Happy 2013 New Year from Gadgetorama

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Dec 312012

Happy New YearAs other parts of the world begin to ring in the new year, I would like to take this time to wish everyone a very happy New Year. I hope that 2012 treated you right and that 2013 will do an even better job.

As usual, rather than another 2012 list, here is another installment of our own Gadgetorama tradition: Looking at the stories we found most interesting over the last year:

  • Despite the setback of having to push the launch of its BlackBerry 10 devices to 2013, Research In Motion remained in the news as the topic of numerous rumours and its own build-up to the launch of its new operating system and devices in January 2013. RIM seems to have weathered the transition better than most expected. It still has 79 million subscribers and anticipation is very high for its new devices. Will we see a RIM turnaround in 2013?
  • The ongoing domination of Google and Apple in the mobile space continued in 2012 with the two accounting for over 90% of all smartphones shipped in Q3 2012 (Expect similar numbers for Q4). Can RIM, Microsoft or another player really establish a viable third player? 2013 may hold the answer for us. It’s no different in the tablet space. iOS dominates but Android is catching up fast. Meanwhile, Microsoft looks to have a steep road ahead of it with Windows RT and Windows 8.
  • Google picked LG as its partner for the launch of its next smartphone, the Google Nexus 4. With a strategy to sell it unlocked at an aggressive price, the Nexus 4 could have been a real market disruptor. Instead, who would have guessed that two industry giants would so badly bungle the launch of this device? It sold out in minutes with Google Play clearly unable to cope with the “huge demand” and supply has since been “scarce and erratic.” Google may be a giant in the mobile OS space but it has a ways to go in the e-commerce space.

The stage is set for 2013 to be yet another exciting year in the world of smartphones, tablets, and other mobility gadgets. We look forward to bringing you the top stories once again. Thank you all again for your ongoing support and for making Gadgetorama a regular stop for your mobile gadget news.

Happy New Year!

Samsung to launch Tizen-powered smartphone in 2013?

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Dec 312012

Rumours that Samsung will launch at least one Tizen-powered smartphone in 2013 continue to gather steam. According to Japanese Daily Yomiuri, the smartphone will be sold through Japanese carrier NTT Docomo Inc. which is also getting involved in the development of the Tizen mobile operating system. It could also also make its way to Europe although it’s not clear whether it would reach North American shores.

Samsung and NTT DoCoMo are hoping that they will be able to establish Tizen as an alternative to industry heavyweights Android and iOS. NTT DoCoMO is also hoping that Tizen will allow it to reverse subscriber losses caused by the fact that it is the only Japanese carrier not to offer the iPhone.

There have been a number of rumours about a Tizen-powered smartphone in the past year. There were rumbles about Tizen-powered Galaxy smartphone last September and the Tizen-powered Samsung GT-I9525 popped up on a benchmarking site in November.

Tizen, first announced in September 2011, is a Linux-based open source software platform backed by Intel, the Linux Foundation, LiMo Foundation, Samsung and others. It builds upon older platforms such as LiMo and MeeGo and is designed to support multiple device categories ranging from smartphones to netbooks and in-vehicle infotainment devices.

It appears that 2013 will see a number of mobile operating systems do battle to establish themselves as a credible third option. Windows Phone 8 debuted earlier this year, BlackBerry 10 will launch on January 30th, and now Tizen is jumping into the mix. It will be interesting to see which remain standing a year from now.

Read more: Daily Yomiuri (Source: CNET)

More pictures of the QWERTY-keyboard RIM BlackBerry X10

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Dec 302012

It appears that the upcoming RIM BlackBerry X10, the first BlackBerry 10 device to come with a physical QWERTY keyboard, has lost its aversion to the camera. Its all-touch BlackBerry Z10 sibling is now having to share the limelight more often as more leaked pictures have surfaced. The latest come courtesy of an N4BB anonymous source:

Rumoured RIM BlackBerry X10

Rumoured RIM BlackBerry X10

Rumoured RIM BlackBerry X10

While these latest pictures reveal nothing we have not seen before, they do show the BlackBerry X10 running the upcoming BlackBerry 10 whereas previous pictures have only shown us a black screen. They are also clearer than what we have seen before.

RIM will unveil the BlackBerry X10 and BlackBerry Z10 (assuming that these are the official names) on January 30th, 2013 at a number of worldwide launch events.

Read more: N4BB

LG to show off new 5.5-inch 1080p and 7-inch tablet displays at CES 2013?

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Dec 292012

It appears that Samsung will not be the only company showing off new smartphone displays at CES 2013. LG also looks set to unveil its next generation of mobile device displays (and perhaps new devices sporting these as well).

