Posts Tagged ‘handset’
Pantech’s latest secret has just been revealed in the form of this 5.6-inch smartphone that’s packing similar gear to the company’s Secret Note. Like its predecessor, the new Vega Secret Up boasts a fingerprint sensor, LTE-Advanced data connection …
Nokia’s upcoming 6-inch Lumia 1520 flagship handset hasn’t been released yet, but we’re already starting to hear early details on the company’s Windows Phone 8.1 plans. Twitter account @evleaks revealed today that Nokia is planning two handsets for Windows Phone 8.1: “Goldfinger” and “Moneypenny.” They’re just codenames for now, but The Verge understands Goldfinger is the flagship model out of the two.
Sources familiar with Nokia’s plans have revealed that Goldfinger will ship with some technology that Nokia has been developing for years now. Described internally as “3D Touch,” it essentially makes use of hardware sensors to detect interactions that are off-the-glass. Former head of Nokia design, Marko Ahtisaari, hinted at…
That new Android Device Manager feature Google announced last week? It’s live now, according to numerous tipsters (and several of our own Android-sporting editors). For the time being, the functionality seems to only be present on handsets, arriving via an over the air update. The new feature lets you ring your phone at maximum volume even when silenced, locate the device on a Google Map and wipe it clean, should the other two options not pan out.
[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]
Source: Android (Google+)
In some ways the Qwerty-packing Q5, with its throwback BlackBerry looks, is a far more important device for BlackBerry than its current flagship, the all-touch Z10. Or the premium-priced Qwerty-clad Q10. The mid-tier Q5 should be priced to shift — because that’s what BlackBerry needs to happen to start regaining the ground it lost when it was forced to pause and reboot its OS to play catch-up with rivals. That’s what the Q5 should do, but will it?
The problem for BlackBerry is it may already be too late to turn things around. BlackBerry’s latest results, out late last week, made grim reading as the company missed analyst expectations, and its share price took a battering. It shipped just 2.7 million BlackBerry 10 handsets in its Q1. But it has only had two BB10 devices to sell, one of which (the Q10) only made it to market in the U.S. earlier this month. Which makes the Q5 even more important: BlackBerry needs more handsets in its portfolio attacking different price points to have a chance of ramping up sales.
The problem is the Q5 doesn’t feel like a saviour. It feels closer to a kludge. Likely it isn’t going to be cheap enough to really hit Android where it hurts (it’s mid-tier, not budget after all). Nor does it feel like enough of a leap forward to convert a new generation of users to BlackBerry. BB10 is still Blackberry playing catch-up with competitors, rather than streaking ahead in the innovation stakes.
Of course many Blackberry loyalists and long-time users aren’t going to be unhappy with the Q5′s old school Qwerty form factor. But that staid staple means it necessarily offers a crimped OS experience versus the full-touch Z10. On the Q5 — as with the Q10 — the touchscreen has had to be squashed into a square to accommodate yesteryear’s physical Qwerty keys. Which is a problem because BlackBerry’s new platform needs room for the user to manoeuvre.
BB10 is built around gestures and layering content — and that whole “peek and flow” dynamic comes into its own on a full touchscreen. But on the Q5′s small square it’s inevitably constrained. Yet, despite this squeezed screen, the Q5 is surprisingly big for a Qwerty BlackBerry. Certainly compared to past generations of RIM hardware — those ever-so-popular Curves and Bolds it apparently succeeds.
As well as being constrained by having to make room for the keyboard, space has to be found to accommodate the bevels where BB10′s gestures have to start. This makes the overall front footprint a bit, well, hefty. It looks like an oversized, top-heavy BlackBerry, which will feel like a step backwards to those accustomed to BlackBerry’s traditionally highly pocketable handsets. And who else is this Qwerty-packer really trying to woo?
