Samsung today announced the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, two Android smartphones that marry high-quality design with leading specs. The devices are made with a mix of metal and glass materials, with the GS6 Edge offering a curved display on two sides. According to Samsung, the display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4 and comes in several jewel tones with names like black sapphire, white pearl, blue topaz, and gold platinum. Aside from the display, all specs are shared between the two phones. The GS6 and GS6 Edge measure 6.8mm and 7.0mm thick, respectively. The Super AMOLED display measures 5.1 inches across the diagonal and includes 2560 x 1440 pixels (quad HD). Samsung says it has enhanced brightness for better outdoor viewability. The 16-megapixel main camera boasts optical image stablization auto HDR, and a Quick Launch feature that starts the camera app in less than a second. The user-facing camera rates 5-megpaixels; both have an aperture of f/1.9 for better low-light performance. Samsung is relying on its own technology to power the GS6 and GS6 Edge. It ships with an octa-core processor with a quad-core bank of processors clocked at 2.1GHz and a second quad-core bank clocked at 1.5GHz. The processor is paired with 3GB of LPDDR4 memory and UFS 2.0 flash for faster storage performance. The phone includes a 2,600mAh battery that supports both the WPC and PMA wireless charging standards, in addition to quick charging. Samsung says it has upgraded its KNOX security platform to better protect the device, added a Find My Device tool and remote wipe/remote reactivate tools, and improved the fingerprint scanner. The security tools will help when Samsung launches Samsung Pay, a mobile payment service planned for the second half of the year. The device will be preloaded with several Microsoft applications, including OneDrive (115GB of free storage) and OneNote. Other specs include CAT6 LTE, dual-ban WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, ultra power-savings mode and Android 5.0 Lollipop. The Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge will be available globally starting April 10, 2015 with 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB storage options.
Samsung today announced Samsung Pay, a mobile payment service that it claims will be readily available at tens of millions of retail locations around the world. The service can use either NFC or MST (magnetic secure transmission), technology it recently acquired via its purchase of LoopPay. The MST tech allows Samsung Pay to work at most credit card terminals, unlike solutions based solely on NFC, which require special terminals. According to Samsung, its mobile payment service will use something called tokenization to hide customer's credit card numbers and protect transactions. Samsung is working with MasterCard and Visa, and has the support of financial institutions such as American Express, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, and U.S. Bank. Samsung Pay will initially launch in the U.S. during the summer months and will reach select markets in Europe and Asia later this year. It will only be available to the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge.
It's zero secret what Samsung is "revealing" today, but plenty of details remain unconfirmed. We're live at Samsung's Unpacked event at MWC in Barcelona for the launch of the Galaxy S6. Samsung itself has promised a new design with a metal body. Leaks point to a version with a screen that curved slightly at the side edges. We'll bring you every detail as it happens on stage.
Samsung today announced that it is producing embedded memory modules for flagship smartphones using the new Universal Flash Storage (UFS) 2.0 standard. UFS is a generational leap compared to the eMMC standard, which is used widely in mobile devices today. The UFS standard uses a serial interface rather than an 8-bit interface common to eMMC modules, which helps produce speed gains. Samsung claims its UFS-based storage offers significantly faster read/write speeds compared to eMMC, while still delivering a 50% reduction in energy needs. Further, the ePoP (embedded package on package) solution can be stacked directly onto the logic board, reducing space requirements by 50%. The UFS chips can support 4K (Ultra HD) video playback while performing other tasks. Samsung is manufacturing 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB varieties of the module. Samsung imagines the new UFS memory modules will be ideal for flagship smartphones and tablets. It will continue to use eMMC-based memory products for mid-range and entry-level phones.
Apple was found guilty of infringing on three patents held by a company called Smartflash and must pay the firm $532.9 million. A federal jury in Texas reached the verdict Tuesday and said Apple violated the patents willfully. According to Smartflash, Apple's iTunes software uses its patented technology for storing and retrieving music, movies, and games. Apple was disappointed with the verdict and railed against Smartflash, which is a patent holding firm. "We refused to pay off this company for the ideas our employees spent years innovating and unfortunately we have been left with no choice but to take this fight up through the court system," said Apple in a statement provided to Reuters. Smartflash has filed similar lawsuits against Google, HTC, and Samsung.
