Google today announced Android Wear 1.4, which adds a fistful of new features. Chiefly, Android-based smartwatches can now make and take calls via Bluetooth when the wearable itself includes a speaker. Google says this is limited to the Huawei Watch and the ASUS ZenWatch 2 at the moment, but it expects more watches to ship with speakers and calling support over time. Watches with speakers can also be used to listen to audio messages from apps such as Glide. Android Wear 1.4 also expands the number of apps able to use voice actions to dictate and send messages, which now includes, Google Hangouts, Nextplus, Telegram, Viber, WeChat, and WhatsApp. Last, Google added a few new wrist gestures to the platform. For example, Android smartwatches can now expand cards, bring up the app drawer, or return home with a push, lift, or shake, respectively. Google says Android Wear 1.4 is rolling out to Android smartwatches over the next few days.
Huawei today said the Honor 5X handset will be available as planned on January 31. The mid-range 5X supports AT&T and T-Mobile LTE 4G bands and has a unibody aluminum design. The phone includes a 5.5-inch full HD display, 13-megapixel camera, and 1.5 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 616 processor with 2 GB of RAM. The Honor 5X also includes a 3,000 mAh battery, rear fingerprint reader, and 5-megapixel front camera. It costs $200 and is available from HiHonor.com, Amazon.com, and Newegg.com.
The Honor 5X is an "affordable premium" phone, a category that's expanding extremely quickly. It's Android. It has a metal back. It has respectable mid-range specs. It's pretty. Huawei is making a push to sell it online, unlocked. But what's it like in person? Read on.
Huawei today announced the Honor 5X for the U.S., a phone very similar to the Huawei GX8 announced earlier today, but with a more premium design and $150 cheaper. The Honor 5X has a diamond-polished aluminum alloy casing. The four-step process includes applying a ceramic coating using a special brushing technique. It also has 4G LTE with full support for current AT&T and T-Mobile bands. Like the GX8, the Honor 5X is a mid-range Android phone with a unibody aluminum design, 5.5-inch Full-HD display, 13-megapixel camera, and Snapdragon 615 processor. The phone also includes a 3,000 mAh battery, rear fingerprint reader, and 5-megapixel front camera. Available colors include gold, silver, and gray. The Honor 5X will be available from Amazon.com and HiHonor.com on January 31 for $200 unlocked.
The GX8 is a mid-range Android phone sold unlocked in the US market. It's an interesting entry into the growing category of phones that aim to marry premium design and materials with decent specs, for a low price. The premium design takes the form of a unibody aluminum frame and curved-edge glass front. Specs include a 5.5-inch HD display, Snapdragon 615 processor, and 13-megapixel camera. What's it like? We have some photos and first impressions.
Huawei today announced the immediate availability of a gold version of the popular Nexus 6P Android phone. It's available in both 32 and 64 GB versions, from Best Buy and Google.
Huawei today announced that the GX8 will come to the U.S. later this quarter. The GX8 is a new mid-range Android phone with a unibody aluminum design, 5.5-inch Full-HD display, 13-megapixel camera, and Snapdragon 615 processor. The phone also includes a 3,000 mAh battery, rear fingerprint reader, and 5-megapixel front camera. Available colors include gold, gray, and silver. The GX8 will be available later in Q1 for $350 unlocked via Amazon.com and GetHuawei.com.
Huawei today announced the Mate 8, a flagship phablet that runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The Mate 8 features a 6-inch full HD display and Huawei's new processor, the Kirin 950. The 950 is an octa-core chip with four Cortex ARM A72 cores at 2.3GHz and four A53 cores at 1.8GHz. The Kirin 950 is aided by Huawei's i5 coprocessor for low-power tasks, such as managing always-on sensors. Huawei didn't provide details about the Mate 8's camera, but the phone offers some intelligent tools like voice controls, a firewall, a defragmenter, and mobile payment capabilities. The Mate 8 runs Huawei's EMUI 4.0 skin. Huawei said the phone will be revealed in full at CES in January and made available in China during the first quarter of 2016.
