LG today released an official teaser image of the G4, which the company is expected to fully reveal at an event later this month. The image shows a phone with what it described as a "vegetable-tanned leather cover." The device resembles the G3 and G2 in that it has buttons placed on the back, rather than the sides. LG has also said the phone will have a 5.5-inch quad HD display and a 16-megapixel camera with an aperture of f/1.8. The G4's debut is scheduled for April 28.
Verizon Wireless said its version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will begin to receive Android 5.0 Lollipop today. The over-the-air update will roll out to all users gradually. According to Verizon, seven of its handsets now run Lollipop, including the Motorola Moto X (2nd gen); Galaxy Note 4, S5, and Note 3; LG G2 and G3; and the HTC One M8.
Apple today confirmed it has purchased a small camera technology company called LinX. The company, based in Israel, sells small cameras and sensors for smartphones and tablets. Together with its own algorithms, LinX's technology can be used to gauge depth and create three-dimensional image maps. Apple didn't disclose terms of the acquisition, but sources cited by the Wall Street Journal peg the value of LinX at about $20 million. Apple didn't say what it might do with LinX's technology. Amazon's Fire Phone, released in July 2014, had four user-facing cameras to create 3D effects within the user interface.
Sharp has engineered a 4K (Ultra HD) screen for smartphones. The prototype measures 5.5 inches across the diagonal and includes 3860 x 2160 pixels, giving it a pixel density of 806 pixels per inch. By way of comparison, the iPhone 6 Plus's 5.5-inch screen has 1920 x 1080 pixels, or 401 pixels per inch. The prototype LCD relies on Sharp's IGZO technology, but the company is not sure if the prototype will ever be used. "Currently there are no driver ICs for small 4K panels, so the panel is not ready for mass production at this point," said Sharp spokeswoman Miyuki Nakayama in an email to Computerworld. Some of today's flagship devices (LG G4, Motorola Nexus 6, Samsung Galaxy S6) have jumped from full HD to quad HD, or 2560 x 1440 pixels. The majority of high-end phones still use full HD screens, while mid-range phones have moved to 720p screens. Entry-level phones generally offer 800 x 480 or 960 x 540 resolution displays.
Verizon Wireless has begun updating its variant of the LG G3 to Android 5.0 Lollipop. Asside from the standard list of new features, the G3 gains a new version of LG Health. The update is rolling out over the air in phases and is free to download.
LG Innotek today announced a new camera sensor bound for the LG G4 smartphone. The module, which LG teased earlier this week, has a 16-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/1.8. LG claims the sensor allows 80% more light to reach the sensor than was possible with the G3's camera. LG says the larger aperture will aid low-light and action photography, in particular. LG Innotek also developed a new user-facing camera with an 8-megapixel sensor and aperture of f/2.4. This wide-angle shooter also boasts an IR filter that is half the thickness of competing filters. LG says this sensor is ideal for selfies. Both cameras are expected to be part of the LG G4, which LG is revealing at an event to be held April 28.
LG is slowly revealing aspects of its forthcoming flagship smartphone bit by bit. The G4, expected to arrive at an event later this month, will have LG's newest user interface called LG UX 4.0. The UI has a new design based on Android 5.0 Lollipop. According to LG, UX 4.0 "provides more optimized and intuitive convenience to each individual at every user level." One new feature is called Quick Shot, which lets users to take pictures by double-tapping the phone's rear key even while the display is off. The camera itself gains new functions, too, including a manual mode that gives users full control over the camera's settings and behaviors. LG updated its calendar app with a drag-and-drop scheduler and improved its Smart Bulletin tool with the ability to collect data across more apps. The UX also introduces LG's version of Google Now, called Smart Notice. LG says Smart Notice provides personalized notifications for weather, travel, and more by analyzing users' daily routines and habits. LG also posted a teaser video on its YouTube channel regarding the G4's camera. The camera will have an aperture of f/1.8, which means it can let in a little bit more light than most competing smartphone cameras. The Samsung Galaxy S6, for example, has an aperture of f/1.9 and the HTC One M9 has an aperture of f/2.2. Earlier this month LG revealed a new 5.5-inch quad HD display for the G4. Together, these hints provide a decent picture of what the LG G4 will offer. The LG G4 launch event is scheduled for April 28.
Sharp is hoping it will be able to spin off a portion of its LCD panel business. The company wants to unload the piece of its display unit that makes small- and mid-sized displays for devices such as smartphones and tablets. The company hasn't been able to compete with rivals LG Display and Japan Display in the market for small screens. The company hopes to sell off this business to a government-supported investment fund, though it hasn't made any final decisions. Sharp has been struggling for years and is undergoing a larger restructuring that it hopes to present to investors in May. The company sells one smartphone in the U.S., the Aquos Crystal, which has a unique borderless display.
