Tagged: bell

HTC One V launches in Canada with Bell

HTC One V launches in Canada with Bell, TELUS

If you’ve been waiting for one of HTC’s new “One” line of Android phones to land in Canada, wait no more.

Today Bell launches the HTC One V, which is the smallest and lightest of HTC’s flagship “One” line of smartphones.

The One V, which we presume stands for “Value,” is certainly one of the least expensive ways to jump into the smartphone market with several attractive pricing options: $299.95 to buy it outright, with no contract, $59.95 on a three-year no-data contract and $0 if you add a data plan to that 3-year contract.

So it’s affordable, but does that mean it’s less capable? No. Consider the following specs:

  • 1 GHZ processor
  • 512Mb of RAM
  • 4GB on-board storage (expandable via MicroSD cards)
  • 3G HSPA connections
  • Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
  • HTC Sense 4.0
  • 800×480 3.7″ display
  • 5MP front-facing camera with 720p HD video recording
  • Beats Audio

Another cool feature is the ability to capture still images while simultaneously recording video which helps take the anxiety out of the decision on whether to take a photo or capture a video – now you don’t have to choose. Speaking of the camera, the One V will ship with “HTC ImageSense, a new suite of camera and imaging features that allow it to rival traditional digital cameras” according to HTC’s press release.

And here’s a pretty sweet bonus: HTC One V users will have access to a special 25 GB Dropbox account for two years. That’s a lot of storage for your photos and videos. Normally free Dropbox accounts only come with 2GB of space.

We’ll be getting our hands on an HTC One V shortly so check back here soon for a full review!

If you’re curious about the full HTC One line-up, check out this excellent comparison, and a look at the unusual material process for the One S case. The HTC One S is slated to come to Bell later this year.

The HTC One V will also be available to TELUS customers later this month.

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Disclosure: Sync is owned and operated by Bell Media, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bell Canada.

Bell launches world's toughest phone: The Sonim Bolt XP5520

You’ve got to love yellow and black when they’re used together. No other colour combination says “I’m tough as nails”. Tractors, cranes, front-end loaders – heck just about every serious piece of machinery whether meant for construction  – or destruction  – can be found sporting this eye-catching motif.

So it won’t surprise you to find out that the Sonim Bolt XP5520 (pictured right) is a tough phone.

But what might surprise you is that the Bolt is not only tough, it’s the toughest phone on the planet and Sonim has the Guiness World Record to prove it.

Related: Extreme Tech – Gadgets That Can Survive The Elements

You might also be surprised by some of the other specs on this industrial-strength communicator:

  • PTT (Push-to-talk) capability over 4G networks: This is the walkie-talkie function that lets you chat to one or many other PTT users with just a click on a single button.
  • Super long battery life (up to 12 hours of talk time)
  • 3-year comprehensive warranty (If you manage to break this phone, Sonim will take it back simply to learn how to make their products tougher)
  • Insanely loud ringer and speaker phone: If you work on a job site, there’s no way you’ll hear an iPhone when it rings
  • Dust proof
  • Shock proof
  • Drop proof (and we mean really drop proof)
  • Water proof: You could even take this thing scuba diving
  • Extreme temperature-resistant

When we got word of this supremely heavy duty phone, we were naturally dubious of some of the claims. We suggested that Sonim lend a pair of Bolts to our buddies at Sympatico Autos so they could run a little torture test on the device to see how it fared in real-world conditions. That is if by real-world you mean running over it with a truck, tossing it from the tops of grain silos and dragging it like a rag-doll on a dirt road going 50 km/h.

So how did the Bolt do? Check out the video to find out.

If the Bolt sounds like the phone for you, Bell today announced that they are the exclusive carrier of the super-tough handset, not to mention the first carrier in North America to offer the PTT-over-4G functionality that makes the Bolt such an ideal field-companion. The Sonim Bolt is available for $99 on a 3-year contract.

