Mobile World Congress

Asus unveils 3G dual-SIM and LTE variants of Fonepad 7 at MWC 2014

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Asus announced two new variants of its refreshed Fonepad 7 voice-calling tablet at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona. One variant features LTE connectivity, while the other is a dual-SIM variant with 3G+Wi-Fi connectivity. Asus however failed to announce the pricing and the availability of both the new Fonepad 7 variants.

Most of the specifications are the same between the new devices and the refreshed Fonepad 7 tablet, which featured a single-SIM card slot, and 3G+Wi-Fi connectivity.

Some of the key specifications of the next-generation Fonepad 7, launched in September 2013, include a 7-inch IPS LCD display with an 800×1280 pixel resolution, a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Atom Z2560 processor with 1GB of RAM, 5-megapixel rear camera, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, and 16GB of inbuilt storage.

Launched at MWC 2014, the Fonepad 7 LTE variant (ME372CL) supports 4G LTE networks, while the rest of its specifications identical to the refreshed Fonepad 7.

The second variant of the refreshed Asus Fonepad 7 launched at MWC 2014, is the ME175CG variant that features dual-SIM support apart from 3G+Wi-Fi connectivity, as reported by Phonearena. The 7-inch dual-SIM voice-calling tablet, unlike the 4G LTE and 3G+Wi-Fi single-SIM variants, houses a 1.2GHz dual-core Intel Atom Z2520 processor, with the rest of the specifications remaining the same.

The Taiwanese firm earlier in February expanded its PadFone smartphone-tablet hybrid line-up with the launch of PadFone Infinity Lite.

Much like its predecessor the Padfone Infinity, the PadFone Infinity Lite comes with a tablet docking station, which in this case features a 10.1-inch full-HD (720×1280) Super IPS display, which offers 224ppi pixel density. Like previous iterations, the smartphone fits into the tablet dock, powering the tablet with its hardware. The tablet dock packs a huge 5000mAh battery.

The PadFone Infinity Lite features a 5-inch full-HD (540 x 960 pixel) display which boasts a pixel density of 441ppi. Internally, the PadFone Infinity Lite packs a 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor along with 2GB of RAM. It sports a 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash and also includes a 2-megapixel front-facing camera.

Nokia X Android family to receive SwiftKey keyboard app for free

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SwiftKey has announced that the Nokia X family of devices – and any future Android device with access to the Nokia Store – will get the popular keyboard app for free.

SwiftKey, the fast-typing predictive text keyboard, will also arrive with support for SwiftKey Cloud, which gives users the ability to backup and sync their personal writing style across multiple devices and offers predictions for current trending phrases and words. It will also include three SwiftKey app themes (Cobalt as the default theme, Holo and Light).

The original SwiftKey app for Android is available in a free-for-a-month trial version in some regions, or users can buy the app outright for Rs. 99 ($3.99 in the US).

SwiftKey CEO and co-founder Jon Reynolds sayid, “We are delighted to be collaborating with Nokia on their debut Nokia Store, a company renowned for its significant user base and impressive reach in emerging markets. This collaboration with Nokia demonstrates our ongoing commitment to bring SwiftKey’s personalized, adaptive technology to as many users as possible.”

SwiftKey will be available on Nokia Store in the following countries: Vietnam, Indonesia, China, Thailand, Russia, Ukraine, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, UAE, Kuwait, Philippines, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Oman, Qatar, Poland and Turkey.

The Nokia X, Nokia X+ and Nokia XL dual-SIM Android-based smartphones were announced on 24 February 2014 by the Finnish firm at the sidelines of MWC 2014 in Barcelona.

Also coming to Nokia X is another popular app, BBM. BlackBerry said it will make its messaging service BBM available to Microsoft’s Windows Phone and the upcoming Nokia X platforms in the coming months. BBM for Nokia X will be available from the Nokia Store when the Nokia X platform launches, BlackBerry said in a statement on Monday.

Blackphone secure Android smartphone now up for pre-order

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Blackphone, a smartphone focused on the user’s privacy, is now available for pre-order from its own official website for $629 (Rs. 39,000 roughly). While the pre-orders are open for Blackphone, the device will start shipping from June 2014. The privacy-focused smartphone was scheduled to be launched at MWC 2014, after it was unveiled earlier in January.

The Blackphone, which is a creation of GeeksPhone, a Spanish smartphone maker, along with Silent Circle, an encrypted communications firm, is available with free shipping charges for a number of countries including India. However, along with 15 percent tax, the smartphone will ultimately cost $723 (roughly Rs. 45,000) in India, not to mention the local custom duties that you may attract while importing the phone.

The Blackphone can be pre-ordered from here. The company says users can also return the Blackphone back if they are not satisfied, and they will be refunded later.

Some of the hardware specifications listed for Blackphone on the pre-order page are: 4.7-inch HD IPS screen; >2GHz quad-core SoC; 2GB DDR3 RAM; 16GB Storage; 8-meapixel rear camera; 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera; Bluetooth 4.0; LTE connectivity; Wi-Fi 802.11n, GPS and HSPA+. Other specifications like battery capacity, sensors and expandable storage option are not known yet.

