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Android Phone Fans

Google will implement new ‘kill switch’ feature in next version of Android

Posted: 19 Jun 2014 06:00 PM PDT

Smartphone Theft

Say what you want about the iPhone, one of the phone’s single greatest features is the ability to prevent the device from being factory reset and used by another party as their own (without permission, of course). But in a statement issued today by Google, the search giant will finally be implementing a similar feature for the next major Android release.

But Google isn’t the only one. Microsoft will also be joining Google in offering this “factory reset protection solution.” It’s unclear whether the new security feature will join existing ones found in the Android Device Manager, but we’re sure to learn more during Google I/O kicking off in a few more days.

This is all in an effort to curb smartphone thefts and couldn’t have come at a better time. A recent reports showed a 19% drop off in iPhone thefts from 2013 to 2014 thanks to Apple’s kill switch feature on their devices. Don’t forget, a new bill introduced in February is looking to require all phones sold in the US to include kill switch functionality. Senators believe that this is the only way to truly prevent smartphone thefts, making it common knowledge that would-be smartphone thieves are getting little more than a shiny new brick.

While we weren’t expecting to see “the next version of Android” debut until later this year (for Android Silver or another Nexus device), Android 4.4.4 made a surprise appearance today on Nexus/Google Play edition devices. It’s possible the kill switch could arrive in yet another version of KitKat, or in the next major Android release (Android 5.0 Lollipop or whatever you wanna call it). We’ll have to wait until we hear more from Google.


The alleged Moto X+1 makes another appearance… in a sandwich bag [VIDEO]

Posted: 19 Jun 2014 04:14 PM PDT

Motorola Moto X Plus 1 sandwich bag

As promised, TK Tech News is back with yet another alleged Motorola Moto X+1 leak, this time showing off the device as it appears… in a sandwich bag. Yes, folks, according to our man TK, this was in an effort to cover all the identifying marks on the phone. Before you call shenanigans, keep in mind TK is promising to follow up with more footage of the device (outside the bag this time) in a comparison with the original Moto X.

TK goes on to note that the phone is overall bigger than the original Moto X and comes with a 1080p display. The reason for not diving into the settings is apparently they’re protected by a password, so the software information couldn’t be displayed. A likely story? Check out the video below for yourself and let us know what you think.

Android 4.4.4 (KTU84P) now rolling out to Nexus 4, 5, 7

Posted: 19 Jun 2014 03:50 PM PDT

Nexus 5 Phandrizzle

KitKat is getting yet another release before we move onto to the next big firmware update. And where we just saw Android 4.4.3 rolling out to Nexus, Motorola, and Google Play edition devices barely a few weeks ago, Google’s back with Android 4.4.4. The new build (KTU84P) is hitting all the usual suspects, rolling out to the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7 (WiFi), Nexus 7 (2012), Nexus 10, and we’d assume GPe devices shortly. Word on the street this was a security fix, but let us know if you guys spot any other changes.

[Nexus Factory Images | Nexus Binaries]

Looking for an introduction to Android Wear? Google’s here to help [VIDEO]

Posted: 19 Jun 2014 03:27 PM PDT

Android Wear reservation

To help prepare developers for what they’ll see at this year’s Google I/O developer conference, Google has provided a quick “Intro to Android Wear” video on YouTube. The video lightly dives into what Android Wear is about, how it differs in function and philosophy from it’s big screen counterpart (you know, regular Android), and how developers will be able to take advantage of the wearable OS in their apps.

In the video, Android developer Timothy Jordan discusses Android’s “hefty attention costs” for many interactions that should only take a moment. Your phone likely has hundreds of notifications every day, most of them aren’t worthy of waking your phone, diving into an app, and getting sidetracked by something else. It takes you out of the world around you and more than often your nose is buried in your phone when it should be interacting with loved ones. Android Wear looks to solve this problem, but not by imitating the mobile OS found on your smartphone, by reducing the “overhead per interaction” time it takes to deal with notifications. Less downtime means more uptime in the real world.

