Phandroid » Handsets http://phandroid.com Android Phone News, Rumors, Reviews, Apps, Forums & More! Thu, 31 Jul 2014 00:57:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Sony Xperia Z3 will launch on T-Mobile shortly after its unveiling [RUMOR] http://phandroid.com/2014/07/30/tmobile-sony-xperia-z3-rumor/ http://phandroid.com/2014/07/30/tmobile-sony-xperia-z3-rumor/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 00:41:49 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=145942 Sony Xperia-Z3-picture-leak_1

We’ve been hearing a lot about the upcoming Sony Xperia Z3 ever since “leaked” images of the device began sprouting up around the net. Said to become official during next month’s IFA 2014 in Berlin, we were left scratching our heads as to the phone’s sudden release. Given we have yet to see or hear any official word on a Sony Xperia Z2 coming to the states (rumors point to a Verizon exclusive release arriving soon), we’re sure many of you aren’t getting your hopes we’ll ever see the upcoming model arriving in the states anytime soon. But not so fast…

Apparently, the folks over at TechnoBuffalo heard from their own reliable source that the phone has already been picked up by T-Mobile and will launch shortly after its September unveiling. So, why on earth would Sony be gearing up to launch a redesigned followup only 6 months after the previous model? Well, that part is still a little foggy. It’s possible the Z2 was already promised to Verizon and in order for Sony to bring their smartphone lineup to the US they needed an entirely new model. This could also explain why the phone is rumored to have largely the same exact specs as the Sony Xperia Z2, only featuring a more smooth, all metal frame. New name. Mostly the same internals.

Of course, nothing has been confirmed at this time although TechnoBuffalo assures us their sources have proven reliable in the past. Hopefully we’ll hear more about the phone (whether officially or through leaks) as IFA 2014 approaches. Until then, I’ll be enjoying my newly purchased Sony Xperia Z2 (yes, I’m pretty much in love with it).

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Motorola files trademark for ‘MOTO MAXX’, leaves us hoping for another Moto variant http://phandroid.com/2014/07/30/motorola-moto-maxx-trademark/ http://phandroid.com/2014/07/30/motorola-moto-maxx-trademark/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:59:29 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=145931 Motorola Moto Maxx trademark

We know Chicago-based Motorola is gearing up to give their flagship “Moto” line another run this year. While we’re still in search of leaks or any information on exactly what we can expect from the Motorola Moto X+1 (we certainly have our guesses), it’s Motorola’s famous Droid line that still has everyone guessing.

Is it possible we will see followups to the Droid RAZR, Droid RAZR MAXX, and Droid Mini this year? Maybe not in name (LucasFilms’ “Droid” trademark was used for Motorola’s Verizon exclusive devices), but a recent trademark filing is hinting towards a rebranding, at least for the Maxx variant. A “Moto Maxx” trademark, filed by Motorola on July 22nd, was recently uncovered at the US Trademark and Patent Office. While the trademark doesn’t tell us much about Motorola’s plans, we can always speculate.

It’s possible that Motorola’s new focus on global brand recognition (Moto E, Moto G, Moto X), they could see the manufacture scrapping the US-only Droid line altogether. Should that be the case, finding a customizable Moto Maxx variant on Motomaker is sure to leave battery hungry Android enthusiasts salivating. What say ye? If Motorola offers a bigger batteried Moto X+1 (for a premium, of course), would any of you bite?

[USPTO]

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Samsung Galaxy Alpha will reportedly be unveiled this Monday, August 4th http://phandroid.com/2014/07/30/samsung-gear-alpha-will-reportedly-be-unveiled-this-monday-august-4th/ http://phandroid.com/2014/07/30/samsung-gear-alpha-will-reportedly-be-unveiled-this-monday-august-4th/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 20:41:20 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=145910 samsung-galaxy-alpha-7

There’s been much ado made over the oft leaked Samsung Galaxy Alpha, an upcoming smartphone that could finally see Samsung’s departure from polycarbonate, in favor of cold hard aluminum. Well, that’s the idea anyway. It seems we learn more about the phone with each passing week, and today is no different. Once again the folks at SamMobile are claiming the scoop, receiving word of the device’s expected announcement when all the rumors will finally be laid to rest: Monday, August 4th.

Only a few weeks ahead of the rumored Galaxy Note 4 unveiling in September, that’s the date Samsung will reportedly make the Galaxy Alpha official, revealing everything we likely already know about the upcoming smartphone. What can we expect? In Samsung’s ongoing effort to blanket the market with as many possible options and hardware configurations (you know, see what sticks), the Galaxy Alpha will feature a blend of mid-range and high-end specs — lower than a Galaxy S5, but higher than the Galaxy S5 Mini.

