BlackBerry begins pre-order sales of Leap smartphone
Pre-orders for the mid-range BlackBerry Leap have commenced in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other countries. BlackBerry is selling the smartphone with a five-inch, 720p display unlocked directly from its website, priced at $275, though it warns the version it sells will not work with Verizon, Sprint, or US Cellular (i.e., America's CDMA-based carriers). Pre-orders in Canada will begin at a later date.
Program expected to encourage more switchers, add to iPhone 6 sales
As reported previously, Apple has now expanded its "reuse and recycling" program in the US and Europe to include now taking selected models of non-iPhone smartphones as trade-in towards a new iPhone. The program is now operating throughout the US, Canada, the UK, France, and Italy, and may be operating in other countries as well. Only specific recent models are eligible, but customers can being the process either online or in person at an Apple Store.
Phablet-sized high-resolution display, plastic body expected in HTC launch
HTC has leaked a phablet-sized variant of its plastic One E9+ via its Chinese website. While the One E8 was launched shortly after the One M8 flagship last year as a similar device with a cheaper casing for Asian markets, the One E9+ takes a different route, opting for a larger and higher-resolution display as well as a few other changes in specification from the One M9.
Partition stitching addition widens reach of Windows 10 phone preview
Microsoft is making the technical preview of Windows 10 for smartphones available to more devices, the software giant has advised. Initially available to a small number of Lumia smartphones, the technical preview will be installable on a wider array of hardware, with over 30 Lumia devices on a preliminary list set to receive the software in the next preview release.
Existing BT Broadband customers get discount on new mobile plans
British telecommunications giant BT has started its return to the mobile phone market earlier than expected, by offering its customers cellular connections. Becoming a carrier once again, after spinning off what would become O2 in 2001, BT is providing modest SIM-only contracts to consumers, with existing home broadband customers getting a monthly discount on their plan.
Acquisition of rival carrier by Three owner could create largest UK mobile carrier
The owner of British carrier O2 has agreed to sell the company to Hutchison Whampoa, the result of negotiations between the two owners which started in January. Telefonica, the owner of O2, has confirmed it will be handing over the carrier for £10.25 billion ($1.53 billion), with the deal still to receive regulatory approval before it can close completely.
Twitter starts testing automatic playing of promoted videos in iOS apps
Twitter is starting to test automatically-playing videos in its apps. According to Ad Age, the service will autoplay promoted video ads to some Twitter users in the United States using the official iOS app. While the videos will play muted, some users will see a looping six-second preview while others will see the the full video in a loop, with both groups able to select the video to view it full screen and with sound turned on.
Combination of larger screens, Apple Pay, Apple Watch intriguing Android users
Investment firm Cowen and Company has opted to raise its year-end target price on Apple stock to $135 following a survey it conducted with existing smartphone owners around the world. After polling some 3,000 people in various regions, the firm discovered that 25 percent of all iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus sales are coming from Android switchers, who are persuaded not just by the larger displays.
BlackBerry Leap heads to FCC for possible US launch
The BlackBerry Leap has made its way to the FCC, with regulatory listings hinting at availability of the smartphone in the United States later than in Europe. Crackberry notes that the short-term confidentiality agreement in the filing expires on May 4, long after the European launch in April, and though it isn't definitive, it certainly suggests the smartphone will go on sale in the US either on that date or shortly after.
Disrupting industries is the new black, great apps and fair app prices, bad jokes
The MacNN Podcast episode seven is now available, and this week we looked at the rumor that Apple is preparing to revamp the Apple TV and sweeten the pot with an optional package of channel offerings that don't require a cable subscription; Google's entry into the MVNO space; the recent Microsoft announcements about Windows 10; Facebook getting into inter-site payments; the return of Launcher to the App Store, and the removal of so-called "anti-virus" iOS apps; our latest "Living With" column; and our favorite apps of the week.
