Galaxy Note 4 gets its own “gapgate scandal”

If Samsung fans think they have the last laugh in the rivalry against Apple, they might have to reassess the situation. Just days after the infamous “bendgate” iPhone 6 issue made rounds over the Internet, a new build quality issue has popped up, this time involving a Galaxy Note 4 and a business card.

In this case, it is a business card that fits between the very edge of the device and its screen, inside a gap that shouldn’t even be there in the first place. while at first seemingly harmless (because how many would be actively fitting papers or cards into their smartphone edges), it does mean that small particles can potentially ingress into that gap and cause some harm. At the very least it will be a place for dirt and dust to accumulate.

There are various theories now being put forward to explain this problem. Of course, there would be those that will be too happy to simply blame it on shoddy Samsung craftmanship. There are also those that theorize that such QA lapses were due to trying to rush out the Galaxy Note 4 to counter the iPhone 6′s launch. There is also a possibility that these, if truly more than one, are isolated cases that can be encountered in any product, whether they be by Samsung or Apple.

Whichever the cause may have been, Samsung may still have time to rectify the situation before it gets out of hand. It hasn’t boasted of sales in the millions yet, at least compared to numbers for the “bending” iPhone 6 Plus. The availability of the Galaxy Note 4 has so far been quite limited, so there’s a chance for the manufacturer to double check its production lines and ensure that the next batches will mind the gap.

VIA: IT Today

Sony unveils new marketing campaign for Xperia Z3, Z3 Compact

Sony’s new flagship phones, the Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact, have been receiving more than favorable reviews. And as they slowly start becoming available around the world, now is the right time to hit the spot with a splashy, new, advertising and marketing campaign. Sony unveiled the campaign with the tagline, “Don’t settle for good. Demand great.”

The campaign kicked off with the release of two videos on the company’s YouTube channel. The first, entitled Gliding Lights, seems at first to be just some abstract lighted images glowing eerily in what seems to be a forest. It’s like something out of a trippy and hip ghost movie. But it’s actually skiers gliding through snow at night (the 2nd ad shows behind the scenes of this) glowing like colored Christmas tree lights. What it’s highlighting is the Xperia Z3′s ability to take pictures and videos even in low light.

The 2nd ad is entitled The Journey and shows some creative ideas the user has in how to maximize the premium features of the Xperia Z3, including taking videos of skateboarders holding different colored smoke bombs as they skate down the road. He’s also the guy behind the first video, and shows how he and his friends came up with the idea of shooting at night in the snow, highlighting of course the Z3′s camera capabilities.

Sony says in the next few weeks they’ll be releasing more videos and other campaign materials that will feature people who were helped by the Xperia Z3 to “achieve greatness.” We don’t know exactly what that means or how it will come about, but based on the first two videos they’ve released, it will probably look pretty and cool.

SOURCE: Sony Mobile

Hands-on with Nokia HERE beta with offline maps

When you talk about digital maps, Google is the name that will undoubtedly come up first. Nokia, who is no longer making smartphones, is trying to take a bite out of that market by making its own HERE maps available to a wider audience. And now we’re taking the official beta (not the leaked version) of HERE on Android for a spin to see what this Google Maps competitor has to offer.

When Nokia sold off its mobile business to Microsoft, it still kept some of its services and products, one of which was HERE maps, which it also licenses to Microsoft for future Windows Phone devices. And it hasn’t been sitting on its behind either. Nokia has been continually growing that business and has partnered with various companies to improve its offering, the latest being Samsung to bring those maps to its Tizen-powered smartwatches. That, apparently, was just the opening salvo and Nokia is trying to make inroads into other mobile spaces without being beholden to a single OEM. And now we’re getting a taste of the first fruits of that effort.

Visually speaking, HERE isn’t something you will probably write home about, though it isn’t disappointing either. You would definitely not equate it with a standard Android-looking app. Then again, not many apps really follow Google’s design guidelines anyway. The use of big buttons and text make them easier targets to hit, a huge, pardon the pun, benefit when used in a driving scenario. But it also makes the whole app itself look and feel rather huge, as if viewed with a magnifying glass. Some might find Google’s own app a lot cleaner to look at. That said, there are instances where the user interface tends to be inconsistent or unexpected. Stopping turn by turn navigation in Driving mode, for example, involves swiping up a hidden menu with a Stop button. For walking, however, you’ll have to press Back to stop it.

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But, of course, we’re here for the mapping and navigating features and, if you can get past that subjective criteria of aesthetics, you’ll find that HERE delivers its promise quite well. You have the basics of both maps and navigation functionality, as well as search (perhaps powered by Bing) and “bookmarks” for marking your favorite spots. Four types of maps are available, including the quintessential plain Map, Satellite, Transit and Traffic, though the last one might be available only in some markets. You also have guidance for walking, commuting and driving, with voice navigation available too. Drivers, however, might prefer the more dedicated “Driving” section of the app, as it gives more options, particularly in routing options and how maps and other pieces of information are displayed.

