A few months ago BlackBerry announced the Passport, and the keyword was square. A square screen in a decidedly square body, not to forget the physical keyboard, was a sure-fire way to stand out from the crowd; it's hip to be square after all. But for AT&T, the Passport was just a bit too square.
In fact such was the carrier's dislike of the squareness of the Passport that it asked BlackBerry to redesign the handset. And BlackBerry obliged, producing an AT&T exclusive version of the Passport complete with rounded corners that is more in keeping with the look of the BlackBerry Classic, it was revealed at CES 2015 today.
With Lenovo holding the reins, it is no surprise that Motorola has announced its return to China, the biggest smartphone market worldwide. The venerable maker will start selling its best-known smartphones in the country starting early this year.
Consumers in China will be able to get their hands on the second-generation Moto X and Moto G -- the latter with 4G LTE connectivity -- as well as Moto X Pro. For someone who knows Motorola's lineup, Moto X Pro looks like a new smartphone. However, it is a rebranded Nexus 6.
Apple is now finally selling SIM-free, unlocked iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus through its online and brick and mortar stores. The new models, which come nearly four months after the two devices launched, are available in all storage configurations, starting at $649 and $749, respectively.
Apple makes things slightly complicated for those looking to purchase an unlocked iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, as the company is advertising two "Unlocked and contract-free" models, for each of the two devices, on its site. The model that is available starting today is labeled "SIM-free", while the other one bears T-Mobile's logo. Be careful which one you buy, if you plan on using it in US or abroad.
Jump on the iDevice bandwagon and one of the first decisions you'll need to make is choosing capacity. This may be determined largely by budget, but what if you run out of space further down the line? Not many people are in a position to just invest in the same device with more space, but Leef iBRIDGE is a neat plug-in solution.
Just as you can expand the storage space of your computer or laptop with a USB drive, Leef iBRIDGE works in much the same way for your Apple device. Available in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB and 256GB capacities, the little plug-in modules give you a little breathing room for more music and photos.
Consumers appear to have little to no interest in smartphones with curved displays. This much is clear, more than one year after Samsung's Galaxy Round first tried -- and failed -- to woo the market. Even the makers which have tried to drive up interest in this exotic form factor are still heavily relying on flat screens for most of their (popular) devices. Curved displays are just as rare of a sight today on smartphones as they were when they first came out.
Still, despite the cold reception, LG is not yet ready to leave smartphones with curved displays behind, as the South Korean maker today announces the successor of G Flex, called G Flex2. The new model, unlike its predecessor, is, however, more likely to have mass-market appeal in the premium segment, in no small part thanks to its less-intimidating size.
We're all familiar with Chromecast, Google's nifty media streaming dongle that makes light work of chucking a video from your computer, phone or tablet to your TV. Fancy doing something similar with audio? Google must have been listening to you because the company has just launched Google Cast for audio.
The idea is virtually the same as Chromecast -- in fact it's based on exactly the same technology -- and it's just as simple to use. Start listening to music on your Android phone or tablet, iPod, iPhone, iPad, Mac, Windows computer or Chromebook and you can throw it to a set of compatible speakers without the need for wires.
The tablet market experienced something of a slump in 2014 and things don't look like being much better this year according to a new report by research specialists Gartner.
It estimates that tablet sales will reach 233 million units in 2015, an increase of only eight percent over last year's figure. Worldwide combined shipments of devices (PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones) for 2015 are estimated to reach 2.5 billion units, an increase of 3.9 percent over 2014.
The future is here! We are actually living in the future. The futuristic sci-fi imaginings of the 1960's are not only a reality, they have been bettered, exceeded and trumped. At least that's what we're led to believe. The reality is rather different.
A lot of excitement has been pinned on the Internet of Things -- little more than connected, communicating devices -- but Qualcomm is taking things even further. In a video released ahead of CES 2015, the chipmaker waxes lyrical about not the Internet of Things we're supposed to know and love, but the Internet of Everything. And it's here. Apparently.
Do you remember the old Nokia bricks—even the Finnish manufacturer's early smartphones? They were tanks. They were the Arnold Schwarzeneggers of mobiles—handsome and rugged. Then along came iPhone, and beauty bested brawn. Eight years after Apple cofounder Steve Jobs showed off the first prototype during January Macworld, design ethics applied to the original curse millions of iPhone owners today. The mobile is too destructible.
