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First Sony Xperia GX and SX photo and video samples pop up, looking good, but not great


Sony appears to be quietly getting its own future flagship ready. The Xperia GX, also known as the LT29i or the Hayabusa, will be made available sometime in Q3 2012 and will come with a smaller “sibling” as well, the Xperia SX.

First Xperia GX sample photos

Weighing in” at around 2.5 MB in size, the below pics taken with the 13 MP rear-facing camera are surely not impressive in clarity and showing off details in far or dark areas, but then again the environment looks pretty low light.

Xperia GX and SX sample videos

Two short clips popped up on YouTube shortly after the photos were showcased and they come with a claim to have been recorded with the GX and SX.

What to expect

As for specs and features, we know that the GX will be powered by a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor and will feature a 4.6-inch display with 1280 x 720 pixels resolution, 1 GB of RAM, dual 13/1.3 MP cameras, 4G LTE connectivity and the running of Android ICS.
The Xperia SX will be a scaled-down version of the GX and will display a 3.7-inch screen with a 960 x 540 pixels resolution. Set to be the world’s lightest LTE phone, the SX will run the same software and will feature the same processor and RAM as its bigger brother, but will only come with an 8 MP rear-facing shooter.
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Daily App Deals


Get BeWeather & Widgets Pro for Android for 99¢ in Today’s App Deals

The Daily App Deals post is a round-up of the best app discounts of the day, as well as some notable mentions for ones that are on sale.

The Best

Daily App Deals: Get BeWeather & Widgets Pro for Android for 99¢ in Today’s App DealsBeWeather & Widgets Pro (Google Play) Previously $2.99, now 99¢. BeWeather & Widgets Pro for Android offers stylish, highly customizable widgets and high definition weather animations with data from Weather Underground. Get it for 99¢. (via Apps-aholic)


Free

iOS


The Rest

iOS

Android
Windows
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Facebook Camera Is Facebook’s Official Instagram-y Photo-Sharing App


iOS: Facebook Camera is a brand new app designed to easily view, edit, and share pictures. Think of it like Facebook's Instagram (and yes, Facebook bought Instagram). Besides offering a beautiful feed of all your Facebook friends' photos, you get Instagram-like editing and quick posting to the social network.

Unlike the default Facebook app, Facebook Camera includes multiple photo sharing—check the photos you want to share off and post at once. You can add captions, tag friends, and edit (crop or rotate) photos directly.
Facebook has taken some cues from Instagram (Since Facebook recently purchased Instagram, now Facebook doesn't have to compete with the most popular mobile photo sharing app for its users). The Facebook Camera app includes filters and a sleek interface with full-size photo viewing.
Photo sharing is one of the biggest benefits of using Facebook, and Facebook Camera makes it easier to do that on the go.
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7 Things to Know About Facebook’s Investor Scandal


