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From the Editor's Desk: The silly season returns

From the Editor's Desk: The silly season returns

Phil Nickinson

Ahhhhhh, fall.The temperatures finally are starting to drop. Football is in full swing. And the Android crazies are out in force.

It's kind of a weird time for product cycles, right? Most of the really big phones for the year are on the shelves, but we've still got the likes of the Galaxy Note 2 and the the Droid RAZR HD lurking for the U.S. markets. We'll still see a smattering of single-day events, but no huge shows like CES or MWC until we reach the new year.

And that's were, I believe, the silly season comes from. Folks want to stay excited. And editors want to keep you excited. That's how we end up with rumors of 17 different Nexus devices. Or $99 Nexus tablets. Or, ZOMG, there might be a new Nexus out in the fourth quarter.

Sense the trend there?

Enough with the 'flagships' already

I've never really liked the term "flagship device." It's not that it's not accurate in some cases. Samsung has the Galaxy S3. I suppose I'd call the HTC One X a "flagship," but for whatever reason it just doesn't seem to carry the same weight as the GS3 does. (That's something every manufacturer not named Samsung has had to contend with.)

Maybe what bugs me is that the refresh cycle is just too fast, and the "flagship" name is just too convenient and becomes a crutch for headlines. That's inside baseball for someone who's been writing headlines for the better part of 15 years, though. Maybe I should just get over it.

On the other hand, I'm really curious to see where this mythical HTC One X+ ends up, and what the nerd reaction is to it. I've made no secret of my love for the One X, and the prospect of a version that's just a little more powerful indeed stirs my loins a little bit. But for those who just bought a One X, seeing folks who waited to purchase get a power-up is going to be a tough pill to swallow.

Look who just discovered Google Maps imagery updates

It's been funny to watch the Apple and Android blogs alike suddenly discover that Google announces new imagery updates every month or so. It doesn't do so on any sort of tight schedule, but folks seemed to notice the Sept. 28 update, which of course came the same day (if not at damned near the same time) as Apple CEO Tim Cook's open letter, admitting that Apple's Maps kindasuck.

These announcements from Google hardly are new, though. There's one from Sept. 7. And July 27. And June 11. And May 29. And May 16. And April 25. And April 20. Should we continue?

The point is, Google's been announcing imagery updates for months on the Google Maps Lat-Long Blog. And it's been really cool to see all the smaller towns and municipalities get a little bit of Google love, and it shows the depth of the entire Google Maps/Earth mapping system.

It's just a shame nobody noticed the updates had been publicized until now.

The 'next Nexus'

We talked a bit about this on last week's podcast. For my money, Google either does one, or it doesn't. I don't think it's going to do five.

If we do see a new Nexus this year, it'll be "later this year." Or "in the fourth quarter." Or any other timeline we're starting to see folks tease as if it's news that October begins the final three months of the year. Every Nexus has been introduced in the waning months of the year, save for the original Nexus One, sort of. Let's recap:

  • Galaxy Nexus: Announced Oct. 18, 2011, in Hong Kong. It originally was to be announced at the CTIA event in San Diego a week and a half earlier but was postponed, the death of Steve Jobs cited as the reason. It took a little while for it to officially become available in the U.S., thanks to an exclusivity with Verizon that I bet Google wish it could take back. Later in 2012, Google made the GSM version available directly.
  • Nexus S: Announced Dec. 10, 2010. Available a week later. That's how it's done.
  • Nexus One: Announced Jan. 5, 2009. That's the latest (or earliest, I guess) for a Nexus phone to have been announced. But Google was dogfooding it for most of December, if not sooner, effectively doing a silent announcement.

So, yeah. You don't have to be much of a Kreskin to predict that we'll hear of a new Nexus soon, if indeed we're getting on this year.

One more quick thought: The rumors of an "LG Optimus Nexus" came awfully quick after the announcement of the OptimusG, didn't they? That just seems way too convenient. On the other hand, I've had quality time with the Optimus G, and LG phones for some time. The company's certainly capable of putting out a quality Nexus device, should Google choose it.

So what am I looking forward to?

That's a bit of negativity, even for me. Because I really am more excited than ever. We've got great phones from HTC and Samsung already on the shelves. More's coming from Motorola and Intel. The LG Optimus G is going to be worth a look, and it'll be interesting to see how well it does.

Applications continue to get better.

So, yeah. I'm excited. We'll be in San Diego next week for the CTIA "MobileCON" event, where we should see some more new stuff. And I can't wait.

Via: From the Editor's Desk: The silly season returns

Acer Cloudmobile now available in the UK for 290

Acer Cloudmobile now available in the UK for 290

Android Central

It's been a long time since the pretty stunning looking Acer Cloudmobile was unveiled -- Mobile World Congress in February -- but now, finally, the device is on sale in the UK. Online retailer, Expansys, now has the Cloudmobile in stock for 289.99, a slight increase on their pre-order price after the original expected September 5 date was missed.

Priced firmly in the mid-range category, the Cloudmobile is an attractive offering in this sector of the market. Packing a 4.3 inch 1280x720HD IPS display, a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S48260A Processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of on-board storage. The battery isn't the largest at 1460 mAh, but it is removable, and there is a microSD card slot on board.

While the whole unveiling, disappearing, re-appearing release saga may put some off, the Cloudmobile still offers excellent value for money at this price point. While launching on Ice Cream Sandwich, it's pretty stock looking Ice Cream Sandwich, right down to the on-screen buttons. Flicking through the user manual for the Cloudmobile, it looks as if there are a few Acer customizations, such as in the lockscreen, but generally it's a pretty stock experience. And, it looks absolutely stunning, let's not forget that.

Source: Expansys, More: Acer CloudmobileUser Manual

Via: Acer Cloudmobile now available in the UK for 290

Apps of the Week - Space Images, Mini Motor Racing, WatchESPN and more!

Apps of the Week - Space Images, Mini Motor Racing, WatchESPN and more!

Android Central

It's the last week of September, and the Android Central writers have another diverse set of app picks for your enjoyment. Have a look into space, play some games, watch your favorite sport and keep yourself from getting lost with these picks this weekend. And remember, Google is still running its $0.25 app promotion to celebrate 25 billion downloads. Read on, then head to the Google Play Store and grab a few great apps.

Sean Brunett - Space Images

Android Central

Im a huge space nerd. Im fascinated by it and love to learn as much as I can about the unknown that is outside of our planet. One of my favorite things to do is to find good pictures taken of planets, stars, the sun and pretty much anything having to do with space. Fortunately, I was able to find the app Space Images, which aggregates photos from NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The app lets you sort by latest, top rated, category (by planet, universe, etc...), and favorites. Once you find a photo that you really like, you have the option of setting it as your wallpaper, sharing it via email, Facebook, Twitter or saving right from your device. Its not linked into the share API on Android, but lets you share to these outlets. Its a simple app that does what it says very well. If youre a space nerd like me, youll definitely want to check out this app.

Download: Space Images (Free)

Chris Parsons - Mini Motor Racing

Android Central

You ever play those mini racer games way back in the day with the really crappy graphics and crappy steering? If you did, you know what I'm referring to. Mini Motor Racing captures that old school spirit but still ups the ante with some pretty awesome graphics and great gameplay that includes multiple levels, multiple cars and plenty of in game bonuses as well as online multiplayer for up to four players. If for whatever reason, you never played the old school versions -- that's ok. There is enough fun to be had in Mini Moto Racing that any one can pick up and give it a go. If you hurry, you might just be able to grab it while it's on sale.

Download: Mini Motor Racing ($0.25 during promo)

Andrew Martonik - WatchESPN

Android Central

So you got dragged out of the house for some reason or another, and that important soccer game youneedto watch is on ESPN. Yeah, you have a DVR recording for when you get back, but you want to watch it live. If you (or your friends *hint hint*) have cable through one of the major companies, ESPN has likely partnered to offer free live streaming through the WatchESPN app. Log in with your cable credentials and you'll have access to ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN U, and a couple ESPN 3 streams. You can search by channel or sport, and the quality is quite good -- depending on your bandwidth. I wouldn't want to watch an entire game on here if I didn't have to, but it's a great app to have if you're a sports fan.

