Global LTE smartphone shipments are on track to triple this year, allowing the technology to take off on a grander scale and driving down device prices, according to market research company Strategy Analytics.
LG agrees: “The adoption of LTE is expected to explode in 2013,” and with the two new devices the company wants to show that 4G technology “isn’t just for heavy content users and techies anymore. It’s for everyone,” according to a statement.
LG didn’t say what the phones will cost, but the specifications provided by the vendor hint at a lower price tag. The Optimus F5 has a 4.3-inch screen, a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and a 2,150 mAh battery. The Optimus F7 has a bigger 4.7-inch HD screen, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, and a 2,540 mAh battery. Both phones will use Android Jelly Bean.
The worldwide rollout of the Optimus F5 will start during the second quarter in Europe, followed by the Optimus F7 in selected markets. Details on timing and pricing will be announced at a later date, according to LG. The phones will be displayed at Mobile World Congress, which starts Monday.
The Optimus F family follows in the footsteps of the Galaxy Express, which was launched by Samsung Electronics in January. It is powered by a dual-core 1.2GHz processor and has a 4.5-inch screen.
“It will happen near the end of 2013, Sam Yu, general manager of Polytron said Wednesday, as he showed off a prototype device. “Trust me.”
The prototype phone was, however, not functional. Since not all the components used in the phone can be concealed, the company’s glass technology may at least allow for a portion of the smartphone to remain see-through, with the rest covered behind casing, according to Polytron staff.
Unlike today’s smartphones, which are often encased in plastic or metal and filled with opaque circuitry, Polytron is proposing handset makers build their products with its specially designed glass that can contain near invisible electrical wiring using patented technology. The result can create a transparent effect, making the phone see-through, the company said. (Videos can be found here and here).
Yu, general manager for Polytron, has been showing off a prototype device, built from a light piece of glass. Certain components such as the battery, camera, and memory card are still visible, but the remainder of the phone, including the screen, is transparent, he said.
“I like things that are novel and look beautiful,” he said, adding that the patent for the technology was developed four years ago. “Current mobile phones are heavier, but with this glass you can make it much lighter.”
Polytron is a subsidiary of U.S.-based Polytronix and focuses on glass technology. One of the company’s main products is its “Polyvision Privacy Glass”, which can flip between transparency and a near-opaque cloudy white with a flick of a switch.
The specification will be part of the Energy Star version 6.1, according to documents posted on the U.S. Energy Star website. But a date for ratings on tablets has not yet been established, said Robert Meyers, product manager at Energy Star computers. Energy Star is a joint effort between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.
The Energy Star specification helps shoppers identify the most power-efficient products when making purchases. The Energy Star program already covers laptops, desktops, monitors, light bulbs, servers, household appliances and other products that are identified with a label. The use of Energy Star-labeled products helped cut close to US$18 billion from U.S. utility bills in 2010, according to the organization.
The EPA and DOE originally floated the idea of including tablets as part of Energy Star version 6.0 for products like laptops, desktops, displays, thin clients and networking equipment, which goes into effect on June 1. Some IT vendors that participate in the Energy Star program argued against the immediate inclusion of tablets, saying that those devices are more like smartphones than PCs and have different assembly and equipment. They argued that tablets and laptops differ on components such as batteries and networking equipment, and thus cannot be grouped together with PCs. The EPA and those stakeholders are now trying to gather a consensus on the definition of tablets and how to rate the devices.
“Defining and differentiating tablets will be part of the process, but at this point we don’t have anything concrete,” Meyers said.
The Energy Star standard for tablets would lead to the advantage of a decrease in energy use over the life of a device, said Casey Harrell, IT analyst at Greenpeace International.
Toyota’s wireless system will be compatible with the Qi standard and it will be introduced in the new Avalon sedan next year. Of course, it will be optional and it will be part of Toyota’s $1,950 “technology package” which includes other geeky goodies as well.
