Review: LG Nexus 4 — a world class smartphone for $300

Honestly, when I heard the Nexus 4, the long-rumored LG entrant into the Google-phone legacy, was going to come sans LTE, I almost threw in the towel. After all, the last version, the Galaxy Nexus, is equipped with LTE in its Verizon and Sprint incarnations. Is this a step back?

In my experience, not at all. This is the best Android phone ever made. And, for many purposes, it is the best phone I’ve ever used. It is almost a no-brainer to hit the buy button once you add that it only costs $299 for 8GB or $349 for 16GB.

But, before you do, let’s talk hardware:

Read more

IDC: Android is now on 3 out of every 4 smartphones sold

IDC is out with its latest report that covers the top six smartphone operating systems by shipments and market share during Q3 2012. In the study, IDC found Android on nearly 75 percent of all smartphones shipped during the quarter, giving Android 136 million units of the 181.1 million total smartphones shipped during Q3 2012. That accounts for 91.5-percent year-over-year growth, beating out 57.3- percent year-over-year growth for Apple, and an average market growth of 46.4-percent. Apple shipped 26.9 million iPhones, in comparison, giving the company 14.9-percent of the market in the third quarter. Samsung is once again the top Android vendor:

Android, having topped the 100 million unit mark last quarter, reached a new record level in a single quarter. By comparison, Android’s total volumes for the quarter were greater than the total number of smartphones shipped in 2007, the year that Android was officially announced. Samsung once again led all vendors in this space, but saw its market share decline as numerous smaller vendors increased their production.

iOS was a distant second place to Android, but was the only other mobile operating system to amass double-digit market share for the quarter. The late quarter launch of the iPhone 5 and lower prices on older models prevented total shipment volumes from slipping to 3Q11 levels. But without a splashy new OS-driven feature like Siri in 2011 and FaceTime in 2010, the iPhone 5 relied on its larger, but not wider, screen and LTE connectivity to drive growth.

Android 4+ surpasses a quarter of install base

Google updated its Platform Versions website last night to reveal Android 4.x is now on 28.5-percent of devices.

Ice Cream Sandwich officially released to the masses over a year ago, but it is only powering 25.8-percent of Android smartphones and tablets. Jelly Bean, the following Android OS that launched in June 2012, has a meager 2.7-percent of the pie. Meanwhile, in third place, the two-year-old Gingerbread sits comfortably with a 54.2-percent share.

Fragmentation is clearly still an issue with Android, but it seems the slow adoption of the latest OS is just as alarming. A new iteration of Jelly Bean, Android 4.2, will launch in roughly two weeks, but the first version has hardly made a dent. Of course, Google’s new lineup of Nexus products may give Jelly Bean’s share a boost. We will just have to wait and see, though.

Read more

Google Wallet leak reveals an actual Google Wallet card (Gallery)

AndroidPolice just posted screenshots of a leaked version of Google Wallet, but the most notable tidbit does not concern the app at all: Google plans to launch a Google Wallet card.

The card acts and looks like a typical credit card, but it stores many credit cards into one, shiny piece of plastic. It also works practically everywhere. According to the screenshots, users order the Google Wallet card from their Google Wallet app for front-door delivery.

AndroidPolice noted the significance of a physical Google Wallet card:

The other important implication? The physical Wallet card could make carrier approval for Wallet a thing of the past unless you want to use tap payments. Google could publish a version of the Wallet app without NFC permissions that just allows you to switch between your cards, that could be installed on any phone (even iOS or Windows Phone, theoretically), and you just use the Wallet card for payments. That’s pretty cool. And could seriously reduce the chance of rival mobile payment systems of catching on. Google really does seem to have thrown a wrench in the works of the likes of ISIS and other competing systems.

As for the Google Wallet app, it will soon feature a “Wallet Balance” option for depositing or withdrawing money. Users will also have the ability to transfer money from person to person. Availability for these latest Google Wallet features only seem to hint at the Unites States, for now, but stay tuned for more.

A screenshot gallery is below.

Read more

Google Wallet integrates with retailers’ mobile websites to offer secure 3-step check out

Google Wallet now stores payment information, like debit card numbers and billing addresses, for retailers’ mobile websites.

Shoppers normally need to enter “17-20 fields of information” on mobile websites, according to the Google Mobile Commerce team, while having to “click and scroll through multiple pages to provide shipping and billing information.” Apparently, roughly 97 percent of mobile shoppers run from the check-out process and abandon their shopping carts.

The Google Mobile Commerce team just explained, however, that Wallet users can now check out more safely and quickly in just three simple steps: click the Buy with Google Wallet button, log into Google Wallet, and then click to complete the order.

Google Wallet is currently integrated with Finish Line, MovieTickets.com, Seamless, SwimOutlet.com, etc., to enable three-step purchasing on their mobile websites. For a limited time, Google Wallet users can also get $10 off at 1-800-Flowers.com and $20 off at Rockport.com (some restrictions apply).

Additional Google Wallet features (via the Google Commerce blog), include:

Read more

Sprint’s quad-core LG Optimus G now on pre-order for $199 with contract

AT&T’s LG Optimus G

Sprint just announced customers could pre-order the LG Optimus G starting today for $199.99 with a new two-year contract or eligible upgrade.

So, what’s so special about this particular LTE Android smartphone? Well, it has a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor. It also features a 4.7-inch True HD IPS Plus display, 2GB of RAM, 32GB built-in storage, NFC, and a 2,100mAh battery.

Unfortunately, this powerful handset boasts the aging Ice Cream Sandwich OS. There is also no mention in the announcement of an upcoming upgrade. Take a look at 9to5Google’s hands-on review of the AT&T version for a full spec refresher.

Oh, but we must note the LG Optimus G’s cheese shutter. Yeah—you heard that right. The smartphone’s camera is voice-activated by words like “cheese” and “smile”—eliminating the need for a shutter button. Um, interesting?

AT&T folks should keep an eye out for availability too, as the competing Sprint carrier previously said it would open the pre-order gate Nov. 2.

Sprint’s press announcement is below. 

Read more