Verizon Wireless today announced plans to sell the Samsung Galaxy Core Prime smartphone beginning on Feb. 26. The device, which is also being sold as the Galaxy Prevail LTE, is a mid-range smartphone that has a 4.5-inch screen, Snapdragon 400 processor, and a 5-megapixel camera. The phone will ship with Verizon's Advanced Calling 1.0 feature for VoLTE, and though it ships with Android 4.4 KitKat, it will be upgraded to Android 5.0 Lollipop shortly after release. Verizon is asking $29.99 with a two-year contract or $8 per month via Verizon Edge.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere today teased the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy S6 smart phone in a post to his personal Twitter account. Legere said, "Was there even a question? Of course T-Mobile will carry The Next Big Thing." Legere supplied a link to T-Mobile's web site, which has a sign up page for an unnamed Samsung device with the phrase "Six Appeal" emblazoned across the top. The silhouette on the page shows a phone with a curved display, much like the Galaxy Note Edge. Samsung is expected to reveal the Galaxy S6 in Barcelona on March 1.
Google is seeking help from its carrier and hardware partners to revitalize its flagging Google Wallet service. According to sources cited by the Wall Street Journal, Google is waving more cash in front of network operators to feature the app on their Android smartphones. Google told investors last month that it is prepared to launch a "fully functional payment system" that goes "beyond just tap and pay" at its I/O Developer Conference, scheduled for late May. Google's efforts won't be easy. Google doesn't enjoy the same level of control that Apple does, which manages the hardware and software of the iPhone. Google has to work with the carriers, handset makers, and financial institutions to make it all work. Apple cut carriers out of Apple Pay and only had to work with banks. Google's efforts are being undermined by its own partners. Earlier this week, Samsung purchased LoopPay to help it create its own competitor to Apple Pay; meanwhile, the bulk of Samsung's handsets run Google's Android platform. Moreover, the carriers have their own mobile payment service in place, called Softcard, and actively prevented Google Wallet from accessing the secure portions of their smartphones. According to the Journal, Google is offering carriers a bigger cut of ad dollars for promoting Google Wallet. Further, Google is in talks with carriers to purchase Softcard, which could help resolve some of the issues at play. Google declined to comment on the Journal's story.
Samsung recently announced a range of memory modules for smartphones and tablets that rely on the new eMMC 5.1 specification. JEDEC, the semiconductor standards organization, approved the eMMC 5.1 specification earlier this year. The eMMC spec is for storage embedded directly into the logic board of smartphones and tablets. According to Samsung, it has 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB memory modules on deck. They offer sequential reading speeds up to 250Mbps and sequential writing speeds up to 150Mbps. The spec's random read/write speeds are seven and 26 times faster than the previous generation. Other new features include a first command queue function, which improves multitasking capabilities and can handle simultaneous streaming and playback of 4K video content. The eMMC 5.1 solutions also have a security protocol that allows only designated users to access secured portions of the memory. Samsung said it is ready to ship eMMC 5.1-based memory products to its smartphone and tablet manufacturing partners. The products will reach consumers later this year.
Samsung today said it has agreed to purchase LoopPay, a mobile payments startup, for an undisclosed sum. With the acquisition, Samsung can bring a mobile payment service to market to compete with Apple Pay, Softcard, and Google Wallet. LoopPay's technology would allow Samsung handset owners to use their devices as mobile wallets and make purchases with associated credit or debit cards. One thing that sets LoopPay's service apart is that it doesn't require NFC. LoopPay works with existing magnetic stripe readers already installed in the bulk of retailers. It won't require merchants to upgrade their in-store hardware. Samsung and LoopPay believe this gives them an edge over competitors. Samsung may announce its mobile payment service as soon as March 1, when it is holding a press conference during the Mobile World Congress trade show. It will be a hallmark feature of the Galaxy S6, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Sony today announced plans to spin off its audio and video business into a separate company. The unit will take the form of a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony. The move, explained CEO Kazuo Hirai, is to make the unit more autonomous and focused on generating profits. Sony made similar strategic moves with its television business and personal computing business. When asked if Sony would consider an outright sale of its television or smartphone businesses, Hirai responded, "I think we have to keep those possibilities in mind." Hirai hinted that Sony might sell off its smartphone business earlier this year. The company is heavily focused on generating profits, but its smartphone business has struggled against larger competitors Apple and Samsung. Hirai said there are no deals on the table at the moment.
