Articles about Smartphones

OnePlus One: Android smartphone with flagship-worthy specs, but affordable price

OnePlus One

It has been often said that hardware specifications do not matter, yet nowadays people are still excited to see manufacturers going with the latest and greatest processors, lots of RAM, high-resolution displays and so on. When an impressive configuration is offered at a low price, such a handset is poised to get us talking. The Google Nexus 5 is a great example.

OnePlus is a new smartphone manufacturer that has followed this recipe to the letter. The One, that the company unveiled earlier today, is an Android handset that undercuts even the mighty Nexus 5, while bringing more to the table. OnePlus touts it as the "2014 flagship killer". Is that overselling it?

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Windows Phone 8.1: Microsoft finally gets it right

Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone 8.1

Windows Phone 8.1 signals that Microsoft is now finally committed to turning its smartphone operating system into a powerful rival, and viable alternative, to Android and iOS. Gone are the days when essential features were demanded yet completely ignored in the next major update. No more apologies are needed. Users are now finally getting what they have long asked for, and then some. Yes, finally.

Coming from Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 8.1 feels like a huge improvement. When the software upgrade officially rolls out, I suspect many users will have a "wow" moment upon experiencing the new features, and the benefits they bring to the table, for the first time. I know I did. You can blame its unimpressive predecessor for that.

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Microsoft's Nokia Devices and Services acquisition completes Friday April 25

nokia-phone

It was said to be happening in April, but as the month drags on it was starting to seem less and less likely. Now, however, we have a solid date for the finalization of Microsoft's acquisition of the Devices and Services arm of Nokia -- Friday, April 25, in case you missed it in the headline. In a post on the Official Microsoft Blog, Microsoft's General Counsel and Executive Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Brad Smith is "excited" to announce the date of the deal closure.

As Smith says, the "completion of this acquisition follows several months of planning" but for those outside of the companies it feels as though machinations have been rumbling away forever -- in reality it is only seven months. Back in September, it was announced that Microsoft wanted to purchase Nokia's Devices and Services business for $7.2 billion, taking on thousands of Nokia employees and providing the handset manufacturer with some patents.

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The most popular stories on BetaNews this past week: April 13 -- April 19

april-2014

It's nearly a week since Microsoft ended support for Windows XP, but there are still around a quarter of Avast customers who plan on sticking with the old dog a little longer. What is perhaps more shocking is the revelation that over one fifth of those surveyed had no idea that support was coming to an end! For those living more on the cutting edge, good news came for Chrome users who found that their browser of choice gained support for Office Online. Microsoft may be leaving users of Windows XP out in the cold, but this is to be expected after so long. Users of Windows 8.1 who have opted to forego the pleasures of installing the recently released Update will find that their operating system is also not supported, as no further security updates will be made available until the confusingly named Update is used to update Windows 8.1 to Windows 8.1 Update. Got it? Good! Some business users who had trouble grabbing the download have been granted slightly longer.

Post Build, following Microsoft's announcements about universal apps for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone, app prices are changing -- but consistency seems to be an issue. The hotly anticipated Windows Phone 8.1 was released to developers, but Mihaita was on hand with a guide that allows anyone to grab themselves a copy of the latest update. If you're on the lookout for a new Android handset, Joe puts forward a compelling argument in favor of the HTC One M8.

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Amazon and Samsung launch custom Kindle for Samsung service

Library

Not content with already having a Kindle app for Android devices, Amazon has joined forces with Samsung to launch Kindle for Samsung. The slightly unnecessary venture brings a new custom ebook service to owners of devices from the South Korean firm and launches on the Galaxy S5 immediately. Other Samsung Galaxy handsets and tablets will gain access to the app shortly afterwards, providing they are running Android 4.0 or newer. Of the millions of books and magazines that will be available through the service, more than 500,000 of the titles will be exclusives.

At the same time as the Kindle for Samsung launch, the two companies are also launching Samsung Book Deals. This enables Galaxy owners to obtain up to 12 free ebooks per year, making a selection from a choice of four each month. With the promise that "each book is chosen specifically for Galaxy smartphone and tablet users from a wide selection of prominent titles", there should be something for everyone.

