Author Archives: Chris Davies


Samsung Galaxy Z gets official: Slimmed-down GSII

Samsung's latest Android smartphone has been outed, and it's clear the company has been looking inward for its inspiration. The Samsung Galaxy Z is a more compact version of the Galaxy S II, with a 4.2-inch WVGA Super Clear LCD display and 1GHz dual-core processor. There's also WiFi, Bluetooth and a 5-megapixel main camera with an LED flash and HD video recording. GPS, an FM radio and 8GB of internal storage round out the key specs, along with a microSD card slot. OS is Android 2.3 Gingerbread, with the usual TouchWiz modifications. Currently the phone us up for preorder in Sweden, priced at 3995 SEK ($635); there's no word on whether the Galaxy Z will launch elsewhere, though we would be very surprised if Samsung didn't push out versions across Europe. It seems something of a halfway house between the original Galaxy S and the SII, and considering the popularity of both devices that's probably not a bad idea. [via Samsung Hub]

Sony S1/S2 tablets get PlayStation demo and video fondle

The last video teaser we saw of the Sony S1 and S2 tablets, the company was strapping them to a Rube Goldberg-style machine and hardly telling us anything at all. Happily a brief demo of the Android Honeycomb prototypes in Munich this week has been more elucidating; while Sony still isn't saying much about final specs or software, at least Golem got to briefly play with the slates. The S1's 9.7-inch display, folded-magazine style tapered form factor and light, 600g weight met with approval, the wedge shape make for something easy to hold. Sony apparently had Crash Bandicoot running on the tablet, with the on-screen PlayStation controls straightforward to use. The company is still generally quiet, but has apparently confirmed PlayStation Suite compatibility. As for the S2, that's a lot more compact than we initially expected - the clamshell form-factor hiding its dual 5.5-inch touchscreens well - and does a decent job of minimizing the gap between the two panels. Sony hasn't confirmed pricing or availability, but previous leaks have suggested a September launch in Europe which could well mean an IFA 2011 official reveal. [youtube nGyynWokrpA] [via SlashGear]

HTC Desire Gingerbread update hits quality testing

HTC has announced that its Android 2.3 Gingerbread build for the HTC Desire is now going into quality assurance testing, one step closer to being released for owners of the former flagship smartphone. According to the company's Facebook page, the Desire Gingerbread ROM will be put through its paces from this week, though there's still no firm date for its release to users.
"Hi all- We're excited to share that we are testing our build of Gingerbread for HTC Desire and will start doing quality assurance for it this week. When we have an update on availability we'll post another announcement. Thanks for your support!" HTC
The news follows the will-they-won't-they announcements over the past few months regarding an official update for the Desire. Having initially promised Android would be released for the handset, HTC then shocked owners by confessing that they would be unable to do so, citing an inability to preserve the full Sense experience. After massive outcry, HTC changed its stance overnight and confirmed that it would indeed be pushing out a Gingerbread build. It was later revealed that the ROM would have a pared-down suite of apps, in order to satisfy the limitations of the Desire's memory. There's currently no telling which apps won't make the grade. [Thanks to everyone who sent this in!]

T-Mobile’s myTouch 4G Slide gets official: HSPA+ and a boosted camera

T-Mobile USA has given the official nod to the myTouch 4G Slide, the carrier's latest QWERTY smartphone. Built by HTC, the myTouch 4G Slide packs a 3.7-inch WVGA touchscreen and the same 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor as inside the HTC Sensation and HTC EVO 3D, as well as that physical keyboard and an upgraded camera. The 8-megapixel camera - which has autofocus and a dual-LED flash - also gets a new f/2.2 wide aperture lens and a backlit sensor, both intended to improve low-light performance. HTC has also fettled its software, promising zero shutter lag as well as adding in-camera HDR support, SweepShot for easy panoramic photography, and BurstShot for firing off multiple frames in short order, and then allowing you to pick the best later on. A front facing camera gives support for video calls, meanwhile, and the phone runs Android Gingerbread with HTC Sense 3.0. Other specs haven't been announced, but we're guessing WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth, GPS and all the usual sensors will be included when the T-Mobile myTouch 4G Slide arrives in July 2011. It'll be priced at $199.99 with a new, two-year agreement, and available in black or khaki. [youtube 97REawPREH4]