Samsung today announced it has begun mass producing a new mobile application processor based on its 14nm process. Compared to Samsung's 20nm process, the 14nm process delivers 20% faster speeds, 35% less power consumption, and 30% productivity gain. The new process makes use of a three-dimensional FinFET structure on transistors. Samsung said the 14nm process will form the core of its own Exynos 7 Octa mobile processor. The 14nm process will reach other products, such as those Samsung makes for other companies, later in the year.
Microsoft and Samsung have come to terms ending a dispute over patents and royalty fees. Google's Android operating system uses a number of patented Microsoft technologies and Android handset makers pay Microsoft a fee to use them. Samsung abruptly halted making payments after Microsoft acquired Nokia, claiming the company violated the terms of their agreement by becoming a direct hardware competitor. The dispute has been on-going for months, but is now resolved. "Samsung and Microsoft are pleased to announce that they have ended their contract dispute," said the companies. Terms were not disclosed.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has launched an investigation into trades of BlackBerry stock around the time a report suggested Samsung might buy the company. On January 14, Reuters reported that Samsung planned to buy BlackBerry for as much as $7.5 billion. Just ahead of that report, someone purchased options for 200,000 shares of BlackBerry stock at $10. After the report was published, BlackBerry's stock surged by 30% reaching highs of $12.60. According to Reuters, if the purchaser was able to sell the shares he or she could have profited as much as $490,000. BlackBerry and Samsung later denied the report and BlackBerry's stock tumbled back down to below $10 per share. The SEC is looking into whether or not Reuters' source deliberately planted the story in order to manipulate BlackBerry's share price, which would be illegal. BlackBerry and Samsung have partnered together to encourage businesses to buy Samsung's handsets and use BlackBerry's device management software. At the moment, that's the extent of their relationship.
Sprint today began delivering the Android 5.0 Lollipop system update to the HTC One (M7) and Samsung Galaxy S5. The One gained new lock screen tools, a larger view of recent apps, and a search function within the settings menu. In addition to Lollipop, the GS5 was given a new user interface for the VoWiFi application. Sprint also removed the Lumen Toolbar application. The Android operating system update is free to download over WiFi.
Samsung today announced the launch of Good for Samsung Knox. Good Technology has long offered mobile enterprise applications and services, including corporate email and application management tools. Samsung's Knox security platform has been certified for use with the U.S. Department of Defense. Samsung has been looking to score large-scale handset deployments within companies. Combining Good's app container and ecosystem to Knox's security stack allows it to offer a more complete solution. Together, the two companies believe they have an attractive offering for businesses looking to manage and secure Android devices.
A senior executive at Samsung, who had been put in charge to launch Samsung's next flagship smartphone, abruptly departed the company this week. Kim Seok-pil was appointed head of strategic marketing for Samsung’s mobile unit in December following a shake up of management. Sources cited by the Wall Street Journal suggest Kim's departure may have been related to health reasons. Kim will be replaced by Lee Sang-chul, who oversees Samsung's business in Russia. Kim held the position for just over a month. It's not clear if or how his departure will impact Samsung's next flagship device, which is expected on March 1 during the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona.
Verizon Wireless today said owners of the Samsung Galaxy S5 can expect to see Android 5.0 Lollipop hit their device in the days ahead. The update carries with it Google's Material Design, including improved notifications, as well as some Samsung-made changes. For example, Samsung added a short cut to the phone on the home screen. Samsung added the Material Design floating action button to its own Touch Wiz user interface, too. The update includes new ways to manage incoming interruptions and also makes improvements to multitasking. Android 5.0 Lollipop is free to download and install. The update is being pushed out in phases and may take time to reach all users.