Android users have so much choice when it comes to keyboard software that even if they don’t get on with the stock Android virtual keyboard they can switch to Swype, or Swiftkey or any one of the growing number of Qwerty alternatives cooking up interesting new ways to type. The Q5′s immutable plastic keys feel terribly dumb phone in comparison.
Even the BlackBerry exec demoing the Q5 at the press event I attended to pick up a review device described the physical keyboard as “infamous” (Freudian slip?). And said he found typing on it “a bit strange” because “I’m used to typing on the [full touchscreen] Z10.” That says it all really.
The Q5 is a deeply conservative device. It continues to look backwards to BlackBerry’s legacy keyboard-chained past — a compromise between old technology and new software. And like most compromises, it’s unlikely to entirely please anybody. It’s not that it’s terrible, it just doesn’t feel good enough to make an impact — and that means it’s not good enough because BlackBerry needs something remarkable to stand out in this crowded mid-tier segment.
Yet you can see exactly how and why BlackBerry has arrived here. In its current shrunken state, as its user base and revenues have diminished, the company has had to retrench. It can’t afford to lose any more users, yet it can’t afford to ramp up the number of devices in its portfolio quickly enough — making it super important that it retains its one remaining heartland: corporate users. Those are the last really sticky BlackBerry users, even as fickle consumers have wandered off elsewhere.
So BlackBerry can’t cut its ties with the past as it’s now even more dependent on its most conservative demographic. Its focus has to be on servicing that existing corporate user-base — because their loyalty is locked up far more than the average consumer. Some 90 percent of the Fortune 500 are BlackBerry customers, according to the company. And some 60 percent are apparently trialling BB10. BlackBerry needs those bulk-buyers to migrate to BB10 and continue pumping money into its coffers. If they abandon ship BlackBerry really will be an adrift ghost ship.
Selling mobile email to corporates is how BlackBerry built its original mobile empire. And selling to corporates is where BlackBerry has had to retrench to now. An army of cheap Androids is sweeping away its other former stronghold: teens. While free, over-the-top messaging apps like WhatsApp have eroded the appeal of BBM (BlackBerry’s licensing of BBM to Android and iOS this summer also feels like too little, too late). Now, with the mid-tier-priced Q5, BlackBerry is apparently hoping to woo those kids back. But the Q5 compromises on target demographic, too.
On the one hand BlackBerry says it’s aiming the Q5 at younger users. But it also cites SMEs and corporates as targets — flagging up the Balance feature that allows segmentation of work and personal content on the device. Little wonder then that, design-wise, the Q5 looks like it’s trying not to be too much of anything, so no one feels like disowning it. If I had to use one word to describe it, it would be generic. Or plasticky. It’s as if it’s been deliberately left as blank as possible to be as inoffensive as possible — to try to appeal to as wide a group as possible. In other words: another compromise.
The other problem BlackBerry has is that corporates are famously conservative about technology upgrades, which explains why it has no plans to sunset BB 7 any time soon. Corporate investments in BES 7 “have to be protected,” as one BlackBerry spokesman put it. Which means the company has to keep supporting BB 7 and producing devices running that last-gen OS for the foreseeable future. Which stymies change, and hampers BB10′s progress as a portion of resources have to go on the old platform.
Plus, if BB 7 devices are still on offer, why should corporates risk the upheaval of upgrading to a device like the Q5? They’ll stick with what they know, and leave this compromise on the shelf. So while BlackBerry youth users are going — or have already gone — elsewhere to check out shinier hardware, its business users are foot-dragging and in no hurry to move on. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place. No wonder turning this tanker is so hard.
Pricing will of course play a key role in whether the Q5 sits on shelves or not. The mid-tier is where the largest Android army roams. But carrier tariffs for the Q5 are going to need to be a lot lower than the early EE pricing of £26 a month to be competitive enough to win over consumers. That price is pitting the Q5 against iPhone 4S or Galaxy S3 tariff prices. Which makes BlackBerry’s mid-tier offering a tough sell, whichever tech camp you prefer to sit in.
