Samsung claims record 300 million mobile sales this year

Add together ten million Galaxy S IIs, a dollop of Galaxy Nexii, a gargantuan gathering of Galaxy Notes and a healthy serving of Badas, and what do you get? 300 million handset sales so far in 2011, that’s what. And Samsung claims that makes this the best year in its mobile-making history, surpassing 2010 by a whopping 20 million. Of course, more sales doesn’t necessarily translate into greater revenue — Nokia is still the world’s largest manufacturer by volume and is a case in point. Nevertheless, we’ll know more when Samsung reveals its Q4 earnings next month.

Samsung claims record 300 million mobile sales this year originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 12 Dec 2011 07:20:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Consumers Covet 4G, the Tech No One Understands

The Epic 4G Touch is Sprint's flavor of the popular Samsung Galaxy S II 4G smartphone. Photo: Jon Snyder/

You want it. You want it desperately. You want it desperately, but you don’t even know what it is.

Such is consumer desire for 4G data connectivity in mobile handsets. Call it proof positive that the phone carriers’ marketing efforts have paid off — this despite slow 4G infrastructure roll-outs, and actual 4G data rates that fall far, far below the promise of the 4G spec.

In-Stat, a market research firm, recently announced that 75 percent of more than 1,200 surveyed consumers listed 4G as one of the features that an “ideal” phone would include. The survey also found that most consumers don’t know which carrier offers the fastest 4G speeds — immediately begging the question, “Would a consumer even recognize a 4G connection if it hit him or her in face?”

4G is definitely a relevant smartphone feature. But the disparity between consumer knowledge and consumer desire is troubling, and may stem from the way that 4G technology is being advertised.

4G networks are currently underdeveloped, but carriers have been strongly pushing their networks nonetheless. And although carriers are marketing their 4G networks and 4G handset offerings nationwide, the actual availability of 4G services varies widely.

For example, AT&T’s brand-new LTE network is only available in five urban markets (though the carrier does plan to cover 80 percent of the populace by 2013). Verizon’s LTE network, which currently features the fastest network speeds in the U.S., covers 88 markets. It’s a large number, yes, but Verizon’s LTE network is available to just 110 of the nation’s estimated 307 million people. That’s around 33 percent of the U.S. population, a far cry from the reported 75 percent who crave a 4G device.

CNET has compiled a useful chart of U.S. markets that are supported by at least one 4G provider. Coverage looks substantial at first glance, but for those in more rural areas — or even metropolitan locales like San Francisco, which suffers extremely spotty coverage — reliable 4G access is still a few years away.

And spotty coverage isn’t the only factor contributing to consumer confusion. Get this: A significant portion of people who own a 3G device mistakenly think they have 4G hardware. A July survey by Retrevo found that an astonishing 34 percent of iPhone 4 owners thought they had a 4G phone. These customers were probably confused by their iPhone’s “4″ designation, as well as the fact that the official definition of 4G is a moving target, and Apple has claimed “4G-like” speeds.

But iPhone owners aren’t alone in their misconceptions. In that same Retrevo survey, a quarter of BlackBerry owners thought they had a 4G phone, when at the time of the study, there was no 4G BlackBerry handset yet available!

“To be quite frank, there is no definition for what 4G is,” Gartner analyst Michael King says. “Most LTE networks are pretty new, and there’s not much to compare it to.” This leads to even more confusion, particularly regarding what levels of speed users should be expecting from 4G service (which we’ll get into soon).

Regardless, carriers have successfully managed to brand the term “4G” into our brains through successful advertising techniques.

“The industry has done a great job of associating 4G with the things a customer wants to do, but haven’t been able to accomplish with 3G,” iSuppli analyst Francis Sideco says. Those things include real-time gaming, streaming video and the ability to make video calls. “Marketing has focused on what you can do with it, rather than on technology for the sake of technology,” Sideco says.

This approach stands in stark contrast to the confused messaging of 3G rollout campaigns, circa 2008. Back then, carriers touted improved data speeds, but many consumers didn’t understand what those data rates could be used for — completely understandable considering the relatively small installed base of smartphones in that quaint era of feature phones.

But that was 2008. Today, a boatload of 4G phones are now available, with new ones popping up with increasing frequency. This morning, AT&T announced its first two LTE handsets, the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket and HTC Vivid. The HTC Vivid has a 4.5-inch, 540 x 960 display and a dual-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon processor. The Skyrocket is AT&T’s version of the popular Galaxy S II, which has a 4.5-inch, 480 x 800 Super AMOLED Plus display, and a 1.5 GHz Exynos chip. Both run Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and will be available Nov. 6.

With consumers clamoring for 4G handsets, carriers must be able to follow through with their 4G promises — and that means improving on two key 3G performance pain points: throughput and latency.