Following reports of poor performance of its flagship Snapdragon 810 processor, Qualcomm today rounded up support from a handful of handset makers that plan to use the chip. LG and Xiaomi have already committed to using the processor in the G Flex 2 and Mi Note Pro, respectively, and reiterated their trust in the processor. Motorola, Sony, Oppo, and Microsoft today also offered statements in support of the processor and suggested they each plan to use the 810 in forthcoming handset designs. Last week, Qualcomm lowered its revenue outlook for the year after stating that a "large customer" decided to pass on using the Snapdragon 810 in its own flagship device. Earlier in January, Samsung claimed the 810 overheated. The Snapdragon 810 is a premium mobile processor with a quad-core design, advanced GPU, and support for Cat 9 LTE.
T-Mobile plans to make some of its handsets compatible with its 700MHz spectrum through a software update. Today, only the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note Edge can use LTE on T-Mobile's 700MHz spectrum. T-Mobile said it will provide the system update to the Motorola Nexus 6 in the early part of 2015, followed by the Sony Xperia Z3 and Samsung Galaxy Avant in May, and the ZTE Max later this year. Two tablets and T-Mobile's Z915 LTE 4G Hotspot also support the 700MHz airwaves. T-Mobile is supplementing its AWS-based LTE network with its 700MHz holdings in select markets around the country. The company is still in the process of deploying LTE to all its 700MHz spectrum.
T-Mobile today unveiled a new program for consumers interested in cheaper handset upgrades called Score. With Score, users will qualify for a free entry-level smartphone after six months or significant discounts on all T-Mobile devices after 12 months. Score costs $5 per month and is open to all T-Mobile customers, whether prepaid or postpaid. After paying $5 per month for six months, for example, customers may choose to get the Alcatel OneTouch Evolve 2 at no additional cost; or, after paying $5 per month for 12 months, take $150 off the price of the Motorola Nexus 6 or $100 off the Samsung Galaxy S5. (Actual handset discounts will vary based on when the customer chooses to upgrade.) Customers who enroll in Score today will be able to upgrade to a new, free phone as soon as July 25 or enjoy a heavily discounted flagship as soon as Jan. 25, 2016.
LG said it will begin selling the G Flex 2 in its home market of Korea on Jan. 30. The phone will reach other markets in the "coming months." Several U.S. carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular, have said they'll sell the phone but none has said when or for how much. The G Flex 2 will cost Koreans approximately $830 when it goes on sale next week. Separately, an LG executive refuted reports that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor overheats. Bloomberg on Wednesday reported that Samsung plans to drop the Snapdragon 810 chip from its forthcoming Galaxy S6 smartphone due to overheating issues. "I am very much aware of the various concerns in the market about the (Snapdragon) 810, but the chip's performance is quite satisfactory," said Woo Ram-chan, vice president for mobile product planning at LG. Woo said the chip emits less heat than other devices. "I don't understand why there is a issue over heat." LG uses the Snapdragon 810 in the G Flex 2.
MetroPCS today unveiled a new rate plan that includes unlimited talk, text, and LTE 4G data for $50 per month. Customers can sign up for the promotional plan between today and April 5. Once signed up, users can keep the unlimited LTE 4G data plan indefinitely. In order to use this plan, however, customers have to have a MetroPCS-branded LTE-capable handset. Customers cannot supply their own, unlocked handset. MetroPCS also increased the data available to its existing plans by 1GB each. For example, its $40 plan now includes unlimited talk, text, and up to 2GB of LTE (improved from 1GB), and a $50 plan with unlimited talk, text, and up to 4GB of LTE (improved from 3GB). These plans are available to BYOD customers and MetroPCS-branded devices. Last, MetroPCS said customers can buy the Samsung Galaxy Light for $49 and the LG F60 for $59. MetroPCS does not require contracts.