According to the BBC, Chrysler is also planning to offer a similar system in the Dodge Dart. Other car-makers will no doubt offer wireless charging functionality sooner rather than later.
The number of Qi compatible phones is limited for the time being. Just 34 phones support it, including the Lumia 920, Nexus 4 and HTC Windows Phone 8X. However, some very popular devices like Apple’s iPhone and Sammy’s Galaxy S series phones don’t support wireless charging just yet.
The new rack-mounted server is part of NEC’s main “Express5800″ line. The company said the internal batteries will cut power use, outlast traditional UPS systems and allow for more compact data centers.
The rack-mountable server can hold up to two battery packs, although it ships with only one. When both are used, they can deliver 100 watts for 15 minutes and 30 seconds, or six minutes and 40 seconds with a single battery. The dual setup can provide power for 3 minutes and 40 seconds when the server is maxed out at 311 watts.
The internal nickel-metal hydride batteries used in the setup can last about five years before needing replacement, longer than most UPS systems, NEC said. As everything is stored internally, the new servers can also save space, and by eliminating the need for a UPS, the server reduces the number of times power has to be converted between alternating and direct current, which cuts electricity use.
The server went on sale in Japan on Wednesday, costing from $3,760, and shipments will begin Dec. 26. NEC said it is considering selling the server internationally, but has yet to decide where or when.
The use of internal batteries as backup in servers has slowly grown in recent years. Google surprised many in the industry when in 2009 it revealed its home-grown servers, complete with their own onboard batteries for power outages.
NEC’s new servers come in several configurations, with Intel Xeon processors, up to 384GB of memory, and four 2.5-inch drives that can hold up to 4TB of SATA storage.
Nokia Siemens Networks and Ballard Power Systems want methanol-powered fuel cells to sustain mobile networks in the event of an electricity outage and are working with NTT DoCoMo to test the technology.
The need for base stations to be able to run without electricity was once again highlighted after superstorm Sandy hit the U.S. east coast. Methanol-powered fuel cells could provide an alternative to today’s batteries and diesel-powered backup generators, Nokia Siemens Networks and Ballard said Monday.
The fuel cells are friendlier to the environment, quieter and more economical than diesel, take up less space and weigh less than a comparable battery back-up, the companies said.
The base station and fuel cell combination developed by Nokia Siemens and Ballard provides approximately 40 hours of operation on a single tank holding 225 liters, or about 5.6 liters of methanol per hour.
That compares to a fuel consumption of about three liters per hour for a diesel generator, according to Nokia Siemens. But that comparison doesn’t tell the whole story; diesel generators require much more maintenance and diesel is three times more expensive than methanol, Nokia Siemens said.
The availability of the fuel of choice was a key consideration. In Japan, the partners made sure suppliers were able to provide enough fuel and methanol was the best choice, according to Nokia Siemens.
The driving force between the fuel cell project is Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo, which has evaluated the combined base station and fuel cell at a research and development test site in Japan’s Yokosuka Research Park. The system has also been approved by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), according to Nokia Siemens.
Nokia Siemens hopes DoCoMo’s test will result in a commercial contract, and then it could develop similar solutions for other operators as well.
Nokia is testing a new solar charging accessory in Nigeria and Kenya, as the phone giant hopes to make it easier for people without regular access to electricity to use their phones, it said in a blog post last week.
The Portable Solar Charger DC-40 can turn one minute of charging into two minutes of talk time, according to Nokia.
The charging mat uses a thin-film photovoltaic panel, weighs 93 grams and has a 3 meter long cable to connect to the phone via Nokia’s standard 2 millimeter plug.
This isn’t the first time Nokia has tested the potential of solar charging. In January this year the company reported on a research project that placed a solar charger on the back of a phone.
Problems with that included the limited size of a phone’s back cover, which restricted the size of the panel, and the extent to which the battery could be charged, Nokia said at the time. Few people can leave their phone lying in the sun all day while it charges.
