HTC, Samsung and LG to Launch New WP7 Mango Smartphones in September

September is going to be an exciting month. The iPhone 5, or whatever the next version of the iPhone is going to be called, is supposed to be launched by Apple in the first week of September.

By September, we should also see the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S 2, the current king of Android smartphones in the U.S. smartphone market.

Today, Digitimes reported that there is going to be yet another major release in September. According to the report, HTC, Samsung, LG and some other manufacturers are going to launch new Windows Phone 7.5 Mango powered smartphones in September. The first WP7 Mango smartphone, the Fujitsu IS12T was announced last week.

Windows Phone 7

The new Mango phones by HTC will be powered by 1.5 GHz processors and will have display sizes ranging from 3.8 to 4.7 inches. Samsung is apparently working on a variant of the Galaxy S 2, which will be powered by Windows Phone 7.

Even Nokia is planning to unveil its first Windows Phone 7 device around the end of September. It will be interesting to see if all these new devices help Microsoft grab market share from Apple or Android.

Microsoft and its partners will have to time these launches right. It is very likely that the iPhone 5 launch may completely overshadow all these device launch announcements.

40% of Android Phones Are Returned? No Friggin’ Way!

Techcrunch published a rather sensationalist report a couple days back, claiming to reveal “Android’s dirty secret“. Apparently, they “learned” that the return rate on some Android devices ranges between 30% to 40%, compared to a mere 1.7% return rate for the iPhone 4, even after the whole Antennagate fiasco.

Well, the guys at BGR did some quick math, and arrived at a logical conclusion – Techcrunch’s story was basically bullshit.

Most Android device manufacturers are already being hunted by Apple for patent infringement. To add to that, they are also being milked by Microsoft to the tune of billions in patent licensing fees, which is hell bent on making Android its cash cow.

If the return rates for most Android devices were actually around 30% – 40%, most of the manufacturers would have filed for bankruptcy already. The margins on most Android devices are already quite low, compared to Apple’s iPhone margins. Handset returns cost manufacturers a lot of money. Combined with the other problems, a 40% rate of return could wipe out their entire profits. There is no way manufacturers would continue to make Android smartphones if this were the case.

While the return rates may be high for some devices, they are definitely in the low single digits according to BGR’s source. I’m much more inclined to believe that, rather than Techcrunch’s ridiculous report.

In other news, Android is completely rocking the U.S. smartphone market, with a 39% market share. Very improbable, if it had a 40% return rate, don’t you think?

Note: Though they did mention ‘some Android phones’, their title seems to imply that the 30% – 40% return rate was across the board.

HTC’s S3 Acquisition Could Ward Off Apple’s Patent Threat

The patent wars just keep getting interesting. As we already know, Apple had filed a lawsuit against HTC regarding infringement of patents held by Apple which relate to the technology used in the iPhone. About 2 weeks back, a U.S. International Trade Commission judge gave an initial ruling in favor of Apple, stating that HTC did infringe upon 2 of Apple’s patents.

We also reported how Apple’s win against HTC could lead to a ban on the import of all Android devices in the U.S. Google obviously knows that, and has asserted that it “will make sure they don’t lose.”

Well, it turns out that HTC may have some leverage after all. On July 6, HTC announced that it had bought S3 Graphics from VIA. At first, the acquisition didn’t make much sense, but then it did. A lot. S3 Graphics had won a ruling in its own patent lawsuit which could lead to a partial ban on the import of Macs, which use chipsets from Intel or AMD, in the U.S.

Now that HTC controls S3, it could use those patents to force Apple to enter into a cross licensing agreement with HTC, thus preventing the ban on its Android devices. It has already stated openly, that it is willing to negotiate with Apple on the issue. It’s not yet clear if HTC could use the S3 patents to get a ban on the import of Macs, but it seems highly likely. Apple has already challenged the validity of S3’s patents at the U.S Patent Office. We should know the results of the patent reexamination process soon.

This could turn out to be the smartest acquisition HTC ever made.

Photos Of Possible Next-Gen iPhone Case Appear

This week has been another crazy week of next-gen iPhone rumors. Yesterday, a rumored case design for the next-gen iPhone appeared revealing tapered edges and resembled pre-iPhone 4 designs. Also, the design showed a possible larger screen and a gesture area around the home button.

Green silicone iPhone 5 case

Green Silicone iPhone 5 Case

Today, 9to5Mac reports that they have received photos of an actual case based on that design. According to a report, the design has been shared with manufactures.

