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Created by Google, Android is a smartphone OS and platform that is open-source and open for any manufacturer to use to make a smartphone. Most Android phones use a version that is mostly provided by Google and requires Google services. Android phones can run Android apps, available from the Google Play Store, or, optionally, from other sources.

by:  Google


Qualcomm vs. Bullitt: Satellite Connectivity Comparison and Hands On

Jan 5, 2023, 5:57 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jan 5, 2023, 5:58 PM

Both Bullitt and Qualcomm have just announced new solutions for putting satellite connectivity in Android phones. Both services offer full two-way messaging for non-emergency use, in addition to an SOS service. Both systems are already operational and the companies were doing live demos here in Las Vegas. I checked out both demos and talked with company executives about the details. While the basics are similar, there are a lot of small but important differences. Read on for a full breakdown of how these services differ and how well they work. I'll also explain how they differ from competing services from Apple, T-Mobile/SpaceX and AST.

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Qualcomm Taps Iridium for Satellite Connectivity

Jan 5, 2023, 3:24 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jan 5, 2023, 5:59 PM

Qualcomm has revealed Snapdragon Satellite, the company's solution for connecting Android phones directly to satellites for truly global coverage. The feature uses the Iridium network, a satellite constellation that has has been in operation for 25 years. As a polar LEO (low-earth orbit) constellation with inter-satellite links, Iridium offers full global coverage, even mid-ocean and in polar regions. The low-bandwidth data channel is designed to support basic 2-way messaging. It works in two specific modes: emergency and "premium". The emergency SOS feature is designed and supported by Qualcomm and Garmin. When a user tries to dial 911 outside of cellular coverage, the phone automatically asks if you'd like to use the satellite messaging feature to contact emergency services. This routes your messages through the same call centers as Garmin's InReach service, which already offers service worldwide. Manufacturers can also implement an SOS button wherever they like in software (or hardware) to trigger the feature. Like Apple's version of this technology, it sometimes (but not always) requires aiming, which the phone automatically guides you through if necessary. However Qualcomm claims several advantages over Apple's solution: it can send much longer messages, and they are sent and received much faster (3 seconds, on average). Users must manually check for new messages to receive them, which is rate-limited to every 30 seconds. Qualcomm expects the emergency feature to be very affordable or possibly even free on some phones. The "premium" service for non-emergency use will cost more. This can either be integrated with SMS or added to a third-party messaging app. It will be up to manufacturers to determine how this feature is implemented and priced. The already-announced Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset includes support for Snapdragon Satellite, (though not all phones with that chip will necessarily support the feature). Iridium uses the L band, which is near 1,600 MHz. This is close enough to GPS/GNSS and cellular mid-band frequencies that it can share one of those existing antennas in a phone, requiring only the most minimal extra radio components to implement. Multiple manufacturers are planning to launch phones with Snapdragon Satellite in the second half of the year.

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Bullitt Launches Its Own Two-Way Satellite Messaging Service

Jan 5, 2023, 3:00 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jan 5, 2023, 3:17 PM

Phone maker Bullitt has teamed up with a number of partners to create its own two-way satellite messaging service. An upcoming Motorola Defy-series phone (made by Bullitt) will support the new service and launch in the US soon. Bullitt is offering the service to other manufacturers as well. The Motorola Defy phone will use a MediaTek add-on modem chip that supports NTN (non-terrestrial network) communications. Bullitt is relying on Skylo to provide the satellite service, with is powered by "existing licensed GEO satellite constellations, such as Inmarsat and others." Bullit has created it own messaging app for the service. The app will try using cellular or Wi-Fi networks when available, but fall back to satellite. An emergency SOS service will be free for the first year, and is backed by critical event response specialists FocusPoint International. Subscription plans start at $5/ month for 30 non-emergency messages. SOS messages do not count against the bucket, and shorter messages (including location check-ins) count as fractional messages. When texting other people for non-emergency use, the other person receives a standard text message, but must download a free app to reply and have it relayed by satellite. The app will be available for both Android and iOS. Only the user of the satellite-capable phone is charged for satellite messaging. The service is launching first in the US and Europe, and only provides coverage in launched regions. It reaches far offshore, but not in the middle of the oceans nor polar regions. When in satellite-only coverage, messages via the service are received automatically, unlike some competing solutions. Users should usually not be required to aim the phone to connect to a satellite.


Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola Caters to Businesses

Jan 5, 2023, 11:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Motorola's newest phone is the Lenovo ThinkPhone, a mobile phone designed to appeal to business customers and integrate seamlessly with Lenovo ThinkPad laptops. The ThinkPhone has high-end specs, a durable body, and extensive security features. A full array of connectivity features with ThinkPad laptops includes Instant Connect seamless discovery when nearby, Unified Clipboard, drag-and-drop file sharing, and Instant Hotspot with 5G. Android apps can be opened on the laptop, including launching with one click from Unified Notifications. Advanced Webcam lets you use the phone's 50-megapixel camera for higher-quality online meetings. Other phone specs include a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor, 8–12 GB RAM, 128–512 GB storage, 6-inch FHD+ OLED display, Wi-Fi 6E, and USB 3.1. It has a 3,000 mAh battery, 68-watt fast charging (68W charger included), and wireless charging. It comes with Android 13 and four years of security updates. A secondary rear camera offers 13 megapixels of 120º wide-angle, while the front camera is 32 megapixel. An aircraft-grade aluminum frame, Kevlar-like "lightweight aramid fiber that's stronger than steel", and Gorilla Glass Victus give the phone durability as well as an IP68 rating for proper water resistance. In addition to ThinkShield and advanced enterprise mobile device management, the ThinkPhone comes with Moto KeySafe, "a separate processor ... that adds an additional layer of security to better protect the most sensitive data in the smartphone. It isolates PINs, passwords, and cryptographic keys, storing them in a tamper-resistant environment protecting the data from the inside out." The ThinkPhone will be available to US business customers and unlocked online "in the coming months". Pricing was not announced.


Google Wants Android to Work on Non-Arm Chips

Jan 4, 2023, 10:17 AM   by Rich Brome

At the RISC-V Summit event, Android's director of engineering Lars Bergstrom announced that Google is working to get Android running on RISC-V chips as a "tier 1" platform. RISC-V is an open chip architecture that offers an alternative to the Arm chip designs that are dominant in mobile devices today. As western countries continue economic hostilities with China, some companies — particularly in China — are looking for alternatives to Arm, which is based in the UK. Bergstrom said the process will take years. However, once complete, most Android apps should run on RISC-V with no changes required by the developer; games could be the most common exception.


Android and Google Devices Now Support Matter

Dec 15, 2022, 11:47 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Dec 15, 2022, 11:48 AM

Google has updated its Google Home app and Google Home / Nest devices to fully support Matter, the new industry standard for smart home control. Existing Google home hardware can serve as a Matter hub, including the original Google Home speaker, Google Home Mini, Nest Mini, Nest Audio, Nest Hub (1st and 2nd gen), Nest Hub Max, and Nest Wifi Pro. Matter-enabled smart home devices can connect to your home's Matter network via Wi-Fi or Thread (a low-power standard). Thread devices require a Thread border router; the Nest Wifi Pro, Nest Hub Max and the Nest Hub (2nd gen) can act as a Thread border router. Matter is designed for "Multi-Admin", meaning you can use multiple devices and ecosystems simultaneously to control your home, including both the Google Home and Samsung SmartThings apps. Android's Fast Pair feature also now works for Matter devices, making it faster and easier to set up new smart home devices. Next year, Google will bring Google Home with Matter to iOS. A handful of Matter-enabled devices are already available, "with many more coming in early 2023".


FCC May Mandate Security Updates for Phones

Dec 15, 2022, 11:32 AM   by Rich Brome

FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington is calling for the FCC to mandate that device manufacturers "explicitly commit to supporting their wireless devices with security updates for a defined period." Phones and other wireless devices that are in active use but no longer receiving security patches represent a national security risk, according to Simington. Some manufacturers have committed to providing security updates for up to five years for their high-end devices, while other companies make no specific promises. New security vulnerabilities are regularly discovered in both new and old versions of Android, iOS, and other OSes. Left unpatched, older devices become susceptible to more and more of these issues over time, providing an open door for malware, spyware, ransomware, and more.


Car Key Sharing Coming to Android

Dec 1, 2022, 12:41 PM   by Rich Brome

Google Pixel phones now have the ability to share digital car keys via messaging, including with iPhones. Select other phones with Android 12 or later will also get the feature soon.


Sonim's Next Ultra-Rugged Smartphone is Almost Here

Nov 17, 2022, 8:30 AM   by Rich Brome

Sonim today announced the impending launch of their newest rugged smartphone, the XP10. The XP10 replaces the XP8, adding 5G but in a lighter and "sleeker" design. The phone will launch "with major carriers in the coming weeks". Key features include a removable 5,000 mAh battery, extra-loud 100bB+ speakers, and Android 12. Its rugged credentials include MIL-STD-810H ratings for drops (from six feet directly onto concrete), water immersion (in six feet of water for 60 minutes), and all weather conditions (from -4° F to 131° F). The XP10 can also be "sprayed, submerged and rigorously cleaned in soap and water or with harsh chemicals, like isopropyl alcohol or bleach, to ensure it is fully disinfected." For dangerous work environments, the XP10 is rated Non-Incendive Class I, II and III Div 2. Although Sonim did not announce specific carrier partners, both AT&T and Verizon carried the XP8.


Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Redefines AI in Flagship Phones

Nov 15, 2022, 6:00 PM   by Rich Brome

Qualcomm has announced its newest top-end chip, intended to power most flagship-level Android phones in 2023. As expected, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is more powerful and power-efficient across the board (compared to Gen 1), but the most impressive improvements and new features involve AI. The chip also makes several architectural changes compared to previous Snapdragon chips. The new Qualcomm AI Engine doubles the size of the Tensor accelerator and has a new, dedicated power delivery system. It also implements INT4 (a first on mobile), an alternative level of precision for AI math, and Micro-Tile Inferencing. These changes result in an AI performance improvement of up to 4.35x, and up to 60% better power efficiency. A new, direct link between the Hexagon AI cores and the Spectra imaging cores enables features such as a Real-time Semantic Segmentation, where the phone can "see" and understand different parts of a scene in real time, allowing different image enhancements to be applied to faces vs. clothes vs. skies, for example. Qualcomm calls this Cognitive ISP. The Sensing Hub now has two AI processors and more memory, for smarter always-on features. The Kryo CPU cores have been shuffled around. An Arm Cortex-X3 at 3.2 GHz serves as the prime core, but there are now four performance cores and three efficiency cores. The performance cores are split between two Arm A715 and two Arm A710, with the latter optimized for legacy 32-bit apps. Overall, Qualcomm says these new CPU cores are 35% faster and 40% more efficient. On the GPU and gaming side, the new Adreno cores are up to 25% faster and more efficient, and support real-time hardware-accelerated raytracing as well as Unreal Engine 5's Metahumans technology. The X70 modem includes AI technology and supports 4-carrier aggregation for downlink speeds of up to 10 Gbps. The onboard FastConnect 7800 system is the first to support Wi-Fi 7 with High Band Simultaneous Multi-Link (for speeds of up to 5.8 Gbps) and latency below 2ms. Updated Snapdragon Sound now supports Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking. Latency has also been reduced to 48ms for better gaming audio. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 will appear in phones shipping before the end of 2022.

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November Security Patch Fixes Major Security Hole in Pixel Phones

Nov 14, 2022, 6:10 PM   by Rich Brome

Google has fixed a serious bug that allowed anyone with physical access to a Pixel phone to bypass the lock screen and access the home screen and all phone data. The exploit required only an extra SIM card to which the attacker knows the PUK (recovery PIN) code. Inserting the extra SIM and entering the PUK code would bypass the lock screen. The bug affected multiple Pixel models, and Android versions 10–13. It is unclear if the bug affects any other Android phones as well. Google has paid the researcher who found the bug $70,000.


Google Messages Gains 2-Way Reactions with iPhones

Oct 21, 2022, 10:39 AM   by Rich Brome

Google has announced a variety of new features for Messages, its messaging app for Android based on the RCS industry standard.

  • In addition to correctly displaying certain emoji reactions from iPhone users over SMS, Messages will now let you send reactions to SMS messages sent by iPhone users, and display them correctly on the Android side.
  • Another new feature will you reply to a specific message in an RCS thread, so it's clear what you're replying to in a busy conversation.
  • Google will also bring Voice Message Transcription to more phones. Originally announced for the new Pixel 7 series, the feature can present an audio message as text, for situations where it might be difficult or inappropriate to listen to the audio. The feature is coming to the Pixel 6 series as well as the Samsung Galaxy S22 and Galaxy Fold 4.
  • The app will now make even more pro-active intelligent suggestions based on your activity. These include birthday and anniversary reminders; prompts to "star" messages that appear to contain important info like addresses, door codes, and phone numbers; and shortcuts to make calls or add things to your calendar when receiving relevant messages.
  • You will now be able create your own reminders without leaving the app. "Remind yourself to call Mom on her birthday, or [to] schedule that appointment during regular business hours."
  • The app can now play YouTube videos without leaving Messages.
The updated Messages app "will begin rolling out in the coming weeks."


