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Best rugged Android smartphones money can buy (2019 update)

If you are looking for a rugged phone you can toss around in the mud and go to battle with in the trenches, then continue below for our top 7 best rugged smartphone available.  But if you don’t crawl around in the mud all day for a living, we would highly suggest the Cat S60 or the Samsung Galaxy S7 Active as the most rugged smartphone for everyday use.

CAT PHONESCAT PHONES S60 Rugged Waterproof Smartphone with integrated FLIR cameraBuy on Amazon|$484.46(Price as of 02/22/2019 11:31 ET)

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Made by the same company that makes industrial heavy equipment, Caterpillar also has a phone division that makes rugged phones.  Their latest phone, the Cat S60, was released in June of 2016, so it has most of the modern technologies you would look for in a smartphone, and combine it with the rugged protection, this just might be the perfect and best rugged smartphone available today.  It comes with a 3GB RAM, huge 3800mAh battery, 13MP camera, IP68 certified for waterproofing, running Android 6.0.

Galaxy S7 Active should handle most of the daily mishaps you may entercounter.  It is built with shatter-resistant screen, rated the highest possible IP68 for water and dust protection, and comes with a huge 4,000 mAh battery to get you through the day.

You know how smartphone manufacturers always like to flaunt the way their latest, proudest, costliest “high-end products” cater to the needs of “power users” and so justify the outrageous price tags? Well, if you ask me, they got the definition of power user all wrong.

Bruce Willis phone

Bona fide power users don’t care how fast silly cat YouTube clips load on their handhelds. Or if they can smoothly run the newest Angry Birds installment. Instead, they want devices that could survive wars, actual wars, without flinching.

Quad HD displays? How about unbreakable glass with just enough pixels to check the football scores? “True” octa-core chips? Save it, and give us a gizmo we can bounce off 4 inches thick concrete walls. PureView 41 MP cameras? No thanks, but a battery capable of lasting more than a couple of days on a single charge would be nice when stranded on a deserted island in the middle of nowhere.

Bottom line, we want phones that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone would use in “Terminator 5” and “Rambo: Last Stand”, not toys for Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner to express their feelings for Kristen Stewart in “Twilight”. Luckily, a few such rough, tough, rugged models are around, and we picked seven we think might make even Machete reconsider his stance on texting.

rugged phone

Before getting to it, we’d like to underline the “magnificent seven” was selected based on a number of criteria. Of course, the exact grade of toughness carried the most weight (sorry, Galaxy S5), but we also looked for hardware specifications from this century, relatively new software, quality-price ratio (not even Rambo’s budget is unlimited), decent design (you can’t walk around with a brick in your pocket), and finally reliable, more or less well-known mobile brands. Here we go:

7. Runbo X6

Not only does this ruggedized beast’s name have an awesome ring to it (Runbo, Rambo, get it?), but it’s also water protected for dunks of up to 30 minutes in 2 meters deep rivers, lakes, whatever. And reportedly, impossible to break unless, I don’t know, a sniper has it out for you. Plus, get this, it doubles as a walkie talkie with a 5 km range. Why would you ever need a walkie talkie? Beats me, but it sounds oh so kewl.

Runbo X5

Any downsides to the Runbo X6? You bet. For one thing, it comes from a no-name Chinese OEM. It runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (2011 called…), packs a modest dual-core 1 GHz chip, and the 4.3-inch screen is cringe worthy, with 800 x 480 pixels resolution. On top of it all, it’s a little on the expensive side of things, at $400 via Amazon.


You’re probably all familiar with IP58 and IP67 certifications since the Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2 brought them to the mainstream, but the rugged CAT B15 adds MIL-STD-810G credentials in the mix. What does that mean exactly? Well, this bad boy ain’t just shielded against accidental water immersions, it can also take a beating, as well as handle solar radiation, thermal shock, humidity, vibration, you name it.


I wouldn’t go so far as to say it will take a bullet for you, but you can use it in the desert, at the North Pole, when it rains, you can punch it (though why would you?), drop it whenever wherever. Price? A measly $370. On-board software? Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Hardware specs? That’s its Achilles’ heel, as it sports a 4-inch 800 x 480 pix res panel, dual-core 1 GHz SoC and 512 MB RAM.

5. NEC Terrain

Yes, the design is a violent blast from the past. I mean, I was under the impression candybars were outlawed in certain parts of the world years ago. Jokes aside, the Terrain is sure ugly, but it has one very important thing going for it. It’s cheap. $79.99 outright through Amazon, or $100 with AT&T contracts.

NEC Terrain

It’s also dust tight, water proof, plus MIL-STD-810G certified, just like the B15. Bottom line, if you’re on an (extremely) tight budget, this is your guy. Just maybe don’t ask a lot of questions about screen resolution, pre-loaded software, or cameras.

4. Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro

Looky here, an MIL-STD-810G-approved rugged handheld from the world’s most popular mobile phone maker. And affordable too, at least with AT&T pacts: $20. Off-contract, it’s a preposterous $450, albeit you can find refurb or used units at less than half the price.

Galaxy Rugby Pro

Aside from resisting shocks, water and so on and so forth, the Rugby Pro offers 4G LTE connectivity (nice), a punchy dual-core 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 chip, and 1 GB RAM. Too bad it’s still on Ice Cream Sandwich.