Facebook and its bankers are engulfed in complaints related to the initial public offering of the company’s stock. The IPO has been a disaster, with Facebook shares almost immediately collapsing below their original $38 offering price. (At the closing bell today, they were trading at $32.)
The mess got worse on Tuesday, when Reuters reported that analysts for Facebook’s underwriter banks apparently lowered their future-revenue estimates for Facebook, and told some investors—but not all. So as the smart money was warned off the offering, the dumb money was rushing into the deal.
That would seem bad enough, but some reports say that even as Facebook apparently was guiding down future-revenue estimates, the company and its underwriters were raising the price of the offering and adding extra shares. In fact, a bunch of inside investors (who may or may not have been privy to the negative forecast) decided to increase the number of shares they were willing to sell.
Regulators are investigating, and investors are filing lawsuits. But guess what? Even if Facebook and its bankers did everything they’re accused of doing, it’s likely that they didn’t break any laws, says Adam Pritchard, a professor of securities law at University of Michigan Law School and a former SEC attorney. “In terms of legal consequences, I would not see anything that would suggest they are vulnerable,” Pritchard says.
Here are some points to consider from Pritchard:
1. There’s a law called Regulation Fair Disclosure that requires public companies to disclose information to all investors at the same time. But there’s a catch: the law applies to public companies, Pritchard points out, and this stuff all happened before Facebook went public.
2. It’s true that a company preparing for an IPO is not supposed to give out information that differs from what’s in its official prospectus. But here again, there’s a catch: oral communications don’t count, Pritchard says. So as long as Facebook and its bankers shared bad news over the phone or in person, rather than via email and in writing, they’re off the hook. “If you reduce the information to writing, then that’s considered a prospectus, and prospectuses are tightly regulated during the waiting period before an IPO,” he says. “But oral offers are not prospectuses. So you have a lot more latitude with what you can say.”
Facebook Stock
From inside the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square (Richard Drew / AP Photo)
3. A 2003 law prohibits research analysts at underwriting banks from participating in IPO roadshows or helping their colleagues in the underwriting department sell shares in IPOs. But those analysts, of course, must build financial models for new companies. So they are allowed to talk to the company. And they are allowed to tell investment clients about their projections, Pritchard says.
Even if the reports are true that analysts at Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan Chase lowered their numbers on Facebook and told some of their clients about it, that’s perfectly legal, Pritchard says, as long as the analysts did this on their own, rather than alongside the underwriters who were selling the deal. “Analysts can talk to investors and so can underwriters; they just can’t be in the same room at the same time,” he says.
4. What about Facebook’s role in all this? A report from Business Insider editor Henry Blodget (a former Wall Street analyst) said that the analysts were advised to lower their projections by “a Facebook executive who knew the business was weak.”
Even if that’s true, Pritchard says, there’s no problem, since company executives talk to analysts all the time. Also, even if these conversations took place, they happened before the IPO, when Facebook was still a private company.
5. And what about Facebook’s private investors, including two board members who decided last week to sell more shares than they’d originally planned? If they were privy to inside information about revenues looking weak, is that a problem? No, says Pritchard, because insider trading involves information that’s not public, but this information was shared with analysts, who shared it with clients.
(Both board members declined to comment yesterday.)
“The problem is small guys thinking they are going to get rich investing in IPOs. They’re not. They are going to get taken.”
The only fallout, Pritchard says, could be that Morgan Stanley will suffer damage to its reputation for having botched a big IPO and priced the deal in such a way that shares immediately fell after the stock began trading. “Underwriters don’t like to sell offerings that fall below their IPO price. They like to give a little bonus to their institutional investors. So next time Morgan Stanley calls, they might not get a call back,” he says.
6. As for Facebook, it’s looking pretty good. They raised money at $38 per share, which was quite a coup.
Nevertheless, Michael Arrington, a securities lawyer turned blogger turned angel investor, suggests that Facebook is setting up its chief financial officer, David Ebersman, to take a fall for the problems.
Arrington points to a story in The Wall Street Journal that cites unnamed people “familiar with the matter.” The story puts responsibility on Ebersman and deflects it away from Facebook cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg, saying that Zuckerberg delegated the IPO to Ebersman, and that Sandberg recused herself from the IPO talks because she has a personal friendship with Michael Grimes, who oversaw the deal at Morgan Stanley.
7. Will any of this lead to more reforms of Wall Street like there were after the dotcom crash a decade ago? Probably not, Pritchard says. In fact, he says the only lesson anyone should take from the Facebook IPO is simply this: “The problem is small guys thinking they are going to get rich investing in IPOs. They’re not. They are going to get taken. They should stop investing in IPOs. They are bad investments. There is a lot of evidence showing that you’re better off putting your money into an index fund than into an IPO.”
Bottom line: Facebook and its bankers sold the stock for the best possible price, and if you’re one of the suckers, too bad. Chalk it up as an expensive lesson.
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Apple, Samsung settlement talks fail: Next stop, trial