The new leaked case does not represent a thinner design if it is for the next-gen iPhone. and doesn’t address the rumors regarding a larger screen or gesture area due to a lack of covering on the front. It turns out that placement of hardware buttons are nearly identical to the current iPhone. However, the mute switch has been moved to the opposite side. Power and volume buttons are present, but difficult to see in the photos since the case is using small numbs of silicon to cover button. In addition, the volume buttons on the case appear more like to be the current iPod touch.

The leaked case isn’t the first design to be claimed for the next-gen iPhone, however this design does suggest a nearly identical design to the iPhone 4.

 

Is This The iPhone 5 Design? Chinese Case Makers Think So [Rumor]

It seems like there are new rumors about the suspected new iPhone. We have seen all kinds of crazy ideas, including a clear iPhone, NFC compatibility, and even the idea of a mini-iPhone. The only thing we know with any certainty is that Apple is probably working a new version of the worlds best selling smart phone.

According to a set of images released to MobileFun.co.uk, we now have some idea what Apple has up its sleeve. MobileFun is the website that originally broke the case designs that eventually matched up with the iPad 2, and they have now released a set of prototype designs for the iPhone 5.

Confirmed by two spererate case manufacturers in China, the designs show off a number of features of the upcoming phone. For starters, the display seems to run from edge to edge across the face of the phone. This will make the usable screen space supposedly upwards of 4 inches without increasing the physical size of the device.

From the designs, we can also see that the form factor is drastically different from the iPhone 4. It seems that Apple is departing from its squared design and heading back to a rounded back for its next smart phone. It looks like the bevel will be similar to the iPad 2. Personally, I like that design choice, as I find my iPad 2 very nice to hold.

It important to remember that Apple made a purchase of a number of glass cutting machines. While the designs don’t show there being curved glass on the face of the device, it can’t be ruled out completely. Its possible that the curved back could be made of glass, which would bridge the gap between the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 quite nicely.

The last big change that the cases show is the control system. Steve Jobs originally intended the iPhone to have no control button, and it looks like he may have gotten his wish. According to MobileFun, the home button has been replaced by a “touch-sensitive ovaloid area.” While that name feels a little silly, it would be a great new feature.

The touch sensitive area would allow for many Lion-esque touch gestures for the phone. You would be able to change songs in iTunes, navigate screens, and even get to your home screen from anywhere. It would make a great change for the iPhone, and allow for even more gestures in iOS 5.

The last big change that we can see in these designs is the position of the side buttons. According to the designs, they have all swapped sides. The lock toggle is now really close to the camera, and the volume buttons have moved down to below the halfway point. Its important to note that the possibility for touch sensitive side buttons.

So there you have it, an in-depth look at what might be the iPhone 5. Now, all of this is just speculation based on a pair of Chinese case designs. While those have been good sources in the past, they have also been wrong. Be sure not to put all your hopes on this design, as we won’t know anything until Apple shows us the new design.

Apple Releases iOS 4.3.5

iOS 4.3.5

Unlike Google, Apple protects its customers from malware and other viruses which may affect iOS. Also, Apple dislikes security flaws popping up in iOS, and they do whatever it takes to offer quick fixes. Just 10 days after the release of iOS 4.3.4 (fixed a PDF exploit), they have released a new version of iOS: iOS 4.3.5.

This update is a minor update and fixes another security exploit. iOS 4.3.5 offers a a fix for a  security flaw which might allow attacker with a privileged network position may capture or modify data in sessions protected by SSL/TLS. To keep things simple, it means that a hacker on the same network could store or change traffic that would instead be encrypted.  iOS 4.3.4 did affect the JailbreakMe method, but this has no affect on jailbreakers. RedmondPie reports that the jailbreak method that worked with 4.3.4 will work here also.

Direct download links:

After updating my iOS devices (iPhone 4/iPad 2), I have noticed that my devices are a lot snappier and it seems that with every update Apple offers battery life is improved. Anyone notice anything new? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

Voice-Controlled Virtual “Assistant” Coming to iOS

Apple Nuance

A new discovery by 9to5Mac, suggests that Apple will offer a feature-rich  voice recognition service in a future version of iOS called “Assistant”. Since the acquisition of Siri and partnership with Nuance, it has been rumored that Apple was planning to offer voice-related features in iOS. However, at WWDC 2011 Apple didn’t mention any such features during the iOS 5 demo.

Assistant in iOS

The screenshot above reveals a new feature called “Assistant” in iOS 5. “Assistant” is supposed to take voice data and user specific information to provide an amazing service to the user. The voice data is supposed to be crowd-sourced and users will have the option to securely send their data to Apple.  Currently, the feature is being developed and tested by Apple and may not be finished by the time the next-iPhone ships.

