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Google's Project Ara: a click-in/click-out modular concept phone


Modular mobile phone design feels important; I've been excited about the idea since Xeni posted about Phonebloks last September. Now, Google and New Deal Design have floated a concept for a modular Android phone ecosystem called Project Ara that's got me even more worked up. Project Ara lets you swap modules (batteries, radios, cameras, screens, etc) around between "exoskeletons." They call it an "ecosystem" because third parties are meant to be able to supply their own modules for an open spec.

A good overview in Wired discusses the possibilities this opens up (night vision, 3D imaging, biometrics) but I'm more interested in the possibilities for surveillance-resistant open source hardware, and hot-swapping modules that lock phones into carriers. Plus, as a serial phone-shatterer, I love the idea of being able to click out a busted screen and click in a fresh one.

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Is Gresso Azimuth the Sony Ericsson K850 killer we've all been waiting for?

Packing exclusive materials, handicraft and attention to detail, the Azimuth is luxury phonemaker Gresso's bid to take on Sony Ericsson's K850 at the premium end of the cellphone market.

The slim candybar packs beefy Dual SIMs, but lacks the reigning champ's Memory Stick Micro slot and 5.04 megapixel CMOS camera with Xenon flash. No word on polyphonic ringtones.

Like its rival, which was discontinued seven years ago, the Azimuth opts for svelte metal buttons for a "pleasant tactile perception" and a brushed metal casing evocative of the DeLorean DMC-12, the most popular sports car among men who claim to have killed Jon-Benet Ramsay. Unlike long-defunct Sony Ericsson's flagship model, though, it's assembled by a single craftsman to allow the titanium casing time to mature.

Sporting Nokia's cutting-edge S40 operating system, the Azimuth should offer a snappier experience than even the beefiest and most packing Symbian handsets, but business users might not be so quick to give up their BlackBerry Pearls.

The Gresso Azimuth is just $2000 and may be ordered directly from gresso.com

Smartphone backup! Nokia offers $15 phone with a month's battery life

Nokia's latest ultra-cheap candybar phone looks like a good replacement for my trusty e-ink Moto F3. A month's battery life on standby, an FM radio and an LED flashlight add up to a perfect "backup" phone for long-term blackouts, natural disasters and zombie holocausts. [Engadget]

Telephone management skills, 1957 edition: Stephen Potter

From the wonderful blog "Vintage Scans," a page from Lifemanship lesson from Stephen Potter, 1957 (11th impression). Potter was a British writer known for dry, mocking, self-help books, and the TV and film projects they inspired.

NSFPOTS: the pornophone of yesteryear

This undated ad for the Erotica, a pornographic land-line telephone, was supposed to make its owner feel like Hef every time he (or she) clamped a badly rendered, unwieldy sculpture of a naked woman to his (or her) head. I think it probably underperformed relative to the promises made in the ad, and yet it represents a fascinating glimpse into a theory of action as embodied by an optimistic manufacturer in days of yore.

Vintage Ads After Dark....

Create disposable telephone numbers for the iPhone with Burner


[Video Link] Burner is an iPhone application that lets you generate temporary phone numbers. This would come in handy, for example, if you are selling something on Craigslist, and you don't want to give out your permanent telephone number. The app costs $1.99, which gives you a "burner" number that's valid for 7 days, 20 talk minutes, or 60 texts, whichever comes first. You can buy additional credits in the app.

Burner - Disposable Phone Numbers

Blackberry abandoned by US gov's main procurement agency

Bye-bye, Blackberry: "The U.S. federal government's main procurement agency is issuing iPhones and Android-based devices to some of its 17,000 workers." (Reuters) Xeni

FOIA haul covers a half-century of government telephone security phear


Government Attic's latest FOIA haul is a compilation of FBI documents concerning the security of telephone services, 1952-1995. The collection is posted as a single 66MB monster PDF. Get cracking! On reading the PDF, I mean.

Exciting Silicon Valley startup to launch new 'telecommunications' device

Apple has gathered gadget bloggers and tech journalists to unveil an update to the iPhone. Gizmodo, GDGT, and Engadget have boots on the ground and/or liveblogs in the ether (some are covering remotely). Ars Technica and MacWorld liveblogs are down at the time of this blog post. Oh, wait, Gizmodo and GDGT liveblogs are down intermittently too. Geez.

Droid Bionic reviews hit web

Motorola's long-awaited Android flagship, the Droid Bionic, is out tomorrow.

At Gizmodo, Brent Rose says it's similar to other recent 4G models such as Samsung's Galaxy S II, with fast-performing hardware in a thinner body. Unfortunately, it has a "super harsh" display and "just falls flat" when using certain features. He also reports lots of pre-installed junk.

The software side is a mixed bag of "Hey, that's cool!" with "Arrgh, please kill me!" On the cool side it has some robust security features, including onboard and SD storage encryption, remote wipe—why isn't this a standard part of Android yet?—and tons of control for your IT admin. Your office really has no excuse to not to let you use this phone. On the bad side, there is just a ton of bloatware on this.

At Engadget, Tim Stevens reports that it's a "bit drab" in the style department but seemingly an excellent performer, and reserves judgment until full testing is complete.

TechCrunch's Jordan Crook says that there's no doubt at all about it being a snappy performer, but finds it a bit large and isn't impressed by the smudgy finish.

USA Today's Mark W. Smith says that it's a winner.

For those who have been waiting out the 4G smartphone race this summer, hoping for a hit with the Bionic, your wait has been rewarded. This one is worth buying.

Joshua Topolsky at This Is My Next awards it 7.5/10 -- "Essentially as good and as bad as other recent Motorola entries" -- and says its not the killer handset expected by fans. Overpriced, too.

The Bionic has a 4.3" display, 16GB of internal storage and a 16GB microSD card, an 8MP camera with 1080p video, and weighs 5.6 oz. Available tomorrow on Verizon, it is $299 with a 2-year contract.