Second generation Nexus 7 (or Asus ME571K_PR1_SKU2) caught on camera ahead of July 24th launch event

After it failed to make an appearance at Google I/O in May, rampant speculation ensued surrounding Asus and Google’s inevitable launch of the successor to the Nexus 7. When Google sent out invitations this morning for an event next Wednesday to be hosted by Chrome and now Android chief Sundar Pichai, many concluded that the Moto X, Android 4.3 and this mystery tablet would turn up, and this has been all but confirmed by Android Central obtaining many pictures and a video of the miniature tablet. Rumours point towards a quad-core Qualcomm processor, a higher resolution display, rear camera and up to 4GB of RAM, all while retaining a price point similar to that of the original, clocking in on retailer databases as $229 and $269 for 16 and 32GB variants.

Source Android Central

 

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Facebook Home and HTC First prematurely revealed ahead of April 4th launch event

Facebook Home HTC First Colours

@evleaks has a near-perfect record for when it comes to unveiling devices before their manufacturers, having seen devices from Nokia, Huawei, HTC and others pass through its Twitter feed before anywhere else. Today, the leakmeister has turned to 9to5Google to unveil screenshots of Facebook Home, the Android launcher that the company is set to unveil tomorrow alongside a mid-range device called the HTC First. Formerly known as the Myst, the device will feature a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 CPU and a 720p display straight from last year’s flagships, but the big story is, as rumoured, Facebook Home. The launcher is expected to be available for all Android devices and, as shown in the screenshots in the gallery below, it still provides access to Google Play’s app library and deeper integration with Facebook’s services, including Messenger and Instagram. Not much left remains to be seen, but we will be liveblogging the event at Facebook’s HQ tomorrow evening as it plots to quietly take over the Android ecosystem.

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Source 9to5Google

LG Nexus 4 review

Nexus 4

Like the inevitable tick-tock of a clock, Google, in partnership with LG, released the fourth Nexus phone late last year. On a day inundated with news on Hurricane Sandy, they managed to send the technology community into overdrive and rain on Microsoft’s parade by introducing a flagship smartphone for just £239.99 unlocked. Despite the shambolic release that occurred through Google’s own Play Store, there is no phone out there that appears to provide this kind of value for money. Google has taken a huge gamble with this device by selling it through its own channels with next to no profit margin, but has it paid off by making the best Android phone out there? Read on to find out.

Hardware

This phone is beautiful. There are no other words to describe it. It is right up there with the iPhone 5 and One X in terms of hardware design and build quality, which is a massive achievement considering the price point. The unadorned glass façade gently curves down to meet the plastic frame which, when flipped over, reveals a gently shimmering micro-etched glass back. Sure, it was a poor design choice in terms of durability, but it looks great. The front is graced with a small speaker grill and a front facing camera. It also features a hidden notification light centred on the bottom bezel – which is very clear and bright. It’s also RGB, meaning it can be programmed to be any colour with apps such as Light Flow. Aside from the volume rocker and power button, the only keys you’ll see here are on-screen, keeping with the pattern started by 2011’s Galaxy Nexus and continued throughout many other post-Ice Cream Sandwich devices and, while not without their critics, I love them. It’s simplicity done extremely well.

Nexus 4 Back

The screen is a 4.7” WXGA (1280 x 768) IPS affair, but some of it is taken up by software buttons. The screen is also up there with the best, using the same in-cell technology the iPhone 5 made a big deal about which, seeing as both panels come from LG, makes perfect sense. The colours and vibrancy are great, although still trail behind AMOLED in certain aspects. The Nexus 4 feels solid in the hand, but also feels very slippery due to the glass back and curve, and I therefore highly recommend getting a case for it, no matter how difficult it is to cover up the beautiful exterior. Another slight problem is the chrome band surrounding the front. While it is done very well, it does have the tendency to scratch or dent. The buttons are made of the same material. They have a nice travel, and feel solid, but they are quite slippery – a recurring theme with the hardware on this phone. However, in spite of all of these flaws, this is easily one of the best designed Android phones ever.

Nexus 4 Base

Inside, the Nexus 4 sits perched upon the top of 2012’s internal hardware. It has a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro with an Adreno 320 GPU, coupled with 2GB of RAM giving you a blazing fast phone, although the upcoming flagships like the HTC One and Galaxy S IV should easily eclipse it. Benchmark scores demonstrate this, although these should be taken with a pinch of salt, as our testing shows that the US variant of the Galaxy S III (with dual-core S4 chip) obtains a higher Quadrant score than the quad-core S4 Pro-powered Nexus 4, suggesting that this benchmark has not been properly optimised for Android 4.2 yet.

