Is this the yet to be announced ZTE Blade III?

ZTE, one of the two major Chinese handset vendors, the other being Huawei, is well known for making budget Android phones. The “Blade”, which first launched in September 2010 in the UK as the “Orange San Francisco“, proved to be a smash hit because it offered people the full Android experience for less than 100 British pounds. About a year later the “Blade II” came out, offering a faster processor and a newer version (2.3 Gingerbread) of Android. Now as far as we know ZTE has yet to annonce the “Blade III”, which is why this writer was a bit shocked to see it on his local electronics dealer’s website. Assuming the specifications are correct, it’s basically the “Blade II”, but with a cleaner design, Android 4.0 on-board, and luckily the same budget price. Some quick Googling reveals that sites in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark list the “Blade III” as having a 4 inch screen, which goes against the claimed 3.5 inches on the Finnish website. It should also be noted that the Finnish website lists Samsung as the manufacturer of the “Blade III”, so believe who you want to believe. Continue reading “Is this the yet to be announced ZTE Blade III?”

Looks like the red Samsung Galaxy S III is going international

When Samsung announced the Galaxy S III in May, the company showed off two color variants. One called “Marble White”, the other called “Pebble Blue”. All of us wondered whether or not we’d see some more choice, and it wasn’t too long until the American operator AT&T announced they’d be offering it in “Garnet Red”. Which leads us to yet another question: Would the rest of the world get a chance to own the scarlet version of the latest Galaxy? Earlier today this writer checked the website of his local consumer electronics store and noticed that the red Samsung Galaxy S III was available for preorder. After a quick Google search, this writer also discovered that the German website Areamobile wrote an article today saying that O2 would begin offering the red Galaxy S III in Germany next month. So it’s safe to say that yes, the red version of Samsung’s 2012 flagship device will be available outside the United States.

We should also note that there’s another color variant due to be launched shortly, one that should appeal to a more conservative audience: black. Images of the black Galaxy S III have been leaked thanks to TechnoBuffalo, and we hate to tell you this, but it’s damn near the shiniest mobile phone we’ve ever seen. We wish companies would offer their customers a choice of matte colors, but it’s starting to look like he who makes the flashiest phone wins.

On the other side of the coin, we’re happy that Samsung is joining Nokia in exploring the use of additional colors. Nokia’s 808 PureView had a red option, and let’s not forget about the incredibly handsome blue Lumia 800. Are more handset vendors going to open up to exanding their selection of hues?

Time will tell.

Rumor: Samsung Galaxy S II Plus and Galaxy S III Mini to come out in Q4 2012

Apple gets a lot of heat for coming out with just one phone every 12 months, but it’s a strategy that has served them well when it comes to offering customers a portfolio of devices. If money is no object, simply buy the newest iPhone. If you want a “midrange” iPhone, get last year’s model. And if you’re really broke, but still want in on some iOS action, buy the two year old iPhone. Samsung is roughly doing the same thing with the Galaxy S III and the Galaxy S II. The former retails for roughly 550 Euros depending on which country you’re in, while the latter is nearly 200 Euros cheaper.

Rumor has it that during the fourth quarter of this year Samsung is going to release two devices that will further expand the Galaxy S family of smartphones. First up is the Galaxy S II Plus. As you can see from the photos above, it’s basically the Galaxy S III from the front, but with that famous Galaxy S II bump on the back. Spec wise you can expect a 1.5 GHz dual core Exynos chip, 1 GB of RAM, 4.5 inch screen, and an 8 megapixel camera. If we had to make a bet, we’d say that the 1.5 GHz chip inside is the new 32 nanometer Exynos 4 Dual, which is essentially a shrunken down and overclocked version of the 45 nanometer Exynos 4 Dual that was in the Galaxy S II.

Next up is the Galaxy S III Mini. We don’t have any photos of the device, but here’s the alleged spec sheet: dual core processor, 5 megapixel camera, 4 inch screen. According to The Droid Guy, the Galaxy S III Mini will cost roughly $200 while the Galaxy S II Plus will cost around $350.

We should know more about these devices, should they even exist, in a couple of months.

Jolla says their OS will run Android apps (UPDATE)

Nokia launched an amazing phone last year called the N9. It ran a Linux based operating system called MeeGo, it didn’t have any front facing buttons, it had a perfectly sized 3.9 inch screen, and the press absolutely fell in love it. So much so that Stephen Elop decided to kill the N9 shortly after it shipped because he wanted the world to pay attention to the company’s Windows Phone lineup. In fact, the Lumia 800 and Lumia 900 are basically the N9, but with Microsoft’s software on-board.