The Blackphone is powered by a custom version of Android made by GeeksPhone in association with Silent Circle, called PrivatOS. The OS will allow the user to make and receive secure calls, send encrypted text messages, store files securely and browse the web through an anonymous VPN.

Phil Zimmermann, one of the creators of the Blackphone, stated, “I have spent my whole career working towards the launch of secure telephony products. Blackphone provides you with everything you need to ensure privacy and control of your communications, along with all the other high-end smartphone features you have come to expect.”

Android, Galaxy S5, Gear Fit, Mobile World Congress, mobiles, MWC, MWC 2014, Samsung, Samsung Galaxy S5, Samsung Galaxy S5 launch, Samsung Galaxy S5 price, Samsung Galaxy S5 specifications

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The Samsung Galaxy S5 has finally been revealed, after weeks, if not months, of anticipation. While the company has detailed the numerous hardware and features of the flagship smartphone, it has chosen not to mention price. The Korean manufacturer however did say the Galaxy S5 would launch in 150 countries, starting from 11 April 2014.

The biggest new features being touted on the Galaxy S5 by Samsung include a fingerprint scanner on the home button, a heart rate sensor placed near the 16-megapixel camera, and the IP67 certification that makes it dust and water-resistant. The smartphone also features a new design in terms of the back panel now being perforated, and available with four colours at launch, and optional designer back panels.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 will ship with Android 4.4.2 KitKat. It features a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display with a 1080×1920 pixel full-HD resolution. It is powered by an unnamed 2.5GHz quad-core processor coupled with 2GB of RAM. The Galaxy S5 will be available in 16GB and 32GB variants, with microSD card expandability up to 64GB.

The Galaxy S5 bears a 16-megapixel rear camera with HDR (for video as well), and a 2.1-megapixel front-facing camera. The rear camera can record UHD video @30 fps along with HDR and video stabilization functionality.

Connectivity options include 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac with MIMO functionality, ANT+, Bluetooth 4.0, USB3.0, NFC, and Infrared remote functionality. A Download Booster is also being touted, which combines LTE and Wi-Fi for faster download. It features a 2800mAh battery, rated to deliver 21 hours of talktime, and 390 hours of standby time.

The smartphone weighs in at 145 grams (slightly heavier than the Galaxy S4), and has dimensions of 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm (slightly thicker than the S4’s 7.9mm). 

Additionally, it has been noted that the Galaxy S5 would arrive in four colour variants – Charcoal Black, Shimmery White, Electric Blue and Copper Gold. Furthermore, the handset will be compatible with Samsung Gear Fit, which is the firm’s first curved, Super AMOLED health-focused wristband.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 will also arrive with the latest and updated Samsung KNOX security software to keep the user’s data safe. Some of the pre-loaded Google service available in the handset are Chrome, Drive, Photos, Gmail, Google, Google+, Google Settings, Hangouts, Maps, Play Books, Play Games, Play Newsstand, Play Movie & TV, Play Music, Play Store, Voice Search and YouTube.

Samsung Gear Fit health wristband with curved Super AMOLED display launched

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Samsung has launched the “world’s first” wearable device with a curved Super AMOLED touch display, a fitness band dubbed the Samsung Gear Fit. The company showcased the new health band at the Samsung unPacked 5 event during MWC 2014, where it also showcased the Galaxy S5 – which also has a strong fitness focus.

Smaller and lighter than the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo smartwatches, the Gear Fit fitness band is focused on health. Samsung is however touting the many ways its fitness band is better than others, with unprecedented interaction with the smartphone – such as notifications, rejecting calls, and playing music – almost making it a smartwatch.

The Samsung Gear Fit features a 1.84-inch Super AMOLED display with a 432 x 128 pixel resolution. The Gear Fit comprises of a pedometer, heart rate monitor, and a sleep monitor. Other built-in functions include a fitness app, exercise mode, stopwatch, timer, schedule, smart relay, media controller. Additionally, the users will get active notification alerts for SMS, calls, e-mail and apps on the Gear Fit.

The Gear Fit also features dust and water resistance IP67 certification. Also onboard is Bluetooth 4.0 LE (low energy) wireless connectivity. The Gear Fit also comprises of an accelerometer and a gyroscope.

A 210mAh battery powers the Samsung Gear Fit, which gives a typical usage of 3 to 4 days, and up to 5 days with low usage. The device measures in at 23.4 x 57.4 x 11.95 mm (body only) and weighs 27 grams.

The Gear Fit would be available in Black, Grey, and Orange colour variants, apart from different colour and designer straps as well. The device will be compatible with 20 Galaxy devices, however just which devices haven’t yet been detailed, apart from of course, the Galaxy S5. The smartphone and its accessories, including the Gear Fit, will be available in the markets starting 11 April this year.

“[Our] Gear product portfolio continues to expand with unique devices for a wide range of lifestyles, including the new Gear Fit designed to help those consumers striving to live more fit and active lives without sacrificing their own personal style or their ability to stay connected on the go,” states JK Shin, CEO and President of IT & Mobile Division, Samsung Electronics.

