Saturday, December 31, 2011

Again Motorola DROID 4 Leaked – Demo Unit Pictured In The Wild

There’s pretty much nothing we don’t already know about Motorola’s worst kept secret, the Droid 4, other than an actual release date. With that being said, the “Razr with a keyboard” is actually looking more like the Bionic from the latest leaked pics taken by John and team at TechnoBuffalo who got some hands-on with a demo unit earlier today.

The device, while not exactly a working model (more of those shells you find on display at Best Buy) does give us a better look at it, with pictures showing off every angle. The Droid 4 will most likely make an appearance at CES 2012 next month of which the entire Phandroid staff we be on hand bringing you the very latest in Android tech.

Android’s Chinese Manufacturers Form Alliance To Defend From Apple and Microsoft Patent Lawsuits

Digitimes is reporting that Chinese OEM’s could be quietly banding together to fight off the ever looming threat of patent lawsuits from Android arch nemeses like Apple, Microsoft and Nokia. The Chinese coalition would be formed by ZTE, Lenovo, TCL, Coolpad and Konka who, it’s assumed, would pool their patent resources and share information on how to work around alleged patent infringements and keep from paying the dreaded “licensing fee.”
As the Chinese smartphone market grows — currently the largest in the world — OEM’s are sure to draw attention from Apple and Microsoft who spend much of their time attacking Android manufacturers.
[Digitimes via Electronista]

Verizon Wireless Backtracks – Says They Will NOT Charge $2 Fee To Pay Bills

Breaking news from the Wall Street Journal who is reporting that Verizon Wireless has offically reversed its plans to charge customers a $2 convenience to pay bills online. This news comes right after the FCC announced they would be investigating the matter. Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead said in an official statement,
"At Verizon, we take great care to listen to our customers. Based on their input, we believe the best path forward is to encourage customers to take advantage of the best and most efficient options, eliminating the need to institute the fee at this time."

New Device To Be Introduced By LG and Intel At CES 2012

LG’s mobile department hasn’t exactly had the best year but rather than give up — they’re trying new things… or rather, revisiting old ideas. According to the Korea Times, LG is getting ready to debut an all new smartphone at CES 2012 powered by none other than Intel’s new Medfield mobile processor. We heard rumors a few weeks back that Samsung would be partnering with Intel for an upcoming smartphone to be debuted at CES in January but maybe it was the other Korean manufacturer this whole time.
The only question that remains if whether or not the device will ever hit market given LG and Intel’s past. At CES 2011 they they actually showed off a smartphone that of course, went belly up due apparently due to “lack of marketability.” The Times went on to source an exec who claims LG will be banking big with this device and could launch as early as March. Once again, the same was said about the two company’s first attempt at a device earlier this year.
Still, LG has a lot to lose but even more to gain this time around and the same could be said with Intel who has made zero impact in the mobile market where SoC’s from Qualcomm have dominated. I think Android 4.0′s compatibility with Intel processors is the moment they both have been waiting for and high-end device could do well for them. Just as long they avoid the quality control issues that plagued the G2X and drop that pseudo TouchWiz UI.
[Via TechCrunch]

Verizon’s $2 online and telephone payment fee to Be Looked By FCC

Verizon confirmed yesterday that it will tack on a $2 convenience fee when customers make a single-time payment online or over the phone using a credit or debit card. The news spread like wildfire across the tech blogs and eventually caught the attention of the FCC. The regulatory agency released a statement on Friday that states, “On behalf of American consumers, we’re concerned about Verizon’s actions and are looking into the matter.”
I have to give the FCC credit for responding to Verizon’s upcoming billing change so quickly. Though the FCC isn’t launching an investigation, this response is a reminder to Verizon that the FCC is watching it closely. This close oversight may be enough to compel Verizon to rethink this change. We’ll let you if Verizon responds.
[NY Times]

Friday, December 30, 2011

HTC Jetstream Gets Permaroot and CWM Recovery

It’s been a long time coming for the HTC Jetstream but the job has finally been done. XDA user DooMLoRD has made public a permanent root and recovery method for the HTC Jetstream meaning ROMs will be on their way. The development community was next to dead without these things and now that they’re here things should nice and fruitful before too long. Head over to XDA for the download links and full instructions and be careful not to blame others if something goes wrong with your phone. [Thanks Josh!]

