Phandroid Android Phone News, Rumors, Reviews, Apps, Forums & More! Tue, 23 Sep 2014 01:31:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Kyocera Brigadier Review: a tough one-trick pony Mon, 22 Sep 2014 22:58:14 +0000 Brigadier 4

It’s happened to all of us. You bring home your shiny new phone, and at first you are very careful with it. You take care to set it down gently, and maybe even buy a case for it. As time goes on you become increasingly rough with the device. Then it happens. It slips out of your hand as you pull it from your pocket. You hold your breathe as it lands face down on the pavement. The screen is cracked.

The details of this story may be different for you, but chances are we’ve all broke a phone or two in our day. It’s inevitable with the way most smartphones are built. They’re made with plastic or aluminum, and a large part of the device is a big pieced of glass. Plus we take these devices everywhere. It’s amazing we don’t break them more often. So what can you do about it?

The most popular solution is to buy a big, bulky case to put on it. That works pretty well, but it will cost you an arm and a leg if you want true protection from all elements. A better solution is to buy a device that was built specifically to withstand tons of abuse. Enter the Kyocera Brigadier. It’s certainly not the first rugged device on the market, but it has some new tricks up its sleeve.



The design of all rugged devices usually follow the same formula. Manufacturers figure that the people buying a rugged device are men that don’t care about design. The devices are usually very masculine, with sharp edges and lots of black and red. The Kyocera Brigadier follows this script to the T. It’s shaped like a shield, with visible screws, covered in matte black, and topped off with red accents. Every port is covered with a plastic flap to keep water out.

The Brigadier is certainly not the ugliest device I’ve ever seen on the outside. Software design is another story. Kyocera, of course, has their own Android skin. It’s all glossy metal textures and bright teal highlights. The included widgets are very handy, but some of the uglier ones I’ve seen. It always boggles my mind when a mid-range device is so heavily skinned. They’re wasting their time on something that ultimately slows down the device even more, but more on that later.


Brigadier 5

Obviously durability is the main selling point of this device. Kyocera has made sure that every reviewer has ample materials to put this device to the test. Included with our review unit was a brand new pocket knife, rubber glove for water submersion, and a box of rocks. The reason for these items is to put the “Sapphire Shield” display to the test.

It’s easy to make the body of a phone durable, but the weak spot is always the big glass display. Kyocera has developed a proprietary display made out of sapphire, which is second only to diamonds in mineral hardness. This means the display is virtually scratch-proof and unbreakable. Of course we had to put this to the test ourselves.

This phone can take a beating. I dropped it on cement from five feet up several times, dumped rocks on it, submerged it in water (including flushing it in a toilet), attempted to scratch the display with a brand new pocket knife, and much more. The result? A bunch of scuffs and dings in the plastic/rubber case, but not a scratch on the display. Pretty impressive results, but durability is more than just skin deep.

We tortured the Brigadier much more than most people would with regular use. Chances are you’re not going to drop it, drown it, flush it, feed it to a dog, scratch it, and stab it all within the span of a couple of hours. How could we resist? Kyocera practically dared us to break this phone, and we may have succeeded. After all of our testing the device seemed to work fine…at first. Then the charging indicator was stuck on, and it started randomly rebooting. Now after a few days the touchscreen doesn’t recognize touches, and the power button thinks everything is a long-press.

In regular every-day disasters the Brigadier can take a punch like the best of them. However, if you’re a sadistic phone abuser like me you might run into some trouble.

Performance & Battery

Brigadier 3

It’s no surprise that durability is top-notch in the Kyocera Brigadier, but performance and camera quality is usually where these devices suffer. Putting time and money into awesome things like a sapphire display means other parts of the device won’t receive as much attention. The Brigadier is not a slow device, but it does suffer from good ol’ Android Lag. It’s especially noticeable when using Kyocera’s custom launcher or when you get a bunch of apps running at the same time.

Battery life is very important for rugged devices. The people who buy these devices demand a lot, especially when it comes to battery life. The Brigadier is packing a 3100mAh batter and even has Qi wireless charging. The good news is you won’t have to worry about charging it very often. I was able to get a day and a half of use before I plopped it on the charging pad. it has enough juice to keep up with your rugged lifestyle.


Brigadier 8

Camera quality is what you would expect from a mid-range device with a 8MP camera. Decent in well-lit situations, sub-par in low light. There’s really not much to say about it, but that is probably a good thing. Chances are if you’re buying this phone the camera is not a huge concern. You want to get quick photos when you’re on a hike or at the job site. The good news is it’s perfectly capable, but it lacks the “wow factor” of cameras on flagship devices. The benefit of this camera is it’s attached to a device that will allow you to still upload to Instagram if you drop it on the sidewalk.