Summary: Samsung and Apple have failed in their talks to resolve their differences over patents. The next stop — unless the judge orders another round of talks — is the court room.
Despite Apple and Samsung’s chief executives being forced by a court order into a room for two days, there were still hopes the two companies could patch things up and sort out their legal differences ahead of a trial date.
As expected, however, the two chief executives couldn’t push past their differences, according to a Samsung official speaking to the Korea Times.
Ding, ding, next stop: the case goes to trial.
It should probably come as no surprise that the two failed to work things out. Less than a fortnight ago, a U.S. appeals court overturned a lower court’s decision giving Apple the green light to seek a ban on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in the United States.
Had Apple held off, it would have sent the strongest signal yet that the settlement could work. But Apple being Apple, it went ahead and sought the ban.
Assuming U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, who ordered the settlement talks in the first place, doesn’t decide on recalling the two companies back to the discussion table for a second time, it can be reasonably assumed a lengthy and costly trial is the final option.
Samsung chief executive Choi Gee-sung, along with mobile division chief Shin Jong-kyun, met with Apple boss Tim Cook and his legal team in California for nine hours on Monday and seven hours on Tuesday.
Samsung reportedly demanded Apple pay royalties for using its wireless transmission patents, and Apple continued to claim Samsung had copied its design in its Galaxy line of products.
Having said that, Apple already had the upper hand. Samsung would have likely gone into the talks to negotiate its position, knowing that Apple can pay for a license to Samsung’s patents — which must be licensed under fair and reasonable terms — while Apple can withhold access to its own patents.
The court-ordered settlement talks were conjoured up in the hope that the two companies could resolve their respective claims over the two-day session. Though the two were never likely going to find a resolution outside a court room, it was hoped an unlucky jury could be spared the apparent hell of sitting through potentially weeks or months of battling in one of the most complex and confusing patent cases the U.S. courts has seen in years.
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Apple's next iPhone: 4-inch display; 12.5% more productivity


The folks at the kerning-challenged 9to5Mac say that they believe Apple is in the process of testing “multiple next-generation iPhones,” at least one of which has a larger, higher-resolution display.
The stats:
  • Today’s iPhone 4: 3.5 inches diagonal, 3:2 aspect ratio, 640×960 pixels
  • Tomorrow’s iPhone: 3.999 inches diagonal (can’t we just say 4, people?)almost 16:9 aspect ratio, 640×1136 pixels.
These numbers sound awfully precious for a company as decisive as Apple, but interesting nonetheless. 9to5 says Cupertino isn’t just enlarging the display at the existing resolution, but actually adding pixels.
How this will play out in practice — again, this is all hypothetical, as these things tend to be — could be interesting. 9to5 suggests more real estate for video watching; what comes to mind here at ZDNet is more real estate for PDFs, Powerpoints and all matter of business documents that leave much to be desired on a smartphone’s screen.
There remain several variables:
  1. Apple could pick any of the three known test device models, meaning that the bigger display could still be killed off before introduction.
  2. Will it develop iOS 6 accordingly? More icons and notifications legroom on the home screen, sure. But what will developers say? Seems like a slight break in developmental continuity.
In general, I worry about a conceptual boost in display size. A bigger phone is not necessarily better — sorry, Android fans — and pocketability remains important. On the other hand, a slight increase could relieve a few nagging issues (e.g. multimedia viewing, scrolling) with the smaller format without turning the thing into an iPad-like device — after all, there’s plenty of room for more screen on today’s iPhone, preserving its physical dimensions and eating away only at the sizable bezel.
But the more I dig into the details of this, the more sense it makes. It’s an incremental change, and it might let us see one more row in Excel spreadsheets. If that’s all it is, why not?
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Jury clears Google of infringing on Oracle patents