Download: WatchESPN (Free)

Phil Nickinson - Jetpack Joyride

Android Central

Anytime an app sheds marketplace exclusivity is a time for celebration. And that's the case with Jetpack Joyride, one of my favorite time-wasting apps of the year. It's now available in Google Play for the low, low price of free, meaning anyone and everyone should be able to strap on a pack and fly through the lab. The game is simple enough to keep your attention, with enough missions to keep things interesting.

Download: Jetpack Joyride (Free)

Anndrew Vacca - Google Maps

Android Central

Sorry, but I couldn't resist. After a week of backlash and public outcry, one thing has never been more clear: sometimes the best apps are the ones you take for granted. Apple's decision to remove Google Maps, and its subsequent public reaction, has proven that this standard, preinstalled app is, and will be for the foreseeable future, the gold standard. There's simply no other alternative as accurate, fast, intuitive, and downright essential as Google's Maps, and as iOS users have learned this week, the definition of a great app is one that you don't notice until its gone. Call me crazy, but there has never been a better time to call Google Maps my app of the week.

Download: Google Maps (Free and Pre-installed on Android devices)

Richard Devine - OneCast

Android Central

Podcast clients are plentiful on Android, something we should be grateful for. The choice is excellent, and there's bound to be something to please everyone. Onecast could be that something. It's an extremely simple podcatcher, and part of it's visual appeal is the transparent layer that shows through your homescreen wallpaper.

That aside, the catalog seems plenty well stacked -- and as you would expect, the fine range of Mobile Nations podcasts is included -- and adding a subscription is as easy as tapping on a show that you like the sound of. It's free and ad supported, and for those of you who have been reliant on Google Listen in the past for a no-nonsense podcatcher, this one might suit.

Download: OneCast (Free)

Alex Dobie - Bad Piggies

Android Central

It may be the obvious choice this week, but Rovio's new Bad Piggies game is definitely worth wasting a few hours with, if you haven't already done so. A spin-off from Angry Birds rather than a direct sequel, Bad Piggies follows the lil' green porkers as they construct a variety of ham-fisted contraptions (sorry).

Players are tasked with designing and piloting these craft, which are created in a 2D grid, though the world. The piggies must pick up eggs and magic boxes as they go, so the gameplay's a bit more involved than what you may be accustomed to in Angry Birds. Right now there are two worlds available to play through, in addition to an unlockable sandbox mode. Like all the best mobile games, it's a simple concept with plenty of expandability.

(Insert obligatory closing statement on Bad Piggies "bringing home the bacon" for Rovio.)

Download: Bad Piggies(Free); Bad Piggies HD (Free)

Jerry Hildenbrand - Tasks

Android Central

Working here at Android Central means that you never have a day where something doesn't need done. Years of slacking have forced me to rely on electronic aids to help me remember the things I need to remember, and I finally found the perfect way with the Tasks app. There's no strange voodoo, it hooks into your Google account's task list (you did know you had one right?) and syncs everything up. It's simple, and has no other bells and whistles.

Why would you use Tasks over any of the other task list apps for Android? Easy question -- Tasks fully follows Android style guidelines, has both the Holo dark and Holo light theme built in, offers reminders similar to the stock Google calendar, and is fully compliant with the Android intents system -- meaning you can easily share data to and from the app. Add in a couple great looking and functional widgets (they resize as well) and you have a winner. Even if you missed it when it was on sale for a quarter, grab it from Google Play.

Android Central

Download: Tasks ($0.99)

Simon Sage - Velocispider

Android Central

Meet the Velocispider. He's part velociraptor, part spider, part cyborg, and all terrifying cannon-toting brood-protector. Tilt your Android device left and right to scuttle in front of your three eggs and defend them from all manner of airborne robotic monstrosities. Occasionally the wreckage resulting from your withering hail of energy blasts will drop power-ups which can provide extra health, powerful cannon upgrades, and other bonuses. Every once in awhile you'll encounter a boss of some kind, in which cases you may need to tap and hold the screen in order to charge up and release perfectly-timed power shots. Despite his partially-reconstructed adamantium-enforced skeleton, the Velocispider can only take so much damage; take too much, and you're toast. You're scored based on how many of your eggs survive the onslaught and how much damage you take in each wave of the attack. Velocispider is a fun, simple, cheap, mindless little game with an awesome premise and bitchin' 8-bit soundtrack. Check it out.

Download: Velocispider ($0.99)

Via: Apps of the Week - Space Images, Mini Motor Racing, WatchESPN and more!

Whatever should we do with these?

Whatever should we do with these?

Android Central

If you're not yet registered with the site, now's the time. How else are you going to win one when we start giving away these sold-out Series 3 Android Minis?

Via: Whatever should we do with these?

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 video hands-on and initial review

Android Central

With the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 hitting the select retail storesimminently, it's time for us to go hands-on with the finished product. We first tested out the Galaxy Note 2 at IFA in Berlin in late August, and it's taken just over a month to finalize the device. The original Samsung Galaxy Note has proved a surprising success over the past year. With the second-gen Note being bigger and more powerful than ever, Samsung will be hoping its efforts are reflected in even stronger sales this time around.

Check out our first hands-on video with the final, retail Galaxy Note 2 after the break, along with a quick overview of the device.

Powered by a quad-core 1.6 GHz Exynos 4 processor, the Galaxy Note 2 has some substantial horsepower behind it, along with a plentiful2GB of on-board RAM. Combined with a whopping 3100mAh battery, we're expecting some serious longevity from this device. The Note 2 runsJelly Bean out of the box, making Samsung's phone/tablet hybrid the first to ship with Android 4.1. And it now sports a 5.55-inch (non-PenTile) HD SuperAMOLED1280x720display, protected by Gorilla Glass 2. The extra size of the phone does add few of grams to its weight -- at 180 grams it isn't light, but it's not terribly heavy considering its monstrous size.

The rear camera remains at 8MP, and seems to be much the same as the Galaxy S3's main camera -- stay tuned for an in-depth look at the rear camera in our full review. The front-faceris a 1.9MP sensor, which is actually a small downgrade from the 2MPcamera of the original Note, but we're sure the difference won't be noticeable. Full 1080p HD video is pretty much standard on high-end smartphones these days, and the Note 2 checks this box too.

Externally, the Galaxy Note 2 is a dead ringer for the Galaxy S3, with a similar finish, button design and curvaceous chassis. It'll be available in three models --16, 32 and 64 GB -- and you have the ability to add external storage space via microSD card. The "S Pen" Wacom stylus remains one of the device's killer features. The S Pen on the Note 2 has been redesigned to make it easier to grip, and its textured button is easier to find during use.

There are also numerous software enhancements, including the ability to command an on-screen cursor by hovering the stylus over the screen. This can be used to peek into gallery folders, calendar events expandable areas. And the usual selection of Samsung drawing and note-taking apps is included too, as are all of the software features of the Galaxy S3.

We will have a full review online in the next few days, but in the meantime if you are planning on picking up a Note 2, we hope this video will keep you pumped about the device -- it's quite a beauty.

Thanks to Clove Technology for providing the Galaxy Note 2 for review.

Via: Samsung Galaxy Note 2 video hands-on and initial review

Here's open webOS OE running on a Galaxy Nexus

The folks at WebOS Ports have released a video of open webOSbooting and running on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus today, hours after HP announced the code release. As we understand it, the device boots up and Wifi is working, but the core function of things like cellular radios, sensors, and the like aren't yet active.Nor is any soft of graphics acceleration, as you can see from the video.

I'll say this right now -- don't discount this because it looks laggyand, well, sucky. The folks behind the project have had access to the code in beta form for a while, but it tales a lot of time (and the right device) to make something like this happen. When it's ready for public consumption, even at an alpha level, I'm sure the people at WebOSPorts will be there to share and help out. In the meantime, be sure to hit up webOS Nation to keep tabs on how this one plays out.

Source: WebOS Ports; via webOS Nation

Via: Here's open webOS OE running on a Galaxy Nexus

Atrix 4G, Photon 4G and Electrify will not receive Ice Cream Sandwich, says Motorola

Atrix 4G, Photon 4G and Electrify will not receive Ice Cream Sandwich, says Motorola

Motorola Mobility

Well this is tough news. Motorola Mobility has been maintaining an update chart and evaluating its current device lineup as to which devices should go forward with Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean. Just a few days ago, they delayed several devices having previously said they would get the upgrade in Q3. Now, they have announced the Atrix 4G, Photon 4G and Electrify will not be receiving the update and will be remaining on Gingerbread.