Regardless of whether this middling handset ends up selling well or not, it may make little material difference to BlackBerry’s prospects. The perception that the mobile maker is now locked in a death spiral will only increase shareholder pressure on the management team, and make acquisition a more likely end. BlackBerry would need to sell an awful lot of Q5s to calm that spin.
Well, what do we have here? Okay, let’s scrap the faux surprise. The recently confirmed Ascend P6 has landed, and Huawei hopes it will stir interest in the hearts of mobile users. Debuting across Europe, China and Australia in late June / early August with a €449 ($ 600) price tag, it’s asking you to take it seriously, and that’s what we’ll do.
The mobile market is a fickle place, so it doesn’t matter where you are right now; it’s all about where you’re going. Huawei? Well, it’s definitely got its sights set on an upward trajectory. The Ascend P6 is the latest rung on the ladder, intended to elevate the company to mobile greatness. But, with competition stiffer than ever, can it really call a device with a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 720p display and 8-megapixel camera a flagship? (For its P-series at least?) Huawei’s certainly giving it a try, and it’s hoping that beauty, not brawn, will win the day.
Gallery: Huawei Ascend P6 review
HTC may have its Mini Bluetooth handset, but Sony thinks such implementation works best as a big clip without the numeric pad. Dubbed the SBH52, this splashproof device comes with FM radio, a headphone jack plus a small OLED display to show caller ID and text messages, so in a way it’s similar to its predecessors. What’s new is that you now get NFC as well as an earpiece — the latter lets you use the clip as a mini phone. Expect to see this on the shelves in Q3 this year.
Apple famously lost an iPhone 4 prototype in a bar, sparking a hunt for the individuals involved in the loss and sale of the handset. Microsoft has also lost a phone, one running a future Windows Phone ‘Blue’ version of its mobile software. A Reddit user posted screenshots and information obtained from the device over the weekend, generating interest in unannounced features for Windows Phone which included an early prototype of a notification center. The Verge reached out to the Reddit user in question, and this is the story of the lost secret Windows Phone.
Huawei is launching another phone in the United States, and it’s managed to recruit a powerful ally to share it with consumers: Walmart. On the same day that founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei pushed back against US national security allegations involving his company, Huawei has announced that its W1 Windows Phone 8 handset will be available this month from America’s largest retailer. The W1 isn’t exactly a new addition to the Windows Phone portfolio, but this marks the first time US buyers will be able to secure the device. As a refresher, the hardware contains a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 5-megapixel rear camera, and a 4-inch Gorilla Glass IPS display. You’ll find just 1.7GB of storage available out of the box, but thankfully that can be…
Nokia Puts WhatsApp Hard Key On $72 Asha 210 For Asia, Africa; Qwerty S40 Handset Gets Facebook Button In Europe, Latam
Nokia has announced another handset in its Series 40-based Asha portfolio of low end mobiles which compete with the budget end of Android and cheap BlackBerrys. The 2G-plus-Wi-Fi Asha 210, due to ship before the end of Q2, packs a physical Qwerty keyboard and comes painted in Nokia’s now trademark eye-popping colours (yellow, cyan, magenta), plus black and white. But the most notable addition to this BlackBerry-esque device is a hardware key on the front that short-cuts to messaging app WhatsApp — which, extending the BlackBerry comparison, is the phone’s BBM replacement.
As well as the ability to fire up WhatsApp by long pressing on this dedicated key, Nokia said Asha 210 buyers will get a free subscription to the messaging service for the lifetime of the device. On the Series 40 platform, WhatsApp normally charges a $ 0.99 annual fee after a first year of free use. Last week the messaging service said it now has north of 200 million monthly active users (this compares to BBM’s more modest 60 million). Tapping into the hugely popular social messaging craze is clearly Nokia’s aim here.
