Tag Archives: Mobile World Congress

HTC Magic Android Google phone hands-on

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Rubbish name, but Vodafone, HTC and Google have got most of it right. The just-announced G2 (though the manufacturer is adamant that we call it the Vodafone Magic) is a sweet piece of smartphone. We´ve just come back from fondling its 3.2in HVGA capacative touchscreen (with genius text input; there´s no keyboard) and we are officially impressed. The digital compass and G-sensor enabled Street View roaming has to be seen to be believed, though we´re a bit put out that we´re back in proprietary headphone territory (no 3.5mm jack socket). Apart from that, it´s running the latest version of Android, which is smoother and smarter than the version running on the G1. Look and feel are amazing, and it will be available immediately for pre-order in black or white (depending on territory, around €99 to €199 with data plan) in Europe. Italy´s going non-exclusive with it, so we should see grey market handsets soon. More details in the next issue of Stuff, out on March 1.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention the camera – bog standard 3.2MP job with no flash; our pics didn´t look great – and the screen, which looks great streaming video from YouTube. Connectivity: HSDPA and Wi-Fi. Don´t say we never tell you anything.

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Day of the Android at MWC?

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There was a dearth of Android news at MWC yesterday, but things are hotting up. First, we´ve just come from the Nvidia stand, where they´re showcasing prototypes (like the one pictured) running Tegra, an Android platform with 1080p support, multiple video capabilities and the ability to dual-boot with WinMo. No market devices yet, but this is heading for MIDs and netbooks over the coming year and Nvidia claims boosted battery life to the tune of two or three days. When pushed about the manufacturers expected to launch with the hardware, we were told, ´It´s pretty much who you´d expect.´ Secondly, we´re off to a Vodafone conference this afternoon where the operator is announcing ´a new mobile internet smartphone´… HTC is involved, too… we smell Android blood. Watch this space in a couple of hours.

Sony Ericsson drops 12.1MP bombshell

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So, we’re here in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress, as promised. Prospects this year include increased touchiness from the Nokia stall, loads of location aware devices, smartphones for the masses, digicam-slaying resolutions on camphones and, of course, a gooey wad of Android stickiness. First out of the blocks this year was Sony Ericsson, which dropped a 12.1MP (yes, you heard right) camphone under the working title: Idou. That’s nowhere near release, sadly (expected later this year). What they did give us was the W995 Walkman phone, which doesn’t shirk picture duty with an 8.1MP snapper and bungs in Wi-Fi and ‘turbo’ 3G (aka HSDPA), plus the stunning sonic talents we’ve come to expect from the Swedes’ music ancestry.

The iPhone cometh – and a whole lot more

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Enough with the iPhone already! This week we’ve seen a flurry of rumour, speculation and furious fanboys, all hinting or hoping for Apple’s finest to arrive. Well, it’s coming. Caught up in the hype, has it been forgotten that the iPhone 3G is 8 months old, that it is widely available (albeit from the lucrative grey market), and that it works with Etisalat’s existing data plans? With no iTunes Music Store in the region, the chances of a fully-fledged iPhone App store appearing in the next couple of weeks are slim. That means you’ll be stuck with the basic version currently available, unless you don’t mind registering your iTunes account to another country.

Instead, let’s take a look at some svelte and strokeable touchphones worth getting excited about. The tech boffins at Toshiba have announced the TG01 (pictured above). Its 4.1in QVGA screen, microSD support, DivX and Flash player put the iPhone to shame, while its slender 9.9mm shell makes it thinner too. Samsung’s newest Omnia i900 has been leaked ahead of Mobile World Congress, bringing you an Apple beating 3.2MP camera, GPS and FM radio. This time it’ll also pack 16GB of internal memory, easily expandable via microSD. Also spotted is LG’s latest, the Arena KM900. Supposedly sporting a new 3D interface, it’ll have a 5MP camera, GPS and DVD quality video capture.

The best part? These phones won’t require a registration or unlocking code.

