Tech News

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Update - 210



Posted: 14 Mar 2012 11:45 AM PDT
For those that are fans of Android tablets, especially ones in the budget price range we have some good news today. The popular budget-friendly tablet maker Archos has just released a brand new teaser video showing off their latest Android 4.0 ICS tablets. Only these are aiming for the Transformer crowd and come complete with an ultra thin keyboard dock like we’ve seen from ASUS. Check out the fuzzy yet HD teaser video below.


Archos last tablet line the G9 series launched with 8 and 10-inch models but I have a feeling they’ll be sticking to the 10-inch form factor for the new G10 tablets — at least the ones with a keyboard anyways. From the short and blurry video below we can clearly make out some extremely thin tablet designs from Archos, and a new white keyboard dock similar to the Transformer and Transformer Prime tablets. Enjoy the video and see for yourself.


With Archos already pushing out Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich to their latest G9 series, we see no reason the new G10 wont launch with the latest from Google. We are expecting some powerful dual-core processors and possibly even the NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core with the new Archos G10 tablets, although they’ve used TI OMAP 4 dual-cores in the recent past.
We have zero details at this time regarding any actual specs. As Archos has only released this very short teaser video. What we do know, is these will probably still be extremely competitively priced like most things from Archos, and it looks to be beautifully thin and have more than one color option. Stay tuned for more details as I’m sure Archos will be unleashing all the info soon.
Screen Shot 2012-03-14 at 11.27.09 AM Screen Shot 2012-03-14 at 11.27.40 AM Screen Shot 2012-03-14 at 11.27.54 AM Screen Shot 2012-03-14 at 11.28.17 AM

Posted: 14 Mar 2012 11:16 AM PDT
Verizon is poised to win the 4G LTE battle. With the comments made yesterday that Verizon will be passing the 200 mark of available 4G LTE networks across the US, and their plans to reach over 400 by year’s end and double their reach, today they’ve updated everyone and announced 8 new 4G LTE markets will get the green light. Tomorrow March 15th they’ll active 8 more, plus be expanding in multiple markets all listed below.


Verizon has passed go, and is about to collect 200 — only this hits their mark of offering 4G LTE to 200 markets nationwide. After tomorrow they’ll be well over that number and miles ahead of AT&T’s steadily slow rollout. Verizon expects to cover over 260 million American’s by years end. Here’s the new markets to receive LTE, and the ones being expanded:
– Dothan and Enterprise, Ala
– Naples, Fla
– Greenville, N.C.
– Altus and Durant, Okla.
– Longview/Marshall, Texas
Verizon 4G LTE will also be expanding in these cities starting March 15th:
– Washington, D.C.
– Elkhart, Ind.
– Baltimore, Md.
– Columbus, Miss.
– Northern N.J.
– Wilmington, N.C.
– Duncan, Okla.
– Allentown/Bethlehem, Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Scranton/Wilkes Barre, Pa.
– Hilton Head, S.C.
– Cleveland, Tenn.
– Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.
– Kenosha, Madison and Milwaukee, Wis.
Yesterday Verizon’s CTO, David Small, talked about the fact that they will continue strong throughout the entire year of 2012, and update markets as fast as possible. They plan to reach over 400 markets by the end of 2012 covering every single state except for Alaska. If they continue to push 8-15 new markets every 2-4 weeks like they did the past 6 months I have a feeling they’ll hit that milestone before the end of the year.
Looks like AT&T and the recently announced T-Mobile LTE plans have some serious serious catching up to do. Go big, Big Red!
[via Verizon]

