Google launches three $100-ish Android One phones in India, more countries to follow

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Google today made good on its promise to bring high-quality affordable Android phones to developing markets with the launch of three locally-made Android One models in India, each selling for the equivalent of around $100. Each handset is made by a different Indian manufacturer, Spice with the Android One Dream UNO Mi-498, Micromax with the Canvas A1 and Karbonn the Sparkle V.

The hardware requirements for Android One devices were set by Google to deliver a good experience with the latest stock versions of Android. All three handsets are supplied with the latest KitKat 4.4.4, and Google is promising that they will receive two years of updates, starting with the Android L update …  Read more

LG G3 Stylus officially confirmed as mid-range device, probably not coming to U.S.

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LG’s G3 Stylus, either leaked or teased earlier this month as a budget-friendly phablet, has now been officially confirmed – but it looks like it probably won’t go on sale in the USA.

The LG G3 Stylus is a pen-enabled smartphone that offers a large display and many of the premium user experience (UX) features of the G3 all in a fairly-priced package […]

LG will roll out the G3 Stylus in 3G markets starting in Brazil in September followed by countries in Asia, Middle East and Africa and CIS …

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Review: HTC One (M8): Excellent hardware improves, confusing software worsens

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If hardware quality was the only factor in buying a phone, you could stop reading right here and go out and buy the HTC One M8 – it is the best looking, best built (AFAICT after 3 days) phone out there, bar none.

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The front will look familiar, if elongated, to current One owners. It still has separated stereo speakers which incidentally are again the best you’ll hear in a phone by a long shot, but the screen is bigger and unfortunately so is the bezel around the screens.

That extra length tallies to a centimeter taller than its predecessor making an already big phone now almost phablet-like in stature. Add to that HTC’s insistence of putting a power button on top of the phone which you must shimmy up and down to reach and you’ve got yourself some usability experience issues before you even turn on the phone.

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The back of my gray “stainless steel” unit matches up nicely with my fridge in the kitchen. I mean that in the nicest possible way. It looks gorgeous, though I’m not sure I’d say the same for other color variations offered, particularly the gold model. The improved curves are super nice in the hand and also look the part. You’d almost forgive how long this thing is…almost.

The M8 may not be terribly repairable by iFixit standards, but HTC has your back with a pretty impressive repair plan called HTC Customer Advantage. In it, you get a free screen repair within 6 months, a somewhat vague promise to keep Android updated to the most recent version (the website says “We are committed to keeping you current” but at the show they said 2 years of upgrades), and 25-50GB of extra Google Drive space.

Besides the length coupled with the power button, I’m still a huge fan of the exterior. But then there is the interior with HTC’s insistence on Sense 6.0 and this new 3-camera system… Read more

Another HTC One M8 leaked video posted online ahead of tomorrow’s launch

We’re getting set for tomorrow’s big launch event by watching previews of what we’re going to see. A lengthy claimed video of the long-awaited successor to the HTC One has been posted, and while it’s unverified, it certainly looks convincing.

The M8 is simply the codename for the handset, just as the One was codenamed the M7. It’s not known whether HTC will brand the replacement as the new HTC One or give it a new name. Separate rumors have suggested the HTC One 2, and the HTC All New One, both of which sound pretty silly.

We’re expecting to see a Snapdragon 801 or 805 processor, 2GB RAM, a choice of 16 or 32GB storage, support for microSD cards of up to 128GB and a full-HD (1920×1080) display, running Android 4.4. The casing appears to be all-aluminum, with a brushed finish. Rumors have suggested that it will be available in a choice of silver, gold and grey colors …  Read more

As predicted, HP launches its Slate 6 and Slate 7 VoiceTab Android 4.2 Phablets

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Last week, we went on the record saying that HP was set to unveil their new smartphones within a week and here we are just 5 days later with an announcement.  The quad-core Slate 6 and Slate 7 VoiceTab are (as predicted) 720P displayed “mega” phablets that will play in the same market as Samsung’s Galaxy Mega line. The initial launch country will be India but more are on the way.  While no price was given, we’d imagine that since the other details were true, the $200 price point for the Slate 6 VoiceTab and $250 for the 7-inch seem like a pretty good starting point.

