Five-year deal starts with October release of Vertu smartphone
Smartphone manufacturer Vertu has signed a five-year exclusive partnership with luxury car manufacturer Bentley. The partnership will see the companies work together on a line of five "Vertu for Bentley" phones, with the devices set to include handset designs worked on by engineers from both companies, and provide Bentley-related services to phone owners via a pre-installed dedicated Bentley app.
Entry-level Moto E aimed at emerging markets
Motorola has launched a pair of budget smartphones at its London launch event. The Moto G has been upgraded to include 4G LTE connectivity instead of 3G, while the rumored Moto E has been unveiled as an even cheaper entry-level option with slightly lower specifications to the Moto G, but still manages to offer a considerable list of specifications for the price.
First L Series III device to ship with Knock Code security
LG is rolling out its previously-announced L90 smartphone this week, with the first devices heading to Russia and other nearby countries. Revealed before Mobile World Congress, the LG L90 will be the first L Series III device to be sold with the manufacturer's new Knock Code security system, one which requires the owner to unlock the device by tapping the display using one of over 86,000 combinations.
Earlier reports misquoted, Kutcher work on tablets continues
Lenovo is not working with Ashton Kutcher on new smartphones, the company has revealed. Following reports that the actor was expanding his design remit at the manufacturer from tablets to smartphones, a Lenovo executive has clarified that Kutcher's work is still concerns just tablets, indicating earlier comments from another executive were potentially misquoted.
ZTE Firefox OS device is massive improvement from last year
At last year's Mobile World Congress, ZTE launched its first attempt at a smartphone running Firefox OS. This year, the company is following up on the ZTE Open with the ZTE Open C, a similarly-styled device that is also aimed at emerging markets. This time, the smartphone arrives with a fair number of improvements over its debut. Electronista took the budget Firefox OS device for a spin to see what's new.
Mid-range Alcatel smartphones tried out before Mobile World Congress
Earlier today, Alcatel launched a number of Android smartphones, including two new additions to its OneTouch Idol range of devices. At a pre-Mobile World Congress event, the manufacturer offered the media the chance to try the OneTouch Idol 2 and OneTouch Idol 2 Mini before the show formally opened. Electronista spent some time with both of the smartphones earlier this evening.
Low-end smartphone segment expected to boom in 2014
A new Gartner report summarizing the state of the smartphone industry at the end of 2013 notes that sales of smartphones finally overtook sales of "feature phones" worldwide, accounting for 53.6 percent of all mobile phone sales. The total number of smartphones sold to retailers was 968 million, and of that figure some 150 million were iPhones, by far the largest "single brand." Samsung, however, is believed to have sold just under double that figure across all its brands.
Portable Puku S8 charger offers 900 hours of smartphone standby time
Puku has announced its new portable charger, the Puku S8. Featuring a powerful rechargeable battery, the S8 provides three to five full charges for an average smartphone in a small form factor. Compatible with smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices that charge through a micro USB cable (or adapter for micro USB), its compact design allows for easy carrying while travelling. One charging of the S8 can power up to 900 hours of standby time, 36 hours of talk time and 153 hours of media play time. The Puku S8 is available in six colors, and is priced at $100.
Users must be allowed to delete unwanted apps already installed on devices
Owners of smartphones in South Korea will be able to delete pre-installed apps from their devices in the future, the country's government has ruled. From April, carriers will be required to allow users to uninstall software placed onto the device before purchase, in an effort to let device owners make better use of a device's storage, as well as to improve its battery life.
Japanese carrier claims market cannot support third mobile operating system
The first consumer Tizen device release has been stalled by Japan's largest carrier over concerns that the Japanese smartphone market cannot sustain a third mobile operating system. Plans by NTT DoCoMo to launch a device in March will now not take place, with the carrier citing a significant lack of overall growth of the market in Japan.
High-end Android phone for Asian markets
Although Lenovo is known in the US as a computer brand, the company has continued to release smartphones in China and other Asian markets. One of the latest devices, the Vibe Z, continues the company's move into the high-end phone market, with a 5.5-inch display and 13-megapixel camera. Wondering if the company may be closer to considering a US launch, we checked out the Z at CES to see how it stacks up against the global competition.
