HTC Won’t Sell The Entry-Level Windows Phone 8S Smartphone In The U.S.


The HTC 8S is a Windows Phone 8 handset that’s lightly specced compared to its more powerful sibling, the HTC 8X. The 8X is HTC’s flagship phone based on Microsoft’s mobile OS, and apparently the only one the U.S. market may ever see, according to an official statement from HTC issued late Friday afternoon. The budget 8S won’t make it to U.S. shores, an HTC official told Engadget, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

The HTC 8S is a not a bad-looking piece of hardware, based on the versions I saw at CTIA MobileCon before they were allowed to be displayed running a live version of Windows Phone 8. But inside it’s a device built for a budget: It lacks a front-facing camera, has a much lower resolution display, a weaker rear camera, less RAM and a slower processor than its big brother. The Verge reports that delays in carrier testing of the 8S had already pushed back its retail availability (where it was targeted for T-Mobile), but the new statement from HTC indicates we probably won’t ever see the phone on sale stateside.

The Windows Phone 8X is now said to be HTC’s area of focus on the Windows Phone side for the U.S. market, where it’s sold at AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. While Windows Phone 8 sales are said to be exceeding the launch performance of Windows Phone 7 devices, no one’s putting any firm numbers behind that as of yet. It’s possible that what HTC saw regarding sales of its 8X indicated that the wise course would be to focus on promoting a single WP8-based device in the U.S. market, rather than splitting their focus between two handsets.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

New iMac Teardown Reveals Dual Microphones, Hard To Reach RAM


As you might have expected, the new iMac redesign that introduces a much slimmer case also has some negative consequences for overall device repairability and DIY upgrades, iFixit’s teardown of the machine has revealed. The site’s traditional peek under the hood of Apple’s latest all-in-one also shows off some impressive feats of engineering to fit all that good stuff in a much sleeker package.

In good news, RAM, hard drive and CPU are all possible to replace, should things go wrong or should users want to upgrade their memory or internal storage. The bad news, though, is that unlike on previous generation iMacs, none of these pieces are easily accessible. iMacs used to at least have user-accessible RAM trays on the underside of their face, which actually made it really easy to swap out upgrades. Now, while it’s still not soldered to the motherboard like on the latest Retina MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs, getting at the RAM requires removing the screen, and also behind the logic board, meaning you’ll have to essentially take the iMac completely apart to change things up.

In better news, the iMac packs some engineering changes that will help with user experience, including dual microphones to make FaceTime calling and general audio input without mics better overall. And iFixit says that the friction stir welding used to combine case pieces together isn’t just marketing smoke; it should create strengthened welds without traditional weak spots due to areas that are completely melted and reformed. Apple has also moved from three fans to just one, which is located near the iMac’s rear back bulge (which is mostly accounted for by the iMac’s main Wi-Fi antenna), and saves a ton of space versus previous designs.

Be sure to check out the entire teardown if you’re after the gritty details, but the main takeaway here might be that the iMac has seen a drop from a 7 out of 10 to a 2 out of 10 in terms of iFixit’s repairability score between generations. That’s not the best news for DIY-ers, but Apple is clearly of the opinion that the dramatic design changes more than make up for internal component accessibility sacrifices.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

Gift Guide: Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 Compact Camera


Short Version

Sony’s compact camera with pro features including manual focusing and RAW support comes with a hefty price tag, but it costs that much for a reason: This is simply the best camera currently available for shooters who want something that fits in a front pocket but still delivers image quality so breathtaking, your friends will think you’ve been toting around a DSLR.

Long Version


  • Large, 1-inch sensor (allows for amazing depth-of-field composition)
  • Bright, fast  F1.8-4.9 lens
  • Incredibly fast autofocus in a range of lighting conditions


  • 20.2 effective megapixel sensor
  • 3.6x zoom
  • Availability: Ships Dec. 4 from Sony
  • MSRP: $ 649
  • Product page

The Sony RX100 is…

… a compact camera that proves good things do come in small packages. The bokeh (background blur) you can achieve with this camera is astounding, given its size. It’s also an extremely capable low-light shooter compared to others in this category, and has AF capabilities that are actually so fast they’ll take some getting used to if you’re coming from some recent mirrorless interchangeable lens systems, like the Canon EOS M.

