California governor signs bill requiring all smartphones to have remote killswitches by July 2015

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As we’ve previously covered, the state of California has been in the process of passing a bill that would require all smartphones sold within the state to come with a remote killswitch option to deter thieves. The bill was passed by the state legislature earlier this year, and today it was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, as noted by CNET.

The law goes into effect in July 2015, and will require all smartphones sold within the state to include an option for remotely disabling a stolen device. Google has already plans to meet the requirements of this law with its upcoming Android L release, but now such features will be required by law on all future Android, Windows Phone, and other handsets by default, meaning OEMs distributing older versions of Android will need to find a new solution.

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Mini-review: StayblCam, the poor man’s Steadicam for smartphones & GoPro-style cameras

Getting smooth handheld video as you pan around with a smartphone isn’t easy, and professional Steadicam solutions run to four figures and up – perhaps just a little OTT for a smartphone.

But high-end smartphones have very capable cameras these days, and the StayblCam is a $75 device designed to give you some of the benefits of a Steadicam at a rather more smartphone-friendly price. Available for pre-order now for delivery in September/October, I tried out a prototype to see how well it performs …  Read more

As expected, Samsung Mobile profits slump 31 percent as Chinese competition bites

Trial Begins In Apple-Samsung Patent Battle

Samsung has announced a 31 percent drop in for its mobile division, broadly in line with its earlier guidance, when almost 200 managers “voluntarily” handed back 25 percent of their bonuses. Year-on-year operating profits fell from 6.43T won ($6.28B) to 4.42T won ($4.32B).

Chinese competition in low- and mid-range handsets was cited as one of the key reasons for the slump, with Samsung Mobile’s SVP Kim Hyun-Joon promising that the company would address this.

We will respond more aggressively to meet demand in the Chinese market [...] in the latter half of this year by introducing more products with better specification as well as better price competitiveness …

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iFixit teardown gives us our first look inside the Amazon Fire Phone, rates it low on repairability

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iFixit has added to the poor reception given to Amazon’s first ever smartphone, the Fire Phone, by rating it 3/10 for repairability. Even Amazon didn’t seem to have great confidence in the technology, its first ad focusing instead on the free 1-year Amazon Prime subscription you get with the phone.

Despite external, non-proprietary screws and no adhesive holding the casing together, iFixit found that simply removing the battery proved challenging, requiring a mix of heating and prying. After that, says the company, things only got worse …  Read more

LG ships record-breaking 14.5 million smartphones in Q2 2014

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LG Electronics shared its second quarter earnings results on Wednesday, announcing that it shipped a record-high 14.5 million smartphones during the three-month period ending June. The successful quarter for the Korean electronics maker saw its net profits rise 165 percent to $399.8 million over the year-ago quarter, with consolidated revenue of $14.93 billion and operating profit of $588.5 million.  Read more

OnePlus One review: A true flagship killer that’s second to none (Video)

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There’s nothing worse than wanting something you can’t have. Unfortunately, that happens to be the case for the best Android smartphone on the market. Of course, “best” is completely subjective, but there are a lot of factors that make the OnePlus One my go-to Android smartphone and 2014’s “flagship killer.” It may not have everything for everyone, but it has everything I need and all for half the price of the current competition.

When the OnePlus One was introduced, it dropped jaws within the Android community. It’s powered by the latest and greatest specifications on the market and priced at just $299 for the 16GB model and $349 for the 64GB model. The catch is, you’ll need an invitation to buy it. Yup, that’s right an invitation, but we’ll talk about that more in a little bit…

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LG announces new 5-inch G3 Beat smartphone, available in South Korea July 18

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LG has announced a new mid-tier smartphone dubbed the G3 Beat, which features a 5.0-inch display, a 1.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 CPU, 8 GB of bulit-in storage, an 8 MP rear camera with laser auto-focus, and a 1.3 MP front-facing camera.

The phone runs Android 4.4.2 and is compatible with the standard 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, and LTE connections commonly found in mid-range devices. Of course, LG’s Smart Keyboard is also present, along with other LG staples like QuickMemo+ and Gesture Shot.

Black, silver, and gold versions of G3 Beat will go on sale in the South Korean market on July 18th, followed by a rollout in the Commonwealth of Independent States and Europe. There’s no word yet on when this specific model will reach North America, though according to My LG Phones, a device by the same name was just approved by the U.S. FCC.

Samsung reportedly launching all-metal Galaxy Alpha smartphone next month

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According to a new report out of Korean news outlet ETNews, Samsung is preparing to launch an all-metal device as early as next month called the Galaxy Alpha. According to the report, Samsung intends to heavily market the device as a competitor to Apple’s upcoming iPhone 6.

According to industry insiders on July 13, the Galaxy Alpha, which Samsung will launch next month, is a premium smartphone made of a metal. It is forecast to counter the iPhone 6 scheduled to be released in September. It appears that Samsung will rebound from its recent poor performance with a new smartphone lineup, not the Galaxy S or Galaxy Note Series.

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NASA launching Google’s Project Tango smartphones into space on July 11th

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Robots aboard the International Space Station will soon be equipped with depth sensing smartphones courtesy of Google. The space-ready handsets will be from the search giant’s Project Tango initiative that uses 3D image tracking technology to map their surroundings. The phones with hitch a ride on a cargo spacecraft scheduled to launch on July 11th and will be the eyes and ears of NASA’s Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES).

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Google announces 100 beta testers for its first Project Ara device

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Back at Google I/O, Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects team showed off the first booting prototype Project Ara device and teased that the first units would be available to developers later this year. Today, Google announced that 100 members of its Ara Scouts program will soon be the recipients of the first Project Ara devices. In a post announcing the closure of the Ara Scouts program, Google said that the lucky 100 people were chosen based on how often they participated in the Scouts program.

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