Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 launch event was headlined by the appearance of Jessica Alba, but otherwise very little unknown information surfaced about the operating system or the devices it would appear upon. One smidgen of news that did emerge, however, was that a Samsung device, depicted by a lonely silhouette and named the Ativ Odyssey, was in the pipeline for a December release on Verizon in the US. Of course December came and went without a release, but CES gave Samsung the opportunity to show the 4″ Windows Phone 8 device to the world. Now, a press release has stated that the phone will be available sooner rather than later, with stores set to receive the Ativ Odyssey and Valentine’s Day editions of the Nokia Lumia 822 and Motorola Droid Razr M tomorrow (January 24th).
The Odyssey joins the Lumia 822 and HTC 8X in Verizon’s lineup of LTE Windows Phones, and its microSD slot and 2100mAh battery should win it some fans, although the 800 x 480 screen resolution and 5MP camera show that it is pitched towards the lower end of the market. As with almost all other Windows Phone 8 devices, the package comes powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 chip accompanied by 1GB of RAM, and it will be available for $49.99 with a new 2 year contract, while whispers of a European launch remain unconfirmed but not impossible.
When HTC unveiled the One family at MWC earlier this year, the simplified line-up was meant to represent a new beginning for the Taiwanese firm. One range of phones for the entire world was supposed to be the result of a shift of focus from quantity to quality, and overall they impressed us. When we reviewed the One X back in August, we concluded that it was a stunning phone and confidently pointed towards a bright future for HTC. Sense aside, HTC could be in a position to become market leaders. But then things changed.
Surrendering to the wills of various carrier partners, mostly in the United States, HTC’s production lines began to churn out even more devices. Since that impressive MWC launch in February, no fewer than 10 Android devices have been launched by the company in various parts of the world, many of which did not bear the One family name. The most recent of these – and the company’s new European Android flagship – is the One X+ which, at first glance, looks no different to the original One X. How does it fare against its latest rivals, and, with new devices just around the corner at CES and MWC after the turn of the new year, is it worth your money? Read on to find out.
Yet another carrier can be added to the list of those bearing LTE compatibility as the Italian carrier TIM has flipped the switch on its new “Ultra Internet 4G/LTE” network. It debuts in Milan, Rome, Turin and Naples and is set to reach a further 20 cities by the end of the year, with half the Italian population in LTE areas by the end of 2014.
Currently the network is limited to LTE modems and tablets, and €35 gets you a very respectable 20GB per month in both tariff and contract form. Available at €349 upfront is also an LTE modem (Onda MT8205) with 12 months worth of the 20GB data plan. Tablet offers include a €35 plan if you already have a compatible 4G LTE tablet or €45 a month for the deal with a free Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 LTE. The Italian arms of 3 and Vodafone are also set to launch LTE services by the end of the year, so 4G seems set for a speedy rollout through Italy.
Following the launch of their LTE network in 11 UK cities on Tuesday, EE has premiered their first TV commercial featuring Hollywood star Kevin Bacon. Entitled ‘How Bacon Rolls‘, the spot features Bacon speaking about his industry connections and how the use of EE’s services can help customers become as well-connected as Bacon himself. Further commercials featuring the actor reprising some of his most famous roles are set to follow, but for now you can see the 2 minute spot below. See if you can spot the HTC One S – a phone that EE is not offering with 4G LTE connectivity – being used by an EE customer in the advert.
In preparation for the launch of their 4G LTE service on October 30th, EE today confirmed the pricing of devices and services on their network. All deals will include unlimited calls and texts, while deals above and including the £41 tier will get an additional media service from a choice of Deezer, 2 Gameloft games per month or live mobile TV from up to 20 channels. A £10 surcharge is applicable to any plan to reduce its length from 24 to 12 months, and existing Orange and T-Mobile customers who have signed deals in the last 6 months may make the switch to an LTE-enabled device for £99 plus any applicable change in monthly cost.
The reception to the tariffs has been hostile from many consumers, with some accusing EE of abusing their temporary monopoly on LTE in the UK and others pointing out that the late timing of this announcement allows for the costs to be buried while many customers sleep. As more networks introduce LTE services over the next year prices will undoubtedly be cut down, but until that point EE’s stranglehold on the market will ensure that the price you have to pay for the fastest data connection in the UK is not a cheap one.
Contract pricing with devices
All plans include unlimited calls and texts.
