Samsung plans to shutter its ChatON messaging application early next year. The service will go dark in international markets on Feb. 1, and will wind down in the U.S. by the end of March. ChatON is an over-the-top messaging service similar to WhatsApp and others. Samsung preinstalled the free app on most phones it sold since 2011, though it began to vanish from U.S. handsets in recent months. Despite the app's wide availability it never gained much traction. Samsung said it plans to focus on "health, mobile commerce, and other platforms" moving forward.
AT&T recently pushed out a system update to the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini. The primary new feature added to the phone is support for AT&T's VoLTE service. The update must be downloaded and installed via WiFi, but it is free. AT&T expanded the availability of its VoLTE service earlier this week. It is now available in select regions across 18 states.
Samsung took several steps today to further streamline operations across its various businesses. In the U.S., Samsung has consolidated the sales organizations of Samsung Electronics America and Samsung Telecommunications America, which oversee distribution of the company's consumer electronics and mobile devices, respectively. Shared functions between the two business units will be merged, with excess resources reassigned to other aspects of the company. In Korea, Samsung will fold the Media Solution Center into its mobile device business. The Media Solution Center, which makes apps for Samsung's smartphones and tablets, recently lost 15 executives, including its president, amidst internal management changes. Last, Samsung replaced the global head of strategic marketing for its mobile business. Kim Seok-pil will take the place of D.J. Lee to oversee Samsung's marketing efforts moving forward. All the changes are meant to help the company revive its smartphone business, which has seen a massive drop in profits this year.
AT&T and Samsung today announced the availability of the Gear VR Innovator Edition, a virtual reality headset that works with the Galaxy Note 4 smartphone. Samsung, which worked with Oculus, announced the Gear VR earlier this year. It is a headset that encompasses the Galaxy Note 4 and uses it to create a 3D, 360-degree environment that can be explored. The sample content that ships with the Gear VR was made by Oculus and additional content can be downloaded from Oculus' platform. Samsung and Oculus hope early adopters will buy the Gear VR and use the available SDK to create their own apps and experiences for the headset. AT&T and Samsung are both selling the Gear VR online for $199 ($249 with recommended Bluetooth controller). It won't be sold in stores. The Galaxy Note 4 (required) is sold separately.
Microsoft recently updated its Torque application for Android Wear and carried it over from smartwatches to smartphones. With Torque, Android Wear and Android smartphone owners can shake or twist their device to launch Bing Voice Search. Bing Voice Search requires internet access, but can be controlled through a wide variety of voice commands to check the weather, perform simple math, or search for information. Torque works with most Android smartphones, and works best with the Asus Zen Watch, LG G Watch, and Samsung Gear Live Android wearables. Torque is free.
Sprint reaffirmed its commitment to Microsoft's Windows Phone platform today after the HTC 8XT vanished from its web site. The 8XT and Samsung ATIV S Neo are the only Windows Phones Sprint has sold this year. Sprint said the phones are still available at a limited number of retail stores, but are no longer listed online. Sprint has not been Windows Phones' strongest supporter, but the carrier isn't ready to give up on Microsoft's mobile platform. "We do expect to bring new Windows Phone devices to our customers in the near future, and Sprint is committed to offering a variety of operating systems to our customers," said Sprint in an email to Phone Scoop. Sprint didn't say which Windows devices it will sell, nor when they might reach stores.
Samsung recently decided to keep CEO J.K. Shin at the helm of its mobile business, but executives who work for Shin were not so lucky. Samsung has relieved or reassigned dozens of executives, according to sources cited by the Wall Street Journal. Among those let go were vice presidents, senior vice presidents, and executive vice presidents across Samsung's marketing and development teams. The media solution center group lost 15 executives and saw its leader reassigned to another department. The 1,000-person unit is responsible for Samsung's own apps and services, such as ChatOn. Samsung reassesses its leadership ranks at the end of every year. For the last several years, Samsung has promoted hundreds of executives. This year marks a dramatic change as the company seeks to turn around slowing sales of its smartphones. Samsung did not comment on the Journal's report.
