Renewed mobile phone efforts could be produced by third-party manufacturers
Nokia may re-enter the mobile phone industry next year by creating new smartphones, a report claims. While the company has previously put its name to an Android tablet called the Nokia N1 allowing it to remain visible in the mobile device industry, the manufacturer is said to be bringing in staff to work on new phones, which could head to market as early as next year.
Quiet Xperia Z4 launch avoids details of release for rest of the world
Sony has quietly launched the latest in its flagship Xperia smartphone line, in Japan. Just like the Xperia Z3 in comparison to the Xperia Z2, the new Xperia Z4 is very similar to its predecessors in terms of design and functionality, with slight improvements to some of its internals while others remain the same, such as the 5.2-inch 1080p Triluminos display.
Android gains 70 percent of downloads, iOS gains 70 percent of revenue
A new report by analytics firm App Annie has revealed that Apple and Google, as the progenitors of iOS and Android respectively, are locked in a roughly stalemated battle when it comes to revenues from apps versus app downloads. Google's Android enjoys the majority of app downloads, as it has for some time -- but continues to be unable to catch Apple in terms of being able to reward developers for their work. In a set of charts from the analytics firm, Apple's revenue from app sales is about 70 percent higher than Google Play, while Google's downloads outpaced Apple's by 70 percent.
Google adds option to find Android smartphone to search results
Owners of Android devices have a simple way of finding their misplaced smartphone, by performing a Google search. Similar to Android Device Manager's tool for finding a lost device, a search for the phrase "Find My Phone" with the owner logged in to their Google account will load up a card showing the device's location on a map, with the added option of setting the phone to ring at its loudest setting to help with finding it nearby.
Lumia 540 Dual SIM has 5-inch 720p display, quad-core 1.2GHz processor
Microsoft has unveiled a Windows-based smartphone that seems to be a slightly improved version of the recent Lumia 640 for emerging markets. The new Lumia 540 Dual SIM shares much of its specifications with last month's smartphone launch, but it does include a few useful changes, such as a higher-resolution front-facing camera and, as the name suggests, the ability to use two SIM cards.
Huawei Ascend P8, P8max launching in Europe
Huawei has launched two smartphones as successors to last years' slimline Ascend P7. The Ascend P8 has a 5.2-inch 1080p display held inside a unibody casing measuring just 6.4mm thick and weighing 144 grams (5 ounces), and is flanked by the phablet-sized P8max with a larger 6.8-inch 1080p screen and a set of similar specifications, but with a thicker 6.8mm and heavier 228g (8 ounces) body.
MacNN and Electronista deals for April 14, 2015
Hello and welcome to Daily Deals, where the staff of MacNN and Electronista scour online retailers to find discounts, offers, and sales for you, our discerning readers. A recap of still-active deals from Monday follows the new deals batch, which includes $100 off the Alienware Alpha, a triple-pack of Seagate storage drives, and a heavily-discounted Lytro camera.
Powerful set of tools enables researchers to attract volunteers, study larger pool of data
One of the most critically-lauded -- particularly by the public -- aspects of Apple's "Spring Forward" event last March wasn't the sleek new MacBook or even the remarkable miniaturization that enabled the Apple Watch; it was the section devoted to ResearchKit, a new SDK aimed at leveraging the sensors found in many mobile devices to help medical professionals develop apps that could further medical research into any number of diseases, conditions, or illnesses. On Tuesday, Apple released it to all developers and open-sourced it.
Nexus 6 firmware hints at Google wireless service with refunds for unused data
Google's plans to offer a wireless service in the United States may have been uncovered earlier than planned. An examination of a recent firmware image of the Nexus 6 appears to suggest Google will offer a service where customers will only pay for the amount of services they use, with the potential service also being given a logo and a temporary name: Project Fi.
Trusted Voice Smart Lock option rolling out to stock Android devices
Owners of devices running stock Android will be able to unlock their smartphones and tablets by uttering "OK Google." Following changes to Google Play Services, Android Police reports that the Trusted Voice unlocking option is starting to roll out, appearing in the Smart Lock settings. Users are warned before setting up Trusted Voice that it is "less secure" than a knowledge-based security measure, such as a PIN or a pattern, as "someone with a similar voice or a recording of your voice could unlock your device."
MacNN and Electronista deals for April 13, 2015
Hello and welcome to Daily Deals, the post where we search the Internet for sales, offers, and discounts for you, the discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. Since it is the start of a new week, all older sales have been removed, with the new batch including discounts on the Lexar JumpDrive, $100 off the Moto 360, and $100 off the Apple iPad Air 2.
High 4K resolution smartphone screen going into production next year
Sharp has unveiled another high-resolution display for smartphones heading into production in the future. Following on from the earlier 4.1-inch, 2,560x1,600 screen, offering a pixel density of 736 pixels per inch (ppi), the new panel measures 5.5 inches but boasts the ability to display a 4K image, with its 2,160x3,840 resolution giving it an impressive pixel density of 806 ppi.
New program has Sprint representatives offering in-home guidance for new smartphone purchases
Sprint is starting a new program which aims to bring the retail experience to the customer's doorstep. Direct 2 You is best described as a mix between home delivery and visiting a Sprint store, with carrier representatives not only delivering orders to customers directly, but also taking the time to offer initial usage support as well as migrating customer data between devices.
