Info & Phones News
Sony today revealed which devices it plans to update to Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and Android 4.4 KitKat in the months ahead. Sony said it will begin updating the Xperia Z, ZL, ZR, Tablet Z, Xperia SP, Z Ultra, and Z1 next month. Exact timing will vary by region, carrier, and device. Many of the same devices are on deck to also receive Android 4.4 KitKat down the road. The Xperia Z, ZL, Tablet Z, Z Ultra, and Z1 will all be updated to the latest version of Android, though Sony didn't provide a timeframe for the KitKat update.
Rockstar, a patent consortium jointly owned by Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Ericsson, and Sony, has filed patent infringement lawsuits against Google, Samsung, Huawei, and HTC. Rockstar alleges that the companies are violating its patents. Google, in particular, stands accused of infringing on seven different patents that pertain to internet search terms and advertising. Specific details about Samsung, HTC, and Huawei's infringements weren't immediately specified. Rockstar is seeking damages from Google, which it says is violating the patents willfully. Rockstar is a group of companies that together purchased thousands of patents from bankrupt Nortel. The firms spent a total of $4.5 billion on the patents. Google and others attempted to buy the same patents won by Rockstar. "Despite losing in its attempt to acquire the patents-in-suit at auction, Google has infringed and continues to infringe," read a portion of the lawsuit.
Sony has developed new technology that dramatically shortens the time it takes to charge mobile phones wirelessly. Sony's charging device uses 10-15 watts, instead of 5, and can push twice the electricity of today's wireless chargers. According to Sony, cell phones can reach a full charge in one hour instead of two. Sony's charging device is based on the Qi standard, which is being finalized by the Wireless Power Consortium. Sony's semiconductor division developed the technology, reports Nikkei. Another company, called Rohm, has developed similar technology also based on the Qi standard. The improved wireless charging technology is expected to reach consumer-grade devices during the second half of 2014. The WPC's Qi standard is just one of three competing standards for wirelessly charging devices. Other standards are being finalized by the Power Matters Alliance and the Alliance for Wireless Power.
Sony today launched the Xperia Z Ultra and Z1 Android smartphones, and the SmartWatch 2 in the U.S. The company is selling all three devices directly to consumers via its online store and other select e-tailers. The Z Ultra (pictured) features a 6.4-inch full HD TriLuminos display, slim design, 8-megapixel camera with Exmor RS sensor, resistance to water and dust, and a stylus. The Z Ultra costs $649.99 for the HSPA+ model or $679.99 for the LTE model. The LTE model supports bands 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 17. The Z1 features a 5-inch full HD TriLuminos display, dust and water resistance, 20.7-megapixel camera with Exmor RS sensor, and a slim design. The Z1 costs $669.99. It supports HSPA+, but not LTE. Both phones are available in black, white, or purple. Last, Sony is now selling its second-generation smartwatch, the SmartWatch 2, to U.S. consumers through its web store. The SmartWatch 2 connects to Android smartphones via NFC/Bluetooth and can be used to view notifications, accept/reject calls, control the media player, and record workouts. It is water resistant and offers two or three days of battery life. The SmartWatch 2 costs $199.99.
Sony CEO Kaz Hirai today said the company is in no rush to conquer the U.S. smartphone market, nor China's. "Those two are the most important areas for us and we'll put substantial resources there. But not yet for the U.S. and China," said Hirai, speaking to journalists in Japan. "It's not realistic to try to do everything at once. In the U.S. we'll start gradually." Sony wants its smartphones to be the third-best selling devices worldwide, behind the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy smartphones. The company has historically had poor traction in the U.S. At the moment, T-Mobile is the only U.S. carrier selling Sony's flagship Xperia Z smartphone, while Apple and Samsung's phones are available at all four of the major carriers. Rather than focus on tackling U.S. and China head on, Hirai said Sony is first aiming to win over consumers in Europe and its home market of Japan. Hirai didn't indicate when Sony might begin to make more effort in winning over U.S. smartphone buyers.
Sony updated its flagship device with a better camera and smoother design.
Sony today unveiled two lens accessories for smartphones that put a new spin on the idea of improving the on-board camera. The Sony QX100 and QX10 are attachable lenses and also serve as stand-alone cameras. Both lenses connect to smartphones (Android and iOS) via Wi-Fi and, along with a companion app, can be used instead of the smartphone's built-in camera. The companion app uses the phone's screen as a viewfinder and offers some simple controls over shooting mode, zoom, point of focus, and others. The lenses can be mounted on smartphones with the use of clips, as well as used on their own. Both use Sony's EXMOR sensors and can be paired easily with devices via NFC. The QX100 has a 20.1-megapixel camera and offers 3.6x optical zoom while the QX10 offers an 18.2-megapixel camera and 10x optical zoom. The QX100 and QX10 lens-style cameras will be available later this month for $499 and $249, respectively. The come in black and white.