Posted: 14 Mar 2012 11:02 AM PDT
There have been a lot of stories in the last few months questioning Android’s security as a platform. But when it came time for FBI investigators to look through an accused pimp’s Android phone, they were rendered helpless by the pattern lock that’s been part of the OS for years. After failing to break into the phone itself, they’ve submitted a subpoena to Google for the suspect’s username and password, in order to make their case in federal court.
It’s important to note that the investigators have a warrant for the data on suspect Dante Dears’ phone, even though they don’t technically need one. (In many jurisdictions, arresting authorities can make a cursory examination of your cell phone or computer if they’re on your person when arrested. Breaking through PINs, passwords or other security usually necessitates a warrant.) Apparently the FBI tried the good old-fashioned guessing game enough times to lock down the phone (20 unsuccessful patterns), and now require Google’s help to get access to Dears’ data. Dears isn’t cooperating, and Google hasn’t responded to the subpoena yet.
The FBI is after quite a lot of data, including some that Google may not have. In addition to the account email and password, they’re hoping for a Social Security number (don’t they already know that?), a contact list, all email accounts accessed from the phone, every web page visited with time and duration, all search terms and GPS logs, and "Verbal and/or written instructions for overriding the 'pattern lock' installed on the phone”. Despite the fact that Google doesn’t necessarily log all that information, it may not hold up in court, either; the FBI is likely “fishing” for any and all information they might be able to use to further their case.
Android Community wishes to make it clear that we don’t support Dante Dears or his actions. The FBI has a warrant for the information, so more power to them. But if you’ve got something you son’t want others to see, it looks like Android’s pattern lock is a good way to make sure they don’t.
[via Ars Technica]

Posted: 14 Mar 2012 10:21 AM PDT
If you’re a regular reader of this site, you probably share our opinion that Android tablets in general are superior to their iOS counterparts. According to the International Data Corporation, it’s going to take a while for the rest of the market to reach that conclusion. Their projections predict that it will take another three years at the least before Android tablets overtake the iPad, despite rapid growth as of late. Said the IDC, “…the sheer number of vendors shipping low-priced, Android-based tablets means that Google’s OS will overtake Apple’s in terms of worldwide market share by 2015.”

That seems a little pessimistic from our end. Android tablets already make up 40% of new tablet sales, though that’s probably going to take a big hit come Friday morning. Given the rapid expansion of Android in its second year on the smartphone scene, we expect sales to match the iPad by the end of this year, and start beating it sometime in 2013. That’s not any particular praise for Android tablets, just an extrapolation of current trends: tablets are red-hot, and Apple isn’t reaching below the $300 mark any time soon.
Speaking of prices, the IDC projects that Apple will remain the revenue leader indefinitely, meaning that they’ll continue to make more money than everyone in the tech industry (and a few industrialized nations). That, we certainly agree with: Apple’s sheer sales volume combined with high prices and enviable discounts from suppliers would keep them in the black for decades, even if they stopped making money today. The key to beating Apple is lowering prices, and that unfortunately goes hand-in-hand with lowering profits.
But at least there’s hope on the horizon. If anybody can build a tablet on the cheap and still make money, it’s Google.
[via Maximum PC]

Posted: 14 Mar 2012 09:56 AM PDT
This ought to be a no-brainer for any high-end Sony phone, but the company’s new Xperia S flagship now has access to the PlayStation Store. The international phone didn’t launch with the capability, which has been available to other Sony phones and tablets for some time, most notably the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play. Currently there’s less than twenty original PlayStation games, almost all of which are considerably more expensive than most 3D games in the Google Play Store.

The Xperia S might not have a tablet-sized screen or integrated gaming controls, but with a 4.3-inch 720p screen, dual-core 1.5Ghz processor and a full gigabyte of RAM, it should be able to handle the emulated games (some of which are nearly twenty years old) with ease. Connecting an external controller will be a little tricky though – the Xperia S currently only runs Gingerbread, no without a little hacking it won’t support game controls. Get comfy with virtual d-pads. An ICS update is planned for sometime this summer.
The app downloads from Sony’s web service, which previously had been occupied with a placeholder link. You’ll need to enable non-Google Play installations to get the PlayStation Store to install at first, but after that, it should be no trouble. The Xperia Ion, AT&T’s American variant of the Xperia S, hasn’t launched yet, but it should have the PlayStation Store installed by default when it does.
[via Ubergizmo]

Posted: 14 Mar 2012 07:55 AM PDT
You know this one was coming. The recently released Ice Cream Sandwich update for Samsung Galaxy S II owners in several European countries and South Korea is for the I9000 model of the phone, which is basically identical in almost all areas of the world, save a few localization files. This being the case, a public-spirited modder from Tech Splurge has posted a quick guide on flashing the software package to any GSII-I9000, saving plenty of folks weeks of waiting while their local carrier gets around to sending out the update.

