Tag Archive: Wireless


image

When you come to talking about a major revision to the most popular smartphone operating system, it’s hard to find a place to start because there is simply so much to cover. Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” is perhaps the second largest step Android has taken in terms of major revisions, the largest of course being Android 2.0 back in 2009 which brought a wealth of new features.

Ice Cream Sandwich (or ICS) has included a huge amount of things to Android, from a new design and unified stylings to new functionality and features. Google has followed in the footsteps of Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” for tablets by shifting to blue as the primary color, as opposed to green in Android 2.3 “Gingerbread”. The blue design glows in a somewhat futuristic way, and interface elements are squarer and more angled than before.

Throughout all stock applications on ICS is seems like they have gone for several major styles, most of which differ to previous versions:

Sharp angles and lines are commonplace. In the app drawer, around the search bar, under the text entry bay and even in the onscreen buttons, smooth curves or gradients have been replaced with single-color lines and sharp corners. The Roboto font is modern and clean. Thanks to the 720p display on the Nexus, it appears very sharp and it’s very easy to read. The sans-serif and simple design makes it feel at home in a 2011/2012 world. Black, grey and blue are the colors used, along with transparency. The notification pane uses blue/grey icons on a black background, sliding it down reveals a semi-transparent background with blue highlights. In apps, buttons are grey on semi-transparent black with blue highlights.

For the first time in my history of using Android (and I’ve used it since the Google G1), a unification has been achieved. It is absolutely essential these days in a mobile operating system that moving between included applications feels like you are still “in” the OS, and never before has Google achieved this.

With Gingerbread Google may have updated the Calendar to a new style, but left Gmail with the same style from original Android. It was an awful mess of old and new, but going through ICS feels like everything is in place. I always see the same button styles, the same layouts, the same designs and the same colors used in every single included application, and it actually makes me smile at an Android design for once.

Now this may be somewhat controversial, but I really believe that the push to the ICS style was due to the threat of Windows Phone. Using Windows Phone’s style is simply outstanding because every single application uses the Metro design language, so browsing from Messaging to the Browser feels like you haven’t left Microsoft’s world. Fonts are crisp and clean, designs are angled and minimalistic and there is a focus on text over imagery.

Of course not everything in Metro has influenced Android, in fact many, many things are quite different, but it seems more obvious than ever before how influential Microsoft have been in the mobile space. In all honesty, I don’t care that Google borrowed some aspects of Windows Phone, such as the angular design, minimalist icons and swiping panes, because in the tech industry this happens all the time.

The point is Ice Cream Sandwich feels like the first Android revision that actually has a style. A proper, unified and beautiful style that feels modern, clean and even futuristic. I love it, almost to the point where it pushes out Windows Phone from my mobile OS design preference.

Thanks: Neowin & Tim Schiesser

.

Advertisements

image

TP-Link has expanded its 802.11n router lineup with a new pocket router and a portable router for 3G modems. The pocket router enables users create a Wi-Fi network after connecting it to a network or modem via Ethernet. Users can also configure the device to work as a range extender or a wireless bridge to expand the connectivity of existing Wi-Fi networks.

The portable router provides a USB port that is compatible with many 3G modems that utilize HSPA, UMTS or EVDO standards. The device does not provide an internal battery, requiring power to be provided via USB or an external adapter. Aside from the 3G router functionality, it can also be used as a traditional Wi-Fi access point, range extender or bridge.

The pocket router is expected to ship on November 23 for $30, while the 3G router will not arrive until December 14 for $40.

Thanks: Electronista

4G high-speed mobile trials begin in London

image

While American network operators proudly roll out their high-speed 4G mobile networks across the United States, there are many other nations where 4G has yet to arrive. The UK is one such example; while elsewhere in Europe, such as Germany and Scandinavia, operators already sell 4G services to customers, Britain has yet to even award spectrum licenses to carriers.

Despite this, operators are forging ahead with testing the new technologies on their networks, and today sees the launch of a new 4G LTE trial in London by O2, the UK’s second largest operator with over 22 million subscribers, and part of Spanish telecoms giant Telefónica.

This isn’t the first 4G trial in the UK – O2 has been carrying out testing in Slough, west of London, since 2009; a joint trial between BT and Everything Everywhere, owner of Orange UK and T-Mobile UK, began this year around the village of St Newlyn East in Cornwall, but with just 200 people on that trial, its scale is quite limited.

