[News]Samsung set to announce the Galaxy S IV on March 14th, here’s what to expect

On March 14th in New York City Samsung is announcing its new Galaxy S IV (GSIV) flagship smartphone.

Very little has been confirmed, so take this all with a grain of salt, but based on the latest leaks/rumors here’s what to expect:

Samsung Galaxy S IV
Estimated Releaes Date: April 2013
Carrier(s): AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon
Price: $199.99 on contract
CPU/GPU: Quad-Core Snapdragon 600 @ 1.9ghz/Adreno 320
Screen: 4.99″ SoLex LCD 1920 x 1080p
Camera: 2.1MP(Fr)/13MP(R)/1080p@60fps
Memory: 2GB RAM

Storage: 16GB/32GB/64GB
SD Card Slot: Yes
Battery: Removable/2600mah


It appears Samsung was unable to make its Exynos 5 octa-core big.Little chip work and switched it out for a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600.  Rumors indicate the big.Little setup was causing thermal efficiency problems and was also a battery hog.  It’s disappointing Samsung couldn’t make it work, but the Snapdragon 600 is still a beast of a chip so it’s not much of a downgrade.

Even more surprising though is that it looks like the Galaxy S IV will have a SoLex LCD screen instead of a Super AMOLED as in every other Galaxy S phone to date.  The SoLex screen is very similar to the Super LCD 3 in the HTC One.  Considering how much marketing effort Samsung has put into its AMOLED screens it’s a shock to see its flagship smartphone arrive with an LCD.  Again, it looks like Samsung was unable to get sufficient yields of 1080p AMOLED screens or suffered some kind of unknown quality issue.  While the Super LCD 3 can’t match the deep blacks and contrast of an AMOLED screen, it features superior color accuracy and clarity by virtue of its true RGB subpixel matrix.

As far as battery size the GSIV looks to feature a removable 2600mah battery which should easily power through a normal day of use.  Standard internal memory is rumored to be 16GB with 32GB and 64GB as options.  The GSIV will also have an SD card slot for expanded storage.  Finally the GSIV is rumored to feature a 13MP camera utilizing a Sony sensor.  Samsung has a reputation for excellent cameras and the GSIV should be no exception.

Overall the Galaxy S IV looks like it’ll be an extremely well rounded smartphone.  The hardware checks all the flagship boxes and although it’s more of an incremental upgrade in a lot of areas the whole package (as rumored anyway) looks formidable. We’ve also heard rumblings that the GSIV will make expanded use of gesture controls and may incorporate some kind of health monitoring system into the software.  Samsung does an excellent job of mixing unique features with excellent hardware and that’s what makes the Galaxy S series so popular.  In 16 days we’ll know if they’ve done it again.  I’m cautiously optimistic.

UPDATE: This morning it leaked out that the international version of the Galaxy S IV may indeed use the Exynos 5 Octa chip, while the U.S. variant will use the Snapdragon 600.  This is very similar to what happened with the Galaxy S III.  The Snapdragon 600 features an integrated LTE modem and is more power efficient than the Exynos 5, which would require a separate chip for LTE.  Since most international markets don’t have mature LTE yet, this isn’t a consideration for them. 

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[Rumor] Is this benchmark for the Verizon Galaxy S4?

A recent benchmark showed up for a smartphone with the device ID “SCH-I545” – this just may be the latest flagship from Samsung, the Galaxy S4.  The Galaxy S3 for Verizon bore a device ID of “SCH-I535” and several other Samsung smartphones have similar code names on Verizon as well.

As you can see from the bench mark, we’d expect this phone to sport a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, a full 1080p display, and the Adreno 320 GPU.  The Samsung event is scheduled for 03/14/13, and no doubt it will be one of the most hyped events of the year for tech enthusiasts.

*Source:  Droid-Life

[News]Qualcomm RF360: The Holy Grail of LTE modems?

The Qualcomm RF360 is the modem we’ve been waiting for, the Holy Grail of LTE !  Why is that you might ask?  Because it’s the first modem that covers all global LTE frequencies – 40 in all.

Why is that important to you?  The answer is that the RF360 would allow Google to make a subsidized Nexus, or Motorola X-phone that would work on any carrier’s LTE network.  Google’s goal of being able to free customers from expensive carrier contracts and offering cheap unsubsidized phones that work on any network may finally be a reality.