Budget-priced Lumia 430 has four-inch display, 1.2GHz processor, 8GB storage
Microsoft has introduced what it calls its "most affordable Lumia" smartphone, priced at $70. The Lumia 430 Dual SIM leans towards the entry-level end of the smartphone spectrum, though despite the price, it manages to pack a 4-inch 800x480 display and runs Windows Phone 8.1 with Lumia Denim, and it will be able to use Windows 10 when it is released.
OnePlus alters price of One smartphone in Europe over exchange rate changes
OnePlus is raising the prices of its OnePlus One smartphone in Europe, due to euro exchange rate changes causing the smartphone to be sold at a slight loss. While accessories will cost the same as before, the 16GB Silk White edition of the smartphone will increase to €299 ($320), while the 64GB Sandstone Black model will cost €349 ($370), with the new pricing kicking in from March 25.
Flat rate per line introduced in T-Mobile Un-carrier for Business scheme
T-Mobile's latest Uncarrier event, teased with the statement "This one's a real piece of work," revealed new initiatives to help businesses, as well as individuals. A simplified price plan is being offered to companies with a few unexpected extras, while the carrier's consumer announcement involves paying the cost of devices for new customers transferring from elsewhere, as well as a major change to the way T-Mobile deals with contracts.
Apple hints that Apple Watch has received FCC approval
Apple on Tuesday removed disclaimer language from its Apple Watch web page, signalling that it has obtained approval for sale of the device in at least the US, if not all the major countries where Apple is currently planning to launch the Apple Watch at retail beginning April 24. The Watch will be available for preview and pre-ordering -- but not for sale -- at Apple Stores beginning April 10 in select countries.
Our panel still talking about 'Spring Forward' event ramifications
The MacNN Podcast episode six is now available (later than normal -- sorry about that), and this week we looked at the new MacBook and weigh up its pros and cons; talk about Apple Watch pricing and some new details that have come out since last Monday; delve into ResearchKit, which is already making big waves in the medical community; discuss Samsung's Galaxy S6 and the line's fading status as an "iPhone killer" (though still likely to be a very successful competitor); and get into the actual meat of the FCC's net neutrality and Title II proposal.
Data Stash heading to prepaid Simple Choice users from March 22
T-Mobile is allowing more customers to benefit from its rollover data offer, by enabling it for prepaid accounts. Originally announced in December at an Uncarrier event, Data Stash allows customers on a Simple Choice contract to roll their unused data to the following month, with prepaid Simple Choice customers able to take advantage of it from March 22.
Alleged render of Sony Xperia Z4 shows possible major changes to appearance
Sony may have two smartphones being prepared for launch in the near future, if two separate alleged leaks are true. Sony China is said to have leaked some renders of a device which some say could be the Xperia Z4, while a second leak points to a device called the Xperia Cosmos, a mobile phone that apparently focuses on selfies rather than standard photography.
Sprint offers to pay entire early termination fee, remaining handset payments
Sprint is offering to pay all the early termination fees and remaining smartphone installment plan payments for customers switching to the carrier. Extending the previous offer where it provided up to $350 towards the cost of the early termination fee, the new offer does not have an upper limit, but does require customers to port their number, buy a new smartphone at full retail or under its payment plans, submit their current devices for return, and provide Sprint with a bill showing the refundable charges within 60 days of activation.
Investment firms believe Apple sold well north of 54 million units
Two investment analyst firms, Barclays Capital and UBS, have issued their first predictions on the number of iPhones Apple is likely to sell in its fiscal second quarter, which concludes at the end of March. The firms disagree on the exact number of units, but are within 10 percent of each other, ranging from 54 million to 58 million units. UBS' Evidence Lab is predicting higher numbers, but Wall Street estimates remain conservative.
Initial Vaio-branded smartphone limited just to Japan
The first Vaio-branded smartphone has surfaced in Japan, following the sale of the computer manufacturing arm and the brand by Sony to Japan Industrial Partners last year. Simply called the Vaio Phone, it is a mid-ranged device with a five-inch 720p IPS display, using a quad-core 1.2GHz processor with 2GB of RAM, running on Android Lollipop.