20140920_134325_Android 20140914_214830_Android 20140914_120116_Android 20140920_192859_Android


The question I always ask myself when rating a device is “would I recommend this phone to someone?” The answer to that question is tricky for the Kyocera Brigadier. On one hand it’s an excellent device for people who need something durable. But on the other hand it’s nothing more than a decent mid-range device with a killer gimmick. Ultimately I think the people who look for rugged devices like this will be happy with the Brigadier. The sapphire display truly is an amazing piece of technology, but I wish it was connected to a slightly better device.

The Good

  • Sapphire display is impressive
  • Body can take a beating
  • Great battery life

The Bad

  • Software design is not great
  • Camera is just okay
  • Stopped working after our extreme durability tests

Score: 2.5 out of 5

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[Update: on second thought...] “Android M” references begin showing up in AOSP comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 19:29:25 +0000 android m spot

We haven’t even gotten a full taste of Android L (or a final treat name for that matter) and Google engineers are already looking ahead to M. A comment about “Android M” appeared in an Android Open Source Project thread. The comment was in relation to obscure developer stuff that you or I may never understand, and there’s no telling what, exactly, they’re talking about.

It’s not odd to learn Google is already thinking about Android M. In fact, we’d be worried if they weren’t. Android L is likely in a state of fine tuning and bug crushing more than packing in more features. Anyone using the Android L developer preview knows that there certainly are a lot of things to take care of ahead of the final build. Google shouldn’t be adding much more than the goods they’ve already shown off at Google I/O earlier this year.


One thing we’re curious about — what will the “M” treat be? Marshmallow? Mint? Moon pie? Maybe even Milky Way? It’s tough to guess when we don’t even know what to call Android L yet. Google probably doesn’t even know what they want M to be, but it’s something to ponder while we await the latest round of goodness coming out of the Googleplex.

[via MYCE]

[Update]: Whoops! Looks like our excitement got the best of us — apparently “M” doesn’t refer to the next major version of Android, but instead an internal milestone release. Nevertheless, we know Android L is their top and only priority right now, and it was fun to come up with some possible names for whatever “M” turns out to be.

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Google Play will soon display in-app purchase prices before downloading Mon, 22 Sep 2014 19:02:00 +0000 Google Play Store 4.9.13 1

It seems adding a notice about in-app purchases for apps that have them isn’t enough — Google’s looking to give you even more information about in-app purchase prices before you download it. The company has recently confirmed via the Google Play developers’ back end that an upcoming update to Google Play will show price ranges for games and apps with in-app purchases. The change will go into effect starting September 30th, according to Google.

For instance, A game with an item for as low as $1 and an item as high as $99 would show you $1 – $99. You don’t get the specifics of everything in between, but it should give you a pretty good idea of what to expect ahead of the download.

This comes at a time where in-app purchases have been the source of much controversy. Earlier this year, Apple was forced to pay a settlement for folks who claimed it was too easy to purchase in-app content (with many claiming their kids were purchasing that content without authorization or permission).

Google was eventually forced to do the same. The incidents have caused Apple and Google to update their digital marketplaces with proper notices, frequent prompts for passwords and other changes that will ensure no one can “accidentally” purchase anything. This is yet another step to make sure people know what they’re getting into before they download an app, even if that app’s initial download is free of charge. We’ll be on the lookout for the change at some point next week.

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LG Wine Smart is a smart flip phone that runs Android Mon, 22 Sep 2014 17:48:39 +0000 lg wine smart

LG has just announced an interesting Android phone that most of us will probably never use. It’s the LG Wine Smart, a flip phone that runs Android. The concept isn’t new — we’ve seen Samsung make a few of these for Asian territories already — but it’s no less cool.

lg wine smart 2 lg wine smart 4 lg wine smart 1 lg wine smart 3

The LG Wine Smart sports a 1.2GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, a 3.5-inch 480 x 320 display, 4GB of internal storage, an 8 megapixel camera and a 1,700mAh battery. That’s not the most exciting line of specs we’ve ever seen, though it should be enough to provide a decent experience that other phones in this form factor don’t often provide. For software it’s running a scaled down version of Android 4.4 KitKat.

