Fair warning: If you're a hypochondriac, germaphobe, or just hate gross things, stop reading right now and go wash your hands, your cell phone, your keyboard, and your light switches. Don't ask why, just do it, and when you're finished, go ahead and scrub your Wii Fit Balance Board, computer printer, and remote controls. Whatever you do, don't take a peek at KeepingItKleen.com's latest Tech Germs infographics, some of those stats you won't be able to flush from your mind.
Samsung is reportedly prepping memory cards based on the Universal Flash Storage (UFS) standard for launch in the first half of 2011. According to Digitimes, the Korean electronics major is working closely with fellow members of the JEDEC Solid State Technology Association, including Nokia and Texas Instruments, on standardization efforts for the next-generation spec expected to supplant current flash memory card formats. The JEDEC Solid State Technology Association is scheduled to publish the UFS specification before the end of this year. The first crop of UFS cards will boast data transfer rates of up to 300Mbps.
They said they were going to do it, and MetroPCS has beaten the big boys to the punch and launched the first 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) cellular network in the US. Customers will be able to get the Samsung Craft, the first LTE handset for $300 after rebate. MetroPCS is a prepaid carrier, so no subsidies are available, but the monthly cost is only $55 per month for unlimited calls, texts, and data.
The LTE service is currently only available in Las Vegas, but MetroPCS expects to expand into 18 markets in 2011. Users outside LTE areas will step down to 2G, as MetroPCS doesn't have a 3G network. While they may be first, MetroPCS will probably be eclipsed by Verizon when the larger carrier's LTE network goes live late this year.
This is a nice bonus for current users of MetroPCS, but it isn't likely to attract new users in droves. Even if the service we more widely available, the Samsung Craft is just a glorified feature phone with a keyboard and touchscreen. It may be nice PR for the carrier, but we'll wait for a better option.
According to some new numbers for iSupply, the total number of wireless subscriptions in the world will reach 5 billion this month. That's the equivalent of nearly three-quarters of the world's population. Of course, some people will have multiple lines, perhaps business and personal, but the number is still huge. “If the importance of an event can be measured by the number of people it affects, then the proliferation of wireless communications stands out as one of the most significant phenomena in the history of technology,” said Dr. Jagdish Rebello of iSupply.
Not all regions are equally saturated with mobile phones. Africa and the Middle East have the lowest penetration with only about 50%. On the high end is Western Europe where cell subscriptions out number people; about 157% penetration. Many Europeans have multiple low-cost subscriptions to enable calling when traveling to other countries.
It's often said that phones are the computing platforms of the future. These new numbers really drive the point home. People that could never hope to afford a computer can manage a cell subscription. iSupply feels this trend will continue to encourage the technology supply chain to shift away from traditional computer hardware, and toward mobile devices.
It's really a disaster waiting to happen. We enter into 2-year contracts with mobile providers, then tote around a fragile piece of glass and plastic that, if dropped, will cost upwards of $500 to replace. Mobile phone insurance has been around for a while to alleviate some of this concern, but one of the most popular phones out there, the iPhone, has not been covered under AT&T's insurance offerings. Well, soon there will be an option.
The upcoming MobileProtect service will cost a whopping $13.99 per month, but it's basically just the same Asurion-serviced protection you get for any other smartphone. On other smartphones, these plans usually cost $7-10 per month. The deductible you then have to pay for a replacement phone are pretty high. They will range from $99 for the low end model (currently the 8GB 3G model) up to $199 for the high end model (currently 32GB 3GS).
As is the case with mobile insurance, it has to be purchased within 30 days of getting the phone. A new twist here is that you will buy the insurance plan through the iPhone App Store, and the charges will go through Apple. The price is high, but it is an option for those among us with both a love of gadgets, and butterfingers.
Our lives are increasingly mobile and our cell phones are not only a way to contact anyone, anytime, anywhere but also our calendars, cameras, photo albums, inboxes, maps, weather reports, dictionaries, and entertainment. Payphones are disappearing as business users edit documents on their Blackberries, kids text each other furiously in class instead of passing notes and celebrities partner with handset manufacturers. We take our cell phones for granted now but it wasn't that long ago that a cell phone was much like a snow leopard - rare, expensive and exotic. So what happened? What were the technologies that really changed the playing field for mobile? How have our systems of communication changed over the past three decades?
