Chalk up another one: in sync with Sprint and T-Mobile, US Cellular has joined the ranks of US carriers detailing their Galaxy S 4 launch plans. The mid-size provider won’t commit to a more specific timeframe for its launch beyond “late April,” but it’s already taking pre-orders for a 16GB edition at $200 with a contract and a steep $750 contract-free. That last detail prices it above AT&T’s offering, although US Cellular is sweetening the pot by giving away an S View Cover to those willing to buy sight unseen. The news leaves just Cricket, C Spire and Verizon without mostly complete Galaxy S 4 plans — let’s hope they pick up the pace.
LG’s been teasing a big reveal for the start of May over in the US and we reckon it’ll mark the official launch of the Optimus G Pro. But what about the not-so-humbleOptimus G and the rest of the world? Well, we’ve been told that a (global-bound!) sequel flagship from LG will appear sometime in Q3. Direct from LG’s HQ in Seoul, Won Kim, Head of Mobile Marketing says that we can expect “something different and something unique”, which all sounds good to us. It’ll also be something that won’t skirt near the 5.5-inch screen size of the Optimus G Pro, and will instead stick closer to the five-inch mark. Unfortunately, he kept his explanation of new device tantalizingly vague for now, but it looks like LG will wait for the current flagship phone fight to settle a bit before it reveals its new weapon.
Between the Lumia Tablet and a Windows Phone device with proper PureViewtechnology, the list of mythical Nokia devices is pretty short. The Financial Times, however, thinks that the company might be wading into the middle ground with a 5- or 6-inch device that’ll rival the Galaxy Note. The paper’s coterie of sources also reiterated the rumor that we’d see a Lumia flagship with the 41-megapixel sensor we’d seen on the 808, as well as a skinnier Lumia 920 arriving through the year. We’d love to believe it, but the story’s appearance just before the company’s first-quarter financial results makes us wonder if this isn’t a distraction., 41 megapixel
If you’re already starting to feel that shiny ‘wow’ factor fade from BlackBerry 10, then you’ll be glad to know about some new features that are primed to appear with the next update. Reports are now flowing in from developers that suggest an HDR camera mode, PIN-to-PIN messaging within the BlackBerry Hub and an improved text selector are all likely candidates for inclusion in BlackBerry 10.1 OS. Other smaller tweaks include the ability to paste phone numbers into the dialer, the option to disable alerts for specific applications and the ability to check for app updates more easily. These reports are based on a pre-release version of BlackBerry 10.1 OS that the company recently shared with its developers, and while the list is by no means comprehensive, it sure beats unsubstantiated rumors.
Not every smartphone stakes its claim on speedy processors, huge gorgeous screens or slim and sexy physiques. Some take a relatively modest set of specs and add a little wrinkle to make them stand out from the crowd. The Samsung Rugby Smart is one such device. Though it adds Android to what we’ll now refer to as the Rugby Dumb, we can already tell you this handset isn’t for the spec snobs among you. But, if you’re more concerned with durability and tank-like construction, you might want to stick around a while. This AT&T-branded phone is built to mil-spec 810F standards, meaning it’s shockproof, dustproof and can be immersed in up to a meter of water for up to 30 minutes. If these are qualities you desire in a phone, meet us past the break to see how it stacks up against its competition.
Sharp’s AQUOS SH-06D will most probably never leave the Land of The Rising Sun. That doesn’t stop us, however, from lusting after its 4.5-inch. This 720p display also manages 3D, spread across a slinky 10mm frame that houses NTT DoCoMo’s recently launched NOTTV streaming broadcast system. The device arrives in pink, white and blue options — all provided with a matching dock and built-in aerial. Like several eastern phones with the ability to tune into live TV broadcasts, the AQUOS SH-06D has its own extendable antenna built into the side. The device, despite its largely plastic build felt solid in our hand, although the minuscule power and volume buttons proved difficult to manipulate at times. The screen technology is still a closely guarded secret, but it aims to bring both 3D functionality alongside a crisp HD display performance during two-dimensional antics. Viewing angles are great — a welcome trend we’ve seen on plenty of handsets at this year’s MWC — but the heavily customized Android 2.3 skin took away some of that sheen. Applications are stowed away into several drop-down menus that took some getting used to — regardless of any language barrier. Sharp hasn’t revealed any plans to join its Japanese competitors in the frenzied global smartphone market, but some import options wouldn’t go amiss. See why in our hands-on right after the break.
Alongside the LePhone S2 and the two-and-a-half tablets from earlier today, Lenovo also showed off a 3.7-inch Android 2.3.5 phone dubbed the S760. Packed within is a 1GHz processor, 512MB RAM, a vibrant AMOLED display, five megapixel camera and Lenovo’s usual customised UI. Externally the phone looks very much like the S2, though the former’s shiny plastic backside gives out more of a toy-like feel. No prices just yet but expect this to hit the Chinese market at the end of December.
Frankly speaking, the phones that Lenovo have announced so far this week haven’t been all that exciting (unless, of course, you’re somehow aroused by its 5-inch tabletphone), but it turned out the folks had a little surprise for us: the LePhone K2. What we got here is a 4.3-inch IPS display (resolution of which not yet announced), a powerful dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm MSM8260 chip, 1GB RAM, 1GB ROM and an eight megapixel 1080p camera. Sadly, like the S2 and the S760, this crouching tiger also packs Android 2.3.5 instead of Ice Cream Sandwich, but without a price or a release date, perhaps there’s still a small chance that we’ll see it eventually launching with the newer OS. Anyhow, that’s just our wishful thinking. Chinese hands-on video after the break.
In the first of what we expect to be many announcements related to Windows Phone Mango devices, AT&T stepped up to the plate this morning by unveiling three new “4G” handsets that use the latest version of Microsoft’s OS: the HTC Titan, Samsung Focus S and Focus Flash. We already know quite a bit about the Titan, but details on Sammy’s selections are slim for now — images aren’t even available for either phone, though it’s likely we’ve seen at least one of them before. In addition, the carrier’s also planning to update its entire existing lineup with Windows Phone 7.5.
Shopping for a new smartphone is an exciting and arduous experience. It holds the promise of something better and the fear of a two-year commitment. For gadget enthusiasts, it also involves pouring over specs and reviews, and fretting over what’s coming out in the near-term. As we publish this buyer’s guide, we face potential upheavals in the mobile space. Samsung’s Galaxy S II lineup will arrive at three major US carriers, the next iPhone perpetually looms in the distance, and a new generation of Windows Phone handsets is close upon us. You might ask, “Why would anyone buy a smartphone today, when something better is coming tomorrow?” Friends, that’s the blessing and curse of the mobile world — there’s always something better coming. You can’t wait forever, though, and if you want to purchase a smartphone today, we’re here to make the process easier and help you make an informed decision.