O2’s London trial is on a much larger scale, and will run through to June 2012. At its peak, there’ll be 25 4G sites active across the capital, covering 40 square kilometres in total. Two distinct trial zones will encompass many of London’s most prominent locations, including Hyde Park, Westminster, Soho and areas north to Kings Cross; and around The O2 arena (shown at the top of this article), parts of London’s Docklands, and the Canary Wharf business district in the east.

The trial won’t include mobile phones though; rather, Samsung B3730 dongles will be supplied to testers, supporting 4G speeds of up to 100Mbps, although users are expected to receive average speeds of 25-50Mbps in practice. When the network is deployed nationally, average speeds are likely to drop further, but will still dramatically exceed the kind of speeds users routinely see on 3G networks which, in the UK, averages around 1.5Mbps.

The trial will be carried out on the 2.6GHz spectrum band under a temporary license. The UK auction of spectrum allocation to the network operators should have taken place this year, but has been delayed until mid-2012; spectrum can also not be allocated until analog television signals are switched off next year.

Even once the auction is complete, operators will still have a considerable amount of work to do to build and test their 4G networks before they’re ready to sell products to customers – as a result, the first commercial 4G services aren’t expected to launch in the UK until the first half of 2013 at the earliest.

Don’t get too excited about the prospect of joining the O2 London trial either – access is by invitation only for around a thousand users in total, including premier O2 customers and selected small businesses. Staff at John Lewis department stores will also be involved in the trial to see how faster mobile broadband can be used to help businesses.

UK consumers can get a sneak-peek of the technology in action at the O2 Arena in London’s Docklands, where the company will be offering demos of the trial in action at its store and O2 Lounge.

Thanks: Neowin

image

As smartphones get thinner, lighter and increasingly powerful, manufacturers somehow find new ways to make the technology in our mobile devices ever more compact. The bits of tech that we slot in to our devices keep getting smaller too; users across the globe routinely insert microUSB chargers, microSD storage cards and microSIM cards into their handsets, to unleash the capabilities of the technology within.

While microSIM has been around for a couple of years now, it hasn’t been implemented much beyond Apple’s newer iPhones and its iPad tablets. Just as other manufacturers seem poised to widen the scale of microSIM adoption – Nokia’s Lumia 800 Windows Phone, due for release this week, has a microSIM slot, for example – a new format has been announced that’s set to reduce the size of the humble SIM once again.

The nanoSIM has been designed by German firm Giesecke & Devrient, specialists in developing smart cards and banknote production systems. The new card is 30% smaller than the microSIM, and a whopping 60% smaller than the cards currently used in the majority of mobile devices. Pocket-lint notes that compatibility of the nanoSIM with current and older devices is provided through an adapter caddy into which it can be placed.

G&D is actively working with manufacturers and network operators on finalising standards for nanoSIM implementation, and believes that the first mobile devices with nanoSIM slots will be on the market in early 2012. SlashGear suspects that the first such device could be Apple’s next-generation iPhone, but that seems to be little more than speculation and supposition at this stage.

SIM card technology has certainly advanced since the early days of mobile telephony. Neowin’s youngest readers may not recall some of the early mobile phones that came with a SIM-chip embedded in something the size of a credit card, the entirety of which had to be inserted into the handset.

Things have come a long way since then, although perhaps the technological leaps for SIM are getting a little smaller these days. Still, just imagine: by this time next year, your phone could be a fraction of a gram lighter thanks to the switch from microSIM to cutting edge nanoSIM technology.

Thanks: Neowin

Review: Droid Razr

image

The Droid Razr is a phone that is using a name that helped to define Motorola in the mobile phone segment. By taking on this branding, Motorola is betting big that this device will not tarnish the name that the original Razr established. The Droid Razr retails for $649.99 or is $299.99 on a two year contract.

Hardware:

The Droid Razr comes in at 7.1mm and it definitely feels like a slice of mechanical joy that the original Razr first introduce. Coming in at just over a quarter inch thick, you begin to realize that this phone is pushing the boundaries of how thin a device can be and still retain the quality that doesn’t make it feel cheap in your hands. One thing did become clear during our review, design was placed over functionality for this device. Does the device turn heads? Yes, but is that always a good thing?