In July 2014, I wrote about my 20 year-old daughter's breakage streak: Three shattered iPhone 5s screens in about three months. The photo you see, taken on Christmas Day, is what her newest replacement looks like today. What's wrong with this picture? Need I even ask? The mobile's delicate design features are lost in protective gear that shouldn't be necessary. iPhone is flawed by design.
When it comes time to buy your next smartphone, will you be swayed by hardware or operating system? Forget iOS for a moment; put Apple's mobile OS out of your mind for right now. Hardware to a large extent determines price, and an upcoming range of budget phones from Alcatel offers an interesting choice.
The Pixi 3 -- that rainbow-colored delight you see above assaulting your eyeballs -- comes with a choice of four screen sizes, and three OS choices. The smallest measures just 3.5 inches, but 4, 4.5 and 5 inch models are also available. But the interesting thing is that each is available with a choice of Android, Windows Phone or, erm, Firefox OS installed.
Oh the irony! I got up yesterday morning planning to write a version of the post you read now, choosing instead to look back at readers' life-changing tech. The trigger: Motorola starting the New Year with a 64GB Moto X model and my previous day's personal tech devices wrap-up, which got me to thinking abut smartphone differentiation. Processing power, graphics chips, and the like are passé. Who really cares but a minority of gadget geeks? But storage matters to everyone, and Apple gets it—as iPhone 6 and 6 Plus capacities demonstrate.
My feeds are full of reports this morning about a lawsuit filed against Apple alleging that iOS 8 consumes too much storage and, as such, the company misrepresents the amount available. I would have looked so smart writing yesterday about how much Apple gives that competitors don't. That's okay, now my analysis has a news hook. The point, for people reading no more than two paragraphs of any story: iPhone 6 capacities outclass competitors, and the problem of operating systems consuming much of available storage isn't new or exclusive to the fruit-logo company. Just look to Google and Microsoft, for example.
Three weeks ago I asked "What tech changed your life in 2014?" You answered here and on Google+. As the new year starts, I wonder what will make all our lives better. Apple Watch? I doubt it. Shake me awake from the nightmare if the wearable isn't the most successful flop of 2015. Windows 10? Skipping nine is a good sign, but is giving users more of what they don't want to let go life changing? Eh, no.
At the precipice of looking ahead, this is a last look behind. Once Consumer Electronics Show leaks and early announcements rush the InterWebs, all eyes will turn forward -- blind to what many people have, focusing on what they want instead. That's because "aspiration" is the defining word of the technology era, and the promise if you buy newfangled This or That your life will be better for it. Sometimes the promise is true, but too often not, which is why I asked the important question three weeks ago.
Looking back on this last day of the year, I wonder how my daily tech changed so much since the first. On Jan. 1, 2014, my core computing comprised Chromebook, Nexus tablet, and Nexus smartphone. Midyear, I switched out to all Microsoft—buying Surface Pro 3 and Nokia Lumia Icon. While commendable the effort, Windows poorly fit my lifestyle. Today, I'm all Apple—13-inch MacBook Pro Retina Display with 512GB SSD, iPhone 6 128GB, and iPad Air 128GB. I can't imagine using anything else.
Following the lead of my BetaNews colleagues Mihaita Bamburic, Ian Barker, Alan Buckingham, Brian Fagioli, and Wayne Williams, I review my year in tech, and unlike 2013 focus on products that released during the year. I present my 2014 personal tech alphabetically, from company name, rather than order of importance—because they all matter. Note: While the list looks like four, it's five because the first is two combined.
I'm not easily impressed. Lots of tech products see the light of day each year, but only a few I consider to be truly great. And by that I mean technology that I want to have in my life, that brings value, and, last but not least, that makes me feel good. The subjective factor is just as important, I believe, when it comes to the things that I have to look at and interact with on a daily basis. That's just the way it is, and I'm fine with it.
Because of this, a pretty long list can get really, really short in no time. My colleagues have already shared their favorite tech products of 2014 with you, and now the time has come for me to do the same. It's BetaNews tradition, after all. So, without further ado, here they are.
At the end of 2014, the Windows Phone landscape is dominated by low-end smartphones. Of the ten most popular devices that the platform has to offer, just two are high-end handsets -- however, neither is a current-day flagship. If it is not clear enough by now, Windows Phone is nothing more than a low-end affair, after more than four years down the road. Is that a bad thing?
Nokia Lumia 520 is the most-successful Windows Phone around, accounting for a whopping 25.4 percent of Windows Phones in use. Put differently, it is as popular as the following nine most popular Windows Phones put together. Altogether, the top ten makes up 67.2 percent share in this market, according to information revealed by AdDuplex.