Sony Announces ICS Updates for Tablets, Tablet P SDK Now Available

Sony Ericsson has announced that the Sony Tablets – we assume both the S and the P – will be getting upgrades to Android 4.0 in due time. They didn’t have anything to announce regarding a timeframe but we’re glad they’ve committed to bringing it. In addition to that, they’ve made the SDK for the Sony Tablet P available online so developers can take advantage of its gaming roots. We’ll be right here with a post for you guys whenever those updates start rolling out (but I wouldn’t wait for one in the near future). [via Android Guys]

Nielsen: Samsung, Motorola and HTC Top Five in Recent Smartphone Market Share

Nielsen’s ringing in with their end-of-the-year lists of top brands, companies and web destinations. One that caught our eye, of course, was the smartphone manufacturer chart.
They pulled data from the months of August 2011 through October 2011. This isn’t overall OEM market share but gives an idea of the trends that were developing leading into the holiday season.

At the top of the chart was Apple taking up 29% of the sales throughout this period, but HTC is not far behind with 21%. RIM, surprisingly, is sitting at 17%, ahead of Samsung and Motorola who both have 11% each.
It would be nice to get an idea of how these numbers stacked up through Christmas but those numbers will make their way to the forefront soon enough. To see more figures (such as top web brands and top destinations for watching online video) visit Nielsen’s site here.

Gift Cards Worth $100 Offered by Amazon for Users Purchasing Select Hotspot Devices From Sprint and Verizon

Amazon Wireless is offering users who buy select 4G hotspot-capable devices a $100 gift card upon activating their phones with the hotspot feature enabled on their plans.

Some of the devices they’re offering up are the DROID Bionic and HTC Thunderbolt from Verizon plus the Motorola Photon 4G and Samsung Epic 4G Touch from Sprint. They have many more options so you’ll have to head on over to Amazon and check them out.
No AT&T or T-Mobile phones, unfortunately, but if you’re with one of these CDMA carriers and planning on buying any of these phones with hotspot anyway, this will be a good deal. That $100 could go toward some accessories or pretty much anything on Amazon’s site. [via PocketNow]

Samsung Epic 4G, LG Optimus 3D and More Gain CM7 Support

Some new devices have finally been added to CyanogenMod’s list of supported devices. We’ve got the Samsung EPIC 4G and LG Optimus 3D as notable additions. We’re also seeing support for the LG Optimus Black, Optimus Hub and Optimus Pro. These devices are on the list for CM7, of course, though we don’t expect all of these to be absent from CM9′s party sometime down the line. (The first two we mentioned are definitely high up on that “probability” list.) Head over to CyanogenMod’s site for the downloads. [Thanks to all the excited Epic 4G owners who sent this in!]

Root almost any Android phone with Unlock Root (One-click solution)

Yes, that is true. It is the mother of all rooting tools, and can help you in gaining root access on around 200 Android smartphones (to be frank, I did not count them, but that list of supported devices is huge). This tool supports devices from manufacturers like HTC, Motorola, and Sony Ericsson to unknown Chinese OEMs running on different Android versions.

While, it is unclear which exploit this tool is using, but it works. We tried it on two devices that we had in our hands right now and it worked like a charm.

To use this tool, all you need is a Windows PC, device drivers, usb cable and the device. Just grab the tool download from here and start rooting your Android phones.

Do let know in comments if you were successful in rooting your phone with this tool. It will surely help others who are looking for a simple tool to gain root access on their device. We have noticed that it install an App called AnTuTu Battery Saver on your phone at the time of rooting, it can be easily removed later.

Some of the popular Android phones that can be rooted using this tool are:
=> HTC Sensation (G14) , Galaxy Nexus (i9250) , LG Optimus 3D (P920), HTC Wildfire S (G13), Galaxy Note (I9220), LG Optimus 2x, HTC Desire S (G12), Galaxy S II (I9100) , LG Optimus LTE, HTC Incredible S (G11), Galaxy S (I9000), LG Optimus Black
To check of all the supported devices, check here.

