November 4, 2012

Windows Phone 8 now available in Europe, coming soon to the US and other countries

Nokia Lumia 810 Windows Phone 8 now available in Europe, coming soon to the US and other countriesThe wait is finally over… provided you’re in Europe. The next generation of Microsoft’s mobile platform, Windows Phone 8, is now available in Europe. This includes all of Microsoft’s flagship devices from Nokia, HTC, and Samsung. Unfortunately, as with the Windows Phone 7 launch two years ago, other countries will have to wait a little while longer.

Out of all the US carriers, T-Mobile has the most concrete information. The Nokia Lumia 810 (a variant of the Lumia 820) will debut on T-Mobile on November 14. It’ll cost Value Plan members $99.99, while Classic Plan members will have to pay $149.99. Both of these prices, of course, are based on a $50 mail-in rebate and a two-year contract. The Windows Phone 8X by HTC is expected to launch on this day as well for $149.99.

Next up is Verizon, which will begin carrying the Windows Phone 8X by HTC “before Thanksgiving.” The device will exclusively include wireless charging, and it will run you $199.99. The Nokia Lumia 822 (also a Lumia 820 variant) will launch on the same day in white, black, and grey for just $99.99. If you’re eyeing Samsung’s ATIV (pronounced “aah-TIV”) Odyssey, a variant of the ATIV S, you’ll have to wait until December.

Lastly, AT&T plans to exclusively carry the Nokia Lumia 920 – which features wireless charging and a PureView camera – and the Lumia 820 starting sometime in November, along with the Windows Phone 8X by HTC and Samsung ATIV S. Unfortunately, pricing and availability still has yet to be announced.

Sprint will not be getting any Windows Phone 8 handsets at this time, but the Microsoft Store plans to carry every US device in every color. Which one will you be picking up?

[Nokia Conversations: 12 | All About Microsoft]

October 26, 2012

Xbox SmartGlass arrives on Windows Phone

Xbox SmartGlass Xbox SmartGlass arrives on Windows PhoneWith Windows 8 now available in stores and the new Xbox 360 dashboard update on consoles, Microsoft has gone ahead and updated the Xbox Companion app on Windows Phone, turning it into the long-awaited Xbox SmartGlass app.

Xbox SmartGlass is more than just a simple name change. While the app still supports basic navigation and media playback controls, as well as the ability to search the Xbox LIVE Marketplace and launch content, it now supports content-specific interactive experiences with select games and apps. Send music and videos to and from your smartphone or tablet, discover who’s in a particular scene while watching a movie on Xbox Video, queue up songs in Dance Central 3, and much more. The possibilities are endless.

SmartGlass is also deeply integrated with the new Internet Explorer app on Xbox 360, letting you interact with content on your big screen as if it were on a touch device. You can even transfer websites from your TV screen to your smartphone. Keyboard input is directed to the phone as well, eliminating the need for a Chatpad accessory. The inclusion of an Xbox Guide button and asynchronous connectivity – allowing you to use the app in a limited capacity if you’re not signed in on your console – are welcome additions too.

I’ve you already have the Xbox Companion app on Windows Phone, all you need to do is download the update. But if you haven’t tried it before, we highly recommend doing so. Xbox SmartGlass is currently available on Windows Phone and Windows 8, but Microsoft plans to release the app on Android and iOS as well.

[Windows Phone Store]

October 16, 2012

Sprint acquired by SmartBank, T-Mobile/MetroPCS merger met with shareholder lawsuit

Sprint T Mobile and MetroPCS Sprint acquired by SmartBank, T Mobile/MetroPCS merger met with shareholder lawsuit

The third, fourth, and fifth largest wireless carriers in the United States have undergone some major changes over the last few weeks. Sprint has announced that it is being acquired by SoftBank, while T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS’ plan to merge the two companies have been met with lawsuits from shareholders.

