LTE technology gets a lot of publicity, but smartphones currently only use the network for data. MetroPCS, however, has become the first carrier to launch a voice over LTE (VoLTE) service, beating out South Korean carrier SK Telecom by less than a day. Many carriers have been testing the technology, but only MetroPCS and SK Telecom have managed to actually bring it to market. VoLTE is currently only available in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, but the company plans to increase the size of the network in the near future.
Of course, without VoLTE-equipped devices, the technology is practically useless. LG’s Connect 4G is the first VoLTE-capable device to be available on MetroPCS, with additional devices hitting stores in the coming weeks and months. While SK Telecom finished second, it actually offers a superior VoLTE handset: the Samsung Galaxy S III.
Interestingly, MetroPCS was also the first network to roll out commercially available 4G LTE in the US.
[PR Newswire via The Verge]
When Windows Phone first launched in the US in November 2010, customers had the option of choosing between one of three devices: the Samsung Focus, the HTC Surround, and the LG Quantum. The Focus was clearly the favorite, but just how popular was it?
In Episode 83 of the Platform Biased podcast, Microsoft Studios’ Dan Smith reveals the sales breakdown for the first generation Windows Phone handsets. Unsurprisingly, the Focus was the clear frontrunner. The device accounted for around 90% of Windows Phones sold, followed by the Quantum at about 8% and the Surround at approximately 2%.
The stats are revealed just after the 30 minute mark, but the rest of the discussion is fascinating as well, especially if you’re interested in how Windows Phone games are tested. Microsoft can take any phone off of the shelf, flash it with special firmware allowing it to access the internal Xbox LIVE service known as PartnerNet, and then side-load the game’s XAP. Smith also praised the Focus’ hardware, which can still run anything Microsoft’s testers throw at it.
Update: As one of our readers pointed out, it should be noted that these figures apply solely to AT&T’s initial offering. The Dell Venue Pro and T-Mobile’s HTC HD7 aren’t included either, and CDMA carriers Sprint and Verizon didn’t offer devices until much later. We’re not sure why Smith didn’t include the other devices/carriers in the breakdown, but we wouldn’t be surprised if they only accounted for a small portion of the overall sales.
This one goes out to the more adventurous among our readers. CyanogenMod has announced the availability of CyanogenMod 9 Nightlies for the Bell Optimus LTE and AT&T Nitro HD. In case you hadn’t heard, CM9 Nightlies have also been available for a few days now for AT&T’s Galaxy S II. So, first the fun stuff, then the obligatory disclaimers.
CyanogenMod 9 offers all the benefits of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) and then some to any enterprising users who care to root their phones and install it. Most certainly a faster offer than waiting for your carrier to get around to it and you can remove all that carrier bloatware from your phone—no, I don’t want the Amazon music app, thank you very much Verizon!
Now, I promised warnings, and I don’t aim to disappoint! This build is called a Nightly because it will be updated, out of necessity, nearly nightly. While CyanogenMod is top-rate, and I have no problem endorsing any of its final builds, this is not a final build. Something will go wrong with your device on a Nightly, possibly something permanent, aka “bricking.” So, only install this on a device that you can do without for at least a few days, and only if you—like me—thoroughly enjoy troubleshooting and tinkering.
For those who would love some of ICS’ features but don’t care to ‘root’ anything other than your rosebush, I would highly recommend Go Launcher EX. It provides many awesome UI tweaks, and while it doesn’t provide direct performance increases like ICS, I find using my phone to be significantly faster while using it.
[CyanogenMod+ | 2 | Download | S II Download via pocketnow]
Haven’t jumped on the Verizon 4G LTE bandwagon yet? Well ol’ Red is hoping to entice you to do just that in two days with the Lucid by LG. The Lucid is a 4-inch, Gorilla Glass-clad mid-range Android 2.3.x Gingerbread phone, featuring a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, a 5MP 1080p rear camera, a front facing webcam, and all the usual other goodies, obviously including 4G LTE.
