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Christmas Technology Must Haves

While the cold weather is just starting to draw in and the dark evenings are dulling your senses, there is nothing better than curling up with your laptop or tablet and taking a look at the latest Christmas technology must-haves. You can get ideas for your own wish list or find that perfect present for a tech-loving family member, so here is an overview of what Android-oriented gadgets you might consider purchasing.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus
This Christmas the top Android smartphone on the market is going to be the Galaxy Nexus from Samsung. It is a real step up from the Galaxy S2 thanks to its large 4.65 inch Super AMOLED screen and dual core CPU which can be clocked at up to 1.5GHz to help it to pump out high definition visuals at a resolution of 1280x720. Like last year`s Nexus S the display is slightly curved in order to make it easier to use and it has a five megapixel camera capable of capturing still images as well as the obligatory ability to shoot video clips at full HD 1080p resolutions. Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is the platform touted by the Galaxy Nexus and it introduces many new functions, from letting you unlock the phone using face detection to enabling voice-based web searches.

HTC Sensation XE
A real rival to the Galaxy Nexus is the HTC Sensation XE, an updated version of its Android 2.3 smartphone which now comes with Beats audio capabilities and matching headphones for an unrivalled aural experience. It retains the same 4.3 inch screen with a resolution of 960x540, which will not be the equal of the Samsung handset but comes fairly close. A 1.5GHz processor is onboard to give it even more power than the original Sensation and it retains the eight megapixel camera sensor and full 1080p HD video recording functionality of its predecessor. For audiophiles it will be a worthy choice, although its appearance means that the standard Sensation is even cheaper ahead of the Christmas rush.

Huawei Blaze
At the other end of the Android smartphone spectrum is the Huawei Blaze, a great little stocking filler that is perfect if you want to buy a pay as you go handset for someone who has not owned an advanced handset before. It has a compact 3.2 inch screen and a modest 3.2 megapixel camera, but version 2.3 of Android is onboard and it can even let you chat via video calling thanks to the front-mounted secondary snapper, so it is not completely limited by its bargain basement pricing. Huawei has even tinkered with the standard Android interface to make it feel fresh and original, although you can stick with Google`s standard theme if you so choose.

There are many Android smartphones available online from various big name retailers such as PC World and the Christmas season is always a good time to bag a bargain when shopping for technology must-haves.

Categories: HTC | Samsung
 

Latest Handset News

Right now there are a few phones on the market that everyone knows about. These are the phones that most people will buy and they include the iPhone and the Blackberry leading contenders. One other phone that many people want to go out and buy is the Samsung Galaxy S2. This stylish and new phone is smart, has a brilliant display and runs the very smooth and very attractive android 2.3 (gingerbread). This makes the Samsung Galaxy S2 a market leading phone that can easily contend with those mentioned previously. However these aren't the only phones available and the Samsung Galaxy S2 certainly isn`t the only phone made by Samsung. There are many other phones in the market that are still seriously good that many people ignore in favour of the more expensive flagship phones.

One of the first things people look to nowadays when they want to buy a new phone is the Smartphone category. Everyone has one and most people feel like they can`t live without them. This is simply because of their usability and versatility, Smartphones are similar in power to a tablet, although smaller and tables are the next thing down from laptops and arguably better in many ways. So many look towards the top range and more common phones, yet this is not all there is. Samsung offers a wide range of Smartphone's, many of which still hold the Galaxy tagline as Samsung`s premier phone models. These may be slightly less powerful and have a duller screen but they are still just as useful and they still all run Android. Because of this all of them should be a keen consideration in the field of new mobile phones.

Likewise there are Smartphone's sold that have QWERTY keyboards, in fact there is the Samsung Galaxy Pro which has both a QWERTY keyboard and a capacitive touch screen giving the best of both worlds. Several other QWERTY phones are also on sale from Samsung and are incredibly useful especially in the business world where writing emails can work much faster with QWERTY than on a touchscreen. However if this is not what the consumer wants and they want to go more old school, bar, flip and slide phones are still being made and designed. In fact Samsung are often trying to put new spins on the old phones and exploit the design as much as possible. What has followed on from this are mobiles that concentrate more on sound and music quality. There have been user interfaces that have been redesigned and even a phone that not only has a torch GPS and compass, but can work underwater! The world of touch screen Smartphone's has for the most part blinded people from the radical developments in the rest of the mobile phone industry which needs to have some consumer attention so as to realise its simplistic greatness.

Overall there is a whole new range of Samsung Mobiles out there that are worth taking a look at. Many people are blindsided by the touch screens and Smartphone's. Whilst these are certainly intriguing and captivating models, there are many new and inventive phones being brought out by Samsung on a continuous basis which are certainly worth a look too.

Categories: Samsung
 

The Galaxy S2: an iPhone-4S-killer?