SoftBank’s acquisition of Sprint cost the company $20.1 billion, giving it a 70% controlling share of the company. The buyout has been approved by Sprint’s shareholders and board of the directors, so it is expected to be completed within six months barring any holdups in regulatory approval. Sprint fans will be pleased to know that the CEO, board of directors, and headquarters will remain as-is. In essence, this deal was essentially made to “give Sprint a much-needed cash infusion.”

The T-Mobile USA/MetroPCS merger from a few weeks ago, on the other hand, hasn’t been received as favorably by shareholders. MetroPCS’s shareholders claim that the payments of $4.09 per share “drastically undervalues” the company and “cheats shareholders.” Worse, they’re saying that MetroPCS’ board of directors is “conflicted and serving its own financial interests.” As a result, a lawsuit has been filed against MetroPCS, its board of directors, T-Mobile USA, and its parent company Deutsche Telekom.

[Pocketables via Sprint | CNET via TmoNews]

October 11, 2012

Samsung GALAXY S III mini announced

Samsung Galaxy S III mini 560x343 Samsung GALAXY S III mini announced

As expected, Samsung has announced the GALAXY S III mini, which the South Korean manufacturer calls a ”compact version of the flagship smartphone GALAXY S III.” But while the device carries the name of Samsung’s high-end smartphone brand, it’s actually more of a mid-range handset.

The GALAXY S III mini features a 4-inch Super AMOLED display running at a resolution of 800 x 480, a 1GHz dual-core CPU, a VGA front-facing camera, and a 5MP primary camera with auto-focus and flash. It also includes Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, GPS/GLONASS, NFC, a 1,500mAh battery, and either 8GB or 16GB of storage, which can be expanded by up to 32GB with a microSD card.

The actual size of the GALAXY S III mini is 121.55mm x 63mm x 9.85mm, and it weighs 111.5g. While it doesn’t support LTE, it does come with Android 4.1 “Jelly Bean,” as well as Samsung’s usual suite of custom apps and features like S Voice, Smart Stay, Smart Alert, S Beam, and buddy photo share.

[Samsung Tomorrow]

October 3, 2012

PlayStation Mobile now available on Android

PlayStation Mobile Games 560x287 PlayStation Mobile now available on Android

A few devices have sported PlayStation compatibility for some time now, but Sony’s PlayStation Mobile is now available on Android. This new service allows you to get a PlayStation-like gaming experience on PlayStation Certified Android devices and tablets, as well as Sony’s own PS Vita.

Sadly, the list of certified Android devices only includes those with Sony branding. The HTC One X, One S, and One V will be supported soon, as well as other devices from a variety of manufacturers.

PlayStation Mobile’s lineup of 21 launch titles is as follows: Aqua Kitty – Milk Mine Defender, Beats Slider, Beats Trellis, Everybody’s Arcade, Flick Hockey, Frederic – Resurrection of Music, Fuel Tiracas, Hungary Giraffe, Incurvio, Loot the Land, Magic Arrows, Numblast, Nyoqix, Rebel, Samurai Beatdown, Super Crate Box, Tractor Trails, Twist Pilot, Underline, Wipe!, and Word Blocked. The list isn’t all that impressive, but Sony will almost certainly improve upon it as time goes on.

[PlayStation.Blog via Pocketables]

September 29, 2012

ZTE Render heads to US Cellular

ZTE Render ZTE Render heads to US CellularRemember the ZTE Orbit Windows Phone 7.5 (Tango 2) handset, which was announced at Mobile World Congress earlier this year? It’s finally heading stateside by way of US Cellular under the name ZTE Render.

As before, the Render has a 4-inch WVGA display powered by a 1GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, and a 1600mAh battery rated at just under five hours of talk time. Also included is a 5MP rear-facing camera and a scant 4G of storage. It will, obviously, support CDMA / EVDO networks.

The ZTE Render joins the HTC 7 Pro as the only two Windows Phones available on US Cellular. The device can be picked up for $79.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate, provided you sign up for a two-year contract.