Unfortunately it’s a little more complicated than the standards custom recovery method: you’ll need Samsung’s Odin desktop software and a USB cable in order to apply the update. That said, it’s probably a good idea to make a Nandroid backup to your phone’s SD card anyway – anyone willing to attempt this process probably already has that capability and know-how. Once that’s done, install Odin, turn off your phone, put it into download mode, connect it via the USB cable (you’ll need the proper drivers as well) and flash the package. Oh, and say goodbye to your warranty.
This process won’t work for any of the Galaxy S II models released in the United States, and probably not for all the variants like the Galaxy S II LTE, X, HD, et cetera. Updates to these and other Samsung phones are coming, but it could be a while. If you’re that anxious to get ICS running, your best bet is probably the various ROM communities out there, but again you should probably tread with caution. Nothing ventured, nothing gained: here’s hoping Android 4.0 finds its way to a phone or tablet near you soon in any case.

Posted: 14 Mar 2012 06:56 AM PDT
Attention: if you’ve got a EVA-01 toy limited edition collector’s statue sitting on your desk, a poster of Rei on your wall and a NERV theme on your phone, you probably want one of these. Japanese carrier NTT Docomo has teased a special edition Sharp AQUOS SH-06D phone for fans of Neon Genesis Evangelion, the popular 90s-era anime and head trip. Like approximately 65% of Japanese cartoons [citation needed], Evangelion is about gigantic fighting robots  and presumably the phone takes the theme from the futuristic interfaces found on the show.

The upcoming AQUOS SH-06D doesn’t have a feature where it stomps around Tokyo beating up aliens, but it does have an impressive 4.5-inch 720p screen, which is almost as good. With a 1.2Ghz dual-core OMAP 4460 processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage and an 8 megapixel rear camera, it’ll stand up to most of the high-end phones out there even without a direct neural operator interface. Unfortunately it’s running Gingerbread, and will probably still be doing so when the special edition is released.
There’s very little information about the Rebuild of Evangelion edition of the phone, beyond the NERV-themed backside you see above. The press release said that it’ll include built-in content (read: video clips) and user interface elements designed by the film’s production studio Khara to look like a fictional government-issued handset. NTT Docomo hasn’t said how much it’ll cost or when you can get it (the phone that it’s based on won’t be released for a while yet) but odds are astounding that this will never see the light of day outside Japan. That’s okay, if it’s faithful to the show it’ll probably just call you mom at random intervals anyway. Hey HTC: can we get an LCARS-edition One X, please?
[via The Verge]

Posted: 14 Mar 2012 06:23 AM PDT
If you’re an HTC owner wondering if your smartphone will be upgraded to the latest version of Android, wonder no more: HTC has posted the list of devices that it intends to upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich on its official blog. It’s a pretty predictable bunch; none of the phones is older than 18 months or so, and all the mid-range and high-end phones released in the last year are present. There are a few surprises, like the HTC Rhyme and the Thunderbolt (not that they aren’t appreciated) and some phones that we already knew about, like the Sensation series and the Vivid/Raider.