The device isn’t expected to provide enough of a punch for any power users, so LG is targeting it to the elderly and handicapped, and anyone who may not want to forego traditional form factors for one reason or another. The Korean press release likely means it won’t be traveling far out of their own territory so you’ll probably need to resort to importing if you happen to want one. It’ll be launching in South Korea this Friday.

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Samsung Galaxy Alpha launches exclusively on AT&T September 26th Mon, 22 Sep 2014 16:39:14 +0000

Ready for yet another AT&T exclusive? This time, the company teamed up with the biggest manufacturer in the Android phone space — Samsung — to offer the Samsung Galaxy Alpha. It’ll go on sale starting September 26th, and can be had for several different pricing levels:

  • $25.55 per month on AT&T Next18.
  • $30.65 per month on AT&T Next12.
  • $199.99 with a two-year agreement.
  • No annual commitment for $612.99.

No other US carrier will be seeing the device (not right away, anyway) so unless you’re willing to do your bidding with Ma Bell you can feel free to pass on this one. The Samsung Galaxy Alpha was the first handset from the company to revamp the Galaxy design language and introduce a fair bit of metal into the mix.


The Samsung Galaxy Alpha features a pocketable 4.7-inch form factor (HD resolution) and has a 2.5GHz quad-core processor. It also features 2GB of RAM, a 12 megapixel camera, 32GB of internal storage and more. Of course, you can expect Android 4.4 with a helping of TouchWiz on top (which emphasizes health and battery saving improvements above all else). Let us know if you’ll be looking to grab one of these once it lands later this week.

[via AT&T]

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Android L spotted being used on Nexus 4 by Googlers Mon, 22 Sep 2014 15:32:17 +0000 Nexus 4 verdict

Well, isn’t this interesting. It appears the Nexus 4 won’t be left behind when Android L makes its way to handsets later this year. A recent bug report entry in Google’s issue tracker mentions a Nexus 4 running a build of Android L. The entry doesn’t tell us much about anything — just that Google definitely is testing the update out on 2012′s flagship Nexus handset.

We weren’t worried that the Nexus 4 wouldn’t get the upgrade. It’s still a fairly recent smartphone with hardware powerful enough to champion any Android release down the line. With Google emphasizing better performance on entry level hardware we imagine the Nexus 4′s shelf life will be much higher than that of the Galaxy Nexus or Nexus S (especially considering some of the low cost Android One phones launching next month are already poised to receive the upgrades).

The only question yet to be answered is when Google is actually planning to release Android L. Many have their fingers crossed in hopes of an October debut, though we wouldn’t be surprised if it takes them a bit longer. In any case, there are only about three months left to go before the “later this year” deadline expires, so it shan’t be long.

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Let the terrible iPhone 6 clones (with Android) begin [VIDEO] Mon, 22 Sep 2014 13:56:24 +0000

The iPhone 6′s launch this past weekend proved people are still excited about Apple, so you can imagine the countless shameless manufacturers out there looking to cash in on its success. It didn’t take long, but the first iPhone 6 clone has arrived.

The device you see in the video above is the “Sophone i6,” which totally sounds legit. The device is built to look just like an iPhone 6, though obviously not with the same build quality that you’d get from the real deal out of Cupertino. It also won’t be loaded with nearly as good specs:

  • 4.7-inch 960 x 540 display
  • 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek processor
  • 2GB of RAM
  • Android 4.3 Jelly Bean with a totally original skin on top
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • 13 megapixel rear Sony camera, 4.9 megapixel front camera
  • USB 2.0, aGPS, Bluetooth 4.0
  • 1810mAh battery
  • 139.5 x 67.0 x 7.5 mm, 112g

Jokes aside, though, this may not be a bad smartphone for its price — $140 as of the time of this writing. It could get the job done for someone who doesn’t have hundreds to spend on a legit iPhone or a high quality Android, though we’d just as soon suggest they go with something like the Moto G. You can watch a pretty full hands-on video from the retailer above.







[via Redmond Pie]

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Report: HTC and Google still going strong on Nexus 9 efforts Mon, 22 Sep 2014 12:50:51 +0000 htc-logo-paper

HTC’s name has been in the wind as one of the manufacturers responsible for making the next Nexus Tablet, though with little to go on since the initial rumor it’s understandable if there’s still doubt of that happening. It looks like those plans could still be on as a report from the Wall Street Journal suggests Google and HTC have been hard at work on the next Nexus tablet (known as the Nexus 9) for the past few months.

The report suggests HTC engineers have been flying out to Google’s headquarters on a frequent basis to ease the collaboration process (which certainly isn’t that hard to believe considering how important of a device this is).