Sony today announced the Xperia Z1, an Android smartphone that builds on the premium experience offered by the Z. It looks similar to the Z, but loses the sharp edges and replaces them with smooth, rounded edges instead. The Z1 features a 20.7-megapixel camera that has a BIONZ for mobile image processing engine, a G Lens, and a 1/2.3-inch camera sensor. The camera has a burst mode than shoots 61 images: 30 before you press the shutter button, 1 when you press the shutter button, and 30 more after the shutter button has been pressed. Other camera features include an augmented reality mode that puts subjects in themed locations, such as with dinosaurs. The Z1 has a 5-inch full HD display with TriLuminos and X-Reality processing engines. It is powered by a 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor with 2GB of RAM, and comes with 16GB of internal storage. Like the Xperia Z, the Z1 is water resistant. It can stand in 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. It includes Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS, and Bluetooth 4.0LE. It runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and will be available worldwide later this month.
Sony today promised to update several of its devices to Android 4.3, though it didn't say when the update might become available. Sony said it is already making good progress with updating the Xperia Z and ZL from Android 4.1 to Android 4.2. Down the road, it will update both the Z and ZL, as well as the Xperia ZR, SP, Z Ultra, and Tablet Z to Android 4.3. Sony also said that it might update a few phones from Android 4.1 directly to Android 4.3, but it didn't name those devices. The timing for the updates will vary by region, carrier, and device.
HTC, Sony, Ericsson, and Alcatel-Lucent did not infringe on four Wi-Lan patents, according to the patent-licensing firm. Wi-Lan sued the four companies for infringing on a handful of its wireless patents, but a Texas jury cleared all four firms in the case. Wi-Lan expressed disappointment in the outcome. Patent-licensing firms often use litigation to generate income. Wi-Lan filed similar litigation against BlackBerry late last year.
The Bluetooth Special Interest Group today announced that LG has joined the organization's board of directors. Specifically, Minsoo Lee, chief research engineer for standards and technology at LG, will fill the new seat at the SIG's board. The Bluetooth SIG's board is composed of 11 different companies spread around the globe, including Apple, CSR, Ericsson, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, Nordic, Toshiba, and now LG Electronics. The group has more than 18,500 member companies.
Sony today announced that a new version of its Music Unlimited application is available to iOS devices, such as the Apple iPhone. The new version of Sony's music app adds support for offline playback, higher quality audio streams (320Kbps), and a new menu system. The application itself is free to download and install, but the service requires a monthly fee.
T-Mobile today announced that the Sony Xperia Z will go on sale at T-Mobile stores beginning July 17. It will require a $99 down payment followed by 24 payments of $20. The device is already available directly from Sony.
T-Mobile today announced several new initiatives that it hopes will further entice U.S. consumers to join sign up for its services. The first is called Jump!, a program that lets T-Mobile customers upgrade their phones anytime they want (up to twice per year). The program also includes protection against device malfunction, damage, loss, or theft. The program costs $10 per month on top of the standard plan costs. Jump! goes into effect beginning July 14. T-Mobile announced a significant expansion in the reach of its LTE 4G network. T-Mobile says its LTE now reaches 157 million POPs across 116 markets. Some of the new markets include New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas, Seattle, Atlanta, and Miami. T-Mobile says it is on track to reach 200 million POPS in 200 markets but the end of the year. T-Mobile also debuted Simply Choice Plans for families. With this program, families can put together up to four Simple Choice Plans with unlimited talk and text, but just 500MB of pooled web use, for only $100 per month. Last, T-Mobile added several new devices to its lineup of LTE-compatible devices. T-Mobile said that the Sony Xperia Z and Nokia Lumia 925 will co on sale soon and LTE will be added to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 through a software update.
Sony this week announced the global launch of its "my Xperia" service for locating and/or securing lost and stolen Sony phones. The service is similar to Apple's Find my iPhone, including the ability to remotely sound an alert, display a message on the screen, lock the phone, locate the phone on a map, or erase all data, including a removable memory card. The service has been in testing in Nordic countries in recent months. It will be launched globally "in the next few weeks", while "timing and availability may vary by model, market & carrier."
