical assumption here would be to expect Nvidia to produce their own range of phones and tablets, just like they have chosen to do with Project Shield. Instead, the rumours run that Nvidia will create reference designs and then see if contract manufacturers would be interested in manufacturing devices to sell within their own brand lineup.

   The main target here is obviously smaller players who target their own localities. Companies such as Think Fly and Wexler from Russia and Micromax and Lava from India are the sort of companies which could be expected to buy into a deal like this, if it comes to fruition.

   Naturally, if Nvidia can design and manufacturer the products then they can all but guarantee a good user experience and ensure that the device is of a good quality. Regional brands will give Nvidia the economies of scale that they need to make a venture like this viable.

   If the rumours turn out to be correct then we can expect to see this become a reality towards to end of Q2 this year and we can expect to see lots of inexpensive but good quality tablets popping up soon after! To be honest we'd love to see something like this, we'd buy one as long as they're cheap and we know what we can expect from them!
Via UnwiredView.

Acer sales suggest Chrome laptops are here to stay!

   Acer President, Jim Wong, recently revealed, in an interview with Bloomberg, that Chrome-based laptops are here to stay! It also seems that Google's marketing push on the simplicity of the operating system may have had a bit of an impact on sales too.

   Mr Wong announced that his company sales in America consist of somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of Acer’s U.S. sales have been Chromebooks since they were unleashed in November! Because the sales are looking 'sustainable' if they stay around that figure, the company is looking at offering their Chromebooks in a wider variety of developed markets!

   Unfortunately though, Acer is still not completely happy with Windows 8. Wong said;
 "Windows 8 itself is still not successful.. The whole market didn’t come back to growth after the Windows 8 launch, that’s a simple way to judge if it is successful or not."
    This is probably down to the 28 percent drop in Q4 shipments from the same time last year.

   If you're interested in picking up a Chromebook then you can get the Acer one pictured above here!
Bloomberg Via TheVerge.

In other news:

  • The European Commission has announce a $2.5 billion project! That huge budget will be split between the "Human Brain Project" and research into using Graphene as a replacement for silicon. The Human Brain Project aims to create a detailed map of the human brain! Hopefully this will give people an insight into how mental illnesses work and ways to enhance  treatments. The Graphene research will focus on using the substance to partly or completely replace silicon in semiconductors.
    Via TheVerge.
  • China is reportedly reviewing their ban on video games consoles! Naturally this send shares upwards; Nintendo's jumped up 3.5% and Sony's were up 8%! China Daily only said that they had an 'unnamed source' from China's Ministry of Culture who explained:
  “We are reviewing the policy and have conducted some surveys and held discussions with other ministries on the possibility of opening up the game console market... However, since the ban was issued by seven ministries more than a decade ago, we will need approval from all parties to lift it.” Via Reuters.

  •  ZTE has announced their new V81 Android tablet. It's an 8″ device that will offer a 1,024×768p resolution screen, a dual-core 1.4 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM, 4 GB of built-internal storage, a microSD card slot, as well as 0.3 and 2 MP cameras on the front and rear respectively. You'll also get the added benefits of 21 Mbps HSPA data connections, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, HDMI out, and a 3,700 mAh battery! The whole thing is running Android 4.1 and we're not sure if or when it'll be coming to anywhere outside of China.
    Via UnwiredView.
  • iOS 6.1 is rolling out at the moment! Check your device for updates!
  • Forbes posted a report from a UK-based research firm who showed off the 'active users' for all the social networks. Apparently Google+ has a higher percentage of active users that Twitter, YouTube and is only just behind Facebook. These sort of stats are normally very unreliable, but it's interesting nonetheless!
    Via Forbes.
  • Ubuntu's new smartphone based operating system will reportedly not be launching with an app store! The storefront will arrive at some point in the future, but Canonical hopes to target basic users initially and then add support for the extra goodies later on. We're not sure that this is necessarily a bad thing, but it definitely removes it from the realm of a mass appeal, if only initially!
    Via Engadget.
  • There have been rumours of a 128GB iPad coming if or when Apple refresh the iPad line-up in March! Would you be interested in this sort of storage option, even if it'll cost you $300 more than the 16GB versions!
    Via 9to5mac.
  • Nokia have showed off their new Music+ service today. The new offering essentially goes toe-to-toe with Spotify. Interestingly, you'll have the option to download entire playlists for your offline audio pleasure, but you are limited to 'four mixes', which essentially means four playlists. There's a host of other perks too which you can check out on Nokia's official blog!
    If you're interested then the service will cost you €3.99 a month and we expect you can exchange that Euro sign for a £ or $ sign depending on where you live, but that's not confirmed yet!
    Via CNet.
  • Microsoft's Surface Pro will come with 128GB of built in storage if you opt for the more expensive model, but according to reports from today a whopping 45GB of that will be taken up by the OS! This will leave you with 83GB left for you files. More concerning is that if this is correct then the 64GB model will only have 19GB free when you receive it!
    Via T3.
  • RIM is preparing to drop the minimum price of applications in their app stores as BB10 launch date nears! The Canadians have confirmed that the lowest pricing tier in the UK will drop from £1 to 75p and changes to the costs in Euros will vary from country to country, but in France the lowest tier is now .99 euros, but that will end up at .89 euros when the changes are implemented! Hurray cheap(er) apps!
    Via CNet.