SAN FRANCISCO — A jury today unanimously decided that Google did not infringe on two of Oracle’s patents.
In a unanimous decision at the U.S. District Court of Northern California this morning, the jury in the trial said Google did not infringe on six claims in “>U.S. Patent RE38,104 as well as two claims in U.S. Patent number 6,061,520.
The verdict is a win for Google, and marks the end of the trial’s second phase, which focused on the claims of patent infringement. Closing arguments in the case were made last week.
Following the verdict, Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court of Northern California dismissed the jurors, while noting that it was the longest civil trial he had been a part of. Alsup also noted that he’d be deciding in a related copyright issue within the case next week.
Today’s proceedings began much like they did earlier in the week, with a technical question from the jury about an Oracle patent.
In particular, the jury wanted to know the legal interpretation of the words “simulating execution of the code,” made within U.S. Patent No. 6,061,520, one of seven Oracle patents named in the original suit that covers “method and system for performing static initialization.”
Judge Alsup asked Oracle’s counsel to answer that question, which led to Oracle’s counsel asking for a five minute huddle with Google’s legal team to hammer out an answer.
When Judge Alsup returned, the two sides suggested that the jury might have been referring to one of two claims made within different sections of the patent. Alsup concurred, and brought the jury back into the courtroom to lay out how the question could reference either claim 1 or claim 20 from the patent, and how it needed to be more specific when asking such questions, adding that he wasn’t “100 percent sure” he had answered their original query.
Nonetheless, Judge Alsup said that the jury was “right on target” for asking the meaning of the phrase because it was a legal question. He then sent the jury back to deliberations and said they were welcome to submit additional queries. A verdict arrived approximately a half an hour later.
The questions were the latest from jurors about the linguistical complexity found in Oracle’s patents. Earlier this week, jurors asked similar technical question about U.S. Patent No. RE38,104, and before that it was terminology and differences in U.S. Patent No. 6,061,520. That included a re-reading of transcripts of court testimony.
Oracle sued Google in 2010, alleging that Google’s Android operating system infringed on a Java patent acquired with the purchase of Sun Microsystems. Google responded by claiming the Android team was unaware of Sun’s patents ahead of the suit, and that its OS was free to use.
The proceedings will resume on Tuesday morning next week, following a break for the Memorial Day holiday.
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Samsung Galaxy S III tops UK pre-order records, shows that British love their quad-core


Galaxy S III hands-on
The British clearly didn't waste any time once pre-orders opened up for the Galaxy S III, which just broke through pre-order records for at least one carrier and one retailer in the country. Carphone Warehouse's chief commercial officer Graham Stapleton says that the quad-core, 4.8-inch flagship is the quickest-moving pre-order of the year "so far," while Vodafone UK adds that the new Galaxy is its most pre-ordered Android device to date. Without hard numbers, though, it's difficult not to couch the successes in relative terms: both are using conditional language that makes clear neither record is absolute and that they might be eclipsed by companies with a knack for building early demand. Even so, that pride in early results suggests the third time is indeed the charm and that Samsung won't have much trouble filling its own pop-up stores with customers at the end of the month.
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Insert Coin: cookoo is the watch for geeks who want to keep it subtle


In Insert Coin, we look at an exciting new tech project that requires funding before it can hit production. If you'd like to pitch a project, please send us a tip with "Insert Coin" as the subject line.
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This is the cookoo, a smart timepiece created by former Microsoft product developer Peter Hauser. Connecting to your smartphone over Bluetooth, its analog face stands in front of a digital display thatlights up when you've got a phone alert. Its USP is that it's a more cultured way to check if you've been tweeted than simply whipping out your phone every few minutes. It promises to last up to a year on a standard watch battery and the buttons around the bezel even allow you to check in to Foursquare. It's been designed to be so rugged, durable and waterproof that you can wear one all day -- even at the pool. You can pledge $50 to pre-order one (it'll retail for $99), but only if the company raises all of the $150,000 its set for a goal.
Previous project update: Knut managed to reach half-way to its $25,000 funding goal since yesterday, if you're in need of a WiFi connected sensor, then you've got 42 days (and counting) to get your pledge in.
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IDC: Android has a heady 59 percent of world smartphone share, iPhone still on the way up