Unwired Planet landed its first courtroom victory in the U.K. this week after a judge agreed that Samsung and Huawei are violating patents owned by the company. Unwired Planet has 16 employees and 2,000 patents it purchased from Ericsson in 2013. The company filed a similar suit against Google, but Google settled the charges. The judge overseeing the Samsung/Huawei case deemed the patents "essential" to 4G communications, however, which means they must be licensed at fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory rates. Unwired Planet said the ruling "goes a considerable way towards validating [our] portfolio." Samsung maintains that it is not violating the patents. Huawei didn't immediately comment on the decision. Tech companies often use patent-based litigation to win fees from competitors. Unwired Planet is a patent-holding company and doesn't make or sell telecommunications equipment or mobile phones.
Huawei has revealed a new technique for charging batteries that is up to 10 times faster than existing methods. Huawei bonded heteroatoms to graphite molecules. This can be a catalyst for capturing and transmitting lithium through carbon, which has the effect of increasing charging speeds without decreasing the energy density or overall battery life. The company demonstrated how it was able to charge a 600mAh to 68% capacity in two minutes, and a 3000mAh battery to 48% in five minutes — enough to power 10 hours of voice calls. "Huawei is confident that this breakthrough in quick charging batteries will lead to a new revolution in electronic devices, especially with regard to mobile phones, electric vehicles, wearable devices, and mobile power supplies," said the company. The demonstrations were made at the 56th Battery Symposium in Japan. Many of today's smartphones rely on Qualcomm's QuickCharge technology, which is baked into its Snapdragon processors and reduces the time it takes to charge batteries. Qualcomm's technology is not as fast as what Huawei demonstrated this week.
Huawei today announced the Kirin 950 chipset for phones, which is designed to compete with Qualcomm Snapdragon 800-series chipsets in higher-end phones. Huawei claims that the 950 is 25% faster and 44% more power-efficient than the Snapdragon 810, Qualcomm's current flagship chip. The chip is made by TSMC using their cutting-edge 16nm FinFET+ process, a first in a phone SoC. This is superior to the 20nm process used by Qualcomm's 810 - particularly in power efficiency - although the imminent 820 will use a 14nm process. The Kirin 950 has eight cores in a big/little configuration, with four ARM Cortex A72 cores running at 2.3 GHz, and four A53 cores running at 1.8 GHz. The chip is designed specifically to optimize Android performance, and includes much-improved optimizations for camera performance and quality. The Kirin 950 includes an LTE Category 6 modem, support for VoLTE, and Huawei's new, more-efficient i5 dedicated sensor hub processor. Previous Kirin chips have been used in many Huawei phones sold around the world, including the recent P8 and Mate S.
Boost Mobile today announced a trio of inexpensive handsets, including the Huawei Union. The Union has a 4.5-inch screen, 1.1GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage. It includes a 5-megapixel camera, 2,000mAh battery, and support for memory cards up to 32GB. The Huawei Union runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and costs $79.99. Boost Mobile also announced pricing for the HTC 626s and the Motorola Moto G (3rd Gen), which cost $129.99 and $149.99, respectively. All three smartphones go on sale today.
Huawei today made Android 5.1 Lollipop available to the P8 Lite handset. The update is available over the air. The phone shipped with Android 4.4, so the 5.1 upgrade is a significant one.