LG Display today revealed a new screen for smartphones that stretches 5.5 inches across the diagonal and boasts quad HD (2,560 x 1,440) resolution. According to LG, the new panel uses in-cell touch technology to reduce thickness while maintaining excellent sensitivity. It can be used when wet, for example. LG also says the LCD panel offers 50% higher contrast and is 30% brighter than its previous screens, while not requiring any more power. Combined, LG says these two elements help improve outdoor viewability. LG plans to use the panel in and upcoming flagship smartphone, which is likely the successor to last year's G3.
LG today said consumers who purchase a new LG G3 smartphone will also receive its Google Cardboard-based virtual reality headset for free. LG announced the VR for G3 earlier this year. Users slip their handset into the VR for G3, similar to the Google Cardboard headset. The offer also includes an in-box QR code that unlocks a free download of select VR gaming content. LG said the virtual reality headset will be available for free while supplies last. The G3 is nearing the end of its shelf life. LG has scheduled a press event for April 28, when it is expected to debut the G4 smartphone.
Apple has expanded the scope of its Reuse and Recycling Program to include smartphones, tablets, and PCs not made by Apple. Customers can take their old smartphones directly to Apple Stores and receive credit towards new Apple gear for turning them in. Customers who don't have access to Apple Stores can mail in their devices for credit. Apple will recycle just about any old phone, tablet, or computer for free. Apple says not all devices are eligible for credit and suggests customers check eligibility (online) before heading to Apple Stores. According to Apple's web site, it is accepting handsets from Sony, Samsung, Nokia, LG, and BlackBerry. Apple has partnered with Brightstar and DataServ to handle the actual device recycling processes. The expanded Apple Reuse and Recycling Program is available in the U.S., the U.K., and select European countries.
LG today said its new mid-range handsets, the Magna, Spirit, Leon, and Joy, are going on sale in South America. The phones will be made available across Latin America first, but will soon also reach Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and, eventually, North America. So far, none of the major U.S. network operators has voiced support for these phones. Until they do, the devices will only be sold overseas. The phones range from the 4-inch Joy to the 5-inch Magna.
Seniors Wireless, a Sprint MVNO, announced a new service that gives subscribers direct phone access to a doctor at all times. TeleMED Assist provides customers with unlimited calls to doctors for emergency, urgent, or non-urgent purposes 24/7. Over-the-phone medical consultations are included in the service, which costs $30 per month for singles or $40 per month for couples. TeleMED Assist is a separate service and does not require a Seniors Wireless telephone account. Seniors Wireless offers a handful of standard service plans ranging from $10 to $30 per month. The company has several handsets, such as the Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, S5 and Note 3, the Sharp Aquos Crystal, the LG Vigor, and the Apple iPhone 4. Seniors Wireless competes with GreatCall, which also offers access to health professionals over the phone. Both target the over 55 set.
Facebook today announced a new feature called "On This Day" that shows users what they were doing on that particular day in years past. Users will be able to see items such as status updates, photos, posts from friends, and other things they may have shared or been tagged in on Facebook. Users will be the only ones able to see their On This Day content unless they choose to share it with friends. Users will be able to edit or delete those old posts if they wish. Facebook said the feature is rolling out to web and mobile users over the next few weeks.
U.S. Cellular today said it will begin selling the LG G Flex 2 on March 26. Customers can choose from several different payment options. The phone costs about $630 at full retail, but U.S. Cellular is also offering contract pricing ($150 with two-year commitment) or monthly payments ($31.50 for 20 months). U.S. Cellular will have both the silver and red models on hand. The device features a curved design, 13-megapixel camera, 5.5-inch screen, and Snapdragon 810 processor. Sprint is already selling the G Flex 2, but other carriers have yet to announce their plans.
Google's forthcoming wireless service will only be available to the Nexus 6 handset at launch, reports the Wall Street Journal. Citing sources familiar with Google's plans, the Journal says Google's wireless service will "weave together" access from T-Mobile and Sprint's cellular services, in addition to WiFi. The service won't be available to older Nexus handsets, such as the LG-made Nexus 5 and Nexus 4. The Nexus 6, made by Google's former Motorola unit, went on sale last year and is available directly from Google online. At the Mobile World Congress trade show this week, Google's Sundar Pichai confirmed plans to offer wireless service on an experimental basis. He likened it to the Nexus device program, about which he said, "Our goal here is to drive a set of innovations which we think the system should adopt." Android 5.0 Lollipop is able to automatically pick the best wireless service (cellular or WiFi) based on a given app's needs. Google did not comment on the Journal's report.
AT&T today said it will sell the LG Watch Urbane smartwatch in the near future. AT&T didn't say if it will sell the Watch Urbane LTE. The Watch Urbane runs Android Wear. Pricing and exact availability are still to be announced.