Disclosure: Sync.ca is owned and operated by Bell Media, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bell Canada.

Bell improves call quality with HD Voice

Cellphones. I have a love/hate relationship with them.

I love the functionality they offer. I love the way I can reach into my pocket and have the entire internet at my finger tips wherever I happen to be. I love the freedom of being able to share the details of my life with those who matter to me be it on Facebook, Twitter or a simple text message.

But I gotta tell you, I’ve never been happy with the nature of voice calling on these things. There’s just something about the majority of cellphone calls – especially when you’re *not* the one on the cellphone. The compression of sounds, the occasional latency, that sensation that the other person is a the end of a very long and narrow tube through which you both must shout to be heard. It doesn’t matter which handset you own or whose network you’re on. It’s so commonplace these days that I think many of us have just learned to put up with it.

So when I heard that Bell is about roll out an upgrade to their voice network that will dramatically improve the quality of these voice calls, I was all ears.

The new feature is called HD Voice, and Bell is going to be the first national network operator in Canada to offer it. The system has already been introduced in Europe from Orange.

Effectively, HD Voice doubles the amount of network bandwidth allocated to voice calls. More bandwidth means less compression and thus better quality. It’s a little bit like the difference between an audio CD that has been converted into an MP3 file at 64kbps vs. one that has been encoded at 128kbps. As any MP3 aficionado will tell you, the 128kbps version sounds a lot closer to the original CD. HD Voice also improves the amount of noise cancellation on calls, so if you’re calling from an especially busy place like a mall or a street corner, those background sounds should be greatly reduced.

Curious to know just how much better HD Voice will sound? So was I. Bell doesn’t have any sample audio clips to share with us at the moment and I haven’t been able to test the system myself, but I was able to find the following video from the U.K. thanks to the gang at MobileSyrup, and if Bell’s version of HD Voice is anywhere as good as this, I’ll be a much happier camper.

 

 

Alright, now that we’re all sold on the whole HD Voice promise, let’s talk about how you actually get this feature.

First the good news: Bell will be making HD Voice an automatic and free upgrade for all of their mobility subscribers.

Now the caveats: HD Voice only works on specific handsets for now. Specifically: HTC Sensation, HTC Incredible S, Nokia C6-00 and Nokia C6-01. According to Bell, these handsets are currently the only ones they carry that have the necessary software to enable HD Voice. It’s expected that many more handsets currently on the market will be given a software upgrade to make them HD Voice capable, but no details have emerged just yet.

And, more importantly, you’ll only benefit from HD Voice if you and the person you’re speaking with are both using compatible handsets and you’re both on the Bell (or Virgin) HSPA+ network. Unfortunately, this means that landline parties or those on a different mobile network will still hear the lower quality call, even if you’re using an HD Voice handset.

Bell notes on their site that there are still a few areas of the country that won’t be able to support the service, and none of the coverage areas that are outside of the HSPA+ 4G footprint will be able to handle it

(Image credit: Photodisc/Winston Davidian/Getty Images)

Disclosure: Sync.ca and Sync-blog.com are owned and operated by Bell Media, a wholly owned subsidiary of BCE, the parent company of Bell Canada.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus hits Bell, Virgin on December 8th

Given that it’s going to be the first device in Canada to come equipped with the latest version of Android – Ice Cream Sandwich to those of you in the know – it’s fair to say there’s a good amount of anticipation surrounding the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which was confirmed to be arriving on Bell and Virgin’s networks.

And now we know when and how much: December 8th is the date you’ll be able to take your place in line at participating retailers to grab one of these smartphones before the holidays and it will cost $159.95 on a new three-year term.

I know, I know – another line. I’m not a big fan of lining up either. Heck, I will intentionally wait weeks after a movie opens if it means I can avoid a line up for tickets.

So I’m a little intrigued by this new concept (at least I think it’s new) that Bell has cooked up called a “Bell Twitter line up.”

