Three days after the Windows 8 release, today Microsoft formally launched Windows Phone 8 into the world. This summer Microsoft fleshed out most of the new features and enhancements that come bundled with the new mobile OS. At the company’s launch event, however, they shed light on a few more tricks up the OS’ sleek sleeve.
Live Apps: At the heart of Windows Phone is Live Tiles. They fill up the Start Screen and they serve two important objectives. They make your phone personal; you can easily rearrange and resize apps and other icons to your heart’s content. In addition, they are connected to the Internet and are regularly updated with the latest information; this institutes a glance-and-go mentality that Microsoft has been pushing since the ringing in of Windows Phone 7. Live Tiles are personal and informational. In WP8, the lock screen is getting a similar treatment with Live Apps. If a Live App is enabled, simply wake your phone up from sleep and you’ll instantly be provided with personalized updated information without digging for it. For example, make CNN or ESPN your Live App and when you check your phone’s lock screen you will be provided with the latest news headline or sports scores without virtually any effort.
Kid’s Corner: This is a neat feature currently exclusive to WP8. In essence, Kid’s Corner is a guest account that you can personalize for your kids or friends or colleagues. There are times when your kids want to steal your phone to play Angry Birds but you are hesitant to let them fool around with it because they might accidentally change settings or mess around with your inbox and other critical information. With Kid’s Corner, you can create a separate Start Screen environment for them to play around in. In Settings, you can choose exactly what apps, games, music, and video gets made accessible for them. Once you password-protect your phone, your personal account will remain untouched and they’ll be forced to swipe to the left and then up to unlock and enter the guest account known as Kid’s Corner.
Rooms: WP8 provides private spaces for you to interact and communicate with your close friends and family. You can create a Room that consists of your small circle of friends and only those invited to it will be able to view and share information inside it. In addition to a private chat room, a Room also allows shared calendars, notes, and photos. Most of the features in Room are exclusive to WP8 devices, but Microsoft says “some aspects” will work across other smartphones as well.
Data Sense: Microsoft is working with mobile carriers to help you keep track of your data usage since the days of “unlimited data” have come and gone. Data Sense is an app that “helps conserve your data allowance by compressing Web images, deferring data tasks to free Wi-Fi, and automatically adjusting your usage as you get closer to your plan limits.” Verizon will be the first to enable Data Sense, and Microsoft says others will join the initiative next year.
Integrated Skype: Since Microsoft bought Skype, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the communication app will be fully integrated with WP8 when it arrives on the platform soon. You can make and receive Skype calls just like you would a regular phone call, and your Skype contacts are integrated in the People (contacts) hub for easy access.
A growing app marketplace: Since WP7 was announced many developers have hopped on board to support the mobile OS. Currently the Windows Phone Store is home to 120,000 apps. Though this number is low compared to Apple and Android’s offerings, Microsoft is hopeful even more developers will start to pick up the slack and contribute to a growing app marketplace. This holiday season a bunch of popular apps are joining the WP fold such as Angry Birds Star Wars, Cut the Rope Experiments, Disney’s Where’s My Water, LivingSocial, Temple Run, Urbanspoon, “and many more,” promises Microsoft. And early next year, Pandora is coming too with one year of ad-free streaming music to-boot.
With all the software features out of the way, the next logical talking point is hardware. Microsoft has partnered with Nokia, HTC, and Samsung as hardware launch partners for WP8. AT&T will carry the Nokia Lumia 920, the Lumia 820, and the Windows Phone 8X by HTC in November; pricing is TBA. Verizon will carry the Windows Phone 8X by HTC for $199.99 with a two-year contract and the Nokia Lumia 822 (exclusive to Verizon) for $99.99 next month. Another VZW exclusive, the Samsung ATIV Odyssey, will release in December. And lastly T-Mobile will also sell the Windows Phone 8X by HTC (16GB) at $149.99 and the Nokia Lumia 810 at $99.99; these release November 14. The fourth U.S. carrier Sprint is sitting this round out.
If you’re looking for a different kind of mobile experience, Windows Phone 8 is the way to go. With a sleek, modern user interface and an equally attractive hardware selection it isn’t hard to recommend you check out Microsoft’s latest offering. The one (albiet major) drawback is developer support and the app catalog, but if the Store continues to grow at the pace Microsoft is hinting at today then they might just have a mobile platform to finally compete against the likes of iOS and Android.