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We've been jonesing for a more international look at smartphone market share for the start of 2012, andIDC is now more than willing to oblige. In case you'd thought Android's relentless march upwards was just an American fling, Google's OS has jumped from 36.1 percent of the world's share a year ago to exactly 59 percent in the first quarter of this year. That's nearly two thirds of all smartphones, folks. As we've seen in the past, Android is siphoning off legacy users looking for something fresher: Symbian and the BlackBerry have both lost more than half of their share in one year's time, while Linux (led mostly byBada) and Windows Mobile / Phone together lost small pieces of the pie despite raw shipment numbers going up. As for Apple? Even with all the heat in the kitchen, the iPhone's share grew to 23 percent, leading to a staggering 82 percent of smartphone buyers siding with either the Cupertino or Mountain View camps.

Android- and iOS-Powered Smartphones Expand Their Share of the Market in the First Quarter, According to IDC
24 May 2012
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. May 24, 2012 – Smartphones powered by the Android and iOS mobile operating systems accounted for more than eight out of ten smartphones shipped in the first quarter of 2012 (1Q12). According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, the mobile operating systems held shares of 59.0% and 23.0% respectively of the 152.3 million smartphones shipped in 1Q12. During the first quarter of 2011, the two operating systems held a combined share of 54.4%. The share gains mean that Android and iOS have successfully distanced themselves from previous market leaders Symbian and BlackBerry, as well as Linux and Windows Phone 7/Windows Mobile.
"The popularity of Android and iOS stems from a combination of factors that the competition has struggled to keep up with," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Phone Technology and Trends program. "Neither Android nor iOS were the first to market with some of these features, but the way they made the smartphone experience intuitive and seamless has quickly earned a massive following."
"In order for operating system challengers to gain share, their creators and hardware partners need to secure developer loyalty," said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker program. "This is true because developer intentions or enthusiasm for a particular operating system is typically a leading indicator of hardware sales success."
Operating System Highlights
Android finished the quarter as the overall leader among the mobile operating systems, accounting for more than half of all smartphone shipments. In addition, Android boasted the longest list of smartphone vendor partners. Samsung was the largest contributor to Android's success, accounting for 45.4% of all Android-based smartphone shipments. But beyond Samsung was a mix of companies retrenching themselves or slowly growing their volumes.
iOS recorded strong year-over-year growth with sustained demand for the iPhone 4S following the holiday quarter and the addition of numerous mobile operators offering the iPhone for the first time. Although end-user demand remains high, the iPhone's popularity brings additional operational pressures for mobile operators through subsidy and data revenue sharing policies.
Symbian posted the largest year-over-year decline, a result driven by Nokia's transition to Windows Phone. But even as Symbian volumes have decreased, there continues to be demand for the OS from the most ardent of users. In addition, Nokia continues to support Symbian, as evidenced by the PureView initiative on the Nokia 808. Still, as Nokia emphasizes Windows Phone, IDC expects further declines for Symbian for the rest of this year.
BlackBerry continued on its downward trajectory as demand for older BlackBerry devices decreased and the market awaits the official release of BB 10 smartphones later this year. In addition, many companies now permit users to bring their own smartphones, allowing competitor operating systems to take away from BlackBerry's market share. Although RIM has not officially released BB 10, initial glimpses of the platform have shown improvement.
Linux maintained its small presence in the worldwide smartphone market, thanks in large part to Samsung's continued emphasis on bada. By the end of the quarter, Samsung accounted for 81.6% of all Linux-powered smartphones, a 3.6% share gain versus the prior-year period. Other vendors, meanwhile, have been experimenting with Android to drive volume. Still, Linux's fortunes are closely tied to Samsung's strategy, which already encompasses Android, Windows Phone, and later this year, Tizen.
Windows Mobile/Windows Phone has yet to make significant inroads in the worldwide smartphone market, but 2012 should be considered a ramp-up year for Nokia and Microsoft to boost volumes. Until Nokia speeds the cadence of its smartphone releases or more vendors launch their own Windows Phone-powered smartphones, IDC anticipates slow growth for the operating system.