Cricket Doubles Down on White-Label Phones

Oct 21, 2022, 7:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Cricket has started selling two new Cricket-branded phones: the Cricket Icon 4 and Cricket Innovate E 5G. While Cricket has offered many such white-label phones in the recent years, these additions bring the number of own-brand phones the company now sells to ten, possibly a record number for any US carrier. The Icon 4 is made by Wingtech, while the Innovate E 5G comes via Coosea. Wingtech is new for Cricket, although T-Mobile has relied on Wingtech for its last two generations of REVVL phones. Coosea also makes the Cricket Vision Plus (released in June) and Cricket Debut Smart, which launched just last month. Cricket has also turned to FIH and Tinno for white-label phones in the past. Both new phones are entry-level. The Icon 4 has a 6.5-inch HD+ display, 4,000 mAh battery, 13 megapixel camera, 5 megapixel front camera, and rear fingerprint reader. It has 3 GB RAM and 32 GB of storage, the smallest amounts supported by modern Android. It sells for $110. The Innovate E adds 5G and bumps the memory to 4 / 64 GB. It also adds NFC and the screen is slightly larger at 6.6 inches. But battery, camera, and other major specs are the same. It's very affordable for a 5G phone at just $160. (Cricket's other self-branded 5G phone, the Dream 5G, was originally $190, although the company has now discounted that phone to $100 for existing customers.)


Google Overhauls Android's Parental Controls

Oct 18, 2022, 10:03 AM   by Rich Brome

Google is revamping Family Link, the system-wide parental controls for a child's Android device. The biggest new feature is the ability to create temporary "Today Only" screen-time settings that override the usual daily settings. Another major new feature is a geofencing function that lets you "turn on notifications to be alerted when your child arrives at or leaves a specific destination like school or soccer practice." The new design is organized into three main tabs: "The Highlights tab shows a snapshot of your child's app usage, screen time and recently installed apps". The Controls tab lets parents "set screen time limits for each device or for specific apps, set content restrictions and manage app data permissions." "On the Location tab, you can see all of your children on the same map with their device location. You’ll also find other useful features like battery life and the ability to ring your child’s device to find it". Finally, a Notifications screen shows "important updates and ... requests from your children for app downloads, purchases and access to blocked websites." The update is rolling out over the next few weeks. The Family Link app for parents is available for both Android and iOS, as well as via the web.


Samsung Reveals One UI 5

Oct 14, 2022, 11:35 AM   by Rich Brome

Samsung has revealed the design and key features One UI 5, the company's own spin on Android for its Galaxy phones. Besides a design refresh (including an iOS-like lock screen), several key features have been added. Bixby Text Call lets you participate in a phone call by typing text, which the phone converts to audio. The feature is designed for environments where a phone call would be difficult or not allowed, such as a loud concert, theater, or library. One UI 5 also includes a new video wallpaper function. Widgets can now be stacked, enabling fewer, tidier home screens. The software also makes it easy to extract text from images and paste that text elsewhere.


Google Starts Rolling Out Passkey Support on Android

Oct 12, 2022, 9:34 AM   by Rich Brome

Google has started rolling out support for passkeys for web sites in Android and the Chrome browser. Passkeys are a more-secure and easier-to-use replacement for passwords. Passkeys are stored on your device and securely synced with the cloud. Creating and using them is a simple two-step process of tapping your username and authenticating (via fingerprint, for example). Passkeys can also be used cross-device and cross-platform. "For example, an Android user can now sign in to a passkey-enabled website using Safari on a Mac. Similarly, ... a Chrome user, for example on Windows, can do the same using a passkey stored on their iOS device." Google will enable passkeys for logging into Android apps later this year. The current implementation only works with Google's own password manager, but Google will also enable passkeys for third-party password managers next year.


Google Frags Stadia

Sep 29, 2022, 11:40 AM   by Rich Brome

Google will shut down its Stadia cloud gaming service on January 18th, 2023. The service launched in 2019, offering high-quality gaming streamed over the internet to any Chrome-capable device, including Android phones. Google will offer full refunds for all Stadia games, add-on content, and even hardware purchased from the Google Store.


Google Maps Putting Search Results in AR Live View

Sep 29, 2022, 9:49 AM   by Rich Brome

Google has announced an update to the Google Maps app with several interesting new features. The augmented-reality Live View feature now works in a search mode to find and show you specific places nearby, instead of just overlaying walking directions during ongoing navigation. From the main screen, a camera icon will appear in the main search box. Tapping that icon opens the new mode, which starts by showing landmark info overlaid on the real-world view from the phone's camera. It gives a few default search options, such as finding restaurants or ATMs within a five-minute walk. Those search results appear overlaid on the real-world view, with options view more details, such as hours, how busy a place is, and services offered. The feature "starts rolling out in London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Paris and Tokyo in the coming months on Android and iOS." Google also announced a new "neighborhood vibe" feature that displays a visual guide to local highlights when searching for a neighborhood by name. That feature is also rolling out "in the coming months", but will be available globally.