After the break, Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore gives you an extensive tour of Windows Phone 8.
The first half of this post’s title was a major announcement back in March. Almost exactly nine months after news broke that AT&T would eat up T-Mobile to become a giant force against competitors Verizon Wireless and Sprint, Ma Bell has decided to end its bid to acquire T-Mobile USA. In a press release, AT&T blames the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice for blocking the transaction from happening. Over the past few months, the FCC and the DOJ have been making it difficult for AT&T to buy out T-Mobile. Why you ask? I’ll let competitor Sprint express their viewpoint on the matter:
“From the beginning, Sprint has stood with consumers who spoke loudly and clearly that AT&T’s proposed takeover of T-Mobile would create an undeniable duopoly that would have resulted in higher prices, less innovation and fewer choices for the American consumer.”
In other words, with T-Mobile gone consumers would have a limited selection choosing a wireless carrier and this would impede competition and lead to lower expectations when it comes to innovation. AT&T sees things differently:
The actions by the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice to block this transaction do not change the realities of the U.S. wireless industry. It is one of the most fiercely competitive industries in the world, with a mounting need for more spectrum that has not diminished and must be addressed immediately. The AT&T and T-Mobile USA combination would have offered an interim solution to this spectrum shortage. In the absence of such steps, customers will be harmed and needed investment will be stifled.
Since Ma Bell wasn’t able to carry through with its acquisition as planned, the company must pay Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile USA’s German-based parent company) $4 billion before year’s end. Also, AT&T will enter a mutually beneficial roaming agreement with Deutsche Telekom. For more pop after the break to read the PR.
In October Nokia unveiled its Lumia range of Windows Phone-powered smartphones, the Lumia 800 and Lumia 710. This week T-Mobile became the official carrier of the budget-friendly Lumia 710 and announced that’ll be available next month. The 710, which features a 3.7-inch ClearBlack WVGA scratch-resistant display, a Qualcomm 1.4GHz Snapdragon processor, a 5 megapixel camera, and HSPA+ 14.4Mbps “4G” speed, is being touted by T-Mo as “the perfect first-time smartphone” at the low price of $49.99 after a two-year contract is signed. Also shipping with software like Nokia’s Drive and ESPN apps as well as T-Mobile TV and Netflix, the 710 comes to market in the US on January 11 in black and white variants.
It’s a shame Nokia isn’t promoting the fiercer Lumia 800 before its low-budget brother, let alone alongside it. In my humble opinion, Nokia is making a mistake by allowing customers to think that Windows Phones manufactured by Nokia are “cheap” or lacking competitive features. It would have been smarter to team the 800 with T-Mobile first so that the public could understand that the Finnish company is ready to battle the likes of Apple, Samsung, Motorola, and LG in the States, rather than push out an entry level smartphone for techies to scoff at. Nokia is a deserving phone maker, so here’s to hoping that they get their act together and release the Lumia 800 in the States sooner than later.
The Sidekick returns from the dead on April 20. The ultimate tween messaging device will be made available through T-Mobile and it’ll cost an acceptable $99.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate and new two-year contract with unlimited data. If you decide to go ahead with a low-cost data plan you’ll be forced to shell out $149.99 for the Android 2.2-powered, 4G capable device. More deets on the specs can be found right here. Hop after the break to watch some videos that demonstrate the handset’s super sleek capabilities.
Well here’s some interesting Sunday news for you. This afternoon AT&T announced a definitive agreement with Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile USA’s German-based parent company) under which AT&T will acquire T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom in a cash-and-stock transaction valued at $39 billion. Should this deal go through, it will bring together T-Mobile’s current subscriber base of 33 million and AT&T’s 95 million customers thus making Ma Bell the largest wireless provider in the United States (for comparison’s sake, Verizon has 94 million customers). Furthermore, it will situate AT&T as the sole GSM provider to compete against CDMA rivals Verizon Wireless and Sprint. As far as 4G connectivity is concerned, AT&T plans to take advantage of T-Mobile’s installed infrastructure to significantly expand 4G LTE deployment to 95 percent of the U.S. population–reaching an additional 46.5 million Americans beyond current plans.
