Microsoft to Phase Out Nokia Brand

Microsoft is planning to phase out the use of its Nokia and Windows Phone brands for marketing purposes in favor of Lumia, according to a company document leaked on Wednesday.

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The internal memo was first acquired by GeeksOnGadgets and confirmed by The Verge. The changes are set to take affect during the upcoming holiday campaign for its phones.

“As part of our phased transition, we will drop the manufacturer name from product references during the Holiday campaign,” the document reads.

Windows Phone will simply be Windows, with Lumia used as the branding for models. Microsoft reps could not be reached for comment.

Microsoft purchased Nokia’s device and services business in September 2013 for $7.2 billion. Nokia, once a dominant player in the cellphone industry, has seen its market share decline steadily since 2010.

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This is not the first change in Microsoft’s branding around Nokia. Nokia Corporation in Finland has become Microsoft Mobile.


Everything Australians Need to Know About Getting the iPhone 6

SYDNEY — Apple announced the much-anticipated new iPhones on Tuesday, as bleary-eyed Australians tried to fight through their sleepy haze to catch a glimpse.

If for some reason you’ve been stuck under a rock (or a dooner) or just need to know the finer details of getting your goodies Down Under, here is a quick rundown.

When does it get here?

The iPhone 6 is coming to Australia on Sept. 19. If you had a dream of being first in Australia, and pretty much the world, while finally scoring your 15 minutes of fame, think again. There are already savvy teens lining at the flagship store in Sydney, 10 days out.

You can pre-order the phone from Friday, 12 September.

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What is it?

The iPhones are coming to Australia in three colours — gold, silver, grey — and you can snap the 16GB version of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 up outright for $A869 including GST. For the 64GB model, you’ll need $A1,000 lying around and to get your grubby hands on the brand new 128GB model, you’ll need to take out a mortgage — with the cost clicking in at $A1,129.

The 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus will hit Australia at $A999 for the 16GB model, $A1,129 for the 64GB model and $A1,249 to get the excessive space of the 128GB model. It appears size does matter.

Lifehacker did some fancy calculations for Australians and worked out the sneaky ol’ Australia Tax — where we get charged more for being in the ‘Lucky Country’ — is about $A100 per device. Just low enough that it doesn’t make sense to ship it over from the States, just high enough for us to remember we live on an island.

Where do I get it?

You can buy one outright, with no lock-in contract, for those eye-watering prices online or at Apple retail stores across the country.

If you aren’t scared of commitment, Telstra, Optus and Vodafone will have a plan to lock you in for life. The plans are usually announced a few days after Apple’s big reveal. Stay tuned.

At the moment, you can put in an expression of interest with Telstra and Vodafone. While by the look of the Optus website, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’d forgot about the launch. Your best bet is to check back later.

What if I already have a contract?

Fear not, this will be less painful than divorce.

Optus started the cash war, by offering new customers $A200 credit if they pay out their contract with their current provider and an extra $A250 to trade in an old device. You can claim your early exit fee credit from Optus within 21 days of signing up. The telco even signed up ’80s action hero, Dolph Lundgren, to show how serious they are about you breaking rules.

With all this show-ponying around, Telstra wasn’t going to just sit back and watch. And although they don’t have He-Man on their side, the telco matched the deal, giving $A200 credit to new customers and $A250 for trading in a device. Make sure you are ready to commit again, once you sign you’ll be stuck with Telstra for 24 months.

“Customers will be offered a $A200 credit on their Telstra mobile bill when they stay connected for 24 months, and if their device is eligible, up to $A250 credit to trade in their old mobile, depending on the model and condition,” Telstra said in a statement.

If you are in your last three months of a contract with Optus or Telstra, you can upgrade to a new smartphone without paying termination fees. Things just got interesting. Watch this space for the next installment in The Battle of the Telcos.