Samsung will not replace the head of its mobile electronics business, J.K. Shin, as had been suggested last month. In an annual review of executives, Samsung decided to keep its three co-CEOs in place. Samsung recently recorded its worst financial performance in three years, with profits across its mobile device business crashing 60% amid slower sales of its high-end smartphones. Lee June, Samsung Group Senior Vice President, credited Shin for being "a major contributor in Samsung Electronics' emergence as the top global player in the handsets business." Shin is being given the chance to turn the mobile device business around.
Sony today announced its intent to transform its smartphone business with a eye on making it a profitable operation. The company, in effect, admitted its goal of becoming the world's number three smartphone maker behind Samsung and Apple was perhaps too ambitious. The company will reduce the number of handsets it makes moving forward, focusing cuts on entry-level and mid-range devices for select markets. Sony said it expects to layoff some employees as a result. "Our urgent task is to make the business profitable even if we face declines in sales by 20% or 30%," said Hiroki Totoki, the new head of Sony’s mobile unit. The company will further reduce its presence in China and some emerging markets, while retaining a toehold in Europe. Sony said it is still evaluating how much it will commit to the U.S. Sony sells only a few handsets in the U.S., many of which are made available directly to consumers via its web site. Right now, The Xperia Z3v and Z3 are offered by Verizon and T-Mobile, respectively, but the Z3 Compact is not offered by any U.S. carriers.
Milk Studios has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Samsung, which it says "intentionally, willfully, and knowingly" used the Milk name despite a business partnership with Milk Studios. Samsung launched Milk Music, a music-streaming service, earlier this year and followed it up just this month with Milk Video. Milk Studios, which produces music and other media, asked Samsung to stop using the Milk name for its products in March, but Samsung refused. Milk Studios says Samsung partnered with it on 18 different occasions since 2006, which gave Samsung "personal knowledge" about the company. Milk Studios claims Samsung's use of the name has caused "immediate and irreparable harm," such as business partners assuming Milk Studios was running Milk Music for Samsung. Samsung didn't immediately respond to the lawsuit.
T-Mobile's Music Unlimited service today doubled the number of music streaming apps available, jumping from 13 to 27 in total. The new services include Google Play Music, Xbox Music, SoundCloud, RadioTunes, Digitally Imported, Fit Radio, Fresco Radio, Jazzradio, Live365, Mad Genius Radio, radioPup, radio.com, Rockradio, and Saavn. With Music Unlimited, T-Mobile customers can stream an unlimited amount of music over their data connection without it counting against their monthly data allotment. T-Mobile claims its customers are streaming 66 million songs -- or 200 terabytes of music -- per day. Music Unlimited already supports Rhapsody, Pandora, AccuRadio, Black Planet, Grooveshark, iHeartRadio, iTunes Radio, Samsung Milk Music, Radio Paradise, Rdio, Slacker, Songza, and Spotify. T-Mobile does not charge extra for Music Unlimited.
Samsung Mobile CEO J.K. Shin may be in danger of losing his job, reports The Wall Street Journal. The company is weighing whether or not it should rearrange its current leadership, and one of the scenarios would see Shin lose oversight of the company's mobile division. Samsung has three co-CEOs, each of whom oversees a different aspect of the business. J.K. Shin leads the mobile device group, B.K. Yoon oversees the appliance and TV businesses, and Kwon Oh-hyun manages the semiconductor and display businesses. The Journal's sources say Shin's responsibilities could be given to Yoon. Samsung's mobile device business is its most profitable, but saw a 60% drop in profits during the third quarter amidst slower-than-expected sales of its smartphones. Samsung conducts an annual review of its leadership towards the end of the calendar year. Samsung has not made a final decision and didn't comment on the Journal's story.