Says AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson: “This transaction represents a major commitment to strengthen and expand critical infrastructure for our nation’s future. It will improve network quality, and it will bring advanced LTE capabilities to more than 294 million people.”
Obviously the acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals, but if all goes smoothly the transaction will close in about 12 months, AT&T will have eaten up T-Mobile USA, and Deutsche Telekom will have an 8 percent stake in AT&T. Look after the break for the official PR statements from AT&T and Deutsche Telekom that cover the basics summarized here as well as additional notes about competition and financial information. Click through the gallery of images below to see how the merger will affect coverage in America.
On July 2 T-Mobile halted sales of the Sharp-produced, Danger-powered Sidekick. On May 31 they pulled the plug on the Danger Service, effectively shutting down data services for the fliptastic handset. Today they made good on their promise that the “storied Sidekick franchise” would continue with the introduction of the T-Mobile Sidekick 4G. The “new and fresh experience” they hinted at has been detailed today in a press release straight from the carrier. Though the new Sidekick holds on to that long-lasting brand and shares similar looks to its predecessors, things have changed considerably. The Sidekick 4G is manufactured by Samsung and it runs Android 2.2. It’s the first Sidekick to have a touchscreen which measures 3.5-inch (WVGA). A sturdy “pop-tilt” hinge reveals a five-row QWERTY keyboard that Sidekick owners should be well adjusted to by now. The device is powered by a 1GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird processor and packs a back-facing 3 megapixel camera and a front-facing VGA camera for video chatting. T-Mobile Video Chat powered by Qik is preinstalled to enable that function. Speaking of preloaded items, the Sidekick will also come loaded with Facebook and Twitter apps, YouTube, T-Mobile TV, Slacker Radio, and Samsung Media Hub; that hub allows customers to rent or purchase movies and TV shows from CBS, Fox, MTV Networks, NBC Universal, Paramount, and Warner Bros. T-Mobile has also included two Sidekick-specific messaging features called Group Text and Cloud Text. The former lets customers create, name, manage and participate in reply-all group text conversations; the latter allows customers to text with friends or groups across platforms (i.e. using a PC or smartphone). Lastly, T-Mobile’s DriveSmart service helps prevent distracted driving by automatically informing incoming callers and text messages that the Sidekick user is driving and will respond at a later time.
The T-Mobile Sidekick 4G, which takes advantage of T-Mo’s “4G” HSPA+ data speeds (download speeds of up to 21 Mbps), will be available in matte black and pearl magenta when it goes on sale “later this spring.” Exact release date and pricing has not been disclosed yet. Long live the Sidekick!
Update: Along with the PR you’ll also find a brief video demonstration of the “killer messaging device” after the break.
In early January at CES 2011 Motorola and T-Mobile took their respective stages to announce the upcoming Honeycomb-powered tablets. While Moto’s Xoom was almost fully fleshed out (exact release date and price are still up in the air), T-Mobile did not provide any details surrounding LG’s G-Slate besides saying it will be the “first 4G Android 3.0 powered tablet.” Well I happy to report that since then both the carrier and the manufacturer of the mysterious tablet have come out with hard specs and a release window. Lets get to it. The G-Slate (otherwise known as the LG Optimus Pad across the pond) packs a 8.9-inch (1280×768 WXGA) multitouch display and runs on a 1GHz dual-core Tegra 2 processor. Other specs include 32GB of internal memory, built-in WiFi, gyroscope, accelerometer, and adaptive lighting, and Adobe Flash support. But don’t let me bore you to death; the G-Slate features something the other Honeycomb launch tablets don’t have–2 cameras at the rear for stereoscopic 3D video recording. Working together the two rear-facing camera can capture 1080p HD content that can be viewed on the slate itself (the display is in fact 3D-capable, limited to 720p HD, however) and 3D video (in 1080p resolution) can be pumped out to an external 3D-capable HDTV through HDMI output. One of the rear cameras doubles as a 5 megapixel camera for standard photo capture (with flash) and there’s a third 2 megapixel front-facing camera for video chat. It’s important (and rather unfortunate) to note that pesky glasses are required to view 3D content on the slate’s display. Oh well–but it still remains a differentiating factor when it comes to making a purchasing decision between this, the Xoom, and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1.
