iPhone 5 to Have 16 and 32GB Models Still? But Sprint!

Just got this from a tipster at Target Mobile, showing o ly 16 and 32GB models for the iPhone 5. But what’s super interesting here is the SKUs for the Sprint iPhone 5. Don’t expect it to be $50 though; that’s the normal price for a preorder. Pretty interesting stuff though!

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>Is WebOS a Tech Curse?

>It was a dark and stormy night in January 8th of 2009, when Jon Rubinstein, CEO of Palm, took the stage to announce what would be the scourge of his company. Ok, it wasn’t dark or stormy, but the WebOS story did not pan out how Rubinstein thought it would be. WebOS would become a tech curse, and every horror story starts with the origin.

Before 2009, Palm had experienced pretty good amount of success. They had truly cornered the Personal Digital Assistant market with its famous Palm Pilot line, even beating Apple’s entrant, the Newton. They successfully hit a huge level of brand recognition, making all competitors be known as Palm Pilots as well. Then, the PDA started to evolve into what became the first iterations of the smartphone.

In 2002, Palm released the Treo 180, their first foray into the very infantile smartphone market. The Treo and it’s well known Palm OS was now in direct competition with Research in Motion’s BlackBerry series, offering a pretty similar feature set. The two were the main players in the smartphone world for the first few years, with Microsoft’s Windows Mobile jumping as well. Ultimately, the BlackBerry won the race, it’s Enterprise service really capturing the hearts of businesses, the only people truly using smartphones at this time. Palm kept pumping out Treos, and then the Centro series later on with some small success.

During this time, a man by the name of Jon Rubinstein was hard at work at Apple, developing their blockbuster series of iPods, which essentially created and then dominated the MP3 player market landscape. In 2005, Rubenstein left Apple, just two years before Apple changed the smartphone market forever with the introduction and insane amount of success of the iPhone. That same year, Rubinstein joined the ailing Palm and went into R&D mode, having famously never touched an iPhone.

Two years later, Rubinstein stole the show at CES 2009 with the announcement and demonstration of Palm’s labors: The Palm Pre running WebOS. It was a Trojan Horse of self destruction. Many people thought that WebOS had the potential to take back the chunk of marketshare that Palm had lost and Apple had grabbed. It had the potential to drown out the relatively fledgling Android operating system. Then the trouble started.

The Pre came out far too long after its announcement, dropping a whole 6 months later. It was exclusive to the US at first, and only on Sprint, the third largest carrier in the country. Upon arrival, it sold well, but nowhere near as much as some of it’s competition of the time, like the Motorola Droid and of course the iPhone. The Pre received mixed reviews, most of which praised the looks and potential of the device, but renouncing the very plasticy and not well-made hardware and lack of third-party app support. The Pre then went to Verizon and AT&T as the Pre Plus, selling even less than the Sprint version did. Things continued to go downhill for Palm. They were losing money, when the iPhone and Android were both growing with no end in sight.

Then, in April of 2010, HP announced that it would buy Palm for about $1 billion, ending the many rumors of many other companies buying the company (most notably Nokia). WebOS had claimed its first victim. HP said that they would “double down” on WebOS, and promised a huge push of WebOS even into the desktop PC space. Later on, the Pre3 would be announced, and so would WebOS’ Waterloo: The HP Touchpad.

The Touchpad came out into a market that has been dominated by Apple. Even with the insane growth of Android in the smartphone world, competitors running Google’s OS have not been able to create even a small dent into the iPad’s sales. The Touchpad never saw any success. The reviews were similar to the original Pre: Cool looking software, cheap hardware, and no apps in sight. Just weeks after a full release, HP talked about newer versions with 4G radios and better processors, and the haunted tablet was hit with many price cuts.

And today, WebOS claimed another victim. HP has announced that it will no longer make any WebOS smartphones or tablets. WebOS may still be licensed to another company yet, but who would touch an operating system that has felled one company and was unsuccessful with one of the world’s highest selling PC makers? More importantly, no small developer with any business sense would choose to develop for a platform that has twice been killed because no one has developed for it. There’s hopefully little chance that we’ll see this cursed piece of technology come back to life, but how many times have we said the same for Freddy and Jason? And how many times have we seen thoroughly disappointing sequels that failed to be a success at all? Sound familiar?

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>HTC EVO 3D Now Available for Sprint

>After much anticipation, a lot of talk, and an unboxing, the HTC EVO 3D finally launches today! $200 and a 2 year contract will get you the beast with a glasses-free 3D display, dual 5 megapixels cameras on the back for some 3D picture and video taking, and an awesome dual core 1.2GHz processor. Who’s getting one?

