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Samsung, Mozilla, LG and others to spring latest smartphones, smart watches and more at MWC 2014
All eyes on the world’s biggest mobile show
Mobile World Congress is the mobile industry’s biggest show, starting Feb. 24 in Barcelona, Spain. It’s rife with glitzy gadgets, arcane software and systems buried in the carriers’ core networks, deals, promises, and hype. And more hype. Here’s some of the stuff that’s already been announced or is expected next week.
Samsung Galaxy S5: more of everything
Samsung is widely expected to launch its latest flagship smartphone on Monday. One leak of specifications, via SamsungGalaxyS5.nl based on a photo allegedly taken of the phone’s rear packing box, has this: 2.5 GHz four-core processor, 5.25-inch Super AMOLED screen, with allegedly a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution and a pixel density of 560 ppi. Also fantasized: 20 megapixel camera, 3 Gbytes LPDDR3 RAM, and a 3,000 mAh battery.
Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch: Part Deux
Also part of Samsung’s announcements: an upgrade or new version of the underwhelming Galaxy Gear smartwatch. [Shown is version 1.0 released September 2013] Changes, or at least hoped-for changes, could include running the open source, Linux-based Tizen OS instead of Android, better battery life, slimmed down design, and a lower price.
Kumu Networks: doubling throughput for any radio
Kumu is a startup that has created a “self-interference cancellation” technology for any radio. It means the radio doesn’t “hear itself” transmitting. And what that means, says Kumu, is that the radio can send and receive at the same time on one channel – full duplex communications. And that, in turn, means doubling spectral efficiency and doubling throughput. Jam-packed Wi-Fi networks would get a boost in throughput and resiliency. At MWC, the first tech demo will show full-duplex, single-channel LTE connections. Check out “Full Duplex Radios,” a Stanford University paper.
Huawei’s smart “watch”
We put “watch” in parentheses because the style of the rumored Huawei product suggests it may not be, you know, a watch. The image shown here surfaced on the Chinese language Weibo blogging site, reputedly posted by a Huawei employee. No one seems to know anything else. The angle of the photo suggests a very small smartphone screen in landscape mode. Which would make sense except for the way it actually lies on the wrist.
Huawei in Ascend-ance
Huawei is also expected to announce the Ascend P7 smartphone (and two new tablets). Shown is a briefly purported image of the phone, via Steve Hemmerstoffer’s NoWhereElse.fr French tech blog. The Google Translate version is here. According to the blogpost, the P7 will have 5.5-inch screen, a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, a brushed aluminum body 6.3 mm thick. But he later updated his post to note that the original photo, posted on China’s Weibo site, shows a date of Nov. 11, 2012, over a year ago. “It is therefore likely that the review below is finally an old concept made by an amateur ... Too bad ...” Huawei created its own, mildly amusing teaser video to promote some excitement.
KoolSpan’s encrypted voice-calling app will be adopted by a major smartphone maker as part of a push into the enterprise. KoolSpan’s encrypted communications apps are built atop TrustChip, a 32-bit ARM co-processor designed into a microSD card. It’s a fully manageable security infrastructure validated as complying with the FIPS 140-2 security spec. It’s aimed at enterprise and government users that need or want the ultimate in voicecall security.
LG’s new LTE smartphone
The just-announced G Pro 2 has a bigger screen than its predecessor -- 5.9-inch Full HD screen – and a more powerful CPU – the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor clocked at 2.26 GHz, with 3GB of RAM, and 16G or 32GB storage. LG also improved the cameras and optics: 2.1-megapixel front camera and a 13-megapixel rear camera with optical imaging stabilization; both have larger and more light-sensitive sensors and lenses; and there’s an improved flash. The battery is slightly larger: 3,200 mAh versus 3,140 mAh. No word on global availability or pricing.
ZTE: the ultra slim grand
ZTE has confirmed that it will unveil the Grand Memo II smartphone, but the only details released are that it supports LTE, sports a 6-inch screen, and will be “ultra slim.” [Shown is the original Grand Memo, introduced last year.] There’s also speculation that ZTE will again update its custom Android UI, MiFavor.
Will Firefox OS finally catch fire?
Mozilla’s Firefox OS is designed as an open source smartphone firmware and UI built around the HTML 5 Web standards. The software load is minimal, apps are responsive. But the initial group of phones running it have been underwhelming, as have been their sales. At MWC 2014, ZTE will introduce a new Firefox phone, the ZTE Open C, running Firefox OS 1.3 (current release is 1.2). Will other phone makers follow suit, and will Mozilla add features that make the OS more compelling for developers? Last October, the OS got a performance boost and wider distribution.
