NYT to SCOTUS: Cops should get warrant before searching your cellphone after arrest

From an editorial by the New York Times editorial board:

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will consider whether law enforcement officers during an arrest may search the contents of a person’s mobile phone without a warrant. The court should recognize that new technologies do not alter basic Fourth Amendment principles, and should require a judicial warrant in such circumstances.

Read: "Smartphones and the 4th Amendment." NYTimes.com

Samsung's Galaxy S 4 is a No-Touch-Touchscreen, Not-Quite-Android Android Phone

Samsung's new smartphone contains multitudes.

The Galaxy S 4's touchscreen doesn't need to be touched to respond to your actions. Its software looks less like Android than almost any other phone running Google's operating system, but the thing ships with a newer version of it, 4.2, than almost all others. And its 5-inch screen outsizes the 4.8-in. display of the earlier Galaxy S III, but it's smaller and lighter than Samsung's flagship phone of last year.

And like its best-selling predecessor, the S 4 invites an assessment from multiple perspectives.

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Texas judge questions tools that grab cellphone data from innocent people

The Wall Street Journal reports that a Texas judge is asking questions about whether investigators are providing courts with sufficient detail details on technlogies that allow them to grab data on all cellphones in a given area, including those of people who are most certainly innocent of any crime. Snip:
One of the investigative tools in question is something called a “cell tower dump,” which allows law enforcement to get information on all the phones in a given area at a given time.

In two cases, Magistrate Judge Brian Owsley rejected federal requests to allow the warrantless use of “stingrays” and “cell tower dumps,” two different tools that are used for cellphone tracking. The judge said the government should apply for warrants in the cases, but the attorneys had instead applied for lesser court orders.

Among the judge’s biggest concerns: that the agents and U.S. attorneys making the requests didn’t provide details on how the tools worked or would be used — and even seemed to have trouble explaining the technology.

Sony Xperia S reviewed

Vlad Savov reviews Sony's Xperia S for The Verge. With a 1280x720 display, 12 megapixel camera and a dual-core CPU, it's the company's first major new design since buying out Sony-Ericsson. How does it do?

The Xperia S isn't a bad phone, it's just not particularly good at any one thing. I find this disappointing because Sony's brand ethos has always been about conquering the heights of technology, not settling for a moderately good device in the middle of the pack.

Dead on arrival, in other words. You can tell Sony is trying hard to catch up, however, because the edition of Android on it is only 14 months old.

HTC Rezound

Ars Technica's Casey Johnston checks out a new Android handset designed to be good at playing music: "we're not sold"

Cellphones still don't cause cancer

A new Danish study finds no causal association between cellphone use and increased risk of brain tumors. [British Medical Journal]

Nokia N9 is beautiful, flawed, doomed

This is my Next's Vlad Savov reviews the Nokia N9, "one of the most fascinating phones of the last few years." Beautifully designed and toting a linux-based operating system that can actually scroll smoothly, it is a dead end thanks to Nokia's decision to switch to Windows Phone. The Nokia appstore is "Chernobyl" and the phone itself "flawed and doomed", Savov writes, but he still likes it: "the N9 has delivered on Nokia’s promises of 2010. It’s just a shame that the Nokia of 2011 didn’t believe in itself enough to see them through."

Latest smartphones compared

This Is My Next rounds up coverage of the Galaxy Nexus smartphone. Even better, though, is its useful comparison chart of the latest Android, Windows and iOS phones.

Google to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5bn

"Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies." — Larry Page, quoted in Wired's story on the $12.5bn buy. Motorola spun off its cellphone business earlier this year.

Cellular connection map of the U.S.

An MIT map of AT&T cellphone calls [via Gizmodo] reveals something about the interconnectedness of U.S. regions.
This constant flux of people commuting, migrating, and travelling across the country establishes connections which are dominated by large cities. The social connections woven across the United States can be used to define communities, where the glue that holds a community together is a stronger relationship with other members of the same community compared to members of other communities.
The team created a similar map some times ago for the U.K.: Phones used to redraw UK regions.gif

Cellphone radiation not a problem for this guy

plastinated.jpg The plastinated body of a man is pictured during an exhibition preview at Naturhistorisches Museum (Natural History Museum) in Vienna, last year. Photo: Reuters/Heinz-Peter Bader.