This is not good news. We hope this is just a difficult transitional period for Motorola and that they will learn from this. We bet that they will, but that still doesn't help all of you who currently own these devices.

So we feel for you and we'll be here to help you install unofficial updates. You'll probably want to sound off in the forums, and we don't blame you, so here are the links:

  • Atrix 4G Forum
  • Electrify Forum
  • Photon 4G Forum

Their update chart has also been updated to reflect the changes.

Source: Motorola Mobility

Via: Atrix 4G, Photon 4G and Electrify will not receive Ice Cream Sandwich, says Motorola

Nikon Coolpix S800c starting to ship in U.S and Australia

Nikon Coolpix S800c starting to ship in U.S and Australia

Android Central

Despite being somewhat overshadowed by the Jelly Bean toting Samsung Galaxy Camera, we shouldn't forget about the Nikon Coolpix S800c. Having been announced prior to IFA 2012 where we first saw the Galaxy Camera, all fell quiet ahead of an expected late September release. It's now late September, and we're starting to see some of the first retailers with stocks of the camera.

Down under, in Australia, the S800c is showing up in stock at CameraCityfor AU$399 plus delivery and is available in black or white. According to the guys at Ausdroid, no local retailers are showing the device in stock, but some are showing up in retailers systems to place orders for.

Back across the Pacific, and one of the earliest U.S. retailers to announce pre-orders for the S800c, B+H Photo Video, also shows the camera as in stock. Initially they only have the white version, but the black is due to ship any time soon. Pricing is set at $349.95 with free shipping to the U.S.

Considering the expected price for the Galaxy Camera, the Nikon could be a bit of a steal. The Galaxy Camera offers more on the Android front, that goes without saying, with the Nikon languishing on Gingerbread. But, we should remember this is supposed to be a camera first and foremost, and it's really this end of the device that matters the most. If you're thinking of picking one of these up, or have already taken possession, hit us up in the comments below and let us know your thoughts.

Source: B+H Photo Video, CameraCity via Ausdroid

Via: Nikon Coolpix S800c starting to ship in U.S and Australia

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 available day early from branded store in UK

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 available day early from branded store in UK

Android Central

Samsung has announced that their new Galaxy Note 2 will be available a day early (this Sunday) from their officially-branded Samsung store in the U.K. This is good stuff for anyone that happens to leave close to the one in Westfield Stratford City, but no surprise seeing as Samsung did something similar for the Galaxy S 3. The UK Brand Store will also be hosting some competitions on launch day whereby participants have a shot at winning a free Galaxy Note 2. The rest of the UK will proceed to get access to the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 through various retail channels on October 1, while those of us in North America will have to wait until November to get our version.

We spent some time with the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 at IFA and walked away duly impressed. Anyone needing a refresher can take a look at the specs.

  • Network: 3G: HSPA+ 21Mbps (HSDPA 21Mbps / HSUPA 5.76Mbps); 4G LTE: 100Mbps/ 50Mbps
  • Processor: 1.6 GHz quad-core processor
  • Display: 5.5 HD Super AMOLED (1,280 x 720)
  • OS: Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
  • Camera: Main(Rear): 8 Megapixel Auto Focus Camera with LED Flash, BSI; Sub(Front): 1.9 Megapixel VT Camera, BSI; Best Photo, Best Faces, Low light shot
  • GPS: A-GPS; Glonass
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth v 4.0 (Apt-X Codec support) LE; USB 2.0 Host; WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 & 5 GHz), Wi-Fi HT40; Wi-Fi Direct; mHL; NFC
  • Memory: 16/32/64GB User memory + 2GB (RAM); microSD (up to 64GB)
  • Battery: Standard battery, Li-ion 3,100mAh

I'd be curious to see if any other official Samsung Brand Stores are offering the same promotion. Anyone near the one in the UK intending to check out the launch day festivities this weekend?

Via: Samsung Galaxy Note 2 available day early from branded store in UK

ZTE Engage coming exclusively to Cricket

ZTE Engage coming exclusively to Cricket

Android Central

The ZTE Engage, a mid-range Ice Cream Sandwich device, is coming exclusively to Cricket for $249.99 without a contract on Tuesday, October 2nd. The Engage takes advantage of Cricket's new Muve Music service, which lets users choose a plan that has the service built-in to the cost and offers unlimited downloads to the device. For the service, a 4GBMicroSD card is built into the device specifically for the downloads. Overall, the device has specs that you would expect for the price:

  • 4.0" WVGA TFT capacitive touchscreen
  • Qualcomm MSM8655T Scorpion processor at 1.4GHz
  • Dual-Facing Cameras: Rear (8.0MP) w/LED Flash & Front (VGA)
  • MUVE Music Ready with 4GB Muve Music SD Card included
  • Removable MicroSD Memory Card (up to 32GB)
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • Lithium Ion 1900 mAh battery

There are three plans available for the device -- all without contract. Starting at $50 for unlimited talk, text and 3G data (1GB of full-speed data) per month. A $10 bump to $60 gives you 2.5GB of full-speed data per month, and $70 offers5GB. Both the $60 and $70 plans include the ability for customers to tether their device to power additional wireless devices.

ZTE Engage Smartphone to be Exclusively Available at Cricket

Second Android 4.0 - Ice Cream Sandwich Handset in Cricket's Smartphone Lineup

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 27, 2012 -- Cricket Communications, Inc. and ZTE, today announced the upcoming availability of the ZTE Engage. The Engage will be available at Cricket company-owned stores, dealers and beginning Tuesday, October 2, 2012.
To view the multimedia assets associated with this release, please click:

(Photo: )

(Logo: )

The ZTE Engage is a full-featured, multimedia powerhouse based on Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), equipped with a 4.0" capacitive touchscreen, a 1.4GHz CPU and an 8.0 megapixel camera with LED flash. With Android 4.0, Cricket customers will benefit from a range of improved features that offer an exceptional, interactive experience from multitasking, customizable home screens to Swype predictive text. The ZTE Engage also features Cricket's innovative Muve Music service. Muve Music subscribers have access to unlimited downloads of their favorite music and access to exclusive artist commentary, music and video through Muve Music's Muve First and Muve Headliner featured artist programs. With millions of songs at their fingertips, customers will never pay per song and no contracts are required.

"The ZTE Engage is an exciting smartphone with enhanced functionality from Android 4.0 OS and will be available with Cricket's new value-rich no-contract smartphone service plans," said Matt Stoiber, senior vice president of devices for Cricket. "Impressive at any price, the ZTE Engage will be a WOW device for Cricket customers and is a great new addition to the higher-end smartphone line-up that Cricket is turning on this year."

The ZTE Engage features:

4.0" WVGA TFT capacitive touchscreen
Qualcomm MSM8655T Scorpion 1.4GHz
Dual-Facing Cameras: Rear (8.0MP) w/LED Flash & Front (VGA)
MUVE Music Ready with 4GB Muve Music SD Card included
Removable MicroSD Memory Card (up to 32GB)
Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
Lithium Ion 1900 mAh battery
Pricing and Availability:

The ZTE Engage will be available at Cricket company-owned stores, dealers and at beginning Tuesday, October 2, 2012 for $249.99 (MSRP). Customers can choose from three Cricket no-contract smartphone plans for the ZTE Engage. The rate plans start at $50 for unlimited talk, text and 3G data plus 1GB of full-speed data per month. The $60 smartphone plan contains 2.5GB of full-speed data per month and the $70 smartphone plan offers 5GB of full-speed data per month. Both the $60 and $70 plans include the ability for customers to tether their device to power additional wireless devices.

