Although it sometimes seems like Samsung and HTC are the only manufacturers fighting for Android device supremacy, there are others out there producing some top of the line smartphones that should satisfy even the most cutting edge buyer. A good candidate for this is the Sony Xperia Z which just succeeded at selling 4.6 million units during its first 40 days on the market. Sony appears to be ready to try to capitalize on this success and keep the momentum going, at least in the U.S., with plans to expand their retail footprint through the use of stand-alone stores and freestanding Galleries.
Xiaomi has big ambitions this year after unveiling the Mi2S and Mi2A, and plans to ship 15 million smartphones, as well as expand sales beyond Asia. Co-founder and president Lin Bin, spoke at D: Dive Into Mobile in New York City. Despite only selling Android phones for three years, Xiaomi has generated $2 billion in revenue on 1.7 million phones. While this doesn’t sound like a lot compared to other manufacturers, the Chinese company has adopted an online-only model from the beginning. The phones are unsubsidized, priced at the bill-of-materials, and manage to sell out in minutes. Lin on the success of the Mi2:
“Last year, when we announced the Mi2, for 3-4 months we’d have hundreds of thousands of units available, and they’d be gone within two or three minutes after we posted availability online.”
The Samsung Galaxy S 4 can now be pre-ordered from AT&T with a ship date set for April 30. That’s the good news. The bad news is that’s only available in certain areas. I tried a couple of major cities, but all I get is “The device you’ve selected is not available in your area.” Pricing for the 16GB is $199 for a two-year contract or $449 with a one-year contract. If you are brave and want to go no-contract, you can get it for $639. If you do pre-order, you can expect to see your shiny new white or black Galaxy S 4 by May 3rd. Let us know if it’s available in your area and where you live.
Do you remember last week when we told you about HTC’s disappointing Q1 earnings report? Well it looks like HTC may have pulled off the turnaround they were hoping for. J.P. Morgan Securities upgraded HTC’s stock to “neutral” from “underweight”. They also raised the target price from NT$160 to NT$330 due to the sales of their new Flagship Phone, the HTC One.
HTC needed to kick into high gear, and it appears they know that too. Over the last two weeks HTC’s supply issues “have significantly improved” according to Alvin Kwock, J.P. Morgan analyst.
It looks like consumers in Taiwan interested in grabbing a pink HTC Butterfly will get that opportunity according to Taiwanese website ePrice. Their site is reporting today that HTC is making a pink cherry powder colored HTC Butterfly available on April 30th. According to the site, pre-orders are now being accepted at both Yahoo! and PCHome. The pink version will be sold for NT$21,900 ($731 USD). This is slightly less than the red and white versions that have been released.
Last month we reported on rumors that HTC is working on a successor to the HTC Butterfly. The appearance of additional colors on the market is typically a sign that a manufacturer is ready to move on to their next version of a device and are content to drive sales of their previous generation device with new versions, like different colors.
Pantech is looking to take on the Galaxy S 4, and come April 18, we’ll get all the details. Called the Vega Iron, this phone appears to be the new flagship device we reported on last week. Here are the rumored specs:
- 5-inch 1920 x 1080 display
- 1.7 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor
- 2GB RAM
- 16 or 32GB internal storage with microSD card support
- 13-megapixel rear-facing camera
- 2-megapixel front-facing camera
- Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean
- 2150 mAh battery
- 136.3 × 67.6 × 8.8 mm at 154 grams (5.4 oz)
It was introduced at CES as the ASUS Qube, but it will officially be spelled as the Cube. I found it interesting that they spelled it with a “Q” in the first place, and I suspect there was too much confusion with the Nexus Q, hence the change. Last week it was reported that it would be available on April 23rd, which was darn close as it looks like it will be April 24.
How do we know? Newegg has the Cube on their site with that release date, and it’s available for pre-order now. Pricing is a little higher than what we were told as well. The plan was for $129, but now it’s $139. However, Newegg is offering a $10 promotional gift card, but only for people who order by April 23. This pricing is very surprising when you consider that most of the competition is around $99, and ASUS has a strong history of pricing their Android devices competitively.
I didn’t get to spend too much time with the Cube, but I didn’t see anything that it offered more than other Google TV devices except for the unique cube-like user interface. Priced at $139, does the Cube have a chance of helping bring Google TV to the forefront? Check out our hands on video, and/or hit the break for Neweggs’s 21 minute demo video.
An image alleging to show a leaked Staples document reveals some information about availability of the Samsung Galaxy S 4 at the office supplies retailer. According to the information in the internal memo, the Galaxy S 4 will be available for AT&T customers on April 26th. The T-Mobile version will be available a few days later on May 1st, but Verizon customers will have to wait another month until May 30th. The document does indicate in several places that the Staples reservation process does not guarantee delivery of the device on those dates, just the availability of a unit for a customer to buy when inventory does show up.
When Samsung announced their latest flagship device, the Samsung Galaxy S 4, one of the criticisms leveled was that it continued the design philosophy of using plastic for the body of the smartphone. The cacophony surrounding this choice grew so loud that Samsung’s executive vice president for the mobile division even took to offering a defense for Samsung’s choice to use plastic while other manufacturers were opting for materials like aluminum and glass. Sources are now indicating Samsung may respond to that criticism when the next Galaxy Note device, the Samsung Galaxy Note III, is released.
These sources claim an internally produced metal version of the Galaxy S 4 was very popular and well received by those who managed to spend some time with it. However, manufacturing dictates and deadlines precluded the use of metal for the Galaxy S 4. There is some time for Samsung to get everything tooled up for the Galaxy Note III and to produce it using something other than plastic. There are some hints that the shape may change as well to something more in line with the HTC One or other devices that are not so rounded as Samsung’s Galaxy line.
Do you think Samsung will make a move to change from plastic to metal for their top tier lines? Do you think they should?
OUYA ‘s founder and CEO Julie Uhrman has posted a blog on Kickstarter detailing the road map for consoles heading to early backers. I don’t know about anyone else but I am really excited to see that OUYA has their ducks in a row like this. In this roadmap she explains that they have changed one of their partners to speed up production by a few days, as well as put more OUYA reps on the ground to speed things up.