Apps  Music  2014-04-11 06:19:00

While Samsung said in January that it's hard at work on a 2,560 x 1,440 AMOLED panel, it won't be the first to show one off. That honor goes to AU Optronics, a Taiwanese display company that makes screens for numerous device manufacturers.  2014-04-10 23:00:02

Samsung's latest smartphone, the Galaxy S5, is now available around the world. The Korean company's flagship smartphone launched in 125 markets, including the United States, Europe, and much of Asia. It's joined on shelves by the Samsung Gear 2 and Samsung Gear 2 Neo smartwatches, and the Samsung Gear Fit health tracker, which also launch today. The reasons for moving up to a Galaxy S5 are fairly straightforward: it features the fastest processor on the market, offers a number of built-in fitness features, and is immune to the water-related incidents that would spell doom for most phones. If the company's recent phones are anything to go by, you can also expect solid camera performance.  2014-04-10 12:32:06

iPhone 6 rumors have thus far pointed towards a device that includes a larger screen and a thinner chassis than the existing iPhone 5s. Supporting those rumors, French site [Google Translation] has shared a case maker's iPhone 6 model from Chinese case manufacturer Elam, which shows an ultra thin form factor very similar to that found in recent schematics. The iPhone case model appears to have rounded corners and a single unified volume switch, which is different from the separate volume buttons in the iPhone 5s. It's also a slight deviation from earlier design drawings, which showed separate rectangular volume buttons, suggesting this model may come from a different source. Though not depicted on the case model, separate rumors have pointed towards a relocated power button, either on the top left edge of the device or on the side of the device, to improve one-handed use on a larger device. Currently, the power button is located on the top right edge of the iPhone.  2014-04-10 08:45:57

Don’t be surprised by any major business shifts from BlackBerry — because there will likely be many. Under new CEO John Chen, the former smartphone giant is now keenly aware of its precarious financial position, and it seems like it will do whatever it takes to survive. Chen’s recent admission to Reuters that he’s willing to have BlackBerry exit the handset business if necessary makes this clear. Update: In a blog post this morning, Chen “clarified” that he has “no intention to sell off or abandon” the handset business anytime soon. His statement to Reuters seemed clear, though, and I would wager he’s just covering himself from angry investors with his response. Today’s BlackBerry is no longer trying to relive past glories — a world before the iPhone and Android, where BlackBerry was the top smartphone solution for business.  2014-04-09 05:39:56

According to Japanese website EMSOne, Apple is planning to begin mass production of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 in July with the larger 5.5-inch version to enter mass production in September. The report notes that both versions of the next-generation iPhone will go on sale at some point during the fourth quarter of this year, with the 4.7-inch iPhone being announced and released earlier than the 5.5-inch iPhone. Renderings of iPhone 6 (4.7") and iPhone 6 (5.7") based on leaked schematics The news comes as a report from Reuters last month stated that Apple would begin production of the 4.7-inch display to be used in the iPhone 6 this May for the device's release this fall. The report also noted that the 5.5-inch version of the iPhone 6 would be delayed due to difficulties with in-cell production technology, and would start production several months after the 4.7-inch version.  2014-04-09 00:18:11

Three Apple suppliers have delivered samples of flexible circuit boards for the iWatch as the device is now expected to be unveiled in September, reports DigiTimes. Flexible PCB suppliers Flexium Interconnect, Zhen Ding Technology Holding and Career Technology reportedly have delivered FPCB samples for use in iWatch devices to Apple for validation, according to industry sources. The news follows a report yesterday from Taiwan’s Economic Daily News which indicated that the iWatch will launch in the third quarter of this year, with Apple targeting production of 65 million units by the end of 2014. A reveal in September would mean that the device would be released shortly thereafter, most likely alongside the iPhone 6 and iOS 8. While details about the iWatch have been slim, most reports have pointed to the device featuring biometric sensors to track a number of health-related statistics.  2014-04-08 16:33:11

Comcast is in the early stages of building a wireless phone service that would primarily depend on Wi-Fi to work, according to The Information. The rumored model resembles what we've seen from small companies like Republic Wireless in the US. Comcast would rely on Wi-Fi from wireless routers and public hotspots to handle the bulk of its services, and the company would lease spectrum from traditional carriers (likely Verizon) for instances where Wi-Fi coverage is unavailable. This hybrid Wi-Fi / cellular approach has allowed Republic Wireless to undercut larger wireless carriers drastically; the company's monthly plans start at just $5.  2014-04-08 14:00:00

HTC's latest flagship device, the One M8, is one of the best Android smartphones now available on the market, but what would happen to it if Google stripped the phone of some of its customizations?  2014-04-08 08:47:20

Regulators in China have signed off on Microsoft’s $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia’s devices and services business, setting the stage for the deal to close later this month. Nokia announced the news this morning. The U.S. and European Commission previously approved the deal, but the acquisition had been delayed by one month as authorities in China completed their review. Google and Samsung had asked Chinese authorities to consider patent issues in their review of the deal. However, Nokia noted this morning that that no regulator has required changes in the company’s patent licensing practices.  2014-04-08 04:58:59