The video also briefly goes over the different notifications that will be displayed on Android Wear. Normal and enhanced notifications (likes, +1s, skip tracks, etc.) already found on your smartphone wont require any extra coding from developers but others will. There are 3 types: stacks (bundles for multiple notifications of the same type), pages (for notifications that require more than 1 screen to display all their content), and replies (voice controlled actions).

When it comes to actual apps for Android Wear — well, Android Developers aren’t ready to unveil the SDK just yet. But they are discussing what apps on Android Wear will be capable of. There’s 4 major areas that involve giving your app cards their own custom UI (layout), data actions between phone and wearable, gather sensor data for real-time display, and register to take advantage of voice actions like “take a note.”

Castle of Illusion (starring Mickey Mouse) is now available for Android devices

Posted: 19 Jun 2014 02:11 PM PDT

Castle of Illusion Android 2

It’s been a good week for app releases on Android. Don’t believe me? Well, here’s another to throw into Google’s ever growing pile: Castle of Illusion (starring Mickey Mouse). Don’t let the main character fool you, this game isn’t only for kids. As one of the great platformers of the 16-bit era, Mickey Mouse and the Castle of Illusion will forever hold a special place in my heart as one of the most joyous — and frustrating — platformers of our time. Well, that time being the early 90′s.

- Play as Mickey Mouse in this reimagining of the classic Sega Genesis/Mega Drive game!
- Experience a world of wonder, brought to life with all-new graphics and magical adventures!
- Journey across five magical worlds filled with Mizrabel's powerful minions!
- Complete hidden challenges to customize Mickey with classic costumes!

Today, it’s been given the full HD treatment, launching on a variety of home consoles with improved 3D graphics (as opposed to the 2D sprites from the original). It’s only now reaching mobile devices and while the $10 pricing may be a bit steep for some, there are many who paid upwards of $15 to download the game on the PS3/Xbox 360 only a few months ago.

Because it’s an actual paid title and not freemium, you wont be hounded to fork over real money for coins or in-game items in order to progress. Just old-school gameplay, old-school fun. We should note: old-school in reference to video games is often times synonymous with frustratingly difficult games, and Castle of Illusion is no different.

Should you be looking for something more geared towards the kiddies, I’d recommend visiting our Best Apps for Kids, Toddlers and Babies post here. For everyone else, download Castle of Illusion via the Google Play link below.

This Android phone has an insane 5,000mAh battery (and other decent specs)

Posted: 19 Jun 2014 11:59 AM PDT


Often more than not, OEMs come up just a tad short on battery life.  The occasional exception is made (such as Motorola’s MAXX devices, Samsung’s Note phones and LG’s flagship lineups), but we typically like to a see a well-rounded 3,000mAh or more fit inside.

That’s why we were a bit taken aback when we found out THL was able to fit a 5,000mAh pack inside their Android-based THL 5000. Fitting name, that. So the battery’s nice and big, but what about the rest of the specs? Here’s how the phone looks on paper:

  • 5-inch 1920 x 1080 display
  • 1.7GHz quad-core MediaTek processor
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 32GB of internal storage w/ microSD
  • 13 megapixel Sony Exmor RS, 5 megapixel front camera
  • Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, NFC, HSDPA+ (no 4G LTE)

Not bad. We’re not particularly fond of MediaTek up against the likes of NVIDIA and Qualcomm, but the chipset is doable. The rest of the specs match up quite nicely with any other flagship you’d find today. And while the phone’s design looks like a reject out of the early DROID line-ups, it shouldn’t shame anyone to carry this thing in their pockets.


For what it’s worth, THL promises you can squeeze about 1,000 hours of standby time (about 41.5 days), 47 hours of talk time, 11 hours of video playback and web browsing, and 125 hours of music playback.

Those are pretty ridiculous numbers if true, so if you’ve been jonesing for a smartphone that can stand the test of time and don’t mind deviating from the comfort of the Samsungs and HTCs of the world (and you don’t mind having to import from Asia), this is your best bet. Head here to find out more.

