Tag Archive | Smartphones

T-Mobile’s Latest Promo Offers Entire Lineup of Phones for No Upfront Payment

T-Mobile is continuing to shake things up.

t-mobile_iphone_ad

The No. 4 U.S. carrier on Friday announced a promotion that will offer its entire lineup of phones for no upfront payment. It isn’t really dropping the price of phones, just spreading the entire cost of the phone over 24 months instead of using a mix of an initial down payment and monthly payments.

Still, the move shows the flexibility T-Mobile has since moving to a model in which it separates the cost of the phone from its monthly service.

“The number of reasons not to switch to T-Mobile this summer is ZERO,” T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in a statement. “This is a fantastic offer and we’re making it easier than ever for customers to get the latest amazing devices.”

Under the new promotion, which starts on Saturday, customers can get a 16 gigabyte iPhone 5, for example, for no upfront fee and 24 monthly payments of $27 per month. The Samsung Galaxy S4, BlackBerry Q10 and HTC One are all $25 per month, while the entry-level Nokia Lumia 521 is just $5 per month.

The device fee is then added to T-Mobile’s monthly service fees. Options range from a $50-per-month plan that includes unlimited talk, text and 500 megabytes of high-speed data to an option for $70 per month that includes unlimited high-speed data. Additional lines for family members cost $30 for the first extra line and $10 per additional line after that.

Though not cutting device prices, the move could nonetheless be attractive to those looking to get a new phone without a big initial cost.

Update: In a telephone interview, T-Mobile Chief Marketing Officer Mike Sievert said that the new option came in response to a move by AT&T to offer some devices for no money down.

“This is really about being fast and highly competitive,” Sievert said. “We aren’t going to cede one inch of the territory and of the momentum” it has gained from its “un-carrier” approach.

As part of its Next early-upgrade program, AT&T is offering a number of phones for no money down, with installment payments of $15 to $50 per month for 20 months. A Samsung Galaxy S4, for example, would cost $32 a month for 20 months under that program. (Customers would also pay AT&T’s standard monthly rates in addition to the device financing payment.)

Sievert did not give an end date for T-Mobile’s new offer, but said promotions such as these tend to run days or weeks, and not for months.

He also said this move was not the next step that Legere had hinted will come in the fall.

“Un-carrier 3.0 is still to come,” Sievert said.

Google prepping devs for impending Ice Cream Sandwich update

With the Ice Cream Sandwich likely just weeks away, Google is getting Android developers ready for the impending update with some tips on how to optimize applications for phones and tablets alike for the next version of the mobile operating system.

Google introduced the Fragment API in Honeycomb and we’ve been expecting them to be implemented into handsets at some point in the future. The latest post on the Android Developers blog shows how a developer can optimize a Honeycomb application to run on a phone and how fragments are treated differently between the two. The post also shows how one can keep their application for tablets only.

While Honeycomb is strictly for tablets only, Ice Cream Sandwich will support just about everything, with a reassuring, “This is the way Android will stay from now on: the same version runs on all screen sizes.”

While Android has grown up a lot in its short life, the introduction of Ice Cream Sandwich will prove to be the update the operating system truly needs to provide users an experience that’s seamless across phone and tablet devices. Of course, custom Android skins may prove to be a problem but if the rumor (speculation, really, but this would solve many issues) that Google is working on a built-in theme engine, updates could come so much easier to devices.

With more and more Nexus Prime/Galaxy Nexus and Droid Prime news trickling down, the October announcement sounds more than right and we could see the introduction of the first Ice Cream Sandwich devices in early November, which would be a great birthday present for yours truly.

HTC Explorer (Pico): First Press Shots

HTC seems intent on building a phone for just about everyone, and the upcoming HTC Explorer – nee HTC Pico – appears to be targeted to either the casual or budget-minded user. With a rumored 600MHz processor, 3.2-inch HVGA display, 384MB/512MB RAM/ROM, and five-megapixel camera, the Sense 3.5-skinned Explorer looks destined to fill the role currently occupied by the Wildfire line.

Explorer, powered by Gingerbread, should arrive in both black and blue, probably at nearly free on contract when purchased through a carrier. While there’s a chance it will be introduced at HTC’s NYC event tomorrow, we still anticipate that to focus on US-specific devices like the upcoming Rhyme (Bliss) and Vigor on Verizon. Either way, a fall release seems likely.

iPhone 5 to include system-wide voice Assistant

9to5Mac spilled the beans on the plentiful amount of new features coming in the iPhone 5, which they seem to have confirmed with sources. There’s a lot we already expected, but the big news of the leak this morning is a voice-controlled Assistant.

