Windows Phone News

An e-mail powerhouse with an aging operating system whose shelf life may or may not be slowly ticking down. Slightly iterative hardware every six months or so. Adored by business users. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

But, no, we're not talking about Windows Mobile. It's BlackBerry week in the third annual Smartphone Round Robin, and CrackBerry Kevin brought us two of his platform's best -- the Bold 9700 (CrackBerry review) and the Storm 2 (CrackBerry review). The former, a front-facing QWERTY device with a new navigation feature. The latter, a follow-up to Research in Motion's much-maligned first touchscreen device, and the first without a physical keyboard.

So join us as we jump into the world of the CrackBerry. A suit-and-tie device for people who are more than suit-and-tie people. Who knows ... we might even surprise ourselves.

And remember, we have a forum thread running at CrackBerry.com, and a post could be worth a free smartphone of your choice (up to $1,000).

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Oh, Eldar, just what are we going to do with you? The Russian behind Mobile-Review.com apparently got his hands on a very early version of Windows Mobile 7 and talked about it on (where else) Twitter. He mentions that "Zune HD is more simple UI) and that "for WM users it will be a great step ahead. For market it's a copycat of Android 3.1/3.2 [ed. note: Android's currently at Version 2.1] or iPhone" with "a lot of horizontal movements, a lot of additional info by clicks etc."

And the kicker, which you see above, is that it might well not be compatible with current Windows Mobile applications. That's something we've been hearing for a while now -- a clean break from kernels of days (and years) past. And while that's not necessarily a bad thing -- fresh start and all that -- if it's true, it'll be sure to upset a portion of the current cadre of developers. Or, maybe they'll appreciate a clean start, too. Glass half-full and all that. Stay tuned, folks.

Via wmpoweruser

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Hot on the heals of Verizon's recent rate changes, AT&T has announced matching rate changes. Effective Jan. 18, smartphone users can enjoy a new $99.99 unlimited voice and data plan. The new plan doesn't include texting, which will still cost an additional $20 a month for unlimited SMS.

A Family Unlimited Talk plan will also be available for $179.99 (for the first two phones) per month with unlimited voice and data. The cost of additional phones was not mentioned and we can only assume it will stay at $9.99 per line. Adding unlimited texting will run you $30 per month on the Family plan.

AT&T will also offer unlimited talk plans for Feature Phones ($69.99 individual/$119.99 family) and Quick Messaging Devices ($89.99 individual/$149.99 family). As with smartphones, texting plans will run $20 for unlimited individual plans and $30 for unlimited family plans.

They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Somehow, I don't see Luke Wilson spinning it that way in the commercials that are sure to follow this announcement.

Via The iPhone Blog

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7

HTC releases Sprint SMS fix...

Well, it was leaked yesterday and HTC briefly had it up, then pulled it, leaving us in a tizzy.

Evidently though, today is the day to grab the "official" fix for the dreaded future-SMS bug, whereby SMS messages were coming dated from the year 2016, coinciding with the New Year (see our epic earlier coverage for full context).

This fix updates rilphone.dll, which is the key component that interacts with Sprint's SMS server.  In that sense, it is different from the "ziggy" patch, which simply enabled a function that time-dated received messages using your device's clock.

If you are happy with the current "ziggy" patch, there is no immediate necessity to download this patch.  Then again, some prefer to have their SMS messages dated by the server, not their device, so this update makes sense.

What about Verizon, U.S. Cellular and others? No word yet, but we'll keep an eye out.  Also, no word on the Sprint Snap either.

Get the updates here:

Touch Pro 2

Touch Pro

Touch Diamond

[Thanks to all who sent this in]

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Remember NetFront?  Made by Access, they were the original must-have browser on Windows Mobile, going back years ago when Mobile Internet Explorer was even worse (and called PIE).  (See the v3.5 review as a refresher).

While Opera Mobile and Skyfire have mainly taken the lead, it seems Access is making an attempt to woo us back, releasing NetFront 4.0 "Concept Version".  We imagine the concept part makes this a beta, so not everything will be peachy.

The big thang that Access is pushing is their new JavaScript engine, which is suppose to be way faster than....the one in version 3.5.  So how this racks up to Opera Mobile and Skyfire is anyone's guess at this point, though we'll take a look soon enough.

Our initial opinion of 4.0?  Meh.

Read their full press release and info here.  Go through the download process here.

And look for a full review from George, coming up next week.  In the meantime, why not comment on your experience with 4.0?

If you're hip and cool, you'll use your MS Tag app to just download directly to your phone, see below.

[thanks John Kreuzer!]

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It looks like Verizon is preparing to make some significant rate and feature changes to their wireless services effective January 18th. The Boy Genius Report has learned that Verizon is dropping the all-inclusive Premium Plan and re-branding the current Basic Plan to Nationwide Talk and the Select Plan to Nationwide Text and Talk. A 30% drop in pricing on the unlimited minutes options for each of these plans is expected as well.

