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The Tech Report

OnePlus One: A Flagship Killer for Half the Price -- with One Big Catch

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Tech Review
BVN Staff

The highly-anticipated OnePlus One that can make even a novice phoneboy salivate has a lot of things going for it early on. It’s a flagship smartphone; an elegantly-designed piece of technology; and carries a jaw-dropping price tag uncommon for a high-end smartphones of its caliber. Unfortunately, for all these reasons and the invitation-only process, the OnePlus One is arguably one of the most elusive smartphones to debut this year.

For a buyer to get their hands on the OnePlus One they have to be one of the lucky ones to either obtain an exclusive invitation from an existing owner, or receive an invite from OnePlus via one of their frequent online contests.

A lot people have asked why anyone would jump through so many hoops to buy a phone that probably doesn’t have the same name recognition in the U.S. as Apple, HTC, or Samsung. When looking at the $299 starting price for extraordinary specs, the OnePlus One is worth the effort and the wait.

The OnePlus One boasts a beautiful 5.5-inch IPS touchscreen with 16 million colors, up to 64GB of internal storage, 3 MB of RAM, a 13 megapixel rear facing camera, a rare 5 megapixel front facing camera, and Android 4.4 (CynogenMod), amongst other killer specs.

While surely comparable flagship smartphones are more readily available with competitive specs, the $299 price is practically a steal – and it gives the OnePlus One the edge as a contender in the smartphone arena. If a buyer is blessed enough to own the esoteric OnePlus One, he or she will be hard pressed to find any noteworthy downsides to this device.

Of course, anyone who can’t wait for the next OnePlus One online contest – or hasn’t been bestowed an exclusive invitation – there are many OnePlus Ones available on Amazon.com and eBay, albeit well above its average cost through the manufacturer.

When or if the OnePlus One will be open up to the general market is unclear, but it can’t come soon enough.

Nokia Lumia 710: Not An Average 'Entry-Level' Smartphone

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By BVN Staff

The Nokia Lumia 710 is often pegged an entry-level smartphone. Considering the competitive price of the handset coupled with it being on the tail-end of Nokia’s Lumia series, it’s easy to see why the term entry-level gets attached to the Lumia 710. But when some of the smartphone’s specs come into play it seems like a different ball game.

Currently available on T-Mobile, the Nokia Lumia 710 is a Windows Phone released in the U.S. in January. It is the beginning model in the Lumia Series, which includes the Lumia 800 released in Europe late last year and the upcoming Lumia 900.

Running the Windows Phone 7.5 OS (Mango), the Nokia Lumia 710 has a 3.7-inch screen, WVGA 800 x 480 resolution, a 5 megapixel rear camera, 512 MB of RAM and 8 GB of internal storage.

The Lumia 710 stands out compared to most entry-level smartphones due in part to its 1.4 GHz single-core processor, making the Lumia 710 an exceptionally fast handset to operate. The smartphone didn’t generate any noticeable lag or bugs in the interface during our testing as we navigated through menus and apps.

Data speed is another favorable asset in the Lumia 710 considering it is 4G capable, another feature atypical of many entry-level smartphones today.

Call quality on the Lumia 710 was solid to say the least as conversations over the smartphone were clear and carried adequate volume. One interesting plus about the Nokia Lumia 710 was its easy-to-use keyboard that made composing text messages and emails a cinch.

But the Lumia 710 isn’t without its flaws. Data hogs looking for storage may not find comfort with its modest 8 GB of internal storage. And while the design of the Lumia 710 is nice and gives the smartphone some identity, its plastic body lacks a high-quality feel.

The Verdict: The Nokia Lumia 710 may not come loaded with high-end features like a front-facing camera or a 4.3-inch screen, but it brings a level of speed and seamless operation with an affordable price tag that’s welcome.

Lumia 900, Nokia’s High-End Windows Phone, Coming to AT&T

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Nokia’s latest Windows Phone will arrive after making a big splash at CES 2012

By BVN Staff

Nokia received much fanfare after debuting one of the most talked about smartphones to take the stage at this year’s annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas – and it may arrive at AT&T around this Spring.

The Lumia 900 is the latest in a string of Windows Phones Nokia has released. Earlier this month, T-Mobile began selling the Lumia 710, the Lumia 900’s sibling with mid-range hardware. The Lumia 800, a higher-powered phone compared with the 710, was released in the U.K. last year. Details on when the Lumia 900 will be released by AT&T are sketchy though some reports point to the Lumia 900 coming to AT&T in March.

It will be interesting to see how Nokia will take on the growing competition from heavy-hitters in the market such as Apple and Samsung. After debuting at CES, it appears the Lumia 900 is poised to attract the attention the Windows Phone platform could use.

From the outside, it looks like Nokia definitely got it right. The Lumia 900 fashions a sleek, stylish body that looks mainstream, yet still unique.

It’s unclear if the Lumia 900 is intended to be the flagship Windows Phone in Nokia’s line up, but the handset boasts impressive – and competitive – specs so far.