HTC hasn’t had success in the tablet space. It all began with the untimely launch of the HTC Flyer, and continued through an uninspiring HTC Jetstream. It felt like just yesterday that HTC threw in the towel and decided to focus on smartphones alone, but being tapped as the manufacturer of the next Nexus tablet seems to be a good reason to jump back into the fold.

The report touched on Google’s decision to go with HTC over more seasoned veterans such as Samsung and ASUS. According to it, Google doesn’t want any one or two manufacturers having a “monopoly,” of sorts, over the Nexus-making duties. It’s a move that’s consistent with how the line has operated so far, with manufacturers usually getting the honor of working on two different devices.

We’re hoping this launch will inspire HTC to step back into the tablet game and challenge LG, Samsung and ASUS to a game they’ve all gotten quite good at. For now, though, we’re just hoping to get our first glimpse of the thing ahead of its glorious debut.

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Verizon Moto X (2nd gen) to launch without simultaneous voice and data, requires future Advanced Calling 1.0 update [LEAK] Sat, 20 Sep 2014 23:21:28 +0000 Verizon Moto X 2014 DSC07000

Being an Android smartphone user on Verizon means you’re used to some of the finer things in life such as great coverage, getting nickeled and dimed for everything imaginable, and being able to use both voice and data at the same time. Simultaneous voice and data has been available on most Android phones by coming equipped with two separate radios and maintaining separate connections to the 1x and EVDO or LTE networks. Verizon’s upcoming Moto X (2nd gen), set to launch on September 26th, will handle simultaneous voice and data quite differently from previous Android phones.

Verizon’s new Moto X will be the first Android device that requires Verizon’s Advanced Calling 1.0 to enable simultaneous voice and data connections. Oddly enough, the Moto X is not launching with Advanced Calling 1.0 support and will require a software update that’s slated for later this fall. The new Moto X isn’t being singled out here, this change and requirement will be coming to future Verizon phones as well.


Verizon’s Advanced Calling 1.0 enables VoLTE (Voice over LTE), think VoIP for cellular networks. This means if you make a phone call while on Verizon’s LTE network, your phone will no longer use the CDMA connection to place the call. Your call will go out over the LTE data connection instead. Thanks to the bandwidth available on LTE networks, your phone has a large enough data connection for all of your voice and data needs. Besides simultaneous voice and data, Advanced Calling 1.0 also adds high definition voice calls, 1-way or 2-way video calls, and 6-way conference calls. Of course these features are only available if you’re in Verizon’s LTE coverage area and are using a Verizon VoLTE-enabled smartphone.

While this might be a bit disheartening if you’re an avid user of simultaneous voice and data due to a pending future update that enables this functionality, Verizon is headed in the right direction. This is all part of their grand scheme to do away with their aging CDMA network. This is the first step towards the future.

Thanks Mr. D!

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Confirmed: Silver Moto 360 shipments previously delayed are now arriving on time Fri, 19 Sep 2014 21:31:16 +0000 Last week, we reported on an inventory mixup causing Motorola to delay shipments of the silver Moto 360 with grey watch band. I’m happy to report that Motorola seems to have fixed the problem: we’ve just received a shipment (ordered from and to our surprise… it contained a silver Moto 360 with grey band. Motorola previously announced that this color selection would be delayed.


It’s all a bit confusing though, as those who purchased from Motorola got an official e-mail with three options. They could:

  1. Send you a black watch and band instead (if you did nothing)
  2. Send you a silver watch and band if you called (it would be delayed)
  3. Allow you to cancel your order if you desired

I chose option #1 because I wanted it as quick as possible, but was delighted when the supposed “delayed” grey version arrived right on time. Did I get preferential treatment because I ordered two? Did they replenish inventory quicker than they thought possible? And what if I had actually wanted two black watches and bands (as their e-mail suggested I would be receiving based on my actions)?

You won’t find me complaining – color me happy – I got the best of both worlds and I’m guessing many of you did, too. Be sure to check out our Moto 360 Forums when yours arrives.


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Moto X (2nd Gen) coming to Verizon on September 26th with free Bamboo promotion Fri, 19 Sep 2014 20:54:48 +0000 motox

We’ve got some good news for our patient Verizon customers. The new Moto X will be arriving on Big Red exactly one week from today (Friday, September 26th). This information comes straight Verizon through an internal document. We’ve also learned that Verizon will have a special promotion to go along with the launch of the Moto X.