The G-Slate will release this spring (likely in March) exclusively on T-Mobile’s network in the States, and as mentioned before it will take advantage of T Mo’s “4G” HSPA+ speeds. To end things on an even brighter note, the slate’s expected to ship as a Google Experience device, meaning it will come preloaded with a fresh version of Honeycomb, free of any LG and T-Mobile bloatware. Cheers to that! Pics below, video and PR after the break.
Motorola and T-Mobile were downright giddy to announce their upcoming tablet devices at CES 2011. That’s because they are excited to bring Honeycomb, Google’s latest iteration of Android built entirely for tablets, to salivating consumers. Since I already detailed Honeycomb, I think it’d be best to simply jump into specs talk. Let’s start with the Motorola Xoom since there’s far more information about this product out there. The Xoom features a 10.1 inch (1280×800) screen and packs NVIDIA’s latest Tegra 2 1GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of DDR2 RAM. There’s a 5 megapixel rear-facing camera with dual LED flash and a 2 megapixel front-facing camera; support for 720p video recording and 1080p video playback; 32GB of onboard storage that’s expandable with SD card support; 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth; and ports include HDMI out, micro USB 2.0, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. There’s also a built-in gyroscope, barometer, e-compass, accelerometer and adaptive lighting. It will ship with 3G support and eventually gain 4G LTE support on Verizon’s network. As far as battery life is concerned, Moto’s only saying that it supports up to 10 hours of video playback. Note that the Xoom does not pack physical buttons. With Honeycomb, Google no longer requires hardware manufacturers to include buttons along the rim of their devices. What used to be buttons are now illuminated icons that can be made visible on the device in landscape or portrait modes. Motorola says they’ll ship the sexy Xoom tablet as a 3G/Wi-Fi-enabled device in Q1 2011 (we’re in that quarter now, so soon!) and they promise these devices will be upgradeable 4G LTE in Q2. Also in Q2 Moto will introduce an all-out 4G LTE/Wi-Fi- enabled Xoom. According to recent reports, a strictly WiFi-enabled version will also debut in the Spring. The Xoom looks like it’s going to be a hot item when it ships; a speedy Tegra 2 processor and the tablet-optimized Honeycomb OS marriage will surely make for an enjoyable mobile experience.
An honorable mention goes to the T-Mobile G-Slate because it is just one of the few tablets announced at CES 2011 that promises to run Honeycomb when it releases. T-Mobile has partnered with LG to make the hardware. Aside for it being the “first 4G Android 3.0 powered tablet” from T-Mobile, we know nothing else about it really. At the press event T-Mobile and LG execs held up the mystery tablet, and it look like standard fare–a black slate. We’ll have to wait for a more detailed announcement in the coming weeks.
Look in the gallery below for close-ups of the Motorola Xoom, and hop after the break to read some PR and watch a couple introductory product videos.
And that makes 5. Dell’s Venue Pro is now for sale on its website and now Microsoft can safely say that all five of its Windows Phone 7 US launch devices are now available for purchase. Specs are nothing to call home about: 4.1 inch display, 1GHz processor, 5 megapixel camera with auto-focus and flash, 720p HD video recording, 8GB or 16GB of built-in storage. It’s that full slide-out QWERTY keyboard and its handsome looks that make this one a charmer. If you’re willing to start a new 2-year contract with T-Mobile you can pick up the phone for $99 (8GB) or $149 (16GB). Or you can pay $449 or $499, respectively, if you decide to opt out of signing a contract. Purchase here; it ships December 9.
About one month ago Samsung and mobile operator partners detailed Galaxy Tab offerings. Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile put their cards on the table, while U.S. Cellular said it it was coming soon and AT&T remained silent. Today the latter two carriers shared their respective release dates and pricing schemes, so I thought it’d be helpful if I charted out each carrier’s Tab information. So without further ado:
Verizon: $599.99 (no contract required); optional 3G plan- $20/month for 1GB of data; released 11/11
Sprint: $399.99 (new 2-year contract required); $29.99/month for 2GB or $59.99 for 5GB; releases 11/14
T-Mobile: $399.99 (new 2-year contract required); $24.99/month for 200MB or $39.99/month for 5GB released 11/10
AT&T: $649.99 (no contract required); $14.99/month for 250GB pay-as-you-go plan or $25/month for 2GB pay-as-you-go plan; $50 Media Hub Movie Rental credit with purchase for a limited time; releases 11/21
U.S. Cellular: $599 (no contract required) or $399 (contract required); $14.99/month for 200MB or $54.99/month for 5GB with tethering enabled; releases 11/19
Been looking for an iPad alternative? This Android (Froyo) based tablet is it. That is, until iPad 2 comes out.