The phones will come with 16GB of on board storage and have a Micro-SD card for 32GB more storage. As you can see in the image above, they both have stereo speakers a la the HTC One (no word yet on Beats Branding which HP still uses and HTC once used).

It appears that HP has really done its homework here and has identified a market where it can make things happen. HP obviously has a huge brand and PC presence in India and at the same time, the market is easy to enter because the carriers aren’t gatekeepers like they are in the US.

As for the phones themselves, they actually have some styling which is a notable step up from HP’s US slate lineup. While I’ll go on the record saying that I’m not a fan of the Black on Gold appearance from the press release and Android skin they are showing off, I’m not privy to style considerations from India.

Also ringing an alarm bell is the Android 4.2 launch OS. Combined with that pretty heavy looking skin/overlay, Indian consumers are already starting 2 OSes back…and counting.

In all, though Google has to be pretty satisfied with the launch. HP is traditionally a Windows shop but since Meg Whitman’s return has gone ChomeOS and Android first with the Slate line of tablets and now their Smartphones.

Another image if the Slate 6 Voicetab and Press release below: Read more

HTC One Max officially announced – with neat spin on fingerprint sensor

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HTC’s take on Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 – the HTC One Max – has finally been officially announced by HTC after long-running rumors.

HTC, a global leader in mobile innovation and design, today announced the HTC One max, a super-sized smartphone that brings the award-winning design, functionality and performance of the HTC One to fans of larger handsets. A new Fingerprint Scan feature takes convenience to a new level while acclaimed features including HTC BlinkFeed™, HTC Zoe™ and HTC BoomSound™, combined with the new HTC Sense 5.5, which are all enhanced to continue to deliver the best overall smartphone experience, now on a larger screen.

Most of the specs are as per the rumors we’ve reported over the last few months, including the almost non-existent bezel, 5.9″ full HD1080p display, 3300mAH battery, (optional) capacitive stylus and fingerprint scanner. The fingerprint sensor unlocks the phone, of course, but also has a neat feature where you can assign a different app to each finger, switching on the device with that app loaded.

The CPU is, however, less powerful than rumored. Everyone had been expecting a Snapdragon 800 processor running at 2.3GHz, but instead the Max has the same 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 chip as the phone on which it’s based, the HTC One …  Read more

Review: Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition – Less is more


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Way back at Google I/O 2013, it was announced that Samsung would be partnering with Google to release a Galaxy S4 variant running stock Android. Nearly two months later, the device is finally available to the masses and I’ve been using one as my daily driver for about a week now.

When the Google Play Edition Galaxy S4 was originally announced, I was really intrigued by the idea. Google has been releasing Nexus devices for the past few years, but I’ve never really fallen in love with one. They’ve all been good, but not great hardware. Nexus devices generally don’t feature top-of-the-line specs and are meant, in Google’s eyes, purely for developers to test apps their apps on.

Seeing how I had loved the original Galaxy S4, but couldn’t stand the bloated TouchWiz overlay, the Google Play Edition Galaxy S4 seemed like the perfect device for me. Near-stock Android paired with high-end, future-proof ‘resistant’ specifications. A match made in heaven, so to speak. Read more

Quick Review: LG Optimus Pro on AT&T – everything you want in a phablet and nothing more

I gave myself a few weeks to use the $199 w/plan LG Optimus Pro on AT&T to see if a phablet could replace my normal Android device, the LG Nexus 4. The Optimus Pro is very similar to the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 which I reviewed and liked. LG doesn’t include the stylus, which I considered a downside on the Note 2. It also has a less intrusive overlay and a bunch of other handy features which I found helpful…

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Galaxy Note 8.0 launched, takes Apple’s iPad Mini head on

After lots of leaks, rumors and outright company forecasts,  Samsung today announced the Galaxy Note 8.0, an 8-inch iPad Mini competitor. The 1280×800 pixel display will have a slightly better PPI of 189 than the Mini and match camera specs and a quad core processor. Samsung’s Note 8.0 will also double up the Mini with 2GB of RAM and add an S-Pen for those who need/want it as well as expandable storage via the Micro-SD card slot. Just like the Galaxy Tab 7 2 it has an IR blaster with a rebranded Peel station navigation. On the down side, it won’t have LTE (only HSPA+) and it will run a slightly out-dated 4.1.2 version of Android Jelly Bean. It also weighs almost an ounce more than the iPad Mini.