[Thanks to MobileCrunch and Gayakuman for the heads up]

iPhone coming to the UAE in February

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We said it wouldn’t happen – over two years since the launch of the iPhone, Etisalat has announced that it will bring the iPhone 3G to the UAE and Saudi Arabia this month. It’s a massive surprise – and great news for folks who want an iPhone but don’t fancy their chances on the warranty-free grey market. We’re not going all out on the celebrations yet, though. We don’t know anything about the data plan or contract Etisalat plans to sell the phone on, nor the price point of the hardware. And we question the wisdom of buying into the world’s greatest smartphone right now. The smart money says that Android is going to come of age at this month’s MWC. More details when we get them… watch this space for updates.

UPDATE: Our inside source tells us that the launch is happening at Atlantis, The Palm on February 22, which puts the original Valentine launch rumour out. Sometimes it’s about the small victories… sigh.

UPDATE: Etisalat says it will make the iPhone 3G available by February 15. Is our source wrong about the launch, or is that some kind of ‘soft’ launch? We also contacted du to see whether they would be launching the iPhone, too. After all, the TRA [UAE regulator] said they would not allow one carrier exclusivity. We’ll update when we hear from them. As for ABM, we get the impression that they are not involved in the iPhone launch. It seems odd that all of these details are being kept so quiet with just over 10 days to launch. Still no word on pricing, either.

[Thanks to Magnus at Shufflegazine for the heads-up]

February iPhone launch in the UAE?

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It looks like EmiratesMac’s blog has got its knickers in a twist about the iPhone launching in the UAE, and the rippling rumour pond has spread as far as this morning’s Business Breakfast on Dubai Eye, which pinned the date at February 14. Stuff put in a call to the BB team, which admitted its speculative source had been an anonymous text message (in fairness, they didn’t claim it as fact on the show). A call to Apple’s Middle East distributor, Arab Business Machine Ltd, threw up few more clues. The company’s marketing manager, Nathalie Khouri, said she was not ready to comment ‘just yet’. ‘There is no news on the iPhone,’ she added, and said she would consider further questions by email only. We’ve sent it off and will let you know what she says. Here’s why we think the iPhone won’t launch in the UAE on February 14.

1. There is still no indication that the iPhone even exists on the local website.

2. Apple’s international site mentions forthcoming launches in Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia and Qatar – yet no mention of the UAE. And Qatar’s been on there since June last year.

3. For a product that has thrived on advance publicity, it would be an odd decision not to publicise the launch well ahead of time. Let’s face it, you don’t run a viral campaign off EmiratesMac. (Sorry, guys.)

4. February 14? So the announcement can be buried in Valentine’s Day hype, then trodden into the mud by the slew of new phones expected at Mobile World Congress, which starts on the 16th. Great plan.

5. Even though Apple’s spokeswoman was tight-lipped with the details, she also wouldn’t tell us whether the iPhone was being considered (the old line was that ABM had ‘no plans’ to bring the iPhone to the UAE). And she avoided questions about the government decree saying that both carriers would have to offer the phone to avoid a monopoly. In other words, it didn’t look like she was trying to hide anything. She just didn’t want to comment; it’s a regular event in the Middle East.

6. EmiratesMac puts it in a section called ‘Unconfirmed Rumours’, which is a tautology. Do we trust sources who think a rumour can still be a rumour once it is confirmed? We do not.

UPDATE: Whoops – wrong link for the blog. Apologies, and here’s the one we should have put up. We seem to have stirred up some opprobrium in the EM camp. For the record, this post was not intended to be (a) an attack or (b) anti-Apple. We don’t do that.

Stuff goes to Mobile World Congress

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With CES barely behind us, it’s nearly time to pack our overnight bags again and jet off to Barcelona for this year’s GSMA Mobile World Congress from February 16 to 19. We’re boarding the good ship Nokia for this year’s trip, though our secret intention is to finger, fondle and frolic with as many Android prototypes as possible. Move aside T-Mobile G1, the floodgates are about to open… watch this blog for googlephone updates.