4G Phones Compared

Droid Life has a Verizon 4G LTE Android Phone comparison chart, displaying their known specs.

Verizon’s LTE phones are not yet available, but the new HTC Thunderbolt is rumored to appear some time in February.The others may appear around mid-year, perhaps May or June. DroidLife has more information on the Motorola DROID BIONIC, HTC Thunderbolt, LG Revolution and Samsung SCH-I510

Verizon’s LTE service looks like the one to beat. But comparisons between AT&T’s HSPA, T-Mobile’s HSPA+ and Sprint’s WiMAX may depend more on how you typically use the service and where you’re located. If you can’t get a reliable connection at work or at home, what’s the point?

WiMAX has truly unlimited monthly data, but service would likely be spottier since it uses a 2.6GHz service rather than Verizon’s longer range 700 MHz service.

Verizon has not announced any LTE iPhones or any 4G service for it (yet), but Verizon is projecting sales of 11 million iPhones in 2011. An LTE phone from Verizon would likely be faster than competitors, but may fall back to a slower (CDMA Rev A) speed compared to HSPA or HSPA+ offered by AT&T and T-Mobile.

Cell congestion may affect the carriers differently. Data caps may also become increasingly important as tablets begin to use video more extensively.

ARM Announces 2 New Processors

ARM is offering two new processors — the Cortex-R5 and Cortex-R7 — which will help next-generation smartphones and tablets take better advantage of faster broadband, the company said on Monday.

With LTE, WiMAX and HSPA increasing data speeds, devices have to keep up. The Cortex-R5 and Cortex-R7 processors can keep up with single or dual cores, and clock speeds at up to 1.66 GHz or 2.53 GHz, respectively. One core can, for example, be instructed to handle download traffic and the other upload traffic, according to Andrew Frame, product manager at ARM. Smartphone vendors can also choose to lower the clock speed, to lower power requirements.

The Cortex-R5 is already shipping to ARM’s partners, and the Cortex-R7 will join it in the third quarter. Products that user the latter are expected to start shipping towards the end of the year.

At CES 2011, the momentum behind ARM chips was solidified when Microsoft announced the next version of Windows will support ARM, and when graphics company Nvidia announced it is making its first GPU/CPU hybrid chip based on ARM Cortex A15 processors.

In related news, Intel announced today it has completed the $1.4 Billion acquisition of Infineon AG’s Wireless Solution business , to tie baseband processors into the company’s CPU solutions. The new wireless business will now be called Intel Mobile Communications (IMC) and will operate as a standalone business entity within Intel’s Architecture Group to enable continuity of existing customer sales, projects and support, including ARM-based products.

Intel also showed off its Medfield-based smartphone. The Medfield platform will include a power-efficient version of the Atom processor, which will be integrated inside a chip code-named Penwell. Medfield processors are expected to debut in shipping devices later this year.

Dell Streak 7: $199/$450 at T-Mobile

T-Mobile says the Dell Streak 7 will be available on February 2 for $199.99 after a two-year agreement and a $50 mail-in rebate on February 2nd. Off-contract, and on T-Mobile’s prepaid mobile broadband plans, the Streak 7 will sell for $450.

The Dell Streak 7 is a 7″ tablet running Android 2.2 using a dual core Nvidia processor. The touchscreen offers an 800 x 480 ratio, dual cameras with a 5 Megapixel and 1.3 Megapixel Webcam, and support for Adobe video chat, and a 2780 mah battery. An SD card slot will permit storage of up to 32GB.

T-Mobile’s Galaxy Tab costs $50 more ($250, after a $50 mail-in rebate). Samsung’s Galaxy Tab runs the Android 2.2 (Froyo) and features a 7-inch touchscreen, a 1.0 GHz ARM Cortex-A8 (“Hummingbird”) processor, the Swype input system, a 3.2 MP rear-facing camera and a 1.3 MP front facing camera for video calls.

T-Mobile now offers a 200 megabyte data plan as a $10 add-on to voice plans. Engadget has a Streak 7 review. They’re not impressed. AnandTech also has a tablet hands-on roundup.

Flaw in Sandy Bridge Chipset

Intel has discovered a design flaw with its new Sandy Bridge chip, the company said today. The flaw is found in the company’s recently released Intel 6-series “Cougar Point” chipset, could cause the Serial-ATA (SATA) ports within the chipset to degrade over time, according to Intel.

According to Intel; “The only systems sold to an end customer potentially impacted are Second Generation Core i5 and Core i7 quad core based systems. Intel believes that consumers can continue to use their systems with confidence, while working with their computer manufacturer for a permanent solution. For further information consumers should contact Intel at www.intel.com on the support page or contact their OEM manufacturer”.

All shipments have been stopped and a fix has been implemented for new deliveries, but recalls may be starting soon. For the first quarter of 2011, Intel expects this issue to reduce revenue by approximately $300 million.

Android 2.3 Vulnerability

A computer scientist has found a vulnerability in Android 2.3 that can be exploited to disclose sensitive user information, reports The Register.

The data-stealing bug in Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), allows attackers read and upload pictures, voicemail and other data stored on a handset’s SD memory card, according to Xuxian Jiang, assistant professor in North Carolina State University’s department of computer science. The vulnerability, which is exploited when a user clicks on a booby-trapped link, also allows attackers to upload phone applications to a remote server.

He said proof-of-concept code successfully carries out the attack on a stock Nexus S phone, which comes with Gingerbread installed. It’s not clear if the attack works on other brands that also run the latest OS.

“We’ve incorporated a fix for an issue in the Android browser on a limited number of devices that could, under certain circumstances, allow for accessing application and other types of data stored on the phone,” a Google spokesman wrote in an email. “We’re in communication with our partners.”

Android Topples Nokia for Top Spot

The global smart phone market exceeded 100 million units in Q4 2010, says market researcher Canalys. Google’s Android has become the leading platform. Shipments of Android smart phones reached 32.9 million, while devices running Nokia’s Symbian platform trailed slightly at 31.0 million worldwide in Q4 2010.

HTC and Samsung together accounted for nearly 45% of Google OS-based handset shipments. The United States was the largest country market in terms of shipments, at more than double the size of the Chinese smart phone market. RIM recaptured first place from Apple, while HTC successfully maintained its third-place ranking in the US.

Android was by far the largest smart phone platform in the US market in Q4 2010, with shipments of 12.1 million units – nearly three times those of RIM’s BlackBerry devices. Windows Phone 7 devices appeared too late in the quarter to take full advantage of holiday season purchasing. As a result, Microsoft lost share in the United States, from 8% in Q4 2009 to 5% in Q4 2010.

‘The US landscape will shift dramatically this coming year, as a result of the Verizon-Apple agreement,’ said Canalys Analyst Tim Shepherd.

Google’s Android Market currently features less than 130,000 apps, but its grew more than 500 percent last year, compared with Apple’s App Store, with some 400,000 applications, rising by about 110 percent. Nokia revealed during its Q4 earnings report last week that its mobile application market, the Ovi Store, now offers 30,000 apps available for download.

Gartner recently predicted that apps will generate $15 billion in revenue this year, with downloads more than doubling, to 17.2 billion from 2010’s 8.2 billion. By the end of 2014, Gartner forecasts over 185 billion applications will have been downloaded from mobile app stores, since the launch of the first one in July 2008.

Android tablets captured 22 percent of global tablet shipments in the three months to Dec. 31, up from 2.3 percent in the preceding quarter, according to Boston-based researcher Strategy Analytics. Apple’s iPad has sold more than 14.8 million units worldwide since its introduction in April. ISuppli forecasts 57 million tablets will be sold this year and 171 million in 2014.