If that sounds like the normal features you’d expect from any decent map app, you’d be correct. There are, however, one or two areas where HERE has the upper hand. The first is one of the most widely touted feature of Nokia’s product: offline maps. You can download maps by country, region, or even whole continents. This lets you access those maps even when you don’t have an Internet connection, perfect for travels where you are unsure of availability or reception. Even turn by turn navigation works with these offline maps. Do note that these maps, even just for a single country, are quite big, so it is best to download them before hand rather than impromptu.

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Another way HERE gets the advantage, though quite debatable, is in local maps. Areas, cities, countries, and regions that don’t exactly get the same laser focus from Google, even with crowdsourced help, sometimes gets things wrong. Some users, at least those from the Lumia camp (which might make the evaluation a bit suspect) claim that HERE offers more accuracy in certain regions. Some Android users might even concede that there are areas that Google Maps doesn’t cover accurately. The availability of downloadable maps per country does seem to imply that. But whether or not that is true, alternatives to Google Maps is always a good thing and Nokia HERE possibly offers one of the better choices.

HERE has actually been available on Android but only on the Nokia X platform. A beta version of the app should be making its way to Samsung’s Galaxy devices as part of the two companies’ budding friendship. That said, that beta version seems to have leaked out and is now making rounds over the Internet. While you may be able to install this unofficial version on any Android smartphone, Nokia notes that you will be doing so at your own risk. One can use the app without signing in or up, but functionality will be limited to basic and, more importantly, online usage. To get to features like downloading maps as well as voices, both in normal and Hi-Fi quality, users will need to sign up for a free account, either using their Facebook login or directly on HERE.

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is a ‘larger than life’ smartphone

Ever since Samsung announced the Galaxy Note Edge a few weeks ago, Android fans seem to be on the, well, edge of their seats. To get people more excited about this “stateof-the-art” smartphone, they’ve released more information about the upcoming device through an infographic highlighting the specs and five features that the Galaxy Edge can uniquely give you (if you’re lucky enough to be one of the limited few).

We all know already that the edge screen of the smartphone is the major selling point of the Galaxy Edge, having the same display as the Galaxy Note 4, with its Quad HD (2560×1440) Super AMOLED display. But if you don’t watch the hands-on video that Samsung released, then you wouldn’t really understand what gives this smartphone the, ahem, edge. First of all, you don’t need to unlock your phone and go to the Apps menu part. What you have now is your favorite apps showing on the edge of your device’s screen. Even your notifications can just float and appear on your edge screen so that whether you’re watching a video or playing a game, you won’t be interrupted by that new facebook message or that text from your annoying offcemate.

If you’re the artistic kind that gets easily bored by your smartphone’s original casing, a feature on the Galaxy Edge will make you happy. You can personalize your edge screen by drawing or sketching your own design by using the S Pen or or adding images and text. Just like the ticker of news items that you see on TV (assuming you actually still open a TV), the Galaxy Edge has its own Ticker Board where you can view important items like stock trends, news items and even Twitter keywords. Important tools like your smartphone’s flash, voice recorder, timer, stop watch and ruler can be accessed and used on the edge screen whenever you need it.

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While the Galaxy Note Edge sounds like a pretty nifty gadget to own, Samsung recently said that it will be a limited edition gadget only. It will also probably cost an arm and a leg in keeping with its elite status so if you really, really want one, better start setting aside money for it now.

SOURCE: Samsung

Hearthstone game gets an unofficial Android port

Android developers are a rather arduous bunch. If a feature or app is available for only a certain model or OEM, it will eventually get ported for others or at least have equivalent apps. Vietnamese game developer Khanh Hoang Tran did something similar, but in a totally different scale. He made Blizzard’s Hearthstone game, currently available only for PCs, Macs, and iPads, playable on Android devices.

Hearthstone is Blizzard’s most recent attempt to capitalize on the popularity of its World of Warcraft franchise. It’s a collectible card game or CCG (think Magic the Gathering) based on the same game universe, except it’s totally digital. Of course, CCGs are a dime a dozen on Android, but Hearthstone carries the weight of the WoW name. Unfortunately, it isn’t available on our favorite mobile platform.

Similarly peeved by the situation, Khanh Hoang Tran decided to scratch his own itch and try to bring the game to Android even without Blizzard’s blessing, much less help. What he did was to basically make the PC version of the game available on Windows run on Android. He mentions using some software that allowed him to do so but isn’t spilling the beans on that one, which might be a good idea should that tool be proven to be a rather controversial one. But even with the tool, he admits that it was no easy task, especially when it comes to getting around crashes and trying to make the game work on hardware it was never designed for.

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While this is undoubtedly an unofficial port, Hoang says he is able to play on official Blizzard servers, using his official Battle.net account, of course. That said, this version of the game isn’t available to the general public yet and so far works only on Hoang’s Android device. He does plan on creating a guide that will let others follow in his footsteps and enjoy the bliss of playing the game on their smartphone or tablet. That is, at least until Blizzard gets wind of this and starts cracking down on unsanctioned ports of the game.

