Articles about Smartphones

Plan to buy Samsung's Galaxy S5? Get a microSD card too (or the 32 GB model)

Samsung Galaxy S5 Blue

The amount of storage that is advertised in a product's specifications sheet never matches the user-available capacity when software is preinstalled on the device. That is to be expected, but there comes a point when customers may be getting too little space to store some content and install a few apps. With just a couple of games, that are growing in size nowadays, there might be nothing left available.

That is what upcoming Galaxy S5 buyers will have to deal with, as the preinstalled software on Samsung's new flagship takes up more than half of the advertised storage on the 16 GB model. Yes, that is roughly 8 GB occupied out-of-the-box.

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Samsung details Galaxy S5's new octa-core processor (Yes, there is one)

Samsung Exynos 5 MWC 2014

In keeping up with tradition, there will be two processors available in the Samsung Galaxy S5. The international version gets Qualcomm's quad-core Snapdragon 801, while another model -- that will most likely be available in non-LTE markets -- ships with the company's own octa-core Exynos chip, that Samsung just unveiled at MWC 2014.

Samsung is increasingly reliant on Qualcomm processors for its flagship Android devices, like the Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 3 and, most recently, Galaxy S5, as the Exynos chips that arrived in 2013 have failed to live up to expectations. Even though those were octa-core designs, the Qualcomm-made, quad-core, solutions performed similarly and came with a very competent LTE modem as well. Samsung is not giving up (yet), as the new Exynos 5422 still aims to turn the tables in the company's favor.

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Hey BYOD, Samsung's new Knox is here

BYOD board

BYOD is in full swing, but most businesses are not prepared for it. In order to maintain a high level of security, companies that embrace the movement, or want to, have to change, or adapt, their existing policies to accommodate the wave of devices their employees are bringing in, which is not what 55 percent of them are doing, according to a study issued last week.

Samsung is among the few mobile devices manufacturers to take an active role in ensuring its products are BYOD-ready and enabled straight off the bat. Its response to the movement is Knox, a solution the company released one year ago, to augment the Samsung for Enterprise program. And, now, the successor arrives to beef up Knox even further.

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Kaspersky launches a 'safe' Windows Phone browser

Kaspersky Safe Browser 1

Due to its low market share, Windows Phone is not a popular target for malware writers, which gives users a sense of security. Whether that is genuine or false it remains to be seen, but, for the time being, the platform can be considered devoid of any malware.

Like iOS, Windows Phone limits what users, and apps, can do to increase security, which is also one of the reasons why malware is not running rampant. This is achieved through a number of dedicated features, like sandboxing. However, the operating system cannot keep users from visiting the darker corners of the InterWebs, or keep them safe from potential risks while doing so. Russian security company Kaspersky has decided to take matters into its own hands, and help those who navigate to suspicious or unsafe websites, by launching Safe Browser.

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viaProtect app delivers smarter mobile security

viaProtect screen grab

The increasing trend towards using mobile devices has opened up users to a whole range of new threats. On mobiles insecure apps present a greater risk than traditional malware and viruses.

Announced at the RSA Conference, viaProtect allows consumers to take control of and protect the personal data on their devices.

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BlackBerry proves it's still kicking, announces Z3, Q20 smartphones

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 12.12.20

BlackBerry has carefully chosen the second day of the MWC conference to announce two new smartphones that run BB 10 OS, namely the full-touch Z3 and QWERTY-equipped Q20. Smart choice. After all, the big players have already showcased their latest products, which gives the Canadian company the chance to be put center-stage today.

Neither the Z3 nor the Q20 are meant as replacements for the currently-available Z10, Z30, Q5 or Q10, which BlackBerry introduced last year. The new devices are instead aimed at emerging markets and the core BlackBerry audience, respectively.

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Sandisk announces world's first 128GB microSDXC card


As the cameras on smartphones get better, more and more people are shunning the dedicated variants. You see, it is not practical to carry a camcorder or point-and-shoot camera everywhere you go. After all, you never know when you may want to take a picture or shoot a video -- life doesn't follow a schedule. This is why a smartphone makes a great camera.

The problem is, as megapixels increase and 1080p video becomes standard, storage space fills up very quickly. Many phones still come with a paltry 16 or 32GB of storage, which is not much at all. While some phones offer microSD expansion, the cards have been limited to 64GB for quite some time. Today however, Sandisk announces it has gotten over the hump and delivers the world's first 128GB microSDXC card.

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Mark Zuckerberg addresses MWC 2014 -- looks to get the world online


Mark Zuckerberg spoke at the Mobile World Congress today, saying that there needs to be some "pretty dramatic changes" to help to get more people online, pointing out that most people in the world simply do not have access to the internet. The Facebook founder has already launched with a view to getting more people online around the globe and this is referred to as an "an on-ramp to the internet" -- he wants to get a billion people online in the next five years.

Zukerberg's goal is fairly simple. He feels that there are a number of basic services -- he mentions weather and messaging specifically -- that everyone should have access to, and this is what provides. He admits that Facebook is not able to connect everyone without help, and suggested the possibility of working with more partners in the future. It seems as though this is a venture that Zuckerberg has taken a broad view with. At the moment it is a venture that is losing money, but this is not an example of martyrdom: "If we do something good for the world, eventually we'll find a way to benefit from it".