Throughput is the spec everyone usually talks about. Measured in bits per second (or megabits per second in the case of 4G), this spec describes just how much data can be sent through a carrier’s network in a fixed time period — that is, a second. This number refers to pure network speed — and everyone wants speedier data service, hence everyone’s preoccupation with throughput.

Latency, meanwhile, describes the time delay between when a mobile device “pings” a network and when that network actually responds. High-latency networks cause a host of problems — most significantly, streaming video that stutters along in fits and starts. When network latency is low, however, real-time applications like video chat really begin to sing.

Bottom line: Even if you’ve got the fastest throughput imaginable, high latency levels will prevent you from enjoying video calls and and other types of streaming video.

The HTC Vivid and Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket, two of the latest 4G LTE devices.

Current 4G throughput speeds — whether you’re talking about LTE, WiMax or the not-quite-4G HSPA+ — are definitely slower than what could be theoretically accomplished, but Sideco says that will always be the case. The theoretical speeds of 21 Mbps for HSPA+ and 70 Mbps for LTE could only be achieved in absolutely ideal conditions (for example, if you’re standing right next to a cellphone tower, or you’re the only one using the network).

But that’s OK, as carriers aren’t even saying they can achieve these spec-topping speeds. On Sprint’s WiMax network, you’re promised 3- to 6-Mbps download speeds; on Verizon’s LTE, 5- to 12-Mbps download speeds; and with HSPA+, 5- to 10-Mbps download speeds (AT&T specifies 6 Mbps).

All of these real-world numbers fall far short of 4G’s theoretical benchmarks. But don’t stress out. As long as consumers know what they’re really getting, they can make the informed decision to upgrade to a 4G phone and network.

Or not.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus vs. Galaxy S II, Nexus One and Nexus S (macro hands-on)

Guess who posed for a family gathering here in Hong Kong? From left to right, we’ve got the Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy S II, Nexus One and Nexus S. The panels on all of these guys are stunning, but we’re finding it mighty difficult to choose a favorite between the Galaxy Nexus and the GSII. Have a look at some close-ups in the gallery below, and a typical home video just after the break.

Continue reading Samsung Galaxy Nexus vs. Galaxy S II, Nexus One and Nexus S (macro hands-on)

Samsung Galaxy Nexus vs. Galaxy S II, Nexus One and Nexus S (macro hands-on) originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 19 Oct 2011 00:16:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Samsung delivers kernel source for T-Mobile Galaxy S II, developers can now collect all three

Developers, start your engines. T-Mobile’s version of the Samsung Galaxy S II was the slowest in the family to get the official kernel source. It’s here now, though, arriving on Sammy’s site a whole four days after the phone’s release; this isn’t an eternity by any means, but its counterparts had the source available no later than the actual launch date. No matter the reason, make your way to Samsung’s official site to dive in and make some magic happen.

[Thanks, Aubrey]

Samsung delivers kernel source for T-Mobile Galaxy S II, developers can now collect all three originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 17 Oct 2011 19:11:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Refresh Resource: week of October 10, 2011

Your smartphone and / or tablet is just begging to get updated. From time to time, these mobile devices are blessed with maintenance refreshes, bug fixes, custom ROMs and anything in between, and so many of them are floating around that it’s easy for a sizable chunk to get lost in the mix. To make sure they don’t escape without notice, we’ve gathered every possible update, hack, and other miscellaneous tomfoolery from the last week and crammed them into one convenient roundup. If you find something available for your device, please give us a shout at tips at engadget dawt com and let us know. Enjoy!

Official Android updates

  • Motorola Xoom owners who swapped in their devices for one with LTE capability may have found an OTA enhancement waiting for them when the tablet arrived. It included a few minor changes, such as updates to Android Market and some additional browser security measures. The full changelog can be found at the link. [AndroidCentral]
  • The update to the Motorola Droid 2 Global was pulled last month due to an Exchange encryption issue, but we’re hearing reports that it’s once again resuming the rollout with that concern resolved. [Droid-Life]
  • Motorola’s Photon 4G on Sprint is on the receiving end of a minor bug fix update, which includes video chat capability for Google Talk. [PhoneArena]
  • The good news for unlocked Dell Streak 7 users: the official update to Android 3.2 (Honeycomb) is now rolling out and you should see it over the course of the next couple weeks. the coming weeks. [Dell]
  • The bad news for T-Mobile Dell Streak 7 users: Honeycomb isn’t coming to your tablet, for unknown reasons. [Android Community]
  • According to a tweet from LG, there’s a small refresh in the works for the Optimus 7 which will finally enable WiFi tethering. [WPCentral]

Unofficial Android updates, custom ROMs and misc. hackery

  • A new piece of firmware for the AT&T Galaxy S II was leaked via RootzWiki, and includes a few bug fixes. Sadly, it adds some bugs as well. [Android Community]
  • Samsung’s officially released the kernel source for the Stratosphere, Transfix and Galaxy Y Pro. [Android Community]
  • And now for the best news for TouchPad owners: after several weeks of progress, it appears that CM7 is now ready to roll on the HP TouchPad. As always, download and install at your own risk — we have a feeling this may be a bit more involved than your typical Android custom ROM. [Redmond Pie]

