China Mobile’s iPhone 5S subsidy rates leak as WSJ confirms Apple’s new carrier partner deal
Dec05

China Mobile’s iPhone 5S subsidy rates leak as WSJ confirms Apple’s new carrier partner deal

The rumors that Apple – China Mobile deal for iPhone 5S and 5C has been in place for months, were true.  The companies have only been waiting for China Mobile to receive 4G license from Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), to launch iPhone 5S with TD-LTE support as a flagship device for next generation services and brand. Yesterday MIIT issued the TD-LTE licenses for all 3 Chinese mobile operators. Few hours later WSJ confirmed that Apple has now signed the contract with China Mobile and the new iPhones will launch around December 18th, when the carrier holds its annual partner conference. Off contract price of iPhone S on China Mobile will not be much different form other carriers and will start around 5300 Yuan ($869). There will also be some serious subsidies available for customers who sign a two year contract. China Mobile Alliance, a government affiliated mobile industry association,  just published China Mobile’s iPhone 5S subsidy rates on their official Weibo account: As you can see, the subsidies are significant, though not much different from what you can get from China Telecom and Unicom. The cheapest China Mobile plan starts at 88 yuan ($15) and will get you iPhone 5S 16GB for 4400 yuan ($722) on a two year  contract – 900 yuan ($148) discount. There is no free iPhone 5S option on CM, but if you take the 358 yuan ($59) a month plan for a couple of years, you can get Apple’s  flagship device for 1300 yuan ($213). China Mobile deal should seriously boost overall iPhone sales and market share. Analysts estimate that additional 15 to 20 million iPhones will be sold through the worlds biggest carrier in the next 12 months.  Having in mind that China Mobile already has 42 million iPhone customers, those estimates seem pretty conservative to me. Via: Weibo/Mobile China...

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Samsung Galaxy S5 only in late April 2014 ,says Eldar Murtazin. Ultra high-end F Series are in the works
Dec04

Samsung Galaxy S5 only in late April 2014 ,says Eldar Murtazin. Ultra high-end F Series are in the works

And here we were, all happy about early Samsung Galaxy S5 launch, sometime in February or March of 2014. The early SGS5 rumor first showed up on Korean Joseilbo.com in October. For such a bold claim, coming from a relatively unknown source – we had our doubts. But the rumor refused to go away, and has been repeated so many times by so many sources, most recently by ET News last week, that new Galaxy S5 in Q1 became almost a certainty. And what a device  the S5 was shaping up to be: 5”+ flexible 2K display, 64-bit Exynos CPU, 16 megapixel camera… But now comes Mobile-review’s Eldar Murtazin, a guy with a very good record of access to confidential plans inside wireless carriers and/or Samsung, and spoils all the fun. According to him, there will be no Galaxy S5 in Q1 2014. Samsung has scheduled its launch for late April.   So all that speculation and leaks about high end Samsung flagship in February or March was just a bunch of malarkey. Or maybe not. There is a shimmer of hope left for a top of the line Samsung device early in 2014, even if Eldar is right. Remember ultra high-end Samsung Galaxy F Series? I asked Mr. Murtazin about them, and he confirms that such phone is in the works. Though Samsung didn’t start showing F Series handset to carriers yet, so chances we’ll get it in early 2014 are pretty slim. On the other hand, Samsung does know how to move fast. And all those metal chassis Catcher will start shipping for Samsung  in December have to go somewhere. Also the amount of rumors that Samsung is preparing to launch something high end in smartphones, early in 2014 – is pretty unusual. Nothing like this happened with Galaxy S3, S2 and other flagships. So let’s keep our fingers crossed. Oh, and one more tidbit to brighten the day. Eldar says that Galaxy Note 4 next year may indeed come early. Though that’s way too far away to...