At the smaller end of the scale, LG will show off a new 5.5-inch HD (1280×720) display and a pixel density of 403 PPI. It will also unveil a 7-inch tablet display offering a WUXGA (1920×1200) resolution and a 324 PPI pixel density (besting the PPI found on either the Apple iPad or Google Nexus 7).

If these are too large for you, LG will also unveil a new 4.7-inch display. Unlike the one on the recently launched LG Optimus G and Google Nexus 4, this one will reportedly feature a bezel only one millimeter thick, making an edge-to-edge display a very near reality.

For larger devices, LG will show off a 12.9-inch QSXGA (2560×1700) AH-IPS display aimed at ultrabooks and a 13.3-inch laptop display with a two millimeter bezel. Larger monitors and TV displays will also be shown off.

Read more: PhoneArena

TELUS launches LTE network in Sudbury, Ontario

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Dec 292012
TELUS logo

TELUS launched its LTE network in Sudbury, Ontario, just before the holidays. This latest expansion of its LTE network was part of the company’s CA$650 million investment in Ontario over the next three years to further expand and enhance its wireless network. LTE device users can expect to see peak download speeds of up to 75Mbps with average speeds ranging from 12 to 25 Mbps.

“TELUS is committed to offering the best customer experience and launching our 4G LTE service in Sudbury is an excellent example of how we’re doing that,” said Piero Fusco, director of sales, TELUS. “With a 4G LTE device like Samsung Galaxy S III or Note II, our customers right here will have the fastest wireless internet at their fingertips, as fast as your home internet connection but on your smartphone, tablet or internet key. We are continuing to expand this new technology, community by community, so that by the end of the year many more Ontario residents are expected to have access. It’s an ambitious undertaking.”

TELUS LTE coverage of Sudbury, Ontario

TELUS also recently launched its LTE coverage in Leamington, Oshawa, Whitby, St. Catharines, the Niagara region and Brantford.

Read more: TELUS (Source: MobileSyrup)

Sony Xperia X to be dual-SIM version of Xperia Z?

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Dec 292012

Past rumours have suggested that the Sony Yuga (Xperia Z) and the Sony Odin (Xperia X) may be very similar in terms of specifications but very different when it comes to looks. A rumour yesterday indicated that the Xperia X may be a somewhat cheaper variant of the Xperia Z which looks set to become Sony’s next flagship device. The truth may be somewhat different if Vietnamese website SECafe is to be believed.

This latest rumour suggests that the Xperia X will be a dual-SIM version of the Xperia Z. It adds that the Xperia X will be slightly thicker and heavier than the Yuga and will sport a textured or striped pattern on the back. It will also have a small back cover to allow the user to hotswap SIM cards without having to reboot the phone as well as access the microSD card. It will not be dust and waterproof like the Xperia Z.

Most interesting is the suggestion that the front-facing camera will be located on the bottom right of the device. This seems a bit strange at first but Sony may have a reason for placing it in this odd position. The light sensor will be in the upper left.

The device handled by SECafe‘s source was a prototype so there may be some changes before the design is finalized.

Sony is expected to unveil both the Xperia Z and Xperia X early next month at CES 2013.

Read more: SECafe (in Vietnamese) [Google translation] (Source: XperiaBlog)

Motorola to launch DROID RAZR M HD with larger display and battery?

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Dec 282012
Motorola Mobility

The mysterious X Phone is not the only smartphone Motorola is working on. The Google-owned smartphone maker is apparently readying a successor to the Verizon DROID RAZR M. Known as the DROID RAZR M HD, it will improve upon its predecessor with a better display and a much larger battery. Despite many specs such as the processor set to remain unchanged, it will remain a mid-range device like the DROID RAZR M is today. An international version could also launch as the RAZR M HD (model XT905).

Rumoured Motorola Droid Razr M HD specifications:

  • Processor: 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus MSM8960
  • Operating system: Google Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • Display: 4.5-inch HD (1280×720)
  • Input: Multi-touch capacitive touchscreen
  • Memory: 1GB RAM and 8GB ROM
  • Storage: 16GB onboard and microSD cards up to 32GB
  • Battery: 3,300mAh
  • Dimensions / weight: 130.81 x 64.01 x 8.89 millimeters / 148 grams

That huge 3,300mAh battery rumoured to be going into the DROID RAZR M HD would be of the same capacity as the one that went into the DROID RAZR MAXX HD.

The report adds that the Motorola DROID RAZR M HD will eventually be upgraded to Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

PhoneArena does warn that there is little substantial proof to go with this rumour so take it with a pinch (or more) of salt for now.

Read more: PhoneArena

Huawei Ascend D2 caught on camera again?