Samsung today announced Milk Video, a video content discovery service for Galaxy-branded smartphones. Like Samsung's Milk Music, Milk Video has a refined user interface that makes browsing the best way to find new and interesting videos. According to Samsung, Milk Video will learn and refine its content recommendations every time people use it to create a more personal experience. Some of the content partners include Condé Nast, Funny Or Die, Red Bull, Vevo, and VICE. Samsung says it is working to score more content down the road. Milk Video is compatible with the Galaxy Note II, 3, 4, and Edge; Galaxy Mega; and Galaxy SIII, S4, S4 Mini, and S5 smartphones. It is free for owners of these devices to download from the Play Store.
Samsung has lost its bid to delay a trial with Microsoft, which is seeking interest payments of $6.9 million on patent licenses. Samsung and Microsoft forged an agreement in 2011 in which Samsung agreed to pay royalties for patents Microsoft holds that are used in the Android operating system. Samsung delayed making its royalty payments after Microsoft announced its intent to acquire Nokia's handset business. According to Samsung, Microsoft's move made it a direct competitor, which it feared could lead to collusion charges. Samsung asked an international court in Hong Kong to hold arbitration hearings, which it wanted to complete before dealing with Microsoft in the U.S. A U.S. District Court Judge disagreed, however, and said Microsoft's case can move forward during the arbitration process.
Samsung said it will reduce the number of distinct smartphones it sells next year by 25% to 30% in a bid to reduce costs. Samsung didn't say exactly how many models it will eliminate from its lineup. The company is looking for ways to cut expenses and still remain competitive with makers of inexpensive handsets. Last month, Samsung said it "will increase the number of components shared across mid- to low-end models, so that we can further leverage economies of scale." The company reported a massive drop in profits during its most recent financial quarter thanks in part to slow sales of flagship models such as the Galaxy S5 and Note 4. Samsung has also lost a lot of ground in the entry-level segment in China.
Intel plans to combine its mobile chip business with its PC chip business so it can make its mobile chips more competitive. Intel has struggled against competitors Qualcomm and Samsung when it comes to supplying processors for smartphones and tablets. The company now believes combing its chip businesses will lead to more nimble operation. "The market continues to evolve rapidly, and we must change even faster to stay ahead," said CEO Brian Krzanich in an email to employees. The transition will take place during the first quarter of 2015. The new client-computing group will be lead by Kirk Skaugen, who will oversee sales of both application processors and wireless modems to smartphone and tablet makers. Intel processors are available in only a handful of smartphones sold in the U.S.
BlackBerry and Samsung today agreed to sell one another's security software. The joint effort is meant to help Samsung sell more phones and to help BlackBerry win more BES customers. Samsung's Knox security platform is embedded on many of its devices. It can be used to separate work and personal information, as well as secure that data on the device. BlackBerry's BES services allows businesses to remotely manage Android, BlackBerry, iOS, and Windows Phone smartphones. The companies think this partnership will appeal to businesses that want to use Samsung handsets for the Knox platform, but manage them via BES. BlackBerry's enterprise chief John Sims said the deal "isn't about one company displacing the other. This is about one and one makes three." BlackBerry's presence in the smartphone market has been reduced to practically nil in the face of stiff competition from Apple, Samsung, and others, while Samsung has long been making overtures to potential business customers.
Samsung hopes to differentiate its smartphones from its competitors' phones by using more curved displays. Samsung is on track to record a huge loss in profit for the year thanks to weaker-than-expected sales of phones such as the Galaxy S5 and Note 4. It has also lost ground to low-cost competitors in markets such as China. Now that big-screened phones are a healthy device category, Samsung is looking for different wants to set its products apart. One way it will do that is to use curved displays, such as the one on the Galaxy Note Edge. "A change in the platform can bring about a variety of new considerations," said Note Edge designer Kim Nam-su. "I think a curved screen is a big solution for overcoming those [competitive] challenges." Reuters suggests Samsung's ability to mass produce curved displays at a lower cost than its rivals gives it an advantage in this respect. The Note Edge is set to go on sale in the U.S later this month. Samsung also plans to resurrect sales of mid-range devices.
