When Google announced the next-generation Nexus 7 back in July, the Android enthusiast community rejoiced at the fact that the LTE model, while working on AT&T and T-Mobile as expected, also worked on Verizon Wireless. This was an enormous step forward in the mobile universe because Verizon has the largest network in the United States and, at the time of release, had more LTE coverage than AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint combined.
I've been lusting after ASUS' ambitious Padfone devices ever since they were announced way back in 2012. But since ASUS is a company that focuses on its home market first, we haven't seen hide nor hair of the docking smartphone-tablet hybrids over here in the United States. According to an Engadget interview with ASUS CEO Jerry Shen, that could change as soon as the second quarter of next year.
The interview is a lengthy one, but the juicy bit is near the end: Shen says that ASUS is partnering with a "big operator" in the United States to launch the next iteration of the Padfone on our shores.
As we saw late last week, ASUS is looking to bring its unique Padfone concept to different form factors and price points. Enter the Padfone Mini, a new entry in the series that retains the dockable phone-tablet hybrid idea but shrinks it down to make it more affordable. The phone itself isn't much smaller at 4.3", but the tablet dock now has a 7-inch screen instead of 10, not to mention a vertical orientation.
Google is already selling zip-up sleeves and some stylish cases for the Nexus 7, but now you can add the new folio case to the list. This is essentially a bumper case with a front flap that can fold back and be used as a stand. It actually looks pretty neat.
The folio case comes in black and bright red, just like the Nexus 5 bumper. Unlike the N5 bumper, this is more of a bumper design with the back of the N7 exposed.
Google recently added a color descriptor to the URL of the black Nexus 7 on the Play Store, and we thought something might be up - turns out we were right! A White (and black) Nexus 7 has just been announced, though you can only order one version of it at the moment - 32GB, Wi-Fi only, meaning a retail price of $269 in the US. Behold:
Not bad, right?
Google only started the Android 4.4.1 update last week, but it looks like a new hotfix is already good to go, as 4.4.2 showed up for Nexus devices in the last hour. So far, we've seen it on the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, and the Nexus 7, but it's probably safe to say the Nexus 10 is not going to be far behind. Update: Nexus 10 confirmed too.
Android fans in India were happy to be included in KitKat's international Android 4.4 promotion and have the chance to get their hands on the 2013 Nexus 7. However, the prizes being sent out are not exactly as advertised. Instead of receiving the 2013 Nexus 7, winners in India are getting the old 2012 model. A multinational corporation not living up to its end of the deal? Surely you jest.
Winners of the Nexus 7 tablets in every other country were given the new Nexus 7, and those prizes mostly shipped out weeks ago.
The Padfone form factor is a unique one, and even if it hasn't set the world on fire, I'm glad to see that ASUS continues to upgrade and modify it. The latest iteration appears to be a midrange phone/tablet combo: reliable tipster Evleaks showed a new PadFone Mini model on his Twitter account, with a 4.3" phone body and what appears to be a 7-inch tablet shell.
PadFone mini 4.3, 2013 pic.twitter.com/HSv1ILdY4G
— @evleaks (@evleaks) December 7, 2013
There's no detailed technical information available, though Evleaks does mention a 2013 release.
Android 4.4.1 continues to wind its way through the air, hitting devices a few at a time. Being a smart young individual, you know you don't need to wait for the OTA to reach your device in the old fashioned way – you can skip the line. The OTA update file for the WiFi version of the new Nexus 7 (that's Flo) has been spotted and we've got it right here for you.
Usually the boys in Cyan take a pretty good while to get nightly custom ROM builds of a new version of Android out, but for KitKat 4.4, they've outdone themselves. Tonight the first builds for CyanogenMod 11 (Android 4.4) were posted to Get.CM for the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, both 2012 and 2013 models of the Nexus 7, and the Nexus 10. You can download them right now.
But wait a minute - these are decidedly not nightly builds, as would usually be the case.