For a limited time Verizon will be selling the White/Bamboo version for the base price of $99 with a new contract (it’s usually $25 extra). All other models are priced the same as we’ve seen on other carriers: $99 with a two-year contract for the black/resin model, and the same for the 16GB Moto Maker model. The 32GB Moto Maker model will cost you $150. If you’re on Edge you can get the back/resin for $25, white/bamboo for $27.49, 16GB Moto Maker for $25, and 32GB Moto Maker for $27.49.

You have seven days to figure out what configuration to choose. What will it be?

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Google approves the use of Google Glass in Canada Fri, 19 Sep 2014 20:26:40 +0000 Glass Canada

Good news for any Canucks who’ve been waiting for Google Glass. It appears Google has quietly approved the use of Glass in Canada. This news comes from Explorer Brian Buquoi who received a replacement Glass with an interesting card. The card has official regulatory information for Google Glass in Canada.


As you can see on the card, Google Glass has been approved by Industry Canada. This is a big step in the process of getting Glass to Canada. Originally Glass was only available in the US, but slowly they been releasing it to more countries, like the UK. Hopefully we’ll hear official work soon. Do we have any Canadians ready to buy Google Glass?

[via GoogleGlass Fans]

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From the Forums: Show us your Moto 360, Scottish independence, and more Fri, 19 Sep 2014 20:02:48 +0000 fromtheforums

Will you give up you Android device in favor of a new iPhone? Will Scotland vote for independence? How’s your Moto 360 style? All these questions and more answered in this week’s edition of From the Forums.

Register for an account at Android Forums

Show us your Moto 360

Moto 360 DSC06981

It’s hard to argue that the Moto 360 is anything other than one damn good looking smartwatch. Even better, users can mix and match just about any regular watchband with a selection of digital watch faces to create a truly unique look. The Moto 360 fans at Android Forums have even started a thread dedicated to showing off their style. Those still waiting for a backordered 360 be warned: envy awaits.

Is the iPhone 6 Plus tempting Note 4 buyers?


Apple is anticipating plenty of Android owners will be keen to jump ship for their iPhone 6 Plus, but has the Galaxy Note contingent been swayed? With Galaxy Note 4 (not so coincidentally) available for pre-order today — the same day as Apple’s new iPhone launch — the question is even more pertinent.

External storage and Android L


Google has been known to change the way its Android OS manages external data stored on a MicroSD card, so its reasonable to wonder if things will once again change with the impending launch of Android L. Will Google loosen the access restrictions that irked off so many users in the upgrade to KitKat?

Scotland votes against independence


While folks all over line up for hours to fight over scarce iPhone stock, the real world keeps moving. While many will note today as the day Apple’s latest mobile device launched, the folks in Scotland will remember it as the day they voted against independence from the United Kingdom. Much talk led up the decision, which saw record turnout from voters. While it seemed the country was poised to separate, it will remain tied to its southern neighbor.

And more…

What else will you find waiting for you at Android Forums? Head on over, sign up for an account, and find out. Perhaps you’ll make it to the hallowed grounds known as From the Forums next week!

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This hack allows you to run any Android app on Chromebooks Fri, 19 Sep 2014 19:52:55 +0000 AndroidPixelSideBySide2

Last week Google opened the door for Android apps on Chrome OS. The first four apps arrived: Duolingo, Evernote, Vine, and Sight Words. Google promises that more apps will be on the way in the coming months, but until then we asked what apps you’d like to see. But why be limited to the apps Google chooses? Why not use all Android apps? That’s exactly what a new hack allows users to do.

By using a small JavaScript you can side-load any Android app onto a Chromebook. The apps run under the Android App Runtime, which is the same exact way as the “official” apps. This script is not for the faint of heart, but can be done if you know your way around some code. The creator of this hack has provided a guide for anyone who wants to try it, but he says it’s more of a “proof-of-concept.” Hit the link below the video if you’re eager to use Android apps on your Chromebook.

Android Apps on Chromebooks Guide

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Mobile Roar 62: Moto 360 Review, Android Silver, and U2 Virus Fri, 19 Sep 2014 19:05:41 +0000

It’s still Motorola Mayhem™ around these parts. We share our final thoughts on the Moto 360 and Moto G after putting them through the paces in our full reviews. Apple news is still coming in hot and heavy after the release of iOS 8. Did you get the U2 virus on your device? We have the solution. Other topics this week include a sidewalk for phone zombies, Galaxy Not3 4 pre-orders, and much more! Thanks for watching/listening!

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