The CTIA today announced that a number of member companies have agreed to take on additional measures to help prevent cellphone thefts. Following recommendations made by the FCC, wireless companies will make anti-theft tools available to all consumers that also respect consumer choice and privacy. All new phones made after July 2016 will "make readily available to the authorized user an option that allows the authorized user to enable or disable the anti-theft solution at any time that the smartphone is connected and is in the authorized user's possession." Beyond this baseline tool, consumers will have the option to use other, third-party solutions to locate, wipe, or reinstate their devices if they so wish. Companies that have agreed to this include Apple, Asurion; AT&T; BlackBerry; Google; HTC; Huawei; LG; Microsoft; Motorola; Samsung; Sprint; T-Mobile USA; U.S. Cellular; Verizon, and ZTE. In response, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, "CTIA members' ... enhanced voluntary commitment to adopt anti-theft features and educate consumers demonstrates their resolve in combatting it. I am hopeful that this new voluntary commitment will make a meaningful difference for consumer safety. As the enhanced commitment recognizes, these solutions work only if they are adopted widely. The FCC will remain vigilant in this area by pushing for further improvements to the theft-prevention toolbox, and also by monitoring closely whether the efforts of industry and others are producing meaningful results." Apple's iOS and Google's Android already contain features that let device owners find and protect their mobile devices. The FCC hopes allowing people to download and use the protective measure of their choice will help encourage consumers to make broader use of the tool.
Google today announced the Nexus 5X, a less-costly alternative to the Nexus 6P. Where the 6P is made by Huawei, the 5X is made by LG. Notable features include the Nexus Imprint fingerprint sensor positioned on the back of the phone, which can be used to secure the phone and authenticate Android Pay purchases. The 5X also includes a USB Type-C port, the new connector for phones, tablets, and laptops. The Nexus 5X has a 5.2-inch full HD screen and is powered by a 1.8GHz Snapdragon 808 processor with 2GB of RAM and either 16GB or 32GB of storage. The phone's main Sony camera sensor captures 12.3-megpaixel images and relies on laser-assisted focus. It has an aperture of f/2.0 and a dual-tone flash for more accurate color. The user-facing camera rates 5 megapixels and has an aperture of f/2.2. The Nexus 5X includes a 2,700mAh battery, a wide range of sensors, and comes in white, blue, or black. The Nexus 5X runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and will be sold directly from Google unlocked. The 16GB model costs $379 and the 32GB model costs $429. It is available for pre-order beginning today and will ship in mid-October.
Google today announced the Nexus 6P, one of two new Nexus-branded smartphones and the first ever to be made by Huawei. The Nexus 6P is a slim, upscale handset skinned in aluminum. The 6P has a fingerprint sensor on the back for security and Android Pay authentication called Nexus Imprint. The phone has a 5.7-inch quad HD screen and is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 processor with 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB of storage. The phone boasts a Sony 12.3-megapixel main camera with f/2.0 aperture and an 8-megapixel user-facing camera. Google says it improved the camera with burst mode and slow-motion video capture. Further, double-tapping the home button will launch the camera even when the phone is locked. The Nexus 6P has what Google calls the Android Sensor Hub, which includes activity and gesture recognition along with power management techniques to keep battery drain at a minimum. The 6P packs a large 3,450mAh battery, includes a USB Type-C port and charger, and offers stereo speakers on the front. The Nexus 6P runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and will be sold unlocked directly by Google. The phone costs $499 for 32GB, $549 for 64GB, and $649 for 128GB. Pre-orders start today and the Nexus 6P will ship in mid-October.
The Mate S is Huawei's new global flagship phone. Like most new flagships, it sports a 5 inch display, metal body, fingerprint sensor, and some advanced camera technology. It will also support Force Touch, sensing the pressure you apply, to the degree that you can use it as a scale, although we've heard that there will be several versions of the Mate S, and not all will include Force Touch. It's an intriguing phone. Read on for our hands-on impressions.
Huawei today announced the Mate S, its new flagship Android smartphone. Its most notable feature is Force Touch, which precisely measures pressure on its touch screen. The harder you press on a photo in the gallery, the more it zooms in, for example. It is precise enough that Huawei will ship the phone with an app that turns the screen into a small scale. The screen is 5.5-inch full-HD AMOLED. The phone also has a 13-megapixel main camera with RGBW sensor, 1.2-degree OIS (optical image stabilization), sapphire lens, and advanced manual controls. The front camera clocks in at 8 megapixels. Another unique feature is directional listening, which uses three microphones to pinpoint voice locations and filter out background noise. The Mate S is also water-resistant using a nano coating. Like many new Huawei phones, it has two card slots; one for a SIM card, and one for a memory card or a second SIM card. It supports 13 LTE bands, including U.S. bands. It has a thin metal body and fingerprint sensor. It's powered by a Huawei Kirin 935 2.2 GHz, 8-core, 64-bit processor accompanied by 3 GB of RAM. It will be available within the next month in Europe starting at 649 Euros for the version with 32 GB of internal storage.