[via PhoneArena]

LG G3 Review

Posted: 19 Jun 2014 10:59 AM PDT


For LG's G3, simplicity is the focus, and it accomplishes as much with an air of grace that is rare for a smartphone. Choosing to forgo the flashy bells and whistles and focus on the G3's core smartphone components, LG has created a device that still manages stands well above the rest of the pack. Read on for our full review!

Design & Build


Unlike many of the iterative releases that have graced the smartphone market lately, the LG G3 takes a bold leap forward with its design. Starting with the blueprint laid by last year's G2, the G3 improves on nearly every aspect of its preceding model. The phone in hand feels like a true upgrade with refined style and material quality to accent familiar features like LG's signature rear button, which combines power, standby, and volume controls (plus assignable shortcut functions).

The G3 achieves its premium brushed metal finish via the combination of a thin metallic skin fused within plastic composite. The result is a gorgeous appearance that retains durability (and a decent bit of grip). As a bonus, this construction allows for the back plate to remain removable, allowing access to the 3000mAh battery and microSD card reader within.


The front of the device features a 5.5-inch display framed but what might be the perfect amount of bezel. While not edge-to-edge, the screen is accented with only a few millimeters of dead space on either side. The reliance on Android's software navigation keys further allows the G3 to maintain a small footprint despite the substantial size of its display. By the measurements, the G3 is 5.76-inches tall, 2.94-inches wide, and 0.35-inches thick.

Of course, the rear button means the sides of the device remain free of any hardware controls, which coupled with a comfortable curved shape makes the LG G3 quite comfortable in the hand. It's sleek, light (149 grams), and a joy to look at.


LG wants the G3's display to be a focus of the device, and it sure caught our attention. While 2014's other flagship devices — the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8 — held serve with 1080p resolutions, the G3 ups the ante with its QuadHD 5.5-inch display and its 2560 x 1440 resolution.

The interesting thing about this display — a True HD IPS+ display — is that its beauty isn’t immediately apparent. One reason for this might be that there is some truth to the idea that super high resolution are lost on smaller screens. Another might be that LG chose to go with a fairly muted color scheme for their user interface, one which doesn't dazzle the eyes with vibrant and flashy graphics (but more on that later).

But as you use the display more and more it's strengths become apparent. It is graceful in its beauty, much like the G3 as a whole, providing brilliant image reproduction and plenty of brightness. HD video looks stunning, and the 5.5-inch size gives the web and apps plenty of room to breathe.




With its stunning design, gorgeous display, and revamped user experience, the LG G3's impressive hardware is easy to overlook. What a shame. The G3 is the complete package here, offering top-of-the-line specs that hold their own against any Android device currently on the market. For starters, we're talking a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 system-on-a-chip with four cores clocked at 2.5GHz and 3GB RAM.

The G3 can handle just about whatever you throw at it. Flipping through home screens is as smooth as butter, apps are up and running almost as soon as you launch them, multitasking and dual-window mode never flinch. Interestingly enough, however, repeated benchmark tests reveal that the LG G3 is outperformed by several devices including its predecessor, the G2. Take those numbers for what they are, but don't believe for one second that the G3 can't hang with the big boys.

But power isn't the only thing the G3's hardware has going for it. It is also quite capable in other areas. The G3 is available with the latest LTE-A spec to provide blazing fast download times. Internal storage is ample with 16GB and 32GB models available, but this can further be expanded with up to 128GB of microSD storage.



Vastly superior hardware prowess means little when coupled with a sub-par software experience. This has been all too common in the past for LG, but with the G3 that changes. LG’s custom Android UI sees a complete makeover for the G3, opting toward the flat, simple design that has become so trendy as of later and pushing features that highlight usability rather than bogging things down with bloat.

If LG has simply given their software a visual makeover that might have been enough — the cool, earthy colors are eye pleasing and simple animations add some life to the experience. It was a pleasant treat, then, to get access to some quite useful features and tweaks.