With that comes a 4.7-inch 720p display, 32GB of internal storage (no micro SD expansion) and a fingerprint scanner. Wrap the device in aluminum and you have the premium Galaxy handset you’ve always wanted, right? Okay, so the device’s lust-worthiness remains to be seen. Something tells us Samsung wont lose any sleep over the success of this phone, they’ll simply release a refreshed model in a couple of months anyway.

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Amazon Fire Phone Review http://phandroid.com/2014/07/30/amazon-fire-phone-review/ http://phandroid.com/2014/07/30/amazon-fire-phone-review/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 19:24:22 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=145518 amazon-fire-phone-books

Amazon’s long-rumored smartphone has finally arrived in the form of the Fire Phone. The pseudo-Android smartphone shows its maker’s touch with heavy leanings toward Amazon digital content and features like Firefly that aim to keep consumers embedded squarely in the retailer’s ecosystem. Dynamic Perspective breathes some life into an otherwise flat Fire OS, but is the average hardware worth the $600+ price tag? Read on for our full review!

Build & Design

fire phone design

The Amazon Fire Phone is unique for many reasons, but its design hardly tops that list. At first glance, Amazon’s debut smartphone seems as unassuming as any that has come before it, but closer inspection reveals there is slightly more to the Fire Phone’s design. What most will quickly notice are four front-facing cameras stationed around the device’s bezel, essential elements to what Amazon hopes will become a killer feature: Dynamic Perspective. But more on that later.

Aside from these additional imaging sensors, the phone takes on a rather nondescript appearance that borrows some design cues from devices like the iPhone (the overall shape of the phone) and Nexus 4 (it’s glass rear casing). The outer edges of the phone are covered in a grippy rubber material that adds an air of durability to the device but also manages to negate some of the premium feel imbued by the rear glass accent panel (which itself gains some durability by utilizing Corning Gorilla Glass 3).

The Fire Phone manages to feel a bit chunky despite measuring in at less than 9mm thick (0.35 inches) and has some heft to it with a weight that tops the scale at 160 grams (identical the HTC One M8). For comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S5 weighs in at 145 grams while the iPhone 5s weighs in at 112 grams.

Several hardware buttons are located around the phone, including the prerequisite power/standby switch and volume rocker, but the most intriguing is a hardware camera key that can be used to trigger the phone’s Firefly product identification service. There is also a home button mounted below the phone’s display.

All in all, Amazon hasn’t created anything particularly inspired here, hedging the phone’s success less on a stellar, interesting design and instead on an innovative software experience that attempts to seamlessly interface the handset’s hardware with the overall user experience.

Display

fire phone display

The Fire Phone sports a 4.7-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1280×720 (312 ppi), but as with the design of the phone, it seems Amazon wasn’t overly concerned with making this aspect of their handset a tentpole feature. It’s an adequate display on par with most other midrange smartphones sporting 720p resolutions, but it will surely induce groans from those spoiled on the 1080p (and Quad HD) resolutions of most current Android flagship devices.

It’s a slight shame for a device so dependent on Amazon’s digital ecosystem. By default, consuming digital video content would be a logical focal point for an Amazon smartphone, but that doesn’t shine through with the Fire Phone’s display. Don’t get us wrong, the display performs well and many (especially those coming from the sub-HD display of the iPhone) won’t notice the missing pixels. Beyond resolution, the Fire Phone does a fine job reproducing images in terms of color and contrast.

That is to say: most users looking into picking up the Fire Phone won’t find the display a major turn off; it simply won’t provide that extra little bit of wow factor that has become the increasing concern of most other Android smartphone manufacturers (to be fair, the Fire Phone was never pitched as a straight up Android phone, either).

Hardware

fire phone hardware

When it comes to hardware performance, the Fire Phone once again delivers an adequate experience without showing much sizzle. A Snapdragon 800 processor is the centerpiece, and it delivers for the most part. Benchmark tests obviously place the Fire Phone squarely below devices utilizing the new Snapdragon 801 processor (think LG G3, Samsung Galaxy S5), but those hard numbers don’t always tell the full story.

In the case of the Fire Phone, those numbers — though not spectacular — might still be a bit generous. The handset is slow to respond in many situations, especially when moving from a sleep to wake state and loading the Dynamic Perspective lockscreen. Bulkier apps can take some time to load, and you’re bound to miss out on a few shots waiting for the phone’s camera to launch (in such cases a few seconds can feel like an eternity). We were pleasantly surprised with how quickly Firefly could respond to input and identify products, however.

Whereas with a more lightweight configuration you might expect some impressive results from the Fire Phone, it is obvious here that Amazon has burdened the handset’s modest hardware compliment with a bulky Android modification and processor-intensive features like Dynamic Perspective. We might expect Amazon to address this in some way via a future software update, but for the time being expect some lag and the occasional application crash.