LG used Mobile World Congress 2015 to kick off its new range of mid-tier devices. The Magna, Spirit, Leon, and Joy bring LG's high-end design aesthetic to affordable price points. They would do well for both pre-paid and post-paid carriers. Here are our first impressions.
LG today announced a variant of its Watch Urbane smartwatch that adds support for LTE and NFC. Because Google's Android Wear platform doesn't yet support LTE and NFC, the Watch Urbane LTE runs LG's proprietary wearables platform. LG said its own platform offers most of the same features found on the Android Wear version of the Watch Urbane. With LTE, the Watch Urbane can make and receive phone calls, send and receive messages, enable carry out push-to-talk conversations, and perform other network-centric tasks without requiring a nearby smartphone. The Watch Urbane LTE has a 1.3-inch 320 x 320 P-OLED display, Qualcomm 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of storage, and a bevy of sensors for tracking motion and other metrics. LG significantly increased the size of the battery from 410mAh to 700mAh to accommodate the LTE radio's power requirements. LG claims the watch can last for days in standby mode. The Watch Urbane LTE is protected from water and dust thanks to its IP67 rating. LG didn't disclose pricing or availability.
LG today announced the global launch of the G Flex 2, its second-generation curved handset. LG said major carriers in the U.S., Hong Kong, Singapore, France, Germany, and the U.K are rolling the device out first. Sprint has already said when it will sell the phone, though AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have remained mum on their G Flex 2 plans. LG said a second wave of operators in North and South America, Europe, and Asia will begin selling the G Flex 2 later in March. LG first revealed the G Flex 2 at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. The G Flex 2 is a curved smartphone that is flexible and has a self-healing rear cover. The phone features a Snapdragon 810 processor, 13-megapixel camera, 5.5-inch screen, and 3,000mAh battery.
LG today announced four new smartphones that target the middle of the market. The devices will run Android 5.0 Lollipop with LG's user experience, and are named the Magna, Spirit, Leon, and Joy. Shared features include 1.2GHz quad-core processors with 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage. The Magna and Spirit have LG's rear-positioned button array and a slight curve to them, which LG says helps the devices fit better in the hand. The Leon and Joy are normal slab-style handsets. The devices will be sold in a mix of 3G (HSPA+) and 4G (LTE) configurations. The LTE handsets will have metallic rear covers while the 3G ones will have plastic rear covers.
- Magna: The largest of the four handsets has a 5-inch HD display, 8-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel user-facing camera, and 2,540mAh battery
- Spirit: The Spirit has a 4.7-inch HD display, 8-megapixel main camera, 1-megapixel user-facing camera, and 2,100mAh battery.
- Leon: The Leon has a 4.5-inch FWVGA display with an 8- or 5-megapixel main camera, a VGA user-facing camera, and a 1,900mAh battery.
- Joy: The smallest of the quartet has a 4-inch WVGA display, 5-megapixel main camera, VGA user-facing camera, and a 1,900mAh battery. Some variants may ship with an 4GB of storage, 512MB of RAM, and Android 4.4 rather than Android 5.0.
Sprint today said it will sell the LG G Flex 2 beginning March 13. Preorders for the device commence Feb. 20. The G Flex 2 will be available via Sprint Easy pay, which costs $21 per month for 24 months. The suggested retail price is $504. Sprint didn't say how much the phone will cost with a two-year contract. The G Flex 2 is a curved smartphone that is flexible and has a self-healing rear cover. The phone features a Snapdragon 810 processor, 13-megapixel camera, 5.5-inch screen, and 3,000mAh battery.
Sprint today said owners of the LG G3 should be able to update their devices to Android 5.0 Lollipop beginning today. Lollipop adds a wide range of new features, including Material Design, improved notifications, updated lock screen, upgraded Google Services, integrated messaging, and support for Google TV. The update also improves battery performance. Users can download and install the update over the air.
LG today unveiled the Urbane, its latest smartwatch based on Google's Android Wear platform. The Urbane's most compelling feature is the design. It trades the plastic shell seen on the LG G Watch R for a metallic enclosure that comes in gold or stainless steel. The Urbane has a thinner profile than the G Watch R, giving it a classier, more polished look that LG says works for both men and women. The specs are almost identical to those of the G Watch R. It has a 1.3-inch 320 x 320 P-OLED display, Qualcomm 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage, 410mAh battery, and a bevy of sensors for tracking motion and other metrics. The Urbane is protected from water and dust thanks to its IP67 rating. LG said more details, such as pricing and availability, will be announced on a market-by-market basis later this year.
AT&T has made Android 5.0 Lollipop available to its variant of the LG G3. In addition to Lollipop, the system update includes a number of stability fixes and performance improvements. The update can be downloaded and installed via WiFi.