Huawei today said its Android-based smartwatch will go on sale this month for $349, putting it in Apple Watch territory. The wearable will come with several face variations, including stainless steel, black stainless steel, and rose gold, with leather, steel, and gold strap options. Prices vary depending on the chassis and strap combination, with the gold models costing as much as $799. All models have a 1.4-inch screen with 400 by 400 pixels protected by sapphire crystal. The watch is powered by a 1.2 GHz dual-core Snapdragon 400 processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. The Huawei Watch includes Bluetooth and WiFi for connectivity, and sensors such as barometer, accelerometer, and gyroscope to help track movement. The 300mAh battery delivers up to two days of usable life and can reach an 80% charge in just 45 minutes. The watch runs Android Wear 1.3 and is compatible with Android and iOS smartphones. The stainless steel and black models can be pre-ordered beginning today and will ship on Sept. 17, which is also when the watch will reach general availability. The Huawei Watch can be purchased from GetHuawei.com, the Google Play Store, Amazon.com, and BestBuy.com.
Google today released an Android Wear application for iOS devices that makes the iPhone compatible with Google-based smartwatches. The Android Wear app works with the iPhone 5, 5s, 5c, 6, and 6 Plus as long as the phones are running iOS 8.2 and up. Android Wear allows iPhone owners to check their information at a glance, such as calls, messages, and notifications; set and follow fitness goals, such as tracking steps or heart rate; and also receive timely information about flights, traffic, calendar appointments, and more. Android Wear for iOS supports "OK, Google" voice-based queries, as well. Google says the LG Watch Urbane is the first Android Wear smartwatch to support iPhone compatibility, and that all future devices, including those from Huawei (pictured above), Asus, and Motorola, will also support iOS. Many of these manufacturers are expected to debut new smartwatches this week at the IFA trade show in Berlin.
Microsoft escaped what could have been a harmful ban on its devices as the U.S. International Trade Commission decided not to block the import of Microsoft's smartphones into the U.S. Microsoft lost a patent case against InterDigital in April when it was found to be infringing on two patents. The individual trade judge who reached that decision recommended Microsoft's handsets be banned from import. The full ITC panel rejected that judge's decision on Friday, however, which means Microsoft will continue to be allowed to bring its handsets into the U.S. Microsoft expressed relief at the decision, while InterDigital voiced disappointment. Earlier this month, Microsoft filed an antitrust lawsuit against InterDigital, claiming the company charges exorbitant fees for standard-essential patents. Such patents must be licensed at fair, reasonable, and non-discrimonatory rates. InterDigital is a patent-holding company and has had mixed success in suing companies such as Samsung, ZTE, and Huawei.
Microsoft has filed an antitrust lawsuit against InterDigital, a patent-licensing firm, for charging exorbitant rates to license standard-essential patents. The two companies have been embroiled in patent litigation for years. Earlier this year, Microsoft was found by the U.S. ITC to be violating two wireless patents owned by InterDigital. The judge in that case recommended Microsoft's handsets be banned from import. Microsoft says InterDigital is using this potential import ban as a bargaining chip to jack up licensing rates. Patents deemed essential must be licensed at fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory rates. Microsoft charges that InterDigital's "abusive licensing practices" violate federal antitrust law. InterDigital has taken ZTE, Nokia, Huawei, Samsung, and others to court over patents with mixed success.