Software

fire phone software

We can’t overstate one fact about the Amazon Fire Phone: this is not your typical Android phone. In fact, it makes no attempts to be anything remotely similar to any Android device before it. If it isn’t obvious upon first observing the phone’s widget-carousal homescreen arrangement then it becomes painfully clear upon realizing the total lack of Google services or access to the Play Store.

For the experienced Android user, this iteration of Amazon’s Fire OS (based on Android, but, as we said, almost nothing like Android) is at first confusing and then limiting. The “homescreen” setup provides several panes for quick access to Firefly, Amazon.com, Amazon Instant Video, and Amazon Music. You’ll notice the theme: the Fire Phone wants to keep you firmly in Amazon’s ecosystem. Apps are located by swiping up from the bottom of the screen to reveal the app drawer. And if you are seeking apps, you better be happy with the selection found in the Amazon App Store, because that’s what you get. Remember, there is no Google Play access on this device.

For an Amazon Prime member (and the phone comes with a free year of Prime for a limited time) with plenty of money invested in Amazon’s digital content, the Fire Phone makes a fine companion for accessing media and shopping for more. For users with their eggs in more than one shopping cart, however, it’s hard to reconcile the Fire Phone’s dependency on Amazon. But what did we expect? This is, after all, an Amazon phone produced by Amazon.

The software does gain two nifty features that have become the focal point of Amazon’s Fire Phone marketing materials: Firefly and Dynamic Perspective. Each has its pros and cons, and while both are a bit gimmicky they do add some basic value to the device.

Firefly

fire phone firefly

Firefly isn’t necessarily anything new. We have seen the image and sound ID functionality in countless apps like Google Goggles, Shazam, and even Amazon’s own offerings. What Firefly does, however, is take that functionality and shine a spotlight on it, making it a central part of the Amazon smartphone experience by including a hardware button to launch the service with one touch. It works surprisingly well, quickly pulling up information on scanned products and, yes, offering users the ability to purchase the item via Amazon.

The experience was seamless in most instances, able to pick out albums by their cover art, scan barcodes, pull audio from media. While Amazon’s big hope here is that Firefly will get you spending even more of your hard earned cash at their digital storefront, Firefly does illuminate additional info that makes it useful as a learning and discovery tool, as well.

The problem with Firefly is that it’s hard to imagine the feature becoming something users rely on. It is sure to get some use when comparison shopping and in those instances when you are dying to know what song is playing, but isn’t any reason to run out and by the Fire Phone right now.

Dynamic Perspective

fire phone dynamic perspective

Rumors leading up to the unveiling of Amazon’s smartphone often mentioned that the company would be dabbling in three dimensions. What was ultimately announced as Dynamic Perspective is unlike the 3D smartphones we have seen previously, but ultimately no more useful.

Rather than go with an approach that sees imagery emerging from the screen via glasses-free 3D technology, Amazon decided to add the depth behind the screen. The initial result is something quite akin to iOS 7’s parallax view, but the Fire Phone doesn’t carry four additional front-facing cameras for nothing. There is certainly more depth to Dynamic Perspective than parallax view. The feature adds more than a dimensional background that shifts with the phone’s movements. It also is designed to enable users to “peek” around menu items and peer into new aspects of apps like Maps (and a couple of games as well).

Dynamic Perspective seeks to introduce natural user interface interactions by treating the phone’s screen as equal to three-dimensional space our eye normally operate in. The problem is, while the concepts of Dynamic Perspective are in fact very natural in the real world, our brains have been trained to treat the way we interact with a smartphone differently. The result is an experience that isn’t so natural, after all. Getting the most out of Dynamic Perspective involves consciously rethinking the way we approach interacting with a smartphone, for better or worse.

Some features were more useful than other, such as the ability to scroll web pages by tilting the phone. Even this is nothing new, and other manufacturers have been able to accomplish this without the need for added hardware. Does Dynamic Perspective represent a paradigm shift? Will it spark a revolution in the industry? It seems unlikely, and we wouldn’t be surprised if many users disabled the functionality in its current state (which is easily accomplished via the phone’s settings). We also wouldn’t be surprised to see the entire concept scrapped in future entries to Amazon’s smartphone lineup.

Battery

fire phone battery life

The Amazon Fire Phone carries a 2400mAh battery, but battery life was far from exceptional during our testing. You can expect average uptime on a single charge that should get you through the better part of a day, but keep a charger handy. We suspect the four cameras constantly monitoring the user’s interactions with the handset might have something to do with this. Throw in the more graphically intensive Dynamic Perspective as a whole and we might be on to something.

It doesn’t get much better if you use the Fire Phone as intended to consume streaming music and video. Operating the device as a media hub of sorts will quickly cut into battery life. While the Fire Phone fell short in several categories for us, the poor battery life is perhaps the least forgivable of the bunch.