For more information about Cricket's dynamic service and newest device lineup, visit To follow Cricket's recent news and updates online, visit Facebook at and Twitter at

About Cricket

Cricket is the pioneer and leader in delivering innovative value-rich prepaid wireless services with no long-term contracts serving approximately 6 million customers. Cricket offers nationwide wireless voice and mobile data services over high-quality, all-digital wireless networks. Cricket's innovative products and services, including the award-winning Muve Music - the first music service designed for a wireless phone, are available nationwide at Cricket branded retail stores, dealers, national retailers and at For more information about Cricket, please visit


ZTE USA is a subsidiary of ZTE Corporation (H share stock code: 0763.HK / A share stock code: 000063.SZ), a leading global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions. ZTE USA is dedicated to making quality communications technology accessible to all. The company draws on more than 25 years of experience and research investment to deliver smart, affordable, quality choices for infrastructure and mobile data device customers nationwide. For more information, visit and follow @ZTE_USA.

About ZTE

ZTE is a publicly-listed global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions with the most comprehensive product range covering virtually every telecommunications sector, including wireless, access & bearer, VAS, terminals and professional services. The company delivers innovative, custom-made products and services to over 500 operators in more than 140 countries, helping them to meet the changing needs of their customers while growing revenue. In 2011, ZTE's revenue increased by 29 per cent to USD13.7 billion. Its overseas operating revenue grew 30 per cent to USD 7.4 billion during the period, accounting for 54.2 per cent of overall operating revenue. ZTE commits 10 per cent of its annual revenue to research and development and has leadership roles in several international bodies devoted to developing telecommunications industry standards. ZTE is committed to corporate social responsibility and is a member of the UN Global Compact. The company is China's only listed telecom manufacturer that is publicly traded on both the Hong Kong and Shenzhen Stock Exchanges (H share stock code: 0763.HK / A share stock code: 000063.SZ). For more information, please visit

Via: ZTE Engage coming exclusively to Cricket

Google's Field Trip app pops up location-relevant info

Android Central

Google's Niantic Labs have pushed out a new app called Field Trip, which simply pops up location-specific information cards as you wander or drive around town. It's vaguely Google Nowish in its predictions, and provides several channels of content, such as historic places and events, lifestyle, food and drink, cool and unique places, and plenty more. There's plenty of control over how many and what kind of notifications you get for this app through its various settings, so no worries about getting too annoyed with the app or having your battery drained into nothingness. Information can also be relayed over audio if you have a Bluetooth or wired headset plugged in. Content partners include big names like the Food Network, Zagat, Cool Hunting, and plenty of others.

Unfortunately, Field Trip is currently only available in the U.S., but it still looks pretty awesome. I'd love to see something similar that uses voice instead, so you could leave your phone on the table during a conversation and have releventWikipedia articles pop up automatically as you talk. It's always weird spending the minute or two looking stuff up only to find the conversation has drifted somewhere else entirely.

Anyway, it looks pretty sweet, and it's free to boot. iOS users will be able to get in on the fun shortly too. I hear they're having trouble getting around these days.

Via: Google's Field Trip app pops up location-relevant info

From the Android Forums: Android security

From the Android Forums: Android security

Android security

Twinmomma416 asks in the Android Central forums,

My contract with AT&T is up, and we are switching providers due to limited tower availability near our home. We will be switching to Sprint which does surprisingly well where we are at.

I was a BlackBerry power user who switched to iPhone two years ago. I loved it. Ease of use, all the apps, etc. ... Disappointed in the lack of customization but happy with the security of the phone and trusting the apps.

Fast forward to now and I'm rather let down by the iPhone 5 release. I was hoping for much more - bigger screen, more iOS features/customizability. I'm a big fan of Apple computers mostly because I don't have to worry about viruses and my wife downloading stuff since she is NOT a techie at all. Played with my friend's HTC Evo 4G and fell in love.

Here's my problem. I don't like what I'm reading about the susceptibility Android's platform has for keyloggers and spyware. I deal with a lot of confidential information (I work in government HR) and I cannot risk someone putting something on my phone either through an app, an email, a text, whatever, that could compromise that. I've searched for anti-keyloggers/anti spyware but I'm not finding anything that really puts my mind at ease.

I'm not interested in rooting a device, but I am interested in making sure I don't worry about these things daily. I want to go Android, but Apple's security leaves me feeling more at ease.

Thoughts from the experts here?

I should add I'm also considering the Galaxy S3

Android and app security. The two seem to get mentioned together anytime you read a title somewhere. They are a combinationof terms that brings web traffic, and it's always easy to drive fans from both side into a tizzy. Let's cut the hyperbole and talk "real" for a minute or two, after the break.

(Have a question you need answered? (Preferably about Android, but we're flexible.) Hit up our Contact Page to get in touch!)

Yes, there is malware that can affect Android phones. There's also malware that affects iPhones, BlackBerries, Windows Phones, your Mac, and even Unix-based industrial machines that control things like dams and nuclear power plants. If you can write and install software on it, there's malware for it. People sticking their head in the sand and saying otherwise are doing a huge disservice to the folks listening to them.

There are two issues at play -- one is the definition of malware, the other is the ease of installing it. We'll tackle the definition first.

Programs that track you and display ads, after telling you they will track you and display ads, are not malware.

Yes, having your browsing habits sent to some server in the Ukraine sucks, but if you knew ahead of time and installed it anyway, it's not malware. It's just easy to call it as such because it's a hot topic and we're pissed off when we see it in action. Most times you'll see this done by folks who have a genuine interest in furthering the idea that Android is rampant with malware. Scaring people has been a lucrative business since the Middle ages. I'll let you in on an industry secret -- all of us who write words on the Internet are just regular people, and that means that some of us will do or say things to get a reaction. We know how to manipulate the group thinking process, because we're exposed to it daily. Always think critically about anything you read or hear.

The other issue is that legitimate malware is super easy to install on Android. A simple tap will allow you to install applications from any source, with no jailbreaking or developer accounts needed. The vast majority of malicious applications come from third-party sites who offer applications that have been injected with other code. Sometimes the lure of getting pirated apps for free is too strong for some folks to resist, other times it's because an application isn't available through official channels, but there are a lot of folks sideloading apps to their Android devices. These apps haven't been scanned by Google's Bouncer process that scans every application for malicious code.

So what do we do about it? First off, always read application permissions before you install an app. If you don't, there is only one person to blame when things go bad. I can write an app that steals your address book and posts it to Twitter, but I have to tell you I'm going to be digging in your address book and accessing your other accounts to deliver it. Be critical, and anything you don't understand when installing an app is something you need to be asking about. That's the whole reason Google presents us with the app permissions in the first place.

Next, be mindful of where you get your apps. If you're not computer-savvy, only install apps from Google Play. The few times "malware" has been spotted in the Play store is has been quickly removed and addressed, just like it's done in Apple's appstore. Chances are you'll never see it, let alone download it. If you do use other sources to sideload apps, read the previous paragraph again. Then read it twice.

It's foolish to think that there isn't a need for diligence on any computing platform. A quick Google search will show you how claims of a platform being "malware-free" have been debunked time and time again. Use the tools Google gives us, and a bit of old fashioned common sense, and you'll be just fine.

Via: From the Android Forums: Android security

Sony Xperia T arrives at Three and O2

Sony Xperia T arrives at Three and O2

Android Central

Sony's Xperia T launched at independent online retailers in the UK earlier this week, and today it's available in store, as well as directly through mobile networks Three and O2. If you're after a Pay As You Go deal, Three offers the T for 399 when purchased with a PAYG top-up, while O2's price is set at 429.99 -- both prices are in line with what we've heard of the unlocked, SIM-free version.

On contract, things get a little more complex. As ever, Three offers the best plan for heavy data users, with its One Plan (34 per month) and Ultimate Internet Plan (30 per month). The former gives 2000 minutes, 3000 texts and unlimited data, while the latter sticks with unlimited data and 5000 texts, but lowers the minute allowance to 500. In addition, the One Plan comes with bundled tethering, while the UltimateInternet plan does not. Both plans come with a 29 up-front charge for the phone. Other plans are available with lower limits and monthly fees, and higher up-front charges.

O2 is unique in its offer of unlimited calls and texts, though you'll pay a little more for this privilege. The O2 On and On plan comes with unlimited calls and texts, and either a 1GB allowance for 36 per month, or 2GB for 41 per month. The Xperia T is free on both On and On plans. It is possible to cut down to 31 per month with a reduced allowance of 300 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB, with a 79 up-front payment for the phone. And if you're not fussed about having a large data allowance, other plans are available (with an up-front charge) as low as 21.50 per month. O2 also has the whole Bond Phone thing going on, if you're interested in 007-themed ringtones and other assorted crap.

