smartphones

LG F70 with Android 4.4 KitKat, LTE support unveiled at MWC 2014

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LG has announced a new LTE-enabled smartphone, dubbed LG F70, at MWC 2014 in Barcelona. Unfortunately, the company has not revealed any details of the availability or pricing of the new LG F70 smartphone. The company’s new smartphone runs Android 4.4 KitKat out-of-the-box. The South Korean giant is targeting the LTE consumers worldwide with its new LG F70 smartphone.

The LG F70 comes with a 4.5-inch WVGA (480×800 pixels) IPS display and offers a pixel density of 207ppi. The LG F70 is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core processor (unspecified chipset) alongside 1GB of RAM. It bears 4GB of inbuilt storage, which can be expanded up to 32GB via microSD card. The LG F70 sports a 5-megapixel rear camera and also packs a VGA front-facing camera. The smartphone runs on a 2440mAh (removable) battery and measures 127.2×66.4x10mm.

The new LG F70 also comes preloaded with the company’s new advanced UX feature, Knock Code, which is an upgrade to the KnockON feature that was introduced in the flagship 2013 smartphone, the LG G2. The Knock Code feature allows users to both power on and unlock the LG (http://gadgets.ndtv.com/mobiles/lg-phones ) smartphone by tapping a personalized pattern on the phone’s screen. According to the company, the new Knock Code feature offers greater security as the pattern is entered on a blank screen using anywhere from two to eight taps, allowing for more than 80,000 possible combinations.

Commenting on the announcement, Dr. Jong-seok Park, president and CEO of LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company said, “Not only does the LG F70 offer the best of LTE technology, its hardware and UX are also best-in-class. Utilizing our expertise in the field of 4G technology, we plan to strengthen our leadership in the global market.”

BlackBerry Z3 and BlackBerry Q20 announced at MWC 2014

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BlackBerry will release a low-cost phone in Indonesia in April and plans a broader release of a phone that restores a beloved row of control keys with a track pad.

The Indonesia phone, the Z3, will sell for less than $200 without subsidies, the company said Tuesday. It will later expand to other markets in southeast Asia. BlackBerry Ltd. CEO John Chen said a version with faster, 4G connectivity is planned for the rest of the world “sometime in the future before I die.”

It’s the first phone made under a new five-year partnership with Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that assembles products in vast factories in China.

Meanwhile, Chen said it will restore the keys in a new phone he termed “Classic.” He said the new Q20 is a response to lackluster sales of last year’s Q10, which has a physical keyboard but lacks the track pad or keys for functions such as going back. He said the company got many complaints about that.

BlackBerry also announced plans to expand its services for businesses needing secure communications, particularly in regulated industries such as health care and financial services. There are plans, for instance, to go beyond securing just email and messaging.

It’s part of the company’s plan to focus on its strengths in business services. BlackBerry Ltd. strayed from that as it tried to lure consumers with new devices.

The BlackBerry was the dominant smartphone for on-the-go business people and other consumers before Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, showing that phones could handle much more than email and calls. BlackBerry was slow in modernizing its operating system, and once it did, the much-hyped system flopped.

Chen was brought in as CEO late last year after talks to sell the company collapsed. Although he has been credited with turning around Sybase, a data company that was sold to SAP in 2010, Chen has acknowledged that reviving BlackBerry will be his most “complicated” challenge.

In the latest quarter, ending Nov. 30, BlackBerry Ltd. reported a $4.4 billion loss and a 56 percent drop in revenue. But the company said it had plenty of cash to engineer a turnaround.

The new partnership with Foxconn will help reduce much of BlackBerry’s manufacturing costs. Foxconn, known for its manufacturing contract work on Apple’s iPhones and iPads, will jointly design and manufacture most BlackBerry devices and manage inventory of the devices.

Chen said BlackBerry will now target the heavily regulated industries that require greater security. It will simplify its pricing and let people upgrade to the latest systems for free this year. It will also offer free services this year for companies that had left BlackBerry for rivals.

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.”

Huawei believes it is finally ready to crack the US smartphone market

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China’s Huawei Technologies believes it can take advantage of recent changes in how operators in the United States sell phones to get a foothold in the all-important market, an executive with its consumer division said on Sunday.