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Intel unveils the Z3480 mobile processor, its 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon rival

fight fist

If it is not obvious enough by now, 64-bit is the new black in mobile processors. Apple has the A7 that powers the iPhone 5s and latest iPads, and Qualcomm has the Snapdragon 410 and, as of today, the Snapdragon 610 and Snapdragon 615. Intel now also joins the party with its own 64-bit offering and contender, the Z3480, codenamed "Merrifield".

The Z3480 was unveiled today at the MWC conference, in Barcelona, as a 2.3 GHz quad-core solution aimed at Android smartphones and tablets. Intel says its new processor delivers "the ideal combination of fast, smart performance and long battery life", for the devices that it will power. The Z3480 competes with Qualcomm's similar Snapdragons which also target the open-source mobile OS.

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Windows Phone's growth stalls in major markets, except US

Growth Flat Graph

Nokia's underwhelming Lumia sales from Q4 2013 had a negative impact on Windows Phone's momentum in the most important part of last year. The disappointing performance continues as, sadly, the growth of the platform's market share stalled in the three months ending January 2014, according to a new report issued by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, compared to Q4 2013.

Compared to the three months ending January 2013, Windows Phone actually posted higher year-over-year market shares in most major markets. But, its performance is more or less flat when we take into account the Q4 2013 results. The exception to the rule is US, where the tiled smartphone operating system managed to increase its share, albeit slightly, in the three months ending January 2014, when compared to the same period of last year and Q4 2013.

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Sony announces Xperia Z2 smartphone and Xperia Z2 Tablet, er, tablet


There's already a lot of news coming out of the Mobile World Congress, Barcelona, and Sony is using the 2014 event to launch the latest additions to the Xperia range. The Xperia Z2 is a waterproof handset that is being billed as "the world’s best camera and camcorder". This is a claim backed by the inclusion of a 20.7 MP sensor, a 5.2 inch HD screen and the ability to capture video in 4K. Sound is recorded with digital noise canceling, and image stabilization is borrowed from Sony's existing range of camcorders and can reduce ambient noise by up to 98 percent.

The phone is driven by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor with 2.3 GHz quad-core Krait CPU as well as the Adreno 330 GPU. To ensure maximum shooting time, Sony saw fit to include a 3200 mAh battery, and power-saving technology is used to automatically switch off any phone features that are not being used.

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Nokia takes the wraps off its Android-based X smartphone series

Nokia X Pile

Today, at MWC 2014, Nokia was expected to break away from its Windows Phone exclusivity and introduce an Android smartphone called X. But, the Finnish company just took the wraps off three handsets under the same umbrella, called X, X+ and XL.

According to Nokia, the X smartphones slot between its low-end Ashas and high-end Windows Phones, with prices to kick off at €89 for the entry-level model. The beefier X+ and XL will cost €99 and €109, respectively. Is there something you should get excited about?

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Lenovo adds three new handsets to the S-series -- something for every pocket

smartphone charger

Whether you're looking for a phone whose battery will last all day, a handset that can push pixels around the screen faster than others, or looks are more important to you, Lenovo is hoping to sway your custom its way with the latest additions to the S-series range of smartphones. Starting at the cheaper end of the scale, the S660 is set to cost $229 and is aimed at "value seekers". Packing a 4.7 inch screen, the handset's key selling point is the battery life, but the brushed metal finish is sure to turn some heads as well.

Moving up market slightly, we come to the S850 which has been built for "fashion-conscious users". The 5 inch screen is found on the front of a thin and light body which is available -- interestingly -- in a choice of pink or white, and will set buyers back $269. The phone is driven by a MTK quad-core processor and with 13 MP rear and 5 MP front cameras, this is a device that looks set to impress with its all-glass exterior.

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The most popular stories on BetaNews this past week February 16 -- February 22


Another week, another spate of security related news. In the latest of a recent run of high-profile hacks, Kickstarter announced that it had been hacked, and it was discovered that ASUS routers could be sharing files with more people than users intended. Google is looking to bolster online security with its latest acquisition -- audio-based authentication outfit SlickLogin, while Microsoft's latest partnership with DocuSign looks set to make digital signatures in Office simpler and more secure. If you were under the impression that app security was generally increasing, think again; a new study shows that an almost unbelievable 96 percent of applications have security issues.

Brian got his hands on the Lenovo Miix 2 and was reasonably impressed by what he saw. He also unboxed the much touted Nokia Lumia Icon and found it to be not dissimilar to the 928 -- no bad thing. Anyone looking for an entry-level 4G smartphone now has the Android-based Samsung Galaxy Core LTE to look forward to, complete with "Jelly Bean Plus".

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Hey, BlackBerry, launch BB 10 OS firmwares for Android smartphones

BlackBerry 10 OS Android Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Research firm Gartner places BlackBerry's smartphone market share for all of 2013 at just 1.9 percent, as only 18.6 million units of the company's branded handsets got in the buyer's hands in the past year. Meanwhile, the most popular mobile OS, Android, raked in a whopping 758.7 million unit sales, giving it a market share of 78.4 percent. Why not make the best out of a bad situation by launching BlackBerry 10 OS firmwares for Android smartphones, to slow down the fast-decreasing market share and, maybe, recoup a small part of the one the OS has lost so far?

BlackBerry is basically in a hole it cannot crawl out of right now, as people just do not buy its smartphones as much as they used to. Giving them an option to try its latest mobile OS, BlackBerry 10, will theoretically increase the company's chances of getting back into the game, without allocating lots of resources to the development of new devices, which may or may not (the latter is more likely) be better received compared to the current lineup. And here is how BlackBerry could do it.

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