Nintendo set to develop games for smartphones and tablets

In a move that will surely have a polarizing effect among nostalgic gamers, Japanese video game maker Nintendo will soon venture into smartphone games. It will partner with Japanese mobile gaming production house DeNA to develop games for mobile devices that make use of Nintendo’s extensive portfolio of iconic games and characters in an attempt to “ensure the quality of game experience that consumers expect.” The move comes years after facing increasing competition from other companies, including PlayStation maker Sony and Xbox maker Microsoft, who have been offering customers a mobile experience.

The cross-platform service will run across smartphones, tablets, PCs and Nintendo’s own devices, and is set to launch in fall of this year.

Samsung crams even faster LTE into the Galaxy Note 4


The Galaxy Note 4 is already one of Samsung‘s best smartphones, but a new model focused on maximizing 4G could make it more of a catch. The LTE-A Tri-Band CA Galaxy Note 4 (what a mouthful) can handle three different frequency bands simultaneously and aggregate them into a single, theoretically faster connection. The improved handset, which Samsung says is the first “commercially available” smartphone with such a setup, supports both Category 6 (up to 300 Mbps) and Category 9 (up to 450 Mbps) LTE networks — but the kicker here is its ability to pick out and jump between the best available bandwidths.

In practice, it should mean consistently faster connections, provided your carrier’s network has been upgraded to support the blistering speeds. Anandtech reports that it’s also packing a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chipset, which would be an improvement on the standard Note 4’s Snapdragon 805. However, at the moment there’s nothing to suggest the new model will be sold beyond Korea. That’s understandable — until Category 6 and 9 networks are the norm, it makes little sense for Samsung to push such a device worldwide.

Racially diverse emojis are on the way




People have been grumbling for some time now that emojis are too white. There currently aren’t any emojis that reflect black, Asian or Latino users, but that’s all set to change: the Unicode Consortium, the industry body that regulates the pictoral symbols, has just announced its intentions to include five skin tones in the Unicode standard. That means you’ll finally get a more multicultural look on all platforms that support emoji, including Android or Apple smartphones.

People all over the world want to have emoji that reflect more human diversity, especially for skin tone,” Unicode Consortium wrote in a draft of its report. “The Unicode emoji characters for people and body parts are meant to be generic, yet following the precedents set by the original Japanese carrier images, they are often shown with a light skin tone instead of a more generic (inhuman) appearance, such as a yellow/orange color or a silhouette.”

Unicode Version 8.0 will add a a skin tone modifier to its system, which means that every human emoji – like dancer in a red dress or praying hands – will be available in its original white skin colour as well as four other shades.

Everyone from Miley Cyrus to actor Tahj Mowry have complained about the lack of diversity in emojis. Back in April, Apple pledged to work with the Unicode Consortium on giving the system an urgent ethnicity update.

The update is currently only in its draft stages and there is no set date for when Version 8.0 will come into play. But it all sounds pretty promising, right?


Latest LG phone leak keeps hope alive for keyboard lovers



LG Optimus F3Q for T-Mobile

Smartphones with keyboards are increasingly rare, but LG must see some life left in the category — @evleaks has just posted a leaked press shot and specs for the Optimus F3Q, a landscape slider reportedly headed to T-Mobile. While the image doesn’t do much beyond confirm the five-row keyboard from an abstract image seen last month, the rumored specs suggest that the F3Q won’t be much different than its touch-only counterpart.

It will supposedly ship with the F3’s 4-inch WVGA display, dual-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon, 5-megapixel camera and 2,460mAh battery; it may even run Android 4.1. There’s no mention of launch details in the leak, but the modest spec sheet hints that LG’s QWERTY handset will get an entry-level price.

Check out this link:

Latest LG phone leak keeps hope alive for keyboard lovers


AT&T begins updating the Galaxy S4 Active with Android 4.3


AT&T begins updating the Galaxy S4 Active with Android 4.3

Nope, it’s not KitKat, but hey, beggars owners of older Android handsets can’t be choosers. If you’ve been using AT&T‘s version of the Samsung‘s waterproof Galaxy S4 Active, you’re in luck: Android 4.3 is starting to roll out in the form of an over-the-air update. As you’re probably aware by now, the update keeps the phone in Jelly Bean territory, but brings a good deal of improvements, including OpenGL ES 3.0 support, Bluetooth Smart technology, enhanced notifications and 1080p Netflix streaming.

Good luck with that 772MB download, and do let us know how it goes.

Check out this link:

AT&T begins updating the Galaxy S4 Active with Android 4.3


You can order a gold LG G2 in Taiwan, but just… don’t.


It’s de rigeur now for flagship phones to get a gold version, a debatable trend that’s at least working out for snarky tech editors. After all, there’s something awkward about gilting a geeky handset like LG’s G2, especially in a shade reminiscent of gaudy late ’80s home decor.

It’s now available in Taiwan (and possibly elsewhere later) for $530 — if you’re in the target market, those back buttons are less likely to tangle with manicured nails.

Check out this link:

You can order a gold LG G2 in Taiwan, but just… don’t.


Apple and Samsung CEOs to meet by February 19th, give peace another chance



Galaxy Nexus and iPhone 4S

Previous attempts by Apple and Samsung to negotiate a truce in the patent wars haven’t exactly panned out, but they haven’t given up hope yet. The companies’ CEOs have just agreed to attend mediated settlement discussions no later than February 19th, potentially averting a trial in March (and likely future legal action).

We’d like to believe that Apple and Samsung will finally reach an understanding, but we’re not optimistic given how long the two have been at each other’s throats.

