was originally published on this site
Samsung Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus (image: Gordon Kelly / Forbes)
Taking a look back at the week in news across the Android world, this week’s Android Circuit highlights a number of stories including the Note 4 vs the iPhone 6 Plus, the Droid Turbo’s confirmed specs, Lenovo completes its Motorola purchase, Samsung confirms drastic drop in profits, Android Lollipop is on show, Xiaomi’s rising market share, Microsoft’s Health Band, and a preview of the Nexus 9.
Android Circuit is here to remind you of a few of the many things that have happened around Android over the last seven days.
Android vs iOS, The Phablets Fight It Out
Let’s start with the (ahem) biggest review on Forbes this week. Gordon Kelly puts two phablets into the digital ring to see which one ends up on top, and which one is Dolph Lundgren in Rocky 3. Or, with his promoters hat on…
Two mega-corporates, two opposing ideologies and two massive handsets competing for our affections, both going about it in completely different ways. Phone clashes have never been bigger. Literally. So strap in, this is going to be good.
Of course the screens dominate (“The pair are stunning and owners of either device will find themselves smiling every time they fire up the lock screen. But this is a comparison and side-by-side the Note 4 comes out on top”) but there are a lot of factors to consider. While I’m going to spoil the ending (Samsung shades it) the journey to get there is worth the read. Grab a coffee and settle in.
The Droid Turbo Really Is The Top Trumps Specs Winner Of 2014
Smartphone hardware never stands still, and it’s a given that the numbers will always rise (even if it’s simply down to older parts becoming too expensive to source in bulk). That said, the Droid Turbo (currently marked as exclusive to Verizon) is an absolute monster, and any Spec-queens are going to be lusting after this one.
What does it sport? How about a 5.2-inch 2560 x 1440 (Quad HD) display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 chipset (quad-core 2.7GHz Krait CPU, quad-core Adreno 420 GPU), 3GB RAM, 21 megapixel camera, and a 3900 mAh battery.
The Forbes Tech Team has taken a closer look at the now-confirmed specs and hardware announced by Motorola.
Motorola’s Fall 2014 launches (image: Gordon Kelly / Forbes)
All Your Motorola Are Belong To Lenovo
The transition of Motorola from Google to Lenovo has been completed. The Chinese Multinational company notes in its press release:
Lenovo will operate Motorola as a wholly-owned subsidiary. Motorola’s headquarters will remain in Chicago. With the completion of the acquisition, Lenovo welcomes the addition of a new portfolio company with nearly 3,500 employees around the world – including about 2,800 in the U.S. – who design, engineer, sell and support Motorola’s outstanding devices.
Lenovo paid roughly $2.91 billion, consisting of $660 million in cash, newly issued stock valued at $750 million, and a $1.5 billion three-year promissory note.
A Tour Of Android Lollipop
Thanks to ROM images, Developer Builds, and the availability of some pre-release preview units, the tech world is becoming more au fait with Android 5.0 Lollipop (seriously though, Android L is far more business-like, why did Google not stick with that?). Over on The Guardian, Samuel Gibbs has put together a tour of the latest version of the mobile OS, focusing on the new user interface elements, multiple user accounts, notification filters, and the all-important battery saving software,
Samsung Dropping Like A Nokia
Samsung has posted its Q3 revenue numbers, and they are in line with guidance issued earlier this month (PDF Link). Operating profit in Q3 dropped to 4.1 trillion won ($3.9 billion), a 60.1 percent fall year on year.
The biggest culprit is the mobile division, with high-end handsets not selling as well as previous years, and a declining profit margin on mid- and low-range handsets. Reuters writes:
Profit for Samsung’s mobile division fell to 1.75 trillion won in the third quarter from 6.70 trillion won a year earlier, its worst performance since the second quarter of 2011. Samsung spent most of the quarter without introducing a new flagship device and continued to struggle in the mid- to low-tier markets.
Nexus 6 (image: Google.com)
You Have Always Wanted A Phablet From Eurasia
Speaking to CNet, Google’s VP of Engineering David Burke pulled out an interesting statistic about phablet use. According to Burke, the challenge to phablet manufacturers is that consumers don’t know that they want a phablet. ”If you gave them a phablet for a week, 50 percent of those would say they like it and not go back.”