Nokia describes the Asha 210′s WhatsApp hardware key as a “world first”, although we’ve seen the mobile maker (and others) stick a Facebook button on a phone before. But before you start wondering how displeased Facebook is going to be with Nokia for two-timing it with a deadly messaging rival, the handset actually comes in two social messaging flavours, with a second variant having a dedicated Facebook key (shown below, on the black handset) instead of a WhatsApp button.
The two Asha 210 social flavours — which also each come in single SIM/dual SIM variants – won’t be offered together in the same market but will rather be region specific, presumably corresponding to where the respective services are most popular. Neil Broadley, marketing director for Nokia’s mobile phones division, told TechCrunch the WhatsApp device will generally target Asia-Pac and Middle East & Africa, while the Facebook flavour will mostly be heading to Europe and Latin America. He also confirmed that neither device will be sold in North American.
Both of our partners are hugely successful around the world.
“On a market by market basis we will have either WhatsApp or Facebook,” said Broadley. “Both of our partners are hugely successful around the world and as we go on a market by market basis, some of our market teams would like to have the WhatsApp variant, some would like to have the Facebook variant. And of course we already have the Nokia Asha 205 on a global basis with the Facebook hard key there as well.”
Broadley added that Nokia is looking at the possibility of making a third variant of the Asha 210 — specifically targeting the Chinese market — with another, as yet undetermined social service loaded on the hard key (China has a variety of homegrown social services that outstrip the popularity of global offerings, such as microblogging service Sina Weibo vs Twitter). Nokia certainly has work to do to win back buyers in China. In its Q1 results last week, China saw the biggest drop of any of Nokia’s regions in terms of sales by value and volume, with $ 334 million in sales in Greater China, down 56% on the year ago quarter.
Low end hardware + social software
Aside from differing social shortcuts, the Asha 210 variants have identical hardware and software, with a sub-1Ghz chip; 2 megapixel rear camera plus a dedicated camera key on the front of the device (in addition to the WhatsApp/Facebook key plus standard nav/call keys); Nokia’s Slam Bluetooth-sharing data transfer tech and its hot-swap SIM system; plus a rubberised full Qwerty keyboard which recycles the pillowed keys of 2008′s Nokia E71. The keyboard also includes shortcut keys for turning on/off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
On the software front, the device comes with WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter preloaded; support for YouTube streaming and web apps; a ‘Games Gift’ of 15 free downloadable “premium” games & apps from the Nokia Store; plus Nokia’s neat voice-guided self-portrait feature, which gets around the lack of a front-facing lens by helping users align a self-portrait when they can’t see the screen.
Nokia’s earlier Facebook-button-packing phone, the full Qwerty Asha 205, was announced in November last year. At the time, the company’s decision to introduce a phone with a dedicated Fb button revived a 2011 trend which, for the majority of last year, appeared to have run its course — without, apparently, covering any of the device maker particpants (including HTC, Orange and Vodafone) in huge heaps of gold.
Asked about sales of the Asha 205, Nokia said it has not broken out any numbers for the model but added that the number of Facebook activations for the device is “significantly higher” than for the average Asha family device. Whatever the sales figures, Nokia clearly believes there is more gold to be mined from low end mobiles by associating its hardware with the biggest brands of the social messaging space.
Asha vs Android: Show me the money
The Asha 210 — along with the entire Nokia Asha range — targets developing markets and cost-conscious consumers, which explains its focus on seeking ways to reduce not just the initial outlay but also the total cost of ownership, while simultaneously amping up its core social offering by making sure it can provide access to big name apps and allow for easy social photo-sharing, as Android does.
The Asha 210 will have a $ 72 price-tag (before taxes and subsidies). The price-tag puts it in touching distance of budget Androids and while the S40 platform is not as user friendly, flexible or as app-rich as Android, Nokia has been working to strength its competitiveness against Android’s low end with additions such as its cloud-based data-compressing Xpress Browser, which ekes out up to three times as much data as non-compression browsers to help keep the user’s data costs down, plus offers such as ‘Games Gift’ and the free WhatsApp subscription.