Vodafone bringing VoLTE, Wi-Fi calling to UK subscribers this summer
British carrier Vodafone is bringing two improvements to its mobile phone network. Wi-Fi calling will start rolling out to customers this summer, helping customers located in areas with poor mobile phone signal. The carrier is also going to introduce VoLTE, allowing for voice calls with a higher call quality to take place over its 4G network.
Curved back, sides in early LG G4 render suggest similar display to G Flex 2
The LG G4, the manufacturer's rumored followup to last year's G3, could have a curved display if a leak is genuine. An image claimed to be an early promotional render of the smartphone shows the back of the device with a slight curve, suggesting the main display of the device will also have a similar curvature to the LG G Flex 2, shown earlier this year.
Zenfone 2 with 5-inch 720p, 5.5-inch 1080p displays go on sale
Following its CES unveiling, Asus has started to roll out the Zenfone 2 smartphone to retailers in Taiwan, before release in an expanded area. The initial launch by the manufacturer appears to show that the Zenfone 2 will be an extremely cheap device, ranging from an equivalent unsubsidized cost of just over $150 to a device sporting 4GB of RAM for under $300.
OnePlus makes flagship smartphone available to buy in 16 more countries
OnePlus is making its OnePlus One smartphone available in more countries in Europe. The extra 16 countries, including Ireland and Greece, join another 19 countries in being able to acquire the mobile device, though The Next Web reports they will still be subject to requiring an invitation to purchase or ordering it during the Tuesday sales events, just like customers in other countries are subjected to.
Dual SIM, HD Voice support, improved device protection in latest Android update
Google has launched its update to Android Lollipop, officially introducing version 5.1 of the mobile operating system. At the same time as announcing the update, which is more a minor improvement than a completely new version, Google has started to roll out the update to devices today, with Nexus smartphones and tablets being the first in line to receive it.
Sony launches at MWC claimed to emphasize mid-range product range
Sony's lack of an Xperia Z4 smartphone launch at Mobile World Congress this week does not mean the company has given up entirely on the device, as Sony's financial situation would suggest. An executive claims the smartphone is still on the way, though it will apparently be launching long before September, ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Xperia Z3 launch. When it does arrive, a leak suggests it will be a thinner smartphone that will have some changes compared to earlier models, such as the removal of the microSD card slot.
Some of the best -- and worst -- trends in tech this week
The MacNN Podcast is now up to episode five, and this week we looked at the new Microsoft Office 2016 preview; the disturbing trend of legitimate app makers inserting adware (or worse) into their apps to make a few extra bucks; the news from last week's Mobile World Congress, including the new Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge; our favorite reviewed apps of the week, and more news about Monday's public debut of the Apple Watch.
Crowdfunding site will offer YotaPhone 2 in US before wider retail availability
Yota Devices is bringing the YotaPhone 2 to the United States, with initial sales going through crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. The smartphone, which notably has a secondary e-paper display on the back of the device, will apparently go on sale in the US next month through the site in a similar move to Pebble's recent smartwatch sequel launch on Kickstarter.
LTE-equipped Tornado 552L smartphone measures 5.5mm thick
Kazam has unveiled yet another Android smartphone at Mobile World Congress, following the Tornado 455L and the pre-event launches. The Tornado 552L is one of the British manufacturer's higher-specification mobile devices, fitting a 1.7GHz octa-core MediaTek processor and a 5.2-inch 1080p AMOLED screen into a metal and glass casing that measures just 5.5mm thick.
New report partially reiterates earlier IDC analysis on record holiday quarter
While significantly disagreeing on the shipment or sales numbers of its rivals, analysis firms IDC and Gartner have agreed that Apple surpassed all expectations in a number of areas with its record-shattering calendar Q4 performance, with Gartner awarding Apple the crown of top smartphone seller in the world. An earlier report by IDC had Apple barely missing the top spot, claiming that Samsung shipped 75.1 million units, despite a sharp drop in profits and revenue.