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Xiaomi’s Lei Jun: iPhone is still the best smartphone on the planet
Dec04

Xiaomi’s Lei Jun: iPhone is still the best smartphone on the planet

The debate which one is better – iPhone or an Android phone – has been raging for years, and will probably never be settled. It is common for a fan in Android camp to boldly proclaim that this latest flagship from HTC or Samsung leaves all the iPhones in the dust. Or for an Apple fan to state that the latest iPhone just announced, gives competition no chance to catch up. It is not so common for an Android OEM exec to tell all the world that iPhone is better than his own company phones. But that’s exactly what Lei Jun, CEO of one of the hottest Android smartphone startups in China, just did. When asked to compare iPhone 5S, 5C and his own company handsets, he didn’t have any doubts. “iPhone is still the best smatphone on the planet. For Xiaomi there’s a lot of space for learning and talent”,- Jun told Beijing News in a recent interview. Xiaomi is one of the hottest smartphone companies to emerge from China in the last couple of years. Except that it isn’t a smartphone company anymore. It may have started there, with heavily customized MIUI Android skin, smartphones and innovative online flash sales business model. But today Xiaomi sells its own set top box, TV set, a bunch of accessories and will soon launch ultra cheap wireless router. My guess – Xiaomi will sooner or later make any kind of device that helps to connect you to the Net. And they all will be just a sideshow, driving its online services via MIUI community and user interface.  Xiaomi is already rapidly moving in that direction, selling most of its hardware almost at cost, making it up with online sales and investor money for now. And they are  pretty great at that. Xiaomi’s MIUI community is already 20+ million strong, they recently became profitable, boasted $90 million of sales in a single day and,  during the latest financing round, were valued at $11 billion. That’s for a start-up that is barely 3 years old, and operates almost exclusively in China. Not that they don’t have some ambitious plans to break out abroad. Xiaomi raised a lot of eyebrows few months ago, when it managed to nab Google’s Hugo Barra to lead its international expansion efforts. There’s a rapid blurring of  lines between software, online services and hardware. Apple has been doing all three ever since it launched iTunes Store  back in  2003. Google now owns Motorola, designs and markets Nexus devices. In addition to XBox and Surface tablets, Microsoft will soon own Nokia’s mobile business. Amazon gets more and more aggressive with its Kindle tablet line, and will sooner or...

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Samsung SM-G900S, likely Galaxy S5 with 2K display and 2.5GHz Snapdragon 800 CPU, shows up on GFXBench
Dec04

Samsung SM-G900S, likely Galaxy S5 with 2K display and 2.5GHz Snapdragon 800 CPU, shows up on GFXBench

There’s ever growing pile evidence that Samsung will launch its 2014 flagship – Galaxy S5 – much earlier than expected. The latest – Samsung SM-G900S smartphone with 2K display and 2.5GHz Snapdragon 800 CPU showing up on GFXBench benchmark site. Usually Samsung used to announce the new Galaxy Sx flagship smartphones in late March/April, with shipments starting in late April/May. But this year’s Galaxy S4 turned out to be a way too incremental upgrade over Galaxy S3, and sold much worse than Samsung expected. So now they are rushing with the early release of their next top of the line smartphone, with likely spec and design upgrades that should reignite the growth at the high-end. As more credible rumors will have it, Samsung Galaxy S5 G900S should come with 2K (2560×1440) 5”+ flexible display, either 64-bit Exynos or 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU, 16 megapixel camera, Android 4.4.x Kitkat and metal chassis made by Catcher. While 2K display on a smartphone may be an overkill, if most of the other rumored Galaxy S5 features turn out to be real, the new Samsung flagship will indeed be a serious upgrade from last year’s model. Which may end Samsung’s high end smartphone woes at least for a little while. Or not. Depends on whether 2013 slowdown in high end smartphones happened due to the lack of compelling new features, or is the first sign of the market over-saturation,  and structural shift to good enough mid-tier models. Via: GFXBench via SamMobile and...

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4G TD-LTE licenses officially issued by MIIT. Here comes China Mobile’s iPhone 5S and 5C
Dec04

4G TD-LTE licenses officially issued by MIIT. Here comes China Mobile’s iPhone 5S and 5C