Camera

While the Fire Phone’s camera is useful for scanning and searching products among Amazon’s catalog, it is more than simply a tool for taking advantage of Firefly. At 13MP, there is some real promise in that little imaging sensor, and for the most part it delivers. The Fire Phone delivers decent shots in prime lighting conditions, but falters when the setup is less than ideal. This is expected as it is the case with most smartphone cameras.

fire-phone-image-sample-1 fire-phone-image-sample-2 fire-phone-image-sample-3 fire-phone-image-sample-4

The Fire Phone failed to reproduce the vibrancy and color of other 13MP smartphone cameras we have seen hit the market recently, but the images are of a high enough quality that you are likely to snap some real keepers that you will be proud to plaster all over Instagram and Facebook.


In general the camera features few bells and whistles, opting to keep the interface simple rather than adding in almost infinite shooting modes and options. It does do video, but it isn’t the phone’s strongest aspect.

The Bottom Line

amazon-fire-phone-rear

The Amazon Fire Phone is a device that aspires to be much more than it ever could be, falling short in so many areas while reserving the greatest attention to detail for features that could ultimately be written off as gimmicks. Dynamic Perspective and Firefly do add a unique angle to the phone, and they are neat in their own right, but it would be difficult to label them must-have features.

For the Android user, the Fire Phone is far from familiar and at times frustrating. For those looking for a fresh start with a new mobile OS, Amazon’s Fire OS still seems a bit half baked. For a device that seems to settle on nearly every aspect, hardware and software included, a price tag north of $600 is hard to justify, even with a free year of Amazon Prime thrown in.

At its best, the Fire Phone is an expensive experiment in merging the Amazon ecosystem with a smartphone form factor. At its worst, the handset is an average device limited by its reliance on the corporate hand it serves.

The Good

  • Tight Amazon integration makes it a fine phone for accessing purchased media
  • Dynamic Perspective offers an interesting, if not intuitive, take on navigating the phone’s interface
  • Firefly works seamlessly and effortlessly to ID products, music, and more

The Bad

  • Hardware is sluggish, software seems half baked
  • No access to Google Play or Google services
  • Battery life left us wanting more

Overall: 2.5/5

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T-Mobile’s Samsung Galaxy Avant brings capable smartphone to your pocket for just over $200 http://phandroid.com/2014/07/30/t-mobile-samsung-galaxy-avant/ http://phandroid.com/2014/07/30/t-mobile-samsung-galaxy-avant/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 14:53:06 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=145867 samsung galaxy avant

Not everyone needs a super phone with all the latest high-tech gizmos stuffed inside. As nice as those phones are, they often come with hefty price tags that aren’t fit for every budget (or that are simply overkill for some folks’ needs). T-Mobile’s Samsung Galaxy Avant launches today to serve those who fit into those categories.

The device comes in at $209 off-contract, and can be had for $0 down and $9 per month on T-Mobile’s Simple Choice payment plans. For that money, you’re getting a 4.5-inch display with 960 x 540 resolution, a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 16GB of internal storage, 1.5GB of RAM, a 5 megapixel camera, GPS, NFC, 4G LTE, Bluetooth, WiFi N and more.

Carriers are beginning to see the benefit of entry-level and mid-range smartphones again, a renaissance of sorts that seems to have come thanks to the success of phones like the super-cheap Moto G. It seemed most carriers and OEMs settled with the “high-end or nothing” approach for the past couple of years, but that obviously isn’t the case at this point. You can order the Galaxy Avant from T-Mobile’s site right now, and we’d love to hear from you if you decide to do that!

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Verizon LG G Vista and its specs leak ahead of supposed launch tomorrow http://phandroid.com/2014/07/30/verizon-lg-g-vista-specs/ http://phandroid.com/2014/07/30/verizon-lg-g-vista-specs/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:42:29 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=145858 lg-g-vista-verizon

Murmurings of Verizon’s LG G Vista have crept back into the rumor mill. This time, the device has gotten leaked in crystal clear detail, and we even get a healthy list of specs to take in while we await its supposed revelation and launch tomorrow. The device undoubtedly fits itself square into the phablet category with a 5.7-inch 1280 x 720 display. Here are other internals that you probably care about:

  • 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400
  • 1.5GB of RAM
  • 3,200mAh battery
  • 8 megapixel rear camera with LED flash and laser-assisted autofocus
  • 8GB of internal storage w/ microSD
  • Android 4.4 KitKat

That’s about as mid-range as mid-range can get. The device borrows LG’s coined rear-facing buttons arrangement, and will no doubt come with LG’s custom user experiencing that features KnockOn and KnockCode, an extreme battery saving mode and a lot more.