Notably, Sony on Monday launched its own fitness tracking band, the SmartBand SWR10, which features compatibility with Android devices other than those manufactured by Sony.

Samsung Galaxy S5 with fingerprint scanner, heart rate sensor launched

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Samsung sought Monday to frame its new Galaxy S5 smartphone as a lifestyle product, as it emphasized a built-in heart-rate sensor and improved camera features over its slightly larger size.

One of the main appeals of Samsung phones has been their size. The screen has steadily increased since the 4-inches (10.2 cm) on the original S from 2010, while the iPhone made that jump to 4-inches only in 2012 and has stayed that way since.

But the S5 pushes the screen to only 5.1-inches (13 cm), measured diagonally, from 5-inches (12.7 cm) in last year’s model. Instead of size, Samsung touted the new phone’s ability to adapt its screen to changing external conditions and to dim it to avoid disturbing others nearby.

The phone has a 16-megapixel camera, sharper than the 13-megapixel in its predecessor. It promises faster auto focus and the ability to blur the foreground or background of an image to emphasize a subject.

Samsung Electronics Co. made the latest announcement during the Mobile World Congress wireless show in Barcelona, Spain.

The new phone will go on sale worldwide on April 11. The company didn’t announce a price; its predecessor sold for about $600 without phone subsidies or a contract.

The S5 has a fingerprint sensor to use in place of a passcode to unlock the phone or make payments through PayPal. It’s a feature still rare in phones, though Apple introduced it in last fall’s iPhone 5s.

Samsung’s Galaxy S series has emerged as one of the strongest challengers to Apple’s iPhones and has helped the Korean company surpass Apple as the world’s largest smartphone maker. According to Gartner, Samsung’s smartphones had a worldwide market share of 31 percent last year, compared with 16 percent for Apple’s iPhones.

A chief complaint about Samsung phones has been the company’s tendency to pack them with a slew of features, some of which don’t work well with each other or at all. Recent phones have sported an Easy Mode, with larger icons and fewer customization choices. It’s as though Samsung acknowledges that its devices have become too complex for many people to use.

Samsung showed restraint this time.

“Samsung is betting big on wellness, fingerprint reading and camera autofocus, while keeping a very similar look and feel for its hardware and software,” said Nick Dillon, a senior analyst at the research firm Ovum. “The updates are so minor that on first glance most consumers would be hard pressed to notice that it has changed from the previous version.”

But he said that is to be expected “given the maturity of the smartphone market and the pressure on the Samsung not to mess with its winning formula.”

The heart-rate sensor on the S5 can be used before and after exercise to measure fitness activities. It’s not meant for continuous tracking. Samsung also unveiled a fitness band, Gear Fit, to complement two new computerized watches announced Sunday. Those will be available April 11 as well.

“These devices are Samsung’s commitment and vision to great experiences that matter the most to us all,” Samsung European executive Jean-Daniel Ayme said.

Parents, meanwhile, will enjoy the ability to hand the phone to a kid without worry. Just place it in a kid’s mode, and only approved apps can be accessed. Your kid can’t send your boss an email or post an embarrassing picture on Facebook when all you intended was to have your kid play “Candy Crush Saga.”

The phone is also water resistant.

“Our consumers do not want eye-popping technology or the most complex technology,” said J.K. Shin, Samsung’s head of information technology and the mobile communications division. “Our consumers want durable design and performance. Our consumers want a simple, yet powerful camera.”

HTC Desire 816 with 5.5-inch display launched at MWC 2014

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HTC has announced the launch of Desire 816 mid-range handset at the Mobile World Congress 2014in Barcelona. HTC also confirmed that it will launch the successor to the HTC One on 25 March.

While HTC Desire 816’s price and availability are still being kept as a secret, we do know that the smartphone will sport a 5.5-inch HD (720×1280 pixels resolution) display and be powered by a 1.6GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 SoC processor paired with 1.5GB of RAM. It will come with 8GB of internal storage with support for microSD cards up to 128GB, which may just be the highest expandable memory capacity handled by a smartphone. There’s no word on the Android version on the smartphone, though HTC did confirm the presence of a brand new HTC Sense 5.5 UI on top.

HTC Desire 816 sports a 13-megapixel f2.2 rear and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. The handset ditches the firm’s Ultrapixel camera technology, seen earlier in the HTC One and the HTC One Max. The smartphone is backed-up by a 2600mAh battery, is just 7.99mm thick and weighs 165g. HTC Desire 816 will offer LTE and HSPA+ (up to 42Mbps) connectivity options.

Interestingly, the handset is the first HTC device to incorporate a Nano-SIM instead of a Micro-SIM card. The Desire 816 is said to launch in China by next month around 18 March and will be followed by a launch in April.

The HTC Desire 816 will arrive in white, black, red, yellow and purple colour variants, as seen in the previous leaks via the firm’s Sina Weibo account. HTC Desire 8 would also be sporting the firm’s native BoomSound functionality.