T-Mobile has always been a strong proponent for Android. It teamed up with Google to launch the very first Android phone (the HTC G1) back in 2008 and is currently the only carrier to offer the new Nexus 4 on contract. In its smartphone line-up you could always find a plethora of strong Android based contenders, with one infamous smartphone (the one that shall not be named) interestingly absent. Well, all that is set to change in 2013. In an interview today, T-Mobile’s CEO John Legere informed the press that they will begin selling Apple products in 2013, including Apple’s iPhone 5 and the rest of the gang. What’s more interesting is that T-Mobile will be selling these (and all other) devices completely unsubsidized from now on. This is a dramatic move for a carrier, and the first of its kind for one of the big four. Typically carriers sell phones at significantly reduced costs to buyers and make up the money by charging more for monthly service fees over the two-year contract. T-Mobile is bucking the system and plans to sell phones at the full retail price (phones can be as pricey as $800!) while offering a lower monthly service fee. The strange thing about this plan is that you’ll still need to sign the dotted line and commit to a two-year contract. Personally, if I were planning on buying an unsubsidized phone, I’d go with a no-contract plan like Straight Talk’s $45 unlimited plan (month to month).
Are any of you willing to sign a two year contract if your monthly rates are lower? Or would you just go with Straight Talk and other no-contract service providers?
While this story isn’t totally Android related, we’re always scoping the competition. The world is a funny place, especially when marketing is involved. Take Euro-Disney for example: Who would’ve ever thought Disney would fail anywhere in the world? Similarly, Apple is nearly having the same fate in China. Okay, maybe that was an exaggeration. Regardless, things could be better for Apple in China. Research firm IDC has reported that Apple Inc has fallen to sixth place in China’s smartphone market. Turns out that the Chinese are a loyal group and like sticking to their own brands. Not surprisingly, Samsung nailed down the top spot.
Since HTC and Apple reached an agreement to cross-license patents and end their litigation, many have wondered just what kind of deal was made. One party that was particularly interested is Samsung, who argues the agreement shows injunctions are not needed as a value for patent infringements can be determined. Samsung went so far as to request one of the courts hearing one of the many Samsung v. Apple disputes to force Apple and HTC to reveal the details of the agreement. As a result of that request, which the court approved, a heavily redacted version of the agreement has surfaced in the public court filings.
Google’s Nexus 4 has certainly proven itself to be golden for Google and Android fans. The mania is not confined to the device itself. Those lucky enough to have one of the devices despite the severe shortage may be looking for some lightweight protection for the smartphone. Google is ready with a solution in the form of some black bumpers to wrap the Nexus 4. The bumpers have been available on the Google Play Store and were shipping to lucky buyers, but are now sold out. If you are interested in grabbing one, you will now have to play the refresh and wait game using the Google Play Store link below.
Google Play Link
It’s surprising that more Android manufacturers and carriers haven’t jumped on the Google Wallet bandwagon, considering the rate at which the service continues to gain traction in the mobile payment space. While carriers like AT&T may rather opt for an in-house alternative, many anxious subscribers would rather utilize Google’s service. Thankfully, the Galaxy Note II has received an unofficial workaround for installing the mobile wallet software, thanks to recognized XDA developer ogdobber.
While NFC may not be catching on as quickly as the mobile industry had hoped, Qualcomm isn’t letting that slow their role. The San Diego-based semiconductor manufacturer announced the redesigned QCA1990 NFC chip today in partnership with subsidiary Atheros.
Offering significantly improved battery life and a 50% size reduction, Qualcomm is touting its chip as the most efficient NFC processor yet. Moreover, the chip is compatible with the company’s latest Snapdragon SoCs, meaning we could see it integrated into handsets as early as Q3 2013. For the full run-down, you can read the company’s official PR after the break.
Finally, some official news has come out of the Google/LG camp regarding the stock status of the hot Nexus 4, albeit not groundbreaking news. Per LG, the massive shortage of the hottest device this year is due to – huge demand. Wow LG, you don’t say. I assume, however, that how you categorize that ‘demand’ is another story.
As we know, the original batch sold out in under 30 minutes, most likely due to legit demand. However, as soon as the public got wind of this hot device this close to the shopping season, it in turn opened up the market of the re-sellers exacerbating the shortage. Andy Coughlin, the head of mobile at LG UK, added, “We are working closely with Google to ensure that those who wish to purchase a handset are able to do so.”
So far, from what we know and can deduce, all signs point toward Google missing on their forecast when originally placing their orders directly through LG’s headquarters in Seoul. Hey, it happens. It’s not like Google had any past history to gauge demand using this model and price-point. It’s easy for us to play “Monday Morning quarterback,” but in the business world you’re most likely not going to hit forecasts directly on the head, especially in this case. You’re either going to come in higher than planned or lower. And, frankly, the situation they’re in now is much better than the alternative. The last thing you want is to be stuck with inventory in this economy. Google will learn from this, and should be prepared next go around. So, everyone take a deep breath. It’s going to be alright.
Sony continues to show us how much love they have for hacking and tinkering by releasing Emma, a new flash tool for Xperia devices with unlocked bootloaders. It’s in beta, and it gives users the ability to revert back to Sony stock ROMs. For starters, it’s only available on the Xperia S, Xperia arc, and Xperia arc S, but more handsets will be added soon. You can download the software from their developer site and check out the video to see how easy it is.
Ever since the inception of Android, ASTRO File Manager has been there providing us with a convenient way to organize our pictures, documents, and music on our devices. Today’s update brings even more features that’ll better fit into most users’ lifestyle – most notable Facebook Photo integration. Once you’re on the new version, you can then view and download your Facebook photos directly within ASTRO’s user interface. Additionally, users on older versions of Android will be able to enjoy the same interface that ASTRO v4 brings. Below is a summary of the updates to this version:
- SWIPE SCREEN RIGHT to get to Clouds, Network Locations or Saved Searches fast
- SWIPE SCREEN LEFT to get to Tools (App Backup, Task Killer, SD Card Usage), Settings and Help
- NEW: Facebook Photo integration
- NEW: New Picture Gallery
- NEW: Image Viewer enhancements including rotate picture
- SkyDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox support
- Added Text Editor into v4
Google Play Store Link
I guess I can’t really say I didn’t see this one coming. Anyone somewhat in touch with T-Mobile could deduce that they would eventually move to this model, and today it was officially announced at T-Mobile’s Capital Market Days that they would be adopting this model full-time beginning in 2013. 80-percent of their post-paid customers are already on a Value Plan so it’s not a drastic change anyway. This would tell me that their customers prefer that type of plan, so why not adopt it full time to streamline operations?
If you’re not familiar with this model; you pay less per month on your bill, and have the option to either pay full price for your device up front or get the phone financed over 20 months. It now also gives those with an unlocked device the option to bring their own device to T-Mobile and take advantage of the Value rates. Additionally, get used to the term “Un-Carrier” as they threw that term out at the event during the announcement. I’m looking forward to how they’re going to market that and spin it. Below is a tweet from T-Mobile regarding the shift in business models:
Seems like a great way to show value for our customers.
There you have it. A dedicated shift in focus within the company summed up in one sentence. If you’re on T-Mobile currently, how do you feel about this? Also, if you’re carrier-shopping, how does this sway your decision?