The LG G Vista supposedly comes in at an off-contract price of $499.99, or $99 on a new two-year contract. No idea on what the Verizon Edge price is looking like just yet, but if we go by the standard off-contract price spread over the course of 24 months it brings us to about $20.83 per month. All that’s left to do now is to wait until tomorrow to see if Verizon hasn’t suddenly changed their mind about launching it. Let us know if you have your eye on this one.

[via Droid-Life]

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Android 4.4.4 is now rolling out for the Verizon Moto X, here’s what’s new http://phandroid.com/2014/07/28/android-4-4-4-is-now-rolling-out-for-the-verizon-moto-x-heres-whats-new/ http://phandroid.com/2014/07/28/android-4-4-4-is-now-rolling-out-for-the-verizon-moto-x-heres-whats-new/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 21:56:43 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=145744 Motorola Moto X DSC00701

After a soak test began last week for Android 4.4.4 on the Motorola Moto X, it seems Verizon is now comfortable enough to begin pushing it out to the masses. The 210.12.41 update has been officially approved by Verizon and besides the SSL security fixes addressed in Android 4.4.4, manages to bring a few smaller surprises to the mix. Here’s what Moto X users on Verizon can expect from the update:

CAMERA
• Improved camera picture quality
- Improved photos in fluorescent lighting
- Enhanced dynamic range
• Ability to pause video recording
- Offers pause/resume button on the finder
PHONE DIALER
• New graphical layout and colors
- Improves consistency and usability

For those that don’t want to wait around for Verizon to prompt them about the update, it can be pulled manually by jumping into your Settings app and selecting > About phone > System updates. If there’s nothing currently available, just check back the following days where it will continue rolling out in stages. Cheers.

[Verizon]

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The Facebook Phone is alive and kicking http://phandroid.com/2014/07/28/facebook-phone-patent-unibody/ http://phandroid.com/2014/07/28/facebook-phone-patent-unibody/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 20:54:37 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=145726 The mythical Facebook Phone was first rumored in 2010 but the most we’ve seen thus far are gimmicky devices like the HTC Status with dedicated Facebook buttons. The idea isn’t far fetched: Facebook has doubled down on mobile by investing billions in companies like WhatsApp while showing a desire to enter uncharted territory with acquisitions like Oculus. With their latest patent, Facebook is showing that Amazon isn’t the only company trying to cash in on building their own Android ecosystem.

facebook-phone-patent

The patent, titled “co-molding display with body of mobile device,” fits well with the previous Facebook and HTC mobile partnerships. HTC First pioneered their unibody frame in 2010 with the HTC Legend, at the time only rivaled in craftsmanship by Apple’s iPhone, and the company continues to make some of the best devices (see HTC One M8).

But this isn’t HTC’s patent – it’s Facebook’s – and the manufacturing process detailed makes us wonder exactly what they’ve got up their sleeves. In some ways it appears to offer a removal sleeve that would suggest Project Ara-type functionality, but the patent description homes in on manufacturing, so it’s unclear if the final product would act as such for the consumer.

We’ve continued to hear rumors that Facebook is still pursuing mobile hardware so this isn’t surprising, but launching their own self-made device hasn’t been forecasted by industry analysts- this is a step in a new direction.

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Facebook-phone-concept-image-002

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Facebook is currently one of the predominant players in mobile, so leveraging this presence may seem like a logical move, but what would a Facebook phone accomplish that a Facebook app on Android can’t?

Driving revenue for one, but it seems an unlikely motivation given that Facebook’s strength is in software. Facebook could package premium, subscription services for products like WhatsApp, Instagram, Oculus, and anything else their working on much like (Amazon is doing with the Fire Phone and Prime), but that seems like a fringe benefit rather than a primary motive, unless Facebook has more to announce than the phone itself.

Unless the above question can yield a definitive answer, I’m not confident any “Facebook Phone” will make a dent in Samsung’s Android stranglehold. In the meantime, I’ll start praying that Zuck goes on another buying spree, snatches up Nokia from Microsoft, and starts making the premium Nokia Android Phones we’ve craved for the past several years.

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Did Google just post an image of the rumored Nexus 9? [UPDATE] http://phandroid.com/2014/07/28/google-nexus-9-slip/ http://phandroid.com/2014/07/28/google-nexus-9-slip/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 20:30:01 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=145725 TwG_SummerTrends_Google Nexus 9

When it comes to an upcoming product launch, it’s not too uncommon for big companies to slip up and let the cat out of the bag ahead of time. Tales of a rumored Nexus 9 (or Nexus 8) tablet have been floating around the net for many months now, building up hype with every passing “leak.”