Sony Xperia Mini is tiniest (HD-recording) Android yet

xperiamini.jpeg The Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini and Mini Pro have 3" 320x480 displays, 1GHz processors, Android 2.3, and are touted as the smallest Android phones to record HD video. The Mini is touchscreen only, whereas the Mini Pro has a slide-out keyboard. They'll be out in the fall. [Sony Ericsson via Gizmodo]

AT&T and T-Mobile USA: the case for a merger

randallCEO.jpg AT&T Inc. CEO Randall Stephenson announces his company's proposal to buy T-Mobile from Deutsche Telekom in New York. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
I spent a fair bit of time last week combing over AT&T's first T-Mobile merger filing, a 381-page document that lays out exactly why the carrier thinks the $39 billion merger will be good for consumers, competition, and America. It's an interesting document: AT&T claims that the merger won't have any real impact on the wireless market because it already faces serious competition from every carrier except T-Mobile, which it repeatedly characterizes as a doomed company. After all, if T-Mobile is already failing, allowing AT&T to swallow it whole won't change the overall level of competition in the market. It's audacious, to say the least. Now, most people -- including me -- think this argument is preposterous. There are only four national carriers in this country, and approved or not, the end result of the T-Mobile merger process will have a significant effect on the wireless market. The only people who think otherwise all apparently work at AT&T, and a growing chorus of critics say the merger should be blocked on the grounds that it will reduce competition and result in a AT&T / Verizon duopoly ruling the market. My friend Chris Ziegler lays the anti-merger argument out in detail, and it's convincing, to say the least. Regardless, I still think the merger should be approved. Yes, I really do. Why? Because the current state of the US wireless market sucks. It sucks hard. AT&T is straight-up lying when it says that there's "fierce" and "intense" competition in the wireless market. There's not -- and the carriers do everything they can to keep it that way, while insisting that the smartphone device explosion is evidence of competition at the service level. It's a shell game that's actively hindered the development of mobile technology and services, and the FCC and DOJ have the opportunity to blow it up by attaching significant conditions to merger approval.

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Olympus TP-7 Telephone Recording Device

Olympus TP-7 .jpeg Interviewing someone over the phone is never easy, and it is a task that has been made a bit more difficult since the switch to mobile phones. Where as with a landline you could use something like the previously reviewed Mini Phone Recorder, there are no simple bypasses for cellphones. I was originally hopeful when a previous reviewer devised a way to record cell phone interviews while wearing a hands free headset using parts found at Radioshack. But I wanted something simpler. With a little bit of research I discovered the Olympus TP-7; a miniature microphone that slips into your ear and plugs into your recording device (or computer) and enables easy recording of phone calls. At $11 it seemed like a low risk move to try one out.

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The Nexus One in a nutshell

nexus.jpg • Particulars: 1GHz Snapdragon CPU, 512MB RAM, 800x480 3.7" AMOLED display, 5MP camera, thin as a pencil, unadventurous HTC industrial design. Hey, at least it isn't yet another chrome-trimmed iClone! • T-Mobile: $530 unlocked, $180 with contract. You can order it now from Google's online store. Verizon gets it soon, but contract pricing hasn't been announced. • There is no multitouch. But there is a miniature track-ball, animated 3D wallpapers, and the best implementation of Google's web services. • The first published review compares it unfavourably to the Moto Droid. It's "just another Android smartphone." Others disagree: "Droid, shmoid; Nexus is the one you're looking for." • Don't be fooled by intimations that this is the one true Google Phone. There'll be another one just as soon as the next hardware partner needs some marketing catnip sprinkled about. Software's the more interesting battleground, and that fight's now in full swing. So there's nothing to lose watching from a safe distance until your killer app presents itself.