Author Archives: Chris Davies


AT&T 4G Acer Iconia Tab A501 gets priced & dated

AT&T's 4G-enabled version of the 10.1-inch Acer Iconia Tab, the A501, will go on sale September 18 the carrier has confirmed, though don't expect crazy fast data speeds. In fact, the 4G only refers to HSPA+, not the LTE on the roadmap for later this year. Priced at $330 with a new, two-year data agreement, or $480 without, the 16GB Iconia Tab A501 is, 4G connectivity aside, identical to the A500 we reviewed previously On the back there's a 5-megapixel camera, while a 2-megapixel camera is up front for video calls. As well as the HSPA+ there's WiFi b/g/n and Bluetooth, along with USB 2.0, HDMI and a microSDHC memory card slot. NVIDIA's Tegra 2 processor keeps things running. Acer says it will also be offering a 32GB version of the A501, though so far AT&T is yet to confirm it will be ranging the slate. OS is Android Honeycomb, and there's access to the Tegra Zone of games and other downloads. [device id="266"]

Google Maps update adds mobile Places photo uploads

Google Maps for Android has been updated, tweaking the mapping appearance and adding the ability to add photos to places listings while mobile. Google Maps v5.1 introduces an "Add a photo" button next to the "Check in here" option in individual business listings, allowing you to choose from an existing picture or snap a new one with your phone's camera. Those uploaded images are then included in the gallery of shots stored for each listing. The change follows news of Google's acquisition of Zagat, the restaurant rating company, yesterday, which is expected to be integrated into the range of location-based services offered on Android handsets. For now, though, it's user-generated reviews that take center stage, with this new feature allowing you to show exactly what you ate and where you ate it, rather than describe it. You can update your Android phone to Google Maps v5.1 through the Android Market. [gallery]

Verizon DROID Bionic launching September 8 [Update: Not so fast]

Motorola has confirmed that the DROID Bionic will arrive on September 8, finally announcing when buyers will be able to pick up the much-anticipated smartphone. Powered by a dual-core processor and offering 4G LTE on Verizon's network, the Bionic also has an 8-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video recording support. Update: Looks like there's nothing confirming that the Twitter account is, in fact, Motorola's official one. DROID Bionic goes back on the rumor shelf for the moment. Expectations of an imminent launch had been raised after the official DROID Bionic product page arrived in Motorola's online store over the weekend. However, there was no option to buy the handset, and the listing was subsequently removed. According to the official Twitter account for the smartphone, the Bionic will go up for pre-order soon. Verizon itself is only confirming the September release window, with no option to order as yet.

Vodafone launches carrier billing for Android Market shoppers

Vodafone Europe has announced it will be offering direct operator billing as an option on Android devices, allowing users to charge apps from the Android Market directly to their phone bill. Available initially in the UK and Germany, Vodafone expects it to have a positive effect on app sales, where users may have previously avoided paid-software over the hassles of adding a credit card to their account. Initially, Vodafone says, carrier billing will only be available to those who purchased their Android device through the company's retail or online stores. The implication, however, seems to be that at some point that will be updated so that anyone slotting in a Vodafone SIM to their device will be able to charge apps to that account. Further roll-outs across Vodafone are expected in future, and we're guessing other European carriers will follow suit. Several US carriers already offer operator billing for Android.

Sony Ericsson XPERIA mini pro on sale now

Sony Ericsson's XPERIA mini pro has gone on sale in the UK, with carrier Vodafone offering the diminutive Android smartphone from free on new two year agreements from £20.50 ($34) per month. Packing a 3-inch touchscreen, slide-out physical keyboard and a 5-megapixel camera with video recording support, the mini pro is being positioned as Sony Ericsson's take on the Facebook Phone concept, thanks to its Facebook Inside XPERIA support. That boosts the integration of the social network throughout Sony Ericsson's customized Gingerbread build, with Facebook events automatically showing up in the calendar, the ability to "Like" music you're playing or other things directly from the relevant app, and automatic gallery sync complete with comments. Obviously there's the usual Android Market support as well, all in a compact 92 x 53 x 18 mm chassis. Meanwhile, the XPERIA mini pro is already available unlocked and SIM-free from retailers like Clove, priced at around £246 ($405) including tax. More details on the smartphone in our hands-on report. [vms 223c796cac288cced29d]

Motorola DROID HD caught in wild: Rivals Galaxy S II for thinness?

Images purportedly showing the Motorola DROID HD - and its DROID Bionic sibling - have emerged, with the 4.5-inch smartphone looking to rival the Samsung Galaxy S II when it comes to thinness. The shots sent to Engadget show what's estimated to be a sub-9mm thick phone presumed to have a qHD touchscreen. There's also believed to be an 8-megapixel autofocus camera with 1080p Full HD video recording support, together with a front-facing camera for video calls. The usual array of microUSB, microHDMI and microSIM slots are present, each arrayed around the edges. Full hardware specs are unclear at this time, though given Motorola has been pushing ahead with processors from NVIDIA and Texas Instruments, we're guessing silicon from one of the two will also show up in the DROID HD. No word on availability.