The received wisdom is that Apple fans will just keep buying iPhones – or indeed iAnything – even if another product is technically better, just because Apple has that reputation and credibility. The reputation that it'll work right out of the box, do exactly what you want it to do, even if you're not especially technically capable.

And the credibility that says, well, just that you're stylish, more stylish than anyone who doesn't own an iPhone. These things are both underpinned by superb design that ensures Apple phones are both user-friendly and easy on the eye.

Has the Samsung Galaxy S2 already beaten Apple at their own game, even though it's significantly older than the iPhone 4S? Samsung has sold over 10 million Galaxy S2 deals already, making it the most popular Android phone of all time. Yet even though this latest Apple phone launch has met with more disappointment than any before, iPhone 4S deals will still outperform the S2 with ease, guaranteed (1 million pre-orders were placed on the first day they became available, before it was even released).

Let's take a look at whether those sales figures will be justified.

Look and Feel

First impressions are something of a tie. The Galaxy S2 is slimmer and smaller than the iPhone 4S, and looks just as cool, but feels distinctly less robust, largely because it eschews the current high-end smartphone trend for one-piece, machined-aluminium casings in favour of a lighter but probably weaker construction.

Still, at a mere 116g in weight and a shade under 8.5mm thick, it just feels a lot niftier than the iPhone's 140g and 9.3mm. If you live the kind of active life most of us do, though, you'll probably prefer the tougher-seeming iPhone, just to avoid the risk of that sickening feeling when you drop your £400 Galaxy on the floor and bits fly off with a loud cracking noise...

One thing that will be off-putting for some iPhone fans is that the 4S looks exactly like the iPhone 4. While Android fans may drool over processor speeds and storage space, many iPhone owners love being in a position to gloat over owning the latest Apple phone. The 4S lacks this gloating power.

Apple's big boast is still ease of use, but again the Galaxy easily lives up to this standard, with the Social Hub feature allowing you to seamlessly integrate several different email accounts, social networks or other communications platforms, finally bringing a bit of order to our 21st century, over-connected, over-informed chaos.

Siri

Still, the iPhone 4S potentially scores more highly here, overall, thanks to Siri, the virtual personal assistant whose services come built in to the phone. The Galaxy may be convenient, but it's still just a phone; Siri should take convenience to a whole new level, and is the next best thing to a personal social secretary most of us will ever have.

Again, "she" will offer that classic Apple convenience, that better-than-life quality that has sold so many phones. Siri makes using your phone seem like you're not using your phone, in that you just talk to her rather than tapping the screen – and she responds by booking you a restaurant table, or telling you whether it's cold enough outside that you'll need a coat.

…or so Apple Claim

This is provided that Siri actually works like Apple claims in its marketing of course. Siri is still in beta, meaning there are probably some issues with it. Voice controls exist on the Galaxy S2, although they are not quite as well integrated or far reaching. Unless you are partially sighted or have difficulty using your fingers though, Siri (and voice control in general) could prove to be another much lauded feature that rarely gets used.

On the other hand it could prove to be as big of a technological revolution as touchscreens were a few years back. Touchscreen phones had been around for many years before the original iPhone of course, but it was the Apple device that made them the market norm. Likewise, we have already seen voice controls on phones but so far they have yet to meet with any real appreciation.

Personally I am still not convinced by it. The technology behind Siri may have evolved quite a bit the last few years, and it may even be as slick and understanding as Apple claim. Yet Siri's voice still sounds like a Texas Instruments toy from the 1980s. Voice synthesis, it seems, has not made much progress at all – even if voice recognition has. If I were to ever truly consider using voice controls on a phone, I would want something more pleasant and life-like to listen to than a female professor Hawking.

So while Siri could potentially make the iPhone 4S so much more convenient for some phone users to use, it is likely to end up like FaceTime as an overhyped feature that very few people really have any need for or desire to use.

Processing Speed

The processors on the two phones share a similar spec, both being dual-core. The Galaxy S2's is nominally a little faster, at 1.2GHz compared to the iPhone's 1GHz, but the iPhone 4S chip is the Apple A5, the same one as that found in the iPad 2, and so is tried-and-tested on a high-end multitasking multimedia device. It should be more than capable of running the iPhone.

Being released several months after the S2, the iPhone 4S could have really wowed with a 1.5GHz dual core chip or something. Yet it was unveiled to the world with a processor that doesn't even match the Galaxy in terms of speed. The point here is that most iPhone owners don't really care about processor speeds, and the iPhone 4S was merely bringing itself more into line with current technological trends.

But with the Galaxy S3 being up for release in just a few months, and some rumours suggesting a staggering quad core 1.8GHz chip in use, the iPhone 4S will most likely not have the staying power to remain up-to-date by the time the iPhone 5 / Galaxy S4 make their way to the stores this time next year.