Here’s the full list:
  • DROID Incredible 2 by HTC
  • HTC Amaze 4G
  • HTC Desire S
  • HTC Desire HD
  • HTC EVO 3D
  • HTC EVO Design 4G
  • HTC Incredible S
  • HTC Sensation
  • HTC Sensation XL
  • HTC Sensation 4G
  • HTC Sensation XE
  • HTC Raider
  • HTC Rezound
  • HTC Rhyme
  • HTC Thunderbolt
  • HTC Vivid
Interestingly, the list includes plenty of phones that are exclusive to one US carrier or another, like the DROID Incredible 2 and Rezound on Verizon and the Amaze 4G on T-Mobile. That would seem to be an independent confirmation that these phones will be updated, but there’s no guarantee that the carriers themselves will send them out. HTC’s even got a bit of a “gotcha” clause in the blog post:
Please note, once we start pushing out updates it will take time for all carriers in each country to get the update. We are working closely with our carrier partners to nail down update schedules for our other smartphones and will have more to share very soon.
The first phones to be updated will be the Sensation and Sensation XE, which have already received their ICS upgrades in certain European markets. The Velocity (a localized variant of the Raider/Vivid design) already has an upgrade in Australia. These three phones will probably get the swiftest worldwide rollout, but as stated above, there’s always the carrier variable to consider. If your phone isn’t on the list, there’s always aftermarket modding; HTCDev has been steadily unlocking the bootloaders of nearly every single HTC Android phone all the way back to the Dream.

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 05:49 PM PDT
Say, this looks familiar. Just days after the Verizon Galaxy Nexus launched, Android Community tried an experiment to force it to go into Android 4.0′s tablet interface. We were only partially successful (hey, we’re bloggers, not developers) but it looks like someone has taken a similar idea all the way to its conclusion. A RootzWiki user named CurrentWeb has developed a ZIP package that makes your Samsung Galaxy Nexus use the full Ice Cream Sandwich tablet user interface, bottom action bar and all.

It’s a pretty sweet mod, we’ve got to admit: the Galaxy Nexus’ 720p screen is only a little smaller than most Honeycomb tablets as far as resolution goes, and larger than most first generation Gingerbread tablets. The interface fits just fine on the phone’s 4.65-inch screen, though you may have to do some serious squinting to see the text and menu items. Even more importantly, tablet apps default to their more complex full-sized interface, as with YouTube above. If there’s a tablet app that you just can’t live without on the go (like Craigslist HD) you might want to give this mod a try.
Currently the most popular custom Galaxy Nexus ROMs are supported, including AOKP, Axiom, Liquid, Gummy, and the leaked stock 4.0.4 software. (You’ll need to flash a ROM-specific file – check the source for downloads.) The only major problem found so far is that they’re incompatible with the settings menu in Chrome for Android. Currently there’s no easy way back to the standard phone interface after flashing, so make sure and do a Nandroid backup – as always. We can’t wait to see a similar mod for the Galaxy Note…
[via Droid-Life]

Device Specifications and Information
Device Info
    Device Name : GALAXY Nexus
    Manufactuer : Samsung
    Carrier : Verizon
    Announced Date : October 18, 2011
    Release Date : December 15, 2011
    Also Known As : Nexus Prime
Display
  • Screen Size : 4.65 Inch
  • Resolution : 1280x720
  • Screen Type : Super AMOLED
Dimension & Weight
  • Height : 5.33 Inch
  • Width : 2.67 Inch
  • Depth : 0.35 Inch
  • Weight : 135 Grams
Battery & Power
    Battery Type:
  • Lithium Ion
  • Battery Capacity : 1750 mAh
  • Talk Time : NA
  • Stand By Time : NA
Software
    Android OS:
  • 4.0.x
    Audio Playback:
  • AAC
  • AAC+
  • AMR
  • MID
  • MP3
  • WAV
  • WMA
    Video Playback:
  • h.263
  • h.264 / AVC
  • MPEG-4 (MP4)
    Messaging:
  • SMS
  • MMS
Hardware
    CPU : OMAP 4460
    CPU Clock Speed : 1200 Mhz
    Core : 2
    Ram : 1000 MB
    Internal Storage : 32 GB
    Front Facing Camera :
    Camera Resolution : 5 MP
    Camera Features:
  • Auto focus
  • Flash
  • 1080p Video Recording
    Sensors:
  • Accelerometer
  • Ambient light
  • Proximity
    QWERTY :
Cellular Network
    Network Technology:
  • GSM
  • CDMA
    GSM Band:
  • 850
  • 900
  • 1800
  • 1900
Device Connectivity
    Wi-Fi:
  • 802.11b
  • 802.11g
  • 802.11n
    Bluetooth:
  • Bluetooth 3.0
    Location Features:
  • Compass
  • GPS
  • Cellular location
  • Wi-Fi location
    FM Radio :
    NFC :