Huawei, best known as a maker of telecom network gear, became the world’s third-biggest smartphonemanufacturer last year, through the sale of mid-priced handsets within its fast-growing domestic market and an increasing appeal to price-conscious consumers in western Europe.

But the group, which lags market leader Samsung and Apple , has yet to gain a foothold in the high-end segment of developed markets such as the United States, where it is viewed with suspicion after lawmakers flagged Chinese telecommunications equipment as potential security risks. It has also suffered from its difficult-to-pronounce brand name, its executives have acknowledged.

After launching five new devices at the Mobile World Congress trade fair in Barcelona, Huawei’s Colin Giles said the group was taking early steps in the United States to build better relationships with mobile operators and directly with consumers via online shops.

“We recognise that the U.S. is a very competitive and very tough market for us,” Giles, the executive vice president of Huawei’s consumer business group, told Reuters.

“Recently there has been quite some change in the U.S. in terms of the whole subsidy landscape, and so that provides a new opportunity for players like us to come with a slightly different distribution strategy than what we used to have.”

In the third quarter of last year, Huawei accounted for 3 percent of all phones sold in the United States, respectively, trailing Apple’s 36.2 percent and Samsung’s 32.5 percent, according to IDC.

Traditionally, mobile operators buy phones in bulk from manufacturers like Apple and then offer them for free or a low upfront cost to customers when they sign a new one- or two-year contract.

T-Mobile USA dropped this model last year in a move to cut costs and woo customers frustrated with restrictions on upgrades in longer-term contracts.

Giles said Huawei was increasing its spending on marketing every year to raise consumer awareness of its brand, though he did not give specific details. In Europe, the company has sponsorship deals with a string of soccer clubs. In New Zealand, Huawei sponsors rugby, and in the United States, it is sponsoring movies.

On Sunday, Huawei launched a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, a new smartphone aimed at 18- to 30-year-old consumers, and two sleek tablets to compete with Apple’s mini iPad.

The company also unveiled its first wearable device, a fitness tracker called the TalkBand, in a bid to take a piece of the burgeoning category. The bracelet, which comes in yellow and blue among other colours and costs 99 euros, can count calories burned and steps taken. It can also be used to make calls.

Samsung launched a new smartwatch on Sunday to succeed its original Galaxy Gear wristwatch, which has failed to gain much of a following with consumers to date.

Samsung Galaxy S5 pictured before launch; specs, fingerprint scanner ‘confirmed’

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Samsung’s much anticipated Galaxy S5 flagship, which is all set to see the light of day at MWC 2014in Barcelona on Monday, might have been leaked in its full glory ahead of its official unveiling.

A Hardware Zone forum member named OKCATYEON has allegedly clicked a bunch of live images of the Galaxy S5. The purported leaked images show the Samsung Galaxy S5 in its full glory, and indicate the device will feature a ridged silver-coloured lining around the device. If the leaked images turn out to be real, we assume that Galaxy S5 will not be a major departure from company’s Galaxy S family design. The alleged leaked image also suggests the Galaxy S5 will include a physical button on the front panel. Notably, the forum member notes the new TouchWiz is not a major overhaul from the company’s previous version.

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The member has also detailed some of the expected features such as fingerprint scanner. The forum member claims that the alleged fingerprint scanner feature will require the user to swipe eight times on the home button scanner to register it, and that the Galaxy S5 can register up to three different fingerprints at a time.

Further, the forum member has claimed that the scanner on the Galaxy S5 can be used with PayPal for authorisation payments for products within the browser. Other features said to arrive on the Galaxy S5 include a new heart rate sensor that is now said to be included in the device’s S Health app.

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About the camera on the Galaxy S5, the forum member notes that the device houses a 16-megapixel rear camera, which is very much in-line with earlier leaks. The device is also said to come with IP67 dust and water resistance, which should make the Galaxy S5 quite waterproof, like the recently unveiled Xperia Z2.

Previously rumoured specifications of the Galaxy S5 include a 5.24-inch AMOLED screen with a QHD (2560 x 1440 pixels) resolution; two storage variants- 32GB/64GB; two processor variants – Exynos 6 and Snapdragon 805, and a 3200mAh battery. The optics rumoured for the Galaxy S5 included a 3.2-megapixel front-facing shooter.