Nokia’s first attempt at a solar-powered phone came in 1997, when it launched the Nokia 1610 Plus with an optional lithium-ion-and-solar-panel battery. More recently, vendors such as Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics have introduced smartphones with a solar panel on the back cover. The Samsung S7550 Blue Earth and LG GD510 Pop were both announced in 2009.
By using an external charger this time around, Nokia can give the charger a much larger surface to capture sunlight.
The pilot will study the product’s business potential, usage patterns and environmental and social impacts, according to Nokia.
Sales of the DC-40 is slated to begin selling this week.
The rechargeable battery boasts similar electrical characteristics to the lithium ion batteries that power almost every mobile gadget, but it can be applied in layers to almost any surface with a conventional airbrush, said Neelam Singh, a Rice University graduate student who led a team working on the technology for more than a year.
Current lithium ion batteries are almost all variations on the same basic form: an inflexible block with electrodes at one end. Because they cannot easily be shaped, they sometimes restrict designers, particularly when it comes to small gadgets with curved surfaces, but the Rice prototypes could change that.
“Today, we only have a few form factors of batteries, but this battery can be fabricated to fill the space available,” said Singh.
The battery is sprayed on in five layers: two current collectors sandwich a cathode, a polymer separator and an anode.
“It was difficult optimizing the components in the form of a paint,” said Singh. Initial versions were sensitive to moisture and would peel off, but the addition of a polymer and a heat-sealing step solved this problem.
The result is a battery that can be sprayed on to plastics, metal and ceramics.
In an experiment, Singh’s team airbrushed a battery on to nine ceramic bathroom tiles. Each tile represented one battery cell and they were charged with a small solar cell. Connected in parallel, the battery was able to power for six hours a set of LEDs (light-emitting diodes) that spelled out the word “RICE.”
With patents filed on the process, the team is now looking to further refine the process.
They are also hoping to attract interest from electronics companies, which Singh estimates could put it into production relatively easily.
A Taiwanese technology firm is demonstrating two-way touch charging this week at the Computex exhibition, using a new chip that allows two individuals to share one phone’s battery by holding their devices together.
In a demonstration on the show floor, two iPhones with external battery packs containing the chips were pressed together back-to-back. One phone was used to charge the other, then after the settings on the external batteries were switched, power flowed in the opposite direction.
Winstream, a Taiwanese manufacturer of power supplies and charging technology, says it will begin mass producing the chip by September. It is roughly the size of a contact lens, so phone and tablet manufacturers should be able to easily fit it into their devices, said Sales Director Kevin Chi. It will cost about $4 per unit, double the price of a one-way touch charging chip. The external battery packs are for demonstration only.
Chi said his company is in talks with many big-name manufacturers that have shown interest.
“Almost everyone you can think of,” said Sales Director Kevin Chi. “But not so many in the U.S.”
He said that larger batteries tend be more efficient with wireless charging, so a tablet or laptop would be better suited to charging a mobile phone than the other way around, although either is possible. He said charging with the technology occurs at about the same rate as when a device is physically plugged in.
Sprint announced high-definition voice technology for the new HTC Evo 4G LTE smartphone and future phones, although HD Voice will only be operational once Sprint upgrades its 3G network, which is expected to begin in late 2012 in several cities.
HD Voice requires that both parties on a call use HD voice-capable smartphones on an HD voice-capable network, Sprint said in a footnote in a press release issued at the Evo 4G LTE unveiling Wednesday in New York.
Those conditions mean it could be years — perhaps even a decade — before significant numbers of users gain access to the improved voice quality, analysts said Thursday.
The feature requires that Sprint add HD voice capabilities to many other phones. To work well, other carriers in the U.S. would need to create network technology that interoperates with Sprint’s as well as offer their own HD voice-enabled phones.
Though most cell phone users would like improved voice quality, it isn’t their highest priority, said Kevin Burden, an analyst at ABI Research.