A large and diverse group of mobile companies have formed a new group to work on potential 5G radio technology. The group is focusing specifically on technologies that will work below 6 GHz, near the frequency bands of current mobile networks. Some recent "5G" demos have relied on much higher millimeter wave (mmW) frequencies, which have short range and cannot pass through walls. Many major players are exploring including mmW technology in 5G, but it is not expected to be the core of the standard. The new group - called FANTASTIC-5G (Flexible Air iNTerfAce for Scalable service delivery wiThin wIreless Communication networks of the 5th Generation) - includes Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei, Intel, Nokia, Samsung, Sequans Communications, and Wings ICT Solutions, as well as several European mobile operators and research institutes. Their goal is a new air interface to replace LTE that is more efficient and flexible, supporting diverse needs from fast broadband to small, low-power sensors.
Beginning today, most smartphones sold in the U.S. will include anti-theft security tools. July 1 marks the day by which phone makers and network operators agreed to implement free theft deterrents on smartphones. According to the CTIA, most of the industry has responded by placing remote lock/wipe capabilities on consumer devices. The addition of an activation lock on the Apple iPhone, for example, has dramatically reduced iPhone thefts in major cities. The activation lock prevents a stolen device from being activated by another person, thus making it useless to thieves. Remote wipe features allow people to erase the personal data from their handset if lost/stolen to protect their identity. The major participants in today's action include Apple, AT&T, BlackBerry, Google, HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Microsoft, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon Wireless, and ZTE. "Today's fulfillment of the Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment is another example of the wireless industry proactively working together with policymakers and law enforcement to help protect consumers' smartphones in the event they are ever lost or stolen. We will continue to work with all interested parties to continue to deploy new technologies and tools to improve device theft-deterrence tools. We remind consumers to take a few minutes to use PINs, passwords, apps and other device features to protect their mobile devices and personal information." The industry was coerced into acting "voluntarily" when the FCC threatened to make such protective measures mandatory.
Qualcomm plans to form a joint venture with Semiconductor Manufacturing International in China to develop 14nm chips. China's Huawei and Belgium's Imec will also participate in the venture. Competition in the semiconductor space is fierce and companies such as Samsung are trying to muscle their way in with improved manufacturing techniques of their own. Moreover, Qualcomm ran afoul of Chinese antitrust regulators earlier this year and was forced to pay a fine and reduce royalty rates. Partnering with Chinese companies is a way to help Qualcomm repair its image. Many of today's smartphones and tablets use chips made by Qualcomm. The denser the chip, the more efficient it can be. Focusing on the 14nm processes is vital for Qualcomm.
Huawei hopes the P8 Lite, an inexpensive, unlocked Android smartphone, will appeal to U.S. consumers. The phone has a sleek design and a solid spec list. Here are Phone Scoop's first thoughts about the P8 Lite.
Huawei today revealed the P8 Lite, its latest attempt to grab a toehold in the U.S. The P8 Lite has a similar design to the P8, but tones down some of the specs to help drop the price point a bit. The P8 Lite features a 5-inch 720p screen and is powered by a 1.5 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and Huawei's SnapShot feature for instantly capturing images with two presses of the down volume key. The front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. The P8 Lite can capture 1080p HD and 720p HD video from the rear and front cameras, respectively. Connectivity includes LTE Cat 4, Bluetooth 4.1, WiFi, and GPS. The P8 Lite runs Android 4.4.4 KitKat with Huawei's Emotion UI 3.0 on top. The P8 Lite is available unlocked beginning today via GetHuawei.com and Amazon.com. Huawei said the phone will eventually be offered by Fry's, B&H Photo Video, Best Buy, and Target. The phone costs $249, but is being offered at $199 from June 3 through June 6.
Huawei today announced the P8 Lite smartphone and with it a new set of tactics it hopes will convince U.S. consumers to give the phone — and Huawei — a shot. Haitao Cui, executive vice president of open markets Huawei USA, believes some invisible barriers have prevented U.S. consumers from buying its devices. The company has taken steps to remove those barriers to ease U.S. consumers' fears about Huawei. To start, Huawei is banking on the appeal of unlocked devices. The P8 Lite is sold directly to consumers unlocked and without a contract. Huawei is offering 3-, 6-, and 12-month financing options, through a partnership with Affirm, for those who'd prefer to break down the P8 Lite's $249 price tag over time. The P8 Lite comes with a two-year warranty with U.S.-based support available via the phone, chat, or social media. Any and all repairs needed during the warranty period will be covered at no charge, as will all shipping costs. The Huawei P8 Lite goes on sale today, June 3, from GetHuawei.com and Amazon.com. Huawei wants to become a top-tier brand in the U.S. with its "affordable premium" devices. It hopes to be the number three handset provider to U.S. buyers within five years.
