Breakout mobile photo sensation Frontback is an app that almost never happened. It’s a fact that seems mind-boggling given that the company raced past its one millionth download in late March and has now doubled its user based in the last eight weeks and tripled the number of photos uploaded and viewed monthly since the beginning […]
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Update: Hot on the heels of Samsung UK’s statement, Samsung HQ has announced that the Black Edition GS4 and GS4 Mini will launch in “select markets” from February. The phones will come with exclusive wallpapers and ringtones, as well as black accessories and charging cables.
Original post: Samsung has started releasing Galaxy S4 models with a new Note 3-like leather-effect back — in recent days we’ve seen the new GS4 variants in Russia and South Korea sporting a redesigned derriere. So when might we see a Western release for this new (and, we’d argue, improved) flavor of Galaxy S4? Well, Samsung’s keeping its cards close to its chest for now, not exactly confirming a UK launch for the “Black Edition” GS4 seen in Russia recently, but instead hinting at the possibility of announcements ahead.
A Samsung spokesperson told Android Central, “Samsung UK will announce availability for the Samsung Galaxy S4 Black Edition in due course.”
That doesn’t tell us a whole lot, but it does suggest we haven’t seen the last of these new GS4 models without the glossy back cover. With a likely Galaxy S5 launch happening before the end of the month, hopefully we won’t have too long to wait.
£649 gets you a 12-inch KitKat tablet with stylus capabilities
The Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 tablet is available to buy in the UK from today, Samsung has announced. The Wifi-only version of the tablet launches today from Samsung’s own online store, its “Experience Store” at Westfield Stratford City, and “selected retailers” such as Carphone Warehouse and John Lewis. The 12.2-inch behemoth sports a similar chassis design and internals to the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition, and is priced at a whopping £649 for the Wifi-only version.
UK retailer Carphone Warehouse has begun stocking the Galaxy Note 3 in two of the three new color options announced by Samsung late last year. From today CPW has the Note 3 in “merlot red” as well as “rose gold white,” which combines a white front and back with bronze-tinted accents. So far there’s no sign of the “rose gold black” Note 3 which was announced alongside these two.
On-contract prices start at £32 per month for a free Note 3, with tariffs on EE, Orange, T-Mobile, O2 and Vodafone; alternatively it’s £579.95 outright.
Today’s launch is the latest in a series of new Note 3 color rollouts around the world. The new colors appeared first in South America, before hitting the U.S. on Verizon Wireless late last month.
Source: Carphone Warehouse
Galaxy S4 LTE-A coming in ‘rose gold white,’ ‘rose gold black’ and ‘deep black’
Even as we look towards the possibility of a Galaxy S5 unveiling before the end of the month, it’s clear Samsung’s not done with the Galaxy S4 just yet. The company has just unveiled three new flavors of GS4 for its home market of South Korea, specifically the LTE-Advanced model with support for super-fast data speeds. The new colors — rose gold white, rose gold black and deep black — all sport Galaxy Note 3-style stitched leather-effect back covers. The look might not appeal to everyone, but in our opinion the matte and soft-touch finish of Samsung’s faux-leather backs are a big improvement on the glossy, fingerprinty battery door of old.
If the “gold” models look familiar, it’s because this color scheme has already appeared on the Galaxy Note 3 in some countries. Similarly, the “deep black” version is a dead ringer for the “black edition” GS4 that’s headed for Russia.
With a successor to the Galaxy S4 near on the horizon, it’s unclear whether Samsung will be pushing these new color options out globally. But between these new Galaxy S4 designs and its new “Pro” series tablets, Samsung seems committed to this new visual style for the present.
Dual-SIM version of affordable Moto handset coming to Flipkart
As expected, Motorola has announced availability details for the Moto G in India. The dual-SIM version of the device will be available from midnight tonight IST, exclusively from Indian outlet Flipkart. The 8GB model sells for Rs 12,499, while the 16GB version costs Rs 13,999 — and both come with free e-books, as well as a 70 percent discount on official colored shell backs. Other offers for Moto G buyers in India include Rs. 1000 off clothing from Flipkart and a chance to win 100% of the phone’s value back in store credit.