Google I/O starts on May 15th and the Motorola X-phone is expected to be announced.  Hopefully it will be the first global LTE smartphone.  Would it be too much to hope that Google sells it directly through the Play Store at the same price points as the Nexus 4?  Hey, we can dream, right?

EDIT: Apparently it won’t be available in any products until the second half of the year, which may be too late for the X-Phone 😦

[PSA]Beware the battery of the Sony Xperia Z

It’s clear Sony worked hard on the Xperia Z.  The design is excellent and the hardware is top notch.  I thought Sony had a winner on its hands.  Then I read the review on Engadget yesterday and saw the battery rundown result for the Z.

For those that missed it, here’s the result as compared to some other high end smartphones:

Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD – 14 hours and 4 minutes
Apple iPhone 5 – 11 hours and 15 minutes
Samsung Galaxy Note II – 10 hours and 45 minutes
Motorola Droid Razr HD – 10 hours and 42 minutes
Samsung Galaxy S III – 9 hours and 2 minutes
LG Optimus G – 8 hours and 43 minutes
HTC One X+ – 7 hours and 32 minutes
HTC Droid DNA – 6 hours and 38 minutes
Sony Xperia Z – 5 hours and 35 minutes

Hopefully Engadget just got a defective unit, because otherwise unless you’re planning to use the Xperia Z as a really nice paperweight you should probably stay away.

At least when the battery dies you can pretend it’s a fish though

[Op-Ed]HTC goes big with the One and mostly succeeds

Yesterday HTC took the wraps off it’s latest flagship smartphone, the One.  Will the One be the handset that turns around HTC’s fortunes?  Let’s dive it and find out.

The Good:

Design:
The design of the HTC One is nothing short of stunning and is in my opinion the best looking Android phone of all time.  Previously that distinction fell to the white HTC One-X, but the One is even better.  It features an aluminum unibody with injection molded polycarbonate accents and stereo speakers on each side of the screen.  It looks very apple-esque (I mean that in a good way) and looks extremely premium.  Suffice to say, I love the design.  The One is gorgeous.

Display:
The 5″ 1080p Super LCD 3 display on the Droid DNA is the best looking screen I’ve ever laid eyes on.  Considering the 4.7″ screen of the One is basically an even more pixel dense version (468ppi) of the same tech, the screen is a definite winner.
Specs:
I was a little concerned the One was going to come with the same Snapdragon S4 Pro as last year’s flagships, and was pleasantly surprised when it was announced with a quad-core Snapdragon 600 instead.  Judging by the insane benchmark scores (over 22,000 on AnTuTu and 124xx on Quadrant), the One won’t be lacking for power.  Couple that with 2GB of RAM and a minimum of 32GB of standard memory and the flagship specs department is covered.
HTC One Sense TV and infrared port:
This allows the One to be used as a remote control for your TV/Blu-ray player, etc.  Pretty slick.
The Bad:

Sense 5.0 and BlinkFeed:
As far as skins go, Sense is not one of my favorites.  I personally feel it’s bloated and unnecessary.  HTC clearly went to great effort to improve the interface, but the end result leaves me cold.  I like the new icons, and the idea of fewer home screens makes sense, but I’m not a fan of BlinkFeed.  BlinkFeed is basically similar in concept to Flipboard and essentially takes the data from your social networks and other news sources and pops it into a tile like interface.  If BlinkFeed were just a widget that could be disabled it would be one thing, but it’s not.  It can’t be uninstalled which means you’re stuck with it unless you want to install an aftermarket launcher (I highly recommend Nova for the record).  Lame.

It’s two versions of Android behind:
The One is releasing with Android 4.1.2, which is two versions behind the most current 4.2.2.  HTC has a reputation for slow updates and releasing a flagship phone that’s already two versions of Android behind doesn’t instill a lot of confidence that they’re going to turn things around in that department.

Smallish Internal Battery:
The One has a 2300mah internal battery.  Compared to most other smartphones it’s slightly above average, but I wish HTC had gone bigger.  Having to worry about whether or not you’re going to make it through a day should be a thing of the past.  The Motorola Razr HD/MAXX HD and the Samsung Galaxy Note II have shown this is possible and HTC should have followed suit.

No SD Card Slot:
As is typical for HTC, the One doesn’t have an SD card slot.  It does come standard with either 32GB or 64GB of internal memory though, which makes the lack of a slot more palatable.

No Verizon:
The One is not coming to Verizon.  I assume this is because HTC would’t allow them to call it the HTC One Incredible DNA 4G LTE II SE and slap ugly red accents all over it.  God I hate Verizon sometimes.

