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Dec 16, 2013

Philips Xenium W9588 Android Clamshell Arrives in China

Philips seems to focus its smartphone business on the Chinese market. The company has just announced the immediate availability of the Xenium W9588 in the Mainland.

The Xenium W9588 is not a standard Android phone, as the device features a clamshell form factor and costs no less than 5,000 yuan off contract, which is about $825 or €600. UnwiredView reports that the smartphone comes with a decent 1.2 GHz quad-core MediaTek processor on board, along with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of internal memory.

No word on which version of Android the smartphone runs, but Philips has confirmed that the Xenium W9588 sports an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and a high-capacity 2400 mAh Li-Ion battery. We don't expect Philips to bring the Xenium W9588 in other countries, so unless you're living in China, there's no way that you can purchase this one for the moment.

Philips Xenium W9588
Image credits to MTKSJ

Motorola Updates Touchless Control with Support for More Commands

Motorola has made available for download a new flavor of its Touchless Control application for the owners of Android-based devices, adding support for more commands to it.

Basically, this means that users will be able to enjoy increased control of their handsets even when they haven’t been unlocked. “More Google Now commands now work without having to unlock your phone first. Personal information such as emails, messages, and contacts are still protected by your PIN or password,” the app’s release notes unveil.

Following the update, uses will be able to speak their PIN to unlock the smartphones, and they will also enjoy a new listening tone when they say “OK Google Now.” Motorola’s Touchless Control application also received a series of bug fixes in the new update. It can be found on this page in the Google Play Store, but it will work only with Android 4.4 KitKat smartphones.

Motorola's Touchless Control app
Image credits to Google Play Store

Nokia Reportedly Kills Current Android Plans

An Android-based smartphone coming from Nokia might never arrive on shelves, despite the fact that the vendor has been working on at least one for some time now, new reports on the matter suggest.

Nokia is currently the largest provider of Windows Phone devices out there, but the company has been recently rumored to be designing its own Android devices as well. However, it seems that the Finnish mobile phone maker has finally decided to kill all of its plans for the release of an Android smartphone or of any device running under Google’s platform, for that matter. The info comes from C Technology, which suggests that Nokia already has some Android-based prototype devices, including a 7-inch tablet PC, and that Peter Skillman, head of Nokia’s UX design team, was in charge with their development.

One of these products was recently leaked online under the form of Nokia Normandy, which was planned for launch in 2014 as an entry-level device, but which will never come to be. Apparently, Microsoft has asked the phone maker to leave aside any Android projects, and the company complied, despite the fact that it was conducted by that part of Nokia that won’t be transferred following the pending Microsoft purchase. As part of the agreement with the Redmond-based software giant, Nokia is not allowed to sell phones, smartphones, and tablet PCs under its name for the next two years, as UnwiredView notes. Instead, Nokia is expected to focus its CTO office R&D activities towards new emerging technologies, including wireless charging, low-power electromagnetic energy generation, flexible screens, and the like.

The leading mobile phone maker might have smart glasses on shelves by 2015, rumor has it. The company will work on the development of other wearable technologies as well. However, no official confirmation on this has been provided as of now, and we’ll take the info with a grain of salt. Keep an eye on this space for additional details on Nokia’s plans for the future.

Nokia reportedly kills Android plans
Image credits to Nokia

Android 4.3 Jelly Bean Fixes Xperia Z1’s Bootloader Camera Issue

Today, Sony Mobile started the delivery of the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean operating system upgrade to the owners of Xperia Z1 smartphones out there, and it appears that it has managed to resolve a camera issue with the device.

The problem appeared only on handsets that had their bootloaders unlocked, but the issue has been finally patched in the 14.2.A.0.290 update that is now rolling out to the smartphone. As XperiaBlog notes, it appears that the problem has been resolved even for those who unlocked their bootloaders before the update, and that they can now resume camera functionality.

Info on the patch comes from XDA-Developers forum member DooMLoRD and suggests that those who were looking to unlock their smartphones to install unofficial ROMs on them can now do so safely. However, an official confirmation from Sony hasn’t emerged as of now.

Sony Xperia Z1
Image credits to Sony

MSI R9 290X TwinFrozr 4S Gaming OC Graphics Card Comes With BIOS Switch

You'd think that a gallery of hands-on photos of a video card would be accompanied by some specifications, especially since they were taken at a public press event, but that's not the case for the Radeon R9 290X TwinFrozr 4S Gaming OC.