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Mobile kingpins embark in fight against smartphone theft

espionage hacker thief black hat

Even though technology has advanced tremendously in recent times, smartphone theft or loss continues to be an area which has received little attention from the big players in the industry. And, it is not difficult to see why, as they stand to profit from people's misfortune or mistakes.

While we can track smartphones and delete any personal data remotely, most handsets do not have a kill switch, which means the people who stole or found a handset may be able to use it freely. However, that is set to change, as CTIA has revealed top players in the mobile industry have, finally, decided to fight on behalf of consumers, by employing countermeasures.

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Developers, 'come and get' Windows Phone 8.1

Windows Phone 8.1 Launch

Starting today, Windows Phone 8 users who have enrolled their smartphones in the Preview for Developers program will be able to get their hands on a vendor-untainted Windows Phone 8.1 build. Microsoft's Joe Belfiore revealed its limited availability a week ago, but without providing any precise release date at the time.

As I am writing this article, the process is now well underway on my Nokia Lumia 920 and a Lumia 520, both of which were enrolled in the program last year. It seems to take quite a bit of time, as the operating system is preparing everything for the upgrade to Windows Phone 8.1. Prior to installing the much-awaited build, an update has to applied first.

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You can have Apple iPhone 5s, I'll take HTC One M8

HTC One M8 and BlinkFeed

Many new smartphone shoppers will compare the HTC One M8 and Samsung Galaxy S5, which are about the same size, offer similar high-end features, run Android (with customized user interfaces), and arrived in U.S. retail stores within days of one another. But since I move from iPhone 5s to what henceforth will be referred to as The One, the two devices are uniquely attractive, and both pack bleeding-edge cameras, my comparison is more Apple to oranges. If iPhone 5s is high up your shopping list don't buy without first considering The One. It's my choice, although granted it might not be best for you.

I moved from the original One, the M7, to the 5s a few months ago. You might laugh at the reason. I find that my daughter, who shuns Androids for Apples, is more likely to text message when we both use iPhones. She is away at college. But the 5s, like iPhone 5, immediately disappointed for phone calling. Reception tends to breakup in my neighborhood on both devices, using AT&T or T-Mobile. Calling is superior and adequate on either One, and even better on the Moto X. The One illuminates the Apple's inadequacies, which simply are unacceptable coming from the company that popularized touchscreen smartphones.

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The most popular stories on BetaNews this past week: April 6 -- April 12

April 6-12

Microsoft was in the headlines this week not for launching new products but for, finally, bringing an end to support for Windows XP. Yes, the now ancient and decrepit -- although still much loved and used -- operating system is no more. It will be interesting to see how long it manages to survive now it has been officially dropped -- some are suggesting that a move to Linux might be in order, or even a switch to Chromebook. But, of course, it hasn’t all been about XP. After the announcements at Build, Joe Belfiore revealed on Twitter that developers will be able to get their hands on Windows Phone 8.1 in the "first part of April".

There is also renewed interest in Windows 8.1 following the release of Update, and Microsoft published a guide to making the most of the new features and options. Will the operating system be viewed as fondly as XP in years to come? Only time will tell. Working in conjunction with Google, Microsoft also gave a new and improved YouTube experience to Xbox One owners.

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Samsung Galaxy S5 goes on sale

Galaxy S5

Announced on February 24 at the Unpacked 5 event, the Galaxy S5 is Samsung's new Android flagship smartphone. It officially launches today in 125 countries across the globe, that includes major markets like US, Europe and Asia.

The Galaxy S5, much like its popular predecessors, comes packed with new features. Samsung did not refrain from throwing everything but the kitchen sink at its new flagship. The highlight is undoubtedly the fingerprint reader, that gives users the option to swipe their fingers on the lower front side of the device to unlock it. It remains to be seen whether consumers will find it useful, but the fingerprint reader is one of the features that, so far, sets the new flagship apart from the pack.