And finally, tomorrow (Jan. 29th) is the day that Office 365 and Office 2013 will be arriving! The tweet and picture below confirm you can get both tomorrow! Will it be worth upgrading from Office 2007 or 2010, probably not, but we'll see!
Via ZDNet.



Saturday, 26 January 2013

Should we be worried about mobile data slowdown?



   A recent report from Deloitte has revealed that owners of Android, Windows Phone and iOS devices consume somewhere around about 35 times the amount of data that a normal phone user would use! This statistic in and of itself isn't too concerning because people with feature phones don't use much data at all, but this statistic becomes concerning when you hear that wireless traffic will supposedly increase 50-fold by the time we reach 2016!

   With this sort of increase in usage Deloitte predicts using our phones won't be the same enjoyable experience it is at the moment. They explained how mobile networks might develop 'rush hours' in much the same way our roads do, in some cases this already happens to your home broadband!

   This sort of network usage would mean that us consumers would often need to give it two or three goes before our phones connect to the people we're calling, we can expect a similar increase in the number of dropped calls we get and when it comes to browsing speeds, they'll plummet and in some cases we might not even be able to load up web pages on the go! Deloitte said:
"In the worst situations, download speeds may be under 1Mbps for lengthy periods of time, making video streaming impossible and even web browsing difficult."
   With that sort of speed we can kiss goodbye to playing the latest YouTube sensation to our friends or downloading an update to Temple Run 6 on the go!

   Hopefully, the new 4G networks will be able to help ease the problems which Deloitte predicts because they're a lot better at managing bandwidth efficiently and they help provide faster speeds.

   Deloitte think that for the foreseeable future that:
    "Demand for wireless bandwidth will likely attempt to outstrip these improvements in supply for at least several years... Major metropolitan areas in some geographies should expect to see continued deterioration in end-user experience."
   In some cases though governments have seen had some kind of solution to this problem. In some cases governments are freeing up some radio spectrum to help ease these sorts of concerns. Here in the UK our 4G auction has literally just got under way! This sort of action is quite rare though and in some cases governments ask that the purchasers of spectrum put their new airways to more specific users: things such as wireless broadband for rural areas are part of the agreements!

   We can see that this could be a problem in some places, but we're not entirely convinced it will be quite as bad as Deloitte predicts, especially not here in the UK and we can't see there being too many issues in either the rest of Europe or North America, but we'll have to wait and see though! Let us know what you think in the comments!
 
Deloitte Via BBC.

Friday, 25 January 2013

IDC show off mobile sales numbers for Q4 2012!

   The quarterly results in smartphone sales are in and as always the IDC's statistics make very interesting reading! The most interesting data from our point of view is the smartphone data and that is what we'll consider.

   Naturally Samsung and Apple turned out to be number one and two in terms of shipped devices just like normal. But, after those normal candidates we've seen Huawei leapfrog Sony into third place and there's ZTE bringing up fifth place!

   Interestingly everyone inside the top five saw growth in double digits and there was exceptional growth for both Samsung and Huawei, both of whom saw growth above 75% year-over-year! Every one else did well, but we were surprised to see Huawei's Chinese competitor ZTE only record growth just above 10%!

