New phone only available in South Korea, no expected US availability
Confirming earlier rumors, carrier SK Telecom and manufacturer Samsung have officially announced a curved screen smartphone for the South Korean market. The new Galaxy Round has a very slight front-glass curve on its 5.7-inch screen, and runs a custom variant of Android with what Samsung calls "interface tweaks" to take advantage of the unique front glass.
Vega LTE set to be SK Telecom-exclusive, could go overseas
Pantech is updating its Vega smartphone line to include a smartphone with an integrated fingerprint reader on the rear of the device, similar to the initial rumors of the LG G2. The Vega LTE-A provides support for LTE-Advanced over SK Telecom's network in South Korea, something that will allow it to connect at a speed of up to 150Mbps.
Could boost downloads up to twice current LTE speeds
The next-generation iPhone -- believed to be the iPhone 5S -- could support LTE Advanced, an anonymous official with SK Telecom tells the Korea Times. SK is said to have approached Apple with the idea instead of the other way around, but the two parties are nevertheless said to be "in the middle of negotiations." The Times suggests that Apple will probably use a Qualcomm chip to support the standard.
Galaxy S4 LTE-A gains Snapdragon 800 running at 2.3GHz
Korean carrier SK Telecom has launched its LTE-A network in the country, the first of its kind in the world. The network, which offers connection speeds as high as 150Mbps and was seen in launch event tests to run at 100Mbps, is also accompanied by an updated version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 with LTE-Advanced compatibility.
Unique LTE frequencies may create problems
The two current iPhone carriers in South Korea, KT and SK Telecom, are in talks with Apple for LTE support in the next-generation iPhone, according to anonymous officials with the carriers in contact with the Korea Times. The underlying issue is that while the new iPhone is almost guaranteed to support LTE, KT and SK Telecom use separate frequencies for their LTE networks. KT wants Apple to support 1.8GHz, but SK wants 800MHz. SK reportedly sent an official to Apple's Cupertino headquarters earlier this week hoping to secure a deal.
LTE-based calls to increase call clarity, speech bandwidth
Sprint is going to launch its HD Voice LTE service by the end of this year. The service, initially using HTC EVO 4G LTE handsets at both ends and requiring the local network to be upgraded with Network Vision, aims to improve the voice call experience by offering a wider speech bandwidth. South Korea-based SK Telecom will launch its equivalent service tomorrow, using the Samsung Galaxy S III LTE for the pilot program.
Korea reverses phone policy to derestrict sales
South Korea is about to take further steps that could open up not just overall mobile competition but a possible retail presence for Apple, local publication Maeil said Monday. As of May 1, the country will reverse its whitelist policy for which phones can be sold into a blacklist. Rather than only allowing phones registered through carriers and thus letting them restrict where the devices can be sold, the Korea Communications Commission will now allow any phone and any store, as long as the device wasn't reported lost or stolen. The move will likewise let stores sell phones independently of subscriptions rather than forcing customers to sign up as soon as they get the device.
White Optimus Vu expected to appeal to women
LG has promised to offer a white version of its Optimus Vu smartphone at SK Telecom in its home market of South Korea. The large, five-inch display of the Optimus Vu nearly rivals the 5.3-inch screen of the Samsung Galaxy Note, but sports a 4:3 aspect ratio instead of the Note's 16:10. LG expects the white Vu to appeal to younger users and women.
Korean phone makers accused of hiking pricines
South Korea's Fair Trade Commission issued across-the-board fines on Thursday to domestic phone designers and carriers for price fixing. IT ruled that LG, Pantech, and Samsung, as well as three dominant carriers KT, LG Uplus, and SK Telecom, had colluded on the prices of phones. The group was accused of artificially inflating the prices of cellphones, only to pretend they were offering a discount for what was supposed to be a less expensive device.