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Huawei Ascend P1 slips through FCC with pentaband goodness for all


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Huawei's putting a whole bunch of oomph behind its 2012 lineup, and it's finally beginning to get noticed here in the US. Not too long after getting the Ascend D1 approved by the FCC, the Chinese manufacturer has returned to Washington to push the Ascend P1 through the government agency. Regarded as a close sibling to the slimmer P1 S, this particular Platinum-class device comes offering gifts of pentaband HSPA+ / UMTS, which means there's a chance we could see it show up on AT&T or T-Mobile (neither carrier has made their intentions known as of yet). The OMAP 4460-powered Ice Cream Sandwich smartphone will, however, be available in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia by the end of the month, with Europe and Latin America following soon after. If you enjoy poring through federal documents, you'll love peeking at the source link below.
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Google+ on Android gets its turn at a UI remake, extra Hangout and photo features in the bargain

Did you see the Google+ 2.0 update for iPhone and wonder if Google's attention had drifted away from its own baby? Don't fret, as the Android app has just been given similarly loving treatment. The interface shares the reworked stream look that we saw on iOS while keeping the swipe-to-switch category filters that Google+ has used from the start. There's even small rewards for having to watch your iPhone friends go first: you can now start a Hangout video chat from the main menu, get ringing Hangout notifications, download photos directly from conversations and edit your posts after the fact. The new look has already proved polarizing, but if you're the sort who revels in the purity of a Google social network running on a Google platform, you can now try the overhaul for yourself.
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Samsung Galaxy Note Android 4.0 update starts rolling out in India


Samsung has started rolling out Premium Suite upgrade for GALAXY Note users in India. They announced the update in March and the update started rolling out in other countries few weeks back. This brings Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and some extra multimedia features and a range of new S Pen optimized applications such as S Note and S Memo.
The Premium Suite offers new features and applications exclusive to GALAXY Note and its innovative S Pen such as S Note app, which was introduced with GALAXY Note 10.1 at Mobile World Congress 2012.
This update is about 319MB and is available OTA (Over the Air) and via Samsung Kies. You can also update the phone from select Samsung Service centers and Factory Service Centers (FSC) in India.
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All Sony tablets to get ICS update by end of May


Sony has confirmed in an interview with CNET that all variants of its tablet line will be getting the Android 4.0 ie ICS update by the end of May. This includes the Tablet S and Tablet P devices. The Sony tablets have been well received for their good hardware. The Tablet P is a unique dual screen device which folds up for enhanced pocketability.
Sony advices that the devices will be getting the update by the end of May and that this is independent of markets and regions. The ICS update brings with it several improvements like a panoramic camera mode , browser enhancements , a better gallery viewer and overall improved performance.
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Skype pulled for Nokia Lumia 610 : Poor performance cited as reason


The Nokia 610 is one of the first phones in the market to run Windows Phone Tango. The latest version of the fledgling operating system is supposed to allow it to run on phones with lower hardware specifications than the current chassis spec. However it seems we might be facing the first signs of app fragmentation on the platform.
Skype , the popular VOIP service , has an app available for Windows Phone devices including lower spec phones like the Lumia 610. Nokia has today pulled the app for the Lumia 610 from the marketplace. Poor performance was cited as the chief reason. Unless Skype does major rewrites to the app to enable it to perform better , we might never see the app on the 610 and similar devices.
The official statement from Nokia is as follows
Nokia values the user experience provided by its products and services. Therefore, although the Skype Windows Phone version is workable on Nokia Lumia 610, after in-depth testing, we found that the user experience is not up to par with Nokia and Skype’s expectation and decided not recommending users using Skype on Nokia Lumia 610. In the future, users of Nokia Lumia 610 would no longer be able to download Skype Windows Phone version from Window Phone Marketplace. However, Skype Windows Phone version would still be available for other users.
It all comes down to the limited amount of RAM available on the phone which is insufficient to provide a favorable Skype experience. As the quantity of apps on the platform increases we might see an increasing number of applications facing performance issues on the platform.
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Samsung Galaxy Ace DUOS Dual SIM GSM phone announced