Incomplete:

The Ultrapixel Camera:

The camera on the One features some unique tech.  Instead of playing the stupid mega pixel one up game, HTC decided to focus on the quality of the sensor itself.  I won’t get too much into the technical details, but essentially the One has a 4MP camera that features pixels that let in 330% more light than the typical smartphone camera.  In theory this should allow for better pictures in normal lighting situations and less image noise.  They also added in optical stabilization that is similar to the Lumia 920 which creates more stable images and video.  I’m putting the camera into the Incomplete category because it’s unclear whether the camera actually produces better pictures or not.  Looking at sample pictures around the internet some looked pretty impressive, while others looked overly soft and washed out.  More data is needed before drawing any conclusions on this one.

Conclusion:
The HTC One is currently the most technically advanced smartphone on the planet.  It’s also the best looking.  I was pleasantly surprised by what HTC has put together and the One should be on the short list of any perspective buyer.

But the One is not without some of the same problems that have been plaguing HTC for years.  The hardware isn’t the issue, but it’s never really been the problem.  HTC makes fantastic hardware.  The problem is Sense.  It’s bloated and HTC is slow with updates as a result.  Releasing a flagship phone that’s already two versions of Android behind further reinforces this point.

It looks like Samsung will announce the Galaxy S IV (GSIV) on March 14th or 15th and the One might get lost in the shuffle just like the One X did last year.  That would be a real shame because it looks like HTC has put together a hell of a smartphone and I personally don’t believe the GSIV will be a significant step beyond the One.  In a few weeks we should have a much better idea of where HTC fits in the smartphone landscape.  I’m rooting for the One to be a success, but I’m not sure the changes HTC has made will be enough to overcome the incoming GSIV tidal wave.  All I know for sure is the industry is better off with a strong HTC and it would be a shame to see them continue to bleed market share into oblivion.

[News] HTC One officially announced

The rumors have ended…HTC has launched their new flagship phone – the HTC One.  No longer the rumored “M7” device, this new smartphone really pushes the envelope when it comes to high end devices, from HTC or any other manufacturer.

This bad boy sports a 1.7GHz quad core Snapdragon 600 processor, 4.7″ 1080p display, 2GB of RAM, and a generous 2300mAh non-removable battery.  Certainly nothing to sneeze at in terms of spec.  The edge to edge display and “zero gap” aluminum body are very cool, and in terms of design, HTC has a winner here.


The official press release is below – coming soon to Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile.  Yep…Verizon isn’t in that list and no mistake.  Good news for all you Droid DNA lovers…your phone isn’t outdated just yet.