No Apple Pay for you

“Apple Pay will be made available in the U.S. We have no further details relating to availability outside the U.S. at this time,” the company said, as Australians sobbed into their iPhones.

That’s right, Aussies are getting the short end of the deal once again. Not only are you coughing up more dough for your shiny new toy, you also don’t get to run around town buying everything in sight by tapping your phone.

In good news, we are well ahead of the Americans in every other payment form so feel free to use PayWave with a smug smile. Oh, and there’s always the Samsung Wallet, that has been letting Aussies pay with their phones since March.

HTC One E8 for smartphone lineup

The HTC One E8 is headed to Sprint’s network at some point in the future, the carrier announced on YouTube Thursday. The video, which was removed Friday afternoon from Sprint’s YouTube page, didn’t provide many details on Sprint’s plans for the handset, including when it will launch and how much it will cost. But the 46-second video did highlight some of the device’s finer features.

The HTC One E8 was unveiled in June as an alternative to HTC’s flagship smartphone the One M8. The device comes with a design that’s similar to the One M8, but replaces that product’s metal finish with a polycarbonate casing. When the One E8 was announced, HTC said it would be available in “limited markets.”

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The One E8 comes in a variety of colors, boasts a 5-inch Full HD display, and runs Google’s Android 4.4.2 KitKat operating system. It also has a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera.

HTC’s One E8 is a cheaper, budget-conscious alternative to One M8, which comes with a better camera, a nicer finish, and a higher price tag. The One M8 is available on Sprint for $200 with a two-year agreement, suggesting the One E8 may come with a lower price tag when it launches.

In addition to adding new devices to its lineup, new CEO Marcelo Claure said Thursday that Sprint, which is the third largest wireless provider in the US, will be cutting prices to compete with bigger rivals AT&T and Verizon Wireless, as well as the aggressive T-Mobile.

Microsoft Admits to Killing the Surface Mini

Microsoft has confirmed it cancelled plans to release a Surface Mini tablet in the spring.

During Tuesday’s quarterly earnings call, CFO Amy Hood said that part of the reason revenue from the company’s line of Surface tablets took a hit was because it had decided to kill an unreleased product.

See also: There Was No Surface Mini Because Microsoft Already Lost on Tablets

“During the quarter, we reassessed our product roadmap and decided not to ship a new form factor that was under development,” Hood said. While she doesn’t identify the Surface Mini by name, other reports claimed Microsoft has scrapped plans to release the tablet late in the game, then the company accidentally confirmed the product’s existence in a user manual that referenced the Mini directly.

The decision to take the ax to the Surface Mini was reportedly influenced by CEO Satya Nadella, whose bid to reshape Microsoft includes a clear focus on productivity. While the company has many consumer-facing products (notably Xbox),

Windows devices have been criticized as not serving small-screen tablet market as well as iPads and Android models, and market statistics reflect this.

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The small-screen tablet market has grown quickly over the past two years, but Windows didn’t support those designs until fall 2013 with the release of Windows 8.1. It appeared inevitable that the Surface line would get a Mini version after that, but since smaller tablets are inherently more about consumption than productivity, such a product wouldn’t fit with Nadella’s vision of the new Microsoft.

When Microsoft held the next Surface product launch in May, it instead announced the Surface Pro 3, a 12-inch tablet that runs full Windows 8.1 Pro, powered by an Intel Core processor.

Other manufacturers have filled the void with small Windows tablets, and most run Windows 8.1, powered by Intel Atom chips. Lenovo was reportedly going to stop selling small Windows tablets in the U.S. due to lack of demand, but the company quickly reaffirmed its commitment to different-size tablets and said it would bring a new small Windows tablet to the American market before the end of 2014.

iPhone 6 Going on Sale for $160

Goophone, the Chinese phone company known for its uncanny smartphone knockoffs, is back with its latest adaptation.

