We're barely into November and the holiday deals are already starting to roll in. Kicking things off is T-Mobile, which on Monday announced a handful of new products and services the wireless carrier ho-ho-hopes will lead to a jolly sales rush.
Starting November 3, T-Mobile plans to sell a handful of new Android smartphones for less than $100 each. These include the T-Mobile Comet, LG Optimus T, Motorola Defy with Motoblur, and Motorola Charm (also with Motoblur).
"We're heading into this holiday season with our strongest and most affordable lineup ever of Android-powered smartphones," said Cole Brodman, chief marketing office, T-Mobile USA. "Combine that with low-cost data service plans and even easier ways to give T-Mobile products as gifts, and we believe families will make the move to smartphones -- enriching how they communicate in the new year."
None of these smartphones are going to challenge the iPhone or Samsung's Galaxy S in the high-end space, though the Defy does come with an 800MHz processor and 3.7-inch touchscreen. Otherwise, clockspeeds range from 528MHz (Comet) to 600MHz (Optimus T and Charm).
T-Mobile also plans to sell tethering and Wi-Fi sharing service, a $15 add-on to T-Mobile's existing $30/month unlimited data plan.
Motorola this week announced the introduction of its new FDD LTE USB-lte 7110 modem, a plug-and-play device rated for FDD-LTE Category 3. In theory, Motorola's 4G modem should be capable of up to 100Mb/s downloads and 50Mb/s uploads.
"We are pleased to introduce Motorola's first LTE device to the industry to complement our own LTE networks and provide an LTE device to operators worldwide for the profitable delivery of 4G broadband wireless services to the mass market," said Fred Gabbard, vice president, Product Management, Motorola. "We look forward to the opportunity to team with operators worldwide for an end-to-end LTE solution or to provide interoperability testing of the new USB-lt 7110 device on their own LTE networks."
The device pops into any gadget with a USB port, such as your notebook, netbook, or tablet, and doesn't require any installation. It uses a pair of omni-directional MIMO (multiple-input, multiple-output) antennas and also includes Motorola's self-organizing network (SON) technology.
As expected, AT&T on Sunday started selling Motorola's FlipOut, a smartphone very much reminiscent of Microsoft's failed Kin One device.
Teens and young adults didn't exactly flip out over the Kin One, and we'd be surprised if Motorola's FlipOut fares any better. The funky looking device sports a swivel screen with a hardware keyboard underneath, a 3MP camera, expandable memory (microSD card), Bluetooth 2.1, 3G, and 512MB of memory. Unlike the Kin One, the FlipOut features Android's 2.1 platform, which might make it more appealing. However, the device also requires a data plan, which could end up being a tough sell considering the target audience (teens).
The FlipOut is availble for $80 with a 2-year service agreement, or $380 outright.
You'd normally expect two companies freshly locked in a legal battle to exchange barbs aplenty, but Microsoft and Motorola are only interested in trading friendly overtures at this stage. If you don't know already, MS recently sued Motorola for patent infringement related to the latter's Android phones.
This, however, did not deter Motorola co-Chief Executive Sanjay Jha from telling the Wall Street Journal that he was still open to collaboration between the two companies, even though he regretted the lawsuit.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Wednesday repaid the warmth in kind at a press conference organised by German industry association BitKOM. On being queried about the possibility of the two companies collaborating on phones running Windows Phone 7, Ballmer: “We are always exited to collaborate with anybody who wants to collaborate with us."
Have you heard? Suing a company for using Android is the new black; everyone is doing it. Microsoft has announced today that they are suing Motorola for patent infringement in their Android phones. Specifically, the software giant is claiming that Android, as implemented by Motorola, violates patents for, "including synchronizing email, calendars and contacts, scheduling meetings, and notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power."
Both Apple and Oracle are suing over patent infringement on Android, and Microsoft cited these cases as justification for this action. Motorola is concentrating on Android, and passing on Windows Phone 7, which could be part of the motivation here. Microsoft is always touting the relationship they will have with licensees of WP7. Anyone that uses WinPho7 will be indemnified by Redmond. It's rather like Microsoft is nudging Moto and saying, "See what you get?"
It's unclear if Microsoft is just looking to ruffle some feathers and snag a cross licensing deal, or if this is going to be dragged out in court for years. What's your take?
Despite a million and one rumors, Verizon still doesn't an iPhone. Big whoop, we can do without the janky antenna design anyway. Perhaps more appealing than an iPhone is the limited edition Droid R2-D2 by Motorola, which we're told will be available online through Verizon on September 30.
The specially designed phone will come in a custom box resembling carbonite and include a Star Wars media dock and wired stereo headset. You can also expect a spattering of exclusive pre-loaded content, including R2-D2 notification sounds and ringtones, four live wallpapers, R2-D2 clock widget, "The Best of R2-D2" video with the original Cantina music, and an exclusive binoculars app.
If you already own a modern smartphone, don't fret, you can still get your Star Wars fix.
"To celebrate 30 years since the film hit theaters, customers with Android devices running Android 2.1 or higher will soon be able to get the Empire Strikes Back app from Android Market," Verizon said. "The app, only for Verizon Wireless customers, allows Jedi Masters to browse, preview, and download Star Wars content related to Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back."
The premium content carries a one-time charge of $2.99. As for the R2-D2 phone, that will run $249 after a $100 mail-in-rebate and with a new two-year service agreement.
Motorola would have you believe its new Oasis behind-the-ear Bluetooth headset is the "most comfortable and lightest" around, and while we can't back that claim without having first tested it, Engadget at least seems to agree.
The funky-looking earpiece sports a rotating boom mic and a lightweight battery that tucks behind your ear. Motorola says it's good for up to 6 hours of talk time, or up to 7 days of standby time.
Other features include echo cancellation, advanced voice prompts, and noise cancellation capable of suppressing wind to 12mph.
The Motorola Oasis goes on sale October 3 for $80.
Motorola Droid X owners will be happy to know that Verizon has begun rolling out Android 2.2, otherwise known as Froyo, as an over-the-air (OTA) update. If you haven't already, you should be receiving it within the next few days.
Android 2.2 brings a number of enhancements to the Droid X, some of which include:
Native Adobe Flash Player 10.1
Enhanced browser performance
Automatic app updates
Improved Exchange support
Transition from Wi-Fi and 3G without losing data connection
For those of you feeling impatient, you can force an update immediately. To do so, tap Menu from the main menu, select Settings - About phone - System updates. Mash the download button and follow the on-screen instructions to install.
Motorola late last week kicked out an update for its Milestone XT720 smartphone that adds a couple of cool features. First, it bumps the device's CPU up from 550MHz to 720MHz, so it should seem a little snappier as a result. Secondly, the other-the-air (OTA) update adds DLNA support.
According to Motorola Europe's Facebook page, the update only applies to users living in the U.K. or Germany. For those that do, the software update is available now.
"We have also produced a top 5 tips and tricks video to maximize the camera functionality of the device," Motorola Europe announced.
Motorola is one of a bazillion companies planning to ship a tablet to compete with Apple's iPad, but you'll have to wait until next year to see what the cell phone maker has in store, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
"We want to make sure that any tablet that we deliver is competitive in the marketplace, and I think all of us will make sure that we only deliver that when that occurs," Co-Chief Executive Sanjay Jha said. "Hopefully, that's early next year.
Part of the reason for the delayed release might have to do with Android. Jha indicated that Android 2.2 (Froyo) is an ideal platform for tablets, and Motorola is reluctant to release a tablet until the OS is ready. Reading between the lines, it looks as though Motorola's device will run on Android 3.0, as will several others in early 2011.