The U.S. ITC today cleared ZTE of violating a phone-related patent held by InterDigital. Late last year, ZTE was found guilty of infringing three different InterDigital patents. InterDigital is a patent-holding firm and has filed similar lawsuits against Nokia and Huawei.
The FCC this week approved a new Huawei phone for North America that bears a striking resemblance to the just-announced P8 global flagship. The phone approved by the FCC has small but distinct differences, such as a flash on the other side of the camera, matching Huawei's description of a more affordable P8 variant coming the U.S. The FCC approval covers a limited set of LTE bands - plus tri-band WCDMA - that makes it compatible with T-Mobile. In some areas, it may also work with AT&T's LTE network. Huawei has indicated that it plans to launch the U.S. variant of the P8 via unlocked channels in May.
Huawei today announced the P8, its new global flagship phone. The P8 sports a thin unibody metal design and a dual Sony cameras with "super night mode". The main camera also sports optical image stabilization and a dual-tone LED flash. Although the P8 announced today will not reach U.S. shores, Huawei did share with us that a similar - but more affordable - model will come to the U.S. via unlocked channels in approximately one month. The P8 features a 5.2-inch full HD screen, octa-core processor clocked at 2.0 GHz with 3 GB of RAM, and a 2,680mAh battery. The phone has a 13-megapixel main camera, 8-megapixel user-facing camera, and supports networks such as Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi. The Huawei P8 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop.
Nokia today said it has agreed to acquire Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 billion. The combined companies would be a giant in the telecom equipment space with more than 100,000 employees. The terms of the deal will see Nokia acquire all of Alcatel-Lucent's stock, as traded in both France and the U.S. The companies' boards of directors have approved the deal, though shareholders have yet to vote on the acquisition. The deal will also require regulatory approval. The companies expect the deal to close during the first half of 2016. Once combined, the companies will streamline redundant operations, but believe the 40,000 research and development at its disposal employees will be able to make the company a world leader in the connected IP space. Nokia-Alcatel-Lucent will specifically target the development of 5G wireless networks. The largest competitors remaining are Ericsson and Huawei, though ZTE, Samsung, and others make telecommunications equipment, too. In addition to announcing the Alcatel-Lucent deal, Nokia said it has begun a review of strategic options for its HERE Maps business. Nokia acquired Navteq's mapping business in 2007 and turned it into a competitive global company. Nokia's HERE Maps are available to the Android, iOS, and Windows Phone platforms, as well as online, and provide robust driving, walking, and transit directions. Nokia said its review of HERE Maps may or may not result in a transaction.
Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent today said they are in advanced talks concerning a merger or acquisition between the two. Such a deal would would produce a massive competitor to Sweden's Ericsson and China's Huawei in the telecommunications market. Nokia said the deal currently being considered would entail a "full combination" of the two companies, though the deal could still fall apart. Alcatel-Lucent is valued at about $11.63 billion while Nokia is valued at about $29.59 billion. France, where Alcatel-Lucent is based, is wary of the deal. "The government will be very vigilant regarding the possible consequences on employment and activity at the French sites of Alcatel-Lucent, notably in research and development, as well as the effects on the entire telecoms sector in France," said the French economy ministry. The combined entities could employ more than 100,000 workers, but Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent have on their own slashed thousands of jobs over the years. Nokia bought out its networking partner Siemens in 2014 to abolish Nokia Siemens Networks and form the current Nokia Corp. Alcatel-Lucent was formed in 2006 when France's Alcatel merger with the US's Lucent. A Nokia-Alcatel-Lucent merger could face significant hurdles attempting to gain regulatory approval.