Unlimited voice plans with Verizon will run $69.99 with a $89.99 option to include unlimited texting. Family plans will run $119.99 a month for the first two lines and $49.99 per additional line.

There will also be some changes to Verizon's data packages. A new $9.99 plan will be available with 25mb of data and mobile email. Overcharges for this plan will drop from $.50 to $.20 per MB. You will also have a $29.99 unlimited data plan with mobile email. All of Verizon's 3G multimedia phones will require at least the $9.99 data plan. Verizon's smartphones will require at minimum the $29.99 data plan.

According to slides obtained by BGR, Verizon states, "These new plans are designed to attract and retain high value customers in the marketplace and recognize the growing popularity of devices with more capabilities than ever before."  We've seen claims of who has the biggest map, fastest coverage and most reliable networks.  One has to wonder if Verizon's pricing changes will spark a pricing battle as well.

Follow the break for graphics comparing the new Verizon rates with the competition.

Read: BGR

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So the big news for today is evidently Microsoft is planning on actually releasing Windows Mobile 6.5.3, which someone is now calling Windows Mobile 6.6.  

Shocker, right?

To recap, Windows Mobile 6.5.x has been in development since last summer. Yes, even before Windows Mobile 6.5  was released, builds of this version were floating around. It recently started to appear on official devices like the TG01. It will feature

So to hear things like:

The company is purportedly so disappointed with Windows Mobile 6.5 sales since launch that the company is rolling out a 6.6 update in February

... makes our head spin. What is the logic here? Microsoft in, what, December decided sales were so awful that they're going to release another OS milestone within 2 months? An OS upgrade that isn't actually intended for a lot of current devices?

We're to believe the same company that cannot get Seven out on time (aka WM7), can now spit out major OS upgrades with a snap of their finger? So they are both crazy fast and crazy slow for OS upgrades. How convenient!

Or perhaps, just perhaps, Microsoft had always planned on releasing WM6.5.x, regardless of sales. That WM6.5.x will be developed even into the Seven life-cycle because Microsoft plans to continue selling that OS on lower-cost devices.

That latter one seems to make the most sense, since it adheres to, you know, basic logic and facts. Why else would Microsoft spend nine months of development on 6.5.x if they never planned to actually release it?

The other rumor is saying Microsoft will be showing 6.5.x off in Barcelona next month instead of Seven. We're going to side with Mary-Jo Foley here of ZDNet and say no, Seven will still be at least discussed, if not flat out shown off and that 6.5.x will have a subtle, quiet roll out instead.

Either way, we'll be in Barcelona to cover the event, so place your bets now on what you think will happen.

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Well, it's not a mighty re-flash of the whole ROM, nor does it bring any new features to the table and in fact, it actually looks kind of dangerous to apply (see below), but Samsung has released a radio firmware update to help with dropped calls on the Verizon Omnia II (see hands on video).

Yeah, not exactly thrilling, though we suppose if you have been experiencing poor call performance, you may want to look into this lil' patch.

Now the caveat: its a finicky update, meaning it official doesn't work on Windows 7, only XP. Going further, a few users have reported problems with "bricking" their phone during the update.  We don't want to be alarmist, but make sure you follow the directions exactly as described.  Oh, and if you run the update in compatibility mode in Win7, evidently that can work too.

Get the patch right here...if you dare!

[via CareAce.net]

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If you're the kind of person who just has to wait for official fixes to come out, well, fine. We understand. And official fixes are starting to trickle out for the 2016 SMS bug that we helped bring to light.

HTC has hotfixes for the Sprint Touch Diamond and Touch Pro that in all liklihood do the exact same thing our workaround does. But if you need the HTC stamp of approval, well, here you go.

Edit: The links to the CAB files are being squirrley, so just use the ones above.

Edit 2: Odd. Now the HTC pages are borked. Hang in there, guys.

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Resco, creator of several quality applications for Windows Mobile including Resco Photo Manager and Contact Manager, has announced in our forums that the Beta 3 version of Resco Explorer 2010 has been released.

Resco Explorer is a File Manager that is packed with features. Explorer offers a number of tools to improve navigation such as touch optimization, search functionality, and favorites. Advanced file features such as FTP, Network Browsing, and encryption are some of the more complex functionality you can expect to find in Explorer.

If you like to have total control over your files, hit up Resco (or preferably our Software Store) for the full lowdown on what Resco Explorer offers you. To play with the beta version, visit the thread our forums.

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Rumors abound in regards to Windows Mobile 7, HTC's HD2, and Microsoft's purported Chassis 1. Speculation stems from the story that Microsoft has a "reference chassis" for Windows Mobile 7, and the fact that the HD2 is the only device which qualifies based on the rumored hardware requirements.