Apple acquired Siri back in 2010, and up until now we haven’t heard much about Apple’s implementation of its technology. Assistant will be an exclusive feature to the iPhone 5, as it needs the extra processor power and RAM. It’s a system-wide voice navigation tool for controlling just about anything with your voice. Pressing and holding the iPhone’s home button will bring up Assistant, effectively replacing the original Voice Control function. From there, you can schedule appointments in the Calendar app, send a text message (or iMessage), get directions, and pretty much everything else.

The commands for Assistant are easy, but more extensive than before. Voice Control’s interface had quick commands scrolling by so you always knew how to go about speaking, but Assistant supposedly has the familiar Info button in the corner, which brings up common commands for completing tasks. Again, this is a lot like a Voice Control 2.0, in that most of the functionality in the iPhone 5 – as opposed to just making calls and listening to music – can now be controlled by voice. Presumably, Apple will release an Assistant API for developers to expand its usability even further.

In addition to this software news, there’s some interesting hardware specs. A beautiful 8 MP camera will be in the rear of the device and will include support for native panorama shots. The dual-core A5 chip and 1 GB of RAM will be inside, which is important to note because both show Apple’s need for better multitasking capabilities in the future. One thing 9to5Mac was silent about in the report is the iPhone 5 s new design. Most think it will feature a curved aluminum back, especially after the recent leaked cases from Case-Mate. There’s no information on the size of the display either. However, they did point out the new antenna system will have built-in support for both GSM and CDMA networks – ergo AT&T and Verizon.

Time is winding down for the big announcement. The hype is increasing, as are the leaks. We’re fairly certain the Apple event will take place on October 4th, which means those traditionally vague invitations from Cupertino should be going out some time this week. Stay tuned!

Samsung’s Profit Climbs 26 Percent

Samsung Electronics Co. said its third-quarter net profit rose 26 percent from a year earlier to another record as smartphones and its chip division helped drive earnings.

As smartphone margins plateau, Samsung is finding refuge from a cyclical upturn in memory chips. The division’s margins have nearly doubled from a year earlier. The importance of Samsung’s chip unit – composed of memory and logic chips – is being highlighted as it now accounts for roughly one-fifth of its total operating profit.

Read the rest of this post on the original site

When is it Time to Upgrade Your Mobile Tech?

iPad 2 vs iPad Air

I have an iPad 2. I don’t use it very much, but it’s there for me whenever a new game comes out … or whenever my Macbook is just out of reach.

The iPad 2 came out on March 11, 2011. In the grand scheme of things (and I’m not talking about the “cosmic calendar” from “Cosmos”), three years is nothing. But when it comes to consumer tech, my iPad is ANCIENT. If you count the two iPad mini models, five new iPads have launched since my iPad 2 first hit store shelves. Five! In three years!

Every time I look at my iPad, I think about how I want a new one. The new models are lighter, thinner and faster, and all have better screens. I haven’t upgraded from iOS 6 to 7 because I’ve heard it doesn’t play well on the iPad 2. But I’m not going to upgrade my iPad, because I don’t use it enough and it still works fine.

But that got me wondering: When is the right time to upgrade your mobile tech?

I like to buy a really good (but not usually top-tier) piece of tech, then run it into the ground before I upgrade. If you’re the type of person who needs to have the latest-and-greatest everything, this advice doesn’t really apply to you. But if you’re like the rest of us, and you just want to know when to pony up for a new gadget, read on.

Tablets

Tablets

Let’s start with tablets, since that’s what got me into this whole mess.

iPad: For new iPads, Apple usually tosses in a slightly more powerful processor and makes the device a little thinner. Sure, there are bigger changes from time to time – like adding a Retina display – but those are more uncommon than you might think. Plus, iPads are incredibly expensive (relative to most other tablets), so upgrading is more of a financial commitment here than in other instances.

  • Liberal Verdict: Every other generation. Got an iPad 2? Get a 4th-gen, then, too.
  • Conservative Verdict: Every three or four generations, or when a bunch of apps no longer support your device.

Android Tablets: To be honest, I’m not too familiar with the Android tablet landscape. I know it’s dominated by the Nexus 7, but that’s a relative newcomer to the field, and it’s hard to gauge just how much innovation Google’s going to throw at that line each upgrade. Android tablets are relatively inexpensive (especially when compared to an iPad), so upgrading is less of an investment, but there aren’t too many massive upgrades from one generation to the next, so upgrading isn’t a necessity.

  • Liberal Verdict: Every generation.
  • Conservative Verdict: When your device isn’t eligible for the newest major Android OS.

