Looking to be the successor to the Pantech Breakout, it seems that a little phone called the Pantech Star Q will be headed to Verizon. This sliding, QWERTY-packing device is decidedly a budget phone, expected to ring in at just $99 on contract, but it includes a mixed bag of low-end and surprisingly appealing specs, including Android 4.0.4, a Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz, a front-facing camera (of indeterminate resolution), a 3MP rear shooter, a 4" WVGA display, and of course a sliding QWERTY keyboard. Besides all that, the phone will feature 4G LTE connectivity, a definite bonus for those in the budget/mid-range market.
Okay, so Kyocera's not really known for producing the best smartphones. And Boost Mobile is perhaps best known for mildly entertaining ads and cheap plans, compared to the big dogs. If you're not interested in having the latest and greatest, if your primary concern for network carrier is price, and if you spend a lot of time making phone calls under water, then I've got some great news for you: the Kyocera
Hail Hydro is coming to Boost Mobile for $129 (no contract) on August 3rd.
The phone, which we covered back at CTIA, boasts some pretty meager specs. A single-core Snapdragon processor, 512MB of RAM and a 3.5" 480x320 IPS display.
Qualcomm, the company behind the S4 processor that so many US devices are receiving as consolation prizes in exchange for LTE, has announced that it will be releasing its own SDK for Snapdragon processors. The SDK will initially support the S4, and continue to support future processors as they're released, supporting multiple tiers of hardware.
The company touts the SDK as enabling developers to more tightly integrate their apps with Qualcomm hardware, as well as enabling access to more powerful hardware features, like so:
- facial processing, such as blink and smile detection, which makes it easier to take better pictures of people in groups;
- burst capture, which leverages zero shutter lag to photograph a stream of images at once to select the best shot;
- surround sound recording for better audio capture;
- hardware echo cancellation for better real-time audio experiences;
- sensor gestures (tap-left/tap-right, push/pull, face-up/face-down, tilt) that enable developers and device makers to push the envelope on new, differentiated user interfaces;
- low power always on geofencing capabilities; and
- indoor location that enables apps to continue providing accurate location information even when the user is indoors.
Back at the announcement of the Galaxy S III, many people were quick to note that Samsung disclaimed the availability of the Exynos quad-core processor powering the beast as contingent on certain issues of geography. And then we learned that, for reals, the US versions of the Galaxy S III would be shipping with Snapdragon S4 dual-cores onboard - the MSM8960 chipset, to be precise.
And that included T-Mobile's version, which many speculated (myself included) might be the only Exynos-packing Galaxy S III to make its way to the US of A. We thought this might be a possibility because T-Mobile doesn't have an LTE network, and won't have one that's really in place in any practical sense for another year plus.
While Samsung pushes its newest flagship, the Galaxy S III, out all over the world, a few markets have been rumored to get a version with modified guts. Rumors previously circulated that the Japanese variant of the device would include twice the RAM of its global counterpart, and now we're hearing straight from Samsung that the Canadian variant will, in fact, come with 2GB of RAM. Additional internal changes include a 1.5GHz S4 processor (sorry, no quad-core Exynos in the Great White North), and LTE.
While the rumors of a Japanese variant including 2GB of RAM were not yet officially confirmed, this certainly lends a huge amount of credence to the story.
Adding a tempting new device to the current pool of affordable 7" tablets, ZTE and Sprint introduced the 3G-connected Optik in February, bringing to market a great 7" display, Android 3.2 Honeycomb, and an ample 1.2GHz dual-core snapdragon processor, all for $99 on a new contract. In a nutshell, the Optik is a decent 7" tablet for those on a budget. While it isn't the best tablet around, it's powerful enough for most tasks, feels great in the hand, and isn't too bad to look at. Here's a more complete look at what the Optik has under the hood:
- Android 3.2 Honeycomb
- 7" PLS display at 1280x800 (216dpi)
- Dual-Core 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor
- 1GB RAM
- 16GB Built-in storage with microSD slot
- 5MP camera and 2MP front-shooter
- 800/1900MHz 3G connectivity
- 4000mAh battery
Before we get started with the full-on review, we'll look at just a few of the Optik's positive and negative points.
The more capable and powerful S4 "Pro" variant of the original dual-core MSM8960 chipset (which can be found in the HTC One X, for example) will feature an Adreno 320 GPU as opposed to Adreno 225 in the regular S4 MSM8960. Before this announcement, Adreno 320 was scheduled to accompany only the quad-core Krait CPUs, like the APQ8064 and the MSM8974 which won't be coming out until late 2012/early 2013.
Qualcomm says the new GPU could be up to four times as powerful as Adreno 225, with support for higher resolution displays, next-gen 3D graphics capabilities, and a new "computational camera" that should theoretically enable the use of light-field technology in mobile devices (you may recognize the term "light-field" from the revolutionary Lytro camera that came out last year).
Shortly after the announcement from HTC CEO Peter Chou at Mobile World Congress that AT&T would be a launch partner for the new One X, the US's number two carrier let fly a press release confirming the statement. What's there to take from it? Not much.
The primary differentiating features of AT&T's version will be a dual-core Snapdragon S4 (as opposed to quad-core Tegra 3) processor, as well as LTE connectivity. If you're wondering why AT&T is getting stuck with half the cores of the international GSM version of the device, you can look to LTE as the culprit. Basically, NVIDIA's Tegra 3 processor doesn't have any currently available radio configurations that will support LTE (though it will in the future), while Qualcomm and Texas Instruments have been the go-to choices for devices utilizing the new network technology.
Just two days ago, we saw how blazingly fast Qualcomm's new Krait-based Snapdragon S4 CPU is in dual-core MSM8960 guise. Today, they've announced that the S4 line of CPUs - including the MSM8960 and its quad-core brother APQ8064 (seriously, who came up with this naming system?) - will pack the next-gen 802.11ac Wi-Fi spec.
Support for the new spec comes courtesy of Qualcomm's Atheros WCN3680 chip, which packs a 1x1 802.11ac chip with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and FM on-board. Luckily for consumers and manufacturers, Qualcomm designed the chip to be pin-compatible with the widely-used WCN3660, the company's 802.11n chip, meaning manufacturers can switch to the 3680 chip without redesigning other parts of the phone.
The de facto hardware experts over at AnandTech have spent some time with the newest CPU from Qualcomm: the MSM8960, sporting the new 28nm Krait architecture in dual-core, 1.5GHz form. They've put it through their suite of benchmarks including Linpack, SunSpider, BrowserMark, Vellamo, and Basemark OS. In a nutshell: the MSM8960 absolutely destroys every other phone/CPU on the market right now in every. single. benchmark.
An example of what to expect.
The Krait architecture supports 1, 2, and 4 CPUs, and the smaller transistor size (28nm) means that it should outperform most (if not all) comparative 40nm CPUs and offer better battery life.