Just because a device is thin, does not mean it isn’t wide. The 4.3 inch device has a bezel that makes the device feel as if the screen is larger than 4.3 inches. With the extended bezel, the device does feel rather wide at times and those with tiny hands may not be able to firmly grasp the device.

The one thing that does separate this phone from other Android devices but does link it closer to that of the iPhone, is that the battery is not user replaceable. For some this may be a deal breaker for others, it’s a non-issue. For us, it goes both ways as if you compare it to an iPhone, it’s not a big deal but then again, in the Android community, user replaceable batteries are rather common.

Display:

Motorola is packing in the goods with the display as it comes in with a resolution of 960 x 540 Super AMOLED display which allows you to make the most of the 4.3 inch real estate provided by the Droid Razr. The screen is beautiful, but one thing to note is that it’s not the best display that we have seen as there is something awkward about how text is handled when scrolling as it becomes a bit jaded when compared to other devices.

For the average user, most will not notice the small imperfections of the screen and it does work well on this device. Those who are overly sensitive and notice the finer things in life may get annoyed with some of the blurring of text when scrolling but it is far from a show stopper.

Software:

Victory! Motoblur is not on this device, well, at least the naming of the skin is not. For the most part, a lot of Motoblur has been removed from the skin but elements of the theme are still hidden in the cracks and can still be found when using the device. There are also many free apps that come on the device and Verizon is pushing its free NFL mobile app for those on 4G for the 2011 season. There are the usual other apps such as Vcast, Blockbuster and a few others. Motorola also includes Motocast which is similar to the iCloud service.

Another interesting and useful app is the “Smart Actions”. These location based tasks are clever and quite useful. You can set them up to turn specific features on and off depending on many different metrics. You can have it adjust device settings when at work, turn off certain features when the battery hits a denoted percentage, or even automatically silence the ringer in certain locations such as the office (it can change settings based on location). They take some time to setup, but once done, they reduce the amount of times you have to change particualr settings in your daily routine.

Battery:

Motorola made big claims when introducing the phone that the battery would not be short sided in use, but we have yet to use a 4G device that doesn’t kill the battery when pulling down data. We can’t give a full breakdown of battery usage yet as we have limited time with the device but it does have a 1780 mAh battery. We noticed, as one would expect, that heavy use of 4G does impact the battery, but in a single day we made several calls, checked email, and of course, browsed the web.

The battery appeared to be standing up to this punishment but we were not exactly heavy on the 4G use either.

Camera:

Not surprisingly, Motorola is using an 8 megapixel shooter in this device. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Motorola has been using this same camera in the Bionic. There is also a 1.3 megapixel camera upfront that and as you have guessed, is used for video calling.

Overall we were generally pleased with both of the cameras. The rear camera was modest in its color reproduction and focus time was acceptable to the point that it should not impede use. It was not the fastest focusing camera we have ever used on a mobile device but it is far above the worst we have seen too. It’s well above average, especially in well lighted areas but low light pictures did begin to show noise at even modest darkness.

Video capture is above average as well. The device comes pre-set to 720P but you can bump it up to 1080P. We might suggest that if you require high quality 1080P video to purchase a dedicated device, but for a cell-phone, it does reasonably well. Personally, we will keep it at 720P as 1080P video will fill up your internal storage rather quickly.

Performance:

The device feels great in use, but is far from perfect. Actually, the only time we really saw a slowdown with the device was occasionally while browsing the web. Quadrant came back at 2700 on average over a series of tests during the day which puts it in company with many other high end smartphones.

If you were thinking that it’s really thin and that Motorola must have sacrificed on the performance to get it this thin, you were wrong. However, if you are watching a movie or any other intensive action, the device does get a bit warm.

Call Quality:

The Droid Razr is an average performer in this category. Sure, calls were easily heard and understood on both ends but definitely had a tint of tin to them. The same can be said for the speakerphone; it’s clear the thinness of the device plays into quality but it doesn’t render the device unusable, far from it.

Conclusion:

The Droid Razr is a device that will turn heads but also makes a few sacrifices to get the job done. It is by far one of the best looking devices on the market with its sleek profile and Kevlar back plate. But to get that thin profile, the device is rather light and almost (almost!), feels cheap and the display does leave some room for improvement.