Microsoft scores another Android patent deal as license pressures ramp

Android device manufacturer General Dynamics Itronix has agreed a patent licensing deal with Microsoft, the latest company to cough up cash despite many assuming that Android, being open-source, liberates them from patent concerns. According to the rather smug Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft, the deal "is an example of how industry leaders address intellectual property." That certainly seems a snub to other Android OEMs yet to ink patent contracts with Microsoft. It's unclear what exact patents the agreement covers, at this stage, though Microsoft has been vocal in the past about the misconception that Android is a "free" OS because Google made it open-source. "Android has a patent fee" CEO Steve Ballmer said back in 2010, "it's not like Android’s free. You do have to license patents. HTC’s signed a license with us and you’re going to see license fees clearly for Android as well as for Windows." Earlier this year it was suggested that HTC pays Microsoft $5 for every Android device the company sells. In fact,  Citi analyst Walter Pritchard suggested, Microsoft made more from indirect Android handset sales that it did from licensing Windows Phone to its own OEMs.

AndyPad Pro confirmed with capacitive touch and dual-cameras

The UK team behind the AndyPad budget Android tablet has announced that there will be a second version of the low-cost slate, targeted at enthusiasts and early-adopters. The AndyPad Pro will have a capacitive touchscreen - rather than the £129 AndyPad's resistive panel - as well as both front and rear cameras. The original AndyPad will have 512MB of RAM, it's been concerned, after negative feedback over the original plans to use just 256MB. Worldwide availability - alongside the UK launch - is also intended. The company is still yet to confirm screen details, nor to show a full image of the device. That, they tell Android Community, is to give them some redesign wiggle-room between now and launch. Pricing for the AndyPad Pro will be similar to the £129 AndyPad, though obviously carry a premium. [gallery id="38473"]

Euro HTC EVO 3D official: dual-core HSPA+ 3D superphone

The HTC EVO 3D has been officially launched in Europe, with the glasses-free 3D smartphone set to go on sale from July 2011. Offering a 4.3-inch qHD resolution screen like the HTC Sensation, only supporting 3D graphics without the silly specs, the EVO 3D has HSPA+, a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and a dual 5-megapixel cameras that support 2D and 3D stills and video at up to 720p HD resolution. OS is Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread with HTC Sense 3.0, and there have been a few tweaks made to suit the 3D capabilities. We met up with HTC last week to discuss the EVO 3D, and the company told us that, while it could have made the whole UI 3D, after tests it decided to keep things predominantly 2D as the third dimension was unnecessarily distracting. HTC Watch will offer 3D video content to buy (some territories will get a preloaded copy of The Green Lantern in 3D), though there won't be any 3D games at launch; HTC tells us that they're in the pipeline. 3D photos can be easily sent to users with non-3D devices as 2D versions, meaning backward compatibility. Otherwise, the HTC EVO 3D has dualband HSPA/WCDMA supporting up to 14.4Mbps downloads and up to 5.7Mbps uploads (network depending), a microUSB port that supports MHL HDMI (with 3D output if your screen can handle it) and both WiFi b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0. There's 1GB of user-accessible ROM and 1GB of RAM, along with a microSD card slot, and the whole thing weighs in at 170g and measures 126 x 65 x 12.05 mm, though the blunt edges make it feel a significantly bigger, heavier device than the curved Sensation. We do like the dedicated camera button and physical switch for toggling between 2D and 3D modes. As for the bootloader, since the EVO 3D was in development while the decision to open up future HTC devices to third-party ROMs was made, it's not clear what will happen. HTC told us that's still being discussed internally, and that it's "not as simple" as throwing a switch on production units. Pricing is also to be decided, though it'll likely come in alongside the Sensation. For more on the HTC EVO 3D, check out our full review of the US version, which - radios aside - is functionally identical. [gallery]