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise then to find a newly published photo by the folks at Think with Google — Google’s own site for tracking current trends — is causing some stir around the net. The image, posted in Think with Google’s latest blog post (and on Google+), shows a rather nondescript tablet sporting a very un-Android aspect ratio. Given rumors that the upcoming Nexus 9 would have a similar form factor, it’s entirely possible the photo of the slab could indeed be legit.

So what do we learn from the photo? Well, not anything. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise us to find this is merely a quick mockup of an iPad Mini with the entire display/bezel blacked out. Latest Nexus 9 rumors pointed to a device manufactured by HTC that would feature front facing speakers — none of which are pictured here. We think renders of a tablet with front facing speakers on the Google Design site probably hold more weight than this leak.

I mean, you guys remember what happened with that Nexus 8 leak from a few months back, right?

UPDATE: Yup, look like the image is nothing more than a Shutterstock photo. You can find this, and many just like it, right here on their site.

Thanks, Greenbot!

[RootzWiki]

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Another Samsung Galaxy S4 catches fire, can we stop putting cheap 3rd party accessories in these things? http://phandroid.com/2014/07/28/another-samsung-galaxy-catches-fire-3rd-party-accessory-likely-culprit/ http://phandroid.com/2014/07/28/another-samsung-galaxy-catches-fire-3rd-party-accessory-likely-culprit/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 17:50:25 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=145678 Samsung Galaxy S4 toasty

Samsung is making local headlines again, not because of record breaking sales or some fancy new hardware feature. It seems another one of Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones spontaneously combusted, leaving behind a puddle of ash and soot that nobody would guess was ever a smartphone. A Denton County news station tells the story of exactly what went wrong, pointing to — what else — but a faulty 3rd party accessory as the likely culprit.

While charging her Samsung Galaxy S4, a 13 year old Texas teen woke to the smell of smoke after her phone began to catch fire while charging under her pillow — a popular place for youngsters to stash away their cellphone after late night texting sessions and one of the worst places to store a smartphone while electricity is pumping through its circuitry. Where that alone isn’t likely to cause just any household smartphone to explode (although it could cause a device to reach dangerously high temperatures), the combination of heat and a 3rd party battery in the phone caused the nearly all-plastic phone to light on fire.

As Samsung, or any other manufacturer will tell you, cheap 3rd party accessories like chargers or batteries are never guaranteed to work properly with a device and in some cases, can malfunction. We’ve seen countless headlines of exploding phones, some even resulting in death, simply because consumers were looking for a deal or are ignorant to the safety concerns.

While the teen’s father is subtly placing the blame on Samsung who he feels — despite warning users in the user manual about restricting airflow on charging devices — should put bigger warnings labels on devices if they have the potential to catch fire, likening it to warnings found on cigarettes.

Of course, Samsung assures us their products are safe, but admits greater education on the subject is probably needed to avoid further instances like this in the future. Still, despite the hardware failure not appearing to be any fault of their own, Good-Guy Samsung will be replacing both the teen’s smartphone and bedding (pillow, mattress and all) while they investigate the matter.

All that being said, isn’t it about we, as a people, can finally move past this? How many countless smartphones have to die before we learn cheap 3rd party accessories are the last thing we need to be sticking inside our $700 smartphones? Of course, for those times when it does appear to be actual hardware failure, HTC will be more than happy to help steal another customers for Team HTC.

Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

[FOX 4]

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Samsung’s Tizen plans suffer another setback with delayed smartphone http://phandroid.com/2014/07/28/samsungs-tizen-plans-suffer-another-setback-with-delayed-smartphone/ http://phandroid.com/2014/07/28/samsungs-tizen-plans-suffer-another-setback-with-delayed-smartphone/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:54:20 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=145698 samsung-z1

We have no doubt that Samsung hopes to eventually free themselves from the chains binding them to Android (the chains being money, because they make a crap ton as the top OEM by far), but it seems to have been a lot more difficult than they anticipated. Samsung has announced the delay of the launch of the Samsung Z, their first Tizen smartphone, in Russia. The delay is seemingly indefinite as Samsung had no new release date details to provide.

Samsung didn’t give any reasons for the delay, but their indefinite holdout leads us to believe either one of two things happened:

  • Presales weren’t as strong as they’d hoped. It wouldn’t be the first time Samsung has pulled out on a Tizen launch due to sales — the company was originally forced to ix-nay on the Izen-tay last year when Japanese carrier partners decided they didn’t want anything to do with the phone.
  • They encountered some production issues or experience-breaking bugs. It’s still a relatively new platform and we’re sure if has its fair share of growing pains to deal with. It wouldn’t be out of the question to suggest Samsung delayed the phone to address some things that could harm their brand.