First LTE devices from Archos to be shown at CES next week
Archos is using CES to launch two more mobile devices in its smartphone range, with the pair of phones being the first from the manufacturer to offer 4G LTE connectivity. Joining the wearable devices and network-connected home monitoring sensors the company has already teased will be the 45 Helium, with a 4.5-inch 854x480 IPS display, and the 50 Helium with a 5-inch 1280x720 IPS version.
New Lenovo smartphones include metal trim on casing, similar internals
Lenovo is launching a trio of new smartphones, at the same time as bringing the LTE-equipped Vibe Z out of China and into new markets. The S930 and S650 are said to take some of the design aspects of the Vibe Z, though with more restrained specifications, while the A859 appears to be a budget-friendly offering that retains similar internals to the other two releases, but opts for a cheaper external casing.
Apps to keep you beholden to no tech master
(This is the fifth in a series that showcases apps the staff at MacNN and Electronista use and recommend. The first installment, discussing media streaming and playback apps, is here. The second covered photo-editing apps, the third looked at music apps, and the fourth focused on board game conversions.)
One of the biggest perks of being a technology writer is getting to play with a bunch of the latest toys from lots of companies, sometimes before they come out. At any given moment, my house holds maybe four tablets, three to five smartphones, and two or three notebooks and desktops, including my own personally-owned tech, of course. In order to work across these multiple devices, I've had to develop a healthy agnosticism when it comes to platforms. This article on My Five Apps, then, will be an attempt to convert you to that view: The One True Tech Faith of No True Tech Faiths.
Trial in April follows change in UK banking legislation
Banks and building societies in the United Kingdom are considering allowing customers to pay in checks using smartphones, the UK Treasury has announced. The change, which would involve bank customers to photograph a check using a smartphone instead of taking it to branch, could be implemented as part of a new Check 21 law, with the first trial of the system set to begin in April.
In discussions with four more manufacturers for Ubuntu mobile OS
A smartphone running on Ubuntu Touch will be available in 2014, according to Canonical founder and product strategy leader Mark Shuttleworth. Canonical has signed an agreement with an unnamed manufacturer to have the Linux distribution put onto high-end smartphones, with other manufacturers also apparently in talks to do likewise.
Big Cyber Monday deals found from TigerDirect, Best Buy
Cyber Monday has finally arrived, and online shoppers can take advantage of big sales this holiday season. We've gathered up some great deals on a variety of electronics, including TVs, smartphones, e-readers, tablets and hard drives.
One of three HTC-Amazon smartpones said to be in advanced development stage
HTC could be working with Amazon on a number of smartphones, according to a report. The two are apparently in "an advanced stage of development" on the mobile devices, and while a total of three smartphones are claimed, one of the devices is said to be close to completion, though it is unlikely to be released anytime this year.
Free service offers 200 minutes, 500MB, 500 texts each month
Mobile data provider FreedomPop has launched its free cellular service for smartphones, one it revealed in July. The service, which provides a free allocation of data, voice minutes and text messages each month, similar to its existing free Internet hotspot service, with the carrier using Clearwire's WiMax 4G phone network for coverage.
BlackBerry smartphones in website sales supplied unlocked
BlackBerry is attempting to improve the sales of some of its smartphones by making them available directly. The manufacturer is selling the BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10 through its website, with the incoming BlackBerry Z30 also being seen at the FCC ahead of its expected release on networks in Canada in the near future.
More evidence iOS share climbing, barely trailing Android's 28 percent share
On the heels of recent reports that saw Apple growing its share of the US smartphone market, Pew Research has released a new study that looks at the entire US cellphone industry instead of just smartphones. The poll shows that smartphones are now dominant, with 58 percent of the US market. While Android remains the most popular platform with 28 percent of the overall cellphone market, Apple's iOS and its recent growth have nearly caught up, with 25 percent of the market -- a rise of six percent from a year ago.