Pay your money, take your choice. If you're tempted to pick up an Xperia T this week, or you've already taken the plunge, be sure to shout out in the comments.

Source: Three, O2

Via: Sony Xperia T arrives at Three and O2

Qualcomm to release two new budget quad-core S4 chips

Qualcomm to release two new budget quad-core S4 chips


Qualcomm has announced that two new Snapdragon S4s are on the way, with both touting quad-core CPUs with a budget-friendly price. TheMSM8225Q and MSM8625Qboth build on the S4 design, complete with support forLPDDR2 memory,Wifi, Bluetooth 4.0 and FM connectivity using the Qualcomm Atheros AR6005 and WCN2243 chips.

The major difference between the two chips is that theSnapdragon S4 Play MSM8625Q features Qualcomm's integrated multimode UMTS/CDMA modem, and the MSM8225Q has an integrated UMTS modem. In layman's speak -- the MSM8625Q will work on Verizon and Sprint. The real difference, and likely where the cost cutting comes into play, is in the GPU. Snapdragon "Pro" models feature a stronger graphics processor, though the exactmodel in tonight's new chips hasn't been disclosed.

If you're a hardware nerd, the long version is in the press release after the break. If you're not, just know that Qualcomm is making a slightly cheaper, yet still high-end quad-core CPU to power the next generation of mid-level handsets. It's good news all around.

More: Android hardware forums (get your nerd on!)

Qualcomm Announces New Snapdragon S4 Play MSM8x25Q Processors with Quad-Core CPUs and Reference Design Counterpart for High-Volume Smartphones

- Snapdragon S4 Plus MSM8x30 Platform to Support LTE -TDD/TD-SCDMA and All Three China Operators -

BEIJING, Sept. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today announced the addition of two new Snapdragon S4 mobile processors: the MSM8225Q and MSM8625Q. Both are members of the Snapdragon S4 Play processor tier, optimized specifically for a broad range of smartphone users seeking faster applications and better user experiences. Snapdragon S4 Play processors will now offer OEMs both dual-core and quad-core CPUs and performance for entry-level smartphones, with the more advanced version featuring higher bus bandwidth, larger screen resolution support, HD video and enhanced user experiences. Both processors will be ready for customer sampling by end of 2012 and are expected to be shipping in commercial devices in the first quarter of 2013.

The MSM8225Q and MSM8625Q processors incorporate quad-core CPUs and are the upgraded software compatible variants of the highly successful Snapdragon S4 Play MSM8225 and MSM8625 processors, which both feature dual-core CPUs and dual SIM support. The quad-core variants will support LPDDR2 memory, increasing the bus bandwidth for improved features such as 720p display and 720p video encode and decode. Snapdragon S4 Play MSM8625Q features Qualcomm's integrated multimode UMTS/CDMA modem, and the MSM8225Q has an integrated UMTS modem. Both processors enable Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and FM connectivity using the Qualcomm Atheros AR6005 and WCN2243 chips.

In addition, Qualcomm also announced a single platform, the Snapdragon S4 Plus MSM8930, that supports all China operators with UMTS, CDMA and TD-SCDMA. Furthermore, this single platform will support LTE-TDD and TD-SCDMA, targeting mid-tier smartphones for use in China. Announced in February 2011, this processor features dual-core CPUs and as the world's first single-chip solution with an integrated LTE modem, it is designed to take LTE to high-volume smartphones. Snapdragon S4 Plus MSM8930 with LTE-TDD and TD-SCDMA support will be ready for customer sampling by the end of 2012 and is expected to be shipping in commercial devices by the first quarter of 2013.

Qualcomm will also be releasing Qualcomm Reference Design (QRD) versions of all three processors. The QRD program includes comprehensive handset development platforms and an ecosystem program providing access to third-party providers of tested and verified hardware and software components so customers can rapidly deliver differentiated smartphones to budget conscious consumers. The Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and FM connectivity technologies have been pre-validated and tested with the QRD platform to provide reduced time-to-market. There have been more than 50 public QRD-based product launches to date in collaboration with more than 40 OEMs, and there are 100 designs in progress, including QRD-based smartphones enabled by these new Snapdragon S4 Play and Plus processors, which are also expected to be available by the first quarter of 2013.

"Our broad portfolio of Snapdragon S4 mobile processors delivers the optimal balance of features and performance for the high-volume smartphone segment," said Cristiano Amon, senior vice president and co-president of mobile and computing products. "By offering both dual-core and quad-core CPU versions of the Snapdragon S4 Play processor, we are providing our OEM and operating partners a competitive and differentiated platform."

The new Snapdragon S4 Play and Plus processors are designed specifically for high-volume smartphones, and they provide device manufacturers the ability to migrate their existing Snapdragon S1-based designs to S4 dual- and quad-core CPU-based designs. This capability is particularly useful for device manufacturers looking to efficiently expand their smartphone product lines with more advanced 3G/LTE smartphone products.

About Qualcomm
Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) is the world leader in 3G and next-generation mobile technologies. For more than 25 years, Qualcomm ideas and inventions have driven the evolution of digital communications, linking people everywhere more closely to information, entertainment and each other. For more information, visit Qualcomm's website, OnQ blog, Twitter and Facebook pages.

Qualcomm and Snapdragon are trademarks of Qualcomm Incorporated, registered in the United States and may be registered in other countries. Other brand names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

Via: Qualcomm to release two new budget quad-core S4 chips

YouTube for Android updated with new UI for Froyo and Gingerbread, fresh Watch experience

YouTube for Android updated with new UI for Froyo and Gingerbread, fresh Watch experience

Android Central

Thanks to a YouTube app update that just rolled out today, anyone with a Froyo or Gingerbread device can now enjoy refreshed UI and preloading mechanism. Google has also made a few tweaks to the Watch screen, though there's nothing particularly dramatic. This update added the ability to move videos to your personal YouTube TV queue - a great touch for those of us that want to watch videos in their full glory on the big screen. Finally, a few more channels have been added to the Channel Store.Theskippable YouTube adswe've been waiting for are also live in this update.

Combined with an updated in March which enabled HD video playback on Gingerbread and Froyo devices, it's great to see Google's not leaving the older phones behind. Additional YouTube TV support is a nice touch, and something of a necessity for those of us with Google TV set-top boxes.

Are you guys finding anything particularly nice about this update? Maybe a small tweak that didn't make it to the changelog?

Via: YouTube for Android updated with new UI for Froyo and Gingerbread, fresh Watch experience

Google Maps Street View dives under the waves

Android Central

Do you ever have that moment where you're scuba diving in the south Pacific, and you're wondering "Was I supposed to turn right at the coral reef to get back to the resort, or keep swimming straight?" It happens to me all the time. Luckily Google, as ever, has us covered. The Google Maps team has just released a handful of new Street View locations that are underwater. Various spots along the coast of Australia, the Philippines, and Hawaii can take you down to see some of the wonderful aquatic landscape, wildlife, and flora in the region. You can find some of the more spectacular shots in Google's Street View gallery for the ocean.

Looking at stuff like this, it's hard to imagine how iOS or Microsoft intend to outpace Google's progress in the mapping world. Sure, the underwater Street View is more for sightseeing than anything else, but the lengths Google is willing to go for completeness are pretty crazy.

Any divers in the house? Ever wish you had a waterproof phone with you?

Source: Google Lat Long

Via: Google Maps Street View dives under the waves

O2 UK to sell upcoming HTC flagship phone without charger

O2 UK to sell upcoming HTC flagship phone without charger

Android Central

If you're anything like us, you'll have plenty of wall chargers left over from devices you've long since parted company with. Observe above, the battered husk of our two and a half year-old HTC Desire charger, still in service today. Knowing that many older chargers are still in use, O2 UK and HTC have decided to take a radical step to cut down on waste, and presumably save a bit of cash at the same time.

The two are to offer an upcoming, unnamed HTC flagship device with a microUSB cable, but no charger, in an effort to improve their green credentials. The operator claims that 70 percent of all phone buyers already have a "relevant charger" at home. And according to a report on UK tech site Pocket-Lint this morning, O2 and HTC are serious about this latest endeavor.

