Android 4.3 Jelly Bean Announced, Brings Minor New Features

Along with the new Nexus 7, Google also revealed the newest version of Android at its press event. As expected, Android 4.3 (still codenamed Jelly Bean) doesn’t have any major new feature. In fact, users will be hard pressed to identify any differences between this and the older version.

The first new feature that Google demonstrated is restricted profiles. A restricted profile can limit what content and apps a user can access. It can even be used to define what functionality within the particular app is available to a user. For example, you can block in-app purchases in a game for your kid’s profile.

Android-4.3-Jelly-Bean-Restricted-Profiles

Android’s notification feature has once again been slightly improved. You can now see your notification history and browse through dismissed notifications. Additionally, third party apps also have access to your notification. This should be good news for smart watches and other similar devices. Stock apps like Chrome, Drive and Maps have been updated, while Hangouts has replaced Talk and Google Keep has been added.

Under-the-hood changes include support for OpenGL ES 3.0 which should offer improved graphics performance and allow games to use higher quality textures. The previously announced Google Play Games app, which acts as a hub where you can see what your friends are playing and track their achievements in a leader board, is included in the new Android. Bluetooh 4.0 with Low Energy mode is also in. Additionally, a new hardware-based encryption for DRM has been added, which will be first leveraged by an updated Netflix app.

Android-4.3-Jelly-Bean

Android 4.3 update will begin rolling out to Nexus devices today, while other Google experience devices will get it soon. The Nexus devices that will be receiving the update are the Nexus 7, Nexus 4, Nexus 10, and Galaxy Nexus.

New Nexus 7 with Android 4.3 Officially Announced

As expected, Google has officially announced the new Nexus 7 in its summer event. However, the newest tablet from Google’s stable had very little surprise to offer thanks to retailers jumping the gun and putting it up for pre-order well ahead of the official event.

Nexus-7

The new Nexus 7, which is again being made by ASUS, has received a comprehensive specs bump. The Tegra 3 has been replaced by a Snapgradon S4 Pro chipset that includes an 1.5GHz quad-core Krait processor and Adreno 320 GPU. RAM has been doubled to two gigabytes. The screen display is still a 7-inch LCD, but the device itself has been slimmed down fairly significantly (1.8 mm thinner and 2.8 mm narrower and shorter). The new display boosts the pixel density to 323 ppi with a resolution of 1900 x 1200. The super high resolution display is accompanied by dual stereo speakers with Fraunhofer virtual surround sound for an all around improved multimedia experience. The final significant enhancement is the inclusion of a 5 mega-pixel rear camera capable of snapping HD videos to go along with the 1.2 mega-pixel rear camera.

The Nexus 7 will also be the first device to ship with the new Jelly Bean (Android 4.3) which introduces multi-user account with limited profiles, and Bluetooth Low Energy support along with better graphics capabilities and new DRM for hardware powered encryption for multimedia content.

While the new Nexus 7 isn’t revolutionary, it’s definitely better in almost every way. The best part is that all of these enhancements will cost you only a little bit extra. The 16 GB Wi-Fi model will cost $229 while the 32 GB variant will cost $269. Google will also be selling unlocked 4G LTE compatible models, which will cost $349 (64 GB).

LG Optimus G Pro Launched in India at INR 42,500

LG Optimus G ProLG has finally launched LG Optimus G Pro in India. With a 1.7 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor and 5.5 inch full HD display, this Android Jellybean (v4.1.2) device it is a worthy successor to LG Optimus G launched a few months back.

The Optimus G Pro is the first smartphone to be equipped with 1.7 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor. Also, the Optimus G Pro is incidentally LG’s first Full HD smartphone and adopts a Full HD IPS Display which doubles the resolution compared to True HD IPS. The smartphone features 5.5 inch display with a 1920 X 1080 resolution and has a total of 2,073,600 pixels. LG claims that the pixel density of 400ppi is the highest amongst the smartphones in the market making text and images to look much more vivid, crisp, and brighter.