Flipkart’s store listing shows the Moto G as shipping with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean as opposed to the newer 4.4 KitKat shipping elsewhere. But as we said in our review of the device, the Moto G remains the best cheap Android phone you can buy right now, even on the earlier version of the OS.
More: Moto G review
Larger-screened tablet for the same price as Google’s Nexus 7
LG’s G Pad 8.3 is one of the more impressive mid-sized Android tablets available today, with an 8.3-inch 1920×1200-resolution screen, a metal body and a Snapdragon 600 CPU. It’s also got LG’s colorful, love-it-or-loate-it Android UI, but that’s easy enough to pare back if it’s not your cup of tea. In any case we’re starting to see the G Pad appearing at discounted prices in the UK, where it debuted around the £260 mark in October.
UK retailer Expansys is offering the 16GB G Pad for £199.99 — within 99 pence of Google’s base Nexus 7 model, which comes with a smaller screen and slightly less powerful CPU. It’s not a Nexus, meaning you won’t get speedy updates or the pure Android software experience, but still, the G Pad 8.3 is a fine tablet for this price.
If you’re on the fence, be sure to check out our full review of the LG G Pad 8.3, linked below.
More: LG G Pad 8.3 review
New P4u-operated Samsung stores to focus on ‘smartphones, tablets and wearable technology’
UK high street retailer Phones 4u has announced a partnership with Samsung that’ll see 15 P4u-operated Samsung stores opening across the country. These outlets will focus on “smartphones, tablets and wearable technology,” and will be managed by Phones 4u and staffed by the company’s employees. Phones4u has previously partnered with the electronics giant with Samsung-branded “stores within stores” in some locations; the new partnership will take things a step further by opening standalone Samsung stores managed by the smartphone retailer.
Today’s news follows a wider deal between Samsung and P4u rival Carphone Warehouse to open more than 60 Samsung stores across seven European countries, as part of what CPW described as a “preferred partner” deal. As evidenced by today’s announcement, however, Samsung’s retail ambitions clearly extend beyond just one partner chain. And it’s possible Samsung stores could soon become a common sight in many British towns and cities.
Carriers will reportedly build next stage of their LTE networks together
UK mobile operators Three and EE are set to work together on the next part of their 4G LTE networks, according to a report from the Financial Times. The FT reports that the largest and smallest major UK carriers will share masts and backhaul transmission costs as part of a deal that’ll see £1 billion ($1.63 billion) being jointly invested.
The agreement covers cost and infrastructure sharing, however there’s “greater flexibility” for both EE and Three to control the speeds and coverage of their networks, according to the report. That means the entire 4G network isn’t being shared between the two — “the antennas, spectrum and the core network will also be different for the two groups.” The deal is also said to revise the conditions of Three’s existing network-sharing agreement with EE.
KitKat update reportedly rolling out on Rogers, TELUS, Bell, Virgin, SaskTel, Wind
HTC One owners in the U.S. might have another week or two to wait for their KitKat update, but it seems there’s no such delay for their northern neighbors. MobileSyrup reports that an update weighing a little under 600MB is rolling out now to Canadian HTC Ones on Rogers, TELUS, Bell, Virgin, SaskTel and Wind, bringing devices up to Android 4.4.2 KitKat and HTC Sense 5.5
If you’ve got an HTC One in Canada, now’s the time to head to Settings > About phone > Software update and check for that OTA. Earlier this week HTC America president Jason Mackenzie said the company expected to narrowly miss its self-imposed target of getting KitKat onto phones in the U.S. and Canada within 90 days of the code drop, however it seems Canada has just managed to make that deadline. HTC’s updates site still shows the U.S. HTC One update as being in certification with the carriers.
Elsewhere, HTC started pushing out Android 4.4.2 to the HTC One in some European countries a few days ago.