Sony today announced the Z Ultra, an Android smartphone that features a 6.4-inch full HD display. Sony says the screen has Triluminos technology to improve colors and Sony's mobile Bravia Engine and X-Reality technology for sharpness and clarity. Following in the Z's footsteps, the Z Ultra is water-resistant and has a slim design at just 6.5mm thick. The Z Ultra is powered by a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor and supports HD voice with Sony's ClearAudio+ mode and Xloud loudness features. The Z Ultra supports a stylus, though it doesn't come with one, and has handwriting recognition software. The Z Ultra features an 8-megapixel camera with Sony's Exmor RS sensor, which supports HDR photos and video, as well as a 2-megapixel user-facing camera for video chats. The Z Ultra has a 3,000mAh battery and comes with Sony's Stamina mode for fine-tuning and extending battery life. Other features include Sony's Walkman software, 16GB of storage with support for 64GB microSD cards, and connectivity options such as Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, quad-band GSM/EDGE and HSPA+ in the 850, 900, 1700, 1800, and 2100MHz bands. The Z Ultra runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and comes in black, white, and purple. It will launch in various markets during the third quarter.
T-Mobile USA today announced that it will sell the Xperia Z smartphone in the coming weeks. The Z, which was revealed by Sony earlier this year, has a 5-inch 1080p HD display, 13-megapixel camera, and is water resistant. It will be sold in black and a limited edition purple. The Z will support T-Mobile's forthcoming LTE 4G network. Exact availability and pricing were not announced.
Sony today announced the Xperia M, a new low-cost Android smartphone. The Xperia M includes a 4-inch display with 854 x 480 pixels and is powered by a dual-core processor. Sony says the M carriers forward the OmniBalance design elements first seen in the Xperia Z, which give it a more seamless look and feel. Other features of the Xperia M include a 5-megapixel camera with HDR and a dedicated camera button; Sony's WalkMan software and ClearAudio+, xLOUD and 3D Surround Sound sound enhancements; Stamina mode for more granular control over battery life; and NFC for easy tap-to-pair actions. The Xperia M will be sold in black, white, yellow, and purple, and Sony will offer a dual-SIM version for select markets. The Sony Xperia M is expected to go on sale worldwide during the third quarter.
Sony today revealed the Xperia ZR, its latest semi-rugged and waterproof smartphone that's capable of filming HD video in water up to 1.5 meters deep. The ZR features a 13-megapixel camera with Sony's Exmor RS for Mobile chip, which can capture HDR stills and HDR video. The ZR has a 4.6-inch 720p HD display with Sony's Bravia Engine 2. The phone is powered by a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor with 2GB RAM. Other features of the ZR include Sony's Stamina Mode for power management, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, Walkman with 3D Surround Sound, noise suppression, 8 GB of internal storage, support for microSD cards up to 32GB, and support for various HSPA+ and LTE bands. It runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The Sony Xperia ZR will be available in select markets beginning in the third quarter.
Sprint's Network Vision project has been plagued by problems with its equipment providers, the company said in paperwork recently filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "During the second half of 2012, we experienced delays with vendor execution, backhaul connectivity delays, shortages in equipment such as fiber cable and antennas, as well as other regulatory and environmental issues," said Sprint. Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, and Samsung are the three companies providing Sprint with its networking gear, each of which is responsible for a select geographical area of the country. "However, we expect that we will recover from these delays and we are still forecasting to have the majority of the sites on-air by the end of 2013 with expected completion of Network Vision deployment by the middle of 2014." Sprint has been slow to deploy its LTE network, which first launched during the second quarter of 2012. It had expected to cover 250 million POPs with LTE by the end of 2013, but has revised that estimate downward to 200 million. It says it is still on track to reach 150 million POPs by the middle of 2013.
Sony recently made the Xperia Z available for sale in the U.S. from its online store. The Xperia Z being offered by Sony supports HSPA+, but not LTE 4G networks. The full retail price of the Z is $629.99. The FCC recently approved a version of the Xperia Z that includes support for T-Mobile USA's LTE network, but Sony is not selling that variant yet. Additionally, Sony dropped the price of the Xperia ZL, also available from its web store, from $759.99 to $629.99. Both the Xperia Z and ZL are being sold unlocked and without carrier contracts.
Documents seen on the Federal Communications Commission web site reveal a version of the Sony Xperia Z that support's T-Mobile's unique LTE spectrum band. Further, the draft user manual includes references to T-Mobile USA. Sony announced the Xperia Z earlier this year, but so far neither Sony nor T-Mobile has said the device will be sold in the U.S. The Xperia Z includes a 5-inch 1080p HD display with Sony's Bravia Engine 2. It has a 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor with 2GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel EXMOR camera sensor with Fast Capture technology, and improved power efficiency through what Sony calls STAMINA. These features are packed into a form factor that is water and dust resistant, and measures 7.9mm thick.