Samsung has announced GALAXY Ace DUOS, a new phone in the Galaxy series with Dual SIM support.Samsung announced a phone with a similar name in February and is already on sale in India that has Dual SIM CDMA + GSM support, but this one comes with GSM support on both the SIM cards. Other than the form factor and the display some features differ. It has 3.5-inch (320 x 480 Pixels) TFT display and is powered by 832 MHz processor. It has 5MP Auto Focus camera and runs on Android 2.3 (Gingerbread).

Samsung GALAXY Ace DUOS Specifications
  • 3.5-inch (320 x 480 Pixels) TFT touch screen display
  • 11.5 mm thick and weighs 122g
  • Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) OS
  • 832 MHz processor
  • 5MP Auto Focus camera
  • 3G HSDPA 7.2 Mbps, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0
  • 3GB internal memory, 512MB RAM, microSD slot (up to 32GB)
  • 3.5 mm audio jack, FM Radio with RDS
  • 1,300 mAh battery
Samsung’s unique Dual SIM always on feature automatically forwards calls from the phone number on SIM 2, even if a user is on the phone with SIM 1’s number. It also comes with ChatON, Samsung’s communication service.
The Samsung GALAXY Ace DUOS would be available from June starting in Russia and gradually rolled out to Europe, CIS, Latin America, Southeast and Southwest Asia, Middle East, Africa, and China.
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Sony Xperia U Review


Sony pushed the Xperia S out of the door back in March, but the Xperia P and Xperia U have lagged behind a little in making it to market. Both of those devices are finally with us, and just like HTC, Sony seems to be banking on three phones hitting different price brackets to try and jump start its smartphone career. The Xperia U may be the cheapest in the NXT line, but it does have some solid specs: a dual-core 1Ghz processor, 854×480 3.5-inch screen, and five megapixel camera. How does it hold up? Find out after the jump.

Hardware

The Xperia U is identical in design to the Xperia P and Xperia S, and it would be accurate to say that the U is essentially a mini version of the S. The soft touch plastic makes a return here, unlike the aluminum Xperia P, as does the monolithic chassis with a strange mix of curves and sharp angles. It’s an intriguing design, and the clear strip at the bottom device, which houses the antenna, certainly helps it to stand out. The strip also lights for certain notifications and alerts, and can be changed to display different colors depending on your mood.
The 3.5-inch body fits snugly into your hand, although the front angles of the screen might dig into the palm depending on your particular grip. The soft touch plastic feels nice too: granted, it doesn’t feel as good as an aluminum or glass construction, but it’s much better than the glossy plastic that plague a lot of phones at this end of the market. It’s thicker than rivals at 12mm, but the curve of the back gives the illusion of a thinner device, and it really isn’t an issue in day to day use.
Spec wise, this phone doesn’t slouch. Sony is using a custom NovaThor dual-core 1Ghz processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of storage, and a five megapixel camera. The good news: the processor is responsive and snappy enough, but you might notice some minor stuttering on graphical transitions and webpages occasionally. It’s not as fast as a Snapdragon S3 chip, for example, but it’s better than the single-core chips you’d typically see at this price range.
The bad news: that 4GB of storage is all you’re going to get. Sony has made a curious decision not to include a microSD card slot, so you’re either going to have to rely on cloud services to store all your content, or buy a USB On The Go adapter and carry a FAT32 USB stick. We tested USB OTG functionality on the Xperia U just to make sure, and everything worked fine. We really have to question Sony’s move on this one though. Even dirt cheap Android phones include a microSD card slot, so would it really have been so much trouble to include one here when there’s only 4GB of storage to play with?
What about that 854×480 3.5-inch display? Well, it’s a mixed bag. Pixel density is good, but the quality of the panel isn’t. Viewing angles are decent, but colors quickly fade as you angle the phone. Moreover, there’s a strange graininess to the panel that can be noticed on lighter backgrounds as you move a little closer. Head-on you won’t see any issues, but holding the phone at a slight angle reveals the disconcerting effect.
Even worse, there’s no oleophobic coating on the screen: it picks up grease, smudges, and fingerprints very quickly, and requires a thorough wipedown with a proper cloth to keep it clean instead of a quick wipe down on jeans or a shirt. By far the most irritating issue, however, is the visible digitizer grid that’s prominent on white backgrounds and webpages. As you angle the phone, you’ll be able to see the crosses in all their glory. We were surprised at just how noticeable it was, and it’s been a long time since we’ve seen any phone display them so clearly.
In terms of ports, you’ll find the standard fare: microUSB, 3.5mm headphone jack, power button, volume rocker, and dedicated camera key. The power and volume keys are easy to press, although we would have preferred to see the power key at the top of the device rather than the right side. The camera key, however, is a little strange: it’s a two-stage button, but it’s somewhat tricky to operate. The initial focusing stage is very light and clicky, almost to a fault, but pressing the button all the way down takes a little too much effort and may result in blurred pictures.
Pop the back of the phone off and you’re greeting with a removable 1,290mAh battery and SIM card slot that’s housed on the side rather than lurking beneath the power source. If you think you’ll be able to swap it easily, no dice: the phone automatically restarts once you pop a new one in. The slot has a push-push mechanism similar to a microSD card slot, so it springs firmly into place.