Owners of previous LG handsets will be happy to know that the notification tray is now fully customizable, allowing for the placement and removal of quick toggles and sliders for brightness and other functions. A dual-window mode accessed via the multitasking menu allows for the simultaneous use of two apps at one. Watch a video on the top half of the screen while you search the web below, check email, or perform any other number of tasks.


LG has also introduced a Google Now-esque widget that provides information cards based around the way you interact with the device, your habits, location and more. LG missed a great opportunity to simply attempt to incorporate the vastly superior Google Now as a whole, instead opting to reinvent the wheel and in the process provide far fewer card options and limiting the experience. Still, being able to quickly glance at the widget for info is nice in its own respects.

Another area where LG fell a little short was the rear button and its relation to the phone's software. While shortcut actions were a big marketing point for the LG G2, the G3 by default has these shortcuts disabled. You can enable them in settings, allowing users to quickly access Quick Notes and the camera, but we would like to have seen some customization options here, if only a few different commands that could be assigned to the rear keys.

The G3 continues LG's quest to explore other new and interesting ways to interact with our smartphones. One of our favorites is the inclusion of Knock Code, the logical expansion of Knock On, a feature introduced in last year's G2. Knock Code allows you to still unlock your device with a knock, but to do so securely by allowing you create a knock-based pattern that can be rapped on the screen while in its off state. This effectively reduces a two-step process (turn on display, unlock phone) to one by both turning on the display and unlocking the phone at the same time upon entering the correct Knock Code.



A 3000mAh removable battery is housed behind the G3's removable back plate and provides ample power to keep your G3 up and running. Still, a big Quad HD display, quad-core processing, and ultrafast LTE don't exactly add up to the most battery-friendly compliment of hardware. While you can expect some pretty lengthy standby times, real world use will take its toll on the G3.

If you mainly use your phone for talk and text with some light web browsing and email sprinkled in, it's not unimaginable to see a full day of battery life. If you take full advantage of the beautiful display by streaming HD video, gaming, and otherwise participating in activities that might fall under the "power user" umbrella, you would be lucky to get 10 hours of up time — 8 hours of use would be reasonable under these conditions. You can expect even more if you enable the G3's battery saving mode (which will kick in when the handset's charge drops to 30 percent), but this will disable certain features in order to reduce power drain.

The good news is should your battery die, LG has included wireless charging as a standard option. You won't need to buy additional accessories to convert the G3 to a wireless charging-ready device, but you will need to invest in a wireless charging cradle.


As we have established, the LG G3 is a thing of beauty. The same applies to the photos and video it is capable of capturing. A 13MP camera does all the heavy lifting here and produces crisp, clean, and colorful imagery.

LG-G3-Photo-Sample2 LG-G3-Photo-Sample3 LG-G3-Photo-Sample5 LG-G3-Photo-Sample4 LG-G3-Photo-Sample1

It really flexed its muscle during outdoor shooting with ample natural lighting. Indoors, artificial lighting wasn't so kind to the G3's camera sensor, but we've come to expect this from most smartphone (and even more traditional, low-end) cameras.

Where the G3 really impressed was its autofocus. LG put a laser in their latest flagship for this very purpose, a feature you would typically expect to find on higher end DSLR cameras. The laser allows the G3's camera to focus faster than you can blink an eye (literally), letting you grab that perfect shot almost instantaneously.

The one drawback to the laser focus is that it works best within a range of a couple feet. If you are trying to capture distant action shots or a large group portrait you might need to wait a few seconds longer for the G3 to do its magic, and that could ultimately mean the difference between getting the shot you want and not.

As with photos, video was equally impressive. An pairing the record button with the camera shutter button makes it easy to quickly jump between the two, and a simple interface with a few tasteful camera modes sprinkled in cuts down on complications, providing a clear path from inspiration to final image.

The Bottom Line


Move over, Galaxy S5. Take a seat, HTC One M8. We can unequivocally say that the LG G3 is the new Android smartphone to beat. LG did so much right in creating this handset while managing to avoid the pitfalls — bloated user interfaces, gimmicky features, etc. — that usually hamper flagship devices. There is no caveat to the G3. It is a graceful, gorgeous device that belies the true power lurking behind its brushed metal finish.