Google Fi Beefs up International 5G Service

Sep 9, 2022, 10:55 AM   by Rich Brome

Google Fi has improved the international roaming offered with its plans, and improved overall iPhone compatibility. Google tripled its 5G coverage abroad, bumping the number of countries where users can roam on 5G from 26 to 39. (Full-speed 4G is available in over 200 countries.) Fi's Unlimited Plus plan has no extra roaming charges, so all your 50 GB of monthly full-speed data is available even overseas. Google also extended international 5G service to Samsung phones, instead of just its own Pixel phones. For iPhones, Google added international mobile hotspot and Wi-Fi calling, features that previously only worked with Android phones on Fi. Google Fi plan pricing remains unchanged.


Verizon Supports eSIM Activation via App

Sep 2, 2022, 2:00 PM   by Rich Brome

Following T-Mobile's announcement that customers of other carriers can switch to T-Mobile quickly and easily using only the T-Mobile app and eSIM technology, Verizon wants to remind people that it offers the same feature within its My Verizon app. Customers of other carriers with a Verizon-approved, unlocked, eSIM-capable phone can download the My Verizon app to set up a new account and activate the phone with Verizon right away, without needing to visiting a store or have a physical SIM card mailed to them. eSIM-capable phones include most recent Apple iPhones and Google Pixels, as well as certain recent Samsung phones. Customers can use either the app (for iOS and Android) or perform the same process via Verizon's BYOD web site.


T-Mobile Switches on eSIM for Easy Switching

Aug 31, 2022, 12:44 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Sep 2, 2022, 10:36 AM

T-Mobile has updated its main T-Mobile app to enable customers of other carriers to switch to T-Mobile "in as little as a few minutes." The feature is able to activate the phone on a new T-Mobile line from right within the app, using eSIM technology. eSIM is found in recent Apple iPhones, Google Pixels, and many recent Samsung phones. Optionally, users can use this feature to activate a free three-month trial of T-Mobile's network as a second line, while keeping their existing service on the phone's primary SIM card. The feature is available for both consumer and business customers. The updated T-Mobile app is available now for both iOS and Android.


Wiko Brand Returns to US with the Voix at T-Mobile

Aug 22, 2022, 2:43 PM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile has launched the Wiko Voix, a new Android phone that runs just $126. The phone is also launching with Metro by T-Mobile for $120. The last Wiko-branded phones for a US carrier were the Ride series for Boost. Wiko is a brand of Tinno, which has a history of making affordable white-label phones for US carriers, including the AT&T Calypso series and Cricket Icon series. Although Tinno has not traditionally touted its own brand in this part of the world, the company has launched a new US web site. Key specs of the Wiko Voix include Android 12, 6.5-inch HD+ display, 3,400 mAh battery, 13 megapixel camera, rear fingerprint reader, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB storage, and a memory card slot.


Motorola's new Edge Offers a Lot for $500

Aug 18, 2022, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Motorola has taken the wraps off its new Edge phone for 2022. This is the little sibling to the Edge+, the company's flagship phone. It keeps many of that phone's best features, including a 50 megapixel main camera, large FHD+ OLED display with 144 Hz refresh and HDR10+, 30W fast charging, two-way wireless charging, 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, and NFC. And yet it's half the price at $500. It also represents a big win for Motorola as the first time since 2017 that a Motorola phone this high-end will be offered by all three top-tier US carriers. To achieve the lower price point compared to the Edge+, the new Edge (2022) uses a MediaTek Dimensity 1050 chip, the wide-angle camera is 13 megapixel instead of 50, the selfie camera is 32 megapixel instead of 60, and it drops stylus support. Camera features include 960 fps super-slow-motion and 4K HDR video capture. Its 6.6-inch main display hides an optical fingerprint reader and is protected by Gorilla Glass 3. The rest of the body is plastic, but with a back that looks like matte glass. Motorola boasts that this is one of its thinner and lighter phones, despite having a large 5,000 mAh battery. It supports Ready For, Motorola's unique software for hooking the phone up to large displays and other accessories for big-screen-optimized video streaming, gaming, and productivity apps. It ships with Android 12, but Motorola has improved its software commitment to three full OS upgrades and four years of bi-monthly security updates. It will come in one color: Mineral Gray. T-Mobile will launch it first, "in the coming weeks", offering it with 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage for $498. Verizon's version will have 8 GB RAM and 256 GB storage, and of course adds mmWave 5G. AT&T will offer its own unique variant with 6 GB RAM and 128 GB storage. US Cellular, Spectrum Mobile, and Visible will also offer it. Motorola's unlocked version will have 8 GB RAM and 256 GB storage; it will sell for $500 for a limited time, after which it will run $600. It will be available from Best Buy, Amazon, and Motorola.com.


