HTC is throwing a party on October 7 in Taiwan, where it is inviting the press to see what it has dreamt up. The date seems to be a bit early for showing off Windows Phone 7 gear, but then CEO Peter Chou has done it once before – he announced at his press conference that Microsoft will be launching Windows Mobile 6.5 an hour later at MWC in 2009. Will HTC steal LG’s thunder, which is holding a major press event in Singapore a week later to launch the Optimus 7 and claiming it to be the world’s first commercially available Windows Phone 7 smartphone? Or will it be just an Android Internet Tablet and a couple of Android smartphones? We doubt the latter and are placing our bets on Windows Phone 7 devices and with that goes whatever little chance LG had to stake claim to being the first to launch Windows Phone 7. The million dollar question is, whether Microsoft knows about HTC’s plans!
We had reported Moto’s plans to launch Dual-SIM phones in India in early August and today we can confirm that the first two Dual-SIM phones will be launched any time now. The Dual-SIM phones will be branded under the EX series and one of the two phones is the first QWERTY Dual-SIM phone from a global vendor (the Big Five, as they are called) while the other will be a complete touch phone running on Moto’s proprietary OS. Both phones have a 3.0 MP camera.
The EX115, the QWERTY phone, will carry a price tag of Rs 5,990 (expect a street price of around Rs 5,000). It has a 2.3-inch QVGA display, FM radio, 3.5 mm audio jack, a microSD card slot that supports up to 32 GB cards and 50 MB of internal memory.
The EX128, which will be priced at Rs 6,990, has a 3.0-inch touchscreen and a slightly different UI than what we have seen in the ROKR E6. Rest of the specs are same as the EX115. During our brief hands on session with the EX128, we were impressed with the responsive touchscreen. It seems to be far better than what we have experienced on Samsung’s Corby series of touch phones and of course, Nokia’s 52xx series.
Both the phones have a dedicated social networking hub of sorts but we could not really tinker much with them during our short date with the two devices. We would be asking for too much, if we expect Motorola’s new Dual-SIM phones to compete with local players but as far as global brands are concerned, both of these phones have their own USPs.
Sony Ericsson is still struggling to provide a software update to its XPERIA X10 line-up users. While the Android freaks around the world have almost gotten over with the last version of Android – Android 2.1 aka Eclair, the folks at Sony Ericsson have declared that they still need some more time for the roll-out of the Eclair update on the XPERIA X10 lineage (XPERIA X10, XPERIA X10 mini and the XPERIA X10 mini pro).
Sony Ericsson will only be ready with the update by the end of this October and here’s what you can expect from the update
- HD video recording.
- 5 homescreens for apps, widgets, folders and shortcuts
- Automatic syncing of Facebook pictures of all your contacts in the phonebook.
XPERIA X10 mini and XPERIA X10 mini pro will get
- improved Bluetooth functionality (sharing of audio and video files would be relatively faster).
- Automatic syncing of Facebook pictures of all your contacts in the phonebook.
- New back-up and restore app for with extended content back-up.
Point to be noted- It has also been specifically mentioned by handset vendor that the update will be made available in a phased roll-out and it will take some more additional weeks, which theoretically means that the XPERIA x10 users will only enjoy Eclair by the end of November. Truly, nothing can be more depressing!
The biggest mobile football game rivalry is expected to get a refresh this week, with Gameloft’s Real Football and EA’s FIFA series going toe to toe again. If rumours are to be believed, both Real Football 2011 and FIFA 11 are likely to hit the App store in the coming few days. We have heard no official confirmation but sources within both companies are reasonably sure that footy gaming fans will have reason to celebrate this week. Both games claim to offer radically better graphics and support for the retina display as well as official affiliations with different clubs and countries, letting you mess around with real players.
However, what we are really curious about is the gameplay – will the two games take a page out of Konami’s Pro Evo Soccer book and minimise the need to hit onscreen buttons? And erm…call us skinflints, but we are also wondering about the price tags and are offering prayers that they will be as far from the USD 10 mark as possible. We are waiting and watching!