Cincinnati Bell today announced that it will soon offer the Sony Xperia ZL for $249.99 after rebate with a new contract. Cincinnati Bell is the first U.S. operator to offer the ZL. Sony is selling the ZL directly to U.S. consumers from its own web site for the full retail prices of $759 (LTE) and $719 (HSPA+). The ZL features a 5-inch FHD display, 13-megapixel camera with HDR video capture, and quad-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. The ZL will be available from Cincinnati Bell's web site and retail stores beginning May 1.
Sony Mobile today announced that the Xperia ZL is available for preorder from the Sony Mobile web store. The ZL was announced at CES in January and is a slightly smaller version of the Xperia Z. It loses the Z's water resistance, changes the back shell, and adds a physical camera button. The ZL includes support for various LTE frequencies, including those used by AT&T in the U.S. The ZL features a 5-inch FHD display, 13-megapixel camera with HDR video capture, and quad-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. Sony is offering the Xperia ZL for $759, as well as a penta-band HSPA+ version for $719. The Xperia ZL is being sold with no contract.
AT&T today announced that the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update is now available to the Sony Xperia TL. Some of the stand-out features include a new data usage calculator, more useful messaging notifications, a new camera interface with improved HDR shooting, and an improved battery management tool. AT&T also adds the AT&T DriveMode application to control the communications features of TL's that are inside moving vehicles. The update can be pulled down manually via Wi-Fi beginning today.
Sony Mobile recently revealed that it, too, will support the new Firefox mobile operating system. According to Sony, its engineers are already working on Firefox and HTML on devices that may arrive next year. The news came as part of a broader announcement about collaboration between Sony and Telefonica.
Sony today announced the launch of a pilot program called my Xperia. The pilot is testing a new service from Sony that can be used by smartphones owners to find or secure lost/stolen devices. The service requires owners of Sony's Xperia smartphones to download a small application and sign in with their Google ID. Once set up, my Xperia can be used to locate a smartphone on a map, sound an alert, flash contact details on the screen, lock the phone, or erase the data on both the internal storage and external SD card. The trial is launching in Nordic countries on the Acro S first, and will be made available to other Android 4.0 devices over time. Sony said it plans to roll the service out to all Xperia users during the second quarter.
Sony today announced the Xperia Z, he company's new flagship for 2013, and its little brother, the ZL. Read on for our first impressions of these top-end phones.
Sony today announced the Xperia Z, its flagship Android smartphone headed into the first half of 2013. The Xperia Z includes a 5-inch display with 1920 x 1080 pixels, making it a full HD screen. It uses Sony's Bravia Engine 2 for improved clarity. The Xperia Z has a 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor with 2GB of RAM, keeping it motivated. The Xperia Z features a 13-megapixel EXMOR camera sensor with Fast Capture technology. The camera can shoot 1080p HDR (high dynamic range) HD video, as well. According to Sony, the Xperia Z has improved power efficiency through the use of something it calls STAMINA. This feature shuts off certain running applications whenever the screen is turned off. The apps then resume instantly when the screen is turned back on. All of these features are packed into a form factor that is water and dust resistant, and measures just 7.9mm thick. The Xperia Z (and a smaller version called the Xperia ZL) will ship during the first quarter of 2013. It will run Android 4.1 Jelly Bean at launch, with an update to Android 4.2 to follow quickly after initial retail availability. Pricing has not yet been disclosed.
Google today announced that Android smartphone owners will be able to push YouTube content directly to more TVs beginning this year. In November, Google enabled Android smartphones and tablets to connect to Google TV boxes (via Wi-Fi) and push YouTube videos directly to the Google TV box (and ultimately the attached TV). Moving forward, Android YouTube fans will be able to do the same thing, but without the Google TV box. New television sets from Bang & Olufsen, LG, Panasonic, and Sony, to be announced at the Consumer Electronics Show next week, will ship with support for this YouTube feature built in. Google expects more TVs from Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Toshiba, Vizio, and Western Digital to arrive with the same feature later in the year. Android phones and tablets can also act as a remote control for the YouTube video, and control play, pause, fast-forward, and other functions.