Android 13 Exits Beta, Available for Pixel Devices Today

Aug 15, 2022, 12:23 PM   by Rich Brome

Google has announced that a final version of Android 13 is available starting today for recent Pixel devices (Pixel 4 and newer). Version 13 doesn't bring huge changes, but rather a long list of small improvements, primarily around privacy and visual personalization. Public beta versions have been available for a few months. The final release will roll out for newer third-party phones over the next few months.


Blu Gets Into US 5G with the Bold N2

Aug 11, 2022, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Bold (a sub-brand of Blu) has announced its first phone with 5G optimized for a US network: the Bold N2. The N2 is an affordable unlocked phone with very good support for T-Mobile's 5G and 4G networks, including mid-band 5G (bands 41 and 77). The N2 has a 6.6-inch, full-HD, curved-edge AMOLED display. It has a 4,200 mAh battery and supports 30-watt fast charging. It's powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 810 chip paired with a generous 8 GB RAM and 256 GB storage. On the back is a 64 megapixel main camera and 5 megapixel wide camera. The front sports a 16 megapixel camera with its own dedicated depth camera for portrait-mode selfies. It has an in-display fingerprint reader and runs Android 11. The teal-tinted body is "designed with deluxe textured leather and metal housing using premium, high-end materials". It will sell for $349 on Amazon, but Blu is offering a launch-day "flash launch deal of $100 off where early birds can snag it for $249 while supplies last."


Samsung Refines its Foldable Phones

Aug 10, 2022, 8:01 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Aug 11, 2022, 11:01 AM

Samsung has announced its newest generation of foldable phones: the Galaxy Z Fold4 and Galaxy Z Flip4. Both have similar designs and features compared to their predecessors, with a slew of small updates and refinements across the board. Both have been updated with Qualcomm's newest, best Snapdragon chip: the 8+ Gen 1. Both also have upgraded main cameras that perform better in low light. Both have a "slimmer hinge", although the difference appears to be slight. Both are constructed from Armor Aluminum and Gorilla Glass Victus for durability, in addition to IPx8 water resistance.

  • The Galaxy Z Flip4 has slightly slimmer bezels on the main display, a larger (3,700 mAh) battery, and 14% faster charging. The cover display has been enhanced with more functionality, including SmartThings home controls and Quick Shot in camera mode. Similarly, Flex Mode — when the phone is half-folded — now provides a special split-screen interface for more apps, particularly third-party social and video apps. Like the Z Flip3, it has dual 12 megapixel rear cameras, display refresh up to 120 Hz, mmWave 5G, and two-way wireless charging. Also like the Z Flip3, the Z Flip4 will start at $1,000 for the base model with 128 GB storage (and 8 GB RAM). A 256 GB version will also be available, as well as a new 512 GB option. It will come in Bora Purple, Graphite, Pink Gold, and Blue. On samsung.com, a Bespoke Edition will allow users to mix and match frame and cover colors in 75 different possible combinations.
  • The Galaxy Z Fold4 is slightly lighter and more compact than the Z Fold3, while offering wider displays inside and out. The 7.6-inch main flexible display panel is brighter, 45% "stronger", and better hides the under-display camera. The main camera is upgraded to 50 megapixel, while the telephoto camera is now 10 megapixel instead of 12. The software has been overhauled thanks to Android 12L, Google's new version of Android optimized for foldable and large-screen devices exactly like this one. A new task bar floats at the bottom of the main display, and there are new options for split-screen multi-tasking and Flex Mode. Some apps can now be opened in two side-by-side instances of the same app. Other features and specs are similar to the Z Fold3, including the 6.2-inch HD+ AMOLED outer display with 120 Hz refresh, UWB, S Pen compatibility, 12 GB RAM, and two-way wireless charging. The Galaxy Z Fold4 will start at $1,800 with 256 GB storage. It will also be available 512 GB or a new 1 TB option. It will come in Graygreen, Beige, and Phantom Black, as well Burgundy exclusively from samsung.com.
Both phones — along with Samsung's new smartwatches and earbuds — will be available August 26th. All major US carriers will offer both phones. Customers who pre-order will receive a free storage upgrade and a free case. Pre-orders for the Z Fold4 will also come with a $100 Samsung Credit. Various trade-in offers are available depending in where you buy from. AT&T's is the most generous, at $1,000 off either phone when trading in any Galaxy phone, in any condition. That offer is available to all customers and makes the Z Flip4 free.