LG today announced the VR for G3, a custom version of Google's virtual reality cardboard headset made for the G3 smartphone. LG is offering the VR for G3 for free to people who buy the G3 smartphone. According to LG, the G3 is suited well to Google Cardboard thanks to the positioning of the buttons on the back surface rather than the side. Google Cardboard, as the name implies, is a foldable piece of cardboard that creates a virtual reality headset. The headset relies on a smartphone, which is placed inside the cardboard. The headset has special lenses that interact with VR apps and games on the screen. In addition to the free headset, LG is offering a free VR game download. The VR for G3 will be made available in select markets later this month.
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.
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.
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 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.
The first high-end phone with the Firefox OS recently went on sale in Japan, and it's a thoroughly unique phone. Most obviously, it sports a gold-tinted case that's completely transparent. But with LTE and NFC, it's also a new direction for Firefox OS, which previously only found its way into quite low-end devices. Further, the marketing is unique, specifically targeting tech-minded consumers for whom a hackable, open-source OS is a major selling point. We spent a few moments with one.
TCL Communications, the parent company of Alcatel OneTouch, today confirmed to Phone Scoop that it has acquired the Palm brand and plans to revive the failed tech company. "We are interested in the brand because we believe the brand has value," said TCL CEO George Guo. "It was once a very strong brand and there are many fans of this brand around the world, including people at TCL." TCL intends to resurrect Palm with new hardware, software, and services -- but not on its own. It will ask the community to contribute ideas for potential new devices, operating systems, and apps. It will commit engineers and its manufacturing resources to the project, but hopes much of the R&D will come from the tech community at large. TCL said it hasn't worked out the details of how this community-driven revival will function, but it is confident it can restore luster to the brand. "Palm was an original pioneer and we want to keep it that way. We want to attract the people who have ideas on how to revive the brand in a meaningful way." Guo shot down the idea of using webOS, which is owned by LG, and ran on the Palm Pre, Pixi, and other phones. "We are open to all ideas, but probably not webOS," said Guo. "Palm built by Palm fans is the intent." TCL expects to eventually offer both Alcatel- and Palm-branded products in the US. TCL said it couldn't comment on the terms of the acquisition. It will provide more details as they are developed.
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.
In addition to AT&T and Sprint, U.S. Cellular plans to carry the LG G Flex 2 "this spring", according to spokesperson Katie Frey. No further details were revealed.
AT&T will carry the 32 GB version of the G Flex 2 that LG just announced at CES. Sprint will also offer the phone. Pricing and availability date for both carriers will be announced at a later date.
LG is back with another bendable phone. It's best to think of the G Flex 2 as a curved LG G3 - especially since it carries over most of the specs.
LG today announced the G Flex 2, a second-generation curved Android smartphone. The device makes dramatic improvements over the original in terms of design, features, and usability. The screen shrinks to 5.5 inches across the diagonal, but ups the resolution from 720p to 1080p HD. The plastic OLED panel has a Gorilla Glass 3 coating to help prevent damage, and the rear shell's self-healing powers have been improved, too. The G Flex 2 relies on a quad-core Snapdragon 810 processor with 2 or 3 GB of RAM and 16 or 32 GB of storage, depending on the market. The device supports external memory cards up to 2TB and runs Cat. 6 LTE with Carrier Aggregation. The Flex 2 has a smaller 3,000 mAh battery than its predecessor, but it supports fast charging for a 50% charge in under 40 minutes. The phone offers Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, NFC, and WiFi. Like the LG G3, the main camera sports a 13-megapixel sensor with optical image stabilization and laser focus. It can record 4K video. The user-facing camera captures 2.1-megapixel pictures and 1080p HD video. The Flex 2 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop with LG's user interface skin on top. It will be sold in silver and red. LG said it will be available "soon" but it didn't specify where or for how much.
Google today announced Cast for Audio, a new version of its Chromecast technology that will allow people to cast audio content from their device to properly equipped speakers, receivers, and soundbars. According to Google, compatible audio equipment from Sony, LG, and HEOS by Denon will arrive in the U.S. this spring, with others to follow. The audio equipment will have built-in radios that can receive cast content and/or access it from the web. The initial batch of apps to support Cast for Audio include Deezer, Google Play Music, iHeartRadio, NPR One, Pandora, Rdio, and TuneIn Radio. Google says many more are on the way. The technology competes with Apple's AirPlay.
It's the big day in Las Vegas for big companies to hold big press conferences, and the morning belongs to LG. A tweet from Qualcomm has all but confirmed rumors of a new, high-end LG phone with a Snapdragon 810 processor. This liveblog will bring you all of the phone-related details as they happen on stage.