3. Kyocera Hydro XTRM

This little survivor resembles the Galaxy Rugby Pro greatly, pretty much withstanding the same “pressures” with similar grace and supporting 4G LTE. But it’s so much cheaper, at $50 (yes, fifty bucks) free of contract restrictions via MetroPCS. Plus, it’s on Jelly Bean.

Kyocera Hydro XTRM

Drawbacks? Technically, it can endure shorter, more “casual” swims than some of its rivals, including the #2 on our rankings. It’s also extra prone to cracking if you drop it from higher than, say, your hip. The battery isn’t ideal either, and the 4 GB internal storage almost pitiful.

2. Kyocera Torque

Extreme is Torque’s middle name, yet another gadget that meets military standards for everything from dust to transport shock, high or low temperatures, solar radiation, etc., etc. Where the Torque truly impresses however is in battery life, packing a ginormous 2,500 mAh juicer whose autonomy is way beyond those of Android “flagship” devices. Think 20 hours in continuous talk time, and possibly up to a week in average use.


Available with Sprint contracts starting at a penny, the Kyocera Torque is no catwalk supermodel, weighing in at close to 170 grams and being way too curvy for my own personal taste. It’s also stuck on Ice Cream Sandwich. So close to perfection, Kyocera, so damn close.

1. Casio G’Zone Commando 4G LTE

Did anyone say perfection? Ahem, meet Verizon’s Commando. A striking, robust, muscular, hunky yet also stylish phone, the 4 incher is a near flawless blend of physical strength and high-performing Android-backed hardware.

Since Verizon eliminated the contracts, you would need to buy this phone outright, which is going for $499.99 currently on Amazon.  The LTE-enabled hunk is sheltered against 4-feet drops, 30-minutes 1 m depth water dunks, rain, heavy dust, salt fog, humidity, solar radiation, ultra-low pressure, temperatures as high as 85° C and as low as -25°. Bottom line, it’s virtually indestructible.


Oh, yes, and it features a snappy 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB RAM, 16 GB built-in storage, 8 MP rear-facing camera, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, so it’s really the best of both worlds.

What say you, action movie aficionados/outdoorsy tech geeks? Is any of the above your ideal war comrade? Have any other suggestions? Would you have maybe ranked our top seven differently? Let your voices be heard.

CAT PHONESCAT PHONES S60 Rugged Waterproof Smartphone with integrated FLIR cameraBuy on Amazon|$484.46(Price as of 02/22/2019 11:31 ET)

* Links in this table contain affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Thank you for your support. For more details, please visit our Privacy policy page.

Canadian Galaxy S III Receiving Jelly Bean Update On December 3rd

Users overseas may have been a bit jealous that the United States has been getting their updates to Jelly Bean on the Galaxy S III earlier than just about everyone else. If you’ve been anxious to get that update on your device, well you’re in luck! Samsung Canada has announced via a tweet that they a OTA (Over The Air) update would begin rolling out next week, which is Monday, December 3rd. This update just happens to be Android 4.1.1, which should excite a lot of you Canadian users!

A lot of American carriers still aren’t pushing out the Jelly Bean update to the Galaxy S III, despite Sprint rolling it out to their devices on their network a while back. Regardless, hopefully with the announcement of Canada getting the update we will be seeing the update also roll out from AT&T and Verizon here in the states. With how long users have been waiting for this update, I would highly doubt Samsung — and the carriers — would keep their users waiting much longer. If you remember, a while back there were a few reports that December would be the month of Jelly Bean for a few of Samsung’s devices as well. With this update coming to Canada on December 3rd, I think we’re going to be seeing a lot of Jelly Bean just about everywhere.

In other news, there has been rumors going around the Samsung Galaxy S 2 update to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is almost ready as well! Hopefully we’ll be hearing some news of this shortly here. We’ll keep you posted as to when we spot something!

Do you have any predictions as to when Samsung and the various carriers are going to start rolling out Jelly Bean for the S III and S II?  Any of our friends over in Canada excited to hear about the Jelly Bean update as well?

Sound off in the comments below!

source: Samsung
via: Talk Android 

Best prepaid sub-$100 Android smartphones – April 2014

So you’re in the market for some Android-powered goodies, but don’t care coughing up a fortune to score the best of the best. In fact, you only got one little Benjamin to spend. Of course, 100 clams is 100 too much for a host of wickedly fast high-end smartphones, including LG’s G2 or HTC’s 2013 One, as long as signing up to a 24-month carrier agreement is an option.


But what if it isn’t? Well, you could always grab one of the dirt-cheap tablets we recommended a while back. Or, better yet, why compromise when most major carriers stateside have either made the move to prepaid, or are working on it?

The advantages of prepaid plans? Need I even say it? Fine, you’re not bound to a network you may grow tired of, there’s no mandatory contract and, well, no early termination fees. Bottom line, prepaid equals freedom. And affordability.