Cameras

The two cameras, likewise, are closely comparable. Both are around the 8 Megapixel mark, though initial reports put the iPhone camera as more capable and versatile in a variety of different circumstances. On the upside, the Galaxy S2 can take USB pen drives, plugged directly into it with no need for an adaptor, for taking more snaps or holding more music than you fit on its 16GB memory.

The most expensive iPhone 4S has up to 64GB memory, so though it doesn't take a USB stick without an adaptor, you won't need on quite so soon. But with that model costing well over £1000 it is unlikely to be the most popular option, with most prospective 4S owners choosing the 16GB-with-no-option-to-upgrade model.

So, on balance, which should you go for? As a lot of people had noted on October 4th at the Apple keynote, the iPhone 4S is not drastically different to the iPhone 4 – and the Galaxy S2 was already more impressive than that a few months ago. The big difference is with Siri voice controls, a feature that the majority of people will probably not use for more than 5 minutes to see what it is about.

The iPhone range is now comparable to the Galaxy S2 in terms of processing and camera, but with the Galaxy 2S being around £100 cheaper, these days, that might make all the difference. 

Categories: Samsung
 

The Samsung Jet That Wasn't

Samsung Jet

So, the highly anticipated new Samsung phone we've been waiting for (and hoping it would run Android) has been revealed as the Samsung Jet and guess what? It runs Samsung's proprietary OS. It's a stunning looking phone with some impressive specs but doesn't it look familiar?

Back in April I posted an entry (Samsung Reveals Its Android Phone Again – Or Does It?) which, at the time, many speculated was a reveal of a Samsung Android phone. Even then I had my doubts and it looks like I was right. Oh well, at least we've still got Samsung's Galaxy to look forward to.

Categories: Samsung
 

Why Android's Three Flavours Are Good News For Carriers And Manufacturers

It seems that Google Mobile Platforms director Andy Rubin really generated some buzz with his prediction at Google IO that there could be as many as 20 Android phones available by the end of this year. While this was interesting (but not really that surprising given Android's success and growth to date), what I found of more interest were his comments regarding Google's commitment to Android as an "open" platform as well as clarification of the various Android flavours available to carriers and handset manufacturers.

Google has taken some flack from critics who see the strongly Google-branded G1 and HTC Magic phones as cause for concern regarding the openness of the Android platform. Even manufacturers have expressed some concern, most notably Samsung which blamed its delay in announcing an Android phone on the fact that "some operators were concerned about the vision Google has". In an effort to allay these concerns, Google has actually released three different versions of Android as follows:

Option 1: Obligation free – manufacturers can install Android on their devices and provide access to as many apps as they want but cannot preload Google applications like Gmail or Google Calendar.

Option 2: Same as option 1 but manufacturers must sign a distribution agreement to preload Google applications on the device.

Option 3: Google Experience phones – includes Google branding and Google applications which cannot be removed from the phone. This option also provides uncensored access to the Android Market.

By offering these three flavours of Android, manufacturers and carriers are able to choose to what degree the phones integrate with Google so in the case of Samsung's I7500 (a.k.a. Samsung Galaxy), it looks like they’ve gone the Option 2 route as opposed to producing another HTC-like Google Experience Phone. Hopefully we’ll start to see more customisation of the interface and applications as manufacturers embrace the openness of the Android platform. This can only help to increase the number of new Android phones released this year as well as the number of carriers that offer these phones.

Via: The New York Times

Categories: Samsung | Android OS
 

Android Bigfoot - As Illusive As Sasquatch Himself

In case you hadn't noticed there's been a sudden outbreak of rumours and leaks regarding forthcoming Android phones. I've intentionally avoided getting drawn into this since spreading rumours without all the facts a) seems a bit pointless b) has a habit of biting you in the bum. This whole 'Bigfoot' saga is a case in point.

At the beginning of last week BGR broke the news of T-Mobile's purported US Android roadmap which made reference to the G1 v2 a.k.a Bigfoot. BGR followed this up a few days later with a supposed image of the G1 v2 but there was just one problem – the phone looked nothing like the Bigfoot mentioned in the leaked T-Mobile roadmap. Then on the 11th BGR again posted the same G1 v2 image this time saying that the phone was in fact being manufactured by Motorola, killing the assumption that the v2 would obviously be HTC kit.

Then things went from bad to worse that same day when Unwired View broke news of a Samsung phone called the Bigfoot. Interestingly enough this did look like the Bigfoot phone mentioned in T-Mobile's roadmap. Confusion sorted right? Wrong. Tmotoday then posted an update saying that according to a source involved in the supply chain, the G1 v2 is still being produced by HTC and is codenamed 'Bigfoot'.