Other platforms

  • Redsn0w 0.9.9b5 is here, giving you the go-ahead to jailbreak iOS5. Up for the task? Head to the link for all of the details on how to make it so. [Redmond Pie]
  • Some Windows Phone users have noticed a few bugs popping into their updated devices ever since they received Mango. The main concerns seem to be found in the keyboard and live tiles, though the reported issues are much more numerous. Have you experienced any of these on the list at the link? [WMPowerUser]

Refreshes we covered this week

Refresh Resource: week of October 10, 2011 originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 16 Oct 2011 10:00:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Samsung’s Korea-bound Galaxy S II HD LTE pops up in FCC filings

We’ll have to brush up on our foreign languages to decipher the full battery label, but the Samsung SHV-E120L (aka the Galaxy S II HD LTE, thanks David_DK!)– home to a 4.65-inch HD screen and dual-core 1.5GHz processor according to specs leaked last month — has passed through its FCC testing. We didn’t spot any indications it will bring that 1280×720 res display this way, but you can check for yourself at the link below.

Samsung’s Korea-bound Galaxy S II HD LTE pops up in FCC filings originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 14 Oct 2011 23:14:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Samsung Galaxy S II and HTC Amaze 4G on sale at T-Mobile

Sure, we knew this day was coming, but now the wait is finally over. Now the main question for T-Mobile customers at the end of their contract is whether to pick up the Samsung Galaxy S II or HTC Amaze 4G. Both handsets are now on sale from the carrier, running $229 and $259, respectively (plus plan, post-rebate, naturally). Thankfully, we’ve got a full review of the 4.52-inch Galaxy S II magenta edition and a hands-on with the 4.3-inch Amaze 4G, which should help make the deciding a bit easier.

Samsung Galaxy S II and HTC Amaze 4G on sale at T-Mobile originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 12 Oct 2011 17:40:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Samsung crashes iPhone 4S block party, lures Aussies with $2 Galaxy S IIs

Can’t say we didn’t see this catfight coming after Apple boldly rejected Samsung’s settlement offer in Australia, but man, the latter certainly isn’t afraid of striking back in its enemy’s front yard. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Sammy’s set up a pop-up store merely meters away from Apple’s Sydney store, all for just stealing the thunder from the iPhone 4S launch this Friday. The campaign? For the first ten customers each day up to Friday, the Korean giant’s offering its Galaxy S II for just $2 sans contract — no wonder the line’s already longer than Apple’s, according to the Herald. But of course, Samsung’s also effectively funding some of these folks for their iPhone 4S from next door, so it’s pretty much a win-win situation for both companies. See? There’s always a happy ending, and let’s hope that the upcoming Nexus Prime won’t add fuel to the ongoing patent dispute.

[Thanks, Kevin]

Samsung crashes iPhone 4S block party, lures Aussies with $2 Galaxy S IIs originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 12 Oct 2011 05:08:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S II review

T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S II review

What else is there to say? Whether in its original, exotic exterior, its lightly changed but rather more accessible AT&T-flavored model, or the decidedly Epic Sprint version, the Samsung Galaxy S II has never failed to impress us. In fact, we called that first release “the best Android smartphone yet” and still, nearly six months later, it sits mighty close to the top of the pile — if not squarely at the peak, waving its flag proudly whilst taunting the others below.

Here today we’re looking at the last of the Three Musketeers: the T-Mobile version. This marks the final US release of the Galaxy S II, unveiled in late-August. At that announcement event the device was curiously locked up in Lucite, but now it’s right here in our hands. While we didn’t really want to set down this 16GB, 1.5GHz, 42Mbps HSPA+ wunderphone, we gently laid it aside just long enough to write this very review. Join us as we see what sets this latest and final revision apart.

Continue reading T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S II review

T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S II review originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 11 Oct 2011 16:31:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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CyanogenMod 7.1 brings support for Xperias and 20 other handsets

All it took was a little love from Sony Ericsson and now CyanogenMod’s latest official release includes support for a happy cohort of 2011 Xperias as well as the X8. The same goes for Samsung, which doled out a free GSII and some employment and now finds that the Galaxy smartphones are on version 7.1’s list too. Wondering if your particular Droid, Optimus or Incredible can run the cyan shade of Gingerbread and its attendant perks? Then check the source link for the full roll-call of newly supported devices — but remember, despite the increasingly friendly overtures from manufacturers, installing a custom ROM comes with certain pitfalls and can void your warranty. Got that? Now go and play some juicy FLAC files on that Arc.

CyanogenMod 7.1 brings support for Xperias and 20 other handsets originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 10 Oct 2011 20:28:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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