LG confirms smartwatch plans; aims for smartphone growth double the market rate

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LG Electronics Inc aims to broaden its range of smartphones so sales this year grow at double the rate of the market, as the South Korean company seeks to retake the position of world’s third-biggest maker.

LG, who slipped behind Huawei Technologies Co last year with a market share of just under 5 percent, also plans to sell a smartwatch capable of connecting with rivals’ phones, mobile division president Park Jong-seok told reporters ahead of a Barcelona trade fair this week.

LG shipped a record 47.7 million smartphones last year, 81 percent more than a year earlier. But its mobile unit needs more growth to return to profit, after spending heavily on marketing to narrow the gap with leaders Samsung Electronics Co and Apple Inc .

The company aims to increase sales through more models appealing to a wider consumer group, with the Barcelona launch of the G2 Mini – a lower-priced version of the flagship G2 – coming just weeks after unveiling a larger-screen G Pro2.

“I expect competition among tier-2 manufacturers for more market share to become tougher this year, and price competition will also naturally intensify,” Park said.

LG’s mobile unit may take a while to become profitable after swinging to a loss in the three months ended December, as it will continue to spend heavily this year to promote its high-end models, Park said.

Growth of high-end sales in advanced economies is slowing as smartphones become more widespread, likely bringing overall sales growth to the market consensus of 10 to 15 percent this year, Park said.

Overall sales grew 38 percent last year to 1.0 billion smartphones, showed data from researcher IDC.

Park also said LG plans to continue reducing its reliance on local retailers in China where competitors include Lenovo Group, whose $2.9 billion offer for Google Inc’s Motorola handset division could see it leapfrog LG to global No.3 from No.5.

LG also has to contend with the low-priced phones of other local makers Huawei, ZTE Corp andXiaomi.

“In China, we had been pushing for volume growth through investment in retail channels but this proved to be very costly,” said Park.

“We made a strategic change there in late 2012 to focus on high-end models and aim to grow sales mainly through partnerships with mobile carriers.”

Samsung teases new Exynos Infinity processor for MWC 2014 unveiling

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Samsung seems all set to introduce its next-generation of Exynos chipsets at MWC 2014.

The official Samsung Exynos Twitter handle has posted an image that shows a tagline “Exynos Infinity in Barcelona”, suggesting that the South Korean manufacturer might reveal a new Exynos chipset next week. However, the company has not detailed anything about the upcoming new chipsets.

The tweet by Samsung Exynos reads, “Continuing our market-leading innovation and leadership, we bring you our latest innovations. Please stay tuned.”

For those unaware, Samsung has already sent media invites for its “unPacked 5” event, where the company is said to unveil the next Galaxy flagship smartphone at the sidelines of MWC 2014 on February 24 in Barcelona.

The new tweet by Samsung has again kick-started the debate on whether the Galaxy S5 will be powered by a 64-bit processor, which we believe is named the Exynos Infinity by the South Korean giant.

Notably, after Apple’s unveiling of the iPhone 5s, which is considered to be the first smartphone based on a 64-bit architecture chip, the South Korean electronics giant’s mobile business chief Shin Jong-kyun was quoted saying that Samsung Galaxy-branded smartphones would come with 64-bit processing capability. However, we are yet to see whether Samsung’s next flagship is powered by a 64-bit architecture chip.

We expect, based on previous reports, that the Samsung Galaxy S5 will be launched alongside a new tablet series, believed to be dubbed Galaxy Tab 4, at the side-lines of the MWC 2014.

Also rumoured to launch at MWC is the long-rumoured Galaxy Gear successor, named Galaxy Gear 2 at the 24 February 2014 event in Barcelona. The latest rumours surrounding the smartwatch indicate it might launch with Tizen OS, instead of Android like its predecessor.

A report on Wednesday claimed that the Galaxy S5 could be unlocked using a swipe over the home button. The report informs that Apple used a sapphire coating for its home button on the iPhone 5s, while Samsung plans to use a ultra-violet (UV) coating over its fingerprint scanner.

In addition, a report emerging from Korea claims that the Galaxy S5 will be a dustproof and waterproof device.