Pitch black GS4s come with 100 percent less glossy plastic
Perhaps our biggest gripe with Samsung’s Galaxy S4 — in hardware terms, at least — was its glossy, plasticky back cover. The S4’s rear panel was a magnet for fingerprints and smudges, and just didn’t feel very nice in the hand. So imagine our delight this morning to see the device above — the “black edition” Galaxy S4, sporting a soft-touch, leather-effect back like the Galaxy Note 3.
Clove selling Motorola’s latest for £80 less than the standard price
When the Moto X was first announced for the UK market, many were less than thrilled at the initial launch price of £380, in light of the phone’s highly competitive pricing elsewhere. But today there’s good news for UK buyers wanting to pick up a Moto X without parting with quite so much cash, as one UK retailer has the device for £80-90 less than the price elsewhere.
Clove Technology, which initially listed the device at £330, has knocked its Moto X price down to £299 plus shipping today. Existing orders, Clove says, will have the £30 difference refunded, and devices will begin shipping from next Monday, Feb. 3. So if you can wait out the weekend, this would seem to be among the best deals around for picking up the Moto X in the UK. Clove’s stock is of the 16GB black model — the white model is exclusive to Phones4u for now, and Motorola has previously told us that the 32GB version won’t be coming to the UK.
Source: Clove Technology
Good news for anyone in the UK with a contract on Tesco Mobile — the network has announced that it’s to ditch its £2.50 surcharge and offer LTE services to all postpaid customers for free. Tesco Mobile is operated by the supermarket chain of the same name but runs on O2’s airwaves, so you should be good for 4G coverage wherever O2’s got it deployed. Customers will still need to be on a contract with Tesco Mobile, however, as the network isn’t yet offering 4G on pay as you go.
Tesco Mobile offers a variety of Android phones on contract, as well as 1 and 12-month SIM-only deals for between £7.50 and £20 per month, which gets you between 500MB and 3GB.
If you look in the right place, you’ll save £50 on the RRP
The UK launch of the Moto X left us disappointed with one key feature of the phone; its price. Moto announced the arrival of its current range topper with a pretty hefty price tag of £380, made worse by the current price of its American equivalent. This week the Moto X finally goes on sale across the UK, and if you know where to look you can pick one up for £50 less than that £380 RRP.
Online retailers Expansys and Clove Technology are both offering the 16GB Moto X – in black only, white is exclusive to Phones 4U – for £330. Handtec is offering a very slight reduction on this, with a Moto X there costing you £328.80. All prices are inclusive of VAT. Clove is expecting stock from January 30, Expansys within three days at the time of writing, and Handtec is still taking pre-orders.
So, while it’s still maybe more than we’d have been hoping to pay for a 6-month old phone at this point, there are at least a few options to save yourselves a bit of cash on an outright purchase at launch. With Moto’s recent – and fairly frequent – deals on the Moto X stateside, it’d be nice to see a similar promotion hit the UK at some point soon.
Prices start at £379.95 on PAYG or £25 per month on 3G contract
Phones4u has announced that it’s the first UK retailer to offer Motorola’s Moto X for sale. The company says it’s now offering Motorola’s flagship handset on contract, pay as you go and SIM-free, both in-store and online. If you’re looking to pick up a Moto X today you’ll pay from £25 per month on 3G contracts or £29.99 on 4G. P4u’s SIM-free price is £389.95, dropping to £379.95 if you buy on PAYG. And as previously announced, the retailer also has exclusivity over the white Moto X for the first three months of it’s availability.
Phones4u’s launch comes a few days ahead of the officially-announced Moto X UK street date of Feb. 1.
‘MyTablet’ maker enters liquidation after Argos withholds £3.2m over lack of GMS license, The Guardian reports
Penryth, Wales-based hardware maker KMS has entered liquidation after a row with high street retailer Argos over use of Google Mobile Services on tablets without the proper license, according to The Guardian. KMS manufactured Argos’ £99 “MyTablet” slate — released late last year along with a flurry of other low-priced Android tablets from UK retailers — as well as other low-cost Android tablets.