Samsung today announced new initiatives targeting the healthcare, home, and wearables markets. On the health front, Samsung revealed the Samsung Digital Health Platform and associated SDK. Samsung hopes developers will take advantage of the platform to help track information on personal health and fitness activity so it can be stored, managed, and shared in the Samsung Cloud server. The company introduced a bio processor so other OEMs can add health monitoring to their own wearables. Samsung debuted the Samsung Smart Home platform and SDK, something that it believes will help power smart homes of the future. The SDK will let developers create appliances that are controlled by Samsung smartphones or smart TVs. The company also showed off a new SDK for the Gear S smart wearable, and a virtual reality headset it created with Oculus. Developers interested in Samsung's health, home, and wearable tools can find more information via Samsung's developer portal.
Samsung has file a lawsuit against Nvidia in response to one that Nvidia filed against Samsung in September. Samsung says Nvidia is violating several of its patents pertaining to semiconductors. "We are pursuing necessary legal measures to defend our intellectual property rights and to ensure our continued growth in the IT industry," said Samsung. Samsung also sued Nvidia for false advertising over its claim that the Nvidia Shield has the world's fastest mobile processor. Samsung produced benchmark data suggesting Nvidia's Tegra chip isn't the fastest. Nvidia sued Samsung and Qualcomm earlier this year for violating patents it holds regarding graphics processing on mobile devices. The ITC has already agreed to hear Nvidia's case against Samsung.
Apple must face a lawsuit in federal court over vanishing text messages. U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh said Apple has to hear the claim from Adrienne Moore, who says Apple blocked messages sent by iPhone users to her after she switched from an iPhone 4S to a Samsung Galaxy S5. Moore further claims that Apple's iMessage system interfered with her contract with Verizon Wireless. "Plaintiff does not have to allege an absolute right to receive every text message in order to allege that Apple's intentional acts have caused an actual breach or disruption of the contractual relationship," said Judge Koh. Just this week Apple released a tool that lets former iPhone owners delist their numbers from the iMessage service. The issue has been a problem for former iPhone users for years.
AT&T today announced that customers with the Samsung Ativ S Neo handset can update their devices to Windows Phone 8.1. The system update includes Cortana, expanded home screen panels, action center, new lock screen widgets, word flow keyboard and other improvements. The update is free and can be installed over the air.
Verizon Wireless today revealed pricing and availability details for its version of the Samsung Gear S smartwatch. The device is available starting today. Verizon is charging $349 for the smartwatch with a new activation. Service plans for the device, which include voice minutes and limited data, start at $5 per month when paired with a More Everything plan. The Gear S runs Samsung's Tizen platform and is capable of making voice calls independent of a smartphone. AT&T and Sprint are also selling the Gear S beginning today, and T-Mobile will begin selling it November 9. Verizon's competitors are offering the watch at reduced pricing with a service contract as well as via monthly installment plans.
RadioShack recently launched Defense Mobile, wireless service meant exclusively for members of the U.S. armed forces, their families, and veterans. Defense Mobile resells access to AT&T and Sprint's networks, and offers the most popular devices available, including the Apple iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S5. According to RadioShack, Defense Mobile is supported by a 100% veteran-staffed Member Care organization and offers perks to active members of the military. Defense Mobile offers prepaid individual plans that start at $30 per month and family plans with scalable data for up to six lines starting at $110 per month. Defense Mobile includes bonus services for military members, such as a banking application associated with a pre-paid MasterCard, an app that helps military members and their families find veteran benefits, and a free email service that's associated with their branch of the armed forces. Defense Mobile service is available at 2,500 RadioShack locations around the country.
Samsung today announced that the five largest wireless network operators in the U.S. will sell the Galaxy Note Edge beginning this month. The Note Edge is a variant of the Note 4 that has a unique, curved display that provides extra screen space for controls and shortcuts. Samsung said AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and U.S. Cellular will carry the Galaxy Note Edge in both black and white. The Note Edge goes on sale November 14. Carriers have yet to reveal their individual pricing plans.