   With regard to smartphone sales in general they were all quite high in Q4 2012, there were 219.4 million units, which equates to 45.5% of all mobile phones, which is the highest percentage ever sold. This was a solid growth of 36.4% year-over-year, although the IDC were slightly disappointed that this came in below their forecasted growth rate of 39.5%!

   For the whole year though the totally added up to 712.6 million smartphones which were shipped in the whole of the year, a 44.1% increase from 2011.


The full press release is available here.

25/01/2013: Intel to build huge plant in Ireland, Samsung posts record earnings! Plus much, much more!

Intel to open a plant in Ireland with $4billion investment!
Image Credit: EETimes.
   Intel have their sights on 14nm processors, that's no secret, but what most people probably don't know is that Chipzilla needs a new manufacturing plant to make that happen! After a little bit of deliberation Ireland has given Intel permission to build a $4 billion chip plant!

   The new facility will be quite an impressive build. There will be two years of building times required, it'll add 3,500 jobs to the economy just in construction terms, this will then create 800 full-time jobs when the plant is up and running! This new facility will be just one of three sites, the other two of which will be in Oregon and Arizona in America, which will be charged with manufacturing 14nm processors! 

  As we look to the future Intel wants to offer 10nm, 7nm, and even 5nm chips as we head past 2015, so there's plenty of room for future manufacturing in Ireland and hopefully this will be a good step for Western European countries, who need to start thinking about offering manufacturing options again instead of just invisible services!
Via Slashgear.

Samsung posts record earnings!
    Samsung had an amazing 2012! The whole of their Galaxy range of smartphones was on fire, in some cases literally! The Korean giant reportedly earned  $6.6 billion worth of profit in Q4 2012!

   This sort of profit smashed through the previous record of $6 billion, which they saw in Q3 last year! This huge profit was in part down to an 18% year over year increase in revenues, but it was mainly driven by Sammy's telecoms business which “accounted for 62% of its operating profit.” 

   It wasn't all rosy for Samsung though, the Wall Street Journal pointed out that handset profit margins took a slight dip and “fell to 17.4% in the fourth quarter, down from the 18.8% in the previous quarter”. Seemingly smartphone growth is also slowing down with revenue in that area now 58% year on year, "down from 82% in the third quarter."

   When all was said and done Samsung's smartphone sales and the increased margins in their chip business were the main drivers of their success and we can't see there being too many problems into the coming year, especially with the huge anticipation of the Galaxy S4!
Via WallStreetJournal.

In other news:

  • Samsung has officially announced the Galaxy Xcover II! The device will reportedly be showcased at MWC this year. The specs were widely what we expected to see, if you need a refresh you can check the full specs and press release out over at SamMobile!
  • Samsung is also reportedly aiming to shift 10 million Galaxy S4's per month when the phone debuts later this year! Money Today have reported that Sammy has ordered each of their subcontractors to provide 10 million components per month! We don't expect any comment on these figures to confirm or deny them, but  and even if that is true, we don’t expect Samsung or any of its clients to comment on those numbers!
    Via Slashgear.
  • Apple, as most tech companies lately, have been trying to ensure that there are no under age workers in any part of their supply chain. So today Apple has decided to end a deal with the Chinese circuit board manufacturer, PZ. This news comes after Apple discovered 74 under-age workers, all under 16, were at the company. In the company's defense the children had all been recruited from the regional recruitment company who supposedly gave them fake documents! The tale ends well as all the children have been reunited with their families.
    Via BBC.
  • Sony has confirmed that red and blue PS3's will be landing in the UK in February!
    Via Slashgear.
   And finally, Samsung has announced the Galaxy Grand LTE! It's a new quad-core smartphone which runs at 1.4GHz. There's also LTE, a 5-inch (800 x 480) display, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot, a relatively small 2100 mAh battery, a 2 megapixel front and an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera. The device will ship out with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and you'll get a good assortment of connections NFC with S Beam support, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.


Apple sets earnings records! Doesn't manage to please the markets!




   In contrast to Nokia, Apple are riding high! They have one of, if not the most popular smartphone range on the planet and for yet another quarter they posted stellar results!

   The guys from Cupertino managed to rake in a total of $54.5 billion worth of revenue, which gave them a profit of $13.1 billion, a new company record! If you're a shareholder then you're probably going to be quite pleased with a return of $13.81 per share! This announcement compares very similarly with the same period last year where the company totted up $46.3 billion worth of revenue and manage the same in terms of profits, $13.1 billion.