100 Dollar Bill

Sure, that hundred bucks won’t get you cutting edge performance, quad-core processors or Full HD displays, yet our picks of the best low-cost prepaid smartphones around are poised to come in handy as backup devices for power users or primary handhelds for casual mobile enjoyers. Here they all are, in reverse order of pizazz:

7. Kyocera Hydro Edge – available for $79.99 at Boost Mobile

Why it’s one of the best:

  • Water and dust resistant thanks to IP57 certification
  • It’s surprisingly light for a water-shielded device, tipping the scales at 128 grams
  • Also fairly thin, at 10 mm
  • Packs 1 GB RAM
  • 5 MP rear-facing camera with LED Flash, burst mode, HDR and Panorama

Kyocera Hydro Edge

Why it’s not the best:

  • It might be light and thin, but the overall design doesn’t work in its favor, with massive front bezels and a funky, weird back cover
  • Dated, laggy dual-core 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon chip
  • Only 4 GB built-in storage
  • No front cam
  • Tiny 1,600 mAh battery
  • No 4G LTE support


Neutral points:

  • 4-inch 800 x 480 pixels resolution display
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with no KitKat update in sight

6. ZTE Awe – $63.99 with Virgin Mobile

Strong suits:

  • It’s the cheapest of the bunch
  • Offers a lot of RAM for its price range: 1 gig
  • 5 MP rear-facing camera with LED flash and 1.2 MP front snapper
  • Dual-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon S4 Plus (not the zippiest around, but again, considering the price range, it’s quite enthralling)
  • Incredibly light and comfortable to hold (125 grams)

Virgin Mobile Awe


  • No 4G LTE speeds
  • 4 GB storage
  • It’s currently on sale at $64, so it could become pricier any minute
  • Main camera lacks autofocus
  • Skinny 1,650 mAh battery, yet chunky 10 mm thick figure


Neutral points:

  • 4-inch 480 x 800 display
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with no KitKat in sight

5. ZTE Radiant – $80 with AT&T GoPhone

Strong points:

  • Dual-core 1.4 GHz processor
  • 5 MP rear-facing camera with LED Flash and digital zoom
  • 1 GB RAM

AT&T Radiant


  • Lackluster design, a lot of wasted space on the front between the logos, bezels and capacitive buttons
  • Chunky and bulky, at 147 grams weight and 11 mm waist
  • Modest 1,735 mAh battery
  • No 4G LTE
  • No front-facing camera, rear-facing snapper lacks autofocus

Neutral points:

  • 4-inch 480 x 800 screen
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

4. ZTE Source – $99.98 with Cricket Wireless

Why it’s one of the best:

  • It offers plenty of screen real estate, courtesy of a 4.5-inch TFT panel
  • Supports 4G LTE connectivity
  • It’s handsome in a retro way, despite also wasting a lot of precious space with pointless screen borders
  • 5 MP primary camera with LED Flash, BSI sensor, autofocus and digital zoom
  • 1.2 MP secondary shooter
  • 1 GB RAM
  • Spacious 2,070 mAh battery

ZTE Source

Why it’s not the all-around best:

  • Like Virgin’s Awe, it’s $100 as part of a limited-time promotion, and thus will probably be more expensive soon
  • The display may be large, but it’s very low-quality, as it sports 854 x 480 pixels resolution for a cringe worthy 218 ppi
  • Coverage could be an issue, as Cricket isn’t exactly a leading mobile operator
  • 4 GB on-board storage

ZTE Source-2

Neutral points:

  • 1.2 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus processor
  • Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean

3. Samsung Galaxy Legend, aka Stellar – $99.99 with Verizon prepaid

Strong suits:

  • Rounded corners and glossy rears may not be upsides for high-enders, but for a low-ender, they’re okay
  • 4G LTE support
  • 1 GB RAM
  • Fantastic battery life, thanks to a 2,100 mAh juicer
  • It is a Samsung and might prove more reliable on the long haul than, say, a ZTE
  • 1.3 MP front-facing cam

Samsung Galaxy Legend


  • 12 mm profile? You’re lucky you carry that gigantic battery around!
  • 3.2 MP rear-facing camera sans Flash
  • 4 GB storage

Galaxy Legend

Neutral points:

  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and run-of-the-mill 800 x 480 pixels resolution display

2. Kyocera Hydro XTRM – available for $99.99 at US Cellular

Why it’s the second best:

  • The design of rugged devices isn’t quite everyone’s cup of tea, but who can’t appreciate the benefits of a water and dust-resilient handheld with, wait for it, MIL-STD-810G military certification for resistance to humidity, rain, solar radiation, transport and thermal shock?
  • 4G LTE data capability
  • 5 MP rear camera with LED flash, autofocus and geo-tagging
  • 1.3 MP front snapper
  • Massive 2,000 mAh battery supposedly capable of holding a charge for up to 12 hours in talk time

Hydro XTRM

Why it’s the second best (get it?):

  • Not exactly a looker, due mostly to rugged reinforcements
  • 4 GB storage

Kyocera Hydro XTRM

Neutral points:

  • Same old Android build and 4-inch display
  • Dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU

1. Motorola Moto G – $80 with US Cellular, $99.99 on Verizon and Sprint

Why it’s the best of the best:

  • It’s got by far the highest resolution display of the “magnificent seven” – 1,280 x 720 – plus, it’s huge: 4.5 inches
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection
  • Remember when I told you $100 can’t possibly buy quad-core power? I lied, the G comes with a quad 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 in tow
  • Android 4.4 KitKat
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 8 GB storage (16 GB versions also available for some extra dough)
  • 2,070 mAh battery
  • 5 MP/1.3 MP cams
  • Bluetooth 4.0


How it could have been better (read downright epic):

  • 4G LTE
  • microSD support
  • A couple of mm shaved off its profile

Moto G-2

Aaand that’s a wrap. We’d love to hear your thoughts on our list, including how we messed it up and who we unjustly snubbed. Let your voices be heard.

