It is well known that Samsung has often been criticized for giving its premium smartphones a not-so-premium look and feel. But, in spite of all this, in the land of upscale Galaxy handsets, an all-plastic body, with a bland design, has always prevailed. Until now.
Today, Samsung finally shows us that a premium Galaxy smartphone can break away from the norm, as it reveals the new Galaxy Alpha boasting a metal frame and an attractive design. The device's main rival is likely to be Apple's upcoming iPhone 6, which is expected to ship with a similarly-sized display.
The Sony Xperia T3 updates the Xperia T2 which, er, was an update to the Xperia T. Except that's not quite how it is. When the T came out early last year it was the flagship phone for Sony. It even had a much talked about spot in a James Bond movie. The flagship handset line from the Sony range is now the Z series, and the Z3 is due very soon. The T series is now the mid-range in Sony's stable, and the Xperia T3 is priced at £299 online at Sony's website.
Sony has worked hard to consolidate design across its handset range, and that's evident with the Xperia T3. The monolith appearance with squared-off corners and distinctive button design and placement is carried through from the Z range, though the price differential has had a clear effect on materials. Where the Xperia Z2 has a glass back that I found rather too reflective and slippy, the T3 has a more usual rubbery finish on the back that's easier on the hands and doesn't act like a mirror for the narcissists among us.
South Korean maker LG has unveiled another smaller variant of its G3 Android flagship. Called G3 A, the smartphone features hardware specifications similar to last year's G2 flagship, but in a body which resembles that of G3. It is the second smaller version of G3 announced by LG so far, with the first being G3 Beat, also known as G3 S.
Like G2, G3 A has a 5.2-inch IPS display with a resolution of 1,080 by 1,920. It is powered by a 2.26 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, which features 2 GB of RAM, and a 2,610 mAh battery, which is removable. So far, its hardware specifications are more impressive than what G3 Beat brings to the table.
Smart devices that lack a battery or wire connection but can still send data over Wi-Fi, have been created by computer scientists.
Experts from the University of Washington have developed a way of using radio frequency (RF) signals as a power source for smart devices and reusing existing Wi-Fi infrastructure to provide connectivity to them.
Smartphone makers would do well to take into account the results of a new poll from price comparison and switching service uSwitch.com which found that just 3 percent of Smartphone users are interested in quirky or unique features, such as Amazon’s Fire phone’s face tracking.
While gimmicks like that might help differentiate one device from another, what most smartphone users want is a phone that is easy to use and doesn’t require constant charging -- and preferably with built-in fingerprint scanning security.
All Windows Phone 8 devices are supposed to be compatible with Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1, but it looks like one of them, namely HTC's inconspicuous Windows Phone 8S, will be stuck running Windows Phone 8.1 going forward. That's a shame.
Due to what appear to be hardware incompatibilities, HTC has announced that the first major update for Windows Phone 8.1 will not be offered to its Windows Phone 8S users. The Windows Phone 8X flagship, which it introduced in late-2012, will, however, receive Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1.
The first Unpacked event of the year sees Samsung unveiling a new installment in the Galaxy S flagship series, while the second Unpacked event of the year is where the South Korean maker takes the wraps off its latest Galaxy Note premium phablet. Since, in 2014, Episode 1 brought us Galaxy S5, it does not take long to figure out that Galaxy Note 4 is coming at Episode 2.
Unpacked 2014 Episode 2 will be held simultaneously in Berlin, Beijing and New York, on September 3. And, even though Samsung only describes it as "the event to see 'the next big thing'", the press invite hints at the unveiling of Galaxy Note 4.
South Korean maker LG plans to introduce a stylus-toting version of its acclaimed G3 Android flagship. According to a new video posted by the company on YouTube, its upcoming handset will be called G3 Stylus.
G3 Stylus is revealed as a new device part of the G3 premium lineup, which at the moment only includes G3 and its smaller brother, G3 Beat, the last of which was announced last month. What else do we know about it?
Amazon's Fire phone does not have access to Google's Play Store. I want to get that out of the way first, as it may be a consumer's biggest concern about the phone. However, that said, it might not be a big deal. In fact, it is quite refreshing to experience Google's Linux-based operating system without Google. In my opinion it is dangerous for Android to become synonymous with Google's store.
