We're well past the point where any Android enthusiast would be expecting (or perhaps more accurately hoping) that his or her phone will be getting an update full of Marshmallowy goodness, perhaps delivered by some confectionary fairy. Alas, for owners of the Xperia C4 and Xperia C5 Ultra, it's a bag full of Lollipops instead. Both phones are now being updated by Sony to Android 5.1, a version of the OS which we'll remind you is now almost a year old.
Both phones began receiving their respective software late last night, at least according to the updated pages on Sony's support site.
Remember when a low-cost phone meant something you were kind of embarrassed to pull out in front of your judgmental in-laws? A tiny screen, a chunky plastic body, and a processor with about as much kick as a grasshopper with polio - you'd be lucky if you could get Angry Birds to run on the thing. That's no longer the case - there are plenty of phones available for under $200 that look downright swanky. Case in point: the new VIBE S1 Lite, which Lenovo announced at CES in Las Vegas. It's quite a looker, and according to Lenovo, it will sell for around $199 USD.
The CyanogenMod ROM development team continues to add to its ever-expanding range of officially-supported devices. Today we get a little-known variant from a huge manufacturer and a huge phone from a little-known manufacturer (outside of China, anyway): the dual-SIM version of HTC's 2014 flagship One M8, and Xiaomi's Mi4, respectively.
No doubt about it, the mid-range market is heating up, even in places where unlocked and contract-free phones have typically undersold. This morning Chinese smartphone maker Huawei announced the Ascend P8 Lite, a new offering for the US that has its sights set on competitors like the Moto G. The $250 phone is available right now from Huawei's online store in black or white, and it doesn't look like the company is interested in selling through conventional carriers.
When I was in Istanbul last week, I saw street vendors waving selfie sticks (aka the wand of Narcissus) and offering for a few liras to hold your phone so you can take a selfie from a better angle. If something hits the hawker market, it's safe to say that it's pervasive and in-demand. That's the angle that the newly announced Sony Xperia C4 is coming from. Sony even has a name for all the cool selfles that this smartphone can take — PROselfies. Because regular selfies aren't enough.
The recipe for cooking up a PROselfie involves a 5MP 25mm wide-angle lens with Sony's Exmor R sensor, a soft LED flash, and HDR for balancing the exposure as much as possible and capturing both you and your background clearly.
Cerberus is a popular app that extends Android's tracking and anti-theft abilities with a host of new tools. Developer LSDroid tends to release updates often, and the latest one fixes an important bug and adds a few more features. Notably, Cerberus can now disable your phone's ability to lower the status bar on the lockscreen, where the Quick Settings menu displays by default in Android 5.0 and 5.1. That will keep thieves from easily disconnecting from Wi-Fi or data networks.
The AutoTask function has been extended to work with various Bluetooth triggers. AutoTask can react to certain conditions like an incorrect PIN or a low battery setting by enabling or disabling certain functions, or locking down the phone.
Android 5.1 is still only available on a limited number of Android One phones, but a few interesting tweaks are already on display. One feature that seems tailor-made for Android One has to do with the dual-SIM capabilities. Android 5.1 includes the ability to set a different dialer theme color for each SIM so you'll know which one you're using to place calls.
Sony's smartphones and tablets have had a nearly universal aesthetic over the last few years, focusing on hard angles and monochromatic designs. It's a good look, but the company seems to be shaking things up a bit with the low-end Xperia E4. This budget device translates Sony's industrial design into a softer, curvier plastic body. The white version is two-toned, Nexus-style, with a white housing and black screen bezel. Other touches, like the middle-mounted power button, are more familiar.
The phone uses a five-inch screen and a qHD LCD panel - that's a little q, 960x540, not the other QHD.
If you're a fan of the direction Samsung has taken with the design of the Galaxy Alpha and Galaxy Note 4, you'll be happy to see the same notes show up in even more hardware. The new Galaxy A7 is a bigger brother to the previously-announced Galaxy A5 and A3, complete with its thin, minimal design and metal bezel and frame. The phone's 5.5-inch screen is the biggest in the series, and it's also in the same ballpark (at least in terms of size) as flagships from both Samsung and its competitors.
For the A series it's all about cramming decent specs into a tiny body, and screen size aside, the A7 certainly qualifies.
ROM flashers and root fanatics who own a few more obscure Android devices have new options this morning. Official, straight from the source builds of the ubiquitous Team Win Recovery Project custom recovery are now available for the unlocked, dual-SIM card version of the HTC One M7, the carrier-customized version of the LG G3 for US Cellular, and the LG Optimus Fuel. Wait, the what? Let me check my notes... yup, says right here, "Optimus Fuel."
Not ringing any bells here.
The One M7 and G3 variants should be pretty self-explanatory, but the Optimus Fuel is so uninteresting it flew under Android Police radar when it was released for the Tracfone budget carrier way back in June of this year.