Posted: 13 Mar 2012 05:33 PM PDT
One of the more frustrating aspects of Android for non-US users is that a lot of the content on the Google Play Store (formerly the Android Market) isn’t available in other countries. Certain apps and usually all of Google Music, Movies and Books aren’t available in all territories. Users have been voicing their complaints at the Google Play Google+ page, and Google has responded. Essentially, they’re trying as hard as they can, but the intricacies of international content licensing are not for the faint of heart.

Here are the Google Play representative’s words:
We’re working hard to bring the different types of media in Google Play to more countries, so that more of you can take advantage of the tools and deals we offer. There are many aspects to launching a feature like this internationally that take time to get right and mean more than just flipping on a switch. We’ll be announcing more availability for books, movies, and music as each rolls out, so stay tuned on this page in the coming months!
Negotiating licensing even in the same country is notoriously difficult. Getting digital deals for books, movies and music can sometimes take years, and many pieces of professional content have different publishers in different countries. While Google is certainly trying, it’s probably going to take quite a while for Music, Movies and Books to roll out on a country-by-country basis. Other digital distributors like Apple and Amazon have had the same issues, but they’ve got several years’ head start.
However, if you’re waiting for a particular app to be available in your country, it might be best to take the direct approach. Look up the developer on the Google Plus Store, then send them an email; odds are pretty good that they want to get as much exposure as possible, especially if they’re independent. More established and entrenched content like the BBC iPlayer or HBO Go is obviously not negotiable this way, but you’d be surprised how often a developer is genuinely excited to hear from users, or in this case, potential users.

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 05:06 PM PDT
I’ve been reading webcomics, the kooky and usually ultra-specific modern alternative to the Sunday funnies page, for years. Like many fans I catch up on daily and weekly strips via an RSS reader (in my case Google Reader), but there are a lot of apps on the Android Market/Google Plus Store that will link you straight to an updated page for some of the most popular webcomics out there. One such app has caught the attention of blogger Chris Hanel, who notes that the app DailyComix has a listing of dozens of popular comics, all of which it is apparently presenting without compensation to their original creators.

Normally this isn’t really an issue – plenty of shady apps simply re-purpose an RSS entries and link to original content, including the News and Weather widget included in all versions of Android. But the problem with DailyComix is that it removes the comic images themselves from the RSS feed, then presents them without the advertising from the creator – usually their primary method of earning money. In the free version of the app, new ads are inserted, making the unscrupulous developer money in addition to the sales of the “Pro” version also offered in the Google Play Store. Popular webcomics like Ctrl+Alt+Del, Cyanide & Happiness, PvP, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, WonderMark and XKCD are all represented.
There’s no two ways about it: DailyComix is stealing content and making money off of it. As a subscriber to some of these comics, I know that not all of them actually publish the files themselves in the RSS feed, which means that the developer is actively procuring the files and reposting them. This isn’t the first time it’s happened in the Android Market (heck, you could probably find other comic apps that do the same thing on a smaller scale) but it is rather brazen, and the free version has already accumulated over 50,000 downloads. The developer has stated that he’s honoring requests from creators who ask him to remove their comics from the list, which is likely little comfort for those who have had their work exploited for months.
An easy way to avoid the controversy and make money for all parties involved would have been to include the ads that the creators place on their own RSS feeds and charge a nominal fee, without adding in more advertising. A lesson that many app developers (and Google itself) needs to learn is that repackaging someone else’s content for mobile without permission is still stealing.

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 04:38 PM PDT
It looks like Verizon is ready to double down on the 4G LTE rollout and continue leaving AT&T in the dust. In some recent comments detailed by the Wall Street Journal Verizon is aiming to release nothing but 4G LTE capable smartphones in 2012 in hopes of enticing customers on-board. That and they want to double their numbers from last year’s impressive launch.


