Sprint and HTC have been partners for years, but it wasn’t until the HTC EVO 4G launched in June 2010 that the companies realized their potential. HTC’s sleek, technology-packed flagship smartphone and Sprint’s unlimited data plans were a match made in heaven for smartphone power users, and the EVO 4G was the first handset to truly offer a complete package to Sprint subscribers. While Sprint’s EVO line of devices has remained popular for the carrier — Sprint has sold more than 7 million EVO-branded smartphones and tablets to date — the company has yet to recapture the magic introduced with the original EVO 4G. With the new HTC EVO 4G LTE that Sprint and HTC unveiled on Wednesday, however, Sprint hopes to do just that. Hit the break for our hands-on impressions of Sprint’s new flagship smartphone.More →
Charles Schumer, a Democratic Senator from New York, has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Apple and Google over reports that applications on both mobile platforms can steal private photos and contacts, and export them to external servers, Reuters reported on Sunday. “These uses go well beyond what a reasonable user understands himself to be consenting to when he allows an app to access data on the phone for purposes of the app’s functionality,” Schumer said in a letter to the FTC. The senator understands that these actions violate the terms of service on both platforms, although “it is not clear whether or how those terms of service are being enforced and monitored.” As a result, Schumer believes “smartphone makers should be required to put in place safety measures to ensure third party applications are not able to violate a user’s personal privacy by stealing photographs or data that the user did not consciously decide to make public.” Schumer said it is the companies’ job to protect their customers. “When someone takes a private photo, on a private cell phone, it should remain just that: private,” he said. More →
Apple on Thursday won an injunction in Germany against all of Motorola Mobility’s Android devices, according to FOSSPatents. The ruling comes on the heels of another victory Apple scored in a German appeals court on Monday. Judge Dr. Peter Guntz ruled that Motorola infringed Apple’s patent for a “portable electronic device for photo management.” Motorola smartphones apparently use Apple’s patent for page-turning in zoomed-in mode — but not zoomed-out mode — in the photo gallery app. If Apple enforces the injunction, it can require Motorola to destroy any infringing products in its possession in Germany and recall, at the company’s expense, any infringing products from German retailers, which will then be destroyed as well. The Cupertino-based company previously attacked Samsung over the same feature, however Samsung modified its code to avoid a ban in the Netherlands — a move Motorola may follow.
UPDATE: Motorola issued a statement to BGR in response to Judge Guntz’s ruling. The company’s response now follows below in its entirety. More →
During Microsoft’s BUILD conference in Los Angeles, Microsoft execs took the stage and showed off a number of new tablets, notebooks and desktop computers running its latest Windows 8 operating system with the new Metro-style user interface. Steve Sinofsky demoed the operating system running on ARM-powered devices, Qualcomm powered devices and even one tablet running NVIDIA’s upcoming quad-core Tegra 3 chipset. One desktop computer, the HP Phoenix, is expected to be unveiled later this week, although full specs on the system have still not been announced. We’re impressed at the versatility of the new operating system and love that it can run anything from a small netbook with 1GB of RAM to a gaming rig running multiple graphics cards in SLI. Microsoft will also be giving out a “Samsung Windows Developer Preview PC” to 5,000 developers at the BUILD conference. It’s equipped with 4GB of RAM, a 64GB SD card, a microSD card slot, HDMI-out, NFC support, Ethernet and more. AT&T will also provide owners of the tablet with one year of free data service with 2GB of data per month. Be sure to check out the gallery below for shots of all the great hardware Microsoft showed off at BUILD.