Disclaimer: Although we did test this tool from our end before posting, but be cautious before doing anything that you might great later.

Why Verizon had three mass network outages this December, See here

It’s no surprise Verizon has the fastest and most developed 4G LTE network in the US, but consistently terming them most reliable would be an overstatement for the month of December. And frankly, three mass network outages can cause some serious communication issues for both work and leisure. Heck, many families are now doing away with a central home phone, and just subscribing the entire family to a plan of cellphones.

Well, Verizon has issued an official statement for the causes of these network outages; and all three network failures had isolated causes. The first during December 7th was apparently caused by a failure in the back-up communication database. The second one was from an IMS element not responding properly, and the one just yesterday (which lasted quite long on the East coast) was due to two IMS elements not communicating properly.

Concerning the matter, Verizon said “Our 3G and 1X networks continue to reliably process calls, texts, and data for customers with 3G devices, and when necessary, 4G LTE devices”. And the protocol they actively take when 4G LTE services are down is to move those with 4G LTE devices onto their 3G network so they retain service. I for one, can vouch that Columbia, SC was without 4G or even 3G for over 5 hours yesterday – so hopefully they now have all the kinks worked out. It would be a shame to start off the new year with another outage.
It is however comforting to know that they “will not rest until our 4GLTE network performs at the very highest levels that our customers have come to expect from us”.
[via Business Insider]

Acer Iconia Tab A700 Shows Up In Russia – On Its Way To CES 2012 With A 1920×1200 Display

A pair of Acer Iconia Tabs showed up in Russia today and since we know just about all there is to know on the more affordable A200, we wanted to focus on the higher powered, more premium A700 model. The Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core toting Acer Iconia Tab A700 will be arriving at CES 2012 next month (where the entire Phandroid team will be on-hand) and to give you a better idea of what to expect, this new tablet will have a 10.1-inch 1920×1200 resolution display that is sure to make die-hard Android fanboys shed tears of joy.

Along the sides of the tab are SIM and micro USB slots, rotation lock switch, audio jack and micro HDMI port. The rear of the device is noticeably different from the A200, featuring a 5MP shooter accompanied by an LED flash and Dolby Digital tramp stamp. The whole tab weighs in at only 1.43lbs and will last about 10 hours in between charges. The Acer Iconia Tab A700 is looking towards a March release. Only thing left out was the actual pricing but if cheaper than the T-Prime, should this should give ASUS a run for their money. Competition is always good. What do you guys think of it?
[NoMobile via Endgadget]

Custom Google Music App Coming To All Devices By Cyanogen Mod Team

If you though the Cyanogen Mod launcher — Trebuchet — was the only thing CM9 had going for it you’d be wrong. Turns out those wild boys are also working on a modified version of the Google Music player app. Andrew Neal, one of the team’s devs, broke it down for everyone mentioning there will more tweaks and enhancements than you can shake a phone at. No really. One of the tweaks is the ability to set custom shake actions that will work no matter which app you’re in or if the screen is off/on. Completely customizable notification controls will also be found in the app along with a full theme engine to change up the look of the app as desired. Pretty fun stuff.
My only complaint with Google Music is that it’s not very smooth (unless you go into the landscape album view) which I’ve always found frustrating. It’s likely that because this will be replacing the stock music player app in CM9 going forward, streaming your music from the cloud should remain intact (update: it wont until Google releases their streaming API’s. Until then, this music player will remain crippled).
Best part about the new modified Google Music app? Once available in CM9, it will also be available for everyone to download via the Android Market — whether you’re rooted or stock.
Via The Verge

Verizon Wireless Discounted Galaxy Nexus Battery Now 50% Off – $20 For A Limited Time

If your recent Galaxy Nexus purchase found the battery life to be a bit… lacking, I have some good news. Verizon Wireless has the official Samsung — NFC enabled — 1850 mAh batter for only $20. That’s half-off the original asking price! Let me tell you, there’s nothing quite as liberating as having a spare battery at hand. Still a bit expensive for a regular ‘ol battery (you can get a 3-pack from China for half that price) but that’s the price you pay to keep full NFC capabilities intact.We have no idea how long this deal will last so you may want to hurry.
[Verizon Wireless]
Via Droid-Life