   Profit remained the same because Apple's gross margin fell to 38.6% from 44.7% last year. Some people have attributed this to the sale of lower priced items like the iPad Mini and higher sales of the iPhone 4 and 4S, both of which are still selling very well!

   In terms of the actual numbers of sales, Apple pushed out 47.8 million units of the iPhone last quarter, again a new record for the company and was an increase from the 37 million sold in the same period the year before! iPads did equally well, selling 22.9 million compared to 15.4 million in the same time frame the year before, this was also a new record!

Image credit: Google.
   Despite this seemingly good news the markets were not impressed! Apple missed the earnings forecasts from Wall Street for the third consecutive quarter and iPhone sales actually came in below expectations! This seemingly made some people apprehensive about Apple's dominance of the smartphone market! You can see exactly what happened on the stock market on the image to the right! This dropped wiped $50billion off the value of the company!

   For the coming quarter Apple is reportedly aiming for revenue in the region of $41 billion to $43 billion and a gross margin between 37.5% and 38.5%!

Via Apple, Reuters (1) (2)

Nokia has a better Q4! Can't fix 2012 as a whole!



   Nokia has finally got themselves back into profit! Q4 2012 turned out to be quite a success with the company posting a €439 million ($585 million) profits as they saw revenue work out at €8.04 billion ($10.73 billion).

   This turn around isn't so much to do with the handset business, rather it is attributed to the growth of Nokia's Siemens Network which had a good quarter! But, devices and services did also manage to see a small profit too!

   This means that Nokia finally had a good holiday quarter! It was actually the best one that the company has managed since they chose to hope onto the Windows Phone bandwagon. That's not to say that the Lumia range is super hot stuff at the moment, indeed the guys from Espoo shipped out 4.4 million Lumias and only 700,000 landed in the hands of consumers in North America, so they still haven't managed to crack the vital US market. The highlight of the roll call was the Lumia 920 which managed to bump up the average selling price of Nokia smartphones to €186 from €140, which undoubtedly helped bump up profits.

   Despite the profit for the first time in a while Nokia decided to suspend the dividend on their shares for this year! This was the first time the company has done this in at least 143 years! Nokia managed to push through both World Wars and still didn't have to do this! But, strangely it's not actually considered a negative thing by the markets! Eric Beaudet from Natixis Security in Paris said that this “is a very important step because it shows management is conscious of the work that is ahead... It’s clearly a strong signal to the market that says 'Don’t worry about our balance sheet, we’ll do what it takes.'”

   What do you think 2013 holds for Nokia? Let us know in the comments below! The full PDF of the results is available at the source link below!

Via Nokia and Bloomberg.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

24/01/2013: Lenovo could be the suitor for Blackberry hardware if RIM sell? New apps and some shots of the Huawei Ascend P2? Plus much more!

Could Lenovo be the suitor for RIM's Blackberry business?


   We saw this post over on Bloomberg earlier today and we've not heard anything in quite a while which would make as much sense as this would.

   The other day we heard that RIM could be tempted to sell off their Blackberry hardware arm if the launch of BB10 isn't 100% successful. It's hard to argue that that wouldn't make sense, there's no point sustaining part of business which isn't profitable and this is a very real possibility at the moment. So when we saw Bloomberg report this quote from Lenovo's Chief Financial Officer, Wong Wai Ming, we were instantly intrigued. He said:
 “We are looking at all opportunities -- RIM and many others... We’ll have no hesitation if the right opportunity comes along that could benefit us and shareholders.”
   If you think about it Lenovo purchase IBM's Thinkpad computer line and it would completely make sense if they could do a similar job here and we have no doubt that they could make this equally as successful!

   What do you think? Is this a possibility? Obviously there's a lot of ifs and buts, but we can see it happening!
Via TheVerge.

In other news:

  • There's a new app called Condom Size for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like! It offers you an interactive measuring tool to find out the actual length and girth of an erect penis. The idea is that this will give you the best size condoms specifically for you! If you're interested then you can get it here!... We can't believe we actually just covered that app!
  • Pebble have released their apps for Android and iOS! Hopefully your watch will be arriving in the post in the next few days if you backed them on Kickstarter, so everything is all set! The Android app is here and the iOS one is here!
    Via Slashgear.
  • @EVLeaks have today shown off what they think will be the Huawei Ascend P2! They think the device will come with a 1080p display and a host of other high end features! We'll let you know when we hear something official! It'll probably be during MWC though!

