Author Archives: Chris Davies


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]

Amazon ignores Android with new Kindle Cloud Reader web-app

Amazon has launched a new web-based Kindle app, http://read.amazon.com/, using HTML5 to offer the ereading experience within the browser. However, while the app appears to be a workaround to avoid Apple's limitations on native iOS apps containing links to external stores, it seems Amazon is also leaving Android out in the cold. Attempt to access the Kindle Cloud Reader on an Android Honeycomb tablet, and you'll get the message "Your web browser isn't supported yet" and the advice to download Chrome or Safari (the desktop versions) instead. We tried in both the native Honeycomb browser and third-party alternative Opera, with no luck in either. It's a shame, since the web app is surprisingly well put together. As well as offering access to the cloud store of previously purchased titles, which can be locally downloaded to an iPad for offline reading, it has seamless integration with Amazon's Kindle store for buying new titles. The decision not to get the app up to speed with Android is somewhat curious, since Amazon is believed to have a pair of Android-based tablets of its own in the works. The company's native Android app still supports the Kindle store - Google, unlike Apple, doesn't limit links to places people can buy content - however.

My Vodafone app for Android released: Track use, WiFi hotspots & roaming

Vodafone UK has released a new Android app, allowing subscribers to not only keep track of their accounts without ringing through to customer care, but also locate the nearest free WiFi hotspot. The My Vodafone app shows your current usage of minutes, messaging and data, and how close to your tariff limits you are. There's also information on the tariff itself, including contract end date, when you can expect the bill to arrive, and for roughly how much it will be. Those using their phone abroad can also keep an eye on any roaming charges they might be racking up. Finally, there's a map to show any nearby BT Openzone WiFi hotspots, access to which is bundled with many of Vodafone's plans. You'll need an Android 1.6 device or higher to run the app, and it's worth noting that the data isn't updated in real-time so what it says on-screen may not be the exact state of your bill. You can download My Vodafone from the Android Market. [gallery]

Samsung Conquer 4G offers WiMAX for under $100

Samsung has outed its latest 4G smartphone, the CDMA/WiMAX Samsung Conquer 4G, and the first to land at under $100 from the get-go. Built around Android 2.3 Gingerbread, a 3.5-inch 320 x 480 touchscreen and a 1GHz MSM8655 Snapdragon processor, the Conquer 4G will be $99.99 with a new, two-year agreement. As the display might suggest, the rest of the Conquer 4G's specs don't exactly live up to flagship WiMAX smartphones we've seen before. There's a 3.2-megapixel rear camera with LED flash and a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera for video calls, WiFi b/g/n and GPS, along with a microSD card slot with a 2GB card pre-loaded. Mobile Hotspot functionality is supported, for up to five simultaneous clients, and the whole thing measures in at 4.57 x 2.38 x 0.46 inches and weighs 4.1 oz. Samsung reckons the Conquer 4G will run for up to six hours of talktime on a single charge of the standard 1,500 mAh battery, which is decent enough. We're not entirely impressed by the screen resolution, but otherwise you're getting a fair amount for your money when the Conquer 4G arrives on August 21. [gallery]

Motorola KORE tipped in domain buying spree: XOOM successor?

Could Motorola's next tablet be the KORE? That's certainly one possibility, after the company was spotted going on a domain-buying spree earlier this week. Fusible caught five domains - MotorolaKore.comKoreMotorola.com,  Moto-Kore.comMotoKore.com and Motorola-Kore.com - each using a variant of the same KORE name. The five purchases were only made on Wednesday this week, and so far none of the URLs link to any existing Motorola pages. While a tablet is one possibility - perhaps using Ice Cream Sandwich, which is set to debut later in 2011 - the KORE could also be a new Motorola phone, of course. Motorola's original Android tablet, the XOOM, got off to an early start as the first Honeycomb model to hit shelves, but has since been superseded by rivals like Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1. Early criticism suggested the XOOM - and indeed Android 3.0 - had been released half-baked, with a patchy OS and missing hardware support (such as for the memory card slot). Even now, the promised Verizon LTE 4G upgrade is still yet to appear.