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>HTC EVO 3D Unboxing

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>We just got our hands on an the soon to be released HTC EVO 3D, and let us just say: HTC clearly listened to our editorial on boring boxes. This box is hot. The front is a pearl white monolith with a stylized letters spelling “EVO 3D” bumping out of the cardboard. That same bump out is featured next to it with the four encircled Android buttons (A house for Home, the four lines for Menu, a Back arrow, and the Search magnifying glass). One side of the box is yellow and has a tab to pull out the rest of the box from the pearly outside.

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The inside is crazy bright, rocking the spectrum from yellow to blue in a random geometric pattern, a stark juxtaposition from the solid white outer section. The EVO 3D sits in a white frame with a “FOCUS on driving” ad protecting the screen. Under that is the instruction booklet, USB cable, and power adapter.

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>Motorola Droid X2 Review

>Last year, Motorola launched Verizon’s first beast-sized phone, the Motorola Droid X. It was very good for its time and it proved that large sized screens can still be svelte, in a time when the EVO was living it large. This year, Motorola has kept the Droid X’s successor, the Droid X2, looking the same, but has pumped it full of this year’s best hardware and revamped the software. Will the Droid X2 surpass its predecessor, or will it suffer from sequel inferiority? Find out below as we review Verizon’s flagship 3G phone!

Hardware
This is really where the Droid X2 steps it up, kinda. The form factor is big, but it’s actually slightly thinner and less wide than the X, but it weighs the same at about 5.5 ounces. What I love about the form factor is that where you actually hold the phone, it’s pretty slim. The bulk of the phone is at the top where the 8 megapixel camera lens and dual LED flash sits. It’s a pleasure to hold both one and two handed. On the front, you have the standard 4 buttons along the bottom. They are hardware keys, not soft ones, which I personally prefer. The buttons do take some pressure to activate, which is both good and bad. You certainly won’t have to worry about accidental button presses, but it can take too much effort to go Home or Back sometimes.The left edge houses the microUSB port and miniHMDI port for audio and video output. The power button is in the middle of the top, truly the perfect position for it, and the button is perfectly responsive. Also on the top is the standard headphone jack and a mic (more on that later). On the right is the volume rocker. It’s a little bit smaller than most other phones, and I’d really like if it were a bit longer. Sadly, Motorola took away the hardware camera button that resided on the right side on the original. I’m not sure why, but I wish they hadn’t.

The Droid X2 carries on the X’s tradition of having 3 microphones on it. The traditional one on the bottom for voice calls, the aforementioned top one is for noise cancellation, and one on the back for video recording. The top mic definitely works, the call quality is really quite good. The one on the back we’ll get too in a bit. The speaker on the front is crisp and clear for calls. The back speaker is pretty good, but could be louder; it’s definitely not as loud as the original’s rival, the HTC EVO 4G.

The Droid X2’s camera is killer and it’s clear that Motorola took a lot of time thinking about it. It’s takes incredibly clear pictures and has a ton of different modes for shooting, like macro, sports, etc., in addition to the traditional filters like black and white and sepia. Unfortunately, Motorola didn’t take enough time to test out the whole experience. The video capture is incredibly jumpy sometimes. The video camera does take advantage of the three mics on the phone, allowing for some serious noise reduction, but it’s hard to care about the noise when your video keeps skipping. Its not always like that though. Sometimes it was just fine, and when it isn’t screwing up it takes nice video. The other problem with the camera experience is the software. All of the options are well placed and easy to use, but it’s super buggy. Multiple times it froze up when I tried to change the scene settings. But let’s end on a high note: Motorola included some editing options right in to their preview section in the camera. The still shots can be rotated and cropped, colors can be messed with, and brightness changed. The video can be cut up as well, and you can add titles. Overall, assuming everything is working properly, it’s the best camera experience I’ve seen on an Android device.

The battery life on this bad boy is really good. For Android, that is. Let’s face it, you’re still going to have to charge this every single day. But compared to the EVO, which usually requires a midday charge, it’s fantastic. My X2 is normally put through the ringer daily, but I was incredibly impressed when a solid hour of using it as a hotspot barely even touched the battery indicator. The screen is also really nice. The qHD classification makes it one of Android’s highest quality displays, and it shows. I threw Tropic Thunder on there and it looked great. It’s really bright, and while it’s not as good as Samsung’s Super AMOLED, it still works quite well in direct sunlight.