The smart LED lighting around the home button displays various colors to alert users. The lighting alerts the users for missed calls and messages among other notifications with various colors. The 5.5 inch display fits nicely in the hands due to the narrowed width and minimized bezel to 3.65mm.

Like the Samsung Galaxy S4, Optimus G Pro includes its share of gimmicks, some useful and some just fancy additions. There’s a Dual Recording feature that captures video with both the front and rear cameras simultaneously for a unique picture-in-picture experience. The Virtual Reality Panorama feature allows 360 degree viewing, from taking pictures of both horizontal and vertical environment.

“With Optimus G Pro we have pushed the boundaries of computing and technological innovation to develop a smartphone that caters to both business and lifestyle needs of today’s customers. With this launch we are gearing towards our aim of capturing 10% market share of the smartphone category by end of 2014.”
– Mr. Soon Kwon, Managing Director, LG India

According to LG, the smartphone market in India is growing rapidly and there is a huge demand for big screen size mobile phones. The market size for 5 inch and above screens is expected to be 1.5 million units by end of 2013. To keep up the pace, LG Mobiles has earmarked INR 80 crores for strengthening the infrastructure for retail development and marketing activities.

At INR 42,500, LG Optimus G Pro ticks all feature lists and comes packed with top of the line specifications. It’s a great phone, but faces tough competition from Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One, the mascots of the Android ecosystem at the moment.

LG Optimus L3 II Dual E435 Review

In all the hullabaloo surrounding the launch of flagships boasting of the latest and greatest technology, it can be easy to forget about devices like the Galaxy Ace and the Xperia Tipo. However, it’s these low-margin bargain devices that have helped Android zoom ahead of the iPhone. In fact, according to Opera’s State of the Mobile Web report all of the top nine handsets used by Opera Mini users were priced under Rs. 10,000 (about $165). LG’s new entrant in the budget smartphone category is the LG Optimus L3 II Dual E435. After using it for a week, here’s my quick review.

LG-Optimus-L3-II-Dual-Front-Shot

Appearance and Display

The Optimus L3 II won’t win awards for its design; however, it definitely doesn’t look bad. Like most other second generation L-series devices, the latest iteration of the L3 has dropped the bold rectangular design and gone back to the traditional rounded edges. The phone is small, but solidly built and feels wonderful to hold. The plastic body feels well-constructed and doesn’t creak, while the buttons offer good feedback. My biggest complaint with the body is that the front buttons aren’t backlit. This makes them difficult to spot in the dark.

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The 3.2’’ display is small by today’s standards, but considering the price, you can’t really complain about the size. However, what’s shocking is the resolution. Thanks to a meagre resolution of 240 x 320 pixels, even the tiny display can manage only a 125 ppi pixel density. This is far lower than that of similarly priced Sony Xperia Tipo Dual (180 ppi) and Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos (165 ppi). As a result, everything on the screen appears pixelated. Reading small text is nothing short of a nightmare on this display. The viewing angles and outdoor visibility are pretty decent; however, none of the other positives can make up for the horrific resolution. The L3 II has the worst display that I’ve seen in an Android phone so far.

LG-Optimus-L3-II-Dual-Top-Shot

Hardware and Software

The LG Optimus L3 II is powered by a Qualcomm MSM7225A Snapdragon chipset which comes with a 1 GHz processor and Adreno 200 GPU. It has 512 MB RAM, and 4 GB of internal memory. Quite obviously, you can’t expect the L3 II to be able to run all of the games and apps; however, it is capable enough to tackle the likes of Temple Run and Cut the Ropes satisfactorily. In fact, as far as CPU power is concerned, the L3 II is ahead of the Ace Duos and Tipo. The lower resolution further reduces the computing load on its chipset. There were a couple of seconds of wait while opening apps or switching between tasks, but I didn’t encounter significant freeze ups. General operation is reasonably smooth, and LG’s budget smartphone feels a lot more responsive than its competitors like Tipo.