Last year Verizon unveiled the HTC ThunderBolt at CES and quickly launched their next-gen 4G LTE network ahead of AT&T and the others. They quickly reached, and passed their goal for 2011 of 185 LTE capable markets and currently sit at over 200 today. Going on to mention that they will continue updating and rolling out 4G LTE to markets across the US at the extremely fast pace they have been, and expect to double their numbers to 400 markets by years end. With AT&T sitting around 20 or so, I have a feeling Verizon is pretty comfortable. Here is what David Small, Verizon CTO had to say on the matter.
By the end of the year, our plan is to be in at least 400 markets across the country, up from about 200 today. Alaska will be the only state without 4G LTE service before 2013.
Hopefully Alaska gets it before then, but that comment isn’t promising for those in the depths of the great outdoors. While Verizon 4G LTE is growing fast and they’ve released tons of capable phones — only 5% of their subscribers currently use 4G LTE. That is probably in part due to tons of BlackBerry and iPhones using the older, outdated 3G technology. Not to mention LTE being barely a year old consumer-wise, and many haven’t upgraded because they are still locked into their 2-year contracts.
According to the WSJ, in regards to smartphones Verizon will only be announcing LTE capable devices for the duration of 2012. This means that even budget friendly devices will all be LTE powered. Sounds good if you ask me.
Maybe Verizon needs to let users upgrade 6-8 months early to a 4G LTE smartphone, that would help speed up the process don’t you think? Do you rock a 4G LTE smartphone by Verizon, and if so, do you use it 24/7 or simply toggle 3G/4G as needed?
[via Droid-Life]

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 04:25 PM PDT
Ready for yet another pre-release root story? Noted Android ROM developer and modder Paul “Modaco” O’Brien has rooted the upcoming HTC One S, less than a week after doing the same for the big daddy HTC One X. Of course the HTC One S isn’t actually available in any market just yet, but Android fans can rest easy knowing that they can do so the minute they get the phone in their hot little hands. The superboot method favored by O’Brien is in full effect, but HTC will need to unlock the bootloader first. There shouldn’t be any problem with that, considering their recent developer-friendly stance.

The One S is the middle child of HTC’s new family, but that doesn’t mean that it’s in any way unworthy. The 4.3-inch qHD screen is a Super AMOLED panel, if that’s your thing, and its 7.8mm profile is the thinnest that the company has ever created. A 1.5Ghz dual-core processor doesn’t quite match the Tegra 3 quad-core in the One X, but the Snapdragon S4 is still one of the fastest out there. And there’s no denying that Ice Cream Sandwich on a new phone is a long, long overdue arrival.
Here in the US, the only carrier currently confirmed to get the HTC One S is T-Mobile, and they still don’t have an exact release date. Note that with US carriers’ tendency to add all manner of apps and other software tweaks, O’Brien’s superboot method might still need some adjustment when the phone finally makes it to North America. Everybody else should be fine. Keep it up, Android modders – those of us who couldn’t code our way out of a paper bag (guilty) are counting on you.
[timelnie]