But the Sony RX100 for…

… the photo enthusiast in your circle who stopped taking pictures because they got tired of lugging around heavy equipment. That applies to DSLR shooters, as well as compact system camera users who were just tired of keeping track of different lenses, or who felt almost, but not quite unburdened by things like the Olympus PEN series that still aren’t quite pocketable.


… the problem with the eternal struggle between image quality and portability in cameras is that you always end up making more compromises than you’re probably comfortable with. The RX100 is different, in that it’s a compact camera with an attached lens that will leave you thinking “This is good,” instead of just “This is good enough.” Check out the gallery of unedited photos straight from the camera below for a small sample of what the RX100 is capable of.

Click to view slideshow.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

Apple Gains On Samsung In U.S. Mobile Phone Market Share, Lands Second Overall For The First Time


For the first time in the history of comScore’s MobiLens U.S. mobile market share report, Apple has come in second overall among handset OEMs. Apple grew its U.S. market share by 1.5 percentage points from 16.3 to 17.8 percent in the three-month period ending October 2012, according to the report. During the same period, Samsung also saw its share grow, but only by 0.7 percentage points, from 25.6 to 26.3 percent. Apple seems to have begun narrowing the gap on the back of the iPhone 5, which went on sale in the U.S. towards the middle of the period covered by comScore’s latest report.

Apple climbed to second over LG, which saw a dip of 0.8 percentage points from 18.4 to 17.6 percent during the period. Motorola and HTC rounded out the top five, both experiencing slight drops and finishing the quarter with 11 and 6 percent of the market, respectively. Another key metric comScore found, and one which helps explain what finally pushed Apple into second place, is nearly 52 percent of all subscribers in the U.S. were on smartphones, up 6 percent from the previous quarter. Apple only sells smartphones, so its fortunes rising in lockstep with the decreasing popularity of feature phones makes perfect sense.

As mentioned, Apple also released the iPhone 5 during the quarter covered by this report. We’ve already seen from Kantar Worldpanel that the iPhone 5 propelled Apple back to the top of the U.S. smartphone charts, and it’s likely that device is also the reason Apple now comes in at number two overall among handset makers of all stripes.

Platform market share still shows Google with a commanding lead, and one which grew during the period, from 52.2 percent of subscribers to 53.6 percent. Apple also gained, rising 0.9 percentage points from 33.4 percent to 34.3 percent, while RIM was the biggest loser among the top five with a decline of 1.7 percentage points. Microsoft and Symbian round out the top five, both with minor drops in overall share.

The next quarter will be an interesting one to watch for. It covers November through January, which means that we’ll see the holiday effect on all OEMs. It also should include LG’s sales of the Nexus 4 device, which seems to be remarkably popular, or at least in very short supply. Depending on how LG allocates supply among its Optimus G and Nexus devices, we could see it claw back into second, since the gap is still quite narrow, but it has to contend with Apple’s holiday iPhone sales, which are generally very strong.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

Two Reasons For RIM To Be Cheerful: U.K., Spanish Teens Still Love BlackBerrys (Well, They’re Cheaper Than iPhones)

Creative commons:

RIM’s global market share dwindled to just 4.3 percent in Q3 (IDC’s figure) but BlackBerrys are still wildly popular with a certain cash-strapped sub-set of mobile users in parts of Europe: namely teenagers. The latest data shining a light on a rare RIM stronghold comes from a wide-ranging research report looking at mobile users’ habits in France, Spain and the U.K. The annual report, commissioned by carrier Orange, suggests advertisers “must not write off BlackBerry if they are to successfully engage with a younger audience”.