The i6, an imitation of the still-unannounced iPhone 6, rolls out online on Aug. 1. Designed based on supposedly leaked images and videos, the i6 is priced at $159.99 for the 16 GB model. For comparison, the 16 GB iPhone 5S retailed for $199 with contract and $649 unlocked.

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While it sounds like a sweet deal, consumers should know that i6 uses a different processor than the iPhone and comes equipped with Android instead of iOS. It also only has a 1.4GHz processor, a downgrade from the 2GHz offered with Goophone’s i5S model, which is — you guessed it — a knockoff of the iPhone 5S.

The design of the i6 and the expected design for the rumored iPhone 6 are very close: Both have fingerprint readers on the front, an auto-focusing camera in the rear and other design hallmarks borrowed from iPhones.

However, the i6 sports a image of a bumblebee on its back instead of Apple’s classic logo the i6 sports a image of a bumblebee on its back instead of Apple’s classic logo, distinguishing itself from the iPhone’s no-frills design. Goophone hasn’t explained why it uses the bee as its logo, only remarking that it is “cute.”

Unlike the Goophone i5S, the i6 is only offered in two colors, black and white. The champagne finish was a new direction for iPhone design when the 5S emerged and was copied by Goophone (and others). It’s still unknown what colors Apple will offer for the iPhone 6.

It’s also difficult to say exactly how closely the i6 resembles its Apple original, as designs for the iPhone 6 leaked earlier this year proved to be fake. An exact release date for the iPhone 6 has also been hazy, after rumors that a smaller version would debut in August were squashed. It is now widely anticipated that both the 4.7-inch will hit the market in September, while a larger 5.5-inch model could come in the months ahead.

In the past, Goophone has mimicked the Samsung Galaxy S5 and other highly desirable smartphones. While there are obvious copyright issues at hand, Chinese authorities aren’t doing much to shut it down for now.

Panasonic 5 Inch ToughPad Is One Brawny Phablet

Think your Gorilla Glass-protected waterproof smartphone is durable? It’s a proverbial wimp next to Panasonic’s new ToughPad, an ultra-rugged 5-inch tablet that sometimes does double duty as a phone.

That kind of ruggedness has a cost, however: This baby is anything but elegant. “Brick” is an apt descriptor for the 15-ounce, 1.2-inch-thick handheld, so it’s just as well the ToughPad is aimed at the business and industrial market, designed to take the kind of punishment that factory floors, highways and battlefields occasionally dish out.

Previously, Panasonic only offered ToughPad tablets in 10- and 7-inch sizes; this is the first one to have a 5-inch screen, which is a market dominated by Honeywell and Motorola Solutions. The tiny ToughPad comes in two options: the FZ-X1, which runs Android 4.2.2 “Jelly Bean,” and the FZ-E1, which is one of the first devices to ship with Windows Embedded 8.1, a special flavor of Windows for business handhelds.

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As you might expect, this sucker is built to take a pounding. Not only is it rated to withstand a 10-foot drop onto concrete, but the screen “floats” within the housing, enabling it to survive falling on its face. And the IP68 rating means it’s guaranteed to still work after being submerged in 5 feet of water for 30 minutes.

The tricky thing about water resistance, though, is that water can still play havoc with usability (just try using your waterproof tablet while running it under a faucet). Panasonic has thought of this, though, and has included a “rain mode” that reduces the 10-finger touchscreen to just one finger, but makes the device usable in a storm. Even through gloves.

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One of the advantages of bulk is you have room for a bigger battery, and the huge 6,200 milliamp-hour (mAh) battery will last 14 hours. It’s hot-swappable, too, meaning you can take it out and slip in a fresh one and it won’t even turn off — that’s thanks to a high-voltage capacitor that will still work no matter how long you own the device.

The Windows model is powered by a 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chip and the Android one has a 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 model. Wi-Fi-only models cost $1,849 and $1,799, respectively, with 4G LTE and phone-call options each costing $50 extra. Adding a barcode reader or magstripe scanner costs $100 each.