Category Archives: Mobile

Slim Android smartphones.

When Apple announced the iPhone 4 back in 2010, it made waves for its slim design. Smartphones back then were thicker and the iPhone 4’s 9.3mm frame was the one to beat. Since then, Android manufacturers have caught up or even surpassed the iPhone’s thin form factor. As Apple chose not to revamp the design of its latest iPhone 4S, you’ll find many Android handsets in the market that are slimmer.

Take for example, the Motorola Razr, which has a 7.1mm thin profile at its thinnest point. Of course, you may argue that this isn’t exactly accurate since it just refers to just a certain part, but there are other models like the HTC One X that keeps to a slim profile throughout.

If you’re intrigued by what these Android smartphones have to offer, here are our picks of the best available and upcoming handsets that you should consider that are all under 9mm thin.

1.  Huawei Ascend D quad

First take
Hot on the heels of its CES unveiling of the Ascend “Platinum” series of handsets, Huawei has stepped it up a notch with a new “Diamond” range of smartphones.

“Thinness”: 8.9mm

2.  HTC One X

First take
Arguably one of the more exciting new devices announced at the Mobile World Congress tradeshow, HTC’s flagship Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) handset is one that can claim good looks thanks to its polycarbonate shell and killer specifications.

“Thinness”: 8.9mm

3.  LG Optimus Vu

First take
Announced just a week before the Mobile World Congress tradeshow began, the LG Optimus Vu is the company’s attempt to offer an alternative to the Samsung Galaxy Note. Packing a 4:3 aspect ratio display, the Optimus Vu seems like an intriguing prospect for a large smartphone.

“Thinness”: 8.5mm

4.  Motorola Razr

CNET Asia rating: 8.4 out of 10

The good: Kevlar back feels unique; super-slim 7.1mm profile (at the thinnest point); good battery life; useful apps and features.
The bad: Below-average camera; software doesn’t feel ready for retail.
The bottom line: The Motorola Razr is a worthy recipient of the Razr namesake, but the smartphone needs a software update to fix some issues before you can fully appreciate it.

“Thinness”: 7.1mm

5.  Samsung Galaxy Nexus

CNET Asia rating: 8.7 out of 10

The good: Tons of new and very welcome features with Ice Cream Sandwich; design is sharp; screen is gorgeous; internal performance is fantastic.
The bad: Ice Cream Sandwich has eliminated some of Android’s learning curve in some aspects, just to re-create it in others; some static on calls; like other Samsung Galaxy devices, the Galaxy Nexus feels rather fragile.
The bottom line: The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is a big step forward for Android, but it’s not the giant leap you may have been expecting. As impressive as it is, Ice Cream Sandwich can be messy, and without it, the Galaxy Nexus is just another Android device.

“Thinness”: 8.9mm


iPhone to receive a 4.6-inch Retina screen?

iphone 5
The 940 x 640 Retina Display on the iPhone 4S integrates 326 pixels per square inch.
(Credit: Apple)

Apple is said to have yet another product in the pipeline with a Retina Display, and this time it’s an iPhone with a really big screen, according to a report from Reuters.

Apple is purportedly already placing orders with suppliers for a 4.6-inch iPhone Retina Display, Reuters said today, citing a report in South Korea’s Maeil Business Newspaper. The phone is due in the second quarter, according to the report.

If accurate, that would be Apple’s third device with a Retina Display. The others include the just-released 9.7-inch iPad and the 3.5-inch iPhone 4S.

The 960 x 640-pixel Retina Display on the iPhone packs in 326 pixels per inch while the new iPad’s 2,048 x 1,536-pixel screen squeezes in 264 pixels per inch.

A relatively massive–for a smartphone, that is–4.6-inch glass screen would be a big step for Apple from the 3.5-inch iPhone. A larger phone may also allow Apple to include updated chips such as the A5X. That chip’s marquee feature is quad-core graphics.

By comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket HD has a 4.65-inch HD Super AMOLED screen.

Apple enthusiast site MacRumors says the likelihood of the rumor being true is low.

“There have been persistent rumors that the next generation iPhone would carry a larger 4-inch screen. And we are convinced that Apple had exactly such designs in late prototype stages in China,” said MacRumors.

Indeed, there were reports before the launch of the iPhone 4S that Apple was working on an iPhone with a bigger screen. But those reports predicted a phone measuring 4.2 to 4.3 inches, not a full 4.6 inches.

Via CNET News

Sony Xperia sola.

We spend some time with Sony’s latest Xperia addition, the sola, which was announced just last week. It features a look that’s different from Sony’s NXT design range, which means it doesn’t get the single-letter designation of the Xperia S, U and P.

The Sony Xperia sola.
(Credit: Jacqueline Seng/CNET Asia)


One of the main highlights of the sola is Sony’s new “floating touch” technology. When you hover a finger over the 3.7-inch FWVGA (854 x 480 pixels) display, it tracks the movement of your finger. This should help older users select the right point to press–but we noted that it only works on the home screen and with Sony’s proprietary browser.

Sony has also stated in a blog post that the upcoming Ice Cream Sandwich update will allow developers to add “hover events” as Google has included support for it in Android 4.0. For example, when you do position a cursor over a link on a desktop browser, information sometimes will be displayed. You may also want to read more about how the floating technology works (which basically combines the two different types of capacitive screen technology).

A demo of floating touch on the Xperia sola. The hover feature didn’t seem to be working correctly sometimes, which could be due to the fact that our device was a prototype.
(Credit: Jacqueline Seng/CNET Asia)

Like the Xperia S and P, the sola comes with NFC that works with the the company’s SmartTags. There’s also a 1GHz dual-core processor that’s similar to the Xperia U and P. Basically, the sola has all that is expected from a midrange device.