Samsung Conquer 4G Discounting To $50 In January Sprint – Offers You Another One FREE With Purchase

Sprint is trying to kick off 2012 into high gear with a new winter promotion starting next month. From January 8th through March 10th, new or existing Sprint customers (with an upgrade) can get a Samsung Conquer 4G at the discounted price of $50 but that’s not all — it also comes with a matching Conquer for free. Deals always sound more fun with you throw BOGO into the mix and you could do a lot worse than the Conquer 4G. As a refresher for anyone suddenly interested in the device, the Conquer features a 3.5-inch screen, 1GHz 2nd gen Snapdragon processor, 512MB of RAM and connectivity to Sprint’s 4G WiMax network (where available). Not too shabby for $25 a pop when you buy two.
[Via SprintFeed]

Apple applies for “Face and Presence Detection” patent — Android laughs

I’m not really sure where to start on this one other than oh wait — Android already has the feature. It’s called “Face Unlock” and is available on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus within Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Just like our friendly source over at Phandroid I don’t really want to simply sit here and bash Apple but I can’t help but do so a little bit with this latest “innovation” and patent they’ve applied for.

At first glance your are probably thinking seriously, what the hell. And I was too but after looking through the patent and information a bit closer over at PatentlyApple you’ll quickly notice that this has been in the works for at least a few years — and originally wasn’t aimed at iOS or mobile devices and actually was for laptops and computers.
Obviously we don’t know Apple’s plans, or how long this has been brewing — or why Google hasn’t patented this themselves for mobile devices but this could cause some potentially big problems later on. Something like “Face Unlock” has been around forever and seen in hundreds of movies so the thought of it being special and an innovation exclusively to Apple seems a bit ridiculous. We don’t know all of the details and Apple’s patent seems to be quite thorough but either way I’m not liking the sound of this already. It almost seems as if Apple is just scooping up any and all possible patents to use as ammunition to fight the competition in the court room, rather than on the shelves.
[via Phandroid]

Gameloft Weekend Sale Starts NOW – All Games Only 99 Cents

Gameloft’s weekend sale is in full effect dropping the price of every single one of their paid titles in the Android Market to a mere 99 cents. If you’re first instinct is to jump on their newly released Modern Combat 3 (you’re not alone), Gameloft did mention that although currently excluded form the promotion, the title will also drop it’s $7 price tag but will only be available for 24 hours at $1.
No word on exactly which day that will occur so you can either check the Market everyday or like/follow them on Facebook/Twitter for updates. In the meantime, you can drool over the trailer below.

Must resist…. buying every…… game…
[Gameloft Market Link]

Verizon Confirms $2 Fee for Paying Online and on the Phone

Late yesterday it was revealed in a leak that Verizon would begin charging consumers $2 for each single bill they pay on the phone and online. Users who pay in store or pay online via electronic check or autopay would not be affected.
Verizon confirmed the news today and said that it is indeed to help offset the costs of them having to accept those types of payments. "The fee will help allow us to continue to support these single bill payment options in these channels,” said Verizon.

So there you have it. It’s set to go down on January 15th. We know many of you are wondering about contract options and we’re sure Verizon has thought this one out carefully. Since you can avoid the charge in one way or another it probably doesn’t breach contract.
It’s only two dollars but we can’t imagine many of you hare particularly happy with the change. Electronic checks are quick and easy ways to pay your bill without incurring this charge if you need control over when you actually pay your bill.
Others have suggested that using your bank’s bill pay options will help you bypass the charge since your payment would be mailed off, though there’s not much difference between that and autopay from Verizon. What action will you be taking?
I personally like paying my bills with my credit cards (more convenient to pay one big bill at the end of each month for me) but this change would encourage me to switch it up. Let’s hear it in the comments below!