Remember back in June AT&T marked the beginning of the end for “unlimited” data plans for cell phone users? Well direct competitors Verizon and T-Mobile recently jumped onto the tiered data plan bandwagon, so let’s have a look-see. Unlike like AT&T’s data-capped plan that forces new subscribers to choose between 200MB and 2GB options, Big Red and T-Mobile are keeping the unlimited $30 smartphone 3G data plans (for now). What’s changed is the addition of cheaper options for less data-heavy users. The breakdown is fairly simple. VZ subscribers can now choose from the $30 unlimited option and a new $15 150MB/month option with $0.10 per MB overage. T-Mobile subscribers can go unlimited for $30 or pay $15 for 200MB/month. You can pick up the latter option for only $10/month for “a limited time” if you sign a new 2-year contract with it. And that’s about it. What’s interesting here is that VZ and T-Mobile have decided to keep the unlimited option, while AT&T has eliminated it for new customers (if you had it before the changes AT&T let you grandfather it). I’m oh-so curious to follow the journey of the unlimited data plan; with such a big push toward tiered data plans, it’s starting to seem like carriers are moving away from it. Will it survive in a 4G world?
Samsung Galaxy Tab coming to Verizon Wireless November 11 for $599.99 [Update: Sprint & T-Mobile details]
If you’ve been hunting for an iPad alternative to satisfy your tablet needs, look no further than here. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab will be sold through Verizon Wireless for $599.99 come November 11. You want specs? Oh, I got specs. The Tab sports a 7-inch (1024×600, WSVGA) multitouch display, 1GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird processor, rear-facing 3 megapixel camera with LED flash and autofocus, front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera, 2GB of onboard storage with 16 GB pre-installed on a microSD card (expandable memory up to 32GB), 802.11n WiFi, A-GPS, and a headphone jack. It weighs 13 ounces and is 12 millimeters thin; Sammy says it can “easily fit into a jeans’ backpocket”, but I’m not so sure about that. The display supports full HD 1080p video playback and the rear-facing camera can shoot up to 720p at 30 fps. The browser supports Adobe Flash Player 10.1.
The Tab runs Android 2.2 (aka Froyo) with a tweaked version of Samsung’s TouchWiz skin on top. Google Maps Navigation and Google Goggles come preinstalled, along with Swype keyboard functionality. Apps like Qik and Fring are available to download in the Android Market and can be used for video chatting over a WiFi connection. In addition to its custom skin, Samsung is throwing in some of their own apps they think will be useful for users. The Media Hub offers a ”vast lineup of critically acclaimed films and TV programs for rent or purchase.” Samsung has partnered with MTV Networks, NBC, Paramount, and Universal Studios Home Entertainment to bring media content to Tab owners. Purchased content can be shared with up to five devices that carry the Media Hub application. The Social Hub “works with the user’s Messaging and Contacts to initiate the sending and receiving of information, whether it is e-mail, instant messaging, social network updates or SMS messages.” Also, calendar information from portal calendars like Google Calendar and social networks can be unified into one calender view. There’s also a Document Viewer & Editor that can open and make changes to any Word, Excel, Powerpoint or PDF document, AllShare DLNA Technology can stream content to DLNA-compatable devices, and Daily Briefing gives you access to updated weather, news, stocks, and schedules. Accessories will be sold separately: keyboard dock ($99.99), desktop dock ($49.99), car/GPS dock ($99.99).
