Blackberry working on handset with dual cameras

Blackberry Kahn
Blackberry Kahn

Blackberry simply refuses to go quietly into the night and the Canadian brand is hoping to gain ground on the smartphone market with a device with dual cameras. Of course, HTC pointed the way with the One M8, the first flagship to sport dual cam for depth sensors, but Blackberry clearly likes the idea and will put its own spin on it.

The guys over at Crackberry have been poking their noses around the BlackBerry OS 10.3 files and found something interesting. They came across a design that we are familiar with, but it is now packing some new hardware and is getting a new model number. As you can see from the render above, the design of the handset in question is the same as the Blackberry collaboration with Porsche Design, the P’9982 or Blackberry King. However, the model found on the OS 10.3 files is codenamed Kahn (P’9983), or in other words it is the follow up to the original Porsche Design Blackberry King. The standout feature of the Kahn is the dual camera lenses on the rear, giving the device a layered camera ability that is good for all sorts of tricks and pre and post shot editing. Interestingly, there are some reports suggesting that this device will stay on the drawing board as Blackberry is more focused on other avenues. Certainly, the company is pushing its enterprise business at the moment, so any mainstream handsets we see from Blackberry will be functional and could even pack QWERTY boards. But the keyword is mainstream, and we suspect to see the Kahn arrive before the end of the year. Simply put, the original collaboration with Porsche, the P’9982 Blackberry King was not a mainstream device; it was a $2000+ stainless steel handset. It is feasible that Blackberry will stick with this collaboration because it is more of a side project than anything else. However, if the company is playing with this kind of tech, we think it would be better to put it in a mainstream handset to try to drive sales. On a niche device like the Porsche Design it could just get lost.


Google unveils Android L

Android version 4.4 KitKat has not been available for a year, but already Google is talking its next major Android update at its I/O developer event. The latest version of the mobile platform is simply known as “L-release” at the moment, although we suspect it will get a nice new food based name before it is rolled out to devices.

Google is touting the L-release as the most dramatic overhaul of the Android platform ever, bringing even more sweeping changes than what Ice Cream Sandwich did nearly three years ago. That means the subtle shift from Jelly Bean to KitKat is gone and Android will look completely different thanks to a design language caused Material Design. The overall look is flatter than previous Android builds and icons and details. Google is pushing this new look beyond Android and it will find its way to Chrome and services such as Gmail and Google+. Needless to say, the L-release does not come with a pretty new face as Google has packed the new Android version full of new features. Notifications, battery life, performance enhancements, and improved graphics are just some of the new features heading to L.

Notifications are now prioritized, and can appear on the lockscreen. If someone swipes down, the notification shade expands. Double tapping a notification launches the ap, swiping left dismisses it, and swiping up closes all notifications. There’s also a heads up notification that hovers over current activity. So instead of a phone call being full screen and taking over a game, you can continue activity and see a small notification at the top with two buttons for options to respond. Speaking of the lock screen, users can interact with a watch to authenticate their identity. For instance, wearing a watch will let the phone know that it’s you so it won’t present a lock code. However, once someone takes that off, the security requirement reappears.

Of course, we will bring more detailed reports of some of those new key features. As for the L-release, the build will be heading out developers tomorrow morning, with the finished software set for roll out during the fall. That means Android 4.4 KitKat will be replaced after less than a year on the market, making way for the far more advanced and 64-bit compatible L-release.

New Samsung Exynos is faster than Snapdragon 805


Those pesky benchmarks; they are meant to tell us which device is better/quicker but all they end up doing is making everything more confusing. A handset that blitzes benchmarks may be a poor performer in hand, while a blazingly quick day to day smartphone may look weak on benchmarks. Still, the industry (that includes us) still looks at benchmarks, which is why we are bringing you this next piece of news.

The new Snapdragon 805 from Qualcomm is the darling of the smartphone world, currently available in Korea as an exclusive, the Samsung Galaxy S5 LTE-A. That will all change in the coming 6 months to one year as just about every flagship device hitting the market from Android and Windows will sport the chipset. However, according to the AnTuTu benchmark, Samsung’s upcoming Exynos chipset is much quicker (read better) than the Snapdragon 805. The new architecture from the Korean company has been given the codename “Helsinki Pro” and will arrive as a Galaxy Note variant (region specific alongside an 805 version) this fall. The Exynos 5433 octa-core chip scored 40,303 points in AnTuTu beating the Snapdragon 805 by 2,523 points, which is quite a lot. Sure, we could go on (you can check the source for more info), but the problem is we have seen all of this before. It is good for Samsung of course, the benchmarks show the company that it is at least on the right track with its latest and presumably greatest mobile chip. However, for the rest of us, we should not read too much into these results. Performance is all about how the device is in hand, and we doubt we will be seeing a Samsung device that is just clearly superior to anything with a Snapdragon 805.

Android 4.4.4 arrives on Nexus devices

Android 4.4.4
Android 4.4.4

Many devices are still awaiting their Android 4.4.3 update while many have just received it. However, if you thought Google would wait for manufacturers and carriers to catch up then you would be wrong as the Android train keeps rolling. Mountain View is not resting on its laurels and as soon as the paint is drying on Android 4.4.3 Google is putting another lick on with Android 4.4.4.