With Android, you do have the ability to add 3rd party stores without rooting or hacking. Unfortunately, on most devices, only Google's Play Store comes installed. While I have seen some devices come with the Amazon Appstore preloaded too, make no mistake, the Play Store is always the main focus. The Fire phone bucks that trend and puts Amazon's store into the spotlight and that is not a bad thing. Actually, as I will explain later, you can add additional app stores and even install some of Google's apps.
Windows Phone users who are enrolled in the Preview For Developers program can now install Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1. The major update, which was announced less than a week ago, is set to officially roll out to the masses in the comings months.
The most important user-facing changes that Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 introduces are Live Folders, a new feature which finally enables folders on the platform, and improvements to the stock apps, privacy and security. Of course, it also makes way for Cortana's first expansion.
Months after its unveiling in early-April at Build 2014, Windows Phone 8.1 is finally rolling out to compatible smartphones. Among the latest Windows Phone 8 devices to receive the coveted software upgrade are the AT&T variants of Nokia Lumia 925 and Lumia 520, the latter of which being a branded version of the most popular Windows Phone to date.
AT&T customers using Lumia 925 and Lumia 520 can apply the software upgrade right away, suggests the US mobile operator, by heading to the Settings menu, opening the phone update submenu and tapping on the check for updates button, the last of which will reveal the option to kick off the install.
Four years ago, I asserted: "Windows Phone 7 series is a lost cause", and it was. But you gotta give Microsoft credit for persistence. Today the foundation is solid, and app developers are finally starting to notice, like they did in 2004 with Apple's flagship operating system.
But pundits howl like the zombie apocalypse, which is pretty good analogy for mindless Android and iOS users constantly clicking and scrolling. Microsoft's Windows Phone "glance-and-go" design philosophy is all about living beings and interacting with them rather than cold plastic and metal slabs. (Say, isn't that where we lay the dead before burying them?)
Today, HTC introduces a new smartphone in its premium Android lineup. Called J butterfly, the device features similar specs to the One (M8) flagship, but without making use of the latter's 4 MP UltraPixel main camera, employing a 13 MP unit instead. Pixel fans, rejoice!
That said, J butterfly retains the Duo Camera technology HTC baked in One (M8). It allows the smartphone to capture depth information to achieve a bokeh effect in photos, which is typical of DSLRs. On the front, there is a 5 MP camera, that is also taken from One (M8), designed for selfie-lovers. So far, J butterfly is shaping up to be what some had hoped One (M8) would be.
Microsoft, it is time to reconsider your Windows Phone plans. The tiled smartphone operating system's market share came in at a tiny 2.7 percent in Q2 2014, dropping from the 3.8 percent it claimed in the same period of last year. As a result, Windows Phone saw a 28.94 percent decrease year-over-year in market share, caused by low shipments of only 8.0 million units in the second quarter of the year, 0.9 million units less than in Q2 2013 when its shipments were at the 8.9 million units mark.
The data is from a new report issued by research firm Strategy Analytics, which adds "Windows Phone continued to struggle in the United States and China", the first two largest smartphone markets worldwide. There, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech places the platform at 3.8 percent and 0.9 percent market share, respectively. That is lower than in other markets such as Australia, where Windows Phone was able to reach 5.3 percent market in Q2 2014, as well as some parts of Europe.
The competition is heating up in the smartphone space, as, in Q3 2014, a dozen vendors have what it takes to shake up the top five smartphone makers list, according to a new report from research firm IDC. Judging by the standing from Q2 2014, the likely players in danger of losing their spots are Huawei, Lenovo and LG.
Samsung and Apple continue to be in a position of strength, with the two being responsible for 25.2 percent (74.3 million) and 11.9 percent (35.1 million), respectively, of the 295.3 million smartphones shipped in the quarter that ended June 30. That said, both lost market share compared to Q2 2013, when they claimed 32.3 percent and 13 percent, respectively, thanks to shipments of 77.3 million and 31.2 million units, respectively.