Since MeeGo was effectively killed, those who worked on the OS had a tough decision to make: Keep working for Nokia, but on projects they really couldn’t care less about, or leave the company and try to start their own thing. This is how Jolla was born. The company is based in Helsinki, has roughly 50 employees, and their goal is to announce a phone by the end of this year. Last month I sat down with the CEO, Jussi Hurmola, and had a 20 minute chat with him. You can listen to or read that interview here.

One of the questions I asked him then and the question that’s been on everyone’s mind since is how will Jolla be competitive without an app ecosystem? According to Arctic Startup, who quotes the Finnish publication 3T, Jolla’s CEO says that his OS will run HTML5 apps, Qt apps, and something that hasn’t been confirmed until today: Android applications. This will be enabled via a software project called ACL (application compatibility layer).

And the news doesn’t stop there. Jolla’s CEO has also confirmed that their first phone will have a 3.5 inch screen. Is that a dangerous thing to do in today’s market? Maybe, but Jolla is crazy enough that it might just work!

[Image Credit: Screenshot from this video]

Update 2: Jolla has unveiled their first device running Sailfish OS.

Update: Arctic Startup now says the phone will have a screen larger than 3.5 inches. Before they reported that it would be exactly 3.5 inches.

Samsung Galaxy Note II teaser video goes up, and a new image leaks too

Samsung is going to host a press event in Berlin on August 29th. If you include today, then that’s just 10 days away. Now we already know what they’re going to announce there. Several weeks ago a Samsung spokesperson told Reuters that the company has plans to “unveil the next Galaxy Note”. Four days ago we even saw a leaked image of the front of said device. So what’s new today? Two things. First, there’s another leaked image, this one courtesy of Know Your Mobile. Their sources tells them nothing we already haven’t heard: 5.5 inch screen, quad core processor, ultra thin bezels, you get the idea. The second bit of “news” comes from Samsung themselves, who have uploaded a teaser video that clocks in at less than 40 seconds. It’s incredibly arty, with ultra fast cut scenes, and at the end it features German director Wim Wenders. Some of you might know him from the 2011 film “Pina”.

What don’t we know about that Galaxy Note II? We don’t know when it’ll hit the market, how much it’ll cost, and what version of Android it’ll run. All will be unveiled next week, but let’s just say this: Similar to how the first generation Galaxy Note polarized people, this next Note is going to do the exact same thing. For some folks, 5.5 inches seems ludicrious. For others, they’re thrilled that a company is finally listening to them. The first Note has managed to sell an average of 1 million units a month since it hit store shelves, so we know there’s a market for crazy large devices.

Are you a part of that market?

Leaked iPad mini part shows up as we get closer to a possible fall launch

When the iPad was announced in January 2010 it forced the consumer electronics industry to scramble to create a competitive product. The first iPad “killers”, take the Samsung Galaxy Tab or the HTC Flyer for example, were basically Android smartphones with a larger screen. It wasn’t until early 2011, when Google launched Android 3.0 Honeycomb, that the search giant actually had a tablet operating system to offer their partners. Sadly, Honeycomb was garbage, and by then the thinner and lighter iPad 2 had already hit the market. Then something happened. A light bulb turned on. Companies began to realize that there’s no point in competing in the 10 inch tablet space with Apple, so why not invent a new 7 inch tablet market? And with that the Amazon Kindle Fire, the Barnes & Noble Nook, and several other tablets were born. The most recent of such tablets, the ASUS manufactured Google Nexus 7, has been widely praised as being the first actual iPad competitor worthy of your money. At $250 for the 16 GB version it’s also a steal.

So the obvious question is will Apple make a 7 inch tablet? Rumors about a smaller iPad have been circulating for about a year already, but now we’re starting to see more and more evidence that it’s actually coming. The image above, which comes from the French website NowhereElse, shows what’s allegedly the iPad mini’s flex cable. Supposedly Apple is going to announce a smaller iPad at their next event, which is unofficially due to take place on September 12th.

The key question here is price. Apple offers the third generation iPad for $499, and the second generation iPad for $399, so does that mean a smaller iPad would go for $299? That’s only $50 more than the 16 GB Nexus 7, and for that amount of cash you’ll get access to all the applications in Apple’s ecosystem, plus what we can only assume to be better build quality.

Hopefully we’ll be able to tell you more in about four weeks.

Microsoft and Nokia to hold a press conference in New York on the same day as Nokia World

Nokia World, the company’s annual event where they show off at least one new major device, is going to take place in Helsinki, Finland this year on September 5th. This is something we’ve known for quite a while. Last night the Finnish handset maker began sending out invitations to another press event, one in New York City, which is also due to take place on September 5th. Besides being on the other side of the pond, this American event looks to be different than the European event because Microsoft will be there. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what all this means: Windows Phone 8 devices are going to get announced. Stephen Elop, Nokia’s CEO, recently confirmed this according to Reuters, who quotes him as saying Windows Phone 8 hardware will be released in the “relatively near term”. Speaking about Elop, which event do you think he’ll attend? The one in Finland or the one in America?