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HTC One M8 arrives in more stores

HTC One M8

Well, hell, someone pinch me and tell me this is April 11th; my calendar says the 10th. Because HTC sent BetaNews email (and tweeted) that the One M8 is available now. I called several AT&T stores, which confirmed sales starting today; Sprint also. T-Mobile launches tomorrow, however. So that tweet isn't quite what it seems: "See it, touch it, believe it. The new HTC One (M8) has landed at retailers nationwide".

Verizon got an early lead, on March 25th. According to HTC, The One "is hitting store shelves at the other U.S. operators today. Customers of all major U.S. operators will now be able to walk into stores and pick-up the HTC One (M8) starting at just $199". That's true for some carriers, but not all. If you're on T-Mobile and willing to wait, The One will be zero dollars down and monthly payments spread over 24 months.

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Will you buy HTC One M8?

HTC One and Friend

In light of Brian Fagioli's review and Friday's official launch, time comes to ask whether or not you will buy HTC's newest flagship, the M8. The name takes away from powerful connotations that HTC One carries. But maybe there is something to M-eight (you know, Mate). Henceforth, I will refer to this magnificent smartphone as The One. For many of you, it will be.

Brian isn't the only BetaNewser testing The One. I have the T-Mobile variant, which unlike his Verizon model carries no carrier branding. Thank you, Pink! Or is that Magenta? Beauty and the Beast is applicable moniker. The smartphone delights the eyes but challenges the hands, because it is so big. Largely the blame belongs to one of the biggest benefits: The front-facing speakers. For comparison, and I kid you not: The entire length of iPhone 5s is about the same as the length of the HTC smartphone's screen. Right, just the display. The One measures 146.36 x 70.6 x 9.35 mm compared to the Apple's 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm.

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OpenSSL flaw unlocks the internet's 'crown jewels'

Patched heart

If all of your system adminstrator friends are looking worried today it isn't the usual post Patch Tuesday blues, it's because of a bug in something that you may never have heard of, but which almost certainly affects your everyday use of the web.

OpenSSL is a cryptographic library that is used to secure large chunks of the internet. If you use sites or apps that send and receive encrypted data then it’s very likely they use OpenSSL to do it. It's used by open source web servers like Apache as well as by mail protocols including SMTP, POP and IMAP.

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will.i.am has a self-designed smart watch ready to launch soon

will.i.am

Rapper, producer, Black Eye Pea and all round tech-loving futurist tech-head will.i.am has designed his own smart watch which will be ready for launch in the coming months. The music titan has, apparently, self-designed and self-funded a project which should lead to a release in July. Very little is known about the device at the moment, but it has made a few appearances on TV screens that give an intriguing glimpse of what's to come. Unlike other wearables, this one looks like it will not require tethering to a smartphone -- it will stand on its own two feet.

It's worth pointing out for non-UK residents that product placement (endorsements, 'support from', 'promotional consideration' or however you want to view it) does not really exist in the UK in the same way as in the US and some other countries. But that said, will.i.am has been spotted on more than one occasion, "subtly" interacting with a device strapped to his wrist. Viewers of The Voice in the UK (yeah, sorry, I've been known to dip into it from time to time) will probably have noticed him fiddling with his wrist, and reference has been made to his actions on a couple of occasions.

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The most popular stories on BetaNews this past week: March 30 -- April 5

April 2014

It's difficult to deny Microsoft at least some of the limelight this week as the Build developer conference generated some interesting news. Bringing Windows version numbers in line with each other, Windows Phone 8.1 was finally revealed, complete with a notification center and Siri-like Cortana. The highly anticipated Windows 8.1 Update (which you may have heard something about) was official unveiled and given a launch date of April 8. Wayne, for one, liked what he saw.

Microsoft came over all open source, making the Roslyn compiler as well as WinJS freely available. Brian was pleased with the tech giant's latest moves, proclaiming Microsoft is now back. Build also gave us a sneaky glimpse of an upcoming, but as yet unnamed, version of Windows that features the return of the Start menu -- all of this chopping and changing is getting confusing. Maybe next on the list of things to do with Windows will be getting rid of those apps and features that should have been killed some time ago.

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