BlackBerry Leap shipping soon with 8MP rear camera, 5-inch 720p display
BlackBerry used its Mobile World Congress media event to launch a new mid-ranged smartphone, as well as teasing another future device, The BlackBerry Leap is aimed at "young mobile professionals" and has a five-inch 1280x720-resolution display, while a second unnamed device is a slider-style smartphone with a keyboard hidden behind the screen.
x3 intended for entry level devices, x5 and x7 for full Android and Windows
Intel Corporation CEO Brian Krzanich today announced a series of mobile platforms including the company's new low-cost system-on-chip (SoC) for phones, phablets and tablets. The announcements include the Intel Atom x3 processor series, Intel's first integrated communications SoC solution for the growing value and entry device markets, and the five-mode Intel XMM 7360 LTE Advanced solution, designed for performance and worldwide coverage.
Slim Gionee smartphone has octa-core MediaTek processor
Gionee has launched a slim phone at Mobile World Congress measuring just 5.5mm thick. Taking after the Elife S5.5 in terms of thinness, the Elife S7 manages to fit in a 5.2-inch 1080p AMOLED display into its narrow aviation-grade alloy frame, covered with stainless steel sheet and nano-molding plastic, with the rest of the specifications appearing to suggest little has been taken out of the device.
Water-resistant Tornado 455L has rear 13MP Sony BSI camera
Kazam has outed one more device at Mobile World Congress, joining its other Trooper launches from last week. The Kazam Tornado 455L is a mid-ranged LTE-equipped Android Kitkat smartphone with a 5.5-inch 720p IPS display, with it also being IP67-certified for protection from the elements, with Gorilla Glass covering the screen, and the manufacturer offering support in the form of cracked screen replacements and a three-year warranty.
Chinese-produced Grand S3 checks users vein pattern in eyes before unlocking
ZTE's latest flagship launching outside of China uses the owner's eyes to unlock the device, rather than codes or fingerprints. The latest in the Grand range, the ZTE Grand S3 uses EyeVerify's Eyeprint ID system to scan the eyes as a biometric authentication, instead of a fingerprint-based system used by some flagship devices, with Eyeprint ID keeping track of unique vein patterns on the eye itself.
Second-gen phone improves enterprise integration
Privacy company Silent Circle has revealed the second-generation Blackphone and announced plans for a security-focused Blackphone Plus tablet. The Blackphone 2 features a range of hardware upgrades, but many business buyers will also welcome expanded support for enterprise mobile-device management systems, such as Citrix.
Sony style with an accessible price point
Sony has expanded its Xperia smartphone lineup, adding the M4 Aqua this week at Mobile World Congress. The company is not shy about labelling it a midrange Android device, promising that all of the popular features and capabilities remain mostly intact, despite its lower price tag.
New 64-bit chip features 64 bits, Kryo architecture, Zeroth technology
Qualcomm president Derek Aberle laid out the company's future System on a Chip (SoC) offering in a presentation at the Mobile World Congress today -- the Snapdragon 820. The new chip, unveiled as devices with the Snapdragon 810 are just now seeing release, features a 64-bit CPU, and will be sampled to device vendors before the end of 2015.
Lumia 640 XL has larger screen, better cameras than Lumia 640
Microsoft has added two more mid-ranged devices to its Lumia device roster. The Lumia 640 has a five-inch 720p ClearBlack IPS display, with the Lumia 640 XL boasting a similar-resolution 5.7-inch display, and though they both have similar core specifications and share the same name, the XL version has a few more extra changes.
Vibe Shot is smartphone with heavy focus on photography
Following on from yesterday's tablet launches, Lenovo has unveiled another trio of mobile devices at Mobile World Congress. The Vibe Shot is a smartphone with a focus on photography, the A7000 is claimed to be the world's first smartphone to use Dolby Atmos, and the Pocket Projector is a compact accessory for Android devices.