As with other Asha devices, the 210 also boasts a long battery life — of up to 46 days on standby, and around 12 hours talk time. Nokia noted that it is using push notification technology to reduce battery drain caused by the Asha 210 checking for WhatsApp/Facebook updates. Update checking is done by Nokia in the cloud, with any new info pushed out to the user’s phone when it arrives.
One more thing…
Nokia and WhatsApp are about to hold an online Q&A about the launch of the Asha 2010 so we’ll be checking for any interesting tidbits that come out of the discussion to add as an update below. Currently, around the world, there is still plenty of regional diversity across messaging and social services – messaging apps are especially fragmented. Many of these apps inevitably compete with and come into conflict with social networking giant Facebook, which wants to own all the world’s chatter. And with Facebook having just launched its app-sidelining Android skin, social challengers such as WhatsApp are likely to be keen to find ways to increase their own visibility on mobile. Having your brand stamped on the outside of a phone sounds like a great place to start.
Updates from the Q&A, with Nokia’s Broadley and Neeraj Arora, business development, at WhatsApp:
On whose idea the WhatsApp hard key was, Nokia’s or WhatsApp’s… Broadley: “We have an ongoing relationship with WhatsApp that spans a range of Nokia Asha and other Nokia products. We are both really excited about this opportunity.”
On whether the WhatsApp hard key will be exclusive to Nokia devices… Arora & Broadley: “We are very excited to bring a dedicated WhatsApp button to Asha 210 and we will take consumer feedback for future consideration.”
On whether Nokia will bundle WhatsApp’s software with all Asha devices… Broadley: “We already bundle WhatsApp with many Nokia Asha family devices and are working on extending it to as many Nokia phones as possible.”
On what evidence there is consumers want social messaging hard keys on phones, or whether they just want easy access to lots of apps & services… Broadley: “With the Nokia Asha 210 we’ve worked hard to give people the best of both worlds. People have access to a dedicated hardware button, preloaded social networks ready to go right out of the box, and access to the Nokia Store to download and install more.”
On WhatsApp’s support for dual SIM devices… Arora: “The launch of Asha 210 does signify WhatsApp’s availability on Dual SIM devices. We are working on extending it to other Dual SIM devices.”
On the differences between the Asha 210 and Nokia’s earlier Facebook button phone, the Asha 205… Arora & Broadley: “There is WhatsApp deep linking into social share gallery and there is more to come.”
On the Asha 210′s battery performance… Broadley: “We have a really high quality Nokia 1200 mAh battery in the Nokia Asha 210. The software really helps get great battery life — for example we have something called Nokia Notifications which works in the cloud to check for your social network updates, then pushes them to the phone. This stops the individual apps having to continually check for updates — saving battery.”
On Nokia’s approach to phone design… Broadley: ”Starting with the Nokia 206 announced just before Christmas we’ve been progressively uniting the Nokia portfolio under a single, coherent design language… We have one stunning design approach across the Nokia range.”
On whether Nokia could introduce a Lumia product with a physical Qwerty to differentiate its smartphones from rivals’… Broadley: “We don’t comment on future plans.”
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This year’s Mobile World Congress was a rather meaningful one for Jolla, what with the launch of its Sailfish OS SDK. But what’s an operating system without a proper fixture, right? To wit, DigiToday is reporting that the team of ex-MeeGo engineers is getting ready to debut its first hardware early next month — a handset emblematic of a “modern Scandinavian design,” according to Jolla Chairman Antti Saarnio. Further, the Finnish news site says Jolla’s taking a cue from the recent crowd-funded craze: it’s prepping limited edition versions of the device for early adopters. Naturally, we’ll have to wait for something more concrete, but with May just around the corner, it shouldn’t be too long before we can finally see what Jolla has in store for us.
Via: My Nokia Blog