Check out this link:

Apple and Samsung CEOs to meet by February 19th, give peace another chance


Huawei hops on the Android gaming bandwagon with Tron mini-console



The jury’s still out on Android gaming (exhibit A: OUYA), but that’s not stopping Huawei from taking a dive into that niche corner of the industry. Its Tegra 4-based Tron mini-console, announced here at CES 2014, pairs a cylindrical-shaped hub with a Bluetooth controller that hews quite closely to the Xbox 360 mold OUYA also went after. Before we get your hopes up though, take note that Tron’s for China only — at least, for now anyway. A Huawei rep did say that the company’s looking into further market expansion, but given its track record with smartphones in the US, we have a hard time believing Tron will see these shores anytime soon.

The Tron console itself runs a half-skinned version of Android JellyBean (version 4.2.3) that presents a clean menu overlay with feature tiles for access to games, Huawei’s store, video, application, settings and featured titles. That slick menu selection comes to a screeching halt, however, as soon as you attempt to select anything other than games, bringing you face-to-face with Android’s ugly underbelly — much like on the OUYA.

Storage-wise, the Tron will come in 16GB/32GB configurations, but that space can be expanded up to 64GB via a microSD slot at its base. There’s also support for Ethernet, USB 3.0, audio out, WiFi a/b/g/n/ac and 2GB RAM to aide the Tegra 4 chip inside. The Tron console, of which there are black and white versions, is housed in a glossy plastic shell (sorry, no flashing strips of neon light) with a large power button that nearly occupies its entire top. Overall, it’s an underwhelming design — something more than one Engadget editor referred to as “wastebin-like.” You can judge for yourself in the gallery below.

The Tron controller is an Xbox 360 controller by way of OUYA. So much so, that the button placement is nearly identical save for that giant, circular touchpad smack dab in the center. Users that pick up the controller will be greeted with four actions buttons (X, Y, A, B), four shoulder triggers, as well as buttons for home, mute, view and menu. There’s even a headphone jack just tucked beneath the front face. The controller is actually incredibly light, but that lightness comes across as a con rather than an asset. It just makes the whole thing feel cheap and disposable, an impression not helped by the materials used.

Gameplay was good, not great. There was a slight latency noticeable when effecting button presses, but nothing that seemed like it’d get in the way of the onscreen action. We weren’t able to get much clarity on the openness of the platform — a Huawei rep told us games would need to be optimized for Tron before appearing in the Store — but we assume side-loading Android games wouldn’t pose any problem. 4K playback is also supported on the console and was demoed from within the video submenu.

Huawei hasn’t locked down final pricing on the Tron just yet, but we’ve heard the Android mini-console should arrive with a sub-$150 price point. Again, it’s destined for China-only in Q2 of this year, but if you really need to get your hands on it, there’s always the option to import.

Check out this link:

Huawei hops on the Android gaming bandwagon with Tron mini-console


Samsung estimates that its operating profit dropped to $7.8 billion in Q4


Samsung Galaxy S 4

Samsung may have had a record-setting summer, but it wasn’t able to repeat that achievement in the fall. The Korean tech giant estimates that its operating profit dropped to about 8.3 trillion won ($7.8 billion) in the fourth quarter, or lower than both the 8.84 trillion won ($8.3 billion) from one year ago and the 10.16 trillion won ($9.6 billion) from Q3. Samsung didn’t say what triggered the dip, but the forecast isn’t helping concerns that the company’s red-hot growth in smartphones may be cooling down. It’s not exactly crisis time at Samsung — the company generates more operating profit in a quarter than many of its mobile rivals do in total revenue.

Still, we suspect that it’s happy to be launching a slew of new gadgets that could make up for the underwhelming earnings.

Check out this link:

Samsung estimates that its operating profit dropped to $7.8 billion in Q4


Sorry USA and China! Sony Mobile is focusing on Europe and Japan


If you’re frustrated at the lack of Sony smartphones offered for sale by your mobile network, the situation is unlikely to change any time soon. Sony CEO Kaz Hirai has said the company won’t be altering its U.S. strategy in the near future. Instead, it will concentrate on promoting its smartphones in Europe and Japan, leaving the U.S. and China out in the cold.

In a report published by Reuters, Hirai said that Europe and Japan are, “The most important areas for us and we’ll put substantial resources there. But not yet for the U.S and China.” He continued: “It’s not realistic to try and do everything at once. In the U.S. we’ll start gradually.

One could argue it has already had a very gradual start, as T-Mobile is the only network to offer Sony hardware with a contract, and even then it’s only the Xperia Z, and not one of Sony’s newer phones such as the Xperia Z1. Sony’s phones are available to buy unlocked without a contract, but this method of purchasing new smartphones isn’t as popular as buying through a wireless carrier.

While China and the U.S. are two huge markets, Sony does better business in Europe and Japan, which together make up 60 percent of its sales. The aforementioned Xperia Z was a watershed device for the firm, and in several European markets, it sold out within hours of release, and its success saw the company rise to become the third most popular manufacturer in Germany, Poland, and Austria by the end of 2012. In the UK, 38 percent of new Sony smartphone owners formerly owned a Samsung device. In Japan, Sony sold 640,000 Xperia A smartphones in the first 30 days, and 140,000 Xperia Z phones in just one week on a single carrier.

Sony has lofty ambitions for the smartphone market, publicly stating it wants to be one of the top three handset manufacturers in the world. It makes sense to build on an obviously strong start in Europe and Japan, and then tackle the markets controlled by some very big players – Lenovo and Samsung control 30 percent of the Chinese market, while Apple and Samsung have 65 percent of the U.S. market – later on.

Check out this link:

Sorry USA and China! Sony Mobile is focusing on Europe and Japan