"I have a simple vision for O2: we want to take chargers out of boxes full stop," said Ronan Dunne, CEO of O2. "Right now, O2 with HTC has to go it alone on this matter - we both believe in it passionately enough that we cant wait for the industry as a whole to join us in this crusade. That said, we hope that we will be able to pave the way for others to follow us as this has to be a collective effort if we are to achieve the bigger aim of eliminating chargers sold with every new phone in the UK."

We're all for cutting down on unnecessary waste, but from our perspective, the most interesting thing about this story is that it tacitly confirms that we're due a new HTC flagship in the weeks ahead, and that O2 will offer it. The fact that the device itself is unnamed suggests it's yet to be announced -- possibilities include the rumored One X+ and One X 5. We'll be watching with interest to see what devices emerge from HTC and O2 as 2012 draws to a close.

Source: Pocket-Lint

Via: O2 UK to sell upcoming HTC flagship phone without charger

ADT 21 plugin preview 5 now available for download [Android development]

ADT 21 plugin preview 5 now available for download [Android development]

Eclipse DDMS

The Android developers crew has released a new build of the Android Developer Tools plugin for Eclipse, and ADT 21 preview 5 is now available for download. As the ADT is getting older and more robust, we're seeing less glamorous changes and more maintenance "stuff", but that doesn't mean this build isn't feature rich.

Improvements include pre-dexing of librariesand jar files to speed up build time, new lint checks, big changes in the way the layout editor displays, and the Eclipse IDE will now remember the previous mode and open ready for editing. Of course, it also includes the requisite "large number of bug fixes" that we would expect from any preview builds.

Of course a good many of you re scratching your head wonderingwhat all this means, and that's OK. What you're seeing is a new version of the tools developers use to build and debug the awesome Android apps you find in Google Play. It's software geek stuff, but better tools means better apps. We all can get behind better apps.

If you're interested in taking the new ADT plugin for a spin, you'll need to be runningEclipse 3.6.2 or higher and the tools 21 preview. You can find the tools component update in the SDK manager by selecting the "Preview Tools" option, and you can grab the new ADT from the link below. Get coding!

Source: Google; via +Tor Norbye

Via: ADT 21 plugin preview 5 now available for download [Android development]

Waterproof, LTE-connected Sony Xperia V tipped for December launch

Waterproof, LTE-connected Sony Xperia V tipped for December launch

Android Central

As Sony prepares to launch the Xperia T in the UK this week, eyes are already on the T's quirky sibling, the Xperia V. Unveiled alongside the Xperia T at IFA last month, the V boasts water resistance and LTE connectivity, in addition to similar internals to the Sony flagship. The screen's been shrunk down to a 4.3-inch panel, although the resolution remains the same, at 1280x720.

Today a Swedish retailer has given us our first tentative Xperia V release date and price point. is now listing the XperiaV as available for pre-order, with a price tag of SEK 4299 (around $650) and a release date of Dec. 3. That's a long time to wait for Sony fans, who'll have plenty to tempt them in the fourth quarter. We'll be crossing our fingers for an earlier release, as it's not every day you see LTE, a 720p screen and water resistance in a single handset.

Tempted by a high-end waterproof device like this? Shout out in the comments.

Source:, via: XperiaBlog

Via: Waterproof, LTE-connected Sony Xperia V tipped for December launch

Sony Xperia acro S now available unlocked in the U.S.

Android Central

The Xperia acro S has been hanging out in the Sony online store for a few weeks marked as coming soon, and today it goes on sale for $599.99 unlocked.

Just as a reminder, the Xperia acro S is a solid mid-range phone with respectable (if not top-of-the-line) specs.

  • 4.3-inch 1280 x 720 display
  • 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm processor and 1 GB of RAM
  • Android Ice Cream Sandwich
  • 11.9 mm thin
  • 12.1 megapixel camera with LED flash
  • Waterproof coating

You can get a quick glimpse of the device over here in our hands-on time at IFA, or dive into the official product page. The Xperia acro S definitely looks like a high-grade piece of equipment, but how many people will realistically be buying it unlocked? How much longer will it be until we hear some carrier announcements? Would any of you be interested in picking this one up if it was subsidized?

Anyone with the coin can pick up the Sony Xperia acro S online herewith black and white models available.

Via: Sony Xperia acro S now available unlocked in the U.S.

'Martian pink' Samsung Galaxy S3 is official

'Martian pink' Samsung Galaxy S3 is official

Android Central

New color launches in South Korea, as sales figures suggest six percent of the country's population now own a Galaxy S3

It was leaked last week, but now it's official -- the Samsung Galaxy S3 will be launching in South Korea in a new "Martian pink" color. Currently, Samsung plans to make available just 100,000 of the pink S3sacross South Korea's three main mobile operators.

On its official Korean blog, the company quoted an official as saying (roughly translated) --

"The Martian pink Galaxy S III is refined and sensuous. With its distinctive style, we expect a great response from the younger generation and women."

Samsung also notes that it's surpassed 3 million Galaxy S3 sales in its home territory, which is all the more impressive considering the country's population of just under 50 million. By our calculations, that suggests that six percent of all South Koreans now own a Galaxy S3. Internationally, sales of the phone stand at 20 million, and that's expected to rise to 30 million before the end of the year.

Samsung's accustomed to strong sales of its handsets in Korea. Back in January it emerged that some 5 million Galaxy S2 phones had been sold in the country, the equivalent of 10 percent of the population.

Samsung hasn't announced any plans to launch the new Martian pink S3 outside of South Korea, but given its track record with the pink Galaxy S2 and Galaxy Note, we wouldn't be surprised to see this a Martian pink invasion of Europe taking place in a few months' time.

Source: Samsung (Korean, Translated)

Via: 'Martian pink' Samsung Galaxy S3 is official

Adobe's HTML 5 Edge development suite goes live today

Adobe's HTML 5 Edge development suite goes live today

Edge Animate

Adobe has kicked off their Edge development tool suitetoday with the release of Edge Animate and PhoneGap -- tools designed to develop HTML5 and wean the Internet off of Flash, as well as package things up for smartphones.

While this is exciting news for developers, its significance shouldn't be lost on the rest of us. I've been lamenting for weeks that Flash on the Internet won't ever die until easy to use and robust tools are provided, both to ease development time and costs as well as drive the platform (meaning pure HTML5 on the web) forward. The reason we ever needed Flash players on our computers or smartphones was because it was so easy to use it became the de facto web standard for interactive animations. Just because the Flash player for mobile was going the way of the dodo, didn't mean the existing content developers would abandon its use. Tools like the Edge suite are what it's going to take.

In additionto the full IDE for creating the content, Adobe has released a few other tools to assist web developers. Edge Inspect is a cross platform debugger, Edge WebFontsbundles over 500 free fonts (including two new fonts from Adobe) and the one we're pretty interested in -- PhoneGap. PhoneGap is a cloud based utility that can takeHTML5, CSS, and JavaScript created with tools like Edge Animate and bundle it all up in an application foriOS, Android, Windows Phone, webOS, BlackBerry OS, Bada, orSymbian.

If you're a developer, be sure to head to Adobe's site, as Edge Animate is being offered for free as a promotion, and free beats $499 any day of the week. It looks like the gap left when Adobe killed off mobile Flash Player should be filling up nicely in short order. Quick -- someone tell Facebook.

Source: Adobe

Via: Adobe's HTML 5 Edge development suite goes live today

This week's sidebar poll: What is your browser of choice?

This week's sidebar poll: What is your browser of choice?

Firefox for Android

Having access to the Internet's rich content is a good reason why many of us love our smartphones. The days of WAP browsing are over and we have all sorts of options and way to get the Web and services right in our hands. On the Android platform we're especially lucky, because we have an abundance of browser apps available right in Google Play. Whether you need one of the numerous fast-as-heck renderingWebkit browsers, like Chrome or Dolphin, or want the compatibility with desktop web apps that Firefox's Gecko delivers, or even the quick loading pages that come with Opera Mini, Android has you covered.