Spritz zooms mobile reading
A Boston-area startup, Spritz Technology has developed a streaming technology that it claims can speed up reading on small devices by as much as two times. The time-consuming part of reading is moving your eyes from word to word, which also takes up space. Spritz streams one word at a time, each one centered on the same spot, with a single red letter (or blue as shown in the marketing image here) to keep your eye focused. The technique can be integrated with photos, maps, videos, and websites. Their website runs a demo to show the impact on your reading.
DragonWave powers up the Eband
DragonWave, which makes an array of high-performance backhaul radios, will demonstrate its new Harmony Eband radio, designed to deliver 2.6Gbps over the 500-MHz channels available in the 70-80 GHz spectrum. The company applied a range of techniques, including power amplifiers, MIMO, and automatically adapting the waveform and modulation, to boost the radio’s range to 2 to 4 miles. The Eband offers a lot of wide-channel, easily licensed spectrum for boosting mobile backhaul and other high-bandwidth, short-haul applications.
Acer’s mid-range Liquid smartphone
Acer unveiled a mid-range Android 4.2.2 smartphone, the Liquid E3. It has a 4.7-inch, 720p IPS display, quad-core 1.2-GHz processor with 1GB of RAM. Also: 4GB expandable storage, and Acer’s back-mounted Rapid key for one-press actions such as answering a call, launching the camera. Speaking of the camera: 13-megapixel rear cam, 2-megapixel front cam, and both have LED flashes. Acer promises to upgrade to Android KitKat shortly after European launch in April. Price is about $272.
Acer’s affordable Liquid Z4
The Liquid Z4 seems intended as a solid, affordable Android phone, priced at about $136 though it will be offered only in Europe initially. It runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, has a 4-inch screen, dual-core 1.3 GHz CPU, 4GB internal storage, and a 5-megapixel camera.
Samsung keeping Tabs
Various tech websites and blogs are expecting three new Galaxy Tab models, the Tab 4 series, available in 7-inch, 8-inch and 10.1 inch screens. They’re fitted with a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, with Android 4.4 KitKat, up to 64GB of data with microSD card, and a hefty 6,800 mAh battery, according to ZDNet Korea. The news site notes that is a “substantial upgrade” from the dual-core chip and 32GB storage limit in the current Galaxy Tab 3. Nothing definite on screen resolution.
Nokia’s Android phone
It’s widely believed that Nokia will unveil the Nokia X smartphone, running Android, a first for Nokia. And possibly a hairball for Microsoft which is acquiring Nokia’s smartphone business, where the high-end Lumia models rely on Windows Phone firmware. Shown is one purported photo of the X, from the Chinese site CoolXap.com (via GForGames). The specifications speculations: 4-inch TFT display with a resolution of 480 x 854 pixels, 1-GHz dual-core Snapdragon 200 processor, and 5-megapixel rear camera. Presumably, the OS core is Android 4.4 KitKat but with a heavily customized UI, designed to resemble Windows Phone, and using Microsoft online services instead of Google’s.
Nokia Lumia: refreshing the line
Rumored specs for the Lumia 1820 have been appearing online for months. This new high-end Nokia smartphone is expected to use the recent Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor with 3GB RAM, show a 5.2-inch screen with either 2,560 x 1,440 or 2,048 x 1080 pixels resolution, have 32GB of storage and carry a 3,400 mAh battery. Nokia is expected to announce two other, lower-end smartphone and a new tablet, all running the next iteration of firmware, Windows 8.1 One rumor site claims the 1820’s design will be modeled on that of the existing Lumia 928, shown here.
LG’s newest Mini
With the G2 Mini, LG is focusing on users who are looking for a bargain Android phone. It opted for less expensive processor options, a lower screen resolution of 540 x 960 pixels, 8-megapixel camera, just 8GB of storage, and 3G cellular. It does run the latest Android firmware: 4.4 KitKat. Also: 2,440 mAh battery, and models with a dual-SIM option. No word on price. It rolls out in March first in Russia and nearby companies, then the Middle East and Latin America.
Sony’s new Experia tablet
Tweets by @evleaks claimed to have details on Sony’s waterproof Xperia Z2 tablet: Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor with 3GB of RAM, Android 4.4 KitKat, 10.1-inch display with 1,920 x 1,200 pixels resolution, 8 megapixel rear camera, 2 megapixel front camera, 6000 mAh battery, 16GB storage, and a microSD expansion slot.