Benchmarks

Device Chipset Quadrant AnTuTu NenaMark2
LG Nexus 4 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro (Quad) 4694 17561 59.6 fps
Samsung Galaxy S III (US) 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 (Dual) 5325 7373 48.7 fps
HTC One X+ 1.7GHz Tegra 3 (Quad) 7652 13546 57.0 fps
HTC One X (Intl.) 1.5GHz Tegra 3 (Quad) 4602 9795 54.7 fps
Asus Nexus 7 1.3GHz Tegra 3 (Quad) 3734 10426 55.3 fps

Software

This phone is running pure, unadulterated Android and is all the better for it. Untouched by manufactures, this allows the end user to experience and enjoy Android as Google intended, which is of course one of the major selling points of this phone. A positive knock-on effect of this is that it should receive timely updates to Android, currently on version 4.2.2. This is why the Galaxy Nexus remained a great phone throughout it’s lifespan – and why the Nexus 4 will be the same. It’s a safer choice than a Samsung or HTC phone, which may or may not be updated to the latest version of Android.

Nexus 4 Corner

Android 4.2 is the best version of Android yet, and it looks great on the hardware of the Nexus 4. I’m not going to do a full review of the software as it’s still the Jelly Bean that we know and love from I/O 2012, but I’ll go over a few of the new features, such as lock-screen widgets. Combined with the ever-growing number of third party apps that support this functionality, this is amazing. My favourite use case is to see my to do list and edit it all from my lock screen. This is joined by gesture typing (a Swype-esque keyboard), Photo Sphere (StreetView-esque 360 degree panoramas) and Miracast streaming to make the latest point upgrade of the dessert-flavoured OS.

Nexus 4 Camera

What does this all mean to you? Basically, you get a rock solid, lightning fast version of Android. This is easily on par with the iPhone, if not smoother thanks to Project Butter. It also blends in with all the apps that follow the Holo design guidelines (unlike the One X). I realise I must sound like a fanboy when I say this, but honestly it’s true. There are still places where Android lags behind iOS, but those places are few and far between. I’m genuinely excited to see what Android 5.0 will bring.

Camera, Battery and Radios

As many reviews have stated before, and more will state after, the Nexus 4 camera is simply average. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, but not amazing. I would put it about on par with the iPhone 4S in terms of picture quality, and slightly worse than that for colour reproduction. Rather than telling you, it’s better for me to show you. There is a full gallery of sample shots on the way to be added to this review later.

Nexus 4 Sample Shot Can

Again, the same goes for battery life. It is average, and maybe even slightly below. The Nexus 4 lasts about 10 hours on a charge, but with screen on time fluctuating wildly depending on usage and the ROM. My highest is about 4.5 hours and the lowest is about 1.5 hours. Not great, but with a bit of careful usage here and there it will get you through the day. I’ll also update this review with screenshots of a few charge cycles. I’m not entirely sure why the battery life is so sub-par considering it is a non-LTE phone with a 2100mAh battery, but I assume that the internals or apps are draining it.

The radios in the Nexus have been very good, definitely better than the One X I reviewed last year. WiFi reception has been pretty good, reaching 3 bars out of 4 in my room. This is pretty good for a smartphone as my room has brick walls, and 3G reception has been pretty good too. One major thing that the phone has been bashed for is the lack of 4G LTE capability, but if you are in the UK then that shouldn’t be a problem until much later when 4G is widespread, unless you are an EE customer.

Conclusion

Nexus 4 Conclusion

The Nexus 4 is easily the best phone in its price bracket and, in most ways, it is definitely the best phone on the market. However, is it the phone that you should buy? The HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S IV are both lurking just days away, and I say if you are buying a phone to last 3 or 4 years, this probably isn’t the phone to buy due to the crack-prone glass back and lack of LTE. If you are buying a phone to last 1 year (or even 2), then this is your phone. The promise of prompt Android updates ably aided by the swift internals will keep you ticking by nicely. Sure, in 2 years it might not be the best-specced phone, but it will remain the yardstick for Android in 2013. Why? Because it’s a Nexus, and this is how Android phones should be done.

 

Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo announces Pro version of LG Optimus G with 5″ 1080p display

LG Optimus G Pro NTT DoCoMo

In unveiling its DoCoMo NEXT line of smartphones and tablets for 2013, Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo has confirmed the impending release of an enlarged version of the LG Optimus G, the phone that served as the basis for the Nexus 4. The Optimus G Pro trades a 4.7″ 1280 x 720 panel for one of 1920 x 1080 over 5 inches, but that appears to be the only major difference, as both Pro and ‘Amateur’ models feature quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro chips powering a skinned version of Android 4.1. The 3000mAh battery is the largest in DoCoMo’s new smartphone line, and a 13.2MP BSI CMOS sensor can be found on the rear. Along with the usual array of Japan-specific features such as One-Seg TV broadcasting, the Optimus G Pro will also support LTE, NFC and WiFi tethering for up to 8 devices, while a microSD slot will allow for up to 64GB of expansion. The phone is said to be hitting NTT DoCoMo in April although, as with the Sony Xperia Tablet Z, it remains unlikely that this phone will ever be seen beyond Japanese shores.