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Dec 282012

Huawei has already promised that it will unveil its new Ascend D2 flagship smartphone, its first with a 5-inch 1080p display, at CES along with the entry-level Huawei Ascend W1. Since then, the smartphone has shown that it is not camera shy. On the heels of pictures last week come a few more that give us a better look at the upcoming device.

Rumoured Huawei Ascend D2

Rumoured Huawei Ascend D2

According to earlier information, it will be powered by Huawei’s own 1.5GHz quad-core K3V2 and come with 2GB of RAM and a 13MP rear camera. This latest report does not provide additional details except to indicate that the Ascend D2 will be available in three variants likely for different networks or regions).

Rumoured Huawei Ascend D2

Rumoured Huawei Ascend D2

Traditionally known for its cheap entry-level devices, Huawei is broadening its device portfolio and looks to want to become a player in the high-end smartphone arena. We saw the first signs of this last year with the Ascend D Quad XL which landed in Canada courtesy of WIND Mobile. Huawei now appears ready to build on that with the Ascend D2.

According to PocketDroid‘s sources, the Huawei Ascend D2 will sell for about ¥3299 (about CA$525).

Read more: PocketDroid

Samsung Galaxy S IV to launch with S Pen stylus in April?

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Dec 282012

If the latest rumour out of Korea turns out to be true, the S Pen currently found on the Galaxy Note devices will make its way to the next-generation Galaxy S flagship smartphone. An anonymous Samsung executive allegedly explained that the move is part of the manufacturer’s plan to unify its Galaxy S and Galaxy Note sub-brands. It would also allow Samsung to differentiate its next flagship smartphone from the large number of 5-inch Full HD (1920×1080) competitors that are coming.

Supporting earlier rumours, the report adds that the Samsung Galaxy S IV will come with a 5-inch Full HD AMOLED display. It will be powered by Android Jelly Bean and come with a rear-facing 13MP AF camera and a front-facing 2MP camera. It will be about 9.2 millimeters thick, making it slightly thicker than its predecessor.

On the processor side, things look to be somewhat undecided. It could use a quad-core Samsung Exynos 5440 chipset or an ARM big.LITTLE architecture-based one that would pair an energy efficient Cortex A7 processor with a more powerful Cortex A-15 one for additional power when needed.

The report also indicates that the Samsung Galaxy S IV will launch in April.

Read more: Enuri (In Korean) (Source: PhoneArena)

LG to unveil Tab-Book hybrid tablet-notebook device at CES 2013

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Dec 282012
LG Tab-Book

LG has taken the unusual step of announcing its new 2013 PC lineup ahead of CES 2013. The new devices will be on display at the show, including the LG Tab-Book, a hybrid tablet-notebook device.

“This year, we are introducing several innovative PCs designed with one goal in mind — to meet the needs and desires of consumers in an environment which is quickly transitioning to touchscreens,” said Il-geun Kwon, Senior Vice President and Head of the IT Business Unit at the LG Home Entertainment Company. “At CES, LG will be displaying a diverse PC lineup, truly deserving of the next generation moniker.”

Powered by Windows 8, the LG Tab-Book will look like a typical if slightly larger tablet with an 11.6-inch display. 15.9 millimeters thick, a QWERTY keyboard is concealed in the tablet and slides out from underneath the screen when needed. It will also come with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, an HDMI output, a USB port and a microSD slot. It will weigh 1.05 kilograms.

Two variants will be available. The LG Tab-Book (H160) will come with an unspecified processor while the Tab-Book Ultra (Z160) will be powered by an Intel Core i5 processor.

More detailed specifications, pricing and availability were not announced but all should be revealed at CES 2013.

LG will also show off the Windows 8-powered LG Z360 Ultrabook with a Full HD display and the LG All-In-One (AIO) V325 with a 23-inch touchscreen display.

Read more: LG

RIM sells off NewBay cloud service subsidiary

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Dec 272012
Research In Motion

Research In Motion has found a buyer for NewBay, the company it acquired in October 2011. It bought the company that offers media and social sharing tools for about US$100 million but sold it to Synchronoss Technologies, a company that provides software-based activation and mobile content management solutions for connected devices for US$55.5 million in cash.

“By adding NewBay’s technology assets and millions of subscribers, this transaction further establishes Synchronoss as the clear leader in providing cloud based mobile content services for mobile operators around the world. By combining our strengths, Synchronoss will deliver the most comprehensive, scalable and secure cloud platform, and we will significantly expand our early market share leadership position,” said Stephen G. Waldis, Chief Executive Officer of Synchronoss.

RIM had been looking to sell off its NewBay, a RIM subsidiary, since last August.

No explanation was given for the sale but it’s likely that RIM is completely focused on BlackBerry 10. The NewBay sale was likely part of its efforts to streamline operations.