It works like this:

If you want the Samsung Galaxy Nexus on launch day, but you do not want to go and physically line up at a store, you can do your lining up a week earlier, and from the comfort of your home or office. But you’ll need a Twitter account and reliable internet access to do it.

On Thursday December 1st, hit Bell’s sign-up website between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. EST. If you’re one of the first 100 people to sign-in, you’ll be given a pre-populated tweet that you will then need to tweet from your account immediately. You must then check back in to the site every hour that day until 10 p.m. and repeat the process. This is how you will “stay in line.” At 10 p.m., if you’ve successfully tweeted the required tweets during the day, Bell will get in touch with you and arrange the shipping and payment.

Follow this process to the letter and your Samsung Galaxy Nexus will be shipped to the (Canadian) address of your choice and arrive the same day as the phone goes on sale (December 8th). No line ups, you don’t have to take the day off work or leave your kids or even miss your favourite TV show, and you’ll get your phone on the same day as those who had to line up. Not a bad option.

So Sync readers, does this idea of a virtual line up work for you? Or will you go the tried-and-true route and take your chances at a retail location?

Disclosure: Sync is owned and operated by Bell Media, a wholly owned subsidiary of BCE Inc.

Samsung Nexus S Google phone coming to Canada in April

Last year, Google broke new ground in the mobile space when they announced the “Google phone” which was to become known as the Nexus 1. HTC built the handset but Google took the unusual step of marketing it directly to consumers from their own e-commerce website.

And while this “selling direct” model didn’t last long (Google eventually stopped selling this way and partnered with Best Buy in the U.S. to sell the phone) the Google phone itself has continued to evolve.

And while Canada missed out on the first version The latest iteration is the Nexus S. This time around it’s built by Samsung (that’s the ‘S’ part of the name) and if you’ve ever used Samsung’s Galaxy S smartphone, you’ll feel right at home with the Nexus S. The two phones share much in common, including the dazzling Super AMOLED screen, which is incredibly vivid. But there are some significant differences too. The Nexus S has a slightly curved screen – curved from top to bottom, not side to side. Samsung claims this not only makes the phone more comfortable to hold as it matches the contour of your head and hand, but also helps to improve visibility by better handling reflections off the glossy surface of the screen.

The other big difference is that while the handset itself is 100% Samsung, the OS is 100% Google. Unlike other Samsung phones running Android and in fact unlike *any* other Android phone from other manufacturers, the Nexus S has no 3rd party software on it whatsoever. No TouchWiz or other manufacturer layer on top of Android, no third party app store like Samsung Apps, and no carrier apps (such as carrier-specific GPS apps) pre-loaded.

The whole user interface is unadulterated Android Gingerbread. Now, depending on your experiences with other Android devices this may or may not be a good thing. If you’ve come to enjoy the extras that TouchWiz or HTC Sense bring to Android, you won’t find them on the Nexus S. One of the biggest downsides to this in my opinion is the lack of the superb “Swype” application that gives users a whole new (and I think far more efficient) way of inputting text from the on-screen keyboard.

On the upside – and many folks will be delighted with this – there is no longer an middle man between you and upgrades to your mobile OS from Google. As soon as Google releases an update for Android, it will be available to Nexus S users.

This positions the Nexus S as the ultimate smartphone for those who simply must have the latest upgrades and can’t stand the idea of waiting while the manufacturer figures out all of the compatibility issues with their proprietary software. When you hear people refer to the Nexus as a “Google phone” – that’s why. The hardware might be Samsung, but everything else is Google.

Interestingly, both carriers and Samsung will provide first-line tech support for the Nexus S, only handing off to Google if they can’t resolve the problem themselves.