This summer I reviewed the HTC One X, a phone that came preloaded with Android 4.0.1 and HTC’s comparatively lighter but nevertheless bloated Sense 4 skin. You might recall I went on a bit of a rant about it, with the problem being that it lagged. A new operating system on a top of the line phone should not be stuttering on the homescreen. Now, to coincide with the release of the One X+, HTC has come up with an answer. The new Sense 4+ skin is layered on top of that buttery Android 4.1 goodness, also known as Jelly Bean, but does it fix the inherent problems its predecessor had? Read on to find out.
HTC really has fixed a lot with the new version of Sense. Most noticeably, the stuttering has been eradicated completely and utterly. I’m not completely sure whether this is down to the new Jelly Bean’s Project Butter or simply HTC’s optimisations, but it really doesn’t matter. Whatever they’ve done, it makes the phone a joy to use. Expandable notifications have been introduced too, bringing all sorts of new functionality to your pull down shade. The only problem with these is the slightly awkward two finger pinch gesture to open them up – something that is not present in stock Android. The keyboard is really a lot better than it used to be, nixing the pointless arrow keys at the bottom and adding altogether better feedback and responsiveness. My biggest annoyance with the One X has also been fixed – the menu button situation. It used to be that the One X did not have a hardware menu button, with a software version popping on screen as and when it was needed, wasting about a tenth of the screen real estate. With this update, TC has added the option in settings to reassign the multitasking button to menu. Holding down this button with this setting enabled will take you to recent apps, giving back the screen that was taken. Google Now, Android’s answer to Siri, has also been added, with a long press of the home button propelling you straight into the new voice search feature. While I don’t want to go as far as to compare it with Siri as they both perform different functions, I have to say the retrieval of data is snappier and the voice is not nearly as robotic.
There isn’t really much that has become worse in Sense 4+. After all, it is an update: something supposed to make something else better, unless you are Apple.
There is a lot in this section, and while there is not as much as there used to be, the list of negative aspects of Sense only reinforce my desire to see stock Android being shipped on more than one phone a year. The first thing is the icons, which remain childish and displeasing to the eye. Compared to the polished look of iOS, Windows Phone and post-ICS stock Android, you realise how far behind such skins remain, and a little customisation with an icon pack goes a long way aesthetically. I still feel that the greens and whites of Sense clash with the deep blues and Tron-like lighting of Holo clash horribly, however certain elements appear pleasant and muted. Another thing that hasn’t been fixed is the lockscreen shortcuts, still default to the ones you have placed in your dock.
Overall, I think Sense 4+ is a great upgrade over Sense 4, making Sense a decent skin once again. It makes it smoother, faster, slicker and better looking while also tying in new functionality that you won’t necessarily find in a stock Android build. If you are a user of one of HTC’s One series phones, I urge you to upgrade to keep your sanity and enjoy the butter.
After introducing themselves and their initial 4G plans to the UK last month, EE CEO Olaf Swantee today confirmed that the nation’s first LTE network will go live on October 30th. The network will initially become active in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Sheffield, and service will expand to Belfast, Derby, Hull, Nottingham, Newcastle and Southampton before the year is out. From that point, their ambitious rollout plans expect to have 70% of the country covered by the end of 2013, with this figure increasing to 98% a year later, matching their current 3G footprint. Device-wise, 7 compatible phones and 2 mobile broadband devices have had compatibility confirmed. These are:
Pricing and availability for these devices have yet to be confirmed, but the press release also confirms a forthcoming event where full details will be announced. As for customers who have already purchased the iPhone 5 from T-Mobile or Orange, they will be able to switch networks at launch.
Statement to be attributed to Olaf Swantee, CEO, EE
We are delighted to announce that the official launch of our new customer brand, EE, offering the UK’s first superfast mobile 4G and fibre broadband service, will take place on the 30th October 2012. This is a significant milestone for the United Kingdom, and for the people and businesses of our country who will now be able to enjoy the huge advantages of superfast 4G technology for the first time. We are very proud to be pioneering, innovating and leading our industry in launching 4G for our nation through our new EE brand.
Notes to editors:
1. EE will be releasing invitations to a press event shortly to announce full details of its new brand and exciting new superfast services.
2. EE will be the first brand in the country to offer a mobile 4G LTE service, the pioneering new technology that offers superfast mobile internet at speeds typically five times faster than 3G speeds today.