After months of waiting and dithering, China has finally entered 4G era. Today Chinese Ministry of Industry  and Information Technology (MIIT) has issued the first batch of 4G licenses to China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom. China Mobile got access to 130MHz of spectrum (1880 -1900 MHz ,2320-2370 MHz ,2575-2635 MHz), China Unicom will get 40MHz (2300-2320 MHz ,2555-2575 MHz) and China Telecom will also have 40MHz (2370-2390 MHz ,2635-2655 MHz) for their homegrown TD-LTE offerings. 4G licenses for FDD LTE services for China Unicom and Telecom will be issued separately. Why do we care so much about China’s 4G? Mostly because of iPhone on China Mobile, of course. The new 4G services should boost the sales of approved 4G handsets of all smartphone OEMs.  But it’s Apple who will benefit the most, finally getting world’s biggest mobile carrier  to officially promote the iPhone. According to some sources, there are 42 million unofficial iPhone users on China Mobile already. Due to the technological issues, none of them can access  operator’s 3G TD-SCDMA network, and are stuck with  Wi-Fi or slow GPRS/EDGE. When iPhone 5S/5C with TD-LTE support becomes available on China Mobile, there will be a pool of millions of customers just from those rushing to upgrade. Add to that  possible subsidies, other promotion activities, the upcoming Chinese New Year Gift Giving Season, and you can expect millions of additional iPhones sold in the next few months. There’s no official confirmation yet, but the general consensus is that Apple already has  a deal with China Mobile to finally start offering iPhone. But the companies have been waiting for China Mobile to launch its 4G network, with iPhone as a hero device showcasing the new services. The exact date for CM iPhone announcement is not known yet. It may be December 18th, when Chinese carrier holds its partner meeting day, and plans to announce its new 4G services brand. But yesterday China Mobile sort of already confirmed that they are getting ready for the iPhone 5S/C launch, doing a limited test run for Apple’s smartphone pre-order site. And with the 4G license in hand, the announcement may come earlier. Via: Tencent, Sina...

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China Mobile iPhone 5S/5C pre-order site goes live for a few hours. Racks-up very impressive numbers
Dec03

China Mobile iPhone 5S/5C pre-order site goes live for a few hours. Racks-up very impressive numbers

Those China Mobile iPhone 5S/5C pre-order page screenshots we told you about yesterday? They were genuine. Late this night China Mobile did actually start taking online pre-orders in one medium sized (for China) city of Suzhou, through a site 139life.com, owned by its local subsidiary. We checked the WHOIS data, and domain 139life.com indeed belongs to China Mobile. The page has been taken offline after just a few hours,  but you can still see Google’s cached version of it here. So, was it a mistake by some China Mobile contracted web developer? Maybe. But it looks much more like an early test run to gauge the potential iPhone demand and see what resources will have to be deployed, so China Mobile’s biggest launch of the year does not go the way of HealthCare.gov and Moto X Cyber Monday deals.  And that demand, if  limited only to Suzhou – a city  of just 4 million, was impressive indeed. During the few hours that the page was live, it racked up more than 1200 pre-orders (1249 was the number I last saw). Now consider that those were just early registrations, with no devices available for more than two weeks. And think about what will happen when China Mobile’s iPhone 5S/5C becomes available to everyone. Or just every one of CM’s  755 million customers. Or, if you are really picky, just take 170 million of their 3G customers. Anyway you look at it, there is going to be a huge boost to iPhone 5S/5C sales as soon as it becomes available on China Mobile. Well, no surprise there. After all, world’s biggest carrier in worlds biggest smartphone market already has 42 million iPhone using customers, even though those customers are stuck with the old 2G/GPRS/Edge network. How many of them, do you think, are ready for an upgrade? Via:...

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Take that XPlay 3S. Meizu MX4G will come with even sharper 2560x1536px resolution 5.5” display
Dec02

Take that XPlay 3S. Meizu MX4G will come with even sharper 2560x1536px resolution 5.5” display

Smartphone display resolution war in China has officially entered the crazy territory. At first there was Vivo, telling the world that their XPlay 3S smartphone will come equipped with 2K (2560×1440)  resolution display. Now Meizu’s J. Wong – former CEO and Flyme interface skin developer – has chimed in with the news about upcoming MX4G flagship. Which will have  an even bigger, 5.5”  2560x1536px resolution screen. If you crunch some numbers – 5.5” 2560×1536 pixels translates into 542 PPI, 15: 9 aspect ratio display. Other than screen size, resolution and the name implying 4G support, no other details about Meizu MX4G are available just yet. Though now, that  cat’s out of the bag, expect details about the new device start popping up all over the Chinese net soon. And if you wonder why MX4G comes with such strange display proportions, it’s because they already went with a non-traditional 15:9 screen aspect ratio on their current MX3 flagship. Meizu says that its Flyme Android skin is very  well optimized for one hand operation on 5.1” 15:9 display, so they chose to do it again with MX4. Source: Meizu via ePrice...