Samsung has hired Lee Don-tae as senior vice president of Samsung’s global design team, where he will oversee all Samsung's designs. Before being scooped up by Samsung, Lee worked for a U.K. design agency called Tangerine. Tangerine once consulted for Apple more than 20 years ago, and is where Apple found its current design chief Jony Ive back in 1992. Sales of Samsung's top phones slipped during the latter half of 2014, which has effected changed across its entire mobile device business. The company shook up its executive ranks at the end of 2014 and rearranged several business units. Lee's hiring is one of many steps the company has taken to help revitalize interest in its products.
Sprint today increased the number of devices eligible for its leasing program by adding the LG G3 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Sprint said new and existing customers can lease the G3 for $15 per month for 24 months or the Note 4 for $25 per month for 24 months. Customers can take the devices home for $0 down. At the end of the lease, customers can turn the device in and lease another or return the device (as long as it is in working order) and terminate their service. Sprint already offers leases on the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S5.
Virgin Mobile today announced the pending availability of the Samsung Galaxy Core Prime smartphone. The device, which was approved by the FCC in late December and is the same as Boost Mobile's Galaxy Prevail 2, features a 4.5-inch screen, Snapdragon 410 processor, 5-megapixel camera, and Android 4.4 KitKat. The Core Prime will go on sale Jan. 17 -- the same day as Virgin's new no-contract shared data plans -- for $129.88.
Virgin Mobile today announced a new plan available exclusively to Walmart customers that includes sharable data without contracts. The plans are available to four specific phones for between two an four lines per account. The two-line plan costs $65 per month and includes unlimited talk and text, and 4GB of shareable data. The three-line plan costs $90 per month and boosts shared data to 8GB. The four-line plan costs $115 per month and includes 12GB of shared data. Users can manage their shared data with Virgin Mobile's account application. Top-ups costs $10 per 1GB. The plan includes parental controls and low-cost international options. Virgin is also offering an add-on that provides unlimited monthly access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pandora for $5 per month per line. Using these apps/services won't impact subscribers' monthly data allotments as long as they subscribe to the add-on plan. The four handsets capable of accessing the shared data service are the HTC Desire 510, LG Tribute, LG Volt, and Samsung Galaxy Core Prime. More devices will be compatible with the plan by the end of February. Virgin's new no-contract shared data plans will be available beginning Jan. 17. Last, Virgin announced two revised single-line plans. For $35 per month, Virgin customers get 300 voice minutes, unlimited messaging, and up to 2.5GB of high-speed of data. For $40 per month, users get unlimited voice and messaging, and up to 2.5GB of high-speed data.
Xiaomi today announced the Mi Note, a new flagship device for the company that will compete with the likes of Samsung's Galaxy Note and Apple's iPhone 6 Plus. The Mi Note features a 5.7-inch full HD display, 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 processor with 3GB of RAM, and a 3,000mAh battery with Quick Charge 2.0. The main camera has a 13-megapixel Sony sensor with OIS, f/2.0 aperture, and two-tone LED flash. The user-facing camera has a 4-megapixel sensor. The phone has curved glass on the front and back surfaces and it measures 6.95mm thick. It will cost about $370. Xiaomi also announced a Pro version of the Mi Note, which steps up the display resolution to quad HD, improves the processor to a Snapdragon 810 with better graphics, and boosts memory to 4GB. It will cost about $520. At the moment, Xiaomi sells its devices only in China, India, and other emerging markets. The company has global ambitions, but it hasn't announced plans to sell the Mi Note outside of its home region.
Samsung has approached BlackBerry about a potential acquisition, according to a report published by Reuters. Citing people familiar with Samsung's plans, Reuters suggests Samsung would be willing to pay up to $7.5 billion for the one-time smartphone king. Samsung is most interested in BlackBerry's patent portfolio, and executives of the companies met last week regarding a potential deal, says Reuters. BlackBerry still makes smartphones, but the bulk of its current business is based on selling mobile device management software to business and government customers. At the same time, Samsung is anxious to build up a strong base of enterprise customers and sells its own Knox security platform to that effect. BlackBerry later denied it was in talks with Samsung.