As a result, it’s not clear that HD Voice will immediately be an important selling point for Sprint compared to other important features offered in the HTC Evo 4G LTE and other emerging smartphones, such as large, high-resolution screens, dual-core processors and long-lasting batteries.
“I don’t necessarily believe users will buy a phone because of HD Voice,” Burden said.
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said that Sprint is the first U.S. carrier to announce plans for a nationwide HD Voice network. The HD network will be part of Sprint’s Network Vision program, which also includes the 4G LTE upgrades. The new services will be launched mid-year in Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio.
Intel used a saucy word to describe the 2013 Haswell based notebook platform. It tells us that Shark Bay should reinvigorate the notebook experience. Revive would seem to be the more appropriate word in this case.
Shark Bay promises more sensors, faster resume times, Intel smart connect as well as connected stand by. All this will be present on at least some Shark Bay powered notebooks.
Intel also wants to bring more improved connected capabilities to 2013 notebooks. It promises NFC support, Thunderbolt paired up with now standard Intel Wireless display.
With more fuzz about sensors, NFC, all-day battery and thin and light approach Intel’s notebook of the future is basically a tablet with a keyboard that probably costs a bit more money and offers traditional PC functionality.
The future is looking good, but we still have to see Ivy Bridge in action, and we have to wait some 14 months from today before we actually see Shark Bay 2013 and Haswell.
The ruling ends Samsung’s bid to overturn the ban in the country. According to Reuters, Samsung lost its appeal after the court ruled in favour of Apple.
Samsung has redesigned the tablet specifically for the German market, and renamed it the Galaxy Tab 10.1 N. Apple challenged the reworked version, but last month a German court rejected its claims in a preliminary judgment. A final ruling will be made on 9 February.
Samsung has countersued Apple in Germany, and the court in Mannheim has ruled against Samsung relating to two of the patents. Last week, we reported that Samsung lost a second court case against Apple’s Iphone in Germany.
The tit for tat patents war between the two companies continues. However, a Samsung official told the Korean Times that a cross-licensing agreement could be the next step, saying, “It’s too early to talk about a cross-licensing agreement, but we have to admit that is a scenario that has become likelier than before.”
The latest decision addresses one part of Samsung’s arguments that Apple’s 3G wireless technology infringes its patents.
The court cases come after Apple sued Samsung last year, saying Samsung’s products “slavishly” copied the Ipad and Iphone. Samsung then countersued Apple and legal battles between the two companies spread across the globe.
Earlier this month, Samsung failed to win a ban on the Iphone 4S in Italy.
Meanwhile, in December Apple lost in an early court decision over the future of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany after Samsung changed the design of the device.
Also in January, Apple filed two more lawsuits in Germany, one that alleges design patent infringements in ten of Samsung’s smartphones and another that levels similar charges for five of its tablets. Apple has asked for bans on sales of Samsung’s devices.
The court is due to decide on the third patent case on 2 March.
Samsung told us, “Samsung is disappointed with today’s decision by the Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court to uphold the sales ban for the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany. It should be noted that today’s ruling is of little factual relevance due to the new model Galaxy Tab 10.1 N, and that the decision therefore is of no indicative value with respect to other legal proceedings involving the Galaxy Tab 10.1 N.
“Samsung will continue to take all appropriate measures, including legal action, to ensure continued consumer access to our innovative products.”
Rumours out of Taiwan earlier this week indicated that ultrabooks will have $100 shaved off their price, in order to make them somewhat more attractive to cash strapped consumers.
It’s no secret that Intel has set aside a generous $300 million market development fond to make ultrabooks more popular. However, these funds are not subsidies as such and they will not translate into direct price cuts. Intel won’t offer additional subsidies to reduce end user prices.