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Screenshot of China Mobile’s iPhone 5S/5C pre-registration page shows up online
Dec02

Screenshot of China Mobile’s iPhone 5S/5C pre-registration page shows up online

China Mobile’s iPhone 5S/5C has been rumored ever since Apple’s smartphones received MIIT certification this September. Early consensus was for November launch, with new iPhones as flagship devices showcasing China Mobile’s 4G services. That, obviously, didn’t happen. Now, it seems, everyone agrees that China Mobile will launch commercial TD-LTE services on Dec. 18th, together with the new brand and the new iPhones.  C Technology, one of more accurate iPhone leaker sites, says they received the screenshots of China Mobile’s iPhone 5S/5C pre-registration page. Note, that CTech itself says the screenshot above has been sent in by some users, not one of their trusted sources. And the page contains the old China Mobile logo not the new brand. So this screenshot might be just some eager fan showcasing his Photoshop skills. On the other hand, Chinese carriers themselves have been known to leak this kind of info through their official micro-blogging accounts. So this leak might also be true. Source: C...

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Samsung starts work on 20 megapixel camera modules. Scheduled for 2H 2014 launch next to Galaxy Note 4
Dec02

Samsung starts work on 20 megapixel camera modules. Scheduled for 2H 2014 launch next to Galaxy Note 4

Smartphone camera megapixel race continues. According to Korean ET News, Samsung Mobile’s Advanced Development Team has started work on 20 megapixel camera modules with the goal to ship them in second half of 2014. Which is right about the time their flagship Galaxy Note 4 phablet is scheduled to come out and should be the logical device to show off new camera capabilities. Samsung decided to continue to increase its camera megapixel count as the main differentiating feature,  after they failed to include Optical Image Stabilization function for its next generation 2014 flagships. Samsung expects that 25%, or 90 million of their smartphones in 2014 will be equipped with high end 16 megapixel camera modules. However, due to limited supply of some parts like autofocus actuators, those cameras won’t have OIS. Thank’s to the huge volumes of flagship devices they ship, Samsung expects 16 megapixel cameras to become a new standard in high end devices next year, with pixel count moving to 20 million in 2015. Source: ET...

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HTC opts for Spreadtrum, Broadcom, ST-Ericsson chips, not Qualcomm for new Desires. Starts outsourcing
Nov28

HTC opts for Spreadtrum, Broadcom, ST-Ericsson chips, not Qualcomm for new Desires. Starts outsourcing

To lower production costs, HTC is moving aggressively away from Qualcomm as a single CPU supplier, choosing chips from ST-Ericsson, Spreadtrum and Broadcom to run 3 new Desires launched yesterday. It has also completed negotiations with Warburg, Arima to outsource low-end device manufacturing. Small scale trial production will start in the first half of 2014, with the goal to identify further areas of cooperation. When HTC One 2013 strategy failure became undeniable , company execs explained it as a mistake in mid-range product planning. “One flagship itself is doing fine”, they said. “It’s our mid-range product portfolio that is underperforming.” And moved fast to change the strategy with new mid-tier smartphones. HTC Desire 700, 501 and dual-SIM 601 are the first fruits of this strategy change. But unless they get some serious support from Chinese carriers, the new phones will again disappoint everyone around. Their price to specs ratio is way too high compared to what’s available around the world, and especially in China. Nevertheless, all three models are very interesting in what they tell us about HTC’s new strategy and changes in its supply chain. According to Focus Taiwan, none of the new Desires come with a Qualcomm CPU inside. HTC Desire 700 has Spreadtrum Shark 1.2GHz quad-core chip running it, HTC Desire 501 got ST-Ericsson’s U8520 1.15 GHz dual-core processor. What’s even more interesting, dual-SIM Desire 601 now runs on a quad-core Broadcom Java 1.2 GHz CPU, even if its single SIM sibling had Qualcomm 400. Expanding its CPU supplier base is part of HTC’s strategy to lower device costs, while preserving at least some of the margins. Another part of this strategy is the outsourcing of the production of low-end models to smartphone ODMs. cnYES reports, that HTC has recently completed negotiations with Warburg, Arima for a small scale production in the first half of 2014, with the goal to identify which models to ODM next. The new approach doesn’t seem to work for HTC just yet. But these are the early days and only the first products. Hopefully HTC will learn and figure the things out real fast. Source: Focus Taiwan,...

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