The specs on this phone are solid to be sure, but they are purposefully midrange. Priced at only $79.99 out of the gate—with a $70 minimum two-year contract, of course—the hope is to draw in customers that had until now been turned off by the high capital investment costs of LTE hardware. The Lucid will be available on March 29, but be warned that your out-of-pocket costs for the phone will be at least $129.99, plus tax, activation, and so on. The $79.99 number is only reached via a $50 mail-in rebate.
Shipping with Gingerbread, Verizon is promising an Android 4.0.x Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) update at an undefined future date. However the device comes with a custom UI from LG, adding features such as lock screen customization and Quick Reply texting, allowing you to reply to texts without exiting other applications. While possibly nice, I expect the custom UI to slow down the device at least a little. Worse, it will most likely cause Verizon’s glacier-like speed of updating move even slower. So if getting ICS by summer is high on your list, you may want to avoid this one.
I can’t imagine how this news went down at corporate. “Boss, we just got fined several million dollars for price-fixing.” “Wait, so they actually meant no price-fixing when they said no price-fixing?” However the news was delivered, South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) who—like our FTC—helps keep all the big shots honest, laid down $40.1 million in fines to mobile manufactures LG, Pantech, and Samsung, along with carriers SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus.
The accusation is that the named manufacturers worked together and agreed to outrageously high “retail” prices, and then handed the phones to the carriers, who sold them for awesome “discounts.” “Companies took advantage of the complicated price setting practice in the mobile telecommunications sector to trick consumers,” an FTC official said. Top honors went to SK Telecom, who was slapped with a fine of 20.2 billion won, or about $19.5 in American greenbacks. Samsung won the silver with a fine of approximately $12.6 million USD, and KT rounded out the podium at $4.5 million USD, leaving a measly $3.5 million USD for the other three carriers.
A total of 209 phone models were marked up over an undisclosed amount of time. South Korea’s FTC has implemented measures preventing these companies from providing similar sales incentives, and all the companies have been ordered to provide details on how much was given in sale incentives. So, at least in some parts of the world, the mega corporations don’t get to make all of the rules.
[Yonhap News via phoneArena]
Verizon today announced a list of its devices that are set to gain Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) “this year.” Unfortunately, the most surprising thing about this list is not the devices that are present, but rather the devices that are absent. Only 14 devices are listed from HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung combined.
- HTC ThunderBolt
- DROID Incredible 2 by HTC
- HTC Rhyme
- HTC Rezound
- Motorola XOOM
- DROID BIONIC
- DROID RAZR
- DROID RAZR MAXX
- DROID 4
- DROID XYBOARD 8.2
- DROID XYBOARD 10.1
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7
We do not know if this list is complete and definitive, or whether or not it trumps lists already released by manufacturers such as HTC and Motorola. For example, the DROID 3 and X2 are both on Motorola’s last-released upgrade list, but are conspicuously missing from Verizon’s list. My guess would be that, despite Verizon not saying so, this is the list of devices set to get ICS first, and eventually more will be added. If that is not the case, Verizon will have a horde of seriously unhappy customers.
[Verizon via DroidMatters]
“Extend your limits, harness the power!” That’s how MetroPCS’ video introduction of the LG Connect starts, and it’s not at all misleading for the no-contract national carrier. The LG Connect 4G—available now—is Metro’s third 4G LTE phone joining its brother the Esteem and Samsung’s Galaxy Attain 4G. The Connect shares Metro’s priciest tier with the Esteem, at $319.00. This sounds really painful to those of us used to contract carriers but when you realize that price is not subsidized, all of a sudden it sounds pretty dang good.