Qello for Google TV Now Available

Qello has announced that their Google TV application is now available in the Android market. Qello is a service that brings to you a huge catalog (they claim to have the biggest) of live music performances and they deliver them to your television in HD. The ability to create setlists artist. You can mix and match multiple different artists to keep things varied. Grab the 5.4MB download in the market here. [via GTVSource]

Amazon Shipped 4 Million Kindle Devices This Holiday, Wouldn’t Show How Much the Kindle Fire Accounted For

Amazon has mentioned today that they have shipped four million Kindle devices this holiday season, a great feat for the company. This includes the e-ink readers they sell in different configurations as well as the Kindle Fire.
Unfortunately Amazon didn’t give us a rundown of which devices did what exactly but we expect the Kindle Fire did well enough. We assume a good chunk of that 4 million were cheap e-ink Kindle models as they start at just $79 and were seen as perfect gifts for first time eReader users. We’re crossing our fingers for some exact figures whenever Amazon releases their financial report sometime early next year. [via Electronista]

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime vs LG Optimus Pad

The tablet market is awash with quality devices, all vying to end up in your shopping bag this sales season, but which tablet will give you the most for your money?

Do you choose power before portability? Should you opt for a device with expandable memory? Or should you just cast all research aside and just choose the biggest, fastest, most expensive device on the market?

Well, we're here to help you wade through the myriad statistics on offer, as we take the latest, greatest tablet from Asus, the Eee Pad Transformer Prime, and weigh it up against one of last year's surprise packages, the LG Optimus Pad.


Asus' Eee Pad Transformer Prime is kitted out with a stunning 10.1-inch Super IPS+ LCD display that is super responsive and glorious to behold.

The screen operates at 1280 x 800 and features a pixel density of 149PPI, which is more than enough to provide some of the crispest visuals around.

The LG Optimus Pad offers up an 8.9-inch LCD touchscreen that holds its own against the mighty Transformer Prime, with a resolution of 768 x 1280 and a thoroughly impressive pixel density of 168PPI.

The extra clarity is certainly not to be sniffed at, but we aren't sure it's enough to make us turn our backs on an inch more screen space and the deeper colours of the Asus.

Winner - Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime


LG's Optimus Pad is powered by nVidia's Tegra 2 chipset, with the dual-core CPU clocked at 1GHz. The perennially reliable ULP GeForce GPU takes care of the visuals, and makes gaming an enjoyable experience on the device.

The Optimus Pad also boasts 1GB RAM and 32GB of on-board storage, but offers no support for removable memory.

Asus' Eee Pad Transformer Prime has yet to be bested in this round though, and it's easy to see why when you take a look at its spec sheet: 1.3GHz quad-core CPU, ULP GeForce GPU, 1GB RAM, 32 or 64GB of storage and support for Micro SD cards up to 32GB capacity.

There really isn't a tablet to touch the Transformer Prime when it comes to horsepower and we expect it will remain that way for a while yet. So if power's what you're looking for you've found the device for you.

Winner - Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime


Both of these tablets are powered by Google's Android OS, specifically version 3.0+, otherwise known as Honeycomb, which was tailored for tablet use.

LG's Optimus Pad ships with version 3.0 of the software, while the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime leaves the factory fitted with version 3.2, which offers support for visually improving apps on larger devices and the odd bugfix thrown in for good measure.

Honeycomb itself is a fast, fun affair, with plenty of apps available, a new, richly designed UI and some neat notification tweaks, as well as updated core applications. It's eminently customisable, offers full flash browsing and largely does anything your netbook can do equally as well (with the help of the right app, naturally).

There a few idiosyncrasies that prevent Honeycomb from keeping up with Apple's iOS though. For example, the lack of Android 3+ applications is hugely detrimental, and you'll also have to contend with the odd crash, which is something we didn't enjoy, but overall it's a decent platform that will continue to improve.

Winner - Draw

Form & Build

Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime - 263 x 180.8 x 8.3mm, 586g
LG Optimus Pad - 243.8 x 150 x 12.7 mm, 621g

There's no denying that both of our contenders here are well built. They feel solid, balanced in the hand and reassuringly heavy, without being overly cumbersome.

The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is arguably the better looking of the two, and at nearly 4mm thinner than the Optimus Pad it's definitely the more comfortable to use, and also the more portable, but the LG's effort is by no means big or unpleasant to look at.

One aspect that we like about both tablets is that they feel, and largely are, durable. There's nothing worse than holding a shiny, expensive device and worrying about it hitting the floor with a smash, but both of these devices give off the 'we can take it' vibe that will make you want to pick them up and play with them (NOTE - We aren't saying that they'll take being bounced on your floor, so don't try!).