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Android's Back Function Will Show a Mid-Gesture Preview

Jul 29, 2022, 2:26 PM   by Rich Brome

Google has notified developers that they need to prepare their apps for a new way the "back" gesture will work in a future version of Android, possibly Android 14. Google calls it a "predictive back gesture", and it will display an animation as the user performs the swipe gesture that shows a preview of the screen that "back" will take them to. This will allow users to pause mid-gesture and decide whether to continue or cancel the action.


T-Mobile's New REVVL 6 Series Offers 5G Starting at $170

Jul 28, 2022, 11:01 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Aug 4, 2022, 9:00 PM

T-Mobile has announced it latest series of T-Mobile-branded affordable phones, the REVVL 6 5G and REVVL 6 Pro 5G. They will sell for $170 and $220, respectively.

  • The REVVL 6 5G has a 6.52" HD+ display, 4,500 mAh battery, 13 megapixel main camera, 4 GB RAM, and 64 GB storage.
  • The REVVL 6 Pro 5G has a 6.82" HD+ display, 5,000 mAh battery, wireless charging, 50 megapixel main camera, NFC, 6 GB RAM, and 128 GB storage.
Both phones have a fingerprint reader and 15-watt fast charging. The REVVL 6 series will be available on August 4th from both T-Mobile and Metro. Both phones are powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 700 chipset and Android 12. The phones were brought to market quickly using GMS Express, a program offered by MediaTek and Google that streamlines the software development, testing, and certification process for phones running full Google Android on MediaTek-powered hardware. FCC approvals show that both phones are manufactured by Wingtech, which also made the REVVL V series.


Android 13 "a Few Weeks Away"

Jul 13, 2022, 1:24 PM   by Rich Brome

Google has released Android 13 Beta 4, the last public beta before the final release, which is now "a few weeks away", according to Google. Android 13 will feature support for Bluetooth LE Audio, as well as new personalization and privacy features.


Switch to Android App now Supports all Android 12 Phones

Jun 29, 2022, 1:18 PM   by Rich Brome

Google's Switch to Android app for iOS now makes it easy for iPhone users to move data like contacts, calendars, and photos to any new Android 12 phone. The app initially supported only Pixel phones.


Samsung Galaxy XCover6 Pro is Rugged, Ready for Business

Jun 29, 2022, 12:46 PM   by Rich Brome

Samsung has revealed the Galaxy XCover6 Pro, a new "enterprise-ready smartphone powerful enough to support today's most demanding businesses". Its rugged design carries an IP68 water and dust rating, and MIL-STD-810H certification for drops, altitude, humidity, immersion, salt fog, dust, and vibration. Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+ protects the display, which is designed to work with gloves and wet fingers. The phone also has a removable 4,050 mAh battery, yet is only 9.9mm thick. The body includes two customizable shortcut buttons and POGO pins for dock charging. DeX support lets the phone offer a PC-like experience by connecting an external display, keyboard, and mouse. The phone comes with Android 12 plus four OS upgrades and five years of security updates. Specs include a 6.6-inch LCD display with 120 Hz refresh, 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, NFC, and a fingerprint reader. It has 6 GB RAM and 128 GB storage, expandable via microSD card. The main camera 50 megapixel, paired with an 8 megapixel wide-angle camera and 13 megapixel front camera. North America is not in the list of markets where the phone is launching this July, but Samsung promises "availability expanding to other regions at a later date". A version has been approved by the FCC with excellent support for US 4G and (sub-6) 5G networks. AT&T has offered the XCover series in the past.


Arm's Next-Gen v9 Architecture Focuses on Mobile Gaming

Jun 28, 2022, 11:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Arm has revealed 2022 Total Compute Solutions (TCS22), its next-generation CPU and GPU designs for mobile devices including phones, with a focus on improved mobile gaming performance. All-around performance of this year's solution is up to 28% better, with up to 16% power reduction. The new second generation Armv9 CPUs are designed to improve performance, efficiency, and scalability across the board, but "especially for gaming". Complementing those are a new range of Arm GPUs for advanced 3D graphics, including a new Immortalis brand for flagship GPUs that are even more powerful than the Mali line. The Immortalis-G715 is the first Arm GPU to offer hardware-based ray tracing support on mobile, while the new Mali-G715 supports Variable Rate Shading. The new Mali-G615 improves on the Mali-G610 and rounds out the lineup. All of the new GPUs offer a 15% performance improvement compared to the previous generation. On the CPU side, the new Arm Cortex-X3 delivers "a 25% performance improvement compared to the latest Android flagship smartphone". The new Cortex-A715 replaces the A710, offering 20% better energy efficiency and 5% better performance. For context, this matches the performance of the Cortex-X1. Meanwhile, an updated Cortex-A510 "little" core offers a 5% power reduction. A newly updated DSU-110 interconnect supports 50% more CPU cores (up to 12) and supports a high number of Cortex-X3 cores. With TCS22, Arm is also introducing two new security technologies to address memory safety vulnerabilities: Asymmetric Memory Tagging Extension (MTE) and Enhanced Privileged Access Never (EPAN). Apple, Qualcomm, MediaTek, Samsung, and Google all use Arm's designs and technology as a starting point for their own processor chips that power essentially all of today's phones.