Device Specifications and Information
Device Info
    Device Name : One S
    Manufactuer : HTC
    Carrier : NA
    Announced Date : February 26, 2012
    Release Date : TBA
    Also Known As :
Display
  • Screen Size : 4.3 Inch
  • Resolution : 540x960
  • Screen Type : Super AMOLED
Dimension & Weight
  • Height : 5.15 Inch
  • Width : 2.56 Inch
  • Depth : 0.31 Inch
  • Weight : 120 Grams
Battery & Power
    Battery Type:
  • Lithium Ion
  • Battery Capacity : 1650 mAh
  • Talk Time : NA
  • Stand By Time : NA
Software
    Android OS:
  • 4.0.x
    Audio Playback:
  • AAC
  • AAC+
  • MID
  • MP3
  • WAV
  • WMA
    Video Playback:
  • h.263
  • h.264 / AVC
  • MPEG-4 (MP4)
    Messaging:
  • SMS
  • MMS
Hardware
    CPU : Snapdragon S4
    CPU Clock Speed : 1500 Mhz
    Core : 2
    Ram : 1024 MB
    Internal Storage : 16 GB
    Front Facing Camera :
    Camera Resolution : 8 MP
    External Storage:
  • MicroSD
    Camera Features:
  • Auto focus
  • Flash
  • 1080p Video Recording
    Sensors:
  • Accelerometer
  • Ambient light
  • Proximity
    QWERTY :
Cellular Network
    Network Technology:
  • GSM
    GSM Band:
  • 850
  • 900
  • 1800
  • 1900
    CDMA Band:
  • 1700
  • 2100
Device Connectivity
    Wi-Fi:
  • 802.11b
  • 802.11g
  • 802.11n
    Bluetooth:
  • Bluetooth 3.0
    Location Features:
  • Compass
  • GPS
  • Cellular location
  • Wi-Fi location
    FM Radio :
    NFC :

[via androidcentral]

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 03:18 PM PDT
Ah, here’s a familiar tune. Cross-network phone mods in the United States have declined somewhat since the various carriers’ data bands have become so different, it’s still a popular pastime – though mostly among iPhone users who want a little T-Mobile freedom. That practice has now spread to the much-anticipated Samsung Galaxy Note, which recently had an LTE-flavored release on AT&T. Naturally this comes from XDA developers, via a user calling himself  tomin.fhl.

The LTE phone includes HSPA+ bands that will work on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ “4G” network, but of course they’re locked down (both on the radio and the SIM card) in the AT&T retail version. You don’t even need a custom ROM for the tweak to work – just load up a hacked T-Mobile radio in a custom bootloader and you’re ready to go. It’s not the simplest of hacks, but it should be bread and butter for any experienced Android modder. And of course, this trick ought to work for any custom ROMs that pop up as well.
Early reports indicate that signal is considerably weaker than both an unmodified Note and a standard T-Mobile Android phone, but voice, text and data are all possible. The only thing holding users back is the considerable price tag: a whopping $650 for a contract-free AT&T phone, or a $350 cancellation fee from Ma Bell. But for a certain user, that’s surely a small price to pay to get the biggest, baddest Android phone around on their preferred network.
[via Android and Me]

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 02:52 PM PDT
It’s been days since someone stoked the flames of rumor for the Galaxy S III, so Russian gossipmeister Eldar Murtazin – of this fabulous fake and other often-wrong rumors – took it upon himself to get cooking. The insider claims that the Galaxy S III has entered production already, essentially ending the development period for the much-anticipated phone. Murtazin previously claimed that the phone was due for a release in April, though that seems increasingly unlikely. Samsung has still not committed to any date for an announcement or release for the successor to the Galaxy S II.

We still know next to nothing about the Galaxy S III, if indeed that’s what it’ll go by, and that’s a testament to Samsung’s impressive secrecy surrounding the project. A big 720p Super AMOLED screen, faster processor and Ice Cream Sandwich seem like obvious additions to the Galaxy S line, but even those are speculations at this point. Given that the nearly year-old Galaxy S II is finally seeing an official Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade, Samsung shouldn’t have any problem delivering ICS on launch day. Murtazin says the phone will have a 4.8-inch screen, quad-core Exynos processor and the much-touted ceramic case design. Take that for what it’s worth.
Previous rumors (which we’re inclined to believe) stated that Samsung delayed a Mobile World Congress reveal for the GSIII in order to time its release closer to the iPhone 5. Or possibly the iPhone 4Gs – gotta give those Apple fans something to buy next year. Given that Samsung seems to be resembling its biggest rival more and more as time goes by, for example in holding their own event for the phone’s launch. At the moment we’ll just have to wait and see.
[via Phandroid]

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 01:27 PM PDT
Last week Samsung announced, then quickly denied that Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich would begin rolling out to Galaxy S II owners internationally. While they might have jumped the gun today on Facebook they have confirmed the update is rolling out and available now — but that isn’t all. They also briefly mentioned some of those important tablets of theirs too.