And that's not even mentioning the Quad HD display, which would be a killer feature in its own right had LG failed to follow through in every other area with the G3. It will be hard for LG or any other Android manufacturer, for that matter, to top this one any time soon.

The Good

  • Graceful design
  • Gorgeous Quad HD display
  • Top-notch hardware and refined user experience
  • 13MP camera with laser autofocus

The Bad

  • Still no customizable shortcuts for rear button
  • Would be nice to see Google Now integration in LG's cards widget

Overall: 4.75/5

Z Launcher is the latest contextual launcher, and it’s made by Nokia (sort of)

Posted: 19 Jun 2014 10:02 AM PDT

Contextual homescreens — that is, home screens which aim to bring you the apps and info you need without you having to think about it — seem to be all the rage these days. Apparently there’s a huge need for these things and thankfully there’s no shortage of options. Introduce another one: Z Launcher. And the most interesting thing about it isn’t how it works, but rather who it’s made by.

This is Nokia’s creation, though it’s not quite the Nokia you’re thinking of (the one Microsoft paid X amount of dollars for). This is a different team that worked independently of Nokia’s core business over-the-years, and can be seen as forgotten, yet valuable remnants of the ordeal.

z launcher screens

So what does this launcher provide? An easy way to get to your apps. That’s it. Z Launcher learns your habits over time (like all other apps promise to do) and will attempt to serve up the app you need at the moment you need it. If it’s wrong, simply correct it by drawing the first letter of the app you want to use, and you should see the app you need appear in a list of possible candidates. You can also access your contacts and other items this way.

z launcher

The video above does a far better job of explaining it, as does giving it a spin for yourself. Simple. Effective. Interesting. And Nokia. We’re not sure this is going to become the next big thing, but it could be a very nice app for folks who don’t need widget and folder-infested home-screens. You can sign up for the beta right here if you want to give it a spin.

Dalvik runtime will officially be replaced by ART in the next version of Android

Posted: 19 Jun 2014 08:49 AM PDT


The writing for the Dalvik runtime (the runtime that handles the real-time decompilation of all Android apps) has been on the wall for quite a bit now. Hints that ART — which is said to be a lot more efficient than Dalvik — would soon be replacing Dalvik as the standard runtime have been dropped in code commits and comments ever since Google introduced the new development a while back.

But this is the first time they’ve made a clear declaration that the first iteration of ART is ready for primetime. Code commits 98553 and 98618 mention the change, and in typical Google fashion they inserted some harmless comments to drive the point home:

Dalvik is dead, long live Dalvik!

So what does this mean from here on out? We’re not sure. ART received a lot of criticism throughout its preview period due to compatibility issues with certain apps. The fixes to make apps compatible were relatively easy, however Google has made it a point to make ART backwards compatible instead of forcing developers to make changes.

The road through the ART preview was bumpy, but things could very well change once Google officially marks a stable release (which we imagine would be in the next major version of Android, whenever that’s due).

Even with an official release there will probably be some hurdles to jump, however if Google is confident enough to make such a big change to their world-leading mobile operating system then we should give them the benefit of doubt. Let’s hope we hear something more at Google I/O.

[via XDA]

Here are the 10 finalist designs for Motorola’s Moto 360 watch face contest

Posted: 19 Jun 2014 07:48 AM PDT

moto 360 design finalist 1

The Moto 360 is shaping up to be one beautiful smart watch and Motorola is sure to want beautiful watch faces to go along with them. In case you weren’t aware Motorola recently started a contest for people to submit custom watch face designs for a chance to win prize money and / or a Moto 360 smart watch.

Well, they’ve revealed the 10 finalist designs that will square off for first place. Many of these designs might be featured in the final roster for the smart watch’s launch, though only the winning design is guaranteed a spot. Let’s take a look at the full roster of finalists.