Looking back at Nokia World 2011, that took place on October 26th. It’s where Nokia showed off their first two Windows Phones, the Lumia 800 and the Lumia 710. The former hit the European market in mid November, the latter shipped about a month later. Assuming Nokia keeps the same timetable of announcing something and then making sure it’s on store shelves roughly three weeks later, then by the end of next month we should be able to get our hands on Nokia’s first Windows Phone 8 device. Curiously, the third week of September is when HTC is allegedly going to show off their Windows Phone 8 handsets as well.

What does Windows Phone 8 actually bring to the table? We don’t really know too much about the new consumer facing features, what we do know however is that Windows Phone 8 adds support for dual core chips, NFC, 720p resolution screens, and native code.

Expect Microsoft to show off a whole lot more in New York.

Is this the front of the soon to be announced Samsung Galaxy Note II?

Samsung is going to hold a press conference in Berlin on August 29th, less than two weeks from today. Earlier this month a Samsung spokesperson told Retuers that the company is going to be announcing the second generation Galaxy Note there. Here’s what we “know” about the device so far from the rumors that have been floating around the internets: Similar to how the first generation Galaxy Note was basically a giant Galaxy S II, the Galaxy Note II is going to be a blown up version of Galaxy S III. The same quad core Exynos processor will be in there, likely the same 8 megapixel camera, the same cellular radios, you get the idea. The only thing that will change is, of course, the screen. What you’re looking at above is a photo of from the French website NowhereElse, who says that’s the front panel of the Note II. The first Note had a 5.3 inch display, but this new Note is expected to pack a larger 5.5 inch display.

Will the Note II be popular? It’s too early to tell since we don’t have any concrete information, but our gut tells us it’s going to be even more successful than the first Note. When Samsung announced the original Note back in September 2011, we didn’t really understand it. We asked ourselves who in their right mind would buy such a large device? But here we are, 10 months after the Note hit the market, and Samsung has managed to sell 10 million of them. That’s a million a month, which may not sound like a significant number, but it’s not small either.

And anyway, isn’t Android all about choice? If you want a tiny device, get a Sony Xperia Tipo or a Samsung Galaxy Pocket. If you want the biggest thing that you can barely squeeze inside a pocket, the Note is perfect.

InstaWiFi: The Android app that makes you wish all WiFi networks worked like this

Here’s a scenario I’m sure many of you have experienced: You have some friends over, there’s a party going on, someone wants to upload the photos they just took to Facebook, but they don’t want to use their cellular connection. Instead they ask you for the name of your WiFi network and the long and complicated password you can’t even remember to connect to it. What if there was a better way? Enter InstaWiFi, which I just heard about while listening to episode 72 of the “All About Android” podcast. Continue reading “InstaWiFi: The Android app that makes you wish all WiFi networks worked like this”

Is this what the front of Nokia’s first Windows Phone 8 device looks like?

Nokia World, the company’s annual event where they usually announce at least one new major device, is due to kick off in exactly three weeks. This year it’s going to take place in the country where Nokia was founded, Finland. Rumor has it that at this shindig we’re going to see a few Windows Phone 8 devices. According to the image above, which was found on the Chinese website cnBeta, that’s the front plate of one of those said devices. Pay attention to the Windows button in the center, it has the new Windows branding that’s associated with Windows 8, meaning this leaked part might actually be legitimate. As for the dimensions of the screen opening, you’re looking at about 4.3 inches diagonal. While there are certainly smartphones out on the market that have a 4.3 inch 720p display, take the Sony Xperia S for example, we think that the rounded design of this part indicates that it’s meant for a mid range device.

Forgetting about hardware for a second, what’s going to make Windows Phone 8 special? Here’s what’s officially known: multicore support, 720p display support, and NFC support will be built-in to the new OS, along with an updated version of Internet Explorer. Developers will be given the ability to write native code for Windows Phone 8 devices, whereas previous versions of Windows Phone required Silverlight or XNA. There’s also a new tile size for the home screen, but other than that … nothing. Microsoft hasn’t shown off too many consumer features, probably because they want to save them for a huge press event. If that’s the case then timing will be everything since Samsung is expected to unveil the Note II in two weeks, and Apple is expected to show off the next iPhone in four weeks.

Will Nokia World, in three weeks, put the company back on the map? We’ll see.