LG Intuition on Verizon getting updated to Android 4.1


Android 4.4 KitKat might be the talk of the town right now, but the sad reality is that most devices out there are currently stuck at Android versions as old as 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). They’ll probably never see the chocolaty goodness of KitKat, but one device is at least getting the chance to hop on to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

That device is the LG Intuition, the disproportionately wide 5-inch Galaxy Note competitor launched by Verizon and LG late last year. An update to build VS95022B will be rolling out shortly – there are changes to the UI such as Multi-page share, fixes for issues like broken bookmark sync, updates to a few Verizon apps, addition of a plethora of new apps and games, and also the removal of a few widgets.

Apart from those, the update will also be bringing the many features of Jelly Bean, such as Project Butter for a smoother interface, expandable and actionable notifications, and more, all of which should improve the overall experience drastically.

The update will be available over-the-air, though there’s no mention of when the rollout will actually start. It shouldn’t take long, though don’t keep your fingers crossed for any updates past Android 4.1, other than bug fixes and minor improvements.


Source: Verizon

Best Sub-$100 Android Tablets From Companies You’ve Actually Heard Of (Or Should Have)

The whole world revolves around money. But money can’t buy happiness. What we have there is two universally accepted old sayings that contradict each other without leaving much room in the middle. So which one’s true after all?


How about neither? If you’re a geek like me (and you won’t be here otherwise), I’m sure you can find pleasure in things that don’t require to pay an arm and a leg and therefore make you, pardon my French, money’s little bitch.

At the same time though, the tablets I’m going to tell you about, which can make you happy beyond your wildest dreams, can’t be scored without a little bit of dough. Namely, a Benjamin, give or take.

Without further adieu, I thus give you the top five Android tablets up for grabs for 100 bucks or less. Top five tabs that are manufactured by companies you’ve actually heard of or should be hearing of starting now.


And I don’t mean obscure China-based clone makers that are trying to start over and build a new reputation, but instead genuine businesses legitimately on the rise or already among the industry’s top dogs.

5. Hisense Sero 7 Lite

I know, the name Hisense probably doesn’t ring many bells or inspire a lot of trust, especially upon hearing the company works out of China. But so do Lenovo, Huawei or ZTE and I don’t see you giving them such a hard time.

Besides, Hisense has never had any sort of involvement in Shanzhai, aka the booming pirated brands and goods Asian business, and its $13 billion 2012 revenue proves the company is here to stay. Plus, they have quite the reputation in Europe when it comes to white goods and they’re a state-owned enterprise.


Now, about one of their first meaningful Western tablet efforts. This is called the Sero 7 Lite and its one fatal flaw is it’s only available via Walmart stateside. Other than that, I dare, nay double dare you to find anything wrong with this 7-inch beauty.

Up for grabs for a measly 89 bucks, the Sero offers everything you could hope for in that budget: a dual-core CPU (clocked at 1.6 GHz), 1 gig of RAM, microSD support, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, full Google Play access, Wi-Fi and mini HDMI connectivity.

4. Ematic EM63

Only launched roughly 24 hours ago, the EM63 looks a lot like the Sero 7 from a technical standpoint, but it’s both cheaper, at $85, and easier to score, through Amazon and soon enough a number of other retailers.


Plus, if you’re still not comfortable with buying a slate from a relatively low-profile Chinese manufacturer, you’ll be ecstatic to hear Ematic is based in California and has an expertise in the tech world of close to two decades.

Bottom line, this is another name you probably haven’t heard of yet, but should remember it for time to come. As for the EM63, it’s equipped with a run-of-the-mill 7-inch 1,024 x 600 pix res screen, runs Android 4.1 out the box and packs dual-core speed and 1 GB RAM.

3. Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet

It may be older than its two contenders so far, having seen daylight two full years ago, but it definitely has the edge when it comes to brand recognition and awareness, coming from a suffering yet respected name in the tech game.


In terms of hardware, the Nook Tab is lacking in a number of departments, like connectivity, where HDMI is missing, but in others it completely blows the Hisense and Ematic out of the water. For instance, it comes with 16 GB of on-board storage in a version that only costs $99.95 nowadays.

Remember though, the Nook doesn’t technically run Android, but a fork of Google’s OS, which is a little clunky and dusty, as it’s based on 2.3 Gingerbread.

2. Lenovo IdeaTab A1000

Now don’t tell me you’ve never heard of Lenovo. And while the IdeaTab A1000 is pretty obviously light years behind what they call powerhouses, it at least comes with the company’s guaranteed solid build and fairly premium looks.

On the not so bright side, it’s only been a few months since Lenovo rolled this bad boy out, so it’s a little difficult to find it for under $100. Amazon, for instance, currently sells it for $99.99, but my guess is that’s part of a limited-time deal only and it will all go back up to $120 in no time.