Instead, Micro-Star International allowed people to take shots of it, and confirmed some of the perks, without saying how well the board ran. So no, we don't know what the base clock frequency of the Radeon R9 290X TwinFrozr 4S Gaming OC is, or the GPU Boost top setting. We also don't know what frequency the 4 GB of GDDR5 VRAM has, but usually, the memory is left alone even if the GPU isn't, so it could be of 1250 MHz (5000 MHz effective). Anyway, the newcomer is definitely factory-overclocked, and can be further sped up via MSI's Afterburner software or manual clock / voltage tweaking. It's why MSI bothered installing a backplate on the thing, despite there being no memory chips on the rear side, or anything particularly heat-prone.

Speaking of which, the TwinFrozr IV cooling module has a black and red color scheme (well, black, red and orange one might say) and, obviously, two fans. Finally, Micro-Star International equipped the board with two BIOS ROM chips, to enable a rollback to safe settings if you go too far overclocking. One BIOS holds the tweaks and everything, and is meant to be used all the time. The other acts as a backup and can force the board to work at reference specifications (1 GHz max GPU speed).

A BIOS toggle switch makes it easy to go from one to the other, as you'll find once sales begin later this December. No price is known though, which is understandable if we don't even have all the performance details yet. MSI R9 290X TwinFrozr 4S Gaming OC Photos gallery below, click for larger images.

MSI R9 290X TwinFrozr 4S Gaming OC
Images credits to Hermitage Akihabara - www.gdm.or.jp/crew/2013/1215/54551

iOS 7 Untethered Jailbreak Being Forced Out with Crowdfunded Reward

The Device Freedom Prize, a crowdsourced effort to reward the first developer who releases an open source iOS 7 jailbreak, is now accepting donations. The initiative is likely to speed up the launch of the first untethered jailbreak for iOS 7.

Judging the binaries will be Chris Maury (prize proposer and accessibility advocate), Cory Doctorow (co-editor of Boing Boing, author, and DMCA activist), iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens, and Biella Coleman (professor and author of Coding Freedom). The organizers say the jailbreak must work for multiple iPhone models (4S, 5, 5c, 5s) and support the latest version of iOS (7.0.4). The jailbreak must be untethered and shouldn’t pose problems to “the average user.” Once a jailbreak meets these criteria, it will be publicly released and available free of charge under one of the OSI-approved licenses. The reason behind the effort is not to get people to jailbreak their iOS devices, but rather to support disabled users who can enhance the functionality of their iPhones and iPads for their needs.

The Device Freedom Prize explains, “We strongly believe that users should have the freedom to control their devices. We wanted an open source jailbreak for iOS 7, giving users the capability to install what they want on their own devices and the ability to audit the code they're using to do so.” “Jailbreaking is also critical to ensuring that the disabled are able to use their mobile devices as easily as possible. So we started a prize for the first people who can do it.” 

Chris Maury offers a couple of examples of how the disabled can benefit from an iOS jailbreak, saying that “those with motor disabilities can change the default gestures to make apps easier to navigate [while] those with vision issues can adjusting the hue of the display to reduce eye-strain using apps like f.lux.” At the time of this writing, donors had pledged around $10,000, which roughly translates into €7,270, or £6,130.

Device Freedom Prize announcement
Image credits to isios7jailbrokenyet.com

Three New Xperia Z1 Models/Variant Emerge in AnTuTu Benchmarks

Sony Mobile has been rumored to launch new versions of its Xperia Z1 smartphone for quite some time now, and it appears that it might be finally nearing an official announcement on the matter.

Three Xperia Z1 models have made an appearance in AnTuTu recently, allegedly confirming Sony’s plans. One of these is said to be the Xperia Z1s (which might arrive on shelves as an Xperia Z1 refresh), spotted in AnTuTu with an impressive 35,485 score next to it. The phone should come on the market with about the same specifications as the current variant, though with a different outer design, as XperiaBlog reports. The second Sony smartphone that emerged in AnTuTu features model number D5503 attached to it, and is said to be the smaller version of the company’s flagship.

The Xperia Z1 mini should be launched with a 4.3-inch display capable of delivering a 720 x 1280 pixel resolution, as well as with a 2300mAh battery inside. However, it managed to score 34,193 in the benchmark, which suggests that previous rumors on it packing a Snapdragon 800 processor with 2GB of RAM attached might pan out. In addition to these two smartphones, a certain Sony Xperia Z1 LTE (C6916) was also spotted in AnTuTu, where it topped 36,257 points, according to PhoneArena. No official info on this handset has been provided as of now, but rumor has it that it could be launched in the United States on the network of T-Mobile.

The device was seen on Sony Canada’s online store (with Bell, Rogers, and Telus network compatibility), but not in the US. However, it did make an appearance over at Bluetooth SIG as Xperia Z1 TMO US, XperiaGuide claims. Rumor has it that Sony is set to unveil more info on its plans for these Xperia Z1 models in early January, during the CES 2014 tradeshow, so keep an eye on this space for more on the matter.

Xperia Z1 mini spotted in AnTuTu
Image credits to XperiaBlog

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