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Galaxy S5 copper

If you needed another example of a smartphone sales slowdown at the high-end of the market, Samsung provided it on Thursday. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Samsung co-CEO JK Shin said the company sold 11 million Galaxy S5 handsets in the first month of availability. That’s only 10 percent higher than number of Galaxy S4 phones sold in the first month when it launched in 2013. This suggests that the market for expensive phones is a bit saturated and is the reason companies such as Motorola and Nokia are creating capable low-cost smartphones such as the Moto E and Lumia 630.

In Brief


Although Straight Talk has long advertised its mobile broadband service as “unlimited”, the company acknowledged in September that it only offered 2.5 GB per month. After hitting that limit, the provider slows down speeds on its $45 monthly plan. That speed bump is now good for 3 GB of speedy service, Straight Talk said on Wednesday. Straight Talk doesn’t have networks of its own but instead buys wholesale service from traditional carriers and resells it. Essentially, you get the same service and coverage provided by AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon, for example, at a discount on your iPhone, Android handset or other smartphone.

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Surface 2 Windows

An official Microsoft support page spotted by The Verge references the Surface Pro 3, a device that doesn’t yet exist. It’s possible that the reference is a typo meant to say Surface Pro 2 but it would seem to loosely confirm a CNET report from last week suggesting that Microsoft will debut a new Surface model at a planned event next week. That would be in addition to the expected Microsoft Surface Mini, likely an 8-inch device running Windows RT 8.1. We’ll be on-hand at Tuesday’s event to find out if Surface Mini is getting another sibling.

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In Brief

LG MobileComm USA White

Both Virgin Mobile and Boost Wireless now carry the $179 LG Volt, an Android 4.4 smartphone that uses Sprint’s Spark service. The tri-band LTE network – currently available in only 24 cities — promises faster mobile broadband speeds by using different wireless frequencies depending on the activity. Downloading video, for example, will use the fastest currently available network while smaller email data chunks would flow over a slower frequency. For the price, the LG Volt doesn’t look too bad: It has a 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, 4.7-inch display with 960 x 540 resolution and large 3,000 mAh battery that should easily last a full day.

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Motorola will add to its Moto G and X handset lines at a London event on May 13 when it introduces “the next Motorola phone.” Invitations for the launch are hitting press inboxes with little detail. One tagline does stand out, however: “Made to last. Priced for all.” That could indicate a more ruggedized edition of the low-cost Moto G, perhaps with water-resistant and dust-proof capabilities. Either way, the handset won’t likely have any influence from Lenovo, which agreed in January to buy Motorola from Google as the phone would have been in the works months ago and the deal is not yet closed.

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Office for iPad printing

Under new CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft is moving quickly. Just a month and three days after debuting the long-awaited Office for iPad app, Microsoft added AirPrint support in an updated version of the software on Tuesday. Word documents can be printed with or without markup and Excel users can choose to print a range, single worksheet or full spreadsheet. The updated software also includes alignment tools in Power Point and AutoFit adjustments for Excel rows and columns.

In Brief

acer C720 angle

Acer announced a new Chromebook in its C720 line on Tuesday at a New York City press event and unlike its other models, this one gets a chip boost. Instead of the fairly common Intel Celeron processor found in other Chromebooks from Acer, Dell and HP, Acer is putting an Intel Core i3 processor inside the laptop. Slashgear notes that the new 11.6-inch Chromebook is due out this summer with larger models possibly following. Using the Core i3 should improve performance while not severely impacting battery life.

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Amazon gave the up-and-coming market for wearable devices a nod by announcing its new Wearable Technology store on Tuesday. The online retailer now has a dedicated storefront for health trackers, smartwatches, life-logging cameras and other sensor-laden devices. Since the product category is new for many, Amazon is supplementing the retail store with a “Learning Center” for video and written information on products, in hopes of educating the masses on why a wearable device could fit nicely into their life.

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