The Tab will eventually be sold through all major US carriers (including AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile), but it’s coming to Verizon Wireless first. The Tab on VZW will sell for $599.99 with no strings attached, meaning there’s no required 2-year contract obligation. You can access the Internet on it using WiFi, and if you so choose you can add an optional 3G plan and pay $20/month for 1GB of data. Users can access V CAST Apps, Verizon’s mobile storefront for apps, and the Tab will come preloaded with V CAST Music, V CAST Song ID, VZ Navigator, Slacker Radio, Kindle for Android, BLOCKBUSTER On Demand, and a game called “Let’s Golf.” Text, picture and video messaging is supported, but voice calling is not. I repeat, the Tab is not a cell phone. It may look like an oversized Android handset, but it cannot make and receive calls in the U.S.
Look in the gallery below to check out the Samsung Galaxy Tab from all angles, and jump after the break to watch a 10 minute “official demo” of the Android tablet.
Update (10/25): Today Sprint shared pricing details for their version of the Galaxy Tab. Sprint customers can purchase the Tab for $399.99 with an obligatory two-year contract and they’ll need to cough up $29.99/month for 2GB of data or $59.99 for 5GB. Preorders start today and it releases November 14.
Update 2 (10/27): T-Mobile will sell the Tab for $399.99 on a two-year contract. A $35 activation fee is required. Goes on sale November 10.
Update 3: The Tab is also coming to U.S. Cellular, but price and a release date have not been detailed yet.
Windows Phone 7: 10 devices, 4 launch hardware partners, 60 mobile carriers in over 30 countries worldwide; coming 10/21 in Europe & Asia, early November in U.S.
Today Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage in New York City to reveal the final details surrounding the launch of Windows Phone 7. Microsoft first unveiled their new cell phone operating system in February at Mobile World Congress; next they spotlighted developer support at MIX’10; and most recently they detailed Xbox Live integration. All there was left to do is reveal launch harware and mobile operator partners and device release dates and pricing. And that’s exactly what went down today in NYC.
Let’s start with the Windows Phone 7 launch hardware partners and the actual devices you might potentially pick up come this holiday season. Samsung, LG, HTC, and Dell are collectively bringing ten new devices that will run WP7. The Samsung Focus (codenamed Cetus) features a 4-inch (480×800) Super AMOLED display, 1GHz processor, 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, and 8GB of onboard storage with microSD expansion up to 32GB. It’s the thinnest WP7 launch device measuring at 9.9mm (or .3 inches) thin. It will launch exclusively with AT&T in the U.S. The Samsung Omnia 7 features the same 4-inch (480×800) Super AMOLED display, 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, and 8GB of onboard storage. It will launch with Orange (France and UK), SFR (France), Movistar (Spain), and Deutsch Telekom on November 8. The LG Quantum (or Optimus 7Q outside the U.S.) features a 3.5 inch (480×800) display, 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, 8GB of onboard storage, a slideout QWERTY keyboard, and it comes preloaded with PlayTo, an app that allows users to wirelessly stream content to DLNA-enabled devices. It will launch exclusively with AT&T in the U.S. and with Telstra in Australia. The LG Optimus 7 features a 3.8 inch (480×800) LCD display, 1GHz processor, 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, and 16GB of onboard storage. It will launch with Telus (Canada), América Móvil (Mexico), Movistar (Spain), Vodafone (Germany, Italy, Spain and UK), and SingTel (Singapore).