Software
It’s Android 2.2. There’s really not a lot more to say about that because it’s been talked about to death. Instead, we’ll focus on the changes Moto threw on top of Android. If you’ve used any of Motorola’s phones that used their MOTOBLUR services in the past, you’d know what a crappy, battery draining experience it was. I was worried at first when I saw some if the signs of Blur on the X2. But after playing with it for some time now, I’m shocked to say: Blur doesn’t suck anymore. It’s significantly different from what it was on devices like the Backflip. It doesn’t require you to create or sign into a special Blur account, and everything about their changes are for the most part optional. You can still use the traditional Android widgets and services if you want, but Motorola’s widgets have ditched the kiddy style and actually look quite good. They included a universal inbox to add in email, Facebook, and Twitter messages in with your texts. The included combined social networking apps are pretty good too. Nowhere near as full featured as dedicated apps, but if you want to quickly fire off something to multiple networks (sadly not multiple accounts), then its easy enough to do so.

There are two changes I absolutely loved. Motorola couldn’t help but include a bunch of bloatware that can’t be uninstalled, but app groups allows you to totally ignore them. At the top of the screen in your apps list is a button that let’s you change which apps are shown. I just selected the apps I actually use and show that group by default so I don’t ever have to see the V Cast apps or Lets Golf 2 (That’s no typo, they forgot the apostrophe). At the top right is also a button for the app store, a small but useful tweak. The other big change in the old recent apps pop up. On most other devices you see a maximum of 8 of your most recent apps. The X2 brings up the whole app drawer, but shows the recent apps tab, showing you the last 12 apps you’ve used and allowing easy access to those you haven’t opened yet.

Wrap Up
The Droid X2 is easily one of the best Android phones I’ve used to date. The dual core processor definitely gives a noticeable difference in performance, especially with games and battery life. The camera is definitely one of Android’s best and the editing options are a great addition. The screen is really nice and the camera is exceptional. Overall, it’s one of the best Android devices today. It’s really only missing one thing: a 4G radio. Why Verizon didn’t have it thrown in, I have no idea. It would make a lot more sense for it to be a $300 phone than for the Samsung Droid Charge. But if you don’t live in a 4G area, or do most of your heavy data in WiFi, the Motorola Droid X2 packs a hell of a punch in a skinny little device. It’s a highly recommended device if you’re looking for a work horse on Verizon. Get it now before you can’t get an unlimited data option!

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>Verizon Unofficially Makes Tiered Data Plans Official

 

>Today, Droid-Life got an exclusive scoop on exactly what Verizon’s tiered data plans will be, a subject that has been spoken a lot about in whispers and unconfirmed rumors for some time now. The plans, as you see above, start at $30 for 2GB and go up from there. If you add on the tethering option you’ll pay an additional $20 and receive an extra 2GB of usage. All of the above pricing is for data only, so you still need to add on voice and text. There won’t be any difference in pricing for 3G or 4G phones. Overages will go for $10 per GB.

Later in the day, a memo from corporate Verizon was leaked, proving the leaked plans correct. The new plans will start on July 7th and customers who already have their unlimited plan will be grandfathered in, so you won’t lose it. That also means anyone who gets a smartphone before then will keep it for at least two years.

Quite frankly, these plans, if truly accurate, are ridiculous. When AT&T dropped their unlimited plans, there was a fair amount of outrage, but at least it cost the customers less and AT&T provided data that said most people didn’t need unlimited data. But Verizon is clearly just realizing the sheer speed of their network and is purely out to make more money. And as America’s most expensive carrier, to get more expensive for no benefit to the customer is reprehensible. The silver lining is that Verizon has made awful plan choices like this before and has reversed such decisions in the past. So cross your fingers that this pricing will be temporary.

 

 

 

 

 

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>The Future of Phone Plans, Ideally

>Gotta give it up to Apple, they know how to dominate news cycles. One of the smaller announcements they made at WWDC this week was iMessage, their iOS-only instant messaging program that is tied in with the existing messaging app. At first, attention was drawn to how it would compete with Blackberry’s existing BlackBerry Messenger app, something that has kept many a CrackBerry addict from leaving the platform. At this point, iMessage does make a lot more sense for people compared to BBM, simply because the iPhone is a crazy popular phone, the iPod Touch is an immensely popular mp3 player, and the iPad is still the tablet to beat (and no one has come close yet). BBM is on the BlackBerry PlayBook, but quite frankly, no one really bought it. BBM is one of the last things to hook current users in, it was a space where RIM really had no competition, but that now has been challenged.

