US Cellular has had precious few truly low-cost smartphones running an Android build that wasn’t baked in 2010. For those who’d like something a little fresher, the ZTE Director is here. While it’s only slightly ahead of the trailing edge with stock Ice Cream Sandwich, that’s an improvement on a category where Gingerbread still rules. Likewise, no one will be floored by the 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 3.5-inch 480 x 320 screen, 4GB of storage (plus microSD slot) and 3-megapixel rear camera, although the 1,500mAh battery is ample for the size. We imagine that customers will mostly be enamored by the price — when the Director costs a penny on contract and $200 contract-free, it may bring in those who’d have held on to that basic flip phone for a little while longer.
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If there’s one thing that smartphones have taught us, it’s that small devices can surf the internet and play games just fine, thank you. With that philosophy in mind, the brains behind eMachines have launched the $99 MiiPC on Kickstarter with the goal of giving kids their own mini PC to surf the web, play games or videos, and, yes, do homework. To keep costs down, the tiny device is packing Android 4.2, a Marvell 1.2GHZ dual core CPU, 1GB RAM, 4GB upgradeable storage, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, ethernet and 1080p HDMI output to a monitor or TV. The backers say it’s “designed for large screen connectivity and optimized to provide a true keyboard and mouse experience” so that each family member can run Android apps from their own accounts. For worried parents, the device brings an interesting twist: there’s also a mobile iOS or Android companion app to monitor your offspring in real-time from any locale. That’ll let you steer them away from verboten websites and stave off dreaded internet addiction, according to the outfit — bearing in mind, of course, that kids can be pretty clever. The campaign’s just kicked off, and MiiPC’s seeking $50,000 with a $99 pledge ($89 for the first 200 backers) netting you your own device — sans keyboard, mouse and screen, of course. Check the video or PR after the break for more.
Your smartphone and / or tablet is just begging for an update. 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 we could find during 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!
Even though the market’s currently populated with slabs such as Archos’ ChildPad or LeapFrog’s LeaPad 2, the race to become the go-to child-friendly tablet could still be considered as wide open. Having previously introduced its FunTab for kids, Ematic’s not exactly a newcomer to this territory, and this time out the company’s looking to build on that with the announcement of a slightly more powerful “Pro” model. Inside the 7-inch, 800 x 480 FunTab Pro, parents and children alike will find an undisclosed 1GHz CPU, 1GB of RAM, a taste of Google’s Ice Cream Sandwich and 8GB of onboard storage which can be expanded up to 32GB by way of microSD. Additionally, Ematic’s placing emphasis on the built-in Zoodles features that “create a safe and educational online learning experience for children,” plus the inclusion of pre-loaded apps like Skitch, School Assistant, Cut The Rope and none other than Angry Birds. The FunTab Pro will be available at Walmart (and other retailers) for $150 — and, yes, that includes the colorful, interchangeable faceplates you see in the gallery below.
It’s a silly name as smartphones go (and one that conjures images of lady-focused razors), but regardless, LG’s Intuition is now officially a member of Verizon’s lineup. The 4G LTE device, shown off today at the manufacturer’s launch event, is nigh unchanged from the South Korean model we reviewed this past July (known as the Optimus Vu). With a 5-inch 1,024 x 768 True-XGA IPS capacitive display, dual-core S3 CPU clocked at 1.5GHz, 8-megapixel rear camera, NFC, 2080mAh battery and that Rubberdium pen, the only thing separating this stateside iteration from its SK Telecom cousin is the skinned Android Ice Cream Sandwich OS onboard and $199 on contract price. So how does it fare in this Big Red debut? Follow along as we attempt to find what’s been lost, if anything, in translation.
Hardware keyboard fans must feel like they’re part of an endangered species — there’s greater uncertainty these days about software updates, let alone new smartphones. If you’re part of that persecuted group, AT&T and Samsung have your back: they’ve just started rolling out Android 4.0 for the Captivate Glide. All of the features will be familiar if you’ve borrowed someone’s Galaxy S II in the past few months, although it’s hard to object to the better multitasking and support for Chrome. About the only catch is the need to use Kies to grab the update, but that’s a small sacrifice we’re sure many are willing to make.
After more than a month of waiting, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 for T-Mobile has finally joined some of itsbrethren with an Ice Cream Sandwich update. Big Magenta has posted the Android 4.0.4 download for those who’d like to install the OS manually via Samsung Kies. While the carrier says the Android flavor won’t be delivered over-the-air, TmoNews reports that some users have loaded up their hardware with an OTA update. Ready to hop on the ICS bandwagon? Check your slate for an upgrade notice or hit the source link below for instructions and the appropriate download.
It’s bad news for Xperia Ray, Arc and Neo owners on O2’s UK network, as the carrier’s reported it won’t be updating these Sony handsets to Ice Cream Sandwich. O2 claims it has tested three versions of the OS update and decided not to approve it, due to increased hardware requirements resulting in “speed and performance” issues. This is curious, since Sony itself had no problems getting Android 4.0 up and running on the devices — even if it did take a while. If you know your way around a ROM, you probably stopped scoffing Gingerbread a long time ago. However, if you’re yet to tinker and ain’t scared by O2’s “you can’t go back” warnings, an hour or two on some specialist forums should have you sticky in no time (at your own risk, of course).
Update: O2’s been in touch assuring us the decision was not taken lightly, and that although Sony has released ICS for these handsets, they did so with clear disclaimers on performance concerns (see the Sony source below).