HTC is launching five WP7-powered devices. The HTC HD7 features a 4.3 inch (480×800) display (it’s the WP7 launch device with the largest display), 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 576MB of RAM, 5 megapixel autofocus camera with dual LED flash (supports HD 720p video recording), 16GB of onboard memory, built-in kickstand, and it comes preloaded with Netflix, Slacker, T-Mobile Family Room (a note-taking sharing app), and a T-Mobile TV entertainment app. It will launch exclusively with T-Mobile in the U.S. in mid-November and with O2 (UK, Germany, Ireland), Movistar (Spain), SingTel (Singapore), Telstra (Australia), and Bouygues Telecom (France) on October 21. The HTC 7 Surround features a 3.8 inch (480×800) display, 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 576MB of RAM, 5 megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash (supports HD 720p video recording), built-in kickstand, and 8GB of onboard storage. What makes this device standout from all the others is the slideout speaker that features Dolby Mobile and SRS Surround Sound technologies. It will launch exclusively with AT&T in the U.S. and with Telus in Canada. The HTC 7 Pro will be the first WP7 CDMA device and will launch exclusively with Sprint in the first half of 2011. It features a 3.6 inch (400×800) display, 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 576MB of RAM, 5 megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash (supports HD 720p video recording), 16GB of onboard storage, and a slideout QWERTY keyboard. Update: The 7 Pro will arrive in Europe “early next year.” The HTC 7 Mozart and HTC 7 Trophy are two WP7 handsets that will not (initially, at least) not make it to the U.S. market. They both feature a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 576MB of RAM, 8GB of built-in storage, and HD 720p video recording. Here’s where they differ. The Mozart features a sleek aluminum unibody construction with a 3.7-inch (480×800) display and 8 megapixel camera with a Xenon flash. The Trophy, on the other hand, features a slightly larger 3.8 inch (480×800) display and a slightly lesser 5 megapixel camera with LED flash. The Mozart with launch with Orange (France and UK), Deutsche Telekom (Germany), Telstra (Australia) and the Trophy will launch with Vodafone (Australia, Germany, Spain and UK) and SFR (France).
And finally there’s the Dell Venue Pro. It features a 4.1-inch (480×800) AMOLED display, 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 5 megapixel camera with flash, and a portrait-designed QWERTY keyboard. It will launch exclusively with T-Mobile in the U.S.
And that’s a wrap on the hardware discussion. As you can see, all ten WP7 devices are very similar in terms of internals: the 1GHz processor, the 5 megapixel camera, the 8GB-16GB internal storage, 3.5 inch to 4.3 displays, and the handful of slideout QWERTY keyboard-equipped models. Through the end of the year, WP7 devices will be exclusive to AT&T and T-Mobile; this leaves a wide gap in the CDMA (Verizon/Sprint) playing field. By the time Q1 of 2011 rolls around, Microsoft better have deals finalized with the other mobile carriers if they truly want to compete in the competitive smartphone market. Also, hardware partners will eventually have to up their game with better and differentiating specifications and designs if they want to stay relevant. HTC is doing a fine job so far with the 7 Surround speaker design the HD7′s large 4.3 inch display. But for now, the WP7 starting lineup is quite impressive. The stars are certainly aligning for a successful launch.
In addition to revealing hardware and mobile carrier partners, Microsoft also shared some information regarding software developments. Though they weren’t specific about the exact number of launch apps for Windows Marketplace, they did show off bunch of promising apps. They include Twitter, eBay, Fandango, Netflix, Slacker, IMDb, and games such as Tetris, The Sims 3, Monopoly, Need for Speed: Undercover, and The Harvest. AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega was on hand to show off the AT&T U-verse app. The app will be preloaded on all AT&T WP7 devices and will allow users to download and watch TV shows on the go. If you are already a U-verse subscriber at home, accessing and downloading content off the app is free. You will have the ability to manage your DVR recordings, access TV guide listings and an On Demand library. If you are not a subscriber, AT&T will offer a $9.99/month plan to watch TV on the go when WP7 launches wide in November. (Keep in mind, “live” TV is not available; you are simply downloading content to watch now or later.) In related news, AT&T has confirmed that Xbox 360 owners will have the ability to use their console as a U-verse receiver starting October 15. New subscribers can order a $99 Xbox installation kit and a technician will load the software onto the console for you; current subscribers will be forced to pay an extra $55 on top of the $99 installation kit to make the switch from set-top box to Xbox. And here’s one last software tidbit: Microsoft promises a free software update bringing copy-and-paste functionality to all WP7 devices will be pushed out in “early 2011.” Update: In a statement Microsoft confirms that public beta software will be available for Mac users to sync “select content” with their WP7 device later this year. Look after the break for the first two WP7 commercials!
Apple, Google, RIM…it’s on.
Remember Microsoft Kin, the little (smart)dumbphone that could? Well Microsoft has decided to scrap it and focus entirely on Windows Phone 7. Here’s the official statement:
“We have made the decision to focus exclusively on Windows Phone 7 and we will not ship KIN in Europe this fall as planned. Additionally, we are integrating our KIN team with the Windows Phone 7 team, incorporating valuable ideas and technologies from KIN into future Windows Phone releases. We will continue to work with Verizon in the U.S. to sell current KIN phones.”