While it comes loaded with Gingerbread (Android 2.3), Sony has promised the ICS upgradein Q2. The company has also said that the unit will retail in the same quarter, which means you probably won’t have long to wait for the update.


As mentioned earlier, the Xperia sola doesn’t share the same attractive design of the NXT series, but this means that it stands out (since the S, U and P look similar). The display also seems to slightly protrude as opposed to being flushed with the chassis, which makes it prone to accidental scratches.

(Credit: Jacqueline Seng/CNET Asia)

The non-removable 1,320mAh battery could be too small for heavy users. One of the reasons usually given for using a built-in battery is to increase battery power–we’ve seen that on the Razr Maxx–so it’s hard to justify designing a handset with a smaller built-in battery as it just doesn’t make sense.

A look at the sola’s innards.
(Credit: Jacqueline Seng/CNET Asia)


Sony said at the event where the sola was demoed that it was targeting youths with the Xperia sola and U. We’re not sure how youths would actually make use of the floating touch feature–older folks with poorer eyesight may appreciate the cursor more. As stated earlier, the Xperia sola will be available in Asia sometime in Q2. Pricing has not been revealed yet, but Sony did say that the sola will be pegged at the same tier as the Xperia U, which has a European launch price of US$347.

Tag Heuer unveils Racer smartphone.

Tag Heuer’s latest phone may make a Racer out of you.
(Credit: Tag Heuer)

If you’ve always harbored GT racing ambitions, perhaps luxury watchmaker Tag Heuer’s upcoming smartphone may be your handset of choice.

The Racer is an Android-based smartphone inspired by GT and Formula 1 racing cars, and supposedly just as well-engineered. Tag Heuer even claims that the phone has an “unparalleled torsion” and “strength to weight ratio”, terms usually reserved for cars.

The shockproof rubber chassis is accented by lightweight carbon fiber and titanium screws, which supposedly help to strengthen the body.

The Swiss company did not release more information about the phone’s specifications, except that it has a “customizable 3D user interface” and “high speed processor”. One thing is for sure, when people pay that much for a phone, they won’t be too bothered about its specs–or lack thereof.

Starting at 2,800 Euros (US$3,700), the Racer will head to Tag Heuer shops and selected luxury mobile, watch and jewelry retailers in July. Hey, at least it’s cheaper than the company’s last Android smartphone, the Tag Heuer Link.

Watch this video for a bunch of impressive graphics that don’t say much about the smartphone’s capability.


Asus PadFone.

–Announced last year at the Computex show in Taiwan, the prototype version of the Asus PadFone was the logical conclusion of the Motorola Atrix Lapdock design. While it is not the first hybrid device, it’s likely the first to run Android 4.0 with the intriguing idea of transforming a phone into a tablet.

Prototype devices, sometimes don’t make the cut and get killed–Microsoft’s Courier is a prime example of this. Luckily, Asus seems to have pushed ahead with the PadFone concept. Here at Mobile World Congress 2012, the Taiwanese company has announced that the product is now retail ready. Here’s an early sneak preview that we got of the unit before its official launch.
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First take: Apple iOS 5.1

Just before it unveiled the new iPad at a media event in San Francisco, Apple announced that iOS 5.1, the next update to the company’s mobile operating system, is now available.

The list of new features isn’t extensive and largely consists of bug fixes and interface tweaks. That said, there are a couple of useful additions. Here are the highlights that Apple has listed in iOS 5.1’s documentation.
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Samsung Galaxy S II to get ICS update (pulled)

Samsung Galaxy S II
(Credit: Samsung)

Good news everyone! Well, everyone who is using a Samsung Galaxy S II that is. The promised update to the latest Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) OS will be available tomorrow (March 10). You will be able get ICS via an OTA update or through Samsung’s KIES 2.0.

The patch notes indicate that there are some caveats to take note of, however. Phone book data, SMS messages and your pictures will not be wiped, but it looks like app settings may be erased. Samsung recommends that you backup your phone through KIES before upgrading (which you should do anyway).

Visit the Samsung Web site for more information. Do note that the patch notes seems aren’t written in perfect English and may be tricky to decipher.

Via Samsung

Sony Xperia S Review.

The good: High-resolution 342ppi screen; attractive design; 12-megapixel camera gives great photos; 32GB internal storage.
The bad: No microSD slot; battery not removable; poor battery life; Android 4.0 not available at launch.

The bottom line: With excellent features and a great camera, Sony Mobile’s first device in its Xperia NXT series is almost the ultimate Android smartphone–if not for the disappointing battery life.


Announced at CES 2012, the Xperia S is the first smartphone from the company to sport the Sony Mobile brand name after the Japanese company bought over its Swedish partner’s shareof the Sony Ericsson business. Available now, the Xperia S has a retail price of S$898 (US$715) and comes in either black or white.


The first of the Xperia NXT series of smartphones, the S, is definitely a looker. From the front, it has a clean monolithic design which is broken by a transparent strip near the base that lights up when the phone is turned on. This looks very attractive in the dark and is the phone’s most distinctive design feature. Its chassis is solidly built and weighing in at 144g, the S feels like a well-made device when held. Some may find the 128 x 64 x 10.6mm dimensions a little large but this is inevitable because of the 4.3-inch screen.

The Sony Xperia S has an attractive design. (Credit: John Chan/CNET Asia)
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