As far as the hardware is concerned, the best thing about the L3 II is its battery. The L3 II 1540 mAh battery, which is quite a bit more powerful than the one found in the Galaxy Ace. Thanks to the tiny screen and the low-end single core processor, the battery isn’t really pushed too hard. As a result, even with reasonable amount of usage on 3G you should be able to make it through the day without requiring a recharge. This is significantly better than what most flagships have managed to offer.

The L3 II Dual packs a 3.15 megapixel rear camera capable of snapping images at 2048×1536 pixels and recording VGA resolution videos at 30 fps. The picture quality is exactly what you would expect. It’s good enough for Facebook and Instagram updates, but not something you’d be happy carrying on a vacation. The absence of even an LED flash means that the camera is useless in low light scenarios. The Camera app offers five different preset scenes and supports white balance, ISO, and exposure adjustment.

As the name suggests the L3 II is a dual SIM phone. It has a dedicated button, which allows you to toggle between two SIM cards. The switching happens quite quickly without requiring a reboot. However, you cannot use two SIMs at once.

On the software front, LG has launched the L3 II Dual with Android v4.1.2 (Jelly Bean), which is once again better than its closest competitors. Like all LG smartphones, the new L3 also comes with the Optimus UX. However, the only fancy feature that has made it into the L3 II is Quick Memo. QuickMemo is a sharable, system-wide notebook where you can jot down stuff quickly or annotate and comment on documents. Almost all of the other goodies that we saw in the flagship Optimus G have been dropped. Thankfully, even the stripped down Optimus UX has lots of configuration options and nifty tricks up its sleeve. You can change themes, use any of the half a dozen preloaded screen swipe effects, enable Quiet time, edit the lock screen shortcuts and more.

Verdict

Budgets phones are all about compromises. It’s often difficult to pick the best phone in this category, as the best really depends on the user. The LG Optimus L3 II has its fair share of flaws, as does all of its competitors. The L3 II Dual costs just Rs. 7,500 and LG has had to make plenty of trade-offs to get there. The real question is can you live with the decisions LG has made? The L3 has a horrible display; however, the same low resolution display probably helps in boosting its performance. The L3 has a newer version of Android than most phones in its class, and feels smoother than many of the other low end devices that I’ve used. If performance is important to you and you are willing to overlook the display, the LG II Dual might be a good fit for you. However, if you are looking for a decent display, you need to look elsewhere. Similarly, if you want a decent camera, the old Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 with a LED flash might be a better buy. Alternatively, if Android isn’t a must for you, you can even take a look at the Lumia 520. It doesn’t have as many apps as the Android smartphones; however, offers a better camera and significantly better performance.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Announced; Packs 16 MP Camera With 10x Optical Zoom

Samsung finally announced the much-awaited Galaxy S4 Zoom. Similar to the previously launched Galaxy Camera, this device combines the features of a smartphone with an advanced 16 megapixel CMOS sensor, OIS and Xenon flash. Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom is the first smartphone to offer 10x optical zoom. This handset comes with voice calling facility and it runs on the latest Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) Operating System. The In-Call Photo Share feature on this device allows you to share pictures via MMS to the person you are talking to.

JK Shin, Head of IT & Mobile Communications Division, Samsung Electronics, said,
“The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom represents yet another step forward in the way Samsung is working to enhance the lives of our customers around the world. The Galaxy S4 Zoom combines the industry leading functionality and connectivity of the Galaxy S4 with the high quality photographic experience you’d expect from a compact camera. The result is truly the best of both worlds, without compromise.”

samsung_galaxy_s4_zoom

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom features a 4.3 inch qHD TFT display, sporting a resolution of 960 × 540 pixels, 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) OS, TouchWiz 5.0 user interface, 16 megapixel rear-facing camera with 10x optical zoom and enhanced SMART Modes, OIS 24-240mm, F3.1-F6.3, 1.9 megapixel front-facing camera for video calls, 8 GB internal memory, microSD card slot, 64 GB expandable memory and much more.