So who do we believe? Is the Bigfoot the same as the G1 v2 and just what does the Bigfoot actually look like? Is it an HTC, Motorola or Samsung phone? I'm none the wiser and until I see some official confirmation, Bigfoot stays off my Android phone list.

Categories: HTC | Motorola | Samsung
 

O2 To Release Samsung's I7500 Android Phone In Germany

Samsung I7500

We can finally put previous Samsung rumours to bed with official news that the company's OLED touchscreen I7500 and not the S8000 is going to be its first Android phone – and what a phone it should be. It's taken Samsung a little longer than HTC to come to the party but they've certainly come in guns blazing and will give HTC's G1 and Magic a good run for their money.

So in terms of specs, how does the I7500 stack up? Well firstly there's a 3.2 inch capacitive OLED touchscreen versus HTC's 3.2 inch TFT; a 5 megapixel camera versus 3.2 megapixel; 8GB of internal memory expandable via microSD and instead of the usual mini-USB connector there's a standard 3.5mm stereo headset connector.

Add to that package GPS, Bluetooth and WiFi, all using a similarly spec'd 528MHz Qualcomm processor and you've got a real contender for the number one Android phone spot. Physically the handset will be sleeker (almost 2mm thinner than the HTC Magic) and hopefully lighter. Battery life should also be better thanks to a larger 1500mAh battery together with the improved efficiency of the OLED screen.

Samsung's I7500 is expected to be released this June as an O2 exclusive in Germany so it's not certain that we'll ever see it outside of that country. Nevertheless, if the I7500 is an example of Samsung's commitment to Android, the future looks bright.

Via: the::unwired

Categories: Samsung | O2
 

Samsung Reveals Its Android Phone Again - Or Does It?

Samsung s8000

We first got a glimpse of Samsung's supposed Android phone back in March when a blurry slideshow presentation image was leaked. Now, according to a Czech website the same phone's been revealed again and this time we can actually make it out. However, everyone seems to have taken the original source to heart and seem certain that this is an Android phone. I am less convinced.

The original Czech article simply says that the phone 'could be' the first Samsung phone to run Android. That in itself should give some pause for thought. Add to that the fact that there is mention of 'Cubic' which some say is a reference to Samsung’s next interface makes it seem more likely that this phone will run Samsung’s native OS rather that Android. So, the jury is still out and until we get some real facts, this phone will have to stay off the TAP Android Phone List.

Source: iDNES.cz via GSMArena

Categories: Samsung
 

Samsung Reveals Android Phone Roadmap

Samsung

At last, some decent Android-related news out of CTIA 2009. It seems that Samsung's plans are progressing nicely and although they had nothing to show at the event, it looks like we can expect their first handset to be released in Europe this June. Could that be the one Orange was referring to as coming shortly after the HTC Hero?

According to Dr. Won-Pyo Hong, executive vice president of global product strategy in the company's mobile communication division, Samsung plans to release several Android devices this year. In addition to the European phone, the company will roll out another two devices in the US, most likely with T-Mobile and Sprint.

Just as interesting as the news of new phones were comments regarding why Samsung has been relatively slow to market their Android phones. It seems that this had less to do with Samsung and more to do with operators who, although keen on Android, are less enthusiastic about the operating system's close association with Google. As a result, Samsung has made a clear distinction between Android phones and 'Google Experience' phones, and chosen the former. What this means in real terms is that although still running Android, Samsung's phones may look and operate differently to what we've become accustomed to with the G1 and Magic.

Source: Forbes

Categories: Samsung | Sprint | T-Mobile
 

HTC Hero Android Phone Surfaces With Orange

Orange

Rumours of HTC's Android Hero phone surfaced in the middle of February this year when HTC's supposed 2009 line-up was revealed on ppcgeeks. We haven't heard much about it since but it looks like the Hero has finally been picked up by Orange.

Orange France has already released the G1 as the HTC Dream (they couldn't use the G1 branding as T-Mobile has exclusive rights to that) and now, according to Mobinaute, they will be following that up with the HTC Hero. But that's not all - they reckon that the Hero will be followed by another Android smartphone a few weeks after that. Orange is definitely on a mission here and is keen to capitalise on what they see as the revenue potential of the Android Market.

Even more interesting, although this could be speculation, is that by the end of this year, Orange, in addition to HTC, plans to have Android phones from Motorola, LG, Samsung and Sony Ericsson. That last one especially comes as a welcome surprise as Sony Ericsson, although a member of the Open Handset Alliance, seems to have been very quiet on the Android front this year.

On the OS front, word is that Orange will be releasing the cupcake update for the HTC Dream by the end of April and a second "major update" a month later. Sounds mighty interesting.

Source: Mobinaute

Samsung I7500
O2 Samsung I7500
HTC Magic
Vodafone HTC Magic
Google G1
T-Mobile Google G1