What Motorola has done proves that it can compete in the design game and produce a fantastic looking device. If you need a gorgeous device that runs Android but cuts only a few corners, this is your device. But at the same time, with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus right around the corner that will also be on Verizon, it makes the decision a little bit harder.

Thanks: Neowin

image

For Google and Android fans around the world, today has been a big day, as Google teamed up with Samsung to announce the Galaxy Nexus and Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich”. Many new features were shown off today at the event, including the Galaxy Nexus, so we have compiled a list of everything to know from the Google event in case you missed it or were asleep.

Galaxy Nexus

The Galaxy Nexus specifications were fully leaked an hour before they were unveiled at the event in Hong Kong. They include:

A 4.65-inch 1280 x 720 HD Super AMOLED display HSPA+ or LTE (depending on region) 1.2 GHz dual-core processor (TI OMAP 4460) 1 GB of RAM 16 or 32 GB of internal storage 5 MP rear camera with flash; 1.3 MP front camera Full HD 1080p video recording at 30 FPS; zero shutter lag Bluetooth 3.0 and dual-band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n NFC and a barometer 8.94mm thin; 135g light 1,750 mAh battery

We also have a convenient comparison table between the Galaxy Nexus and the Galaxy S II, iPhone 4S and HTC Sensation. In most cases, the Galaxy Nexus is the victor.

The Galaxy Nexus will be available in the United States, parts of Europe and Asia starting in November; more regions to follow. You can register your interest in the device at Google’s Nexus website.

Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich”

Google announced a plethora of new features in Android 4.0, and while many improvements are visual, there are still core enhancements being made. Below we have listed some of these new features so you can quickly get an idea what Google has introduced in Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS).

Honeycomb-styled interface New Roboto typeface used throughout the UI New lockscreen featuring quick unlock to camera and notification pane access Improvements to multitasking and the notification pane Resizable widgets Quick SMS responses when rejecting incoming calls Improvements to text input, autocorrect and copy & paste Real-time voice-to-text input Full control over data usage, including usage notifications New contacts app featuring better social integration and “Me” profile More advanced Calendar and Gmail apps Improved Gallery featuring a photo editor Improved Camera app including panorama mode and easy sharing Cloud connectivity with automatic Google Chrome bookmark sync Offline access to emails (past 30 days by default) and web pages (when you save them) Face unlock using facial recognition technology Android Beam for NFC sharing of loads of content Integrated visual voicemail and appropriate APIs Integrated screenshots from hardware button combination Support for high-density mobile displays such as the Galaxy Nexus’ 720p display Many, many new APIs

For developers out there, the Android 4.0 SDK with all the improved and new APIs is now available from Google’s developer website.

The first device to be loaded with ICS is, obviously, the Galaxy Nexus, but the OS is also heading to the Nexus S at some point. It is unclear, however, if ICS will make its way to the older Google Nexus One. It is also unclear whether smartphone manufacturers will update their devices to ICS, or which devices will end up being updated. Hopefully carriers and manufacturers will announce their intentions soon.

Thanks: Neowin

image

If you’re one of those people whose heart isn’t exactly yearning for an iPhone 4S, but you’re still craving a hot new handset, now is certainly a very exciting time, with an incredible array of amazing new hardware available or coming soon, coupled with some equally awesome improvements to the operating systems that power these dazzling new devices.

Windows Phone recently upped its game with the introduction of its ‘Mango’ update, and some of the first new handsets to take advantage of the latest version of that OS are on sale now. Perhaps the most impressive Windows Phone 7.5 handset on sale so far is HTC’s Titan, a phone that certainly lives up to its name, with a vast 4.7” S-LCD display housed in a gorgeous 9.9mm-thick aluminum unibody shell.

Many Android users will have looked on in envy at the Titan’s sleek lines. For those who prefer their OS to be served in Gingerbread flavour rather than Mango, though, HTC is ready to satisfy your tastes, with the launch of the new Sensation XL – and if you’re familiar with the Titan, then you already know plenty about the XL, for the two are remarkably similar.