Oh and it can make calls like a huge phone.

Will this go head to head against the Mini? My gut reaction is no. Samsung’s Touchwiz overlay and pen will keep these out of the hands of mainstream users. No price or launch date is yet planned but the specs tell me (720P TFT display) that Samsung is aiming for a low price. I’d expect to see this at $250 in the US probably just after it launches in the 2nd quarter in a number of Asian and EU territories.

Press release follows:
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LG announces Quad-core 5.5-inch 1080p Optimus G Pro ‘phone’

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This thing has the same specs as a laptop ‘shrunk’ to ‘phone’ size.

LG just announced its 2013 flagship phone the Optimus G Pro that was leaked last month. The ‘Pro’ stands for huge and fast here, with the first Qualcomm 600 quad core processor running at 1.7GHz. The screen bests even the Samsung Note II phablet screen with a 1080p IPS (not OLED) over 5.5 inches—which is going to look marvelous at 400ppi. Cameras? Yes. There is a 13.0 around back and a 2.1 up front that is HD for video conferencing. Also: 2GB RAM, huge 3,140mAh battery, and Android 4.2—all coming in under 9.4mm thin.

No word yet on when we can grab one stateside.

Optimus G Pro Key Specifications:
• Chipset: 1.7GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm? Snapdragon™ 600 Processor
• RAM: 2GB DDR
• Memory: 32GB / microSD (up to 32GB)
• Display: 5.5-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels / 400ppi)
• Camera: Rear 13.0MP with LED Flash / Front 2.1MP
• OS: Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean
• Battery: 3,140mAh (removable / wireless charging capable)
• Size: 150.2 x 76.1 x 9.4mm

The press release and a larger picture are below.

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Report: Samsung working on new ‘Galaxy Tab 3′ lineup & mystery ‘GT-P8200′ tablet

Galaxy Tab 10.1There have been rumors that Samsung has a new lineup of Galaxy tablets in the works, possibly set to make an appearance next month at Mobile World Congress. Today, SamMobile claimed to have confirmed details of the upcoming Galaxy tabs, citing a “Korean insider,” and provided new information for the Galaxy Tab 3 lineup codenamed “Santos”.

According to the report, Samsung has both 7-inch and 10.1-inch variants of the new lineup in Wi-Fi and 3G configurations. The tablets will also include 5-megapixel cameras, but we don’t get any other details in terms of hardware specs on the four Santos models including GT-P3200, GT-P3210, GT-P5200, and GT-P5210. The report said the tablets are expected to launch in early 2013 in 16GB and 32GB variants.

There was also mention of a Samsung GT-P8200 tablet codenamed “ROMA.” The report didn’t provide many details, but AndroidCentral pointed out the product number isn’t too far off the “GT-P8110″ of the Nexus 10.

SamMobile also provided exact specs for the Samsung GT-N5100 Galaxy Note 8.0 it first posted about last week. The full specs for that device, expected to pop up during MWC next month, are below: Read more

Review: Samsung Galaxy Camera – This big mashup may make you fall in love with taking pictures again

One of the more interesting products released in 2012 is the $500 Samsung Galaxy Camera— a little combination of an Android smartphone and a high-end point-and-shoot camera with a 21X optical zoom.

Samsung isn’t the first one on the scene with an Android point and shoot. That award goes to Nikon with its $350 Coolpix S800c, and technically Polaroid, too. However, with Samsung’s leadership role in smartphones, as well as a strong point-and-shoot camera business, this one is the most anticipated with knock-your-sock-off specs.

But, how does this translate to real world?

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