Samsung claims that if it honors a 2011 patent-licensing agreement with Microsoft it could be charged with collusion. The argument is the latest from Samsung, which owes Microsoft $1 billion in patent licensing fees, plus another $6.9 million in interest. Several technologies found in the Android operating system are patented by Microsoft. Nearly all Android device makers pay Microsoft to license those patents in their smartphones. Samsung agreed to do the same in 2011, though Microsoft cut it a bit if a break after Samsung agreed to continue to develop devices running Microsoft's Windows Phone platform. Part of the agreement entails Samsung sharing sensitive inside information with Microsoft. Samsung now contends that Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's handset business earlier this year puts them into direct competition. It says if it pays the licensing fees, it could be seen as colluding with Microsoft in violation of the law. Microsoft sued Samsung over the unpaid licensing fees earlier this year and believes it has a strong case.
Sprint has expanded the availability of its "iPhone for Life" leasing program to the Samsung Galaxy S5 and S5 Sport. Beginning today, new and existing customers can get an S5 or S5 Sport (16GB model) for $0 down and $20 per month via the Sprint Lease program. Customers lease the phone for 24 months. At the end of the 24-month period, customers can turn in their GS5 or GS5 Sport for a new device; purchase the GS5 or GS5 Sport for the remaining balance; continue leasing the phone on a month-to-month basis; or return the device and terminate their service. Existing Sprint customers who lease a GS5 or GS5 Sport between now and January 15 will receive a $15 monthly bill credit. The loyalty credit applies to those Sprint customers on Unlimited My Way, My All-in, Simply Everything, and Everything Data (Share) plans. Sprint didn't say how long the service credit will be applied to customer bills.
Madstar Mobile today announced itself as "the newest national wireless carrier." The MVNO resells access to Sprint's 3G/4G networks and claims to offer the benefits of postpaid and prepaid services at the same time. It bills for service on a postpaid basis, but it doesn't require credit checks, deposits, or contracts. Madstar says customers can cancel their service at any time with no fear of ETFs. The company offers a range of feature phones, smartphones, and access points. Customers can choose to pay full price for their phones or finance them with monthly payments. For example, the HTC One (M8) is available for $665 or as low as $29 per month on an installment plan. Other handsets in Madstar's roster include the Apple iPhone 5, Google Nexus 5, Kyocera Kona, and the Samsung Galaxy S5. Alternately, customers can bring their own compatible device and port their existing wireless number if they wish. The least expensive service plan costs $22 per month and includes 250 voice minutes, 250 messages, and pay-as-you-go data. Plan pricing jumps by $11 increments, with the most expensive option topping out at $88 per month. It includes unlimited voice minutes, messaging, HD Voice, and 2GB of data "Our goal is to provide subscribers with a cost effective, convenient and reliable wireless service using the device of their choice,” said David Pearsall, Madstar Mobile's founder & CEO. "Wireless devices and service have become a necessity, not a luxury and should be affordable to everyone without the need to prepay now for the right to service later." The company is based in New Milford, Conn.
Samsung today announced the Galaxy A5 and A3, two mid-range smartphones meant to better compete with LG's L series and HTC's Desire devices. The A5 and A3 feature metal unibody construction and will come in a variety of colors. The two phones share most internal components. Both phones are powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core processor with 16GB of internal storage and support for microSD cards up to 64GB. Each includes Cat 4 LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, GPS, and NFC radios along with a handful of internal sensors. The A5 and A3 share 5-megapixel user-facing cameras and some of the selfie modes seen most recently on the Galaxy Note 4, such as wide-angle selfie.