VIA: Games In Asia

HP Slate 17 tablet rocks Intel Bay Trail quad-core CPU

HP has a number of tablets on the market today and normally when we are talking about a new one, we are looking at a smaller size tablet designed to be crammed into a bag and carried with you on the go. HP has a new tablet that is going to launch called the Slate 17 and there is really nothing portable about this tablet and its 17-inch screen.

The big tablet will have a full HD resolution screen and will use an Intel Bay Trail Celeron N2870 quad-core processor under the hood. The tablet is a monster and looks like an all-in-one PC sitting on the table, but it’s a tablet. The machine has a battery inside that will allow it to run for several hours per charge.

The OS for the big tablet is Android 4.4 KitKat and it has 2GB of RAM, WiFi, Bluetooth, and HDMI output for connecting a second screen. HP also fits the tablet with a 720p webcam and a USB 2.0 port. One thing missing that would have been a nice addition is an HDMI input. No HDMI input means you can’t use the Slate 17 as a monitor for a PC or display for other devices.

HP says the Slate 17 will tip the scales at 5.4 pounds and it has two kickstands. One of the stands props the tablet upright and the other allows the tablet to lay almost flat on a table or desk. HP will sell the Slate 17 for around $450.

SOURCE: Liliputing

Project Ara modules to be hot swappable

We have talked about Project Ara several times and one of the coolest things we have learned so far is that the battery of the device will be hot swappable. That means you can swap a nearly dead battery for a full one without turning the device off or losing what you are working on. Another interesting detail about Project Ara has surfaced recently.

That detail is the fact that nearly all of the modules used in a Project Ara device will be hot swappable. Paul Eremenko, the director of Project Ara, has recently noted that users of Project Ara will be able to swap the phone modules around without losing what they are working with only two exceptions.

The monitor and CPU won’t be hot swappable in the middle of a call or text message. The idea with the hot swappable modules is that you could change modules out like the camera to better suit what you are doing right then.

You could for instance swap a wide-angle camera when you want to take a picture of a group of people or use a camera with more resolution for landscape shots. Another tidbit revealed is that Google will have an online store that sells different modules or Project Ara. We already know a few other tidbits about the device, including the fact that it will use Android L.

SOURCE: Engadget

Galaxy Ace Style LTE features 1.2GHz quad-core CPU

Samsung has tossed a new Galaxy smartphone on the market with little fanfare called the Galaxy Ace Style LTE. The smartphone has a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display with 800 x 480 resolution. That isn’t exactly a high-resolution screen by today’s standards, but it gets the job done well enough on a lower cost device.

The smartphone uses a 1.2GHz quad-core processor paired with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. A microSD card slot allows storage expansion. Samsung equips the device with a 5MP rear camera that can shoot 720p HD video and the camera has LED flash.

Power for the smartphone comes from a 1900 mAh internal battery good for up to 11 hours of talk time on 3G networks. On LTE networks, that battery has enough power for about nine hours of surfing the web.

The Galaxy Ace Style LTE is a single-SIM phone that is fitted with NFC. Samsung is selling the smartphone in Germany now for €199 in black or white colors.

SOURCE: GSMarena

Humble Flash Bundle offers Android games

The last time we talked about the Humble Bundle for Android, it was the mobile version of the game pack with a slew of mobile games for Android smartphones. This time out we are looking at the Humble Flash Bundle that is packed with some cool DRM-free games and can be purchased on Steam.

A few of the games that are available in the Flash Bundle can be played on your Android devices, but not all of them. The games offered in the new bundle include Anomaly: Warzone Earth, Anomaly: Warzone Earth Mobile Campaign, Sleepwalker’s Journey, and Funky Smuggler. Only Anomaly Earth: Warzone Earth won’t play on Android devices.

Those first four games are offered no matter how much money you pay. If you plunk down $6 or more for the bundle, you also get Anomaly Korea, Anomaly 2, and Anomaly 2 Hell Hound bonus content. Only Anomaly 2 is Android compatible.

If you cough up $10 or more for the Humble Flash Bundle, you get Spacecom. The catch with that last game is that it isn’t Android compatible. The bundle also includes the soundtracks to several of those games. So far, 5709 of these bundles have been purchased and about two days are left to purchase the bundle of games as of writing.

SOURCE: Humble Bundle

TomTom MySports GPS Watch gets Android support

TomTom launched its running watch called the MySports GPS watch several months back and for a long time it lacked Android compatibility. That lack of compatibility came down to no Android version of the required app not being available.

That has changed this month with TomTom rolling out the required app for Android users. The TomTom MySports app is on Google Play right now and works with the TomTom Runner watch as well. TomTom tested the app and confirmed support for several popular Android phones.

Those devices include the Galaxy S3, S4, S5, Nexus 5, HTC One, and HTC One M8. Additional devices will be coming to the supported list in the future. The app connects to the watch using Bluetooth.

The app is 7.6MB in size and is currently in version 1.0.6. The version of Android required for the app varies with the device it runs on. The most recent version of the app has a few bug fixes and pairing has been improved.

SOURCE: ZDNet