Samsung today announced the Z1, its first smartphone to run the Tizen platform. Tizen is Samsung's homegrown operating system and its arrival has been delayed a number of times over the last 18 months. The device is an entry-level smartphone and will initially be sold in India for the equivalent of $92. The Tizen OS includes a browser optimized for low-data usage as well as messaging and other core features. Samsung loaded the phone with media apps, too. For example, Samsung partnered with Hungama.com to provide access to Bollywood content, and included a service called Joy Box for other music and video content. Some of the hardware specs include a 4-inch WVGA display, a 1.2GHz dual-core processor with 768MB of RAM, and 4GB of internal storage with support for microSD memory cards up to 64GB. The phone has a 3.1-megapixel main camera and a VGA user-facing camera with software for assisting in selfies. The Z1 has an emergency alert that is triggered when the power button is pressed four times in a row. It alerts the owner's top contacts and includes GPS data for location. Samsung also added its Private Mode for storing protected files, and included antivirus software to warn against malware. The Z1 goes on sale today. Samsung didn't immediately say if the Z1 will be sold in other regions. If it is, the Z1 and other Tizen-based phones will likely be restricted to emerging markets.
Samsung today announced the Galaxy A7, the largest of the three A Series handsets. The A7 features a 5.5 inch HD Super AMOLED screen and a slim, metallic design. The device will be sold in two multi-core processor configurations, including one based on Samsung's own Exynos platform and another based on Qualcomm's Snapdragon line. The A7 includes a 13-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel wide-angle user-facing camera with tools for capturing better self portraits. The phone ships with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, and it supports microSD cards up to 64GB. It carries a typical set of radios, including Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, and WiFi, and supports LTE Cat 4. It has a 2,600mAh battery and runs Android 4.4 KitKat with a wide selection of Samsung's custom software. The Samsung Galaxy A7 will ship in white, black, and gold. Pricing and availability were not disclosed.
Verizon Wireless today announced the availability of the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge. Verizon is selling the phone for $399 with a new contract, though it is also available via Verizon's monthly Edge payment plans. The Note Edge has a curved display that shows additional content, such as notifications or news feeds. Otherwise it is similar to the Galaxy Note 4. The Galaxy Note Edge is also the first Verizon smartphone to launch with Advanced Calling 1.0 capabilities preinstalled. Owners can access HD Voice and Video Calling with other compatible Verizon smartphones. Activating this feature also enables simultaneous voice and data use, so owners can talk and surf the web at the same time.
Under Armour today announced UA Record, a health and fitness app for Android and iOS devices that allows users to monitor and share their fitness data and goals. Smartphone owners can track motion and GPS activity, view analysis from individual workouts (steps, sleep, weight), as well as see a snapshot of overall progress towards specific goals. UA Record lets people invite up to 20 friends to health and fitness challenges, and even allows people to share videos, photos, workout stories, and nutrition guides. As part of the announcement, Under Armour mentioned that third-party hardware makers can support UA Record through the Under Armour Connected Fitness API/SDK platform. HTC is among the first smartphone vendors to voice support for the platform and it said it has a series of UA Record-compatible products in the pipeline, which will debut later this year. Samsung has worked with Under Armour in the past (notably with the Galaxy S5 Sport), but it has yet to say it will adopt UA's Connected Fitness platform. The Android and iOS apps are free to download from the Play Store and App Store, respectively, beginning today.
Boost Mobile today announced that a new version of the Samsung Galaxy Prevail will reach its stores on Jan. 19. The Galaxy Prevail LTE adds LTE 4G connectivity; improves the screen from 4 inches to 4.5 inches; increases the size of the battery from 1750mAh to 2000mAh; and updates the operating system from Android 4.1 to Android 4.4. Other features include a 5-megapixel main camera and 2-megapixel user-facing camera, 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage, and support for Sprint's HD Voice service. The Samsung Galaxy Prevail LTE will cost $130. Boost Mobile does not require contracts and service plans start at $35 per month.