The major reason why Kin is being shut down is sales, or lack thereof. Though Microsoft never mentioned how many handsets were sold, they neither confirmed nor denied a rumor that a mere 500 Kin devices have sold thus far. Shortly after slashing the prices of Kin One and Kin Two to $29.99 and $49.99, respectively, Microsoft abruptly made the decision to cancel what was forever rumored as “Project Pink” for good.
Besides terrible sales figures, Engadget has a scoop that pretty much says Kin was doomed from the start. Internal bickering between two Microsoft employees who had differernt visions for the company’s place in the mobile space ultimately sparked the eventual fall of Kin. Here’s the short of it: In 2008 Microsoft bought Danger, the company behind the original Sidekick phone. In collaberation with Danger folk, Microsoft created what was then known as Project Pink. It was headed by now ex-Microsoft employee J Allard. Allard envisioned the Kin line of devices and services separate from Windows Mobile, but Windows Mobile head Andy Lees had different plans. Lees found Kin a distraction from what he believed was more important (the formation of Windows Phone 7), managed to take away Kin from Allard, and that’s when the phone was released into the wild. It was put out on the market under a Microsoft mobile head who was not one-hundred percent invested in the product. Hence, it was doomed from the start.
In the end, Microsoft (and Verizon) really didn’t do a great job at pricing and marketing the phone properly. Kin was aimed at what Microsoft called “generation upload” (aka tweens and teens) who are constantly texting and social networking on Facebook. The two devices were originally priced at $99 & $49 each, with monthly data plans costing $29.99/month (and that’s on top of a talk plan). These devices were way out of the price range for the phone’s target demographic. That’s no way to price a feature phone. And don’t get me started with that terrible fake hipster marketing campaign! Anyway, now that Kin is dead I hope that the custom software and services it introduced find their way into Windows Phone 7, as Microsoft promises. The Kin Loop and Kin Spot made for an interesting take on managing social networks, but it’s the Kin Studio that held the most promise. The ability to archive all of your phone’s content to the cloud and access it on any PC in a browser is a genius idea, one that I hope gets utilized with WP7 devices. (Click here for more…)
After a flurry of rumors and leaks, Google has finally stepped into the light and shared with the world the Nexus One “superphone,” a collaborative device with HTC. Let’s jump straight to the facts, shall we?
The Nexus One sports a 3.7-inch AMOLED display (480×800), 1GHz Snapdragon processor, compass, GPS, accelerometer, light and proximity sensors, stereo Bluetooth, 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, Wi-Fi, 3.5mm headphone jack, and an LED light source under the trackball for notifications. It also comes with two mics (one on the bottom, the other on the back) for noise cancellation purposes. It packs a 1400mAH battery that promises 5 hours of 3G browsing and 7 hours of 3G talk time. When you order the device you have the option to engrave a custom two-line message on the back, just like Apple lets you do with the iPod classic, touch, and iPhone.
For now, the Nexus One is teamed with T-Mobile and sells for $179 with a new two year contract. You also have the option to purchase it unlockedfor $529. It will work on AT&T but without their 3G service because it only supports T-Mobile’s 3G in the US. It is available today for purchase straight from Google. Big news is that it’s coming to Verizon Wireless (and Vodafone) this spring.
Obviously the Nexus One runs Google’ Android mobile OS. What’s so special about it is that it’s the first phone to run version 2.1, a much more polished version of Android 2.0. 2.1 includes live wallpapers, home screen panels, 3D photo galleries, Voice-enabled text fields, and a zippier and more handsome experience. Unfortunately like the Droid, the Nexus One software does not include multitouch, though it definitely could handle it. On a different note, Google promises that a future update will allow users to save apps on external storage devices like SD cards.
So what’s the verdict? After having read many reviews it looks like the Google-HTC Nexus One is the phone to get if you’re all about Android. It is not an iPhone killer, and Google is quick to point out that that is not the phone’s intention. Google supports a large ecosystem of different phones, and they welcome the heavy competition the iPhone brings to the table. So, if you are all for the Android OS, I’d take the Droid on VZ or the Nexus One on T-Mobile. Of course you could always wait for the latter to make its way to VZ this spring, can’t you?