Tizen is a smartphone operating system based on Meego (which was once being developed by Nokia and Intel), but it didn’t quite catch on in its early going and Android took a considerable lead for open source Linux-based operating systems. With much of the world leaving it for dead, Samsung seemed determine to turn one man’s trash into another’s treasure.

They’ve taken a few key steps to introducing Tizen to the market, the biggest of which being the shift from Android to Tizen on their Gear lineup of smart watches (the Android Wear-based Samsung Gear Live not included, mind you). Despite resistance from hardcore Android fans, the smartwatch experience with Tizen seems to provide considerable benefits compared to Android — better battery life and performance are two areas where Tizen is said to outshine Samsung’s bite-sized customization of Android.

The issue with Tizen comes from a lack of a real ecosystem and a platform unfamiliar to developers. This means apps and custom ROMs become more difficult to load up. That said, the out-of-box experience Samsung intended for you to have works just as well with Tizen, if not better, if that’s the route you prefer to go.

That could be just one of many reasons why Samsung has found it so difficult to get their phone onto the market. Whether that’s the cause of today’s delay is for them to know and for us to find out, but either way it isn’t looking too good if they hope to ween off the Android and move all their business over to Tizen in the near future.

[via GigaOM]

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Unlucky Samsung Galaxy S4 user whose phone burned up gets free One M8 from HTC http://phandroid.com/2014/07/28/galaxy-s4-burn-free-m8/ http://phandroid.com/2014/07/28/galaxy-s4-burn-free-m8/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:05:12 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=145693 galaxy s4 burnt 1

Too often have we heard stories of users from Samsung’s camp experiencing phones that spontaneously combust or overheat to the point where it looks like someone took a match to it. Here, here and here are just a handful of stories that we’ve covered in the past. But one particular case seems to have caught the interest of an HTC product manager who wants to help convert the user to #TeamHTC (their words).  User JetLeigh on Reddit responded to one poster’s story with the following comment:

galaxy s4 burnt 2

Looks like you’re in luck, buddy. I happen to be the HTC Product Manager on the AT&T account. I appreciate the feedback and civil discussion you’ve generated on reddit while avoiding the ‘bashing’. I think any OEM or company would appreciate that!

I would like to offer you a brand new HTC One M8. What do you say?

The deal is if Samsung does eventually figure out how to get you a new device or offers that you please donate that to charity or sell it and please donate the funds to an organization of your choice. Honors system here, and no way I can really know but just leaving that simple request here as these devices don’t grow on trees and are worth a good chunk of money even to the OEM who makes them!

Bottom line we want to move you over to #TeamHTC

It’s important to know the fully story. The original Reddit post from a month ago can be read here, but here’s the gist of it: the phone burned up, and Samsung said they’d be sending the user a new smartphone in a box. He would then ship the damaged smartphone back to them.

The issue is they never sent the phone in the first place and instead shipped him an empty box (according to his claims, anyway), and countless attempts to get in contact with Samsung about the lack of a replacement have gone largely ignored. Surely Samsung would have sent a replacement had he shipped his off, but for some people it’s not easy finding a replacement smartphone at a moment’s notice, and going without a smartphone for who knows how long could be pretty miserable (note: the smartphone still functioned fine so long as he could find a way to fit a USB cable into the deformed charging port).

And that nightmare of an experience is probably what moved this sympathetic HTC representative to reach out and offer a route of recourse. It’s a pretty noble move, though no doubt a play for positive press without having to spend much more than a dime. Also worth noting is the suggestion to donate a possible replacement phone from Samsung to charity. That ought to satisfy the army of folks who don’t fancy throwing away a perfectly good smartphone.

PS: Yes, claims of burnt smartphones have seen an uptick on Reddit since this episode. Whether they’re legit or not is up to you to decide, but we’d advise our lovely readership to steer clear of using false claims and reports or intentional damage to try and get a free smartphone. It’s not just dishonest, it’s stupid — there’s a good chance no one will give an owl’s hoot.

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Rumor: Motorola, Google working on 5.9-inch Nexus http://phandroid.com/2014/07/28/motorola-nexus-rumor/ http://phandroid.com/2014/07/28/motorola-nexus-rumor/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 12:27:14 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=145690 Motorola Logo

Lots of breakups tend to go pretty bad, but Google and Motorola’s relationship has stayed strong following their brief period of engagement. Ties could become even tighter if this latest rumor is to be believed: the pair are working on a Nexus phone that could come clocked in at 5.9 inches, with the target month for launching it being November.

There’s no real concrete information to be had outside of that, though murmurings of a fingerprint scanner being featured on the device raises ears. The device is said to be codenamed “shamu,” the name of SeaWorld’s charming killer whale show that brings people from all over to their water park. Fitting name, that, considering a 5.9-inch phone is quite the “whale” of a form factor compared to previous Nexus phones, a line that has yet to extend beyond the 5-inch mark (excluding tablets, obviously).