NTT DoCoMo 2013 Spring Collection

Via Android Police
Source NTT DoCoMo

Nokia unveils PureView-touting Lumia 920 with Windows Phone 8 at New York event

At an event in New York today, Nokia unveiled the Lumia 920, their first phone with the forthcoming Windows Phone 8 operating system. With a design that serves as a refinement to the Lumia 800 and 900 before it, the 4.5″ device has an 8.7MP PureView camera, a 1280 x 768 PureMotion HD+ display that Nokia claims to be its best ever, a 1.5GHz dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor and a variety of polycarbonate body colours, including yellow, red, white, gray and black. While there is no sign of a cyan model, one that proved very popular with the 800 and 900, the 920 has a 2000mAh battery and will feature Qi wireless charging.

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Windows Phone 8 has a native screenshot feature! Pressing the home and power buttons takes a shot and puts it in your pictures hub.

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Kevin Shields demonstrated the device – and Windows Phone – with some gloves. We love him.

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LG announces worldwide availability for Tegra 3-equipped Optimus Vu phablet

Having been announced shortly before Mobile World Congress in February, LG’s Optimus Vu has kept largely under the radar, save for launches in Japan and South Korea, but a press release today details LG’s plans for a global launch of the 5″ 4:3 behemoth, with the company hoping to get to market before Samsung’s Galaxy Note II, which is set to be unveiled at IFA on August 29th. The aging dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 MSM8660 found in existing models is getting replaced by Nvidia’s Tegra 3 chip, as found in the HTC One X that we recently reviewed, although this means that the device will not support LTE in territories with such networks. The new Vu will ship with Android 4.0, replacing the old Gingerbread build of models past, but this will, as usual, be caked in LG’s customisations, including an upgraded version of QuickMemo™. While we may not be fans of phablets, those who are interested will be able to find the Optimus Vu in stores across Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East in September, but those Americans who desire the leaked Verizon LTE model will have to wait longer for official confirmation.

Press Release

LG ANNOUNCES GLOBAL AVAILABILITY OF OPTIMUS VU:

Largest LG Smartphone to Be Launched in Europe, Asia, Middle East/Africa and Latin America

SEOUL, Aug. 20, 2012 -– On the heels of its successful debut in Korea and Japan, the Optimus Vu: will make its global debut starting in select markets in Europe, Asia, Middle East/Africa and Latin America starting in September. With the world’s first 5-inch 4:3 aspect ratio display, the Optimus Vu: blurs the line between traditional tablets and smartphones for a truly unique smart device experience.

Since its March debut in Korea, the Optimus Vu: has sold over 500,000 units, demonstrating public acceptance of its form-factor. The reception the device received in Korea prompted LG to launch the Optimus Vu: in Japan this month, where it has also been received positively by Japanese consumers.

For the global roll-out, the Optimus Vu: will be equipped with NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 mobile processor, the super 4-PLUS-1™ quad-core with 5th battery-saver core, that offers a superb balance of performance and power requirements. 4 cores are used for high performance tasks such as games and multitasking. For voice call, email, music and video playback, only 5th battery-saver core is enabled and it consumes very less power.

When paired with the high-resolution 5-inch, 4:3 ratio IPS display, the Optimus Vu: becomes something special –- a device that’s both pocketable and spacious. The Optimus Vu: will come with an upgraded version of QuickMemo™ and Notebook, two features which make great use of the large display real estate.

“The different form factor makes Optimus Vu: unique even in the 5-inch smartphone category which we expect will catch on once they become more widely available,” said Dr. Jong-seok Park, president and CEO of LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company.

Key Specifications:

  • Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • 3G network
  • 5.0 inch 4:3 ratio XGA IPS display with 768 x 1024 pixels
  • 32GB memory
  • 8.0MP rear/1.3MP front cameras
  • 139.6 x 90.4 x 8.5mm
  • 168g

Via Engadget
Source LG Newsroom

Qualcomm shows off cool Snapdragon chips by melting butter on smartphones

People love a benchmark, and Qualcomm has invented a new one that appears to favour their series of Snapdragon processors. In a video posted on their YouTube channel, Vidyasagar Rao, a staff engineer at the company, pits an HTC One S with a Snapdragon S4 MSM8260A chip against a Motorola Razr Maxx with a TI OMAP4430 and Samsung Galaxy S II sporting a Samsung Exynos 4 Dual chip in their new Butter benchmark test. It’s quite simple really. Butter melts at 35°C, so whichever phone runs coolest will keep the block of butter intact for the longest. We doubt this will catch on, but you can see the results by watching the video below.