Nothing Reveals Design of phone (1)

Jun 15, 2022, 11:27 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Jun 16, 2022, 11:46 AM

New mobile startup Nothing has released a photo showing the official design of its upcoming smartphone, the phone (1). The unique design has a transparent back that exposes several components, including the NFC coil antenna. The company will hold a launch event to reveal further details on July 12th. Nothing was founded by Carl Pei, the former co-founder of OnePlus. Videos that have been released subsequently show the lightest white parts lighting up and flashing.


Apple's Move To iOS Tool Now Moves WhatsApp Messages

Jun 14, 2022, 10:36 AM   by Rich Brome

WhatsApp now supports Apple's "Move to iOS" system, making it easy for users to switch from an Android phone to an iPhone without losing their WhatsApp chat histories. Move to iOS consists of an Android app that users can download from Google's Play Store. It moves contacts, text messages, photos, videos, web bookmarks, mail accounts, and calendars to a new iPhone. It transfers the data over a temporary, private Wi-Fi network between the two phones. WhatsApp is taking advantage of support for third-party data in Move to iOS. WhatsApp data transferred this way is encrypted and unreadable until the user signs in to WhatsApp on their new iPhone.


Apple Intros Weather API for Apps, Even on Android

Jun 9, 2022, 2:05 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has quietly announced WeatherKit, a new API that will let app developers integrate "hyperlocal" weather forecast data into their apps. This is the same kind of specific weather data previously offered by DarkSky, which Apple acquired in 2020. WeatherKit will be available across platforms — including Android — via a standard REST API. A Swift API will also be available on Apple platforms. The data available includes 10-day forecasts as well as a minute-by-minute precipitation forecast for the next hour. Wind and UV data will also be available.


Android 13 Reaches Major Milestone Toward Release

Jun 9, 2022, 1:53 PM   by Rich Brome

Google has released Android 13 Beta 3, which brings the OS to a key milestone known as Platform Stability. This means that new APIs used by developers are now finalized and won't change, so devs can move full speed ahead with Android 13 versions of their apps.


Android Will Support Braille Displays Natively

May 26, 2022, 11:50 AM   by Rich Brome

Google is adding full support for most braille displays directly to Android 13. Phones with Android 13 will support this important accessibility hardware without needing any extra software like BrailleBack. Google is also improving the braille experience on Android with new shortcuts. "Now there are shortcuts for navigating so it's easier to scroll and move to the next character, word or line. There are also shortcuts for settings and for editing, like jumping to the end of documents or selecting, copying and pasting." The braille features are part of Talkback, the accessibility suite that assists blind and low-vision users. The new braille support will roll out first as part of the next beta version of Android 13.


Google Revamps Android Auto Interface

May 13, 2022, 10:31 AM   by Rich Brome

Google is revamping the user interface of Android Auto, again. Split-screen mode will now be standard on all screen types and sizes, giving users immediate access to functions such as audio, messages, and maps, all on one screen. The interface will also flow to fill different screen shapes better, including ultra-wide and portrait displays. The new version of Android Auto will also update Google Assistant with new "contextual suggestions" for actions such as suggested replies, sharing arrival times with a friend, and playing recommended music. The new Android Auto will roll out "in the coming months".


Encryption Coming to Group Convos in Google Messages

May 12, 2022, 10:33 AM   by Rich Brome

Google has announced that it will bring end-to-end encryption to group conversations in its RCS-based Messages app, starting with an open beta "later this year". End-to-end encryption is already available for one-on-one conversations.


Unified Health Data Coming to Android

May 12, 2022, 10:21 AM   by Rich Brome

Google has introduced a new feature in Android that will let health and fitness apps securely access and share one unified set of health and fitness data across Android devices. The new Health Connect platform and API provides a central place on the device to store data such as activity, sleep, nutrition, body measurements, and vitals like heart rate and blood pressure. It also includes security, privacy, and permission features that give users "granular controls". Users must give permission for each app to have access, and users "will have the ability to shut off access or delete data they don't want on their device, and the option to prioritize one data source over another when using multiple apps." Google has developed Health Connect in partnership with Samsung. MyFitnessPal, Leap Fitness, and Withings have already started working with the platform, and it is now available to all developers.


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