Sony today provided an update to its Jelly Bean distribution timeline. According to Sony, the Xperia T, TX, and V will receive Android 4.1 in February and March as planned. The Xperia P and J will also receive Jelly Bean in March. The Xperia S, SL, ion, and acro S will get Jelly Bean in late March or early April. Last, Sony said the Xperia U, miro, tipo, and sola won't be updated beyond Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
A jury has found Apple guilty of infringing on three patents owned by MobileMedia, a patent-holding company. The patents pertain to answering calls, batteries, and camera functionality in smartphones. The trial, which was held in Delaware, was limited to assessing Apple's liability, so damages were not awarded. They will be determined in a separate hearing. MobileMedia acquired a swath of mobile patents from Nokia and Sony in 2010. MobileMedia CEO Larry Horn said, "Our goal is really to license these patents broadly to the market." It has similar litigation against HTC and RIM pending. Apple has not commented on the matter.
Jolla, a small Finnish company formed by ex-Nokia employees, today offered a first look at its forthcoming smartphone platform called Sailfish. Sailfish is based on Nokia's discarded MeeGo platform and offers a modern, touch-based user interface. According to a short video of the UI, it uses cards and swiping gestures not unlike Palm's webOS to handle the home screen, apps, and multitasking. Jolla also announced that ST-Ericsson has agreed to make chips for Sailfish-based phones, and the Finnish carrier DNA has agreed to sell Sailfish-based phones when they are ready. Jolla has so far only committed to bringing devices to market during the second quarter of 2013.
Sony today announced that the Xperia Advance, a ruggedized, water resistant Android smartphone, is available for sale in the U.S. It is being sold directly to consumers for $299.99 unlocked and contract free. The Advance has a 3.5-inch 480 x 320 display, 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video capture, and a dual-core processor. It runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but will be upgraded to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. It is compatible with AT&T's HSPA+ network and also includes Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, and 8GB of internal storage.
Sony Mobile today outlined several new features and other improvements it is adding to the Xperia T and TX through a maintenance update. One of the most significant new features is support for HD Voice, which filters out background noise and improves the sound quality of voices in the earpiece. The Xperia T/TX should both see improvements in standby time thanks to new power management features that are put into effect when the display is off. The maintenance update also adds screen mirroring for compatible Miracast HDTVs, and makes change to the media and Walkman playback functions. The Xperia T is sold as the TL by AT&T in the U.S. AT&T hasn't said if its variant of the Xperia T will receive this software update.
AT&T today announced that the Sony Xperia TL will be available online and in stores beginning November 2. It will cost $99.99 with a new two-year agreement. The TL is the official "Skyfall" movie phone, and comes with James Bond-themed content, ringtones, and videos. It will also come with a programmable NFC tag that interacts with the Bond content.
Sony today provided more details about previously announced job cuts and other cost-saving measures. The company plans to lay off approximately 2,000 people from its headquarters and plant in Gifu, Japan. Another 2,000 workers employed in Sony's European offices will also be let go. Sony earlier this year said it would cut up to 10,000 jobs by March 2013. In addition to the job cuts, Sony also plans to shutter a manufacturing facility that makes camera lenses and mobile phones. Sony believes these changes will help it save about $380 million in costs per year.
Sony Mobile today revealed a list of its devices that will be updated to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. According to Sony, the bulk of its 2012 Xperia lineup will receive Jelly Bean, including the Xperia T, TX, and V. These devices will begin to receive Jelly Bean during the middle of the first quarter of 2013. Other devices slated for Jelly Bean include the Xperia S, acro S, ion, P, go, and Xperia J. Sony will provide more information with respect to the timing of the Jelly Bean update for this second list of phones at a later date. Most of Sony's 2011 devices will be updated as far as Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwhich, but not Jelly Bean.
Sony's latest Android smartphone for AT&T is the Xperia TL. This LTE-equipped device has a solid screen and some personality in the design. Here are our first thoughts.
Ericsson today said that it has demonstrated the first call using LTE-TDD to circuit switched fall back (CSFB) technology in public. The call was made with Ericsson networking gear and a device using a multi-mode LTE chipset from Qualcomm. CSFB is one solution that may be used by wireless network operators to transition phone calls from LTE networks to GSM networks. CSFB allows both LTE and 3G network connections to be supported on a single chip, which lets handset makers design smaller, less expensive, more power-efficient phones that can make voice calls over LTE networks, and then switch to GSM-based networks when LTE coverage is not available. Earlier this year, Ericsson and Qualcomm used Single Radio Voice Call Continuity (SRVCC) to achieve the same effect for VoLTE-to-WCDMA handoffs. Today's announcement expands the handoff scenario from standard LTE to LTE-TDD, which is an updated version of LTE.