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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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>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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>WWDC Wrap Up: Lion Details, iOS Becomes Android, iCloud isn’t a Cloud

>Today, Apple’s big keynote at the World Wide Developer Conference happened to much fanfare. That is at least before the event happened. As was promised there was no new hardware announced and only covered Mac OS Lion, iOS 5, and iCloud. Here’s a wrapup of all three!

Lion: The newest version of Mac OS will have 250 new features, but only 10 were really talked about at length. The highlights include multitouch gestures with the touchpad, Versions, which autosaves your progress in documents, Keynote, etc. and allows you to see all previous versions in addition to the latest one, and the Mail app very closely mirrors the iOS version with conversation view. Lion will be available only through the Mac App Store (as a 4GB download) for only $30, due out in July.

iOS 5: This was really the high point of the keynote. iOS 5 will bring a total of 200 new user enhancements, but again only a small number were featured. Apple started, as usual, with some numbers. They claim that iOS is now the #1 mobile platform with 200 million iOS devices sold. This is a little deceptive since they included not just the iPhone, but iPad and iPod Touch, but impressive none the less. iOS 5 brings a ton of improvements. They redid the notification system, now called Notification Center, so there aren’t pop ups, but a panel of notifications accessed by swiping from the top of the screen. Notification Center is also shown on the lockscreen. Swiping to the left dismisses them and swiping to the right unlocks the screen and zooms you right to that item. Safari got a bunch of improvements. The iPad version looks just like the Mac version, but all iOS devices will have Reading List, which allows you to save articles for later and also pulls all text from multi-page items, but without the ads. iMessage was announced, allowing people on iOS devices to communicate with other iDevices through text, picture, video, and even send contacts. The camera got some extra features, like being accessed from the lock screen, being able to use the volume buttons to take pics, and editing features within the app. The best part of all is that the thin white cable has been cut. iOS devices will now be able to completely sync over WiFi and you won’t have to plug in to activate your iPhone. OS updates will now download over the air as well. iOS 5 goes out to developers today, but don’t expect it on your device until Fall.

Does any of this sound familiar? How about all of it? Every single feature mentioned in the iOS 5 unveiling has been featured in other operating systems, mostly Android. The notification system is almost identical to Android’s. They are both located at the top, showing each item, available in any app. Some builds of Android even have similar lockscreen notifications. iMessage is a direct attack on BlackBerry Messenger. Apparently Apple didn’t get the memo that people who love BBM don’t leave BBM, and no one else cares about device-specific messaging. Accessing the camera from the lockscreen is on HTC’s newest version of Sense, and Windows Phone can bypass the lockscreen all together by just holding the camera button. Android, Windows Phone, Zunes, and BlackBerry all sync over WiFi as well, and the iPhone was the only phone that needed to be plugged in to activate in the first place.

iCloud: This was definitely the low point of the presentation. “The Cloud” has been in existence for some time, but has recently hit its stride with services like Amazon’s Music, Google Music, and Dropbox. iCloud syncs your most important content across all of your iOS devices and Macs. Pictures are done through Photo Stream, a service that hosts all of your pictures (from iPhoto, your iOS devices, etc.) on your Mac, the last 1000 are stored on your iOS device and are hosted for 30 days on iCloud. iCloud also goes to your iTunes, allowing you to redownload music to your iOS device where ever you are, and purchasing a new song or album will push it to all of your devices. Same goes for the App Store. iCloud will replace MobileMe and will be free, starting today, for all who want it. It will be available on your iDevice when iOS 5 hits this fall.

The problem with iCloud is that its name is a bold-faced lie. There is nothing cloud about it. The cloud allows you to host your content, stored in a server God knows where. But iCloud doesn’t do that at all. It uses your devices’ memory as the host and there is no streaming whatsoever. You must download all your content before you do anything with it. Apple made sure to point out that this makes the whole process take hours instead of days. I have Google Music and I’ve used Amazon’s cloud service, and I can testify that it does take quite some time to upload all of that content. But the end result is that I don’t have to waste space on any of my devices to hold my content. My phone gets access to my entire library through Google Music without requiring any of it to be on my device at all. iSync is a far more accurate name.