Yesterday, we wrote about Airtel’s microSIMs doing the rounds and we decided to do a little digging ourselves. And guess what, almost every carrier is planning to launch microSIM cards. At least one carrier, Aircel, is about to start retailing them for post-paid numbers. Our sources tell us that more carriers are planning to launch microSIM cards in the coming days and weeks.
But why would they do that, considering that the iPhone 4 is the only phone out there that uses microSIM cards and only two carriers – Airtel and Vodafone – are officially supposed to be launching it in India. Why would an Aircel or for that matter any other carrier launch microSIM cards?
There can be only two reasons:
1. There are more devices coming with microSIM card slots. Currently, it is only the iPhone 4 but probably other handset manufacturers also see merit in using microSIM cards and are planning to launch phones with these smaller SIM cards. But had that been the case, more carriers around the world would have been introducing them.
2. Apple is planning to launch factory unlocked iPhone 4/3G version of the iPad in India. We have our doubts about the iPhone 4, considering Apple already has a deal with Airtel and Vodafone for the past two years. But then stranger things have happened.
Those of you following us on Twitter would be aware that I had been on a trip to Seoul and Tokyo, courtesy of Qualcomm, to get a feel of 3G services and devices in two of the most advanced telecom markets in the world. Starting today, I will be posting some of my observations as well as videos from the trip.
I will start with the device that impressed me the most – the Sharp IS01 – an Android smartphone, which I would refer to as a mini-netbook, thanks to its form factor. It runs on Qualcomm’s 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, looks like a slightly magnified Nokia Communicator and has the most comfortable keypad on a device of its size.
Yes, it runs on Android 1.6 at the moment (we are told it will be updated to Android 2.1) but the form factor of the device was more than enough to make me ask the sales rep whether I could break the contract and get an English Android ROM ported to it. (For the record, he did not fall for it…)
The Sharp IS01 might not be as slick as some of the Internet Tablets doing the rounds and is quite a handful (check the video below when I fumble towards the end trying to open it with one hand). However, for a road warrior like me, the wide display and the spacious QWERTY keypad were more than sufficient to seal the deal.
The biggest story of this week has to be the Facebook Phone. Well, we thought we had already seen it a couple of years ago when INQ Mobile debuted with the INQ 1, which got branded by users and reviewers as the Facebook Phone. The INQ 1 was the first truly social phone as it integrated one’s Facebook contacts and messages and even kept pushing regular updates on the homescreen.
This weeks buzz started with this post on TechCrunch, which claimed that the world’s largest online social network was in fact busy making a phone of its own. As expected, Facebook denied any plans to work on its own phone. But then Bloomberg followed up on TechCrunch’s report and claimed that Facebook was indeed working with INQ Mobile to create not one but two phones that will provide the best Facebook experience on a phone and will be initially sold in Europe and might even be launched with AT&T.
I won’t be betting my chips on Facebook launching its own phone but it makes sense if one simply tweaks the story a bit. Rather than saying Facebook is making a phone, let’s just say that INQ Mobile is closely working with Facebook to provide a better social networking experience on its upcoming Android smartphones.
With Android’s success, INQ had lost its relevance considering every Android phone could do almost everything one could do on INQ phones. One can merge one’s Facebook contacts with the phonebook, click and upload pictures directly to one’s Facebook album and get status updates on the homescreen with a simple widget. INQ’s Android smartphone has to be radically different.
But INQ Mobile has two things going for it – its parent company and innovation. INQ Mobile is a Hutchison Whampoa company whose chairman Li Ka-Shing is apparently also an investor in Facebook. And the guys at INQ probably know better than those at Facebook about how to get the best of Facebook on a cellphone.
I expect INQ’s upcoming phones (if they are for real) to take social networking to a different level all together. Think about not only updating one’s status message and uploading pics but also playing games, accessing apps and the likes. It could even have a Facebook specific app store rather than Android Market. Add a music service to the mix, give a good camera and we have a recipe for a successful smartphone.
What needs to be seen is whether the new phones get Facebook branding on them or not. In all probability they will.