Let us take you on a tour of the most noteworthy mobile moments - from telecomm inventions to handset debuts to appearances in popular culture, we've found the top 20 Moments in Mobile Phone History. From must-have handsets to advancements that moved mobile forward, we're hightlighting watershed occassions, developments and adaptations that made mobile phones an indispensible addition to our lives.
Touchscreens are a kludge. For the most part they consist of a touchscreen laid over a display. It works, but it adds an extra layer of complexity and weight to any device that uses one. Samsung says it will begin mass producing a 3.3-inch AMOLED WVGA panel for mobile devices this March, which effectively merges the touchscreen into a single device.
An AMOLED is an incredibly thin LED screen, with brightness nearing that of LEDs, and which has no need for backlighting. What Samsung has done is place the touch sensor onto the display, making them one in the same. (The touch sensor is 0.001 mm thick.) This single-piece device is not only less complex, it’s lighter and thinner.
According to Samsung, “Through mass production, we want to make this touch embedded AMOLED panel number one in the LCD and AMOLED market. Also, we want to mass produce touch screens and construct a system so that we can expand the display market.
Nokia has thrown another punch in its patent infringement fight with Apple, filing a new complaint against the maker of the iPhone with the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC). In this complaint Nokia alleges Apple’s iPhones, iPods, and computers infringe on seven Nokia patents. The filing with the USITC, an independent federal agency, expands Nokia’s claims against Apple to include unfair trade practices.
Last October Nokia filed its first complaint against Apple, in a federal court in Delaware, alleging the iPhone infringed on ten of Nokia’s patents. Apple countered Nokia’s filing with one of its own, claiming Nokia was violating 13 of Apple’s iPhone patents.
In a statement, Nokia said, “While our litigation in Delaware is about Apple's attempt to free-ride on the back of Nokia investment in wireless standards, the [US]ITC case filed today is about Apple's practice of building its business on Nokia's proprietary innovation.”
Nokia’s efforts to protect it’s $57.5 billion research and development investments, and 11,000 patents, comes at a time when Apple has surpassed Nokia in quarterly mobile phone profits, garnering $1.6 billion last quarter compared to $1.1 billion for Nokia.
After months of silence, Emblaze has decided to show off their upcoming First Else phone. The First Else is running on a custom operating system powered by the Access Linux Platform 3.0. The user interface is, in a word, stunning. It uses a largely blue on black palette, but throws in lots of attractive animations and effects. The main UI was referred to as "the death of main menu". The user is presented with an arch listing various options along its length. By sliding a thumb along it, any menu can be opened without using another finger or changing your grip.
The First Else also uses a “fish eye” system to highlight and slightly magnify selections on the phone. The fish eye is basically a floating context menu in the center of the display. The whole affair just feels very sci-fi.
The hardware is also impressive. The handset will rock the TI OMAP 3430 chip, the same as is in the iPhone 3GS, Palm Pre, and Motorola Droid. The capacitive LCD screen is 3.5 inches with a resolution of 854x480, again the same as the Droid. The notification area resides on a small OLED strip above the main display, which is a nice touch. Finally, a 1450mAh battery keeps the whole affair running at least one hour longer than an iPhone. No one knows if the First Else will come to an American Carrier, but the phone will be HSDPA/EDGE only. Cross your fingers AT&T and T-Mobile fans.
The problem facing mobile phone carriers is pretty simple: smartphones are giving existing bandwidth a beating, especially by iPhone users; broadband pricing has been dropping as the market becomes more competitive, which encourages more use (especially with flat-rate plans); and 2G users are slowly, but surely, migrating into the 3G system. The outcome, according to a report by Unwired Insight, titled Will 3G Networks Cope?, there’ll be a 20-fold increase in demand over the next five years.
The solution Unwired Insight argues for is an accelerated implementation of the Long Term Evolution (LTE), or 4G network. LTE networks, which take advantage of scalable carrier bandwidths, have peak downlinks of 100 Mbps; uplinks of 50 Mbps, compared to 3G’s 14 Mbps downlink and 5.8 Mbps uplink maximums. (An upgraded version of 3G will boost downlinks to 42 Mbps, but that would only paper over a fairly severe gap.) Greater throughput will help to ease the load of all those smartphone users that have taken to browsing the web and viewing streaming media. Besides high throughput, LTE offers low latency, plug and play, and is compatible with existing GSM and CDMA architectures.