ReSound is a line of proper hearing aids that connect to your iPhone or Android phone for both audio and control. They connect just like a Bluetooth headset, to enable the user to hear calls, music, and video clearly. An app also offers detailed control over the hearing aid functions. The app lets the user choose from and customize various sound profiles, and also includes a "find my hearing aid" feature to help locate a lost hearing aid. ReSound is already available for iPhone; Android support was just announced this week, starting with the Samsung Galaxy S5. Read on for more detail in our quick hands-on report.
Volkswagen today took the diplomatic route with respect to enabling smartphone connectivity in its cars. Beginning with select models later this year, Volkswagen's second generation modular infotainment platform will support Google's Android Auto and Apple's CarPlay platforms, in addition to the platform-agnostic MirrorLink spec. The company said Android Auto will support devices from the likes of Samsung, HTC, LG, and Sony, while CarPlay will support Apple's iPhone. The services will allow smartphone owners to access their device content, apps, and services through the infotainment console of their Volkswagen. The Volkswagen Golf will be the first model to support these connectivity platforms.
Documents seen on the FCC web site suggest the Samsung Galaxy Core Prime will soon be sold by Sprint and Verizon Wireless in the U.S. The Core Prime, which is already for sale in select markets, goes by the model number SM-G360. The FCC recently approved two devices with the model numbers SM-G360P and SM-G360V, which fall in line with the model numbering schemes employed by Sprint and Verizon. The Core Prime includes a 4.5-inch screen, Snapdragon 410 processor, 5-megapixel camera, and runs Android 4.4 KitKat. Neither Sprint nor Verizon has confirmed plans to sell the device.
Samsung today announced a modified version of the Galaxy Note 4 that takes the company's flagship handset to the Nth degree. The new Note 4 supports LTE Advanced (LTE-A) Tri-Band Carrier Aggregation (CA), which can provide peak download speeds of 300Mbps once such networks are available. Samsung says the tri-band CA configuration can support three 20MHz channels or three 40MHz channels. Further, the new Note 4 supports LTE Category 9, which offers theoretical max download speeds of 450Mbps. Current networks do not support such speeds, but some markets, such as South Korea, will offer faster LTE service beginning in 2015. None of the major U.S. carriers have yet announced plans to improve the speeds of their LTE networks to these levels. Samsung didn't say when or where the new Note 4 will be sold.
Rockstar Consortium, a patent-holding company headed by Apple, has agreed to sell more than 4,000 mobile patents for about $900 million. Apple and partners Microsoft, BlackBerry, Ericsson, and Sony paid $4.5 billion for more than 6,000 patents from Nortel four years ago in order to help protect against litigation. The companies are selling two-thirds of the patents to RPX Corp., which is another patent-focused company that protects companies from lawsuits. RPX plans to license the patent portfolio to a syndicate of 30 technology companies, including Google and Cisco, according to the Wall Street Journal. The syndicate members contributed the bulk of the $900 million in order to purchase the patents. In addition to the patent sale, Rockstar will settle patent-related lawsuits it has filed against Android device makers, including Samsung, Huawei, HTC, and LG. Terms of those settlements were not disclosed. Rockstar Consortium will hold onto about 2,000 of the old Nortel patents, which the Journal described as the "most valuable" of the bunch.
Samsung is ready to put 4GB of high-speed RAM into smartphones. The company today announced it has begun production of 8 gigabit, low power double data rate 4 mobile DRAM based on its 20nm processes. The 8Gb LPDDR4 chip allows smartphone vendors to create RAM modules up to 4GB. Some of today's top phones ship with 3GB of RAM, but use slower technology. According to Samsung, the new chip is twice as fast as the previous LPDDR3-based chips and is more power efficient, too. The modules support input/output data rates of up to 3.2Gbps, which is swift enough to support 4K video recording and playback, and continuous shooting of images exceeding 20 megapixels. Samsung said it is already delivering 2GB and 3GB LPDDR4 modules to some phone makers and it expects to deliver 4GB modules beginning early next year.