The LG Connect 4G is a solid offering-certainly Metro’s current best. The Connect features Android 2.3.x Gingerbread, a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage, a 5MP rear camera that’s good for 720p recording, and a front facing camera for the socially inclined. The screen is an easy-on-the-eyes 4-inch NOVA display, 480 x 840. The usual goodies are in place, with LTE, Bluetooth 3.0 and a microSD card slot. So if you’re in one of Metro’s 14 LTE markets, you may want to add this to your wish list.
[MetroPCS via PhoneDog]
We were promised to see the just-announced LG Optimus 4X HD device by summer, and that is a promise LG intends to keep. Clove, a UK wireless carrier who also sells to the States, has it set on pre-order for “June 2012.” Pre-order, no-contract pricing is set at £380, with an extra £76 added on in taxes, which puts it right around $725 for those of us who use greenbacks. So far nobody has announced on-contract pricing, but you can expect it to be in the highest tier for your carrier.
The 4X HD’s colorful cousin—the Optimus 3D Max—will not be headed to the UK. We have no official word why, but the original glasses-free Optimus 3D didn’t exactly sell like hotcakes. Worsening things, the 3D Max has received tepid reviews since its announcement a little less than a week ago. We still have no word on when to expect the 4.3-inch, 1.2GHz, Texas Instruments-powered device, or how much it will cost.
For those of you who missed out on our earlier 4X HD article, LG’s latest phone is a beast. Measuring in with 4.7-inches of screen space—and obviously that screen is HD, 1280 x 720—the processor is the brand-new Tegra 3 quad core monster running at 1.5GHz and featuring NVIDIA’s 4+1 battery saving technology. Also included are 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage. The Optimus 4x HD, unlike its 3D cousin, is almost guaranteed to be a winner for LG. Expect to see it sell well for high premiums.
[Clove via SlashGear]
LG is announcing phones faster than we can report them! This week LG announced the Optimus Vu, the Optimus 3D Max/Cube, and now the Optimus 4X HD. And that’s not even including the 4.3-inch LG L7, 4.0-inch LG L5, or the 3.2-inch LG L3, which we haven’t covered yet! Slow down LG, I think my keyboard may be melting!
The 4X HD along with the L7 and L5—for which we have limited additional specifications—will be launching by the middle of the year with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). The L3—which is equally tight-lipped on specs—will be released in Europe in March with Android 2.3.x Gingerbread, and strangely we have no word of an ICS upgrade for this one.
The star of this article, the LG 4X HD, does have available specs however, and boy are they pretty! Powering its massive 4.7-inch, 1280 x 720 IPS display it has a 1.5GHz quad-core Tegra 3 processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a 2150mAh battery, an 8MP rear camera and a 1.3MP front camera all squeezed into a 8.9mm body. Wow.
Further continuing the festivities, we have the DLNA and Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) standards on-board for sharing all that power. And in order to best make use of that nicely-sized battery, the Tegra 3 series processors are actually 4+1 cores, where you operate on one low-power core during sleep or low battery scenarios, with the full-throttle quad-core setup only kicking in when you need it. Kind of like a hybrid engine for your phone. Nicely done LG and NVIDIA.
[LG | 2 via The Verge]
As the Mobile World Congress approaches, I can’t help but feel sorry for the coordinators as all the major announcements seem to be getting made in this week before. Continuing with the early announcements, LG has taken the covers off the LG Optimus 3D Max, successor to the Optimus 3D, or the AT&T Thrill 4G as it is better known in the states.
The LG Optimus 3D Max has a glasses-free WVGA 3D screen and a duo of rear cameras—5MP apiece—to facilitate 3D shooting in HD. While the screen is WVGA, wired or wireless video output is pegged at 1080p. The 3D Max will also be known as the Optimus 3D Cube in South Korea, where it has been announced to first go to Korean carrier SK Telecom, after which it will roll-out to Europe and the rest of the world.
Both versions will feature a 4.3-inch screen, 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 16GB of internal storage, and support for LG’s new LG Tag+ NFC system. Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread is on-board and just like with the Optimus Vu, we can expect Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) to be right around the corner.