3. EE will launch 4G in ten cities on the 30th October, and will cover 16 cities – a third of the UK population – by the end of the year. Customers on the EE brand will also have access to the biggest and best 3G network in the UK. Further towns, cities and rural areas, will follow rapidly with coverage to reach 98% by 2014.
4. 4G technology provides indoor and outdoor coverage for superfast web browsing.
5. EE’s 4G services will be available on a number of exciting handsets including the iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S III LTE, Nokia Lumia 920, Nokia Lumia 820, HTC One XL and the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE.
Every year since 2007 Apple has announced a new iPhone. Tonight is their sixth release event. Love it or hate it, the iPhone is continually the highest selling smartphone in the world, with record launches coming each generation. Since the launch of the iPhone 4S last October, which was seen by many as an incremental upgrade over the iPhone 4, rumours have suggested that Apple may have a little more up its sleeve tonight as they launch the 6th generation of iPhone to the waiting world.
While we can be certain that the name will include the word ‘iPhone’ somewhere, violent arguments have broken out across the internet about what the actual name will be. Many are referring to this new device as the iPhone 5 as it seems like a natural progression of name from 4 and 4S, but to call the phone this would be a large error of judgment on Apple’s part. Whatever we see tonight will be the 6th generation of iPhone, and calling it the iPhone 5 may confuse (and annoy) some consumers (i.e. me).
Whatever is announced tonight
What has been speculated is that Apple will follow the naming scheme that they use for every hardware product bar the iPhone to this point, and choose to drop the suffix, referring to the product as iPhone. As with the iPad announced earlier this year, initial advertising may refer to it as the new iPhone and, should it be necessary to pinpoint a specific model, the phone would be referred to as iPhone (6th generation).
Screen size of the iPhone 4 and 4S
In recent times, Apple has begun to expand its Retina Display branding beyond the confines of the iPhone and iPod Touch, with both the new iPad and MacBook Pro sporting the branding. The two previous generations have sported 960 x 640 panels at 3.5″, but one Verge reader suggested that the latest model may have an elongated 3.99″ panel with a 1152 x 640 resolution. Further investigation into the code of iOS 6 has revealed that if pushed to 1136 x 640, the software will display an extra row of apps on the home screen, thus making it incredibly likely that we will see a taller iPhone today.
How a taller iPhone screen could look
Numerous component leaks and the rumours of a taller screen have made the rounds, and one Gizmodo reader had a go at a mockup of the new iPhone, and he can’t be too far off.
Internally things are a bit murkier, but a quad core A6 chip, more RAM and a new mini dock connector seem certain to be included for the first time. A camera upgrade could also be on the way, and 4G LTE support for Verizon, Sprint and AT&T in the US seems certain, especially after the LTE chips found in the new iPad. After EE’s LTE announcement yesterday, CEO Olaf Swantee teased that more devices supporting the network would be announced soon, and an LTE iPhone could prove to be the catalyst to the LTE growth that EE desires.
Whatever happens, we’ll be there with all the news from 6PM BST in our liveblog, so make sure to follow along to get all the news as it happens!
At an event in London today, Everything Everywhere, the company that was formed from the merger of Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom’s UK operations, announced their ambitious rollout plans for the UK’s first 4G LTE network. CEO Olaf Swantee also confirmed that the T-Mobile and Orange brands would remain in action, but the 4G network, along with superfast fibre broadband, would be marketed under the new EE brand.
EE’s 4G network, known as 4GEE, is set to initially launch in London, Birmingham, Cardiff and Bristol, with 12 more cities set to receive 4G by the end of 2012, covering a third of the UK population. By 2013, this figure is set to rise to 70%, and EE’s current 3G mark of 98% coverage will be matched in 2014 if all goes to plan. Speeds are expected to peak at around 25Mbps, but EE is advertising average speeds of 8-12Mbps at launch, in line with peak 3G speeds across the country.
The range of devices that will support the network is very limited, featuring 5 phones and 2 mobile broadband devices, but Swantee hinted at further announcements during the press event. Apple’s new iPhone, set to be announced tomorrow, is expected to carry support for LTE networks, but has been rumoured that support for UK networks such as EE’s may not be present in this generation of iPhone. The full device range announced today is below, and both Nokia devices, announced last week, are set to be exclusive to EE in the UK.