The device’s codename has shown up in Google Code bug reports before, with this particular report from three days ago referencing the device in the build number. For what it’s worth, the bug report comes from a testing firm that specializes in testing hardware and software in the cellular world — sounds exactly like the type of firm who’d be able to get their hands on a prototype well ahead of it seeing the light of day.

motorola-logo-building

And that’s about the length of all the known information. Without much else to go on, it does give us an opportunity to ponder a few things. Here are just a few thoughts that immediately come to mind (should the rumor turn out to be true):

  • The Nexus line might not be dead after all. If you don’t remember, early rumors suggested Google would be dropping their Nexus program in favor of Android Silver. Android Silver is rumored to be a new device initiative for OEMs and carriers to provide high quality smartphones, but without carrier or OEM customization, and with a commitment to timely updates. We thought we’d be hearing something about Android Silver at Google IO, but alas nothing came of the rumor (and at this point, we’re not sure if anything ever will).
  • Motorola didn’t stick to its guns. Remember when Moto said they didn’t care for big phones? Could be that they’ve had a change of heart, or it could be that Google wants to introduce the first phablet in the Nexus series. Either way, it certainly doesn’t fit Motorola’s original vision.
  • Who better to use a fingerprint scanner than Motorola? Because whether you want to give them credit or not, they were the first company to use a fingerprint scanner in a mainstream smartphone. It’s only fitting that they reclaim their throne and let people know who the true originator is.

But I digress, because it could be just as likely that none of this is true or that the smartphone will never see the light of day. Rumors are always to be taken with grains of salt, so don’t go making major purchase decisions based on this particular one because you could end up waiting for nothing at all. Knowing that, though, let us know in the comments if you’ve been waiting for an oversized Nexus phone like this one.

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HTC Desire 610 now available on AT&T for $200 straight up http://phandroid.com/2014/07/25/htc-desire-610-now-available-on-att-only-200-straight-up/ http://phandroid.com/2014/07/25/htc-desire-610-now-available-on-att-only-200-straight-up/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 22:28:07 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=145634 htc-desire-610-att-01

We recently featured an article on smartphone theft and often times when your smartphone is lost of stolen, you gotta consider a cheap replacement. For Android users on a budget, there aren’t too many choices when it comes to finding a nicely equipped sub $200 Android phone.

More times than not, you’ll find yourself stuck with a phone with little to no software support and bottom of the barrel spec sheet. But starting today, you can pick up the all new HTC Desire 610 from AT&T, a phone designed to give you the most bang for your buck. The Desire 610 is being offered off-contract for a more than reasonable $200 straight up, or a measly $8 a month with AT&T Next (18 month).

The HTC Desire 610 is very much like a tiny version of the HTC Desire 816 we took a look at back during Mobile World Congress. You’ll find the same polycarbonate body (shiny back, matte front) as well as HTC’s trademark front facing stereo speakers complete with built-in amp. Here is the full spec sheet for those interested:

HTC Desire 610

  • 4.7-inch 854×480 SLCD display
  • 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor
  • 8MP / 1.3MP cameras
  • 8GB internal storage with support for micro SD cards
  • 1GB RAM
  • 2,040mAh battery
  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat with Sense 6

You can pick up the HTC Desire 610 either online or in-store from AT&T where, as we mentioned before, it’ll only run you $200. The phone is even available under AT&T’s GoPhone prepaid service, making it one of the better devices to choose from. Unfortunately, the AT&T model doesn’t have access to wide range of colors offered in other regions, with “Dark Grey” being the only option. Hit up the links below to see the phone for yourself.

HTC Desire 610 on AT&T

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Unlocked HTC One M8 now receiving Android 4.4.3 update, carries same security fixes as 4.4.4 http://phandroid.com/2014/07/25/unlocked-htc-one-m8-android-443-ota-update/ http://phandroid.com/2014/07/25/unlocked-htc-one-m8-android-443-ota-update/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 20:45:01 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=145655 Unlocked HTC One M8 2.22.1540.3 update

It was last week HTC product manager Mo Versi revealed via his Twitter profile that — after hitting the HTC One M8 Developer Edition — owners of the unlocked HTC One M8 should be expecting an update to Android 4.4.3 late this week.

Right on schedule, owners of the region-free unlocked HTC One M8 are now reportedly receiving the update that, while it may not be the 4.4.4 update as found on Nexus/Google Play/Motorola devices, includes the same SSL security fixes that 4.4.4 addresses in the first place.

The update brings the software build to 2.22.1540.3 and is actually quite large, tipping the scales at a little over 592MB. That being said, if you want to make the process as speedy as possible, connect to WiFi and jump into your Settings > About > Software updates > Check now.

[Twitter]

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