Huawei's newest phone - announced this morning - is an affordable, mass-market Android phone that Huawei is selling unlocked in the U.S. It's compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile, including 4G LTE. It has a 5-inch HD display, but its specs are otherwise fairly low-end. Its name comes from a unique button shortcut that not only launches the camera, but takes a photo, too. How does it stack up for the $180 Huawei is asking? Read on.
Huawei today announced the SnapTo, an unlocked Android smartphone for sale in the U.S. The phone runs Android 4.4 KitKat and is compatible with the LTE networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile. Basic features include a 5-inch 720p HD display, quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 1 GB of RAM, and 2,200mAh battery. The main camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and can capture 720p HD video. It has a feature called Ultra Snapshot, which will automatically take a picture if the down volume button is pressed twice, even when the phone is locked. The front camera has a 2-megapixel sensor. Huawei said the device is available for pre-order starting today and general availability begins next week. It will be available online from Amazon.com. GetHuawei.com, BestBuy.com, Brandsmart USA, Frys.com and Fry's Electronic retail stores, NewEgg.com and other retailers. The SnapTo costs $179.99.
Huawei today announced the Huawei Watch, an Android Wear watch with a round face and thin bezel. It does not have the black bar at one edge like the Moto 360. The AMOLED display measures 1.4 inches, with 400 x 400 pixels for 286 ppi density. The Watch includes 4 GB of memory for storing music. On the fitness side, it includes a heart rate monitor and six-axis motion sensor. It is forged from stainless steel and will be available in gold, silver and black. It will be sold in the U.S., although timing was not announced.
Huawei recently said it wants to sell more high-end smartphones and fewer entry-level devices in a bid to increase margins. The company shipped 75 million smartphones during 2014 and wants to improve that number to 100 million in 2015. "If we sold more low-end phones, we could even double our shipments … but in the low-end market there is no margin," said CEO Richard Yu. "We are giving up the low end of the market. Many vendors are suffering." The company has seen measured success in its home market of China with mid-range devices like the Honor series and its high-end Mate 7. Huawei wants to increase sales of devices like these. It's not clear if such a strategy will work, however, as HTC and Samsung both lost ground to rivals after making similar strategic changes. Most of the devices Huawei sells in the U.S. are entry-level and mid-range.
Huawei plans to bring its Honor brand to the U.S. in an attempt to win over consumers. Huawei launched the Honor brand in its home market of China in December 2013. Of its 75 million device sales last year, about 20 million wore the Honor brand. Huawei sells those devices unlocked directly to consumers online, and that's what the company wants to do in the U.S. It believes selling unlocked devices online will have a greater impact than its sales through U.S. carriers. Huawei said it will launch the Honor brand in the U.S. at some point later this year, though the company didn't say which handsets it will sell. The company's Honor 6 and Honor 6 Plus are the brand's flagship devices in China. Huawei told Phone Scoop at CES there are no plans to bring these two handsets to the states.
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.
Consumer Cellular today announced the immediate availability of the Huawei Ascend Mate 2 and Vision 2. The Mate 2 has been available to U.S. consumers unlocked directly from Huawei for several months. It features a 6.1-inch 720p HD screen. The Vision 2 (pictured), however, is a new handset. The Vision 2 features a 4-inch WVGA display and dual-core 1.2GHz processor. It has a 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video capture, 4GB of internal storage, and memory card support up to 32GB. The Vision 2 is compatible with HSPA cellular networks and includes Bluetooth, GPS, and Wi-Fi radios. The device features Consumer Cellular's Easy Mode, which the company believes is ideal for first-time smartphone buyers. It runs Android 4.3. The Vision 2 costs $100. The Ascend Mate 2 costs either $250 at full retail, or $100 followed by six payments of $25. Last, starting today, customers will now have either 30 days, 300 minutes, 300 texts, or 300 MB of data to use, whichever comes first.