While the specs aren’t all that impressive, it wouldn’t be a problem were it not for the relatively expensive price tag. That being said, it’s now the cheapest Windows Phone on US Cellular. That has to count for something… right?

[US Cellular via WPCentral]

September 19, 2012

HTC announces the Windows Phone 8X and 8S

Windows Phone 8X by HTC all colors HTC announces the Windows Phone 8X and 8S

As expected, HTC announced its lineup of Windows Phone 8 handsets at its New York event this morning. Dubbed the “Windows Phone 8S by HTC” and the “Windows Phone 8X by HTC,” these devices are designed to go up against the impressive offering from Nokia and Samsung. Best of all, HTC provided attendees with a firmer launch window – November – and promised that both devices will be available on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, as well as more than 150 mobile operators in over 50 countries.

Continue reading…

September 14, 2012

HP to ‘ultimately’ get back into the smartphone business

HP HP to ‘ultimately’ get back into the smartphone businessIn yet another case of a Hewlett-Packard CEO reversing the mistakes of her predecessor, Meg Whitman has told Fox Business that “we have to ultimately offer a smartphone” and “we are working on this.”

Former CEO Leo Apotheker discontinued operations for webOS in August 2011, which Whitman promptly turned into an open source platform upon assuming control of the company. In her most recent interview, Whitman admitted that HP “took a detour” with smartphones and that “we’ve got to get it right this time.” But it has to be good, not necessarily fast to market.

HP could be planning to use its webOS platform, or it might switch to one of the bigger operating systems like Windows Phone or Android. The company isn’t ready to say. But HP is definitely getting back into the smartphone business, regardless of which OS the devices end up running.

[Fox Business via Engadget]

September 5, 2012

Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 to include wireless charging, great cameras, and high-quality displays

Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 to include wireless charging, great cameras, and high quality displays

Nokia has finally announced its next-generation Windows Phone hardware, and boy does it look good. Both the Lumia 920 and the Lumia 820 feature wireless charging (based on the Qi standard), a familiar polycarbonate unibody design, a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, NFC, and super sensitive display technology that even works through thick gloves.

Each device also includes a few unique features, such as swappable colored cases and a microSD card slot on the Lumia 820 and a PureView camera on the Lumia 920 which takes fantastic photos. The latter device also has a beefier battery and 32GB of internal memory rather than 8GB. Curiously, it lacks a microSD card slot.

Microsoft has remained strangely silent on the subject of Windows Phone 8 consumer features, but the company did discuss a few of the camera improvements that will be found in the upcoming OS. Joe Belfiore also confirmed that screenshot functionality will be making its way to Windows Phone 8 as well.

The Nokia Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 will be released sometime this fall in a variety of vibrant colors for an unspecified price on an unknown selection of carriers. These details are expected to be unveiled at or before Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 launch event on October 29.

[Pocketables: 1, 2, 3]

August 31, 2012

Windows Phone 8 to include a Kid’s Corner

Kids Corner Windows Phone 8 to include a Kid’s Corner

Microsoft has revealed a few things about Windows Phone 8, but there’s still a lot we don’t know about yet. One of those features is Kid’s Corner, a new form of parental control that allows you to create a customized version of the Start screen.

The Kid’s Corner works much like your traditional Start screen, but it lacks editing functionality and the full app list. A special wizard is used to set up the Kid’s Corner, allowing you to choose which games, music, videos, and apps are accessible from the locked down Start screen. Windows Phone 8 will also let you specify a unique name, picture, background, and accent color. The feature can be brought up by swiping left on the Start screen, and it looks and feels very similar to the full OS. To exit, simply press the power button.

This sounds like a great feature for parents, but it could also be useful for other people as well. Take, for example, a situation where you have to temporarily loan someone your phone but you don’t want them to have full access to all of your apps, contacts, and other data. Kid’s Corner might be announced as early as next week, at Microsoft and Nokia’s joint press conference in New York.

[The Verge]