  •  Google have revealed they are still working through the portfolio of devices Motorola were already working on before Google got hold of them! So another few months yet before we see the real fruits of Google and Motorola's partnership!
    Via Slashgear.
  • If you still haven't got it yet then Temple Run 2 for Android is now available! You can get it here!

And finally, we saw this advert earlier on our Twitter feed and we had to show you! We're not sure how many of you guys were born in the '90's but we were and Microsoft has captured what we remember from our childhood amazingly with this little ad. Unfortunately the nostalgia isn't quite enough to tempt us back to Internet Explorer, but we did have a cheeky little play with it after seeing the ad, so the ad did it's job!


We know Nokia and Apple both released their earnings reports! They'll arrive in separate posts soon!

Tech does make you sexy! Just don't live in your social networks, they're bad for you!

Image Credit: Currys.

   Wow, who would have thought it? It seems that sometimes it does pay to be a little bit geeky! According to a new study from Crucial.com (you'll probably know them for making computer components) if you know how to upgrade computer hardware you might be that little bit hotter than the guy who knows his way around a car engine!

   Apparently those dudes who really know their stuff are new “Techno-sexuals” and nearly "two-thirds (59%) of women surveyed said they most admire guys who have the ability to improve their hardware. This compares to a lesser 49% who love a bloke who can tinker under the car bonnet!". Crucial explained this surprising finding by saying:

"Heroes today are becoming more Mark Zuckerberg than Jeremy Clarkson, as our busy lives become increasingly dominated by our use of technology"
Roddy McLean, a computer upgrade expert from Crucial.com

   Seemingly some amongst us actually realised that knowing your way around a computer helps because "nearly 40% of men admitted to having exaggerated about their tech know-how credentials, including their ability to mend and upgrade gadgets, computers and laptops in an attempt to impress the fairer sex."

   Now this is a small study, there were 2,000 participants and slightly more than half were ladies, but that doesn't mean that a whopping 81% of respondents said that their laptop or computer had performed poorly! This means that there is a huge proportion of the female population just waiting to be impressed! We're not saying you head to your nearest library and look for the ladies who are hitting their computer in frustration, but perhaps a cheeky mention of the need to upgrade their RAM might just convince them to go on a date with you!

   If you're already in the know then you're a lucky one and people probably envy you! As our daily lives become more dependent on technology it seems that nearly 60% of us would rather be competent with computers and phones than we would with cars, music, fashion and even sport!

   But, remember research shows that if you spend too much time on your social networks you start getting envious because everything seems so perfect in other people's lives. Trust us, it's not and don't forget to leave your phone in your pocket when you're out at meals, it negatively affects "closeness, connections and conversational quality!"

The press release is available here!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

23/01/2013: Nintendo shows off 2013 for the Wii U, Black Ops 2 double XP, Microsoft to invest in Dell? Plus much, much more!

Nintendo shows us what 2013 holds for the Wii U!

   Nintendo's Wii U console proved to be a popular option over Christmas as it racked in more money than the insanely popular Wii did over the first few months of availability. That wasn't down to number of sales, instead it was attributed to the slightly larger cost of the Wii U. Either way people still need games to play and a good overall experience on the brand new console and that's what Nintendo showed us today; a good selection of new features and games which we can expect to see over the coming months!

   There was a huge set of games which are on the way, some of them we're going to just link to trailers, but some of them are worth a quick mention! Satoru Iwata actually took the time to apologise for the lack of releases so far this year, he claimed that his teams needed more time to perfect the gameplay, but perhaps they just had short time scales to work to.

Image Credit: TheFourOhFive.com 
   All of the following titles will be available towards the end of March and onwards! You'll have  Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, LEGO City Undercover at the end of the March. After that will be the time we start getting excited: there's a new 3D Mario action game, Zelda games, a Wario game and a new Mario Kart game on the way!!! We'll be able to see a demo of most of those at E3 later in the year! There will also be some sort of party game too, one with all of the mini games, which will support both Wii remotes and the gamepad, so you can get everyone in on the action! 