What’s clear is that if you’re in the market for a dirt-cheap 7-incher and happen to find this thing around the $100 mark, you should go for it. Granted, it only packs 8 GB of on-board storage and the dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU is not that hot. Yet the looks, pre-loaded Android 4.1 (upgradeable to 4.2), 3,500 mAh battery and 1 GB RAM make it a great overall buy.

1. Asus MeMo Pad ME172V

And the award for best sub-$100 Android tablet goes to the first-gen MeMo Pad, cooked up in the same laboratories as Google’s Nexus 7. Included on our list of best all-around small slates, the ME172V probably needs no introduction, with the sole catch blocking a possible purchase being the cheapest model, available for $90, is… pink.

Asus ME172V

Meanwhile, the white and grey versions go for $105, which is not all that expensive when you think about it. More specifically, when you pit the Asus slate against the IdeaTab A1000 and see the former has an extra 8 gigs of storage, much bigger battery and even better looks, with a skinnier profile and obvious N7 design nods. Bottom line, you can’t do much better than this at such a low price.

Did we forget anything? Include something on the list that wasn’t worth the recognition? What’s your personal top five? Or top three? Let us know down below.

Sony Xperia SL, Xperia S and Xperia Acro S all getting maintenance update



Sony will be rolling out a maintenance update for Xperia SL, Xperia S and Xperia Acro S users. This will not be a new operating system update, but a system update on Android 4.1 to remove and fix some of the bugs.

The Xperia SL, Xperia S and Xperia Acro S all run on Snapdragon S3 processors and Qualcomm stopped support at Android 4.1. This means Sony has no stable release for Android 4.2 or Android 4.3 in sight and this may be the last update for all three devices.

Here is a rundown of all the maintenance update:

  • Camera
  • addressed an abnormality in the white balance
  • improved the “Quick Launch” button functionality
  • smoothed out (1080p) video recording, minimizing lag
  • Apps and services
  • streamlined Exchange Active Sync, particularly when running an encrypted set-up
  • boosted connection stability for 2G network data
  • ensured preferences on 3rd party apps remain after reboot – not a common problem, but we understand it can be a frustrating one!
  • Battery
  • economised power consumption, and heat dispersion for longer life
  • corrected juice level notifications, especially when running low
  • Hardware and UI
  • introduced a home key long-press to launch Google Now, and a double-press to launch Recent Apps
  • made sure the volume “up” button is fully responsive

The battery life boost and 1080p video recording are two features we are impressed to see on the three devices, we can tell Sony has worked to try and make sure Xperia users get the most out of their phone on contract.


Sprint finally updates ZTE Flash to Android 4.1

ZTE Flash

ZTE Flash

Sprint has finally issued an update to the ZTE Flash, which broke cover in November last year. The update will take the smartphone to Android 4.1. It’s a little odd that it took Sprint and ZTE over 9 months to come up with this update while most smartphones are in line for the Android 4.2 or Android 4.3 update. Better late than never they say, so if you own a ZTE Flash on Sprint’s network, make sure you keep an eye out for an update notification.

It might take another couple of weeks until the rollout is finished according to Sprint’s forum post. This new update will change the software version to N9100V1.0.0B15. Coming from Android 4.0, this is certainly a major upgrade, but one which is long overdue. Users can get their first taste of Google Now and increased performance along with Project Butter, which enhances overall fluidity. The camera app will also see some improvements now with a new blink detection feature added for the 12.6MP camera on board.

Source: Sprint Community

Via: Android Police

The Road to Key Lime Pie is paved with Jelly Beans

Google is widely expected to release Android 5.0, Key Lime Pie, in the last quarter of this year. Key Lime Pie is expected to be a major update of Google operating system. The last major update of the Android Operating System was Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, released October 2011. In between, we have seen several Jelly Bean Releases.

Screenshot_2013-07-28-12-23-38Android 4.0 merged the Android phone and tablet operating systems and brought the new Holo User interface to Android phones. The task switcher was brought to  front and center of the Android experience. A new more attractive animation, was accompanied by the replacement of the Search and Menu buttons, with a dedicated Recent Apps button. In addition, new features like resizable widgets, Face Unlock and the ability to launch the camera from the lock screen were introduced. Behind the scenes, a lot had also changed. Android 4.0 used hardware acceleration to run the graphical user interface and in general higher system requirements. This left many Android devices stuck on Android 2.3. Ice Cream Sandwich.

Since then, there have been five Jelly Bean feature releases (Android 4.1, 4.1.2, 4.2, 4,2.2 and 4.3) and two bug fixes (Android 4.1.1, Android 4.2.2). Each new feature release has made incremental improvements in Android.

 Android 4.1 (July 2012)

Android 4.1 made two major improvements in Android. One was what has been dubbed “Project Butter”. Project Butter is actually the continuous tweaking of the Android operating system for better performance and to give the user interface a more fluid experience.  While widely publicized with Android 4.1, most Android releases include performance improvements.

More revolutionary is Google Now, Android’s built-in personal assistant. Personal assistants had been in the Apple App Store and Google Play, virtually unnoticed for years until Apple bought Siri and integrated it into iOS for the iPhone 4S. Similarly, Samsung got another commercial personal assistant, Vlingo and used that as the base for its S-Voice personal assistant which we first saw integrated in TouchWiz for the Samsung Galaxy S III. Andy Rubin, then Google’s Android chief was never very fond of Siri, and Google came up with Google Now.