Winner - Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime


The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime features the very best camera that we've seen on a tablet to date.

The 8-megapixel primary shooter, which offers geo-tagging, autofocus, LED flash and 1080P video capture, is a great performer which is fully capable of capturing print-worthy images in good light and captured video is of a generally high standard too.

The device's secondary 1.2-megapixel camera is perfect for video chatting and rounds off some very nice photographic capabilities.

The LG Optimus Pad features dual 5-megapixel primary cameras capable of capturing stereoscopic (3D) images and also offers an LED flash, geo-tagging, autofocus and 1080 2D video capture, and 720P in 3D.

LG's contender also has a nice 2-megapixel secondary camera which is great for video calling.

While it's a great performer, the general standard of still images is significantly lower than that of the Transformer Prime, and all the bells and whistles can't make up for a good, standard snapshot, which is largely all a tablet is going to be used for.

Winner - Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime

As we've come to expect, Asus' Eee Pad Transformer Prime has blown another contender out of the water!

We're fast running out of superlatives to describe this little box of tricks. It's as powerful as a netbook, as portable as a notepad and has all the top-tier features of a high-end smartphone; there really isn't anything on the market to touch it, save for Apple's iPad 2.

LG's Optimus Pad is a nice enough device, but it doesn't excel in any single area, while the Transformer Prime excels at nearly everything.

Put simply, if you're in the market for a tablet you should either buy the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime or the Apple iPad 2; and that only holds its own against Asus' device thanks to its killer OS!

IP expert says Apple could earn $10 for every Android device

Apple’s been pretty ruthless when it comes to Android litigation, even if their success rate has been hit or miss lately. After suing Samsung and HTC in the United States and everywhere else they can send a legal team, they’ve become the bane of many an Android OEM. In an interview with Bloomberg, intellectual property guru Kevin Rivette notes that the licensing fees that Apple earns on its patent lawsuits could be as high as $10 per device – a figure that could seriously impede manufacturers, especially on cheap low-margin phones.
To be blunt, that seems extremely unlikely. Apple has proven that it’s unwilling to negotiate with just about anyone, instead taking the all-or-nothing approach and going for a sales ban, as in cases with Samsung in Germany and Australia. In the latter Apple flat-out denied a settlement that surely involved patent licensing, a decision they probably regret now that their case against the design patents in the Galaxy Tab 10.1 have been dismissed. Samsung and HTC have already found ways around Apple’s legal eagles in the other cases: in Germany, Samsung released a revised Galaxy Tab 10.1N that the German court recognized as significantly different than the original, and HTC says it already has a work-around to Apple’s software patents in their United States case.
The simple fact is that Apple’s been too hard-headed to accept any sort of compromise thus far, to its detriment. This position probably stems from the late Steve Jobs, who vowed to “destroy” Android, which he saw as a stolen product. (“We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.” -Steve Jobs, 1996.) Now that they’ve been handed defeat in Australia and the US and companies have found ways around their overly vague patents, they may be more amenable to licensing, as Microsoft already is. Microsoft is reputedly making more than $400 million a year in Android licensing fees, and earns $5 from every HTC sale, though that’s the only company whose specific deal with Redmond is publicly known.

Will Apple settle for licensing? Probably not. If they had tried the standard sue-then-settle tactic a year ago they might have been successful, but at this point every major manufacturer has been preparing work-around to their patent trolling. We’ll see what they can cook up in 2012 – and how many Ice Cream Sandwich features magically make their way into iOS 6.

[via Ubergizmo]

CyanogenMod 9 Alpha Now Available for the Motorola DROID 2 Global is Now Available

Who says older phones (in tech time) can’t handle Ice Cream Sandwich? It’s the latest device to get an early taste of CyanogenMod 9. As it’s an alpha build you shouldn’t yet consider this to be your daily driver but if you want a quick preview of things to come down the road feel free to get your feet wet. Instructions and download links are over at XDA and be warned that anything that may happen to your device as a result of flashing it is your own fault. [XDA via PocketNow]