Today is the 11th of December and as promised, Asus has finally officially taken the curtains off its Padfone Mini, a 4.3” smartphone. Like its larger sibling, the Padfone Mini comes with a tablet dock, but it too has also been shrunk to a smaller size of 7”.
The Padfone Mini was launched just hours ago in Taiwan and as expected, it also packs less powerful hardware under its hood to allow for a more affordable price tag – 1.4GHz Snapdragon MSM8226 CPU, 1GB of RAM, 960 x 540 resolution on phone and 1,280 x 800 on the tablet, 16GB of expandable storage, Android 4.3 out of the box with 1,500mAh and 2,200mAh batteries in the smartphone and tablet respectively. Camera wise, it has an 8MP rear shooter on board with some custom features such as Hi-Light “Owl Mode” and high speed continuous shooting.
The device is currently available in Taiwan for NT$11,990 (approximately RM1,300) and according to Engadget, Asus plans to expand it to the U.S., Europe and Asia; let’s keep our fingers crossed that Malaysia is in that list.
During the recent Typhoon Haiyan tragedy in Philippines, Viber announced Viber Out, a call service for the Philippines that allows Viber users worldwide to call landlines and mobile numbers in Philippines. Back then, the company partnered with several telcos across the world and even Globe Telecom to allow users to call Philippines for free. Today, Viber is announcing Viber Out for global users, allowing users from all around the world to call to any landline and mobile numbers using their Viber account. It’s not free for the rest of us of course, but Viber brags a “competitive” call rate with significantly lower price-per-call than other competing services.
Viber out is currently available for desktop, iOS and Android platform, with Windows Phone support to come soon. All you need to do is update to the latest version to get Viber Out. We can’t seem to get Viber Out for Viber’s iOS app at the time of writing, but it’s already available for Android and desktop. Viber Out will connect to your phone number, allowing recipients to easily identify your call. Credits can be bought via the conventional method using a credit card, and even via in-app purchases through Viber’s mobile apps.
It follows the Lumia design language and features a single button like an Asha device but apparently, the Nokia device shown above – codenamed “Normandy” – is running on Android. Not only that, the device might be heading to market in 2014. Yup, the biggest Windows Phone advocate in the market are actively crafting an Android device for consumers according to The Verge.
The Verge’s vast insider sources also stated that the Nokia Normandy is designed to for low-end segment of the market just like the existing Asha series. Normandy apparently will be using a highly customized version of Android, similar to what Amazon have done for their Kindle devices. It will also support popular Android apps such as Skype and many more.
Nokia Normandy is scheduled to hit the market in 2014 according to Nokia’s staff that are working on it but since Microsoft acquisition of Nokia’s devices division have been green lit by almost everyone, it is hard to say if the device will see the light of the day or else. Nevertheless, we are pretty sure that many consumers out there are very curious and are eager to see Nokia’s take on Android operating system.
It looks like two new devices have recently been given a vanilla treat by Google, the Mountain View company just took the curtains off the Google Play editions of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra and LG G Pad 8.3. They are available in Google Play Store immediately for the folks in the US.
As with existing Google Play Edition devices – the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One, both these devices feature the exact same hardware as the original version, except for it runs on stock Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box. This means that the Sony Xperia Z Ultra features the same 6.4” 1080p display, is powered by 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, 8MP rear camera with Exmor RS sensor, 2MP front camera and 3,000mAh battery. One thing to note though is that the Z Ultra listing in Google Play Store lacks the Xperia branding so maybe Sony has got something interesting to announce at a later date.
The LG G Pad 8.3 on the other hand also features the same 8.3” 1080p display as the original G Pad. Powered by a Snapdragon 600 processor, it has 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 5MP rear camera and a 1.3MP front shooter. It will also run on the latest Android version – 4.4 KitKat, out of the box.
It’s almost Christmas and as with previous years, Apple has got 12 apps to gift to its users starting from Boxing Day for 12 consecutive days. If you visit the App Store on your iOS device now, you’ll see the “12 Days of Gifts” app highlighted in the Featured tab.
Like last year’s “12 Days of Christmas” app, it’s available for download for free and from 26 December 2013 to 6 January 2014, it will feature one gift a day – songs, apps, books, films and more. Each day’s gift will last for only 24 hours and thanks to a new “pay now and download later” option, hopefully you’ll still be able get the app even though you’re away from any W-Fi and it’s too huge to download over cellular data.
Check out the 12 Days of Gifts app on iTunes now.
The Phonebloks concept that we first saw and then later picked up by Motorola (Project Ara) is without a doubt the best thing that could happen to a mobile device, and it looks like Chinese phone manufacturer, Xiaomi, is interested in the concept too. Lei Jun, the CEO and founder of Xiaomi, recently posted several photos to his Weibo account, showing off a Magic Cube, a similar modular phone project with the company’s logo intact.
The pictures have since been removed but nothing in the internet stays hidden. As you can see from the image above, while it may have a similar module concept that allows you to customize the “blocks” you like, it doesn’t seem to be as versatile as Phonebloks – the main board and display doesn’t look like they can be upgraded but hey, it’s a lot slimmer than Phonebloks, I must say.
Speaking of Xiaomi, remember when the ex-VP of Android, Hugo Barra, joined the company with hopes to expand the business beyond its home and neighboring country? Well, Singapore may be its first target market, for the Southeast Asia region at least. In a recent press conference in Taiwan, Hugo Barra announced that Xiaomi wants to tap into the Southeast Asia market and could be starting with Singapore.
“I’ve been spending a lot of time with potential partners in other countries, in Southeast Asia primarily. We just came back from a trip to Singapore a few weeks ago and we are trying to get our operations for Southeast Asia set up as quickly as possible.” – Hugo Barra.
For all the loyal Nokia N9 fans out there, Jolla has just breathed new life into your device! In a thread posted on Maemo.org, titled “Porting Saifish onto an N9, there are step by step instructions on how to get the MeeGo successor up and running on your device. I know that there are many fervent N9 fans out there and this, surely is amazing news. Don’t forget, this is not an official solution and there are some bugs so porting should be at your own risk, but have fun and perhaps this is a good reason to get your N9 out from retirement!
Is 64-bit mobile processors only a marketing gimmick or will it be the future of mobile devices? Well, we don’t know for sure but Qualcomm sure has something interesting for the emerging market – the Snapdragon 410 chipset that is capable of support 64-bit and is targeted at low-end devices. The new processor was announced not too long ago and Qualcomm is expected to be sampled to manufacturers in the first half of 2014 and expected to be in commercial devices in the second half.
Manufactured using 28nm process technology, Snapdragon 410 packs quite a lot of features under its hood including LTE connectivity for all major modes and frequency bands around the world, include support for dual- and triple-SIM, Adreno 306 GPU, 1080p video playback, and up to a 13MP camera. Other features include the usual Qualcomm Technologies’ Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, FM and NFC functionality, and support all major navigation constellations.
“We are excited to bring 4G LTE to highly affordable smartphones at a sub $150 price point with the introduction of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor. The Snapdragon 410 chipset will also be the first of many 64-bit capable processors as Qualcomm Technologies helps lead the transition of the mobile ecosystem to 64-bit processing.” — Jeff Lorbeck, senior vice president and chief operating officer, Qualcomm Technologies, China.