Google Now not only answer questions, but also make recommendations and performs actions by delegating requests to a set of web services. Google Now passively delivers information to the user that it predicts they will want, based on their search habits, trying to mimic a real world personal secretary.

Android 4.1.2 (October 2012)

Android 4.1.2 enabled home screen rotation on Vanilla Android.

 Android 4.2 (November 2012)

Android 4.2 incorporated a lot of existing features in manufacturer customized versions of Android or apps as core parts of the Android. This includes a more customizable Lockscreen, quick settings, gesture typing and 360 degree images. Android 4.2.2 also adopted Miracast as the standard for the output or standard and HD video wireless WiFi enabled LCD/LED TV’s and other devices.

For tablets, Android 4.2 added one major feature. Android 4.2 allows multi-users to maintain separate profiles in an Android tablet, with each profile having its own apps and settings. This allows an Android device to be shared among several users.

 Android 4.2.2 (February 2013)

Android 4.2.2 brought with it improvements to notifications, quick settings and performance.

 Android 4.3 (July 2013)

Android 4.3 probably should have been named Android 4.2.3 as the improvements it brings do not seem to merit a full tenth of a point increase in the version number. Well, at least not at first glance. The most apparent changes is Restricted Profiles for tablets. Android 4.3 allows you to segment off access to different areas of the tablet to different users. This would allow parents to restrict their children’s access to adult content as an example.

But the main focus of the latest upgrade is under the hood. Android 4.3 features support for OpenGL ES 3.0, a graphics API that will improve Android graphics capabilities and should allow Android game developers to release even more graphically amazing titles. Android also added for low-power Bluetooth devices, which seems to be in preparation for better support for Smartwatches and any other accessories that manufacturers decided to come out for Android. For a list of top new features in Android 4.3, click this link.

It looks like Google may be saving the more revolutionary changes for Android 5.0, Key Lime Pie.

Huawei announces Mediapad 7 Youth tablet

Huawei has just made the Mediapad 7 Youth tablet official. This is a 7-inch full HD tablet that can be used to make voice calls as well as send SMS and MMS messages. Aimed at younger consumers, the tablet is expected to come with a pocket-friendly price tag when it finally hits the market.


The Huawei Mediapad 7 Youth features a polished aluminum metal unibody exterior that is slim and lightweight, measuring 9.9 millimeters and weighing 350 grams. Compared to the Google Nexus 7 tablet, the Huawei Mediapad 7 Youth is thinner but heavier.

For its display, it packs a 1080p capacitive 10-point touchscreen whereas for its processor, it comes with a 28nm dual-core 1.6GHz CPU with an unspecified brand. The press release does not specify its GPU, RAM, or internal storage space. Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is its operating system, possibly overlaid with Huawei’s Emotion UI. Meanwhile, the tablet draws its power from a 4100 mAh Li-Polymer battery which promises around two weeks of standby time once fully-charged. Connectivity options on the tablet include HSPA+ up to 21 Mbps and Wi-Fi.

The tablet will be released in various locations, such as Europe, China, Middle East, Asia Pacific, and Russia during the third quarter of 2012. Last month, the tablet also made an appearance at the FCC, where it was revealed to be a budget tablet that does not sport a rear-facing camera. Today’s announcement, however, shows that the tablet does offer a rear-facing camera, in addition to a front-facing camera, as indicated by a press render of the device on the official website. The numbers of megapixels on the cameras have not been revealed, along with the other technical specifications and features.

The Huawei Mediapad 7 Youth is expected to compete against the ASUS Fonepad, another tablet which is able to perform smartphone functions, as well. Other possible competitors include the 7-, 8-, and 10.1-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 slates, which are also able to make voice calls, as well as the growing number of larger smartphones, also known as phablets.

Are you interested in a 7-inch tablet that can make calls? Or would you rather use a regular smartphone for such purpose?

via thenextweb

Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 NFC Edition Gets Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean Update

It’s probably no more than a matter of days until Samsung’s latest budget-conscious handheld, the Galaxy Ace 3, will be made official. But before that can happen, Sammy has a few loose ends left from the phone’s previous generation to tie up.

The Ace 2, released with on-board Android 2.3 Gingerbread a year back, has started getting scoops of delicious Jelly Beans early last month. At that time, it was the non-NFC version (model number GT-I8160) that was bumped up, but now the NFC edition is getting the same treatment.


That’s at least according to Sam Mobile, but usually, when the website calls it, it’s for real. The exact model number of the Ace 2 being upgraded is GT-I8160P and apparently you can leap to 4.1.2 both through KIES and OTA (over-the-air).

The first country where the update went live was reportedly Germany earlier today, but I’m guessing that’s just the beginning and by the end of the week we’re going to have a fairly rich list of countries where people can get Android 4.1.2 on their Aces.

Remember, these things usually go out in phases, so even if you’re not treated to an update, say, three or four days for now, there’s no reason to panic.

As for you lucky dawgs that have received the prompt message to download and install the new software pack or that have found it in Kies, be sure to have your battery above the 50% mark (ideally, as close as possible to 100%) and enough storage space to go around.