The Lumia 900 has a 4.3-inch AMOLED ClearBlack display, 1.4 GHz processor, front-facing 1-megapixel camera for video calling, and is expected to operate on AT&T’s LTE network.

No word yet on how much the Lumia 900 will cost, but hopefully it’s enough to allow the Lumia 900 to shine in a market full of Apple and Android.

White Samsung Galaxy S II, Epic 4G Touch Headed to Sprint – Galaxy Nexus Coming Too?

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By BVN Staff

Sprint customers were on the receiving end of some good news this week following various reports that a white version (gasp!) of the Samsung Galaxy S II, Epic 4G Touch would arrive at Sprint next week. But then came new buzz that Sprint ads promoting the LTE-capable Samsung Galaxy Nexus were spotted online at cnet.com. Depending on where you sit, one piece of the recent Samsung/Sprint news may trump the other. My money is on the Galaxy Nexus.

While it's refreshing to know Sprint customers no longer would be left out considering other carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile have a white version of the Samsung Galaxy S II, the arrival of the Galaxy Nexus on Sprint would be big news for several reasons.

Most importantly, the Nexus' addition to Sprint's line up indicates the carrier may be preparing to launch its 4G LTE network this year if reports are true. Every since Sprint fired up its 4G Wimax network in June of 2010 with the introduction of the HTC EVO, there's been a question mark on how Wimax will fare against LTE networks. Sprint's possible unveiling of an LTE network this year will be a welcome addition to keep it competitive with other LTE providers.

The addition of the Galaxy Nexus would also make it the first official Android 4.0 handset to make it to Sprint, assuming no other Android 4.0 devices make it to the carrier.

The wait for the Galaxy Nexus to hit U.S. shores was a long one, and it’s unclear how long it will be before the Galaxy Nexus reaches Sprint, but hopefully it won’t be a long wait. In the mean time, if a frost white Samsung Galaxy S II will hold you over, there may be one lying in wait at Sprint beginning January 8.

Which SmartPhone was Best of the Year: Apple, HTC, Motorola or Samsung?

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By BVN Staff

There’s no doubt 2011 marked a huge year for smartphone sales as these phones etched closer to overtaking average cellphone sales throughout the U.S. Of the biggest achievements this year, we saw the highly-anticipated release of Android 4.0, Motorola’s debut of its first Android-based RAZR and the long-rumored iPhone 4S – finally!

Apple, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung all earned bragging rights for contributions to the smartphone market. Each made notable and/or distinct products, but this tech writer wants to know from readers, which smartphone was the most significant in 2011.

Here’s a brief rundown of my top five choices for best smartphone of 2011:

iPhone 4S: Rumors about the successor to the iPhone 4 set the web ablaze, dominating tech and general news headlines. The rumors of a larger screen and 4G capabilities turned out to be nothing more than that. It was reported that many Apple enthusiasts initially felt let down by the iPhone 4S, but Siri, Apple’s voice-control software, turned into the talk of the town. Voice-control may not be anything new for smartphones, but Siri’s intelligence made it a standout feature on the iPhone 4S.

HTC EVO 3D: Think 3D is a fad that should be limited to your movie-going experience? The release of the HTC EVO 3D proved 3D isn’t just for theaters. Right now, it’s not clear precisely how much staying power 3D has considering the number of 3D-capable smartphones released in the U.S. can probably be counted on one hand, but it was good to see HTC taking another leap with its expansion of the EVO brand.

Motorola Droid RAZR: If you didn’t own or see a Motorola RAZR in the mid 2000’s, you were probably hiding under a rock – a very large rock. This super-slim phone was one of the most successful cellphones in history. Motorola resurrected the RAZR name in November hoping to reclaim some of the original RAZR glory, this time wrapped in Android 2.3. The latest RAZR is a formidable smartphone that won’t weigh you down at 127 grams, and most of the body comes in at a mere – and impressive – 7.1 mm thick.

Samsung Galaxy S II: This smartphone truly brought the trifecta of what premium smartphones should embody with a stunning design, high-end features and superior battery life. As such, this 4.5-inch smartphone didn’t get lost in a sea of Gingerbread smartphones.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus: Some people might sum up the Samsung Nexus Galaxy’s appeal in two words: Android 4.0. But The Samsung Nexus Galaxy has more appeal than its designated OS. The latest Nexus is a solid smartphone with its dual-core processor and 4G capabilities. Throw in a 4.65-inch display, an HD Super AMOLED screen, and a fortified glass display and you have a strong contender here in the Galaxy Nexus.

Honorable Mention: BlackBerry. RIM certainly had its share of woes in 2011 and a gray cloud still hovers over the smartphone giant. But RIM did get noticed with the release of the BlackBerry Bold 9930, Torch 9810 and Torch 9850 last Summer running OS 7. It wasn’t enough to completely turn RIM around, but it did illustrate that Blackberry is still competitive.

The smartphone and mobile computing marketing will continue to evolve, next year probably bringing exciting new ways to improve how we socialize and share information. However this year, I’d like to know which smartphone made the biggest impact in your view.

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