Pico Projector, e-ink cover offered as accessories for new phablet
Alcatel has revealed two new additions to its One Touch line of smartphones. The One Touch Idol Alpha is a mid-ranged smartphone which uses light-up edges, while the One Touch Hero offers a large display, a substantial battery, and a number of accessories including an e-ink cover and a Pico Projector made specifically for the big-screen smartphone.
Android 79 percent of smartphone market, iOS 14.2-percent share
Research by Gartner suggests that sales of smartphones have exceeded those of feature phones for the first time. While global smartphone sales have increased by 3.6 to 435 million in the second quarter of 2013 compared to the same period last year, according to Gartner's own figures, smartphones make up 225 million of the total, a year-on-year increase of 46.5 percent, with feature phones seeing a 21-percent year-on-year decline to 210 million units.
Oddly, iPhone 4S and 5 also drop slightly in resale value
Analysts at investment firm Piper Jaffray, after monitoring online auctions for Apple and Samsung smartphones, have found that the three-year-old iPhone 4 has actually gained in resale value by just over 10 percent, while the later iPhone 4S and 5 models dropped in resale value -- but nowhere near as much as Samsung's former flagships the Galaxy S III or Galaxy Note II. A similar study conducted in China looking at resale auctions there saw similar results, with the iPhone 4 gaining resale value while newer iPhones and Galaxy products dropped.
Possibility Android 4.3 will pull share from other Jelly Bean versions
Android Jelly Bean, the most recent version of the mobile operating system, has surpassed the 40-percent install base milestone. Android version 4.1 makes up 34 percent of the Android device share, with version 4.2 reaching 6.5 percent, an improvement from the last report when Jelly Bean became the dominant version, with 4.1 and 4.2 scoring 32.3 percent and 5.6 percent respectively.
Android Device Manager will track devices, remotely ring, wipe data
Google will be helping owners of Android smartphones and tablet find their lost or stolen mobile device in the future, by releasing a new app. Android Device Manager will provide users with the location of the lost device, along with details for when it was last used, and the option to remotely trigger its ringtone at maximum volume, even if it has been silenced.
Exploits, malware, tools purchased by FBI for remote surveillance hacks
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is able to listen into and record conversations through microphones connected to computers, as well as through Android smartphones, according to a report. The bureau is said to have used hacking tools, including spyware and other malware, that it has purchased from individuals and hacker collectives to gain access to mobile devices, in order to eavesdrop.
Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note 2 tied for first place; iPhone second
A new study focusing only on smartphones by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) has ranked two premier Samsung smartphones -- the Galaxy S III and the Galaxy Note 2 -- ahead of Apple's iPhone various iPhone models in a new survey of 2,500 buyers. The results have a number of odd notes to them, giving high scores to mostly older models and entirely omitting recent entries such as the HTC One, BlackBerry Z10 and Samsung Galaxy S4; ranking all three iPhone models as essentially equal when the iPhone 4 is now three years old; and using the exact same vaguely-defined methodology as a recent Korean study, suggesting a possible agenda (though the Korean study actually gave the crown to the iPhone).
Verizon Edge to allow six-month upgrades for half cost of phone, trade-in
Verizon has joined the push to provide options for earlier upgrades, following on from similar plans revealed by AT&T and T-Mobile earlier this month. Verizon Edge will allow customers to upgrade their phone after six months of ownership, provided they pay a monthly fee and trade in their existing mobile device at the same time.
Launch of T-Mobile Jump forcing other carriers to offer similar plans
The new T-Mobile Jump plan to allow for phone upgrades twice a year appears to have forced the hand of AT&T and Verizon into offering their own variants of the scheme, departing from the typical 24-month lifecycle. AT&T announced a new plan to provide new smartphones and tablets on a yearly basis, something it teased about last week, while Verizon is said to be working on its own plan.