Galaxy S II to get Android 4 in South Korea
SK Telecom has breifly tweeted that it will begin updating the Samsung Galaxy S II handsets of its subscribers to Android 4.0 starting on the morning of March 13. The South Korean provider will start at 10AM local time, but this may not happen after all as the tweet was removed, though not before The Verge saved it. Internal SK documents are also said to confirm the date, however.
iPad 3 should get multi-carrier launch
Fresh details leaked Monday have an LTE iPad 3 shipping for at least two US carriers. AT&T and Verizon would both sell the tablet at 4G speeds, the Wall Street Journal said. Whether or not Sprint's upcoming LTE network wasn't mentioned, but the hardware would have the expected fallback to 3G in areas where LTE wasn't available.
Samsung Galaxy M Style is economic Galaxy S II
Samsung brought out one more phone ahead of CES on Wednesday. The Galaxy M Style is its lowest-cost phone ever to carry a Super AMOLED screen and brings the four-inch, 480x800 organic screen to a smartphone that will cost under $500 US unlocked. Its construction is just as high-end for the category, carrying a metal body that's 0.39 inches thick and with a similar front face to the more upscale Galaxy S II.
KT joins SKT and LG Telecom in adding LTE
South Korea's KT on Tuesday became the third carrier in the country to launch LTE-based 4G. Its Olleh 4G LTE service is starting up first with four phones, including the Pantech Vega and Samsung's Galaxy S II LTE, Galaxy S II HD LTE, and Galaxy Note LTE. A unique trick of the new network is an adapative system known as Warp: KT can tie as many as 144 cell sites into one virtual station and dynamically put bandwidth where it's needed, potentially avoiding bottlenecks.
iPhone 4S may face technical, cultural
A rumor alleges that claims of a banner Korean iPhone 4S launch were far from true. An SK Telecom official supposedly talking to the Korea Times said that, instead of the 300,000 combined sales between pre-order and launch, real sales were supposedly below 150,000. The unnamed source implied that SKT's rival, KT, had artificially inflated the initial numbers by letting customers order as many as three phones at once.
Deal lets SK diversify into new businesses
SK Telecom is planning to purchase a 21 percent stake in Hynix Semiconductor. The deal will make the South Korean carrier the memory chip maker's largest shareholder. The transaction is valued at 3.4 trillion won, or about $3 billion.
One of many Friday launches
Today's South Korean iPhone 4S launch was met with long lines, at least at KT's flagship store in downtown Seoul, says local news agency Yonhap. There a lineup is said to have formed before sunrise. SK Telecom is also putting iPhones on sale however, marking an end to KT's exclusivity. The first 100 people to pre-order with SK were treated to a midnight event where phones were activated and Korean hip-hop acts performed.
Samsung makes odd pink Galaxy S II available
Samsung took an unusual direction Wednesday after it released the Galaxy S II in pink. The bright color comes after the white version and original black. The company doesn't shy away from its reasons for the color and claims that it will appeal to "lady consumers and young generations."
Korea sees runaway iPhone 4S advance demand
Apple saw record demand for iPhone 4S pre-orders in South Korea, local reports mentioned. About 200,000 of the devices were sold in advance in one day at both KT and SK Telecom. Demand was so high, the Chosunilbo said, that websites crashed the same day.
Google CEO Schmidt to meet with Samsung, KT, LG
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt will be in Seoul this week to meet with executives from South Korea's leading telecom and personal electronics companies. According to a source at The Korean Times, Schmidt will announce a number of significant investments in Korea, including a possible local Internet Data Center. Until recently, Google has struggled to establish itself in the market against Korean search companies Naver and Daum.
Tizen rises from ashes of MeeGo
Intel and Samsung partly confirmed rumors by unveiling Tizen. The effective successor to MeeGo still uses Linux as an open-source foundation for a mobile OS but is focused on a much broader coalition of LiMo supporters that includes Japanese phone makers NEC Casio and Panasonic Mobile, OS developer Access, and carriers NTT DoCoMo, SK Telecom, Telefonica (O2), and Vodafone. The group will focus more on HTML5- and Wholesale Applications Community-based apps that can run on MeeGo and can share much of their code for other platforms and devices.