AT&T finally got its dose of Nexus S late last month, and we suppose it is somewhat appropriate that we’re late with our hands-on since the device itself took so long to launch. The sleek smartphone was first unveiled in early December 2010, and it launched later that month on T-Mobile’s network. Then Sprint introduced its WiMAX-enabled Nexus S 4G in early May, and it went on to become one of Sprint’s most popular smartphones. As the expression goes, better late than never — and that’s certainly the case with AT&T’s Nexus S. Read on for some quick thoughts on this latest version of the Samsung-built pure Google phone, and don’t forget to check out our hands-on photo gallery.More →
Verizon Wireless just sent us the 4G LTE-equipped version of Samsung’s flagship Android tablet, the Galaxy Tab 10.1, and we’re ready to deliver our initial impressions. First things first: this should go without saying at this point, but this puppy is ridiculously fast. Verizon Wireless’ 4G LTE network is unmatched when it comes speed and latency — from the user’s perspective, it’s pretty much like being connected to a Wi-Fi network. A few quick tests performed just outside New York City showed the blazing-fast speed we’ve come to expect from Verizon’s 4G network, ranging from about 12-15Mbps down and 3-5Mbps up. On the hardware side of the equation, Samsung’s LTE tablet has undergone a handful of cosmetic changes. Holding the slate in landscape orientation, the stereo speakers have been moved up the sides of the device to accommodate the power button and the volume rocker, which are now on the left side of the Tab 10.1 instead of up on top. The back of the tablet is also slightly different. It now features a gray plastic rear cover with a brushed metal effect. We like the look of the new back but unfortunately, the quality seems to be a bit lacking. Within a few minutes of removing the new Galaxy Tab 10.1 from its box, there were already a few scratches on the back case. Overall build is solid, however, just like our original limited edition 10.1 model, and it’s still remarkable that Samsung was able to make this tablet so thin. Check out our hands-on 4G LTE Galaxy Tab 10.1 photo gallery below for more photos of this sleek, speedy slate.
Motorola has pushed out Android 2.3.4 (Gingerbread) to the Motorola ATRIX 4G. The update adds a number of new enhancements unrelated to Gingerbread, including support for 1080p HD video playback, a re-designed home screen with white backgrounds for easier reading of text, an enhanced photo gallery, the ability to dismiss notifications one at a time, a faster Webtop browsing experience, enhancements to the dock icons and more. To update, make sure your ATRIX 4G is connected to a Wi-Fi network and then go to Settings > About Phone > System updates > Download. Read on for a link to Motorola’s website, which includes the full release notes on software v4.5.91. More →
Earlier today we gave you a glimpse at Sprint’s Overland Park campus, its Usability Lab, the Sprint Technology Integration Center and the carrier’s Mobile Technology Lab. Within that Mobile Technology Lab is a huge amount of fascinating equipment that we were not allowed to photograph. One box Sprint was happy to let us snap, however, was the Ericsson E-Node Base Transceiver System (BTS) pictured above. These devices find themselves at the center of Sprint’s forward-looking network efforts. Dubbed “Network Vision,” Sprint is in the process of upgrading and future-proofing its network — at least, to the extent a network can be future-proofed at this point. The E-Node BTS you see above and in the gallery below is an amazing advancement that will enable Sprint to realize this vision. The vertical “cards” you see pictured can be inserted and removed as easily as servers in a rack. Each one of these cards enables a network technology and is connected to an antenna cluster. So, for example, if Sprint was to reach a deal that would allow a partner to build out 4G LTE on Sprint’s network, Sprint engineers could simply add the appropriate LTE card to the BTS and off we go. Of course this is a bit oversimplified as there is plenty of intensive testing involved, but this is a monumental leap forward, and one that we hope will be adopted by other major carriers in the U.S. Sprint’s Network Vision program really is the future of the carrier’s network, and the technology and facilities behind it are incredible. Check out the gallery below for a closer look at the E-Node BTS.
Next up on our virtual tour of Sprint’s headquarters could very well be the most interesting facility yet — the Mobile Technology Lab, which is located on Sprint’s main campus here in Overland Park, Kansas. This massive facility houses 50,000 square feet of lab space, 360 tons of cooling equipment, and once a current upgrade project is completed it will contain a total of 15 miles of coaxial cable and 5 miles of fiber. Whereas the Sprint Technology Integration Center is focused on network testing, this monstrous lab focuses on device testing. The facility allows Sprint engineers to test nearly every imaginable aspect of a device that might concern Sprint, from battery and audio quality to monitoring and logging software events during a limitless number of usage cases. The photo tour begins with another RF chamber; this one is an anechoic isolation chamber that keeps all signals out to ensure that tests are not impacted by outside radio waves. The second room you see is actually a dual-walled isolation chamber that takes this concept a step further. The tests performed here can be so sensitive that even the monitoring equipment could ruin them. As a result, the test equipment is positioned outside the first door and then sealed off with the second. You’ll also see a set of three dials immediately after the double door chamber, and these actually control the amount of signal fed into the chamber. So, for example, Sprint engineers are able to see how devices operate with weak 3G signal, or even take performance readings as 4G signal drops and the device jumps to 3G. Finally, the gray head pictured is part of an audio quality test setup — we were not allowed to photograph the monitoring station — and the small room at the end is home to a station that tests devices’ ability to play various kinds of multimedia files. As we’re sure you’re beginning to understand at this point, handsets and other connected devices undergo extremely rigorous testing ahead of release… and the tastes you’re getting here are barely the tip of the iceberg.