Poorly-worded bill was intended to outlaw Internet cafes, slot machines
The state of Florida, already the butt of many jokes because of its penchant for news-making citizens, reviled governor and incompetent state government has taken another one on the chin with the news that a poorly-worded law intended to ban Internet cafes and slot machines has overreached and declares any electronic device capable of playing a "game of chance" on the Internet to be illegal. The law is being challenged in court by an Internet cafe owner who was forced to shut down her business following a scandal involving the lieutenant governor.
Alcatel One Touch Fire, ZTE Open to initially launch in limited markets
The first two smartphones running on Firefox OS will soon be available to purchase by end users, with customers of Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica being among the first to get the devices. The ZTE Open and Alcatel One Touch Fire, both running Mozilla's open-source mobile operating system, will go on sale in Spain later this week, with the ZTE Open being sold by Telefonica for 69 euro ($90) tomorrow.
Dust, waterproof smartphone uses echo cancellation, noise suppression
AT&T has added a ruggedized smartphone from NEC to its business-oriented range of smartphones. Combining a 3.1-inch display with a QWERTY keyboard, the NEC Terrain is claimed to be waterproof and dustproof, uses a Gorilla Glass screen, and exceeds military specifications for shock distribution, as well as having mid-range smartphone features.
Snapdragon 800 claimed to have 75-percent more performance than S4 Pro
LG will be using the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor in a future replacement for the manufacturer's Optimus G series of smartphones. The change in processor is an upgrade from the earlier Snapdragon chips used in earlier Optimus G devices, with LG claiming it to have "up to 75-percent better performance" than the Snapdragon S4 Pro.
China now has more active Android, iOS devices than US, growing rapidly
Market analysis firm IDC has released its latest figures on smartphone share in China, and reports that Apple has achieved a nine percent share of the estimated 78 million smartphones sold in China during the first three months of 2013, a rise of 117 percent year-over year. While all of the top vendors did well, Apple -- led by its entry-level iPhone 4 -- grew at an annual rate of 211 percent. Another survey firm, Canalys, gave Apple an eight percent share but also ranked it in fifth place among manufacturers, about double the prevailing view on the company's marketshare in China.
Optimus F6 could head to T-Mobile, L9 II to Europe
A pair of unreleased smartphones allegedly made by LG have appeared in leaked photographs. The Optimus L9 II and the LG Optimus F6 are reportedly shown in images in a possible prototype form, suggesting that the phone manufacturer may end up revealing at least two new phones in the near future, if not more.
Just over 50 percent more time spent, but in similar areas
Seemingly supporting Apple CEO Tim Cook's remarks that the true measure of a successful product is less about just sales and more about customer satisfaction and use, credit agency and market analyst Experian has reported that iPhone users spend just over 50 percent more time on their devices than Android smartphone. While the results are open to interpretation, the other finding of the study may be more surprising: contrary to theories that claim Android users are fundamentally different than iOS users, the study shows largely similar usage patterns.
Computational photography said to be next challenge for smartphone images
Nokia may be looking towards adding a 16-lens camera and 'computational photography' to its Lumia devices in the future, The light field photography, notably demonstrated in the Lytro camera, has been hinted to make an appearance in a future Lumia by Nokia executive vice president for smartphones Jo Harlow.
Smartphone sales are 'new opportunity' for PC manufacturer
Computer manufacturer Lenovo is planning to expand its existing smartphone sales from other territories into the United States and Europe within the next year, according to the CEO. Yang Yuanging wants to make the move into US phone sales while the PC industry continues to struggle, with the chief executive declaring "Smartphones are our new opportunity."
Android favored among those who can't afford post-paid, study finds
Sales of prepaid smartphones in the US consumer market have risen dramatically, doubling in the last year and "continuing a string of more than 12 quarters of triple-digit sales increases" according to a new report from market analysts NPD. Prepaid phones -- defined as either premium smartphones such as the iPhone bought outright to avoid a contract or low-end smartphones aimed at lower-income consumers -- increased 11 percent in year-over-year in the first quarter of 2013.
Audio-only streaming device also claimed as being developed
A report claims that Amazon is creating a number of devices, including two smartphones and an audio-only device said to be designed for streaming. Though there are little in the way of details for the gadgets, one of the two phones is said to use a screen capable of showing 3D images without the need to wear special glasses.