The slim phone is available two screen sizes
Alcatel has introduced the latest model in its OneTouch smartphone lineup, the Idol 3, which will be available in two screen sizes. Making its debut at Mobile World Congress, the Idol 3 features a unique 'reversible' function that allows users to take phone calls or navigate the interface when the device is upside down.
New Liquid smartphone collection includes entry-level, high-end devices
Acer has introduced three Android smartphones at Mobile World Congress, alongside the Liquid Leap+ and the Windows Phone-based Liquid M220. The Liquid Z220 and Liquid Z520 are entry-level devices, while the Liquid Jade Z follows on from the Liquid Jade S as a high-end smartphone, but slightly dialed back in specification to make it a more affordable mobile device.
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge follows Note edge in putting display on smartphone sides
Just as expected, Samsung has launched two flagship smartphones at its Unpacked event today. The Galaxy S6 is the latest update to the long-standing Galaxy S line, while the Galaxy S6 edge improves upon the expanded screen concept introduced with the Galaxy Note Edge last year, but this time Samsung has curved the screen around both sides of the device, giving users an even wider display.
Not clear what differs between Apple Pay and Samsung Pay
Today at its Mobile World Congress keynote, Samsung Electronics announced the latest in mobile payment services, Samsung Pay. Utilizing the company's purchase of LoopPay in February, Samsung's effort uses both Near Field Communication (NFC) and a new proprietary technology called Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST), allowing consumers to transition to secure mobile payments at nearly all merchant locations.
Phone features expandable storage, claims of Windows 10 upgrade possibility
At today's Barcelona Mobile World Congress, Acer unveiled the Liquid M220 smartphone, the company's first Liquid smartphone to run on the Windows Phone 8.1 operating system. The phone is a four-inch device, at 223 pixels per inch, and is aimed at the entry-level consumer.
Physical design of HTC One M9 remains relatively unchanged from previous model
HTC has just used its Utopia in Progress event to launch the latest iteration in its One smartphone range. The HTC One M9 is similar to the earlier M7 and M8 devices, housing a 5-inch 1080p display in a familiar two-tone metal unibody design with front-mounted BoomSound speakers, though they now have Dolby Audio processing to provide 5.1-channel surround sound.
Windows Phone holds steady at one percent; BlackBerry not counted in survey
The latest Good Technology Mobility Index Report on the mobile enterprise space, based on a survey of Good's customer base for its own enterprise-level email services, shows iOS gaining ground by taking away share from Android in calendar Q4 2014, with the former growing by four percentage points to hit 73 percent share of global enterprise activations. Android fell by the same amount to 25 percent, while Windows Phone held steady at one percent.
Samsung grabs lion's share of shipments, but Apple takes 90 percent of profits
Based on shipment data, analyst firm IDC has determined that Apple and Samsung have effectively gained full control of the smartphone market, splitting 96.3 percent of all smartphones shipped -- up nearly a full percentage point from the same period last year. All Android phones combined account for 81.5 percent in 2014, a slight increase from 2013. The percentages flip, however, when talking about money rather than units -- with Apple said to get 90 percent of the profits in the industry.
Glass front and back, metal sides expected with Samsung Galaxy S6
Images of what is believed to be one of the Samsung Galaxy S6 variants have leaked, giving what could be an early look at the smartphone before its expected launch on Sunday. Reports are also coming in that Samsung could also be having some trouble manufacturing one of its new flagship devices, with the curved-screen version apparently having yield issues with the display.
Moto E gains larger screen and speed boost, on sale now
Motorola has made some updates to its entry-level Moto E smartphone, the Lenovo-owned manufacturer has announced. The new Moto E will have a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor with an Adreno 306 GPU, an update from the dual-core version the original had, with Motorola also preparing two variants of the device, giving consumers the option of a 3G-only model or one with LTE connectivity.