Speaking of carriers, the Nexus S represents the first time a new handset will launch simultaneously on every provider in Canada. And I mean *every* carrier. In addition to the big three (Bell, TELUS, Rogers) there will be a version for WIND and Mobilicity too and Videotron in Quebec. This is unusual if only because most manufacturers release their GSM (or EVDO) versions first, and then only after an initial exclusivity period move on to the AWS version – that is if they do one at all.

I know you’re probably itching for a firm launch date and price point but Samsung wasn’t offering either up when I met with them today. All they would say is “early April.”
They did mention that in addition to the usual batch of carrier store locations, there would be a big retail partner too. Your guess is as good as mine.

I’ve got a demo unit in my hands as I write this, so you can expect a full review as soon as I’ve put the device through its paces. In the meantime, here are some images to keep you entertained as well as this link to Engadget’s review of the U.S. Nexus S.

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Motorola ATRIX comes to Canada March 17th

courtesy MotorolaRemember the Motorola ATRIX – the dual-core processor smartphone that debuted at this year’s CES?

Remember we also mentioned it would be a Bell Mobility exclusive when it finally came to Canada?

Well we finally have a confirmed launch date: March 17.

If you’re curious how folks in the U.S. have reacted to the ATRIX, here are some good reviews we’ve rounded up:

Engadget: They give it a 9/10… that’s quite a statement. “this device more than holds its own against the the best of the best on the market right now”

CNET: 4 out of 5 stars “earns its place at the top of AT&T’s Android lineup”

BoyGeniusReport (BGR): “The device is so powerful that it can power a laptop with full Firefox browser, and spit out 1080p video like it’s nothing”

We’ll be getting our own review model shortly and should be able to pass along our impressions in the coming weeks. In the meantime, here’s what we can tell you about the Canadian debut:

  • $169.95 on a 3-year contract with a minimum $50 voice/data plan or
  • $599.95 no-contract price

The ATRIX of course is compatible with two unique accessories: the Lapdock, which effectively turns the ATRIX into a full-fledged netbook equivalent, and the HD Multimedia Dock which lets you turn the ATRIX into a media hub for your living room. Unfortunately Bell remains mum on the pricing for these accessories at launch, but it’s a fair bet they’ll be priced in-line with the U.S. market which currently has the Lapdock at $500 and the HD dock at $99 USD, but as is the case in the U.S., there might be bundle deals here too.

Onboard the ATRIX, you’ll find:

  • A dual-core processor
  • qHD display – 540×960 resolution in a 4” screen
  • 1GB of RAM
  • Android 2.2
  • Front- and rear-facing cameras for video chat and the ability to record and output in HD
  • Biometric fingerprint reader for unlocking your phone and extra security
  • 1930 mAh battery
  • the ability to locate, wipe and restore data if the device is lost or stolen
  • Up to 48GB of storage (16GB internal and optional 32GB MicroSD card)
  • Download speeds of up to 14.4Mbps and Mobile Hotspot service for connecting up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices
  • preloaded apps: Bell Remote PVR, GPS Navigator and Kobo eReader

Another interesting fact for those of you who have been following the U.S. mobile scene and wondered what all the fuss around “4G” was: Turns out, the ITU which is the governing body for mobile telecommunication standards, decided late last year that networks which had been calling themselves “3G or 3.5G” – such as the Bell/TELUS HSPA+ network – could now refer to themselves as “4G”. This despite the fact that the ITU had always said that you needed 100mbps service in order to be considered 4G.

Anyway, bottom line is that the ATRIX, which is marketed as the “ATRIX 4G” in the U.S., is officially running on a 4G network here too. It’s the same network that was running yesterday, but with a brand new name. I know. Don’t be surprised if you start hearing that term used a LOT more in advertisements in the near future.

Let me leave you with one more tidbit… if you’re dying to get your hands on the ATRIX but don’t want to pony up the cash, Bell will be giving away 5 ATRIX prize packs including the phone, Lapdock and HD dock… you can sign up for the giveaway here.