Samsung and its carrier partners announced availability and pricing details for the Gear S smartwatch today. AT&T and Sprint will offer the device starting November 7, but T-Mobile won't sell it until November 9. Pricing for the wearable varies by carrier. The full retail price is $350. AT&T is offering it for $200 with a two-year contract and $10 monthly service charge. Sprint says customers can get the Gear S with $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $16. Sprint's Gear S plan also costs $10 per month. T-Mobile is selling the Gear S for $0 down followed by payments of $14.58 for 24 months. T-Mobile's Gear S service plan costs $5 per month. Verizon has yet to announce its pricing and service plan details. The Gear S requires a service plan because it can access 3G networks and make voice calls independent of a smartphone. The Gear S is based on Samsung's Tizen platform and features a 2-inch, curved Super AMOLED display with 360 x 480 pixels. In addition to 3G, the Gear S includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Samsung says it can transition between cellular and Bluetooth connections seamlessly. It includes Samsung's S Voice service for voice commands, and has an on-screen keyboard for composing messages. Other features include Samsung's S Health and fitness apps, music player and gallery apps, and the ability to receive notifications from a variety of services. The Gear S is powered by a dual-core 1.0GHz processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. It has a 300mAh battery, which Samsung claims provides for two days of usage per charge.
Samsung today indicated it plans to tackle anew the entry-level and mid-range smartphone segments after reporting a 60% drop in profits for its most recent financial quarter. The weakened profits reflects sluggish sales of its high-end smartphones, such as the Galaxy S5 and Note 4. Samsung's hold on the smartphone market has sunk three quarters in a row, forcing the company to reevaluate its strategy. "The mid-to-low end market is growing rapidly, and we plan to respond actively in order to capitalise on that growth," said Samsung Senior Vice President Kim Hyun-joon. The company said it would boost the appeal of its entry-level and mid-range devices by improving materials and features, while remaining competitive on price. Samsung has lost marketshare to low-cost rivals such as Xiaomi and Meizu in emerging markets, which represent the best opportunity for growth. The company recorded $3.9 billion in profits thanks to sales of televisions and memory chips.
Apple beat back a lawsuit brought on by a small Honolulu-based company over mobile device patents. GPNE alleged that nine Apple products, including the iPhone and iPad, violated certain patents it holds regarding pager technology. GPNE is a patent holding and licensing firm. It doesn't make or sell products, but instead generates revenue through patent licensing fees and litigation. It was seeking $94 million in damages from Apple. The case was overseen by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose. Koh is a familiar character in Apple trials, and has presided over its large cases against Samsung. Apple was pleased with the court's decision. "Apple invents products that revolutionize industries, and relies upon the U.S. patent system to protect our innovation," said Apple said in a statement. "We urge congressional leaders to continue focusing on reform in this important area of patent law." Apple is often a target of patent firms seeking a payday.
Samsung recently revealed a forthcoming variant of its Galaxy Note 4 handset for Verizon Wireless. The Note 4 Developer Edition ships with an unlocked boot loader, and is free of Verizon-branded apps and services. Developers can use the device to test their apps on Verizon's network. The phone will be sold at the full retail price of $662. Samsung said the Galaxy Note 4 Developer Edition is coming soon.
Nokia today announced its HERE Maps app is now available to a wider range of smartphones. The company offered HERE Maps only to Samsung handsets earlier this month. Now, most devices running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and up with 1GB of RAM can install and use HERE Maps. The app, which is being offered as a beta, cannot be found in the Google Play Store. Instead, anyone interested in using HERE Maps on their Android handset will need to download the app directly from Nokia's web site and sideload it onto their device. HERE Maps offers a number of compelling features. For example. HERE Maps allows users to download entire countries or regions, which makes the maps available even when the device is offline. Downloaded maps perform faster when panning and zooming since new segments don't need to be loaded from an internet connection. HERE Maps for Android devices include free, voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions. Users can plan routes via car, public transport, or foot. Live traffic updates and real-time transit schedules require a data connection. Nokia says maps are available for about 200 countries with turn-by-turn directions available in about 100. Transit maps are available in 750 metro areas across 40 different countries, with more being added all the time.