This is where we share, so I'll tell what I'm using. I actually install two full browsers -- Chrome and Firefox. I need Chrome's device sync and tie-in to my Google account, and use it as my device default browser, but when I'm just playing and surfing the 'net I use Firefox, as it seems to do a better job with the sites I frequent. What about you guys? Hit the poll -- you'll find it in the sidebar to the right or after the break -- and let us know how you do it.

Last week's poll was about NFC, and here are the results.

Do you use NFC often?

  • Yes -- 31-percent
  • No -- 43.98-percent
  • My phone doesn't have NFC. Sad Panda face -- 25.01-percent

With a 30-percent plus adoption rate among Android enthusiasts, NFC looks like a feature the manufacturers need to consider when they make their next device.

Via: This week's sidebar poll: What is your browser of choice?

Beware the latest Apex Launcher update

Beware the latest Apex Launcher update

Apex Launcher

Just a quick heads up that it appears the update made available this morning for Apex Launcher is borking things up, from consistent force-closes to stealing babies from their cribs.

Deep breath, folks. We're sure it'll get fixed soonest. At least it better. In the meantime, we'd avoid this update. And we'll update this post just as soon as the update is updated to fix the update that broke things in the first place.

More: Apex Launcher; thanks to everyone who sent this in

Via: Beware the latest Apex Launcher update

Android 4.1 update for Galaxy S3 rolling out, starting in Poland

Android 4.1 update for Galaxy S3 rolling out, starting in Poland

Android Central

Jelly Bean for the Galaxy S3 finally arrives, available first as a Kies update

Samsing has started pushing out the officialAndroid 4.1 Jelly Bean update for the internationalGalaxy S3(GT-i9300).The update appears to be pushing out to Galaxy S3 owners with unbranded handsets in the Poland ("XEO" region) initially, with other regions and networks expected to follow shortly. At the time of writing, the update is being pushed out through Samsung's Kies software, rather than over the air.

As we reported last month, the update will introduce familiar Jelly Bean features like Google Now, "Project Butter" performance enhancements and the redesigned notification shade, in addition to new TouchWiz features. These include dormant mode, for better notification and alert management, as well as "easy mode" for simplified home screen operation.

Owners of the unlocked international Galaxy S3 should be getting their updates very soon, even if they're not in Poland -- usually when one region starts being updated, it's a matter of days before others follow. Carrier-branded versions, such as the U.S. Galaxy S3 models, may have a little longer to wait, as those devices must go through additional certification.

To see if your update is ready to go, start up Kies on your PC and plug in your phone. If you're already up and running with Jelly Bean on your S3, head into the comments and let us know how you're getting on.

More: New features in Galaxy S3Jelly Bean/TouchWiz update

Via: Android 4.1 update for Galaxy S3 rolling out, starting in Poland

Developers in India can now register to sell paid apps in Google Play

Developers in India can now register to sell paid apps in Google Play

Android Central

The Google Play Developers portal has received a welcome update, confirming now that developers in India can register to sell paid apps in Google Play. This is potentially huge news for two different reasons. India is one of the most populated nations on the planet, and the smartphone market in India is exploding at a tremendous rate.

Developers having the facility to be paid for their work is a big deal too. Famously, the lack of paid app support in the UAE became the reason that Carbon will eventually be given away for free. While this nation is still omitted, the addition of India to the list that now reaches 32 is a welcome one.

Source: Google Play Developers thanks Vishal!

Via: Developers in India can now register to sell paid apps in Google Play

Motorola RAZR i review

Android Central

The Intel-Motorola partnership has been a long time coming. The two officially hooked up at CES 2012, where they committed to a multi-year, multi-device agreement to bring Intel-powered Moto phones to market. Ten months and a few leaks later, the first such device, the Motorola RAZR i, reaches European store shelves. It may not have been the bleeding-edge, multi-core, 4G behemoth that some -- including us -- were hoping for, but the RAZR i is nevertheless an important device for both companies. For Moto, its a chance to tackle the less hotly-contested mid-range phone market, and differentiate itself through its unique Intel internals. And its Intels first major Android smartphone from a top-tier manufacturer -- an important milestone for the chip giant in its ongoing war against the ever-present ARM.

But all this talk of important firsts and key partnerships means nothing if the device itself isnt up to snuff. So just how does the Motorola RAZR i shape up in the crowded and fiercely competitive smartphone marketplace of late 2012? Read on to find out.

The Good

The RAZR i is a speedy, well-featured handset from Motorola, and it does a great job of showcasing the power of Intel on Android. Camera performance is impressive for a mid-range handset.

The Bad

Ho-hum industrial design,last-generation screen tech. Compatibility issues in a handful of applications. Launches with ICS as others are preparing to jump to Jelly Bean.


Theres nothing terribly wrong with the RAZR i, and on the whole, we like the direction Moto and Intel are moving in. Theyve delivered a fast performer with a couple of outstanding features, and they deserve credit for that. But does the RAZR i have what it takes to survive the firestorm of competing smartphones coming this October? Were just not sure.

Inside this review

More info

  • Video walkthrough
  • Hardware review
  • Software review
  • Camera tests
  • Wrap-up
  • RAZR i hands-on gallery
  • RAZR iphoto and video samples
  • Announcement event video and liveblog

Motorola RAZR i video review

Motorola RAZRi hardware review

Motorolas flagship smartphones have historically exuded an industrial look and feel, with dark colors, cold metals and sharp lines. The RAZR i is an evolution of this style of industrial design. Its less bulky than earlier Moto phones, with a significantly reduced bezel, though it isnt quite as ridiculously thin as original RAZR, its girth being roughly comparable to the RAZR MAXX. If youre familiar with Verizons Droid RAZR M, were dealing with the same design here.

Its not the most elegant-looking phone youll ever come across. There are plenty of flat edges, exposed torx screws and joining lines. Surrounding the 4.3-inch screen is an aluminum trim, and Motos made a big deal out of the RAZR is edge-to-edge display. Its true that theres no unnecessary flab on either side of the phones screen, but theres plenty of superfluous bezel to be found directly beneath the screen. See, as the RAZR i uses the same chassis design as the RAZR M, but without any carrier branding, the space where youd normally find the Verizon logo is left blank.

Further below, theres a plastic chin which tapers off towards the bottom, and houses the phones main microphone, and presumably a bundle of antennae. The main shell of the phone is constructed of matte plastic, which closely matches the appearance of the aluminum trim around the screen. Up top, an etched metal badge proudly displays the Motorola logo.

Android CentralAndroid Central

Around the back, the glossy front of the camera assembly contrasts with the trademark kevlar area dominating most of the rear of the phone. Printed onto that is the Intel Inside logo. Along the chassis edge, where aluminum and plastic meet, is where the RAZR is buttons and ports are located. On the left edge is the standard microUSB port (no HDMI-out this time around), in addition to microSIM and microSD card slots -- we used a class 10 32GB card during testing, but no card is provided with the phone. Up top is the 3.5mm headphone jack.

The right edge is home to power, volume and dedicated camera buttons, with the latter being a key marketing point for Intel and Motorola. Hold it down for a second or so when the phones locked, and it launches straight into the camera app. A single tap of the camera key when the phones awake sparks an even more instantaneous jump into camera mode. The key can also be used as a shutter button, though its not a two-stage shutter like some other cameraphones. Helpfully, the camera key is recessed a little, and lies flush with the side of the chassis, in order to prevent accidental presses.

Motorola also says the RAZR i comes with splash protection, meaning its not quite fully waterproof, but a should be able to stand up to a little rain during day-to-day use. Though you may be reluctant, as we were, to test the limits of this feature on your own RAZR i.

So on the whole the RAZR i sports a relatively plain, quintessentially Motorolan build and look. If you werent a fan of earlier Moto designs, theres not much here to change your mind. On the other hand, its solidly-built, and may be able to stand up to more wear and tear than sleeker, prettier handsets.

Android CentralAndroid Central

But its the internals of the RAZR i that really set it apart from every other Android phone out there. Its powered by a 2GHz Intel Atom Z2480 CPU with Hyperthreading technology. This allows two logical cores to be run on a single hardware core, appearing to the OS as if they were two cores, not one. Hyperthreading is used in many of Intels PC chips, and can improve multitasking performance, as well as the performance of multi-threaded apps.