LG Optimus EX gets dual-core 1.2GHz chip, Android
A new Android handset from LG has shown up in Korea, with the images and specs shared in a leak by SlashGear. The dual-core, 1.2GHz smartphone uses Android 2.3 and gets a four-inch 800x480 touchscreen much like the Optimus Black. The model number, LG-SU880, is also revealed by the spec sheet.
LG Optimus LTE gets real photos, specs
LG's LU6200 4G phone has been spotted live by Korea's Daum with more details. Its centerpiece will still be the 4.5-inch, 720p display, but it should also carry a dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon. It's now also believed to have a more elegant Optimus LTE title, at least at present.
SK Telecom quickly shoots down rumor
Korean phone giant SK Telecom quickly dismissed rumors that it would bid on Hulu. Being unusually direct, a spokeswoman said her company was aware of Hulu's self sale but that its managers "do not plan to participate" in the bidding process. A rumor earlier claimed SK Telecom was looking once more at a US company as a way of reducing its dependence on cellphones and its native country.
SK Telecom to bid on Hulu later this week
South Korean wireless provider SK Telecom is expected to join the Hulu bidding with its own offer later this week, a source told SAI. It will be one of a few, though the others haven't been named. Hulu sent out a letter to all interested parties, asking them to send a non-binding expression of interest that includes what their bid range is once they do their due diligence of the company's finances, the source said.
Samsung Celox due at SK Telecom, NTT DoCoMo
The Samsung Celox smartphone that first appeared last week has been spotted thanks to Japanese site Ameblo. The handset, basically a redesigned Samsung Galaxy S II with an LTE radio, will arrive at Korea's SK Telecom, as revealed by the provider's logo present on the rear of the phone. The large, iPhone-like home button is also gone from the front of the device, replaced instead with Android's standard navigational keys.
Cyber IDs of 2/3 Korean population put at risk
In reaction to a privacy breach, the Korean Home Affairs Ministry has stated it will consider phasing out the real-name verification mandate. Last month, hackers breached one of South Korea's most popular Web portals and stole personal information from over 35 million users including their name, address, phone number, and their resident registration number, the Korean equivalent of an American's Social Security number. In part, the personal information was so comprehensive because the Korean Government has an authentication policy that requires larger Korean Internet sites to authenticate users' identities.
SK Telecom first to lower monthly rates
The South Korean government is reportedly placing pressure on local cellular carriers to lower their pricing structures. SK Telecom, the largest mobile provider in the country, is the first to respond to demands from regulators. The company will reduce its monthly charge by 1,000 won (~$0.92 USD) by September, bringing the average monthly fees down to approximately 11,000 won (~$10.21 USD), alongside other promotions and plan changes.
Galaxy S II pips iPhone to 1m in 1 month for Korea
Samsung started off the week with word that the Galaxy S II had set a record for the fastest-selling smartphone in Korea. The dual-core Android machine hit one million sales in just its first month, or about one every three seconds. As a frame of reference, the Galaxy S took 70 days to reach the same tally, Samsung said.
Pantech Vega Racer touts dual 1.5GHz Snapdragon
Pantech has unveiled a new flagship smartphone that could give it a rare speed edge in the smartphone world. The Vega Racer should be the first to use Qualcomm's dual-core, 1.5GHz Snapdragon MSM8660 and outpace even 1.2GHz dual-core phones like the HTC Evo 3D. The chip's inherently much faster Adreno 220 graphics could give it an edge in visuals not normally associated with Snapdragon chips.