Watch #1 - Tyler Allicock

moto 360 design finalist 2

Another last minute one

Watch #2 - Paul Stringer

Moto 360 Product Template - SPEEDO

A car speedometer style watch face with the Hours on the outside and Minutes and Seconds on the inside. When the Second hand gets to the end it flys back to the beginning (very much like a tachometer). The Minute and Hour hands also do this when reach the end of their respective gauges. It also includes the AM/PM Indicator, Time in a digital format and then date.

Watch #3 - Jason Wang


A last minute revision of my previous submission, because it’s just so much fun brainstorming! Same ideas as before: themed, but only subtlety so; analog fun, but still purely digital. Again, the face bears a passing resemblance to an old radar, but only in aesthetic, as functionally it’s very distinct. The smaller arc on top represents the hour, and the larger arc below represents the minute. As arcs, they can be read easily at a glance from any angle. A second hand sweeps over them.

Watch #4 - Jose Azua


ANGLES | 360 #Moto360 - (Compass & Timer app addition) - sorry guys added last minute compass face

Watch #5 - Pawel Hanusowski

Moto 360 Product 5 Pawel H

Radio like readout for the Month and Date accompanied by some red accents. #moto360 #moto #motorola #design #moto360designface-off

Watch #6 – Will Rodriguez

will rodriguez 6

This disc design concept takes a modern approach to showing the time. Minutes are shown through the larger disc in the background (which can be color customized) and the hour is shown through the foreground disc. It also displays notification icons for sms, email and health alerts as well as a basic weather widget. #moto360

Watch #7 – Dave McCarthy

Moto360 Concept 7

A scarcity nowdays, very few manufacturers have seemed to get the smart-watch design quite right. With the Moto360, Motorola decided to take a very classy, and minimalistic approach, so I decided to do the same. Keeping it feeling truly like a watch, the only things on it are the time, date, and a battery indicator. Hope you all like it! #Moto360

Watch #8 – David Pascual


Displays calendar events, allows for user defined notification widgets, and provides status information for basic watch functions (charging, alarm, bluetooth, and wifi connection.)

Watch #9 – Aramis Negron


Simple, new and easy to read. Strongly believe that each widget should have the entire canvas to portray its information.

Watch #10 - Layton Diament


My “Vanishing Hour” watch face concept. As the minute hand makes its way around, the hour is dimmed while revealing the minute marks.

Want to vote on any of them yourself? Head to Google+ here and simply +1 the one you like the most. Don’t forget to circle back here and let us know which one caught your fancy by leaving a comment below.

Bugdroid (Android mascot) and Sonic come together in Sonic Dash update

Posted: 19 Jun 2014 06:10 AM PDT

sonic dash

Well, would you look at that — our beloved Android mascot is finding himself all over the place these days. His latest adventures take him into the world of Sonic Dash, where he is now a playable character that can square off against the fastest hedgehog in the game. Oddly enough you won’t be able to use the Bugdroid forever as Sega has pegged this as a limited time promotion.

But if you did want a lasting memory of the little green guy then you’ll want to get some practice in and make sure you do well: you’ll be able to unlock “Andronic,” which — as you might have guessed — is Sonic made to look like a robot. It’s a bit of an odd look for Sega’s long-time mascot, but we aren’t complaining. Give it a shot for free in the Google Play Store.

Watch Amazon’s Fire Phone unveiling for yourself right here [VIDEO]

Posted: 19 Jun 2014 05:25 AM PDT

Interested in how Amazon and CEO Jeff Bezos ushered in their first smartphone? We covered it quite deeply right here on Phandroid, but now you can watch the press unveiling for yourself as Amazon has uploaded their entire conference online.

The Fire Phone is Amazon’s vehicle to push all their wonderful services right into your pocket, and it introduces some unique features that you can’t quite find anywhere else. Dynamic Perspective and Amazon Firefly are perhaps the most interesting, though a slew of other features from Amazon Fire TV and the Kindle Fire tablets have naturally found their way over.

You can read all about it right here, or find out what we believe are its top five features right here. But if you just wanted to see Amazon dole this thing out on stage for yourself then the video above should get you going.