Backing up that CPU is 1GB of RAM and 6GB of internal storage, though as we mentioned earlier thats expandable via microSD card. (When you insert an SD card, a handy utility allows you to offload multimedia content to your new card.)

Camera-wise, the RAZR i rocks an 8MP rear shooter with LED flash, along with a basic 0.3MP front-facer. Well get to a more detailed breakdown of the RAZR is camera later in this review, but to make a rough approximation, wed say the main camera is about Galaxy S2 or Galaxy Note-level.

The phones display is a qHD (960x540) SuperAMOLED panel, which on paper is the same as the original RAZRs screen. In reality, though, there are some substantial differences. The RAZR i is brighter, with much less discoloration to whites, particularly at low brightness levels. Colors are extremely vivid, more so than some higher-resolution SuperAMOLED devices like the Galaxy Nexus. That said, its still a PenTile panel at qHD resolution, and that means youre going to notice some artifacting around text and certain other on-screen elements -- thats just a limitation of this display technology.

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Motorola RAZR i battery life

The Motorola RAZR i includes a 2000mAh internal, non-removable battery. Thats larger than average for a device thats not super-high-end, and as such, we got above average battery life from our RAZR i. Motorola claims around 20 hours of mixed usage in its promotional materials, and that lines up with our own experiences using the RAZR i for the past week, both indoors and outdoors, on Wifi and HSPA+ networks. We had no trouble getting through the working day with plenty of juice to spare.

With extremely heavy usage consisting of lot of web browsing, gaming, music and video playback and camera use, and extensive mobile data use over HSPA+, we were able to kill the RAZR i in around seven to eight hours. Thats about average for an Android smartphone of this kind.

We should also note that our RAZR i was running pre-release firmware during our testing, so battery performance may improve somewhat when the device is officially launched in the next month or so. Well update this review if we notice any major changes.

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Motorola RAZR i specs

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Motorola RAZR i software review

The RAZR i runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with some additional sprinkles from Motorola. Unfortunately, theres no Jelly Bean to be found here, as Intel has only just finished optimizing Android 4.1 for its Atom chips. Motorola has promised to update the RAZR i to Jelly Bean, but it wasnt willing to commit to any timeframe at the recent London launch event.

What you have on the RAZR i is very close to stock Android -- Motorola hasnt strayed too far from the designs of Matias Duarte and his team at Google. For example, youve got the persistent search bar at the top of the home screen, and on-screen buttons down below.

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Motos software changes are mostly functional, not visual. Smart Actions from the earlier RAZR phones make a comeback, and are useful as ever. Similar to the popular Tasker app, Smart Actions allows you to change certain settings or perform certain tasks based on pre-set conditions. For example, if youre at home, at night, with your phone charging you can set the device to silence all notifications until morning. Similarly, if the battery is low, you can turn off background data and dim the screen in order to preserve battery life.

Theres also a built-in interactive guide to help out first-time Android users.

And really, thats about it. The only other changes from vanilla Android are in the Motorola home screen setup. Scroll all the way to the left, and you get a quick settings page. Scroll all the way to the right, and you get the option to add another home screen. A third favorites tab has been added to the app drawer, allowing you to select favorite apps from a list and have them appear there for easy access. That might be useful on a carrier-branded phone loaded with bloatware, but our unlocked RAZR i came with no unwanted apps. Motorolas circles widget comes pre-loaded on the RAZR i, showing the time, date, weather and battery level in detail. Weve seen this before on phones like the Atrix HD -- circles can be flipped over to reveal more information. We did notice that this widget was the cause of some occasional homescreen lag, however. Once we removed it, the UI was buttery smooth.

Interestingly, some Jelly Bean launcher enhancements have also made it across, including the ability to bump widgets and icons around to make space on a crowded home screen.

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The RAZR i is a quick performer, and provides a great showcase for what can be accomplished with Android on an Intel chip. With the exception of the Motorola widget-induced homescreen lag, the phone was flawlessly smooth. Side-by-side with a Galaxy Nexus running Jelly Bean, the RAZR i consistently provided faster app start-up times, and Intels Atom-optimized stock browser also proved faster in Javascript tests. The RAZR is gaming performance in apps like Osmos, Angry Birds, Grand Theft Auto III and World of Goo was flawless, though we did come across some compatibility issues caused by the use of an Intel chip.

Google Chrome downloaded, but failed to install, displaying an error message (Motorola says an Intel-friendly Chrome update is coming). Sonic 4 Episode 2 installed, but crashed at startup. Similarly, the BBC Media Player app refused to work on our RAZR i. Those were the only compatibility issues we came across, and we downloaded a fair few apps during our review process. Undoubtedly therell be some teething issues as app developers get to grips with Android on Intel, especially in high-performance apps like games.

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Motorola RAZR i camera review

The RAZR i includes an 8MP rear camera capable of 1080p video recording, in addition to an 0.3MP front-facing camera. Well get the front-facer out of the way to begin with -- as the numbers would suggest, its a very basic image sensor, and you probably wont want to use it for anything beyond the occasional Skype call.

The rear camera, however, is a different matter. It doesnt include a BSI (backside illuminated) sensor, so low-light shots are far from ideal, however we were consistently impressed with the quality of outdoor shots produced by the RAZR i. As Intel and Motorola boasted during their London launch event, camera start-up is instantaneous, as are image capture speeds. Interestingly, we experienced none of the autofocus and shutter speed woes that we noticed on the RAZR is 4G cousin, the Droid RAZR M.

Dynamic range isnt the greatest weve come across in a smartphone camera, though the camera app can detect when this may an issue, and when it does, it prompts you to enable HDR mode. Were accustomed HDR shots on other cameras being something of a crapshoot at the best of times, but we were thoroughly impressed by the HDR camera on the RAZR i. It produced natural-looking shots with plenty of fine detail and no ghosting, even in scenes with movement. Its also incredibly forgiving of any movement while taking shots. Some darker scenes succumb to a little more visible noise in HDR mode, but thats a symptom of the way the technology works.

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In addition, the camera app includes a burst shot mode capable of taking around 10 shots per second. there are also a few presets for night shots and landscapes, as well as basic filters like black and white and sepia. Panorama mode, however, is conspicuously absent.

The RAZR i also performed video recording duties admirably, matching the output of more expensive handsets. At 1080p resolution, the phone managed a flawless 30 frames per second, with sharp images, quick focussing and smooth transitions between light and dark areas. Check out our sample images and video to see for yourself.

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Motorola RAZR i hackability

Motorola said its committed to delivering an unlockable bootloader on the RAZR i where market conditions and carriers allow it. What that means is if you have an unlocked SIM-free RAZR i, youre probably good to unlock it; if yours is a carrier-branded model, you might want to double-check first.

An unlockable bootloader is a good start, but it may take custom ROM makers a while to get to grips with developing for Android on the Intel architecture. That may present an extra hurdle to overcome before AOSP-based ROMs can be ported over to the RAZR i. Well just have to wait and see.

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Motorola RAZR i review wrap-up

The RAZR i is a speedy, well-featured handset from Motorola, and it does a great job of showcasing the power of Intel on Android. What it is not, however, is exciting. From the ho-hum industrial design to the last-generation screen tech, it isnt immediately obvious why this phone is special. You need to be a bit of a nerd to appreciate what makes the RAZR i unique, and even then, user-facing differences between Android on Intel and ARM chips are subtle at best.

The most significant obstacles facing the RAZR i are price and mindshare. Pre-order prices are coming in around 330, a little more than prettier, better-known, Snapdragon-powered HTC One S. The RAZR i is a decent handset, but it needs to be cheaper than this if its going to succeed. Perhaps on-contract prices from carriers will be more favorable.

Moto also doesnt have the best track record with software updates, and with Samsung and HTCs Jelly Bean updates likely to arrive around the same time the RAZR i releases with ICS, thats another mark in favor of the competition. Then theres the fact that certain apps, including some games and even Google Chrome, dont yet work on Intel chips.

Theres nothing terribly wrong with the RAZR i, and on the whole, we like the direction Moto and Intel are moving in. Theyve delivered a fast performer with a couple of outstanding features, and they deserve credit for that. But does the RAZR i have what it takes to survive the firestorm of competing smartphones coming this October? Were just not sure.

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Via: Motorola RAZR i review