According to high ranking sources at Intel, that would like to remain unnamed, the company won’t offer anything like the $100 subsidy reported earlier, not in December and not in early months of 2012. Ultrabooks will sell at more or less the same prices for the time being. However, it is worth pointing out that Intel’s long-term goal, as set by CEO Paul Otellini, is to hit a $699 entry level price sometime next year. The bad news is that we won’t see any cuts as soon as we hoped for.
After Ivy Bridge ultrabooks, there might be a chance to see some machines cheaper, especially when vendors start to clear their inventories of current generation Sandy Bridge products. However, this is more likely to happen in the second half of 2012, April at the earlies, but the June – Computex timeframe sounds more realistic. We expect to see dozens of new ultrabooks at CES, but as things stand now, they will probably not be any cheaper than existing models. Ivy Bridge officially launces only in April 2012, so you can expect proper second generation ultrabooks only in the second half of the year.
If you were enchanted by the sheer beauty and thinness of ultrabooks, and you have them on your Xmass shopping list, you won’t save an extra $100 by waiting a couple of weeks. Intel says it just won’t happen. On the upside, the latter half of 2012 should be a great time for ultrabooks and we expect to see a flood of new designs, based on Ivy Bridge chips, in even sleeker designs and with touchscreens, all running Windows 8, of course.
The ban had previously been active throughout the EU except the Netherlands but the court decided later not to enforce it outside Germany.
On Monday, Samsung pulled its just launched 7.7in Galaxy Tab tablet out of the IFA trade show.
Although Samsung is fighting the claims of alleged copying, Apple says that it “slavishly” ripped off its designs. Samsung argued that in fact they both used a design first seen in Stanley Kubrick’s film production of Arthur C. Clarke’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. However, this proved to be more of a diversion as it wasn’t considered legally convincing by the court.
Apple is taking also taking its case against Samsung to the Japanese courts as it continues to try to ban Samsung’s Galaxy range of devices all around the world.
Samsung said it would appeal the German injunction. It said in a statement, “We are disappointed with this ruling and believe it severely limits consumer choice in Germany.
“We also believe that by imposing an injunction based on this very generic design right, this ruling restricts design innovation and progress in the industry.”
“Samsung will actively and immediately appeal this ruling in order to ensure that consumer choice in Germany is restored. It should be noted that today’s decision is inconsistent with the Dutch court’s ruling on August 24, which found the designs of Samsung’s GALAXY range of products are distinctive and do not violate the cited design right.”
“To defend our intellectual property rights and protect our freedom to innovate, Samsung will take all available legal options including continuing to aggressively pursue Apple Inc. for its ongoing violation of Samsung’s wireless technology patents around the world.”
Lenovo has claimed that rival Samsung managed to flog just 20,000 of its Galaxy Tab devices.
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab was the first major competitor to Apple’s Ipad, with the firm announcing that it had shipped one million tablets in 2010. However there has been some back peddling on that figure, which at first was widely reported as Samsung having sold a million Galaxy Tab devices.
After Samsung clarified that the figure was actually the number of tablets it had put into the channel, then people started to guess at just how many of those devices actually were sold. Now Lenovo’s director of consumer products and pricing for Western Europe, Andrew Barrow has told the Guardian that Samsung sold only 20,000 Galaxy Tabs in 2010.
Barrow went on to claim that any tablet maker trying to undercut Apple’s Ipad would end up losing cash, saying, “any [manufacturer] would be giving money away”. That certainly seems to have been the case for HP, with most people estimating that it made a loss of between $100m and $200m on its Touchpad fire sale.
Samsung is always very cagey about sales figures. The INQUIRER spent a week trying to get an accurate sales figure from the firm for its Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone and Barrow makes a vital distinction between those units shipped in the channel and devices that have been purchased.
While Samsung is unlikely to have sold every single Galaxy Tab it shipped, the 20,000 figure does seem a bit on the low side. Whatever the final figure is, it will be interesting to see if companies start to announce actual sales figures rather than meaningless shipment claims.