Almost without drawing breath the company has started rolling out Android 4.4.4 and it’s no surprise that the newest version of its mobile software will arrive on Nexus devices first. One of the perks of owning Google’s own Nexus products is that they (the newest ones at least) get Android updates first and in some cases months before others. This time is no different, although we are still surprised by how quickly KitKat 4.4.4 has arrived. Google released factory images of the OS so we knew it would be due to land shortly, but didn’t expect the company to waste this little time. So, what can you expect with Android 4.4.4? Well, not anything major and certainly not the kinds of overhauls we have seen in other system updates. In fact, the patch only weighs 2.5MB, which gives you an idea that it is not packing anything that will radically change the user experience. Instead, Google has merely fixed bugs and issues that were missed through the Android 4.4.3 update recently. If you are running a Nexus device you can expect to see the update either right now or shortly. In terms of those away from Google’s handsets, we presume the roll out will be sporadic, but we hope as it is a small download and fixes 4.4.3 issues that it arrives on all scheduled devices quickly instead of taking a long time, which is typically the case.

OnePlus delayed again as “flagship killer” keeps killing its own opportunities

OnePlus One
OnePlus One

OnePlus mastered the art of the hype machinel when the company used a series of online stunts that successfully raised awareness about its debut phone. However, the so-called “flagship killer” OnePlus One has had just as many stumbles leading up to the revelation that the phone has suffered yet another delay.

The OnePlus One had until this week been available only via contests and invites to purchase, but there were issues with manufacturing, and one unlucky contest winner was shipped an empty box. The phone was then delayed because of a potential security risk in the customized CyanogenMod software. Now a more embarrassing blunder has added an additional two weeks to the waiting period. .

OnePlus changed the CE logo font on the back of the One. The European Union has set guidelines for displaying device certification, and Oppo apparently didn’t realize that changing the font of the certification to match its own branding was a violation of those standards. A spokesperson for the company confirmed the mistake to an Irish blog and stated that the back of the device would be redesigned and then reshipped within 2 weeks.

While 2 weeks is not a long time to wait for a product to be delivered, the reason behind the delay is troubling. Startup or not, OnePlus making such a boneheaded error at a time when the company has already made so many missteps prior is likely unsettling to the people who were excited to consider purchasing the phone. OnePlus’ invitation system has caused the company to miss out on many sales, and telling potential buyers to skip the invite process by purchasing from OppoMart, which charges $100 more than standard retail price, doesn’t do much to aid its image. The OnePlus is widely reviewed as a good phone, but consumers won’t get to that see that for themselves any time soon if Oppo keeps facing these setbacks.

Sprint works with rural carriers to spread 4G LTE

Sprint has announced that it has reached roaming agreements with 12 rural and regional carriers that will make their devices capable of accessing s Sprint’s 4G LTE network. The roaming agreements should improve coverage outside of major metropolitan areas when subscribers travel into areas where those operators have yet to build 4G networks. The carriers might otherwise not have the capital to invest in LTE, but a deal with Sprint makes that possible. Sprint’s network will now be accessible to customers on 12 networks, including:

– SouthernLINC Wireless, covering 127,000 square miles and 18 million people in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida
– nTelos, covering 66,000 square miles and 6.1 million people in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky (previously announced)
– C Spire Wireless, covering over 61,700 square miles and approximately 5.5 million people in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Tennessee
– Nex-Tech Wireless, covering 35,000 square miles and 286,000 people in Kansas and Colorado
– Flat Wireless, covering over 29,000 square miles and 2.1 million people in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona
– SI Wireless dba MobileNation, covering 10,000 square miles and 830,000 people in Tennessee and Kentucky
– Inland Cellular, covering 9,000 square miles and 297,000 people in Idaho and Washington
– Illinois Valley Cellular, covering 5,500 square miles and 250,000 people in Illinois
– Carolina West Wireless, covering 3,100 square miles and 585,500 people in North Carolina
– James Valley Telecommunications, covering 4,000 square miles and 45,000 people in South Dakota
– VTel Wireless, covering 791 square miles and 60,450 people in Vermont
– Phoenix Wireless, covering 800 square miles and 17,000 people in Maine


Beats Music gift card sale lowers 1-year subscription to $75

Beats Music dropped its price to just $99 for an annual membership, making it more affordable to listen to the premium subscription service. Now Target is making it even cheaper thanks to a price drop. Target is currently selling Beats Music Gift cards for 25 percent off, which lowers the cost of a $50 gift card to $37.50. Therefore, someone can spend $75 in cash and get $100 worth of Beats Music credit, which is exactly how much is needed for an annual subscription.

The deal is available online at Beats currently remains a US exclusive, so customers outside of the United States won’t be able to take advantage of the deal. However, this can be a way to save some money when purchasing gift cards for someone else. Target also dropped the price of the $25 gift card to $18.75.

Target’s promotion comes at an opportune time. Beats recently updated its Android app to support saving files to an SD card, view in Landscape, and improved the recommendations and listening features.