LG ‘Lobbying Google’ to be next Nexus Partner

LG is lobbying Google to score a collaborating partnership on the next Nexus device.

“We’re having discussions,” said head of LG’s smartphone division Ramchan Woo to CNET in an interview. “We’re working on it.”

Garnering the honor would gain LG an ounce of prestige in the mobile industry, because the handset maker would have absolute access to Google’s offerings. Even if the financial benefits are on the low-end for LG, the company will inevitably surface with an impeccable reputation after working with the Mountain View, Calif.-based technology giant…

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Qualcomm updates Snapdragon S4 chip with four times faster Adreno 320 graphics, outs three new Gobi modem chipsets supporting both 150Mbps LTE-Advanced and 84Mbps HSPA+

Chip maker Qualcomm today introduced three new Gobi modem chipsets at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain and an improved version of the Snapdragon S4 chip for high-end smartphones. The 28-nanometer third-generation MDM8225, MDM9225 and MDM9625 support both LTE-Advanced and dual-carrier 84Mbps HSPA+ Release 10 cellular networks (perhaps fitting in T-Mobile USA’s 2012 plan). If that’s not speedy enough: The MDM9225 and MDM9625 can go all the way up to 150Mbps, because they support LTE Category 4 with carrier aggregation technology.

All three pieces of silicon are backwards compatible with today’s popular standards, including EV-DO Advanced, GSM, TD-SCDMA, FDD and TDD. The MDM8225 chipset supports UMTS-only devices, the MDM9225 chipset supports LTE and UMTS devices, and the MDM9625 chipset supports LTE, UMTS and CDMA2000 devices. All three chipsets will begin sampling in Q4 2012. Compared to Qualcomm’s previous MDM9x15 series (see below the fold), the new chips offer a reduction in power consumption and overall board area that allow for smaller devices with longer battery life.

Qualcomm also launched today an improved version of the Snapdragon S4 system-on-a-chip that powers about 340 mobile devices. It has notably faster graphics, supports Windows 8, includes dedicated hardware to accelerate Windows and fully supports the top game engines in the industry from Unity, Epic and others.

More on the new Snapdragon S4 “Pro” chip and full press releases are after the break.

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Samsung unveils another iPod touch competitor, the 4.2-inch Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 media player

Samsung Mobile today took the wraps off the Galaxy S Wi-Fi 4.2—its latest addition to the Galaxy-branded media player lineup. A missing link between the 4-inch and 5-inch Galaxy Player, the Galaxy S Wi-Fi 4.2 is just 8.9mm thin and sports a 4.2-inch 800-by-480 pixels LCD display with premium IPS technology offering wide viewing angles. There is a VGA-class videoconferencing camera on the front and a two-megapixel camera on the back.

The gizmo is powered by a gigahertz chip with 512MB RAM, packs in 8GB/16GB storage, and it has a MicroSD slot for up to 32GB storage through memory cards. Connectivity features include Bluetooth 3.0 and Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n. Software-wise, the Galaxy S Wi-Fi 4.2 runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread and Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface.

It is essentially an entertainment/gaming/PMP device, because the Galaxy S Wi-Fi 4.2 comes preloaded with Samsung Apps, Hubs, a Smart TV remote control program and premium EA games. The South Korean company did not reveal pricing or availability details, but if history is an indication, its price will likely compare to Apple’s current-generation iPod touch that starts at $199. The introduction of the Galaxy S Wi-Fi 4.0 further solidifies Samsung’s strategy calling for a variety of screen sizes across its mobile lineup that now includes Android smartphones, media players and tablets offered in a wide variety of sizes extending from the smallest 3.2-inch to the 10.1-inch flavor.

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Padfone: A phone that turns into a tablet, that turns into a laptop, with a stylus that turns into a headset

Varied hands-on looks at the Asus PadFone while at Mobile World Congress 2012 are exploding across the Web, but the consensus on the three-in-one combination seems generally positive.

The 4.3-inch device is in its last form and features a texture on the back cover, 3.5mm headphone jack on top, ports and connectors on the left side, and an aesthetic similar to the Transformer Pad. The Verge declared the screen as “bright and fairly snappy.”

According to a press release, the device transforms into a 10.1-inch tablet with five times the battery capacity when placed inside the PadFone Station. The PadFone Station also offers an optional keyboard dock that looks like other Asus docks. It essentially converts the PadFone into an “ultraportable computing device.”

The PadFone’s Stylus Headset employs a pliable rubber ball unlike more firm, plastic-tipped stylus competitors. Many reports indicate the bluetooth stylus is responsive, but it apparently requires more pressure than comparable products. Moreover, Asus’ Jonney Shih announced at MWC 2012 that the stylus doubles as a headset for “picking up calls easily.”

The Asus PadFone’s full spec sheet, hands-on images and video are available below.

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Affordable prepaid Android phones reduce iPhone to single-digit share in countries without carrier subsidies

Entry-level prepaid Android phones sell for as low as $50.

Last year, the iPhone was the best-selling smartphone in the world, and Apple re-captured the crown for top smartphone maker in the United States last quarter with an estimated one-fifth of the market. While the original arrived at $499 (remember Ballmer’s reaction?), Apple would not hit the ground running until switching to the subsidized model with the second-generation iPhone 3G. Nowadays, U.S. carriers subsidize the full price of the device with an estimated $400, so those willing to commit to a two-year contract end up paying just $199 upfront for the hardware.