Black Samsung Galaxy S III pretty much confirmed, coming next month

When Samsung announced the Galaxy S III in early May, they showed off two color variants: one was white, the other was blue. That threw a lot of people off since many were expecting to see the same old black/white options that all smartphones have had for the better part of half a decade. Several weeks later, when the American operator AT&T announced that they would start selling the Galaxy S III, they said they’d have the blue and white models in stock, but they also said they’d offer a red variant. Wonderful, but again, what about black? There are some folks out there who just want a plain black phone and refuse to use anything else. According to images found by Unwired View, the black Galaxy S III exists.

When will it actually hit store shelves? Both Android Police and SammyHub suggest that we’re going to have to wait until next month. Why such a long wait? That’s a good question. We don’t know why Samsung chose to go with blue and white instead of black and white, but if we had to guess we’d say it had something to do with them wanting to show something to the world that stands out. If you guys really want to see something that’ll turn heads then we recommend you go to a store and fondle a red Nokia PureView 808, but that’s a whole other topic of discussion.

Motorola to let go 20% of their employees, close a third of their offices

When Google said they were going to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion in August 2011, no one really knew what to make of the announcement. Was Google seriously going to try and compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung? The acquisition finally went through in May 2012, less than three months ago, so we’ll soon hopefully see what the search giant has in store for the company that brought us the RAZR. To kick things off though, The New York Times is reporting that 20% of Motorola’s employees will be fired. Ina Fried from AllThingsD quantifies that number for us: 4,000 people. Roughly one third of those cuts will be in the United States. The bad news doesn’t stop there either. Today Motorola has 94 offices. The NYT report says one third of them will be closed. The company will focus their resources on three “hubs” in Sunnyvale, California; Chicago, Illinois; and Beijing, China.

So what happens after the job cuts? Dennis Woodside, Motorola’s CEO, told the NYT that they’re going to stop making low end devices, and instead of having a portfolio of dozens of phones they’ll be just a few. Dennis goes on to say that these few remaining devices will have advanced sensors, amazing cameras, and batteries that can last for days. Mark Randall, who managed the supply chain for Amazon’s Kindle, is now working for Google. He says he’s going to cut the number of suppliers that Motorola deals with and reduce component orders by 50%. Does that mean they’re going to make half the number of phones they usually make?

The bigger question is how will Google’s relationship with companies that use Android change now that Motorola will effectively be competing with everyone? Will Motorola get special treatment? The NYT says that there’s a program in place at Google that allows employees to move over to Motorola for one to two years. Imagine how Samsung must feel after reading that.

Rumor: HTC to unveil Windows Phone 8 devices in late September

In less than four weeks Nokia is going to hold their annual “Nokia World” event where it’s widely expected that the Finnish handset maker will unveil devices running Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 operating system. According to a report from the Chinese website WPDang, HTC is also going to show off some Windows Phone 8 hardware, though obviously not at Nokia’s event. They say HTC will hold two events, one in New York, the other in London, during the third week of September. At said events they’re going to show off between one and three Windows Phone 8 devices. Continue reading “Rumor: HTC to unveil Windows Phone 8 devices in late September”

Samsung spills the beans on their upcoming Exynos 5 chip

Samsung, unlike most handset vendors, manufactures many of the components that go inside their devices. Take the Galaxy S III as an example. The 720p AMOLED display? Samsung made. The Exynos 4 quad core chip? Samsung made. The 1 GB of RAM and the built in storage? You get the idea. Today the company has finally published details about their next generation processor, the Exynos 5. Chances are that this puppy is going to end up inside the Galaxy S IV. So with that in mind, let’s run through what makes it special. Continue reading “Samsung spills the beans on their upcoming Exynos 5 chip”

Nokia dumps Qt and over 500 patents in an attempt to stay alive

Nokia made two very important announcements this week. The first relates to a technology known as Qt. Back in January 2008 the Finnish handset maker purchased a Norwegian company called Trolltech for roughly $150 million. The goal of the acquisition was to slap their technology, Qt, on top of S40, Symbian, and MeeGo, so that developers could write applications for Nokia devices using a unified framework. Fast forward to the present day and Nokia has yet to port Qt to S40, they’ve abandoned Symbian and MeeGo, and Stephen Elop, the current CEO, has bet the company’s future on Windows Phone. Since Nokia doesn’t need Qt anymore, they’ve decided to sell the team to a Finnish company called Digia. Some 125 employees will be moved. Details of the transaction weren’t disclosed, but it’s safe to say that Nokia received no where near what they paid for Trolltech over four years ago. Continue reading “Nokia dumps Qt and over 500 patents in an attempt to stay alive”