Softbank unveils Arrows A Smartphone, 10 minute “All Day” charge, coming to Sprint?

softbank arrows a colorsSo this was a small blip because of some impressive claims, but could we potentially see this coming to the USA soon?

Softbank took the wraps off of the Fujitsu Arrows A smartphone. On the whole we’re seeing pretty standard specs for a premier handset. A 5″ 1080p screen will be powered by Qualcomm’s monster Snapdragon 800 chipset. It’ll be joining the ranks of other phones like the LG G2 as a high end alternative to the Galaxies and the Ones in the Android ecosystem.

What was a little fresh however was the claim that thanks to its custom charger (and some internal whizbangery) the Arrows A can charge “a full days use” in about 10 minutes. The next audacious claim is that even though the phone has a decently sized battery (2600 mAh) Fujitsu says the device will run for three days on a full charge. That’s something I’d certainly be interested in testing, but even if it doesn’t meet that kind of run time, fast recharging could be a benefit to many mobile users.

Also of note, the Arrows A will include a fingerprint reader. It looks like even though it’s not terribly secure tech, biometrics will be coming to many smartphones over the next year.

Now. Why do we care about a Japanese phone announcement? Well, Softbank is the company which pretty much owns Sprint. They completed the merger back in July, and Softbank has poured Billions into Sprint’s coffers. In strengthening Sprint’s handset portfolio, we could maybe start to see a little cross-pollination of devices which used to be exclusive to specific countries/markets.

Likely? Probably not right away, but an interesting possibility to shake up the mid and high end smartphone segments. Expect to see Arrows A in Japan this December.

Hit the jump for the full PR (translated).

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Windows Phone hitting double digit market share in Europe

nokia lumia 920 windows phone 8 smartphone homescreen live tiles somegadgetguyI keep telling you people, the actual gadget matters less than the ecosystem of customers+hardware+software+accessories. You can’t fake that. Customers will not be impressed by one new handset no matter how good it is. Every manufacturer wants to jump into this market and sell as well as the iPhone does. It’ll never happen, and people forget that the iPhone didn’t just waltz into the smartphone market without some teething pains. Anymore, a company needs to show us at least three years of steady growth, refinement, and support before they’ll start to crack into consumer awareness.

Well wouldn’t you know it, Microsoft is getting to that three year point, and I’m starting to see the occasional Windows Phone out in the wild. Here stateside, MS is a distant third place competitor growing to only around 3% of the smartphone market, stealing the third spot from Blackberry. Recently announced by analysts at Kantar World Panel however, Windows Phone is cracking into double digit share in Europe. WP is within one percent of the iPhone in Germany, makes up 10% of the French market, and stands at 12% in Great Britain. Averaging the five largest European markets Windows Phone is currently at 9%.

The Nokia brand still counts for a lot in those markets, especially the blend of unique design and bleeding edge camera technology. Unfortunately Nokia somewhat abandoned us here in the States, so they’re pretty much rebuilding their consumer base from scratch. We do get to see some very general trends though, and from my anecdotal experiences, the push into entry level devices is serving Nokia very well. Doesn’t hurt that outlets like CNET can’t figure out the difference between a phone which costs $100 out the door, and a phone which costs $100 on contract. Surprisingly, Nokia’s 520 does a remarkably good job of competing against phones which cost four times as much.

Plus with a two faction war between Apple and Samsung, those consumers who want something a little different only have Microsoft to turn to. Never underestimate someone’s desire to go a little hipster. We live in an age where new smartphone consumers will know Apple like people from my generation saw Microsoft.

Read the full write up at Kantar World Panel.

Apple taking steps to block knock off Lightning Connector cables and chargers

Lightning USB cable appleI’m a little torn on this story.

On the one hand, I think it’s great that Apple will start taking steps to block the use of knock off cheap Lightning connector cables and chargers. There’s a chip built into each cable, communicating with the iPhone or iPad to verify authenticity. This chip can be cracked and cloned, but there are still varying reports of people getting shocked or even killed by knock offs.

Apple has started a trade in program, where customers can bring in knock off chargers and get an official Apple charger for $10. This is a very conscious move on Apple’s part getting ahead of a market which could be damaging their brand, and acknowledging a potential consumer health risk.

However, there’s a part of me which can’t help but point out that Apple’s use of non-standard connectors and cabling is what’s causing this cottage industry of building and selling knock off chargers. Buying the official Lightning connector cable by itself from Apple will set you back $30. Buying an Amazon branded Lightning cable will still run you $14. Total cost to get an official Apple cable and charger is around $50.

Buying a decent MicroUSB cable capable of charging and syncing any Android, Blackberry, or Windows Phone? About $5, or at least usually less than a dollar a foot.

In part it was this kind of situation that the EU was hoping to avoid back in 2010 when they started working towards a universal device connector. Not just to halt the price gouging of every company coming up with proprietary connections, and the e-waste associated with one-off accessories, but also the health and safety issues associated with people trying to find deals. MicroUSB was eventually agreed upon, but Apple decided to continue with a proprietary dock connector. To appease the EU, Apple released a $20 Lightning connector to MicroUSB adapter, which will allow your iPhone to charge off of those aforementioned $5 cables. While within the letter of the law, it certainly violates the spirit of developing a standard.

If you’re using a cheap “alternative” brand charger for your iDevices, I would highly recommend checking out Apples trade in offer. Saving a few bucks is hardly worth a fried iPhone.

(via PhoneArena)

Phonebloks plans to make phone obsolescence obsolete with modular Lego-like design

phonebloks concept youtube somegadgetguyTech moves fast, and what was top of the smartphone heap on week is old news the next. In actually using these devices, that aggressive release cycle can induce a little liberal guilt whenever I consider the amount of e-waste being generated.

We’ve long considered the dream of a modular phone which can be upgraded over time. Unfortunately the opposite trend is taking root in the phone industry. What little access and upgradability we did have, like swapping a back plate, battery, or increasing storage is often going away in the name of sleek design.

Well Dave Hakkens wants to change that. He’s released this teaser on Youtube showing his design renders for PhoneBloks, a phone which will last longer, allowing users to upgrade the components they care about over time. The concept rests on a Lego-like system of pieces that the user picks to customize their experience.

He’s starting off with a social media push on Thunderclap, and if this concept interests you, if you’d like to see this move beyond design renders and mock ups, head on over to

(via Andrew on G+)