Kindle Fire Tablets: Like the Nexus line, the Kindle Fires are also relative newcomers to the tech scene. But Amazon has impressed me with how much it has added to each release. When you compare it to the latest Kindle Fire, the first-gen Fire I bought in the fall of 2011 is like a weird second-cousin that you avoid at family gatherings. Amazon’s added a ton of new software features – like FreeTime and Mayday – and has also launched tablets with bigger screens, which is an (obvious) big difference. At some point, though, Amazon will slow down its massive updates; until then, new Fire tablets seem like a reasonable investment.

  • Liberal Verdict: Every generation.
  • Conservative Verdict: When your toddler drops it one-too-many times and it doesn’t work anymore.

Phones

Phones

I think it’s a big lie that you need to upgrade your phone every two years. Just because your carrier gives you a big time discount to get a new device doesn’t mean you need to take them up on their offer. They’re only giving you that discount to lock you into another two-year deal; if you don’t upgrade (or buy your phone outright), you can opt out at any point with no penalty.

Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile all recently introduced plans that let you upgrade your phone whenever the wind changes. But that program isn’t for us – that’s for the tech elite.

iPhones are like iPads – rarely does one generation to the next do much to wow me. The iPhone 6 will have a bigger screen, which is (arguably) the best improvement since Siri was added back with the 4S. But is it enough for me to upgrade just a year after I got my iPhone 5? Probably not.

Android devices can become obsolete much more quickly, especially if the manufacturer doesn’t get the latest version of Android to your device. Buying a Nexus will negate this problem, as will buying the top-tier devices, like the Galaxy S4 or HTC One M8. But if you’re buying mid-range, you might run into issues – and you’ll want to upgrade more quickly.

  • Liberal Verdict: As soon as you’re eligible for an upgrade.
  • Conservative Verdict: When your device won’t get the latest OS update, or when you drop it so many times that you can no longer read the screen.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Price Slashed Again!

What do we have here? It’s the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, priced at just 179.99 at Argos! If you remember, it was launched with a price tag of 599 which quickly dropped to 499, and more recently, retailers were offering it for a bargain basement 299.

So to see it on Argos for 179.99 is just mind blowing. The good side for Sony Ericsson, is that it is now sold out on Argos, which means people are willing to part with cash when they see a good bargain. Keep an eye on Argos for more stock.

Article: Local via Go Gadget News

Motorola PRO+ unboxed on video

The Motorola PRO+ (or Motorola DROID PRO+) was announced back in August as the successor to the original DROID PRO. And while the first time around we got the DROID Pro but not the rest of the world, it looks like the rest of the world will be getting the PRO+ instead of us. Well, the folks over at technobufffalo.com recently got their hands on one unit and shot an unboxing video for the phone, showing us the goodies that come in the package, and what the phone is like.

The phone isn’t too different from the original DROID PRO, except that it features a more curvy body than its predecessor and it features a higher resolution display. Oh and let’s not forget Android 2.3 Gingerbread that comes with the phone. If you’re keen on finding out more about the phone, check out the video unboxing for yourself:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uZ7lqz4VCA

Semi-Legal Bluetooth Call Recorder: Did The Wire Teach Us Nothing?

Your smartphone can do many things, but because of legal restrictions, it can’t easily be used to record a conversation. This Bluetooth handset happily will, though, documenting over 340 hours of calls, whether or not the other party knows it.

In most areas, the act of recording a phone conversation isn’t necessarily illegal. It’s when you do it without the other party’s consent that problems can arise. So this handset, which connects to any Bluetooth equipped phone like a headset, can be set to automatically play a custom “this conversation is being recorded” message before every conversation. But only if you want it to.

The $200 recorder has just two gigs of storage on board, but it uses enough compression to hold over fourteen days worth of conversations which can be annotated with comments to make sorting through them a little easier. For reporters the device is perfect for transcribing interviews, or finding a specific quote, but it’s also handy if your conversation has important legal implications. And since people tend to be more honest when they know they’re being recorded, it could even have the benefit of scaring off telemarketers who might not be on the up and up.

HTC HD2 gets Ice Cream Sandwich

The HTC HD2 has been around since November 2009, and since then it’s received numerous ports of different operating systems. From Windows Phone 7, to Android 2.x and Meego, it looks like the developer community isn’t done yet. Some folks have managed to create an Android Ice Cream Sandwich ROM for the HD2 and have put it up for download. As a beta release, some features are unsurprisingly not working, but for the short amount of time it took to come up with it, it’s pretty impressive.

USB mass storage, the camera, hardware acceleration and some other features aren’t ready yet – but hey, it’s Ice Cream Sandwich (albeit laggy) on a two-year-old phone! Manufacturers don’t even want to waste their resources bringing ICS over to their “lower end” phones themselves. If you own an HD2 and want to give it a new breath of life, you can load up the custom ICS ROM for yourself, or wait for a more stable and complete release first. Check out the demonstration video below:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcdeaWB-lWM

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