An alleged bill of materials for Apple’s upcoming iWatch has surfaced, with supply chain sources indicating that the product will launch in the third quarter of this year, reports Taiwan’s Economic Daily News [Google Translation] (via DigiTimes). iWatch concept by Todd Hamilton, based on the Nike FuelBand The report claims that the iWatch itself will be manufactured by Apple supplier Quanta Computer, with Richtek Technology and TPK supplying chips and sapphire touch panels, respectively. Meanwhile, the device’s processor is said to be developed by Apple, with chip production being outsourced to Samsung. In total, Apple is said to be targeting production of 65 million iWatch units by the end of 2014. Notably, two suppliers mentioned in the report have been linked to previous stories about iWatch production, albeit with contrasting details.  2014-04-11 02:24:00

Oppo has a reputation for clever smartphones, but there's a good reason why you rarely see its devices in the US: it hasn't had local LTE data until the (currently unreleased) Find 7, and that's not exactly cheap.  2014-04-10 18:32:05

Get ready for the module ecosystem. Today, Google released a Module Developers Kit (MDK) in advance of next week’s first Ara Developers Conference. This is the first detailed look at the do-it-yourself smartphones’ containers of features, the modules. Last week, a video posted online showed the current state of Project Ara. It was originally part of Motorola Mobility, but Google retained Project Ara as part of its Advanced Technology and Projects group when it sold Motorola to Lenovo earlier this year. The idea is that a physical smartphone framework, or endoskeleton, provides certain basic functions, such as a display. Interchangeable modules containing specific functions snap into blocks on the endoskeleton. Some modules might have protruding extensions to support additional functions, like a lens.  2014-04-10 09:34:00

An easily expandable phone isn't always an easily repairable phone. If you need proof, take a look at iFixit's newly completed teardown of the Galaxy S5. While Samsung's latest flagship gets some kudos for its removable battery and microSD slot.  2014-04-09 16:32:38

Google is starting to show developers what they need to do to create swappable parts for its upcoming modular smartphones, currently called Project Ara. On Ara's website, it's just posted the Module Developers Kit, which contains the information that manufacturers need to get started on creating modular parts. "Ara’s success is predicated on a rich, vibrant, and diverse ecosystem of modules from a myriad of developers," one document in the kit reads.Ara phones begin as no more than a skeleton, before owners plug in everything from a display and processor to a camera and Wi-Fi unit in order to complete them. Google wants many of those modules — including some unorthodox ones — to come from third-party developers.  2014-04-09 05:24:00

With companies like Verizon pushing into its broadband turf, Comcast may be pushing back with its own mobile network, according to a report from The Information.  2014-04-08 18:05:25

To determine how much individual software features were worth as part of its multi-billion dollar lawsuit, an Apple-paid expert surveyed less than 1,000 consumers about imaginary smartphones and tablets, and included features that weren't even on trial. Another expert then estimated billions in fees for theoretical negotiations that might have occurred between the two companies, as well as how many smartphones and tablets Apple might have sold in their place.  2014-04-08 14:19:39

Smartphone critics often say that HTC builds the best Android phones, and then blame the company’s lean marketing budget for poor sales. After seeing the advertising budgets of the top seven U.S. smartphone makers in 2013, that’s an entirely plausible explanation. But a quick look at HTC’s current advertising approach shows a huge reliance on social media and word-of-mouth-like advertising — and not a lot on paid for media, like billboards, TV commercials and radio spots. So, does the huge gap in spending between the two Android-phone makers matter?  2014-04-08 10:45:12

Late last month, a set of alleged design drawings was published by Japanese magazine MacFan, showing dimensions for upcoming 4.7-inch and 5.7-inch iPhone models. It's not uncommon for us to see design and case leaks in the months leading up to the new iPhone release. In some cases, as with the iPhone 5C, early design leaks turn out to be quite close to the final product, though in other instances they turn out to be inaccurate. Based on those drawings, MacRumors commissioned designer Ferry Passchier to create some full product renderings of the rumored iPhone 6. While these aren't the first renderings, we asked Ferry to also show how they would compare in size to existing devices such as the iPhone 5s and iPad mini. iPhone 6 (4.7") and iPhone 6 (5.7") The iPhone designs in the drawings include several differences compared to the iPhone 5s. The top power button has been moved from the right side to the left side of the device.  2014-04-08 06:53:58

The Gear Fit is the first wearable device from a major manufacturer to truly look like it's come from the future, though its warm reception was colored by one universal complaint: the orientation of the screen. Displaying the time, messages, and all your health data horizontally makes the wrist-worn device somewhat awkward to read, but Samsung hasn't been deaf to the criticism. The company's issued a patch to enable vertical display orientation, making for a more familiar reading experience when consulting the fitness band. This could be a great boon in Korea — where the updated UI first appeared on Samsung's official store blog.  2014-04-08 00:15:16

Apple is planning on creating an R&D team to develop baseband chips, which are used to control a device's radio functions like modulation, signal generation and more, for future iPhones in-house, according to a new report from DigiTimes. The baseband chip is separate from the A7 processor, which Apple already designs with an in-house team. Apple reportedly plans to form a R&D team to develop baseband processors for use in iPhones to be released in 2015 and will place the baseband chip orders with Samsung Electronics and Globalfoundries, according to industry sources.Qualcomm is currently the company that Apple acquires its baseband chips from, although they're produced in mass quantities at Apple manufacturing partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. Recently, Apple has made moves to bring more chip development in-house, including purchasing chipmaker Renesas Electronics, who creates chips for smartphone displays.

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