Samsung fighting back with staggering advertising budget
A parts supplier with a good track record of providing advance information on smartphones is now saying that it has heard that Apple is planning more than just a single model of the so-called "low-cost" iPhone. The rumored phone, which has been speculated on for over a year, is said to be aimed at developing markets where pre-paid phones and plans dominate and is thought to be largely plastic-based, but have most of the same functionality as current iPhone models -- but cost around $330-$400, as much as 50 percent less than the off-contract price of a current iPhone.
Giants take 100 percent of all smartphone profits between them
Samsung is steadily improving its profitability in the smartphone area, but Apple continues to be the dominant player when it comes to making money on smartphones sales according to the latest report from Canaccord Genuity. Apple's lower profit margin on smartphones in the first calendar quarter of the year led to a significant drop in its share of smartphone profits but was enough to allow the iPhone maker to claim 57 percent of the entire industry's profits, with Samsung taking the remaining 43 percent.
Android, BlackBerry losing share months after iPhone 5 debut
Though the combined sales of Android smartphones continues to best Apple as a platform, Google's mobile OS continued to lose marketshare in the US in the latest quarterly comScore survey, as Apple solidified its position as market leader despite the lack of any new iPhone model in since before the holidays. Apple's share of the US smartphone market is now 39 percent, up 2.7 percent since December. Though Samsung was able to increase its US share slightly, the other three major Android vendors all lost ground in the most recent quarter.
Chinese market growing rapidly; ZTE, Huawei displace Nokia, BlackBerry
The first calendar quarter of the year has seen a sea change in the cellphone industry: for the first time worldwide, smartphones made up the majority of phones sold. While the definition of "smartphone" varies -- particularly at lower price points -- the general definition is a device that can run an operating system giving it computer-like abilities beyond what a "feature phone" is capable of. According to industry analyst IDC, a total of 419 million smartphones were sold in the first three months of the year, 51.6 percent of which were smartphones.
Retains most of design from predecessor Liquid E1
Acer has unveiled a follow-up to the Liquid E1 smartphone, revealed earlier this year. The Liquid E2 retains the same general appearance of its predecessor, though its 4.5-inch screen is a qHD IPS display, its processor is bumped upwards from a dual-core 1GHz processor to a 1.2GHz quad-core version, but keeps the same 1GB of RAM.
Overall iPlayer use equals 272M January record
Usage of tablets to view BBC content on its streaming service has beaten that of smartphones for the first time. Information published by the BBC saw 200,000 more iPlayer requests from tablets than mobile phones, with the combined usage of mobile devices making up 30-percent of all requests, namely 81 million requests for March alone.
In the US, Android use has levelled off over past two years
An analysis by London-based tech and telco analyst Benedict Evans has compiled statistics for US smartphone sales from the two largest carriers -- AT&T and Verizon -- and concluded that all new growth in the past two years from both carriers has come as a result of the iPhone. By comparison, Android sales have remained basically flat since at least 2011, with an actual drop in the most recent quarter. The analysis reinforces the notion that Android and iOS customers are entirely different groups, and should be marketed to differently.
Optimus smartphones to extend LTE-capable catalog of carriers
A pair of LG Optimus smartphones with LTE connectivity appear to be heading to US carriers in the coming months. The Optimus G Pro is rumored to land on AT&T at some point in May, while the Optimus F7 will apparently become Boost Mobile's third LTE-capable device, and has already appeared in an image in its carrier-branded form.
Top 200 device brands studied for share and usage
Mobile marketing analyst Flurry have unveiled their latest study, which draws samples from around one billion smartphones and some 2,000 unique device models worldwide. The study looked at both the distribution and usage by end-users of the top 200 device models, and found that "medium phones" with 3.5- to 4.9-inch screens were far and away the dominant choice in both areas. Phones with smaller screens were steadily declining in usage as buyers upgrade, and smaller tablets and "phablet" phones have yet to make much end-user headway.