Read more: Synchronoss (Source: N4BB)

Google Play names best apps and games of 2012

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Dec 272012
Google Play

With 2012 about to wrap up, a variety of ‘Best of 2012’ lists have begun to appear everywhere. Google is no exception. It has published both the ‘Best apps of 2012’ as well as the ‘Best Games of 2012’ lists.

First a look at Google’s Best Apps of 2012:

These are some of the best apps available in Google Play. Some launched in 2012 while others issued updates that achieved a great combination of utility, beauty and accessibility. Almost all of them are available globally and offer a great user experience on both tablets and phones. From excellent tools to objects of beauty, each of these applications represents the best of Google Play.

And then there are the games:

2012 has been a wonderful year for games on Google Play. While it was difficult to select only a few, these games represent the best and brightest releases from indie developers and industry leaders alike. The selection covers everything from cute and innovative casual games to the latest blockbuster racing title. Search the stars for humanity’s last hope, assume the role of the funniest anti-hero in gaming or join friends in a multiplayer shooting deathmatch and experience the best in gaming today.

Here are Google’s choices:

If nothing else, these lists are sure to spur some discussion. Are there any that Google missed or perhaps should not have put on its lists?

Read more: Google Play apps and Google Play Best Games of 2012

17.4 million Android and iOS devices activated on Christmas Day

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Dec 272012

It appears that a few people asked Santa Claus for smartphones or tablets and Santa appears to have come through in a big way. In fact, it was a record-setting day with 17.4 million Android and iOS devices being activated on Christmas Day according to Flurry Analytics.

More iOS and Android devices are activated on Christmas Day than on any other day of the year. This year was no exception. On this Christmas Day 2012, more iPhones, iPads, Galaxy’s, Kindle Fires, and more, were activated than on any other day in history. Moreover, as soon as we could tear the wrapping paper off our cool new devices, we started downloading a record volume of apps.

As the graph below shows, Christmas is a day like no other. Christmas Day 2011 held the previous record of 6.8 million Android and iOS device activations. This year’s Christmas was a mighty 2.5 times larger!

Android and iOS activations on Christmas Day 2012

Interestingly, whereas smartphone activations dominated the first 20 days of December, tablets caught up and accounted for roughly half of Android and iOS devices found under the tree.

Tablet and smartphone activations on Christmas Day 2012

As soon as all those devices were unpacked, they were used to set a record download day. 328 million apps were downloaded, over 100% more than the average day in the first 10 days of December.

Read more: Flurry Analytics

Sony to announce Xperia X and Xperia Z at CES 2013?

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Dec 272012

Sony may unveil its next flagship smartphone, the Sony Xperia Z, at the upcoming CES 2013. Previously known under the codename Yuga, it will be Sony’s first 5-inch Full HD (1920×1080) smartphone and its next flagship device.

The Google translation is not easy to read but it appears that Sony will first launch the Xperia Z (bearing model number L36h) in China perhaps as early as mid-January. It will sell for ¥4298 (about CA$685). There also appear to be two variants, the L36i and the L36a, that will be offered in other markets.

Rumoured Sony Xperia Z

Sony could also announce the Sony Xperia X (model L35h), described as a “sister” device with very similar specifications but with a number of differences as well (perhaps as Sony has already done with the Xperia T and Xperia TX). It should sell for somewhat less than the Xperia Z.

The report adds that both the Xperia Z and Xperia X will come with 5-inch Full HD (1920×1080) displays, a quad-core Qualcomm S4 processor, 2GB RAM, a microSD card slot, and a rear 13MP camera.

Sony may unveil three or four smartphones for the first half of the year.

Read more: ePrice (in Chinese) [Google translation] (Source: UnwiredView)

Google extends free Gmail calling in Canada and U.S. through 2013

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Dec 272012

Google yesterday announced that it will continue to offer free domestic calls in Canada and the U.S. through Gmail through 2013. The service that lets Gmail users call standard phone numbers has been free since it launched in 2010.

Many of you call phones from Gmail to easily connect with friends and family. If you’re in the US and Canada, you’ll continue to be able to make free domestic calls through 2013. Plus, in most countries, you can still call the rest of the world from Gmail at insanely low rates.

As the Gmail team also indicated, international Gmail users will also continue to benefit from low rates to make international voice calls using Google Voice. For example, Google indicates that the “leading internet telephony provider” charges US$0.20 per minute to call France whereas it charges only US$0.10.

Google may be keeping its Gmail calling service free for another year in a bid to catch up to other voice and video services such as Microsoft’s Skype. To do so, it will need to continue to improve it as it seems more prone to poor transmission quality issues than its competitors.

Now if Google would only integrated Gmail calling with Google Voice or Google Talk…

Read more: Official Gmail Blog