The latest round of conjecture is based on an XDA post detailing the response that he received when he asked HTC about Windows Mobile 7 for his HD2. The core of HTC's response is as follows.

"What we do it ROM Upgrades from our website, however 6.5 windows mobile has only been out 2 months and windows mobile 7 hasn't even been developed. This wont be out until next november at the earliest. But when it is available it will be a free download."

Overlooking the underwhelming English skills, let's break this down. First of all, HTC does indeed release ROM updates from their website. Windows Mobile 6.5 was released in October, so this is more or less true. The statement that Windows Mobile 7 has not been developed is probably not true, but we can be fairly certain that it is not a finished product at this point. The statement about November is very noncommittal, and doesn't seem to come from anyone with actual knowledge of the timeline. The final statement, that it will be a free download once it is released, is simply in line with HTC offering free updates for their devices. While you could read into the response and take out that HTC is committed to bringing Windows Mobile 7 to the HD2, the response doesn't actually say that in so many words.

My personal prediction is that the HD2 will get Windows Mobile 7, at least unofficially. Until Microsoft shows Windows Mobile 7 to the world, speculation about what devices will get the upgrade is simply speculation. Stay tuned for news out of Mobile World Congress next month.

[via RedmondPie]

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11

Sony Ericsson Faith appears

Wait a minute ... What's this? An unannounced Sony Ericsson phone called "Faith?" DailyiPhoneBlog says it's part of SE's "GreenHeart" line (read: environmentally friendly). The specs:

  • 2.4-inch QVGA touchscreen
  • Windows Mobile 6.5.3
  • Qualcomm MSM7227 processor
  • 256MB RAM (probably the same for ROM)
  • aGPS
  • MicroSD
  • Quadband GSM (850/900/1800/900) and dual-band UMTS (900/2100)
  • Stylus
  • 3.2-megapixel camera
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • stereo Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR

More pics after the break. (Thanks, Daniel!)

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The third annual Smartphone Round Robin is back, everybody! And we're kicking off the second half with CrackBerry Kevin himself and his bevy of BlackBerries. (Actually, we concentrated on the Bold 9700 and Storm 2, but you know how we are about alliteration.)

Anyhoo, I've started a forum thread at CrackBerry.com to figure out why these things are just so darn addictive. Check it out, and remember that anytime you post in an official Round Robin thread, you're entered to win a phone of your choice from that site (up to $1,000). So get to posting!

Now, check out Kevin and myself after the break.

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Those of you in the UK looking to pick up an HTC HD2 can now do so with Virgin Mobile for free with its 24-month £30 tariff. Up to this point the Snapdragon toting beast has been available unlocked, on O2 and T-Mobile.

Have any of our British mates been lugging an HD2 around recently? What carrier are you rocking? Regale us with tales of your device superiority in the comments.

[via CoolSmartPhone]

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We've mentioned in the past the growing trend of putting Android onto Windows phones and how this is not just an emulator but the full fledged OS running.

Of course the downside has been the difficult task of getting the radios, buttons and other aspects to be fully operational.

Looks like some users of the HTC Touch HD are getting quite the leg up with a nice build of Android 2.0 running on their swanky black slabs.

Big difference here?  This sucka is evidently working with the radios for once--phone calls, SMS, etc.  Looking at this from our Touch Pro 2, we're a bit envious.  On the other hand, there's hope that someday the rest of us will have our Eclair and eat it too. (Ka-ching! Pun of the day.)

See the full video after the break.

[MobileOS News via AndroidCentral]

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Those of you looking to upgrade to the latest and greatest HTC from AT&T on the cheap should get your pocketbooks ready. Refurbished models of the HTC Pure and HTC Tilt 2 are now offered through AT&T online. Prices with a 2 year contract (including a $30 per month data plan) are down to $149.99 for the Tilt2 and $99 for the Pure.

What is your opinion on refurbished devices? Is a savings of $50 worth not getting a brand new device? Any success/horror stories to share? What say you?

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Oh, look. There's the Sony Ericsson Xperia X2a (the "a" points to the North American version) on the Sony Style Web site. It's still not available for purchase, but we saw it at CES running Windows Mobile 6.5.3, and CNET says its been told to expect launch this spring. We're not holding our breaths, given the lack of expediency given the X1, but we'll definitely be glad to see it when it comes.

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Stopped back by the Microsoft booth at CES after our recent encounter with Windows Mobile 6.5.3 on the Toshiba TG01, and, sure enough, there's more lurking around. The Pharos Traveler 137's got it (Build 28005.5.3.0). And right next door was the Sony Ericsson Xperia X2, and it had 6.5.3 as well, though it's so heavily skinned with the Panels interface that you can't tell at first glance.

Two more phones with possible upgrades on the way.

 

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