Nokia Android prototype caught in wild; N9 Android hacks could be straightforward

What looks to be a Nokia N9 prototype running Android has emerged in leaked images. Discovered over at the Weibo forums (1, 2; registration required) the images seem to show Android 2.3 Gingerbread on the new smartphone. Now, it's worth noting that a fake image showing the same thing would be relatively straightforward to put together, either 'shopping the screen onto a regular MeeGo-based N9 image, or - if you have access to the handset itself - simply loading on an Android screenshot and display it for the photos. Lending to the air of authenticity, however, is the source's track record; they apparently had access to photos of the "Sea Ray" Windows Phone prototype back in May. Nokia has previously said it considered Android instead of Windows phone, but opted for the Microsoft OS as it felt there was more room to differentiate itself. Knocking up a few prototype N9 units with the Google software doesn't seem too unlikely. As for when the MeeGo-based N9 launches, we're hearing it'll have a root-mode switch that should make unofficial installs of platforms like Android more straightforward when the smartphone is in the wild. [via Engadget]

HTC EVO 4G+ packs WiMAX into Sensation

HTC has quietly launched the HTC EVO 4G+, a new 4.3-inch qHD dual-core Android smartphone that's basically the company's latest Sensation variant. While ostensibly a WiBro Android smartphone for the Korean market, there's a fair chance that the EVO 4G+ could get a US launch on WiMAX networks. Like the Sensation, there's a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 1GB of internal storage and an 8-megapixel main camera with autofocus and a dual-LED flash, capable of recording 1080p HD video. Up front is a 1.3-megapixel camera, and there's MHL HDMI support for the USB 2.0 connection. HTC also throws in GPS, Bluetooth 3.0, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD card slot. Connectivity includes both HSPA/WCDMA and WiMAX (WiBro) support, along with quadband GSM/EDGE. There's HTC's Sense UI on top of Android, complete with HTC Watch for renting or purchasing video content, DLNA wireless streaming, stereo speakers and more. No word on when it will launch in Korea, nor indeed when it might make it to North America. [Thanks to everyone who sent this in!]

Google TV 2.0 “Fishtank” program leaks

Details of the Google TV "Fishtank" program, giving developers early access to version 2.0 of the smart TV software, have emerged. According to Geek's sources, less than 50 developers were invited to take an early glimpse at the platform, ahead of the Google TV 2.0 SDK being ready for primetime. Google apparently sends participants an Intel CE4100 reference platform - the same chipset as found inside the Logitech Revue and other first-gen Google TV hardware - running a copy of Android 3.1 heavily modified for Fishtank use. The OS is stripped down and has a new UI, partially familiar from Google TV as we've already seen it, with a clock app and a Live TV app that shows content from the HDMI input. Unfortunately, that Live TV functionality is already the source of arguments between Google and developers. According to the Fishtank program source, many of the developers involved gained invites based on their ideas for Live TV related apps, dressing up real-time content with information pulled from online. However, Google has decided that when Live TV doesn't hold the focus, developers won't be able to access it:
"We’re told many of the developers earned there way into the program with ideas that directly involved this feature–specifically, the ability to overlay data on top of Live TV or to place Live TV in a smaller window while information is displayed. So far, Google has stated that while they would consider the feature, there are no plans at this point to make it available at the API level, which has upset a number of the developers, forcing some to scrap their original project entirely." Geek
Still, there's plenty of time for Google to change all that. The updated version of Google TV - running on Ice Cream Sandwich, we're led to believe - is expected to be released later in 2011. [gallery]