Update Mar 18: The ATRIX is now for sale and we have confirmation on final pricing from Bell. Lapdock accessory: $329, HD Multimedia Dock: $129, Standard Dock: $49.95, Vehicle Dock: $59.95. Also, be sure to check out Marc’s video overview of the ATRIX and accessories.

Disclosure: Sync is owned and operated by Bell Canada.

Motorola debuts ATRIX smartphone as Bell exclusive in Canada

The Motorola ATRIX

The Motorola ATRIX

This year at CES, several themes have become apparent to observers: 3D is here to stay, TV’s are now the entertainment hub of living room, tablets are on fire and smartphones are becoming er, smarter.

As if to prove this last point, Motorola, which has enjoyed good reviews for their Android-powered phones but hasn’t quite achieved the success of its competitors such as Samsung and HTC, has come out with both guns blazing. Their new take on the smartphone is more than just a fancy handset – it is quite fancy – they’ve bolstered the unit with not one but two companion devices that position the ATRIX as the ultimate mobile road warrior.

First up, the phone itself –  it runs Android 2.2 – not Honeycomb which is the upcoming release specifically for tablets. Now I’m going to quote liberally from the press release…

Motorola ATRIX delivers unprecedented mobile computing capabilities in a package less than 11mm thin, including:

  • Motorola ATRIXA full 1 GB of fast, PC-grade RAM is twice more than offered in most other smartphones and delivers effortless multi-tasking, such as watching a movie while receiving and responding to email.
  • The world’s first qHD smartphone display, offering high resolution and 24-bit colour, making it easier to read indoors and outdoors
  • A dual-core 1 GHz processor capable of opening web pages twice as fast as most other smartphones, rendering games faster and displaying HD video on big-screen TVs
  • Front and rear facing cameras for video chat and the ability to record and output in HD.
  • Biometric fingerprint reader for easily unlocking your phone while providing extra security
  • Under 11mm thin, but with an extra large 1930 mAh battery for extended standby and talk time
  • Keep up to date on social networks with automatic delivery of messages through MOTOBLUR, also adding the ability to locate, wipe and restore the device data if lost
  • Up to 48GB of storage (16GB internal and optional 32GB MicroSD card) – enough to store thousands of songs, photos and as many as 15 full-length movies
  • Mobile Hotspot service for connecting up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices
Motorola's ATRIX seen here attached to the Lapdock accessory

Motorola's ATRIX seen here attached to the Lapdock accessory

And the accessory docks:

  • The Motorola HD Multi-Media Dock has three USB ports and an HDMI port, enabling connections to a keyboard, monitor, mouse, speakers or HDMI monitor for working on traditional PC tasks, and connects to an HDMI-enabled television and home theater audio system for enjoying video, music, games and more.
  • The Motorola Laptop Dock has an incredibly thin laptop-like industrial design with an 11.6-inch screen and full keyboard. Users simply dock their Motorola ATRIX into the back for working and playing on the go.

As you might expect, there is no word on price or launch date yet, but Bell clearly wants people to get on the ATRIX bandwagon and has conveniently set up a sign-up page similar to the ones they made for the Galaxy S and iPhone handsets before they came out. You can find it here: http://www.bell.ca/atrix

Disclosure: Sync is owned and operated by Bell Canada.

BlackBerry Torch comes to Canada September 24th, er, make that the 30th.

The BlackBerry Torch 9800 Slider Touch-Screen smartphone

The BlackBerry Torch 9800 Slider Touch-Screen smartphone

We don’t have all the details yet regarding full carrier availability, but for those who are anxious to get their hands on RIM’s latest toy, here’s what we do know:

TELUS, Rogers and Bell Mobility are planning to launch the device on September 24th.(see update below) TELUS isn’t offering any rate plan info yet, but Bell and Rogers have said that it will be available for as low at $199 on a 3-year contract. It’s likely that TELUS will offer something similar.