   The games don't stop there, we'll be seeing a new game centred on Yoshi's antics, which will be the brain child of the guys who made Kirby’s Epic Yarn. Last up will be Shin Magami Tensei meets Fire Emblem. It'll be a game with fighting, but we don't know too much more than that at this moment in time.


The links to the adverts for the rest of the games are below:

   Now when it comes to updates Nintendo is planning on releasing two; one in spring and one in summer. Both updates will boost the consoles speed and performance and hopefully this will help address the complaints of games loading slowly, which Nintendo have heard. The first update will also add new Virtual Console functionality. This will allow you to play GameBoy Advance titles and games from other old Nintendo consoles direct on your Wii U GamePad or on the TV. 

   Nintendo will offer people who already use Virtual Consoles on the Wii the opportunity to the Wii U will get a discount if they buy the same games again. The pricing models are shown below.


   Last but not least the MiiVerse will be getting a new update which will add support for mobile devices, as well as verified accounts which will work in a similar way to verified profiles on Twitter. This verification won't be available for everyone, it will be a privilege for devs and the celebrities of this world. These exclusive accounts have the ability to link websites on their Miiverse posts and you have to chance to embed YouTube videos. Both of these will arrive with the first of the two updates we mentioned earlier.

   The video embedded below will see a Nintendo employee talk you through the new features. It's 30 minutes long so it will take you a little while if you want to plough through it!
   

Via Slashgear. (1) (2) (3) (4).
   

In other news:

  • If you're a dev interested in working on games for the 'Gamestick', which has been on Kickstarter lately, then you now have to option of paying $250 for the console and getting the extra bonus of a six-month window of 100% revenue on any games you release before this July! Naturally you'll also get a Gamestick, but it won't arrive before everyone else who backed the device, which is a bit of a bummer!
    Kickstarter Via Slashgear.
  • Samsung has overtaken Apple to become the biggest consumer of semiconductors in the world, with a whopping 8% of the market, which given how many other companies there are is impressive! Apple was only .8% behind with 7.2% of the market share.
    Gartner Via Slashgear.
  • The Verge thinks that Nokia will offer a new device which is codenamed 'EOS' which will feature a camera sensor similar to that on Nokia's 808 PureView! It will reportedly pop up on a Windows Phone 8 device which will be one of Nokia's 2013 flagships! We'll have to wait and see!
    Via TheVerge.
  • The 4G spectrum auction is under way in the UK! Hopefully we will see some competitors to EE in the space very soon!
    Via BBC.
  • Calling all Black Ops II gamers! From the 25th of this month to the 29th there will be a double XP weekend! So if you're looking to get through those prestiges then get on this weekend!
    Via Twitter.
  • A UK shopping centre owner by the name of Land Securities has inked a new arrangement with Google to use their Product Search feature to find the best price for the items that consumers are after, free Wi-Fi will also be on offer in the shopping centres, both of these will hopefully allow shoppers to feel like they are getting the best deal! Land Security is hoping to create "an environment appropriate for multi-channel retailers", so we might be seeing more order online and pick up deals.
    Via TheRegister.
  • Rumours on the internet today are suggesting that Microsoft could be putting up $3billion to take DELL private!
    Via MacWorld.
And finally, yet again Google have reiterated that churning out more Nexus 4's and 10's is a priority. Larry Page didn't get much chance to discuss it in his earnings call, but they expect things to work themselves out soon enough!
Via Phandroid.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

22/01/2013: Microsoft confirms Surface Pro availability and pricing, EE offers improved 4G plans, AMD appointments and much more!

Microsoft Surface Pro gets arrival time and price tags!


   Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet has proved to be an interesting device, it's not running fully fledged Windows, but the device definitely has a place and more importantly a future at Microsoft. The new Surface Pro on the other hand is a totally different beast. Running full Windows 8 on relatively conventional hardware, all of which is crammed into a tablet form factor, this truly is the mobile computing experience. 

   We've had to wait a little while to hear about the Surface Pro's but alas we now know the devices will be available in both America and Canada from February the 9th! The tablets are a step up in price from the Surface RT's and so this bunch starts from $899! 

   The $899 will buy you 64GB of solid-state storage as standard, as well as a digital Surface pen, but if you add another hundred dollars you can have a 128GB of storage. 