Other features include a 3.5 mm headset jack, Stereo FM Radio with RDS, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, 3G/4G Connectivity, Samsung Media Hub, Samsung Social Hub, Samsung Kies Air, Google Play Store, S Translator, Samsung ChatOn, DLNA, HDMI out, Bluetooth 4.0 with EDR, 1.5 GB RAM, Wi-Fi Direct, USB 2.0 and a 2330 mAh battery. This device measures 125.5 x 63.5 x 15.4 mm and weighs 208 grams.

Samsung has not yet announced the price and release date of this handset. The Galaxy S4 Zoom is expected to go on sale from Q3 of 2013. Stay tuned!

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8-Inch And 10.1-Inch Announced

Back in April, Samsung announced the 7 inch Galaxy Tab 3. Now, the South Korean tech giant introduced two new members in the Galaxy Tab 3 series – the 8 inch and 10.1 inch Galaxy Tab 3. These devices runs on the Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) Operating System. The 8-inch Galaxy Tab 3 is the company’s second 8 inch tablet, while the 10.1 inch Galaxy Tab 3 is the successor of the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1. This device is little slimmer and lighter than its predecessor.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8-inch:

samsund_galaxy_tab_3_8_inch

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8-inch features a 7 inch WXGA TFT touchscreen display, sporting a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) Operating System, Samsung TouchWiz UI, 5 megapixel rear-facing camera, Full HD (1080p) video playback, 1.3 megapixel front facing camera for video calls, 3G/4G Connectivity, Wi-Fi 801.11 a/b/g/n and much more.

Other features include a 3.5 mm headset jack, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 2.0, Wi-Fi Direct, Samsung Hub, Samsung Kies Air, Samsung ChatON, Google Play Store, A-GPS, 16/32 GB internal memory, MicroSD card slot, 64 GB expandable memory, 1.5 GB RAM, A-GPS + GLONASS and a 4450 mAh battery. This device measures 209.8 x 123.8 x 7.4 mm and weighs 314 grams.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1-inch:

samsund_galaxy_tab_3_10_inch

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1-inch features a 10.1 inch WXGA TFT touchscreen display, sporting a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, 1.6 GHz dual-core processor, Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) Operating System, Samsung TouchWiz UI, 3 megapixel rear-facing camera, Full HD (1080p) video playback, 1.3 megapixel front facing camera for video calls, 16/32 GB internal memory, MicroSD card slot, 64 GB expandable memory and so on.

It also comes with the usual 3.5 mm headset jack, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 2.0, Wi-Fi Direct, Samsung Hub, Samsung Kies Air, Samsung ChatON, Google Play Store, A-GPS, 3G/4G Connectivity, Wi-Fi 801.11 a/b/g/n, 1 GB RAM, Readers Hub, Music Hub, Game Hub, A-GPS + GLONASS and a 6800 mAh battery. This device measures 243.1 x 176.1 x 7.95 mm and weighs 510 grams.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8-inch and 10.1 inch is expected go on sale from Q3 of 2013. The price and release date of this devices will be announced in the coming weeks.

Verizon Galaxy S III Gets A Major Bug-Squashing Update

Verizon’s Galaxy S III was originally launched with the Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) Operating System. Few months after its launch, the wireless operator rolled out a new update which brought an updated kernel and baseband that helped in improving the reception and performance of the handset. Few months later, Verizon finally released the much-awaited Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) update.

Today, Verizon is rolling out a major bug-squashing update for the Samsung Galaxy S III. This update allows you to transfer content easily between devices with Samsung Smart Switch tool, access phone screen without unlocking device when connected via Bluetooth headset, easier NFC access, S Voice tweaks and much more. Apart from that, Verizon has also pre-loaded Flipboard and updated its caller ID app. Check out the complete changelog below.