The report found that BlackBerry penetration amongst teenagers in the UK and Spain was two and three times higher respectively than the overall “mobile media user” population. The researchers use the term “mobile media user” to refer to people who use a mobile device for rich media and communications, such as IM, social networking, streaming video, email, browsing the internet and location-based services, rather than just talk and text.

In Spain, the research indicates that RIM’s devices are in a healthy majority of teens’ back pockets, with 64 percent of 11 to 17 year-olds in the country owning a BlackBerry. While, in the U.K., RIM’s grip on the youth market is also strong, if not quite as fuerte as in Spain — with close to half (46 percent) of U.K. teens owning a BlackBerry.

RIM’s French fortunes are not so fair: just 14 percent of teens in the country own a BlackBerry. An Orange spokesman suggested this could be down to the device not being directly marketed to teens in the country. Meanwhile, iPhone penetration was “unsurprisingly low” in the teen age-group across all the surveyed countries — doubtless owing to the relatively high cost of Apple hardware.

The research was conducted by TNS for Orange’s annual Orange Exposure consumer study looking at the usage and habits of mobile media users in France, Spain and the U.K. Three hundred teenagers (in the 11 to 18 age range) were surveyed in each country, in addition to 1,000 mobile mobile users per country. The research also involved a “calibration phase” consisting of 2,000 face-to-face interviews per country. Research was conducted in three waves, between March and August this year.

In a device breakdown by age, aggregating the data from France, Spain and the U.K., BlackBerry also makes a strong showing in the 16 to 24 year-old age group, with close to half (47 percent) of BlackBerry owners falling in this age bracket — but less than a third (28 percent) aged 25-34 and a mere 12 percent aged 35-49. The 50-65 age group also makes up just 12 percent of BlackBerry owners.

The age distribution of the iPhone is more even, according to the research, with a third (33 percent) falling in the 16-to-24 age group versus a similar proportion (27 percent) in the 25-34 bracket, and 28 percent aged 35-49. iPhone ownership in the 50-65 age-bracket stands at just 11 percent.

Samsung mobile device owners have a similarly even age spread as the iPhone, albeit with the largest proportion (33 percent) falling in the 35-49 year-old age bracket. A quarter are aged 16-24, according to the research, and just over a quarter (26 percent) are 25-34. The Korean mobile maker has also managed to push into the 50-65 age range, with a relatively high 16 percent of Samsung-owning mobile users falling in this range — perhaps down to the company’s strategy of offering an extensive portfolio of devices at a wide variety of price-points.

Of all the brands listed, Nokia has the largest proportion of device owners in the 50-65 year old range, with just over a fifth (21 percent) of Nokia users falling in this age.

Aggregating the data across the age ranges, but breaking it out by country, just over a fifth (22 percent) of “mobile media users” own BlackBerrys in the U.K. and in Spain, while in France the figure is just 12 percent. In the U.K. 31 percent are iPhone owners (up from 26 percent last year), while in Spain 20 percent own iPhones (up from 13 percent last year). In France, the iPhone figure stands at 28 percent.

In all three countries the generic category of “other smartphones” accounts for the majority of devices owned — the vast majority of which will be Android-based devices, such as Samsung’s Galaxy range of smartphones


The research also polled respondents on tablet ownership — finding that tablet penetration in the U.K. has grown from seven percent of the population last year to 17 percent this year. In France it’s grown from three percent last year to seven percent this year. In Spain this year’s figure remains unchanged at nine percent.

Unsurprisingly, Apple’s iPad dominates the field — taking a majority of the market in all three countries, and accounting for a whopping 79 percent of the tablets owned in the U.K. In Spain, the iPad also dominates, with 52 percent of the tablet market, but Samsung’s Galaxy Tab series has carved out a sizeable slice — taking 17 percent of the Spanish tablet market.

Here’s the report’s breakdown of tablet type by country

[Image: arrayexception via Flickr]

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