No word yet on which of the other carriers (Virgin, Fido etc.)

The $199  (see update below) price point is a bit of a surprise given that the iPhone 4 is available for $159 on a similar three-year term and actually comes with more memory out of the box (16GB) than the Torch (combined 8GB).  However there is a massive untapped group of users out there who refuse to give up their BlackBerrys – especially the physical keyboard – and are desperate for a modern mobile browser which the Torch certainly delivers.

Marc was impressed but not blown away by the Torch’s specs, and suspects that it’s a case of too little too late. Now that I see the pricing, I’m wondering if it’s going to be a case of too little, too late and too pricey. But that, as they say, remains to be seen since very few people have actually had a chance to try out RIM’s first slider-touchscreen phone.

Update, September 24th: Okay, well here we are on the day that the Torch was supposed to launch here in Canada, but clearly that hasn’t happened. The good news is that all of the carriers have now gotten official with a new date (September 30th) but more importantly, a new price: $179 on a 3-year contract. Now that’s still a premium on the price of a base-model iPhone 4, but only by $20. I’ve had the Torch for just under a week now, and while my initial impressions are good, I think it’s going to be a hard sell if RIM is looking to convert any iPhone users to their platform. Stay tuned, we’ll publish our full impressions soon!

Where to buy an iPhone 4 in Canada

image courtesy of Apple.com

image courtesy of Apple.com

Every Apple Store will be carrying the iPhone 4 tomorrow (July 30th) in both the locked and unlocked flavours. The doors open at 7 a.m. so if you plan to hit one of the popular locations like Toronto’s Eaton Centre you should probably arrive early.

Shopping online for the iPhone 4 is also an option if you want the unlocked edition.

If you don’t require the full Apple experience, then you’ll be able to grab the iPhone at select Bell World locations and Rogers Wireless outlets. Check out these links for pricing info from all of the carriers:

Bell Mobility

Rogers Wireless

Virgin Mobile

Fido

TELUS

As of the writing of this post, Telus has still not updated their website with pricing information, but it’s a fair assumption  that they will be on par with the other two providers.

Good luck and happy shopping!

Update Jul 30, 9:12 AM EST: BestBuy  and FutureShop are now reporting that they too are carrying the iPhone 4 today and that you can sign up with any of the carriers that support the device (TELUS, Bell, Rogers, Fido, Virgin Mobile).

Update Jul 30, 3:32 PM EST: TELUS now has pricing info as well. Thanks for the tip Joan.

Disclosure: Sync Blog is owned and operated by Bell Canada.

Bell offers iPad data plans

apple-ipad-web-browsingIt’s been a busy day in the tech world. First Facebook announces simplified privacy controls (it’s about time), then Apple’s stock price pushes the company’s market cap higher than that of Microsoft for the first time in history. But hold on to your mouse – it’s not over yet.

On the Canadian side of landscape, we have a new announcement from Bell:

iPad Data Plans

In case you were worried that Rogers would have the monopoly on the iPad the way they did for the first 3 years of the iPhone in Canada, you can now rest easy. Bell has just released the details of their data plans for the iPad. Stop me if this sounds familiar:

$15 for 250Mb

$35 for 5Gb

These monthly rates are non-contract, pre-paid fees that are billed directly to your credit card. Unfortunately these charges cannot be added to your Bell bill. So far, the package is identical to what Rogers is currently offering. But there are a few differences that might sway you one way or the other. First, Bell’s 3G network has a larger footprint than Rogers. Check the coverage maps and see if this will impact you based on where you think you’ll want to use the device most. Second, both of the Bell data plans give you complimentary and unlimited access to a growing network of Wi-Fi hotspots across the country including 700 Starbucks locations. On a related note, if you are already a Bell Internet subscriber, you have access to these hotspots right now.

The data plans can be canceled at any time and are available for purchase as of May 28th.

Full Disclosure: Sync is owned and operated by Bell Canada