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Changelog:

Key Device Enhancements Allows You To:

  • Access your Wi-Fi connection easily on multiple devices when in Hotspot mode
  • Use ‘bill to my Verizon Wireless Account’ when buying apps from Google Play
  • Access phone screen without unlocking device when connected via Bluetooth headset
  • Use two apps simultaneously side-byside with Multi Screen and Multi Window
  • Categorize and display images, photos and videos with Samsung Gallery
  • Sync two devices and share content seamlessly with S Beam’s ‘Auto Share Shot’
  • Transfer content easily between devices with Samsung Smart Switch tool
  • Get popup suggestions from Page Buddy when connected to accessories like a wired stereo headset
  • Tag weather, people and place information in photos and video with Contextual Tag
  • Arrange apps in order of frequency of use for faster access with Contextual App Link
  • Pick the perfect group picture from five burst shots with ‘Best Shot’
  • Select and customize specific folders by category and file type with My Files tool
  • Save MMS attachments in your Gallery for quick posting and sharing
  • Create a variety of image styles with Paper Artist tool

Additional Update Includes:

  • Removed pop-up messages ‘Refreshing SIM Data’, ‘No SIM’ and ‘SD Card Inserted’
  • New message notification tone is no longer clipped
  • Devices remain in 4G mode without dropping to 3G when Hotspot is on
  • The Burst Shot setting is no longer the default setting in the Camera application
  • Consistent functionality of the Screen Time Out feature
  • Applications running prior to sleep mode will remain open when home key is pressed
  • Backspace button will no longer clear an entire sentence – only the intended word
  • Fixed an issue where web browsing would sometimes cause the device to reset
  • Lock screen function improved when screen is idle
  • NFC is now easier to turn on
  • Device is now recognized by the computer when connected via USB cable
  • Audio distortion fixed when connected to some Car Kits is resolved
  • All devices can now receive over-the-air software updates
  • Voice recognition performance is improved with the updated S Voice Application
  • ‘Remove All’ is now ‘Close All’ in the Task Manager menu

Added The Following Pre-loaded Applications:

  • Catch up on news easily with the Flipboard
  • Recognize contacts quickly with Caller Name ID application version 1.14.16

The size of the update is just 129 MB. This update can be easily downloaded via OTA (Over-The-Air). You will be automatically notified once the update is available for your device. If you have not yet received the update, then just go to Settings > About Device > System updates and check for the update.

Samsung Unveils The Galaxy S4 Mini Smartphone

Samsung finally announced the rumored Galaxy S4 Mini smartphone. This mid-range handset is the stripped down version of the company’s flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone. The 5 inch full HD display, octa-core processor and 13 megapixel camera found in the Galaxy S4 has been replaced with a smaller 4.3 inch qHD display, less powerful dual-core processor and 8 megapixel camera. However, this handset runs on the same Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) Operating System and packs all the gimmicky features which was first seen in the original Galaxy S4.

JK Shin, President of IT & Mobile Communication Division at Samsung Electronics, said,
“We appreciate such unprecedented demands for the GALAXY S4 that we aimed to provide users with life companion for a fuller, richer and simpler life. And now, we want to give people more choices with GALAXY S4 mini, similar look & feel of Galaxy S4 for more compact and practical usages. “The new GALAXY S4 mini provides consumers with a new way to enjoy the flagship Galaxy S4 experience.”

samsung_galaxy_s4_mini

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini features a 4.3 inch qHD Super-AMOLED display, sporting a resolution of 960 × 540 pixels, 1.7 GHz dual-core processor, Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) OS, TouchWiz Nature UX, 8 megapixel rear-facing camera with autofocus and flash, full HD (1080p) video recording and playback, 1.9 megapixel front-facing camera for video chats and much more.

It also comes with a 3.5 mm headset jack, Stereo FM Radio with RDS, Smart stay, Smart pause, Smart scroll, 8 GB internal memory, 5 GB user memory, microSD card slot, 64 GB expandable memory, S-Travel, S-Health, DLNA, HDMI out, Bluetooth 4.0 with EDR, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 3G/4G Connectivity, 1.5 GB RAM, Wi-Fi Direct, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 and a 1900 mAh battery.