I’d love to see the survey numbers that backed this up… and to see the acceptance rate after a month of usage.
Burke also noted that the smaller screened Nexus 5 is still available for those who want a smaller screen (much like the iPhone 5S); the slow integration of Chrome and Android; and that the ‘Android Kill Switch’ will be available on the newest version of Android. Given the new Californian Laws that mandate a kill-switch in all new phones by July 2015, presumably this means Android 5.0 Lollipop will have the tool, which Google will label Factory Reset Protection.
Xiaomi Just Two Steps Away From World’s Biggest Smartphone Manufacturer
While Samsung and Apple hold on to the #1 and #2 spots in the smartphone market (according to Strategy Analytics), LG and Huawei have been overtaken as Xiaomi captures the bronze medal. The Chinese manufacture (which prominently hired Hugo Barra from Google last year) is now the third largest smartphone manufacture in the world, and has grown its market share from 1.2% in Q3 2013 to 5.6% in Q3 2014.
It’s worth noting that Xiaomi has captured much of its market share at the low-end, squeezing Samsung’s profit base in Eastern markets. There are high-end models available, but Xiaomi build in scarcity and rarity to maximise the marketing impact when they release a batch of handsets into retail channels with a flurry of publicity.
With designs on the top spot, Xiaomi is exploring a funding round that could value the manufacturer at $40 billion. Forbes’ Ryan Mac looks at the options available to the five-year old company.
Multiple sources confirmed to Forbes that the Beijing company is considering raising more money and possibly quadrupling its previous valuation of $10 billion, which it attained after an undisclosed amount of funding in August of last year. Prior to that Xiaomi, founded in 2010, had raised $216 million in June 2014 at $4 billion.
Nexus 9 (image: Google PR)
First Look At The Nexus 9
Forbes’ Ian Morris has written up his first impressions of another new Nexus device, the Nexus 9 tablet. Manufactured by HTC, Morris found the tablet to be a great combination of Google’s OS and HTC’s ‘A-game’ manufacturing.
The unaltered Android 5.0 (Lollipop) OS looks great. This wasn’t the final version of the operating system, so there will be no judgement here, but it looks great. Some of Android’s biggest problems have been solved here, with a new, flatter look and a much improved menu system. On the large tablet screen, the Android layout looked as good as it ever has on any device I’ve seen.
Strap Some Redmond To Your Wrist
Microsoft continues to expand out from Windows Phone into the twin worlds of Android and iOS. This week’s announcement is the Microsoft Band, a $199 wristband for tracking health and movement data, as well as sporting a number of smartwatch features such as call alerts and notification message displays.
Forbes’ Aaron Tilly has taken a closer look at the new product and the new Microsoft Health platform, which covers much of the same ground as Google Fit and Apple Health:
Microsoft Health [is] a cloud-based service to store and analyze health data coming from multiple sources–that includes data coming from competing health wearables. As with the watch, the cloud service is compatible with the three main mobile operation systems–iOS, Android and Windows Phone. The app will analyze information such as how many calories you’ve burned or how much sleep you’re getting and then give you feedback on fitness goals you’ve set.
The Health platform has a number of partners starting out that it will work with, including UP by Jawbone, MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal and RunKeeper.
The fitness tracker and smartwatch market may feel like a crowded space, but no one platform has managed to build up a defensible strategy just yet (and of course Apple Watch is waiting in the wings). Time will tell how well Microsoft’s approach works in the medium- to long-term, and when we know, we’ll let you know here on Forbes.
The Microsoft Band (image: Microsoft PR)
While it’s not strictly Android, ChromeOS is a close cousin of Google’s mobile operating system (and getting closer every month), so Chromebook World’s Chromebook Selector is a nice guide through the options, specifications, and manufactures of the instant-on laptops. Just tick your options and you’ll get all the details on the models that fit your requirements.
‘Android Circuit’ will round-up the news from the Android world every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future, and of course the sister column in Apple Loop! Last week’s Android Circuit can be found here, and if you have any news and links you’d like to see featured in Android Circuit, get in touch!