   The rest of the device's internals include Intel’s Core i5 processor and HD Graphics 4000 GPU pairing, 4GB of dual-channel memory and a 10.6-inch Clear Type display which is Full HD, 1920 x 1080, and offers 10-point multitouch and support for the stylus we mentioned earlier!

   The device will have a good set of connections which include; WiFi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, a USB 3.0 port, a microSDXC memory card slot, a headset jack, a Mini DisplayPort, and of course the connector for those keyboard covers! Your device will be nicely rounded out with a microphone, stereo speakers, and a two 720p capable webcams, one on each side of the device, all of which should make those Skype calls work well, as will the kickstand!

   All of this is crammed into a case which is 10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53 inches and will weigh less than 2lbs! One interesting addition is a special 48W power supply which has a little 5W USB port for making sure your accessories keep going as long as the tablet does!

   You can pick one of these up from Microsoft stores or online, unless of course you would prefer to pop to Staples or Best Buy if you live in the USA! If you live outside of the US or Canada you are still greeted with the 'Coming Soon' message, so we might see something soon about wider releases!
Via Engadget.


EE out new limited edition 4G plans with extra data!

   Since EE, the terrible twosome of Orange and T-Mobile, outed their 4G plans they were widely criticised by tech websites for their extortionate prices and very limited data options. Surprisingly it actually seems like EE took a little bit of notice and they've offered up a few more tariffs which have caught our attention this time! 

   EE are today offering some more less expensive plans the first of which is £31 per month plan costs, some £5 per month less than EE's cheapest standard offer. This plan will be available from January 31st to March 31st and it will include your normal unlimited minutes and texts, 500MB of data and it will require a 24 month commitment, but you will now be able to get some more inexpensive phones which have 4G capabilities. You can get both the HTC One SV and the Windows Phone 8 powered Nokia Lumia 820 from £29.99, which is actually a saving of nearly £100 compared to standard EE deals!

   Most of you will probably be more drawn in by this one though. It's designed for 'super users', who currently make up less than 1% of EE's users, but you can get your hands on 20GB of data, as well as those unlimited minutes and texts, for £46. If you want a phone with that the contract price jumps up to £61. You can get the deals in store from today all the way up to February the 28th!

   These still aren't cheap plans by any stretch of the imagination, but we'll have to wait for 4G deployment from other networks before we see some sort of value! For the moment we're sticking with unlimited 3G data!

The press release is available here.

In other news:

  • The guys over at TechnoBuffalo have got their hands on a supposedly leaked roadmap of recent Samsung devices which will supposedly confirm the existence of the Galaxy Note 8.0 and the Galaxy Xcover 2! Head over to their site if you're interested, but they appear to be pretty much what we covered here and here!
  • Phones4U has partnered with EE to create another UK based MNVO, this one is called Life Mobile. We're not sure exactly what unique features Life will bring, but we expect this is Phones4U's answer to the Carphone Warehouse's TalkMobile!
    Via EE.
  • Slashgear things that this Q1 will work out as being one of the best periods of iPhone sales in Apple's history! This would certainly disprove reports of Apple cutting order numbers if this proves to be right. You can check out their mathematics here.
  • HMV will temporarily be taken under the wing of Canadian company Hilco. They are the people who have previously saved Polaroid and they essentially own all of HMV's UK assets now that they have bought the debt off of Lloyds and the Royal Bank of Scotland. This deal is supposedly popular with record labels and film studios. On the plus side gift vouchers can now be used again!
    Via BBC.
  • Huawei's P1 smartphone is currently available at the cheap price of £200 from the UK brand of Expansys! Their tweet embedded below will give you all the information you need to pick one up!

  • AMD has hired two senior engineers from Apple and Qualcomm to boost their system-on-chip (SoC) development.
    Charles Matar, came to fame at Qualcomm, where he worked on low-power and embedded chip design. He will be AMD's vice president of System-on-Chip Development according to Reuters' sources.
    Wayne Meretsky used to be employed by Cupertino's finest and he was charged with processors for i devices. He is AMD's new vice president of software IP development!
    Via Reuters.

And finally, If you pick up an Xperia Tablet Z from Sony then it seems you'll also have the privilege of charging your Xperia Z straight from your tablet! Only thing is that the only device which will support this currently is the Xperia Z, so hopefully Sony can add a few more devices to this list!
Via XperiaBlog.


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