The newspaper reports that Argos withheld payments of £3.2 million ($5.3 million) from KMS after it discovered the company had loaded Google Mobile Services — the package including Maps, Gmail and the Play Store — onto its tablets without a license from Google. While the core Android OS is free and open-source, Google’s proprietary services and apps are not, and manufacturers must obtain a GMS license in order to legally load them onto devices.
Last year’s Samsung Galaxy Grand sought to bring users a big-screen Android experience without a similarly large price tag. Now it seems we have a successor for 2014 — the Galaxy Grand Neo, a 5.01-incher with a WVGA display, quad-core CPU and HSPA+ (21Mbps) data speeds. The Grand Neo sports a traditional plastic-backed Samsung design with silver trim, along with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and Samsung’s TouchWix UI. There’s also 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage (expandable via microSD), an 5-megapixel camera and 2100mAh battery. Not the specciest of specs for sure, but we’re looking at an entry-level product here.
308MB update brings HTC’s 2013 flagship up to the latest version of Android
HTC said it’d deliver Android 4.4 KitKat to European HTC Ones by the end of January, and it seems the manufacturer’s about to make good on its promise. An update to software version 4.19.401.8, weighing in at 308.24 megabytes, has started hitting HTC One handsets in parts of Europe — including unlocked devices from the Nordic region, typically among the first with new software updates. If past rollouts are any indication, more regions should follow in the days and weeks ahead, so hold tight if you’re not seeing the OTA on your phone just yet,
In addition to Android 4.4.2, (and unspecified security enhancements) the update adds cloud printing service and Bluetooth profiles — both parts of KitKat we’ve seen on other handsets — while killing support for Adobe Flash in the stock HTC web browser. The latter has been a long time coming — Flash on Android hasn’t been officially supported since mid-2012.
Besides that it’s business as usual on HTC Sense 5.5, with one minor cosmetic change. The battery icon is now white-on-white, like stock KitKat, rather than colored as it was on Jelly Bean. (We’ve got pics after the break.)
Meanwhile the KitKat update for U.S. carrier-branded HTC Ones recently entered certification, a sure sign that it’s on its way too.
Following a limited rollout in Russia and Poland, it seems more countries in Europe and Asia are getting the Android 4.4 KitKat update for the Galaxy Note 3 today. Reports from SamMobile and the XDA forums point to a rollout for users in the Netherlands, Singapore, Switzerland, Hungary, India and Korea. The reports refer to both the LTE-capable SM-N9005 and the 3G-only SM-N900 getting the OTA today.
The update brings Samsung’s big-screened handset up to Android 4.4.2, build KOT49H, with new-style notification icons and other minor UI tweaks, in addition to standard KitKat features like immersive mode, transparent notification bars and fullscreen album art. (Updaters should also be aware that some have reported issues getting third-party S View cases to work after the KitKat upgrade, though Samsung has denied any link between the two.)
International Note 3 owners — check for software updates, and hit the comments and let us know if you’ve got an OTA waiting.
Other launch details remain unclear
Rumors of an upcoming mid-range version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 have been circulating in recent weeks, with photos and and spec details for the Galaxy Note 3 Neo — aka Note 3 Lite — appearing on Samsung fansite SamMobile. Leaked details point to a 5.5-inch 720p display, 2GB of RAM and a processor with six Cortex A7 cores at 1.3GHz, paired with a Mali-T624 GPU. The device is due to go up for pre-order shortly at one Belgian retailer, according to the reports.
Today Samsung has confirmed the existence of the Note 3 Neo in a short statement, while also revealing that the device won’t be heading to British shores. The statement given to Android Central reads simply: “Samsung UK can confirm that the Note 3 Neo will not be coming to the UK market.”
In the absence of any detailed announcement we’re left guessing as to when and where the Galaxy Note 3 Neo will actually go on sale. It’s possible, however, the device might be targeted at emerging markets in order to deliver a Note-class device at a lower price point.