Sprint International Value Roaming includes unlimited free texts, 2G data
Sprint has introduced a new International Value Roaming option that will provide free texts and 2G data to subscribers visiting a list of countries, including the United Kingdom, Japan, and Mexico, with calls in the countries priced at $0.20 per minute. Along with the new add-on, which can be included with a number of plans at no extra charge, travelers can acquire International Speed Data Roaming Passes, providing connections at 3G speeds. The three passes consist of 100MB of data at $15 for one day, 200MB at $25 for seven days, and 500MB of data for $50 for two weeks.
Leaked site includes questionable placeholder specifications for LG G4
The LG G4 may have leaked far earlier than the manufacturer intended, after a website, said to be a staging area prior to the flagship smartphone's launch, surfaced. The page, spotted by Evan Blass and now hidden from view, contained a large number of images showing the G4 in full, complete with the stitched leather backing that appeared in earlier teasers for the device's unveiling.
Macs up nine percent, iPhone holds steady in US market
Led by gains in the US market both for its Mac computers and its iPhone 6 lineup, Apple continued to gain share where rivals lost it in the latest reports from both Gartner and ComScore. Although Apple actually lost a tenth of a percent in marketshare in smartphones in the US from last quarter, chief rival Samsung dropped ten times more, falling 1.1 percent on weaker demand. Apple now has 12 percent marketshare in the US, a nine percent gain year-over-year.
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge delivers premium materials, Apple-like design
The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is one of two Galaxy S6 models that the South Korean tech giant hopes will reverse its drastic decline in profits in recent quarters. Although its predecessor, the Galaxy S5 sold in the tens of millions of units, it was not enough to halt a sharp decline in smartphone profits. With its high-end sales being eroded by Apple's wildly successful iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and its low and middle-end ranges being cut into by Chinese makers like Xiaomi and Huawei, these are perhaps the most important Galaxy flagships Samsung has ever released.
Report claiming people paid to attend media event as fans refuted by Samsung
Samsung has denied a report claiming it paid 500 people to attend a press conference for the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge in China last Friday. It is claimed the manufacturer tried to increase interest in the flagship smartphones at the event by hiring stooges to make up half the 1,000 people in the audience, all in a bid to improve its presence in the country.
Faster processor, better display added to larger HTC One M9
HTC has launched an upgraded version of its flagship One M9, made specifically for China. At first glance, the HTC One M9+ looks similar to the normal version, but HTC has made quite a few improvements to the device, including increased specifications and a better screen, replacing the M9's five-inch 1080p display for a 5.2-inch version offering a resolution of 2560x1440.
Fragile curved glass, excessive glue hurts Galaxy S6 repairability score
The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is a difficult-to-repair device, according to a teardown of the smartphone by iFixit. The latest Samsung flagship scores a lowly three out of ten for repairability, lower than the five scored by the Galaxy S5 last year, with excessive amounts of glue used in its construction and the high probability of breaking the signature glass display counting against the device.
EE enables Wi-Fi calling, uses phone dialer instead of separate app
British carrier EE has turned on Wi-Fi calling for its subscribers in the United Kingdom. Launching initially on the Lumia 640, with the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the S6 Edge set to offer it from April 10 and more devices in the future, EE's version uses the phone's dialer instead of a secondary app, and will allow customers to make or receive calls and texts from both the cellular network and Wi-Fi hotspots. EE expects to have more than five million of its subscribers capable of using Wi-Fi calling by the summer.
ZTE Blade S6 Plus has 5.5-inch 720p display, 3,000mAh battery
ZTE has launched a second version of the Blade S6 it unveiled in January. The Blade S6 Plus is a marginally larger smartphone than its stablemate, increasing the size from a 5-inch screen to a 5.5-inch 720p IPS display, with the battery also boosted from 2,400mAh to 3,000mAh, though other than the size difference and these changes, the rest of the smartphone appears to be identical to the standard model.
New OnePlus One ROM stays close to stock Android Lollipop
OnePlus has released its first custom Android ROM, one it is calling OxygenOS. Initially released as an early alpha in January, OxygenOS was created for the OnePlus One smartphone as a replacement for CyanogenMod, following the parting of ways between the manufacturer and Cyanogen, with One owners able to download and install the ROM to their devices now.
Screen of Samsung offering shatters sooner than iPhone
Warranty firm Square Trade has put the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge on its testing bench, and has found the device just as susceptible to bending as the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Additionally, the phone has a further flaw, with the bend testing finding that the screen on the new device is more likely to shatter under the force than the Apple iPhone did, leaving the user with "a pocket full of broken glass."
Apple spotlights World Autism Awareness Day with spotlight on helpful apps
Apple has showcased 16 apps specifically designed for autistic persons in the Education section of the iOS App Store. Two apps in particular, Proloquo2Go and Proloquo4Text, are being offered at an unusual sale price of $110 and $120 respectively, half off their normal cost due to the promotion. MacNN reviewed Proloquo2Go a little over a year ago, finding it be the best in class. Other apps spotlighted help users with math, clothing choices, environment comfort, and more.
Refresh of HTC One M8 destined for Europe with 13MP camera
HTC is giving potential owners of the One M9 smartphone an alternative option, by offering an altered version of its predecessor. Meant as a cheaper mid-range device, the One M8s is very similar to the One M8 in appearance, complete with a five-inch 1080p display and an aluminum unibody design, with the majority of changes not being immediately apparent.
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.