AT&T today announced the pending launch of the Galaxy Mega 2, a new version of Samsung's low-cost phablet. The Mega 2 features a 6-inch HD screen with a reduced bezel to help keep the footprint as small as possible. The phone adopts the design language of Samsung's Note series, to a certain degree, as well as the Note's split-screen multitasking, but the Mega 2 doesn't include a stylus. The phone has an 8-megapixel main camera with flash, a user-facing camera, Samsung's Private Mode, and Samsung's battery management software. The device has a quad-core processor and a 2,880mAh battery. The Mega 2 runs Android with Samsung's TouchWiz user interface. The Galaxy Mega 2 costs $475 at full retail, or can be purchased for $19.80 per month with AT&T Next 18, $23.75 per month with Next 12, or $150 with a new two-year contract. AT&T is still offering a $100 bill credit when customers activate a new or existing line with its AT&T Next plans. The device reaches stores October 24.
Samsung today announced the Exynos 7 Octa, a new application processor manufactured with Samsung's 20nm processes. The Exynos 7 Octa uses a big.LITTLE configuration with two banks of four cores each. One bank uses Cortex A57s for high-intensity calculations and the other uses Cortex A53s for low-intensity calculations. Samsung says this setup allows the Exynos 7 to deliver a 57% improvement in efficiency when compared to the older Exynos 5. The chip supports WQHD and WQXGA displays, and can push UHD content to TV sets. The processor can handle dual-camera 1080p HD video capture on devices equipped with front- and rear-facing cameras. The Exynos 7 includes the ARM Mali T-760 GPU, which Samsung says delivers a 74% improvement in 3D graphics performance. Samsung did not immediately say when the Exynos 7 Octa will reach consumer devices.
Samsung said it has developed new Wi-Fi technology that can transmit data at a rate five times faster than what's available to consumers today. The breakthrough relies on 60GHz spectrum and removes the barrier between theoretical maximum speeds and actual maximum speeds. Most of today's Wi-Fi uses 2.5GHz and 5.0GHz airwaves. Samsung claims its technology can push a 1GB movie file between devices in three seconds, or stream it in real time. Samsung expects to begin adding 60GHz Wi-Fi technology to a range of its products next year.
Xiaomi, the Chinese handset maker, recently announced it has hired Jai Mani to lead its product team in India. Mani worked on Google+ and other products within Google. Last year, Xiaomi coaxed Hugo Barra, part of the Android team, to leave Google. Barra, who said he and Mani worked together closely at Google, played a role in bringing Mani to Xiaomi. "You can think of it as the beginning of our R&D center development in India," said Barra to the Wall Street Journal. "The first person we hired is someone who's going to be the glue between our users in India, product feedback that we receive, and the engineering team we have in Beijing as well as the engineering team that we are going to be building fairly soon in India." Mani will be based in Bangalore. Xiaomi has already made significant progress against larger competitors such as Samsung in its home market of China, and has set its eyes on India as a place to grow further.
Nokia recently announced that its HERE Maps product is now available to Samsung's Galaxy smartphones. HERE Maps allows users to download entire countries or regions, which makes the maps available even when the device is offline. Downloaded maps perform faster when panning and zooming since new segments don't need to be loaded from an internet connection. HERE Maps for Galaxy devices include free, voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions. Users can plan routes via car, public transport, or foot. Live traffic updates and real-time transit schedules require a data connection. Nokia says maps are available for about 200 countries with turn-by-turn directions available in about 100. Transit maps are available in 750 metro areas across 40 different countries, with more being added all the time. HERE Maps can be found in the Samsung Galaxy Apps Store directly on handsets and is being offered first in beta form. It requires 1GB of RAM and Android 4.1 and up.
Samsung today announced the availability of Samsung Protection Plus Mobile Elite for the Galaxy Note 4 and Note 3. The plan extends warranty coverage to two years from the original purchase date of either phone. Subscribers to the plan will be eligible for three device replacements and/or repairs for accidental damage, including cracked screens or liquid ingress. The warranty also covers mechanical defects. Samsung Protection Plus Mobile Elite costs $129, and each replaced/repaired phone is subject to a $95 fee.