This handset measures 124.6 x 61.3 x 8.94 mm and weighs just 107 grams. The Galaxy S4 Mini will be available in two colors – White Frost and Black Mist. Samsung has not yet announced the price and release date of this handset. The Galaxy S4 Mini will be showcased next month at the company’s Galaxy and Ativ focused event in London.

HTC One Google Edition Announced; Coming Next Month For $599

Earlier this month, Samsung unveiled the Google Edition of Galaxy S4 which was packed with the stock Android, instead of the ugly TouchWiz UI and its gimmicky features. Following the footsteps of Samsung, HTC went ahead and announced a similar variant of its extremely popular HTC One smartphone. You heard it right! The HTC One Google Edition will be shipped with the stock version of the most recent build of Android Operating System.

“A special edition of the new HTC One running stock Android will be exclusively available through the Google Play store in the United States starting on June 26th. This edition pairs the all-metal unibody design, low-light capabilities of the UltraPixel camera and dual front-facing stereo speakers of the new HTC One with the stock version of the latest Android software, Jelly Bean 4.2.2,” HTC said in a statement.

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There are no major changes in the specs of this device. It comes with the usual 4.7 inch full HD display, sporting a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, 1.7 GHz Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor, Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) Operating System, 4 megapixel/ultrapixel rear-facing camera, 2.1 megapixel front-facing camera, 2 GB RAM, 32 GB internal memory, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, 3G/4G Connectivity, NFC (Near Field Communication), HDMI-out, Bluetooth 4.0, DLNA and 2300 mAh battery.

HTC One Google Edition will go on sale from June 26 via Play Store in the US. This handset comes with a price tag of $599, while the Galaxy S4 Google Edition will be available for $649. Which handset are you planning to buy? Let us know in the comments section below.

Samsung Launches The Galaxy Mega 5.8 In India For Rs.25,100

Along with the Galaxy Mega 6.3, Samsung has also launched the much-awaited Galaxy Mega 5.8 in India. This handset packs a disappointing 5.8 inch qHD display, 1.4 GHz dual-core processor, 8 megapixel camera and more. Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 is one of the world’s top performing Dual-SIM smartphones. This handset comes pre-loaded with Samsung WatchON which transforms the device into an IR remote controller for a great TV experience.

Mr. Vineet Taneja , Country Head , Samsung Mobile and Digital Imaging Business, said,
“Consumers in India as in other parts of the world are preferring the larger screen displays in their Smartphones owing to the time they spend doing more with their devices – staying connected with their work and friends/family, web browsing, extensive multimedia viewing and more. To meet the varying lifestyles of our consumers, we are very pleased to offer the Galaxy Mega which further enriches the product portfolio of our award-winning Galaxy series.”

samsung galaxy mega 5.8

Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 features a 5.8 inch qHD TFT display, sporting a resolution of 960 × 540 pixels, 1.4 GHz dual-core processor, Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) OS, TouchWiz 5.0 user interface, 8 megapixel rear-facing camera with autofocus and LED flash, full HD (1080p) video recording and playback, 1.9 megapixel front-facing camera for video calls, 8 GB internal memory, microSD card slot, 64 GB expandable memory and much more.

Other features include a 3.5 mm headset jack, Stereo FM Radio with RDS, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, 3G Connectivity, Samsung Media Hub, Samsung Social Hub, Samsung Kies Air, Google Play Store, S Translator, Samsung ChatOn, DLNA, HDMI out, Bluetooth 4.0 with EDR, 1.5 GB RAM, Wi-Fi Direct, USB 2.0 and a 2600 mAh battery. This handset measures 162.6 x 82.4 x 9.0 mm and weighs 182g.

Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 comes with a price-tag of Rs.25,100 (approx. $450) in India. Vodafone and Reliance subscribers will get 2 GB of data per month for 3 months with the purchase of this device. This handset will go on sale from next week in India.