We can imagine a user asking their iPhone Assistantto setup a movie with one of their friends. The user might say setup movie with Markand based on Mark’s contact info and the user’s location data, will be able to offer tickets to a local theater and send Mark the information.

In addition to voice data being used to bring results, “Assistant” is supposed to use information such as the device’s location, contact information, and music data. Also, 9to5Mac reports that there is a mention of “Assistant” hidden in the iOS SDK.

“ASSISTANT_ENABLE_WARNING” = “Assistant uses your voice input and other information like your contact names, song names, and location to understand your requests. This data will be sent to Apple to process your request and to improve Apple products and services.”

All signs are pointing towards what Siri might have been before its acquisition. Siri’s iOS app hasn’t been removed from the App Store  and is still available for download. Rumors have suggested that Apple is working closely with Nuance to offer a similar service to iOS users.

[image credit 9to5Mac]

RIM Fires 2000 Employees; Stock Near 52 Week Low

RIM which has been completely blindsided by the Apple iPhone and Google’s Android in the last couple years, is in very dire straits. Its market share in the U.S. market is dropping and its stock is getting hammered every day. It’s currently near its 52 week low, at around $25.

Its dual executive arrangement isn’t working at all, and none of its recent products have managed to attract consumers. The Blackberry Playbook is officially a failure and even its lineup of new Blackberry devices doesn’t really seem impressive.

The only saving grace for RIM has been Blackberry usage in corporates, but even that has been dropping gradually.

Today, RIM announced that it would be laying off about 2000 workers, or about 11 percent of its total workforce. It has also shuffled responsibilities among a few executives and announced a few high profile departures. It commented that it would be explaining the exact reasons for the job cuts during its second quarter results on September 15.

The old guard in the smartphone industry (Nokia and RIM) is under attack by the new entrants (Apple and Android). Nokia is cozying up with Microsoft, hoping that Windows Phone 7 will be the panacea for all its problems. RIM has migrated almost all its new devices to the QNX platform, but none of those moves seem to be working so far.

Samsung Beats Apple in Smartphone Sales

Samsung, the number one Android smartphone manufacturer which has seen tremendous success with its Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets, may have beaten Apple in terms of smartphone sales in the last quarter.

Nokia, which held the lead in smartphone shipments sold close to 16.7 million devices, while Apple sold around 20.3 million iPhones last quarter.

According to a research report by Strategy Analytics, Samsung may have surpassed them both with smartphone device sales of up to 21 million.

Apple recently sued Samsung over the Galaxy line of Android devices, saying that the Galaxy smartphones infringe on Apple’s patents related to the iPhone and the iPad. The Samsung Galaxy S 2 has been a huge hit, selling over 3 million devices in less than 2 months.

With Nokia’s market share on the wane, Samsung is on its way to become the world’s number one mobile company. It already has a 20% market share, compared to Nokia’s 26%.

“Samsung’s Android portfolio is selling strongly in most regions. Samsung stands a reasonable chance of capturing the top spot on a quarterly basis if it can continue expanding its Android portfolio across high-growth markets like China and Brazil. Samsung and Apple will be at similar levels in smartphones by the end of the year.” said an analyst.

The Samsung Galaxy S 2 will launch in the U.S. market soon, which is likely to boost sales further.

Apple Becomes World’s Leading Smartphone Manufacturer

Apple vs. Nokia

Nokia for many years had been the world’s leading smartphone manufacture, but now Apple has surpassed them. Apple now has sold more smartphone units and brings in more revenue,  with Apple shipping more iPhones than Nokia this last quarter.

A year ago, IDC reported that  Apple had come in second for the number of global worldwide smartphone shipments against other smartphone manufactures and achieved a 16.1% of global market share. Nokia, on the other hand, dominated with 28% of the market. However, over the last few years Nokia has seen a decrease in market share. Apple’s most recent numbers not only puts them ahead of Nokia, but every other smartphone manufacture!

The Financial Times reports that Apple’s last earnings call,  during which 20+ million iPhones had been shipped during the Q3 of 2011 was announced. In comparison, Nokia reported a 34% decrease in handset sales  to only 16.7 million devices sold in Q3.

Shipments of Nokia smartphones declined by 34 percent to 16.7m units, compared with the 20.3m iPhones shipped by Apple in its second quarter. Apple was already the biggest smartphone maker by revenue and profits, but the April-June period marked the first time it had surpassed Nokia in volume.

The drop in sales caused Nokia’s rank to drop to third place, behind Apple and Samsung. Before 2007, Apple had no existence in the smartphone industry. Now, they have become the world’s leading smartphone manufacturer in less than 5 years. Yup, looks like iPhone is definitely “dead in the water“.