Samsung Galaxy S II official US launch on August 29

Samsung has scheduled a press event on August 29, 2011, in New York City, and judging by the conspicuous "II" on the invitation sent to Android Community, it looks like the Galaxy S II is finally ready to make its US debut. The "major product announcement" the invite promises is one that has been much-anticipated by US Android-lovers: the Galaxy S II has already set sales records for Samsung in Europe and Asia. In fact, Samsung has had the Galaxy S II on sale outside the US for several months now - we reviewed the European version back in April - and it's already on sale in Canada, too. You can still see the appeal: a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, dual-core 1.2GHz processor and 8-megapixel camera with Full HD 1080p video recording still leaves the Galaxy S II at the top of its game. We'll be headed to New York for all the details on August 29, when hopefully Samsung will tell us exactly when the GSII will go on sale and for how much. Meanwhile, if you're in the UK remember we're giving away two Galaxy S II units courtesy of Vodafone! [device id="56"]

Acer’s 7-inch Iconia Tab A100 brings 3.2 Honeycomb for $330

The first 7-inch Android 3.2 tablet, Acer's Iconia Tab A100, has gone on sale in the US, offering a compact Honeycomb experience in a Galaxy Tab rivaling form-factor. Priced from $329.99 when it hits US shelves today - it'll arrive on Canadian shelves next month - the A100 will come in 8GB and 16GB versions each with NVIDIA's Tegra 2 processor, a 1024 x 600 touchscreen, 5-megapixel main camera supporting 720p HD 30fps video recording, and 5hrs battery life. Connectivity includes WiFi a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, along with microUSB 2.0 and a microHDMI port for hooking the A100 up to a bigger display. There's also a gyroscope and digital compass, 3.5mm headphone socket and a docking station connector. Up front Acer has slotted in a 2-megapixel camera for video calls. Three versions of the A100 will be on offer, with one a Walmart exclusive. The A100-07u16u has 16GB of internal storage and will retail for $349.99 in the US, while the A100-07u08u has 8GB of storage and will retail for $329.99; the A100-07u08w is Walmart's special version, functionally identical to the 8GB regular model. All three have microSD card slots for extending storage. [gallery] [device id="973"]

Dell Streak 5 axed

Dell has quietly killed the Streak 5, its 5-inch Android tablet/smartphone hybrid. Confirmed on the company's site - with the message "Goodbye, Streak 5. It's been a great ride" - the decision follows various discounting drives on the tablet as well as stock shortages. The Streak 5 was already over a year old, having been initially released in the UK on June 4 2010. It arrived with Android 1.6, which Dell had reskinned, but was later - and after some delays - upgraded to Android 2.2 Froyo. Despite vocal support from a minority subset of users, the Streak 5 failed to achieve mainstream success, perhaps because of its "tweener" scale - falling in-between a phone, the functionality of which it offered, and a tablet - and non-tablet-centric OS. Dell still offers the Streak 7, it's 7-inch slate, and is expected to release further Android tablets in the near future. They will likely run Honeycomb, Google's tablet-specific OS, rather than the phone build that the Streak relied on. [via SlashGear]

Samsung Galaxy S Plus hands-on and benchmarks

All eyes may be on the Samsung Galaxy S II right now, but the Korean company believes there's some life left in its best-selling predecessor. The Samsung Galaxy S Plus GT-I9001 was officially announced at the end of March, a 1.4GHz upgrade to the original Hummingbird phone, and Android Community caught up with Vodafone UK today to grab some playtime and run some early benchmarks. Outwardly, there's little to differentiate the 119g Galaxy S Plus from the Galaxy S before it: the same plastic casing, 4-inch WVGA Super AMOLED display, reasonably slimline chassis and 5-megapixel camera on the back. You also get the same front-facing camera, 8GB of internal storage - with a microSD card slot to boost that by up to 32GB - and Android 2.3 Gingerbread with Samsung's TouchWiz UI. What's different is processor speed and battery life. Samsung has overclocked the original 1GHz chip to 1.4GHz so as to bring it more in line with the performance we've seen from dual-core devices, but it's also managed to extend battery life at the same time. In fact, the company reckons the Galaxy S Plus will last 24-percent longer than the regular S. We took the opportunity to run a couple of benchmarks on the phone, starting with Quadrant Standard. The Galaxy S Plus scored 1241, a neat bump on top of the Galaxy S. Then we turned to Vellamo, Qualcomm's mobile browser benchmarking tool, which combines various web-centric tests into one. Here, the Galaxy S Plus scored 829, slotting in-between the HTC EVO 3D and the HTC Sensation, an impressive boost over original phone. In short, while you're not getting the very best specs of the day, you're getting a phone that needs no third-party ROMs to achieve a turn of speed. Vodafone will be offering the Galaxy S Plus imminently in the UK, priced from free with a new, 24-month agreement at £31 per month ($50) including 600 voice minutes, unlimited messaging, 500MB of data and 2GB of inclusive BT OpenZone WiFi hotspot use. Update: The Galaxy S Plus is available now, on pay monthly plans from £25. Meanwhile, we're giving away a pair of Vodafone Galaxy S II handsets to UK readers over at SlashGear, so head over to see how you can win! [gallery]