The trick worked and the iPhone went on the become an iconic device, but sales numbers did not replicate in various Southern European countries where carriers steer away from paying billions in upfront subsidies. As a result, prepaid Android phones are now undercutting Apple’s device and selling like crazy. Take Portugal or Greece, for example, where the iPhone last quarter accounted for 9 percent and 5 percent of all smartphones sold, respectively, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In the U.S., where contract plans and phone subsidies dominate, IDC says that around 90% of smartphone shipments over the past four years were for devices that cost more than $300 — despite the recession and uncertain recovery. In Italy, where prepaid plans dominate, that proportion was 67% last year, and in crisis-hit Greece and Portugal, only about 40% of the smartphones shipped in 2011 cost more than $300.

The article author Anton Troianovski said some European carriers are considering eliminating subsidies in favor of the more affordable pay-as-you-go plans. This includes major carriers, such as Spain’s Telefónica SA and Denmark’s Telenor ASA.

The price matrix of the unlocked, contract-free iPhone 4S.

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Will Samsung Galaxy S III be the world’s first 1080p smartphone?

Details about Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S III smartphone seem to emerge left and right, but BGR gave a more specific run down on its version of the flagship device’s spec sheet this morning.

The publication previously said Samsung would launch the smartphone simultaneously around the world. Today, it described the device as having a 1.5GHz quad-core Samsung Exynos processor, 2-megapixel front-facing camera with an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera, 4G LTE, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS, Ceramic Case, and (more importantly) a 4.8-inch display in “full HD” with 1080p resolution at a 16:9 aspect.

Of course, there is significant doubt that the Samsung Galaxy S III will be the world’s first 1080p smartphone, because a 720p display on a 4.8 inch screen is already “retina.” Any smaller pixels are undetectable to the human eye—thus wasted pixels and processor to drive them. Read more

Google’s Rubin doubling down on Android tablets: ‘We’ll make sure we’re winning in this space’

Android smartphones are definitely putting on a great show. As the total number of Android devices around the world jets past 300 million and 850,000 devices get activated each day, nobody in their right mind would argue that Android has become the most powerful platform. It exceeded an estimated 50 percent of the market for smartphones both globally and in the United States. The same cannot be said for Android tablets. Whilst Android-driven slates saw a much-needed uptick since the arrival of tablet-optimized Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich software, Apple’s iPad still dominates the once niche and now rising market segment.

Google is well aware of its shortcomings in the tablet arena and the company is ready to “double down on tablets,” according to its mobile head Andy Rubin. He told The Verge that in two years some 12 million Android tablets were sold—the figure he called “not insignificant, but less than I’d expect it to be if you really want to win.” He is hoping that “2012 is going to be the year that we double down and make sure we’re winning in that space.” Acknowledging the overall lack of high-quality apps is an issue resulting in many prospective buyers considering Apple’s iPad, Rubin urged developers to “put in the muscle and make their apps work great on tablets.”

By the way, we wonder if by “doubling down” Rubin meant a self-branded 7-inch Ice Cream Sandwich tablet said to arrive by summer with a $199 price tag. Also, it was not immediately clear from the report whether the 12 million figure includes the millions of Fire tablets Amazon sold thus far (likely not, as that device runs forked Android software), but clearly Samsung has done a lot here to help push Android slates.

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Android Market has 450K apps; Google activates 850K Android devices a day

Google has a dominant presence at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) show now underway in Barcelona, Spain from Feb. 27 through March 1. The company’s Andy Rubin, senior vice president of mobile and digital content, shared a few updates related to the Android ecosystem, and he revealed in a blog post that 850,000 Android devices are now activated each day with the total number of Android devices around the world past 300 million.

The number of apps available in Android Market tripled from 150,000 at the last year’s show to 450,000 items today. Moreover, the Market is now recognizing over a billion downloads each month. All told, about 800 different Android devices launched to date and the company is highlighting more than a hundred new ones at its huge stand at MWC…

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French carrier Orange to sell Intel Android phone direct, cheap

Reuters reported that France-based carrier Orange would launch Intel Medfield-based Atom smartphones in the United Kingdom and French markets this year. This is notable for a number of reasons.

Although long time Intel MoBo partner Gigabyte will build the device, there is no manufacturer listed on the device besides Intel. Moreover, Intel will provide some proprietary software.

The phone is based on Intel’s prototype Medfield Android phone shown off most recently at CES 2012 and now MWC 2012. Orange’s version will house Intel’s Atom Z2460 processor that clocks at 1.6GHz. It will also have a 4-inch 600-by-1024 display with an impressive 8-megapixel camera that will shoot 1080P video. IT will also ship with Android 2.3, but it will be upgradeable to Ice Cream Sandwich OS (which is strange, because the prototypes at CES ran ICS.)

The phone will market as a low-cost prepaid device and not a high-end device, even though Medfield chips usually blow away anything in the ARM camp on power (not power consumption).

I get the feeling Intel grew tired of smartphone manufacturers passing it over for cheaper ARM chips and just decided to build the phone itself.


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Samsung Galaxy Beam ProjectorPhone gets updated for 2012, double the lumens

Samsung Beam unveiled at IFA 2010, but it got real today with some updated specs.  The short version is that it is a Galaxy S running Android 2.3 with a huge 2000mA battery and a 15 Lumen pico WVGA projector (up from Android 2.1/1600mA/8 Lumens).

The long version/press release is below.

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Galaxy Note 10.1 running S-Pen app spotted at MWC

The writing is on the wall…. literally. As seen above, you have the 10.1 Galaxy Note, previously rumored to run the S-Pen application, and this image all but seals the deal. Samsung previously let slip a little reference in its press materials, but this evidence looks irrefutable.

I was not a huge fan of the Note’s stylus in my review, but let’s just say it is growing (on me).


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