Apple gets LG smartphone exec for Korea
An industry contact said Wednesday that Apple had snapped up a key LG executive for its Korean division. LG Smartphone Business VP Dominique Oh would now be the general manager for Apple Korea and replace the longstanding Andrew Sedgewick, who had been in the top spot since 2001. The Yonhap tip wasn't completely certain as it hadn't been confirmed by Apple or by Oh.
Numbers pale in comparison to iPhone 4
Samsung's Galaxy S II handset has reportedly reached sales numbers exceeding 120,000 in just three days of availability, industry sources have told Yonhap News Agency. Although the numbers appear to be easily eclipsed by initial sales from other high-end smartphones, such as the iPhone 4, the Galaxy S II report is limited to three carriers in South Korea.
SK Telecom and KT halt iPad 2 sales due to demand
Korean cell carriers KT and SK Telecom both said Tuesday that they had temporarily stopped taking online orders of the iPad 2 due to high demand. Both froze their sales outside of retail after just a week, with SK Telecom saying its stock had been "depleted" in the short space of time. Demand was larger worldwide than supply, SK added.
Samsung Galaxy S II hits 200K pre-orders in Korea
Samsung claimed an at least initial win for the Galaxy S II. The company took over 200,000 pre-orders across all three major Korean carriers between Monday of last week and the launch on Friday. About 160,000 of those were at the country's largest carrier, SK Telecom.
South Korea's KT gets Galaxy S II on April 25
South Korean provider KT Corp will get Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S II later this month, the carrier announced on Friday. The handset will arrive soon after KT's exclusive run of offering the iPhone 4 ended last month, with SK Telecom added in March. South Korea is historically a very popular market for Samsung's Android phones even factoring in its role as part of a corporate duopoly in the country, with the original Galaxy S selling nearly two million units in 2010.
Dish snaps up Blockbuster for 320m
Dish said Wednesday that it had won an auction to buy Blockbuster. The satellite TV provider said it had offered $320 million, about $228 million of which was in cash, to beat out competitors like investor Carl Icahn and SK Telecom. Bids had gotten as high as $310.6 million, from Icahn, before Dish landed the final price.
Korean claims have iPhone 5 skipping
A potentially sketchy rumor has the iPhone 5 arriving in June after all. The device would still miss WWDC but could have a special event with Steve Jobs weeks later. ETNews claimed to know that both KT and SK Telecom would have the new model along with or soon after other countries.
Dish and Icahn part of bidding for Blockbuster
The bidding to buy out Blockbuster now includes Dish Network and well-known activist investor Carl Icahn, insiders claimed Friday. The two are both supposedly making just the minimum bid, around $290 million, to qualify for the auction before it starts in earnest on Monday. The WSJ in scraping information was warned that new bidders could come into play or make unions with each other.
SK Telecom may buy out Blockbuster
Korean cell carrier SK Telecom said Thursday that it was contemplating making a bid for the struggling video chain Blockbuster. An official didn't explain the motivations, but it's suspected the deal would be an attempt to diversify away from its Korea-only network, where it leads but has a tough fight with KT and LG Telecom. Daewoo Securities analyst Byun Sung-jae told the WSJ that SK Telecom might feel oversaturated but could thrive in Internet video, where Blockbuster's content rights would be advantages.
Korea's SK Telecom confirms intent
UK carriers Orange and Vodafone have announced details of their subsidized iPad 2 plans. Beginning tomorrow, Vodafone is selling 16, 32 and 64GB tablets at prices of £199, £249 and £349 for existing subscribers. For new customers, a £30 premium is being imposed.
SK Telecom confirms iPhone 4 due March 16
SK Telecom on Tuesday confirmed earlier tips and said it would carry the iPhone 4 on March 16. The Korean carrier will be just the second with an iPhone in the country. Its deal ends KT's technical exclusive for the iPhone, which was dictated mostly by its use of GSM.