INTRODUCING THE NEW HTC ONE®, A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON SMARTPHONES
HTC BlinkFeed, HTC Zoe and HTC BoomSound Deliver HTC One’s Unprecedented New Smartphone Experience
London and New York City, February 19, 2013 — HTC, a global leader in mobile innovation and design, today announced its new flagship smartphone, the new HTC One.  Crafted with a distinct zero-gap aluminum unibody, the new HTC One introduces HTC BlinkFeed™, HTC Zoe™ and HTC BoomSound™, key new HTC Sense® innovations that reinvent the mobile experience and set a new standard for smartphones.
“People today immerse themselves in a constant stream of updates, news and information. Although smartphones are one of the main ways we stay in touch with the people and information we care about, conventional designs have failed to keep pace with how people are actually using them,” said Peter Chou, CEO of HTC Corporation. “A new, exciting approach to the smartphone is needed and with thenew HTC One, we have re-imagined the mobile experience from the ground up to reflect this new reality.” 
HTC BlinkFeed: A personal live stream right on the home screen
At the center of the new HTC One experience is HTC BlinkFeedHTC BlinkFeed is a bold new experience that transforms the home screen into a single live stream of personally relevant information such as social updates, entertainment and lifestyle updates, news and photos with immersive images so that people no longer need to go to separate applications to find out what’s happening.  HTC BlinkFeed aggregates the freshest content from the most relevant and interesting sources, giving it to people at a glance, all in one place, without the need to jump between multiple applications and web sites.
To enable this new dynamic approach to the smartphone, HTC will provide both local and global content from more than 1,400 media sources with more than 10,000 articles per day from some of the most innovative media companies, such as the AOL family of media properties, ESPN, MTV, Vice Media, Cool Hunting, Reuters and many others. For more information on HTC BlinkFeed’s content partners, visit the HTC Blog.
HTC UltraPixel Camera with HTC Zoe
The breakthrough HTC UltraPixel Camera redefines how people capture, relive and share their most precious moments. HTC Zoe gives people the ability to shoot high-res photos that come to life in three-second snippets.  These Zoes, photos and videos are then displayed in a unique way that brings the gallery to life and transforms the traditional photo gallery of still images into a motion gallery of memories.  It also automatically creates integrated highlight films from each event comprised of Zoes, photos and videos set to music with professionally designed cuts, transitions and effects. These highlight videos can be remixed or set to different themes, and can be easily shared on social networks, email and other services.                                     
To enable this innovative camera experience, HTC developed a custom camera that includes a best-in-class f/2.0 aperture lens and a breakthrough sensor with UltraPixels that gather 300 percent more light than traditional smartphone camera sensors.  This new approach also delivers astounding low-light performance and a variety of other improvements to photos and videos. In addition, the perfect self-portrait or video is just a tap away with an ultra-wide angle front-facing camera which supports 1080p video capture. Multi-axis optical image stabilization for the rear camera also helps ensure video footage smoother whether stationary or on the move. HTC UltraPixelcamera adds many other features and effects such as enhanced 360′ panorama, time sequencing and object removal.
HTC BoomSound
The new HTC One offers the best audio experience of any mobile phone available today. HTC BoomSound introduces for the first time on a phone, front-facing stereo speakers with a dedicated amplifier and an amazing full HD display that immerses people in music, videos, games and the YouTube™ clips they love. Beats Audio™  integration is enabled across the entire experience for rich, authentic sound whether you’re listening to your favorite music, watching a YouTube video or playing a game.
HDR recording uses advanced dual microphones and audio processing to capture clean, rich sound that is worthy of high-definition video footage.  Phone calls sound great on HTC One thanks to the addition of HTC Sense Voice™, which boosts the call volume and quality in noisy environments so that conversations come through loud and clear.
HTC Sense TV™
HTC Sense TV transforms the new HTC One into an interactive program guide and remote control for most TVs, set-top boxes and receivers. Tapping the power of the cloud, Sense TV makes it simple and intuitive to see what’s on and find that favorite show.
Metal Unibody Design
Wrapped in a zero-gap aluminum unibody and sporting a brilliant 4.7”, Full HD (1080p) screen, the new HTC One features the latest Android Jelly Bean operating system and LTE network technology to offer blazingly-fast browsing in a package that combines premium design with breakthrough build quality.
Available in stunning silver and beautiful black, the sleek and crafted aluminum unibody sits comfortably in the hand and showcases HTC’s unique antenna technology, which helps people achieve a crystal clear signal. The display also resists scratches and reduces glare, whilst offering incredible 468ppi resolution and rich, natural colors.
Global Availability
The new HTC One will be available globally through more than 185 mobile operators and major retailers in more than 80 regions and countries beginning in March. For more information and to pre-register for the new HTC One, visit www.htc.com.

*Source:  Droid-Life  

[Rumor] HTC M7 to be released at "HTC One"

HTC’s One X+ (but it could be the HTC One also)

HTC is getting ready to launch that flagship that’s for so long been known as the M7 – until the latest rumor has surfaced. The latest news from HTC is that the new device could actually be known simply as the “HTC One.”  This would put it in line with previously released devices like the One X, One S, and the One X+ – however; this might end up confusing consumers, as all these other devices were released before this newest one.

To top it off, the M7 most closely resembles the recently released Droid DNA, released on Verizon, and if Verizon gets the M7, its unclear why the Droid DNA would have ever been sold to begin with.  It’s no secret that around here, the 2 Tech Geeks are puzzled by HTC’s business strategies of late, most notably with the battery technology they put in their phones.  In any event, HTC has a long road ahead of it if they want to get back into the smartphone race…does anyone think the rumors of the M7 device are the way they do it?

*Source:  BGR

[Rumor] LG to push up launch date of Optimus G Pro?

In advance of the juggernaut that will likely be Samsung’s Galaxy S4 launch, LG is rumored to be considering launching their new flagship, the Optimus G Pro, later on this month – probably near the end of February.  Why do this?  To hopefully steal the Galaxy S4’s thunder, of course!  Well…its probably more along the lines of hoping to get consumers to purchase the not-unimpressive Optimus G Pro before they get wind of the GS4.  For a full spec sheet on the Optimus G Pro (OGP?), check out this article.

*Source:  Phone Arena