I saved the best for last. Apple realizes that you might have music you didn’t get (legally or otherwise) through iTunes. But they have a solution for you! Their first idea was to rebuy the same tracks. Not buying that? Fine. Their iTunes Match service will comb through your library of “other” music and if it matches with Apple’s library music, you get the same benefits of iCloud as if you bought them. For $25 a year. You have to PAY to sync the music you ALREADY BOUGHT. This isn’t an editorial (for the most part), so I won’t rant too much. If you like that service, great. I just don’t see how Apple can say that you have to pay for music again with a straight face.

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>Rant Bait: Sharing Passwords Apparently Makes You a Felon

>Earlier this week, Tennessee signed a new bill into law that will take effect July 1st. While this site normally wouldn’t cover legal news, this one is not only important, but it is beyond ridiculous and is a great example of the idiocy of our government when it comes to technology. This new law expands on old law that made it illegal to steal cable and dine and dash. Starting July 1st, it will be illegal to share your passwords to “entertainment subscription service” sites with anyone. No more sharing Netflix with anyone.

The bill was made specifically to stop pirates who sell user names and passwords in bulk, but the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Gerald McCormick even mentioned that it could be used to stop sharing with families and friends. Sharing less than $500 would be a misdemeanor, leading up to 1 year in jail or a $2500 fine, more if you go over $500. Tennessee’s governor, Bill Haslam, signed the bill into law after admitting that he wasn’t familiar with the details of it!

The problem is the wording of the law. What exactly is a “entertainment subscription service”? Here’s a few off the top of my head: Netflix, Rdio, Hulu Plus, Xbox Live, Amazon Instant Video, Audible, magazine subscriptions, newspaper subscriptions, online gaming such as World of Warcraft and Steam, even a gym membership. The list can go on because the law is written with insanely vague terms. Why is the law written so badly? The Record Industry Association of America has a huge presence in Tennessee, the country music capitol. A ton of tax money from the RIAA goes to them. For now, let’s assume that tax money is the only cash Ten. lawmakers get.

This law is so obviously completely written by the scumbags at the RIAA. I’m not advocating the wholesale auctioning of usernames and passwords. I’ve recently gone to paying for all my music and movies myself. But you cannot seriously tell me that I can’t share my Netflix account with my fiancee. We live in the same house. I have Netflix logged in on my TV. Am I supposed to tell her to buy her own subscription to use if I’m not there? I know my niece uses my brother’s Netflix account to get her daily fix of SpongeBob. With the amount she’s been watching, I can assure you that she’ll definitely spend her 3rd and 4th birthday behind bars because she’s not paying the bill.

Both the RIAA and the MPAA (the Motion Picture Association of America) have been run by people who didn’t think that this whole Internet thing would catch on. And then 15 years later they started doing something about it. Yes, they haven’t been making as much money as they used to. That’s because of their history of using DRM to make sure that if I buy a movie on DVD, I can’t rip it to my computer to watch it there or put it on my iPod. Heaven forbid I use the movie I just purchased in the manner of my choosing. Unfortunately, these backwards old men have a ridiculous amount of money. And it’s crap laws like this that show that they put a lot of that money into lobbying.

Molly Wood at CNET says it best. What these people fail to understand is that most people are willing to pay money for these services. The fact is, these idiot industries don’t make the content available. Then they wonder why nobody is buying their stuff. The economy is really bad now. Telling a family that they have to get their own individual “entertainment subscription services” for each member is beyond ridiculous. I encourage you all to write your congressmen and women. Tell them that what Tennessee is doing shameful and if they hope to get reelected that they laugh RIAA and MPAA lobbyists out of their office. I’m posting Rep. McCormick’s contact form below as well. Be intelligent. Don’t just tell him what a jackass he is. Tell him why. And tell him why people who aren’t in the pocket of the recording studios are against such nonsense. Tell it to Bill Haslam, who’s address is below (I’d love to give you his email, but his site’s Contact Us page is down). These people aren’t looking out for us. They are looking out for their own pocket, and it is not acceptable, and we should not just stand idly by.