Software

The fact that Sony is still shipping Gingerbread on its newest handsets is particularly groan worthy, and while the company has promised updates to Ice Cream Sandwich, we remain skeptical until they start delivering them to the NXT line. The U is no exception, running Android 2.3 with the same modifications Sony has made to its other smartphones. Everything you would expect from Android is present – Gmail, Maps, etc – but Sony has bundled a bit of bloatware with the device and some pre-installed applications.
We don’t mind seeing apps like Astro file manager and WhatsApp making the grade, but the inclusion of McAfee Security, Wisepilot and OfficeSuite really isn’t necessary. Luckily you can uninstall the apps to save precious space. Otherwise Sony has included some of its own offerings, including Music and Video Unlimited, offering content via subscription for Sony devices, and Media Remote allows you to control a Sony Bravia TV over WiFi using the phone. TrackID works in a similar fashion to Shazam, identifying the track and artist of a song as the app listens in, and PlayNow is Sony’s own app store filled with games, apps, and music.
We were wary of the software keyboard on the Xperia U, but it’s actually pretty capable. The default setting which has haptic feedback enabled does cause it to lag on occasion, a common occurrence on Android phones, but turning that off means things move swiftly around. Some might have trouble getting to grips with it due to the smaller screen, but this reviewer didn’t have too much trouble. The stock Ice Cream Sandwich keyboard is still better, but Sony’s attempt isn’t bad at all.
Performance of the handset overall is good. The dual-core chip seems to keep things moving along nicely, with only very minor stutters on graphical transitions and menus occasionally. The browser is also relatively snappy, although the device will struggle with heavier webpages, doubly so for those with Flash content. Turning Flash off or setting it to on-demand helps a lot.
The Xperia U generally performed well in benchmarks too: Sunspider 0.9.1 gave a score of 2526ms, Quadrant came in at 2204, and AnTuTu had a healthy 5359 result. That puts it ahead of many single-core budget phones on the market, and generally sits around Tegra 2 in terms of performance.

Camera

There’s nothing particularly exciting about the Xperia U’s camera, packing a five megapixel sensor and 720p video recording. Shots are decent, but vary considerably depending on shooting conditions. Colors are slightly oversaturated, and washed out in low-light scenarios, but on a sunny day in London detail was good on close and far away subjects. There is some minor noise reduction going on, however, which ramps up dramatically as you enter low-light areas. We would have preferred that Sony reign that in a little, but it’s not the worst we’ve ever seen.
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