We don’t know exactly how much the upgrade weighs, but it’s likely at least 200 MB heavy. The build date is marked as May 1, while the PDA, CSC and modem codes are I8160PXXME1, I8160PDBTME1 and I8160PXXME1 respectively. Now I wonder if there’s also an Android 4.2 bump for the Ace 2 on the horizon or if this is the 3.8-incher’s end of the road as far as software support is concerned.

Oh, well, even if this is the end, there’s nothing to feel bad about. After all, you’ll be getting a new, smoother and improved UI with Android 4.1, Google Now support and a bunch of Project Butter performance enhancements. 

Via [Sam Mobile]

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active and S4 Mini Allegedly Get Benchmarked, Spec Sheets Still Up In The Air

With the Galaxy S4 out and about for mere weeks, you might think Samsung’s marketing efforts would focus solely on the “next big thing”. Only, unlike its predecessors, the S4 is just a piece of Sammy’s world-conquering puzzle, with reinforcements bound to come from the Active, Mini and Zoom versions of the flagship device.

The three high-end-ish phones are just about confirmed following a very recent and furious rumor bonanza, but things remain fuzzy when it comes to their spec sheets. Bits and pieces have been thrown around in the mix for the past few weeks, but until hearing about the trio from official sources everything has to be filed under speculation.

Galaxy S4 Active-S4 Mini

Oh, but how we all love to speculate, rumor and gossip, right? Well, if so, you can today add a few nuggets of “info” in the S4 Active and Mini rumor mills.

The two handhelds have been allegedly spotted in AnTuTu benchmarks, with their results revealing a few fairly predictable, but also a couple of unexpected things about them. For instance, the Active, rumored to come with most of the original S4’s features, plus water and dust protection, fares much worse in the comprehensive test for some reason.

Namely, the device scores a measly 17,613 points. Measly at least compared with what the GS4 is capable of – roughly 25,000 points, according to several trustworthy tests. But what’s up with that massive gap?

To be frank, I have no idea, especially when seeing the SGH-I537 (aka S4 Active for AT&T) running on Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean and having a CPU clocked at 1.9 GHz under its hood. My best guess is the benchmark is faked, because otherwise it would mean the Active will come with a weirdly overclocked S4 Pro chip instead of the previously anticipated Snapdragon 600 unit.

In any case, the thing remains fairly intriguing, with the Full HD screen already confirmed by a user agent profile.

Things are similarly tangled for the upcoming S4 Mini too, though one thing is clear nevertheless – this fellow has a place reserved well below the S4 on the Android food chain. The phone carrying the model number GT-I9195 has been seen scoring a decent 14,075 points in AnTuTu, but naturally that means a Snapdragon 600 processor is not in the cards here.

Instead, we will likely see the thing packing either an S4 or an Exynos 5 chip, either one featuring no more than two cores. Sam Mobile has apparently received word of the latter, and, considering the website’s track record with such “tips”, I’m inclined to give them credence.

The processor will apparently be clocked at 1.6 or 1.7 GHz and, in an unusual twist, get paired with 1 gig of RAM in S4 Mini’s 3G-only variation and 2 gigs in the LTE flavor. Other features should include a 4.3-inch qHD screen, 32 GB of on-board memory (!!!), an 8 MP rear snapper, a 2,100 mAh battery and Android 4.1 or 4.2 Jelly Bean. Does anyone still think Samsung’s Android crown can be snatched by the “competition”?

Via [Rbmen] (1), (2), [Sam Mobile]

Sony Xperia SP Available for US Pre-Orders for $490, Shipping May 20 In Unlocked, LTE-Enabled Flavor

After making the top of the line Xperia Z and ZL available via its US online store, Sony has decided to show some love to its non-stinking rich American fans as well by putting the Xperia SP up for pre-orders.

Sony Xperia SP

The mid-range 4.6-inch fellow is to start shipping on May 20 in an unlocked, SIM-free and LTE-enabled flavor also known under the C5306 model number. The thing is not exactly dirt-cheap, but considering it can easily take on most of last year’s high-end smartphones you’ll probably find the $489.99 price point fair.

But before anything, let’s take a quick look at Xperia SP’s full spec sheet:

  • 4.6-inch TFT capacitive touchscreen with 1,280 x 720 pixels resolution and 319 ppi
  • Corning Gorilla Glass
  • Sony Mobile Bravia Engine 2
  • Dual-core 1.7 GHz Qualcomm MSM8960T Snapdragon CPU
  • Adreno 320 GPU
  • 1 GB of RAM
  • 8 GB of on-board storage (5.8 GB user available)
  • MicroSD support
  • 8 MP rear-facing camera with autofocus and LED flash
  • VGA secondary cam
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • 2,370 mAh battery
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, microUSB 2.0
  • 130.6 x 67.1 x 10 mm dimensions
  • 155 grams weight

So the Xperia SP is not quad-core and it doesn’t sport a Full HD panel. It also doesn’t come with the water and dust protection of its Z cousin, but the bang for the buck is still pretty darn impressive.

The 720p display is awesome, the 1.7 GHz dual-core CPU is zippy enough even for hardcore gamers, the 8 MP camera would have been state-of-the-art just six months ago and the battery should be good for up to 10 hours of continuous use in talk time.