While talking about the Galaxy S II update today over on the Samsung Facebook page they also dropped hints for many upcoming devices and thought you’d like to hear the news. Samsung specifically mentioned the new Galaxy Note, Galaxy Tab 8.9 and 10.1 will get updated to Android 4.0 ICS and that it will “follow soon”.
Like we mentioned earlier today Samsung briefly talked about the original Galaxy S and how they wont be updating it to Ice Cream Sandwich. Instead it will indeed get the “value pack” they backtracked on a few times. Stating the Android 2.3 update for the Galaxy S and original Galaxy Tab will keep them on Android 2.3 Gingerbread but bring many features from ICS like face unlock, screenshots, photo editor, and a few others. Samsung didn’t mention the new Tab 7.7 LTE, or the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus but they should hopefully receive the same treatment.
So for anyone that had their doubts. Yes the Note, Tab line, Galaxy S II LTE and a few others will all get Android 4.0 ICS soon, while older devices are now confirmed to be staying on Gingerbread — as far as Samsung is concerned at least. For those with older devices look to CyanogenMod and others for Android 4.0 ICS ROM’s.
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Posted: 13 Mar 2012 01:08 PM PDT
Now that the T-Mobile AT&T merger has been terminated they are looking ahead to 2013 and trying hard to get back on track. Last month they announced their plans to rollout a 4G LTE network similar to the current offerings from Verizon and AT&T, and today they’ve detailed more cities getting HSPA+ 4G starting today — and their plans for the future.


Starting today, T-Mobile will be adding their fast 4G HSPA+ (not LTE) network speeds to new markets across the US, 8 cities are mainly listed but more are getting the upgrade. As of today T-Mobile's 4G network will now be available in Abilene, Amarillo, Odessa, and Victoria, Texas; Bakersfield, CA; Eau Claire, Wis; Joplin and St. Joseph, MO. They are also expanding the current 4G network to the fastest HSPA+ 42 in those Texas cities and a few others in the US.
Today on the T-Mobile Blog CTO, Neville Ray, talked about the failed merger with AT&T and how it has led them to launch a truly next-gen LTE network in 2013 like mentioned above (and linked below). While HSPA+ isn’t quite as fast as LTE can be, we’ve seen awesome results with many of T-Mobiles latest devices like the Galaxy S II with HSPA+ 42 support. Neville also mentioned the possibility of 84Mbps HSPA+ to also hit the market later this year, or early next year to help cover the difference and move towards 4G LTE.
When asked about being late to the LTE party he also stated by next year prices will be lower on LTE devices, performance and battery life will be improved, and they’ll have awesome devices to launch with 4G LTE and it will be the perfect time. We sorta agree although the others will have said devices too — and experience with LTE. If you feel like reading all of the CTO’s comments head to the T-Mobile Blog.

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 12:39 PM PDT
T-Mobile is in the news again with details regarding a new unlimited calling plan that they will be offering up to contract-free customers. No longer is this option only available to on-contract subscribers because starting in April that is exactly what they will have available. Below are more details and a screenshot with the information direct from T-Mobile.


Starting April 4th T-Mobile will add this option to the Any Mobile contract-free plans, just in time for that new Galaxy S Blaze 4G to be released at the end of this month. According to TMoNews the picture below confirms the new plan that is set to take effect next month.

It looks like those Any Mobile plans and pay-as-you-go options will soon be able to increase their bill just $10 dollars and get unlimited mobile calling. This isn’t just T-Mobile either, it is truly unlimited to any mobile device — not carrier specific. The benefit here is no contract is required, those that constantly are going over their minutes probably spend more than $10 in overages so this would be a great route for them also.
Again the new Galaxy S Blaze 4G launches on the 27th nationwide so give it a week and head down to T-Mobile stores on the 4th and take part in this unlimited calling offering. More details will probably be announced soon.

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