And now comes the fun stuff. BGR on Wednesday toured a number of labs here at Sprint’s Midwest headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas. Some we’re able to talk about and some we can’t unfortunately, but among the ones we can show you is the Sprint Technology Integration Center located down the road from Sprint’s main campus in Lenexa, Kansas. This facility houses 15,000 square feet of laboratory space and the teams that dwell within are focused on network performance testing; devices that enter this lab have already gone through third-party testing and will now undergo validation testing. Sprint has specific requirements outside of compliance standards in order to ensure that devices on its networks meet its high standards, and this lab is home to the majority of equipment used to perform those tests. Among the jewels to be found within the gallery linked below is the ever-popular RF chamber. Foam spikes… gel-filled head positioned oh so carefully… this is one of the staples of cellular labs that we all look forward to seeing. The RF chamber is designed to create very specific test environments for devices in order to provide a level of control that would otherwise be impossible to achieve. There are also a few shots of demos we were given of a couple different test setups, including navigation testing and streaming video testing. The full gallery can be seen via the link below.
As we mentioned earlier, Sprint is currently hosting reporters from BGR and four other publications at its massive headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas. We gave you a tour of Sprint’s grounds earlier this morning, and now we’re happy to bring you a rare glimpse inside the Sprint Usability Lab here at the carrier’s campus. This building houses various facilities and equipment used to perform some of the product testing that helps shape the future of Sprint’s portfolio. User groups are brought in for a wide range of focus studies and device testing, and we were shown a variety of equipment Sprint uses to perform the tests. One such device, which can be seen in the last three images in the gallery below, is an eye tracker that allows Sprint’s usability experts to view and later analyze exactly what a user looks at while handling a device. We were shown a demo where the user handled a feature phone and viewed the device’s UI on the attached monitor. As the user flipped through the device’s interface, the equipment was able to track — in real time — exactly where the user was looking on the device’s interface. This type of study can then help Sprint build user interfaces and experiences that are arranged logically in accordance with user behavior, ultimately resulting in a more user-friendly experience. We have plenty more to come but in the meantime, enjoy the gallery below.
Sprint is hosting a small group of reporters from five different publications this week for a few days of meetings, tours and insights into the inner workings of the nation’s No. 3 carrier. While we’re learning plenty about Sprint’s operations — some of which we can share over the next few days and some of which we cannot — we were also given a great walking tour of part of Sprint’s massive Midwest headquarters. The carrier is situated on a gigantic campus in Overland Park, Kansas that counts among its attractions 21 office and service buildings that contain 4 million square feet of office space, 6,000 trees, 42.45 acres of prairie grass, 7.2 acres of lakes, a 3,000-seat amphitheater and 3,300 combined miles of copper and fiber cable. Though it houses the No. 85 company on the Forbes 100 and is large enough for its own zip code, the sprawling campus definitely has the look and feel of a university; red brick buildings are spread about lush lawns, four major fountains and more than a mile of walking trails. This seemingly academic spread houses some fantastically intriguing facilities, however, and we’ll get into that a bit later. In the meantime, a gallery of Sprint’s campus grounds and one of its main buildings can be seen below.
Verizon Wireless just shot us over its latest flagship DROID handset, the Motorola DROID 3, and it’s pretty intense. Specs-wise, it features a whopping 4-inch qHD display, a 1GHz dual-core processor, a fully redesigned slide-out QWERTY keyboard, an 8-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video capture, global roaming capabilities, and it runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread. The device is thicker and heavier than we’d imagined, but that’s not to say it’s too chunky. It’s actually thinner than the DROID 2 and even the original DROID, though the bigger display certainly makes the overall footprint feel very large. Motorola’s qHD displays are PenTile displays, and unfortunately they all look pretty pixelated. Despite all those pixels, the DROID 3′s display is no exception, though it most likely won’t matter for the majority of consumers. The phone feels nice and solid, and the keyboard is incredibly spacious. In fact, the DROID 3 easily sports the best QWERTY of any of Verizon’s Android devices. Check out photos of the Motorola DROID 3 in our gallery below, and be on the look out for our full review soon!