Hopes products not 'just for the rich'
Apple has "clever things" planned in order to address the prepaid market for iPhones, says COO Tim Cook. The executive joined CFO Peter Oppenheimer and VP of Internet Services Eddy Cue in speaking with Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst with Bernstein Research. While the iPhone is in high demand, a new model can cost at least $600 off-contract. Apple doesn't want its products to be "just for the rich," according to Cook, and is "not ceding any market." He notes that the company has spent "huge energy" in China, said to be a "clasic prepaid market."
SK Telecom may get CDMA iPhone 4 too
SK Telecom could get the CDMA iPhone 4 next month in what could be a significant shift in the Korean cellphone industry, according to claims from the field. The largest Korean carrier is supposedly in "final stage" talks with Apple to have the phone in March. The deal is claimed by Yonhap's contact to be "going smoothly" and all but certain to happen on time.
Qualcomm FlashLinq tech works up to a 1km radius
Chipmaker Qualcomm today said it will show off its new peer-to-peer wireless technology at the Mobile World Congress show next week. Called FlashLinq, it aims to let mobile devices connect and share broadband connection speeds. Embedded into chips, the tech would automatically discover thousands of other FlashLinq devices within a one kilometer radius and share Internet access between them using Wi-Fi.
Pegatron CDMA iPhone estimates up to 15m
One of Apple's key partners for making the CDMA iPhone has already had to increase its production estimates for anticipated demand, part suppliers said Monday night. Pegatron would pass its original estimates of 10 million iPhones to make between 12 million and 15 million for 2011. Apple's demand "continues to stay strong" and forced Pegatron to step up its efforts, Digitimes understood.
Leak has CDMA iPhone beyond Verizon
The CDMA iPhone should reach beyond the Verizon model in the States to land at some of the most important Asian carriers, part suppliers may have revealed. Noting that only Foxconn-made models would go to Verizon, the insiders added that Apple's new contractor Pegatron would be making the new version for additional carriers in China, Japan and South Korea. The Digitimes claim didn't say when these countries would get the new model.
Korea snubs Nexus S over Google control, iPhone
Korean cell carriers are turning down the Nexus S both because of Google's control but also because of Apple, insider tips said late Thursday. Both KT and SK Telecom are reportedly upset that Google's insistence on a pure Android experience won't let them promote their own proprietary apps and services. Google's control of the marketing for the Android 2.3 flagship also wouldn't give them the marketing angle they would like, Korea Times had heard.
iPhone Q1 production at 21m with CDMA factored in
Apple is optimistic for not just its Verizon iPhone plans in early 2011 but for its regular GSM iPhones as well, part suppliers claimed on Monday. The company reportedly plans to ship five to six million CDMA iPhones between January and March, but has also increased its production of regular iPhones from 13 million to 15 million, giving it as much as 21 million shipments. The CDMA version also wouldn't be exclusive to Verizon as Digitimes has put it shipping in the US and Asia-Pacific.
Galaxy S hits 2m in Korea as iPhone makes 1.8m
Samsung late on Sunday claimed the distinction of outpacing Apple to two million sales of a given smartphone model in Korea. The native firm sold two million Galaxy S phones in the six months since launch, beating the iPhone's 1.8 million since it went on sale over a year ago. The rate was a slight slowdown from the summer, when Samsung sold 800,000 phones in two months.
LG Star confirmed in Korea as Optimus 2X
LG confirmed the existence of the Starearly tonight as it has brought out the phone in its native Korea as the Optimus 2X. The phone is the first to carry NVIDIA's 1GHz dual-core Tegra 2 and can both play and capture 1080p video with its eight-megapixel camera. An HDMI output also makes it one of the first phones to have 1080p video output as well as advanced 3D gaming.
Samsung Galaxy Tab hits 600K in October
Samsung today said it had sold 600,000 Galaxy Tab devices since it had a wider launch a month ago. The Android tablet's results were spread across 30 countries and in the past two weeks have included US carriers such as Sprint, T-Mobile Verizon and most recently AT&T. Demand triggered shortages in some areas, though Samsung didn't say which.