The SP is a head-turner even if you don’t know what it packs beneath its hood, having a truly unique design and a great in-hand feel. The thing is sexy, but not tacky, solid, but not chunky and very, very elegant in both black and white.

And by the way, you can order either SP shade via Sony’s US online store at the moment. Alternatively, you can choose to do business with Amazon, which charges a more affordable $459.74 for the black, factory unlocked C5303.

That’s the “international”, 4G LTE-enabled model, which should work fine in the US. Then again, don’t come knocking on our door if this particular variant will not be capable of the same speeds on American shores as the C5306.

Now how about making the SP available in a subsidized form too, Sony?

Via [Sony US]

Samsung Galaxy Core Goes Official – Dual SIM Version Coming This Month, Single SIM In July

With the high-end smartphone niche covered by the Galaxy S4, probably the best Android-powered handheld around, Samsung is now focusing all the company’s efforts on securing the top spot in the mid-range and entry-level markets.

Only it’s starting to seem like Sammy is trying too hard. We know very well a Galaxy S4 Mini is in the making and yet several other mid-range S3 or S4 lookalikes have been spread around the world in the past couple of months.

Samsung Galaxy Core

And it’s not over yet, as Samsung has today announced a new phone – the Galaxy Core. What’s special about this guy? Erm, I’m sorry to say, but not much. In fact, it looks a lot like the Galaxy S2 Plus on the inside and like a downsized GS4 on the outside, save for the thin bezels.

Confused much? Well, maybe you can make heads or tails of Samsung’s strategy if you look at Core’s spec sheet some more:

  • 4.3-inch 800 x 480 pixels resolution TFT LCD screen
  • 1.2 GHz dual-core processor
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • Smart Stay, Smart Alert, Motion UI, S Voice, Voice Unlock
  • 5 MP rear camera with LED flash
  • VGA front webcam
  • 1,800 mAh battery
  • 8 GB of on-board storage
  • MicroSD support for expanding the memory with an additional 64 GB
  • 1 GB of RAM
  • Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0, microUSB, A-GPS
  • Accelerometer, Proximity, Digital Compass
  • 129.3 x 67.6 x 8.95 mm dimensions
  • 124 grams weight
  • Optional dual SIM

You got nothing, do you? Like I said, it’s a Galaxy S2 Plus with a facelift. And not even a great facelift, as the Core is a little thicker than the GS2 Plus and has bigger bezels. It also sacrifices in the imagery department, downsizing S2 Plus’ 8 and 2 MP cams to a 5 MP/VGA duo.

On the flipside, the new guy does come with a slightly larger battery (1,800 vs 1,650 mAh), optional dual SIM, and, we’re guessing, a lower price point. That’s, in good Samsung fashion, being kept under wraps, but we’ll know soon enough, given the Galaxy Core Duos will be made available starting later this month, whereas the single-SIM version will hit the ground running come July.

Another question that’s still up in the air is what CPU the Core is packing. Chances are it’s something light on battery consumption, like a MediaTek or Broadcom chip, but let’s wait and see, shall we?

Via [Samsung]

Acer Intros Liquid E2 Duo, the Closest the Company Can Get to a High-End Smartphone

Acer might be suffering in the PC market and is bleeding money all-around, but that can’t stop the Taiwanese from becoming a more and more important player in the Android décor. Besides unleashing one of the most dangerous Nexus 7 opponents, the dirt-cheap Iconia Tab A1, Acer is stepping things up in the smartphone world with the Liquid E2 Duo.


This big guy comes just a few months after the official intro of the Liquid E1 and is definitely the closest Acer has ever gotten to a truly high-end handheld.

Sure, the E2 doesn’t have what it takes to challenge the Samsung Galaxy S4 or HTC One, but it ticks all the right boxes to be an ideal device for speed addicts on a budget. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and list the thing’s spec sheet before anything:

  • 4.5-inch IPS display with qHD (960 x 540 pixels) resolution
  • Quad-core 1.2 GHz processor
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • 1 GB of RAM
  • 4 GB of on-board storage
  • MicroSD support
  • Primary 8 MP camera
  • Front-facing 2 MP snapper
  • Dual-SIM
  • 2,000 mAh battery
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS
  • DTS Sound enhancements
  • 131 x 68 x 9.9 mm dimensions
  • 140 grams weight

As you can see, not all the pieces of the puzzle are in place yet. The biggest question relates to the CPU, whose make and model we don’t know at this time. Chances are it’s going to be a power-saving MediaTek unit, in which case the Liquid E2 would basically be as zippy (or as laggy) as phones with dual-core Snapdragon S4 inside.

That’s far from ideal, as are the 4 gigs of internal memory. We’re not big fans of the design either, with the 4.5-incher being chunkier than the E1 and even heavier than the 4.8-inch Samsung Galaxy S3.

But, looking at the half full part of the glass, we have to give up to Acer for the on-board Jelly Bean, decent 8 MP camera, dual-SIM support and especially price point. Oh, right, I didn’t mention the pricing yet.

The Acer Liquid E2 Duo will be made available across Europe and Asia in mid-May for… wait for it… €229. That’s roughly 300 bucks, which is not bad for a 4.5-inch quad-core phone with Jelly Bean. Not bad at all!

Via [Android Community] and [Test-Mobile]