Rep. Gerald McCormick: http://geraldmccormick.net/contact.htm

Gov. Bill Haslam: 1701 West End Avenue
Suite 300
Nashville, TN 37203

(615) 254-4799

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Editorial: iAm So Sick of Phone Names and Boxes

>Every now and again, I like to post some opinions on this site. They usually come from a place of frustration, and sadly this time is no different. For those who don’t know, I sell phones for most of the main carriers. Over the past few years, I’ve sold countless models of phones, and I’ve noticed a few things they all have in common: Their names suck and their boxes suck.

First off, the naming thing. There are 3 types of phone names: Random Letters and Numbers, the Random Adjective, and Just Completely Random. The first one I shouldn’t have to explain why its terrible. Nothing quite says “Buy Me!” like the Samsung SGH-T259. The Random Adjective is usually just a straight up lie. The HTC Droid Incredible is not only an incredibly long name, but it’s really not that special, and I certain don’t feel incredulous when it’s in my hand. The Just Completely Random can be just as deceptive as the Random Adjective, and is therefore even more obnoxious. When I first saw the HTC Imagio, I thought it was a joke. Sadly, it was not.

Then there’s the boxes. Here’s your average box: On the outside, there’s a picture of the phone, maybe the carrier’s logo, the manufacturer logo, and the name of the phone. You open up the box, and there’s the phone, with the phone’s name on a screen protector (except for AT&T’s “No Texting And Driving” ones). Under that is the instruction book, battery, charger, maybe headphones just thrown in there. They’re all the same, with a few exceptions. For example, the Samsung Instinct’s box was killer. You had an outside glossy sleeve. That slid off to reveal a matte cardboard box with “Instinct” etched in. The box was in two pieces, no hinge. You lifted the top half off to show the phone almost framed by black cardboard. Below that was all the extra goodies, neatly boxed in cardboard cubbies. It was gorgeous. The best box ever? This guy:

You had to plug the box, which looks like it came from 2001: A Space Odyssey, into your computer, and when it pops open, fog comes out. Fog. Now obviously not all phones can come with a mini fog machine, but they can certainly be sexier. And when a company does try to go different, we end up with something like the Cup of EVO Soup:

Now let’s talk about the one product that does it all wrong: The iPhone. First off, not many people know, but the “i” stands for “individual”. Exactly what is “individual” about a phone that, up until recently, couldn’t even have a user-defined wallpaper? The iPhone is known as the least customizable device, and yet its name acts as if it was made specifically for you. The box follows the minimalistic style of the device itself. That’s fine. But it’s the same formula. Picture of phone: Check. Phone right under lid: Check. Other stuff just sitting there under that: Check. Yawn, yawn, yawn. Apple should embrace its old motto and think a little differently on it’s packaging.

So please, phone makers, start using more memorable names. The Mustang is an iconic car. It’s the Mustang. Its memorable, it gives a feeling of the power and style of the car. The LG Sentio tells you nothing about the phone. The Pantech Pursuit showcases that it’s behind the front runners. Your boxes might not seem all that important, but it is the first impression of the phone. Awesome hardware deserves an awesome packaging and an appropriate moniker.

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>Plants vs Zombies Comes to Android, Free on Amazon Today

>Finally, the wait is over! The new classic Plants vs Zombies has broken the iOS barrier and made its way to Android. If you haven’t seen or heard of it before, it’s an awesome strategy game. You must use various plants to stop the zombie horde from reaching your house. It doesn’t sound very exciting, but the cartoon feel is infectious, the music is toe tapping, and the zombies are downright hilarious. It will normally be $2.99, but on the Amazon App store, you can find it as today’s free app. Go download it now. Seriously.

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