Like the Titan, the Sensation XL has a single-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon MSM8255 processor. The same 8MP camera with twin-LED flash sits on the back, capable of 720p recording, also with a 1.3MP unit up front, and the same 4.7” display has an identical WVGA (480x800px) resolution. The XL gets 768MB of RAM, compared with 512MB for its Windows Phone cousin, but both share a fixed amount of 16GB of embedded storage. Curiously, for an Android handset, there’s no microSD expansion slot.

But beyond that, the Titan and Sensation XL part ways and do their own thing. The XL runs Android 2.3.5, along with HTC’s latest version (3.5) of its Sense user experience. Where the Titan arrives at the party in a very classy, understated two-tone dark grey, the XL bursts onto the scene looking like it’s ready to dance, in a rather more upbeat white and light grey outfit.

This is a handset clearly geared towards music lovers; it’s packed with Beats Audio enhancements –including profiles and presets to improve audio fidelity, plus a set of either Your Beats in-ear ‘phones or special edition Beats Solo over-the-ear headsets (depending on the retail or operator pack that you purchase.

Thanks:Neowin

image

Samsung has got something up its sleeve in terms of upcoming products and it plans to talk about them publicly in a couple of weeks. Thisismynext.com, along with other media outlets, have been sent invites to attend a Samsung press event in San Diego on October 11. But the smartphone company won’t be alone. Samsung is promoting this event as a joint operation with Google, with the invite saying specifically that the press will “get a look at what’s new from Android” during the press conference.

That’s certainly a big clue that the event might be the place and time for the official unveiling of a Samsung made smartphone that will have Google’s next version of the popular Android mobile operating system inside. Android 4.0, otherwise known as Ice Cream Sandwich, has been the source of much speculation, along with some screenshot leaks. This week a video made its way to the Internet that supposedly showed Android 4.0 in action. So far Google has been pretty silent, at least in public, about the details of Android 4.0, saying only that it would launch sometime in October or November.

It’s likely that the press event will show an upcoming Samsung smartphone that Android 4.0 will be running on. Internet rumors have been flying about this mystery phone over the past couple of months. Even the actual name of the phone is under dispute with some calling it the Nexus Prime, others labeling it the Droid Prime and still other rumors naming it the Galaxy Nexus phone.

Thanks: Neowin

image

LG Mobile started off the week by unveiling a new industry-first phone. The previously seen Optimus EX is one of the first to ship with NVIDIA’s upgraded 1.2GHz Tegra 2 chip, which lets it play 1080p video where the earlier model stopped at 720p. A very bright 700-nit, IPS-based four-inch LCD makes it easier to see outside while also giving it good color accuracy and wide viewing angles.

Also new over the Optimus 2X, which the EX effectively replaces, is Wi-Fi Direct support for media sharing and other point-to-point wireless links. LG still outfits the new Optimus with a five-megapixel back camera and a VGA front camera, using 8GB of internal memory for storage and a moderately sized 1,500mAh battery.

Android 2.3 ships standard with LG’s light customizations on top.

Korea’s SK Telecom gets the Optimus EX first. LG has promised that the phone will ‘resonate at home and abroad,’ however, and thus that other countries will get the EX soon. T-Mobile has been the only home of the Optimus 2X in the US and might be the top choice for the EX if sold in the area.

Thanks: Electronista

iPhone 5 press event to be held October 4

image

Are you ready for yet another iPhone 5 rumor story? This newest note comes from the Wall Street Journal’s AllThingsD.com web site. It claims via unnamed sources that Apple will hold its press event to introduce the next version of its best selling smartphone on October 4 with the actual launch of the iPhone 5 due a few weeks later. The story also claims that new Apple CEO Tim Cook will be leading the press event. If true, it will be the first time that Cook will take charge of one of Apple’s media events since Apple founder Steve Jobs stepped down from his CEO position earlier this summer. The article does speculate that Jobs himself might show up, if his current health issues allow him to do so.

Speculation about the launch of the iPhone 5 has been the single biggest topic for the tech industry for months and indeed there have been a ton of stories and rumors about the iPhone 5’s release date, some based purely on speculation and other based on leaked memos and notes. More recently the rumor mill had the iPhone 5 being announced on October 5 and October 7.

Many people also believe that Apple will also launch a new and cheaper version of the current iPhone 4 during the iPhone 5 press event. Apple might also announce its annual refresh of its iPod media player library during the same press event. So far there has been far less advance rumors about what the new iPods might be like.

Thanks: Neowin