Now, the launch of iMessage has brought up a very different question: Do we really need SMS at all? Its a well known fact that text messaging has been the longest, most widespread, and far most egregious instance of wireless providers overcharging for a service. Each text message sent is really only a few bites of information being sent around, and yet people pay 20 cents per without a plan. Even at $20 for unlimited, you’d have to send millions for the price to be justified. But before the dawn and success of the smartphone, it was the best way to fire off a small tidbit of conversation. Now that simply isn’t true. RIM, Apple, soon Windows Phone, and even some rumors of Android, all have or will have alternative quick messaging options built into their phones.

I am most certainly not the first person to notice how this may shake up the industry. Nilay Patel (formerly of Engadget) wrote up a great editorial on This Is My Next calling for the death of the phone number. He points out that Apple, Google, and Microsoft are all getting into the position of eliminating the carriers’ plans. None have gotten to that point yet, but its definitely a possibility in the near future. I don’t think the phone number should die. Its incredibly useful and really isn’t that different from a username, and we still need them for business if nothing else. But I do propose a drastic change.

For years, the carriers have refused to admit that they are just dumb pipes, managing networks that allow the transfer of data in many different forms to various devices. The separation of voice from texting to internet data usage is ludicrous at this point because the internet can do all of these things very easily, ultimately using their existing network. All one carrier has to do is accept that role, realize that all that consumers want is for them to fulfill that role, and come up with the following plan:

Throw away your preconceived notions of plans. There will be no more set allotment of minutes and texts and internet usage. All you do is pay for a bucket of usage (metaphorically speaking, of course). The carrier merely sets a rate for how big your bucket is. What you do with that bucket is entirely up to you. Voice calls and video conferencing would be done just like existing VoIP services like Skype, and texts wouldn’t really be texts, but data sent through apps on your device. The phone number can hang around still for these purposes, although most people could easily get by using Facebook Chat these days. In areas where 3G is scarce or nonexistent, traditional calls and texts could be done, but there’s no reason to charge more for doing so. Your web browsing, app downloading, and content streaming would all come through the same usage allowance as your calls. I know many people pay for way more minutes than they actually use simply because there’s no cheaper option available. The buckets would eliminate this problem.

Beyond monthly costs, there’s one other big advantage to this system: device freedom. Right now, carriers want you to have a separate plan for a 3G connected tablet, or get a tethering plan, which costs a lot extra for using your existing data connection that you already pay for. But with the bucket system, you just pop your SIM card into a tablet or another phone, even a computer, and just keep on going. ASUS is attacking this problem head on with two different devices. The Padfone turns your phone into a tablet and there’s really no reason for the carrier to know about it. The Eee Pad MeMo 3D is a 3G-enabled Android tablet that comes with the MeMic Bluetooth handset that is the perfect size to hold up to your face to talk, or use as a remote control. A carrier using the bucket system wouldn’t care at all what device you were using since its now all the same stuff to everyone involved.

The only sacrifice that would be made for consumers would be the loss of unlimited data plans. But let’s face it, they are on their way out anyway. AT&T ditched them a while ago, and Verizon is maybe only weeks away from following suit. T-Mobile’s plans now have roofs that don’t cost extra to pass, but you’ll have your service throttled significantly down in speed. Sprint aims to be the final carrier to offer the truly unlimited data plan. But the bucket system wouldn’t need unlimited most likely anyway, under one condition: What you do when connected to Wifi does not touch your limit. This only makes sense because the wireless provider isn’t the pipe, the ISP is. AT&T’s limited data plans do this now, but talking on the phone should follow this same rule. T-Mobile is the only carrier that chooses to allow WiFi calling, but all WiFi enabled phones on all carriers are capable of it. Since the bucket system does away with minutes, they’d have no reason to continue this practice. The transition might be hard to explain to the average consumer at first, but there could easily be simple tools to convert minutes used and texts sent from their previous plans into gigabyte form.

The problem is getting the carriers on board. As far as I’m concerned, only one carrier would actually go for it at this point: Sprint. AT&T and Verizon would certainly not jump in on this until someone else did first. T-Mobile was a progressive company, but due to the potential AT&T buyout, they’d never make such a drastic change. That leaves Sprint, and they now hold the title for most progressive, as proven by their crazy move to integrate their services with Google Voice. They have a network capable of handling it and the need to attract more customers. And I know I’m not the only person attracted to this idea. Carriers could still offer contracts for those who want cheaper devices, something that would keep them very happy. This would also push a lot of people into a smartphone, meaning more sales revenue for manufacturers. I think that, if done properly, everyone involved would benefit greatly from this kind of arrangement. Now to see if it ever actually happens.

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