Last week Sprint was proud to announce that it was the first carrier in the US that would let consumers pre-order the LG G Flex. All the company wanted was a $299.99 down payment and a two-year contract. Now AT&T is jumping in by delivering the same handset at the same price, though its customers also have the option to pay $26.74 for eighteen months or $34.75 for twelve with an AT&T Next plan.
Samsung's "diversify and fill all niches" approach to the mobile market is starting to get on my nerves. Not because I object to having a dozen different choices at every screen size and price, but because I can't keep the hardware details for all these phones and tablets in my head. Nine months after unveiling the Galaxy Tab 3 in 7, 8, and 10-inch varieties, Samsung is back with a "Lite" variant of the smallest model.
Not content to simply blur the line between conventional smartphones and tablets like manufacturers around the world are already doing, HP has decided to completely erase any distinction between the two. This morning the company announced that its first smartphones since the ill-fated HP Pre 3 in 2011 won't be "phones" at all, but rather "voice tablets," competing with low-cost, big-screen models like the Galaxy Mega. Re/code reports that the two inaugural Android devices, the Slate 6 and Slate 7, will be introduced in India next month.
Samsung, LG, HTC, Google, and select others may attract most of the attention when it comes to Android devices, but they're far from the only choices. There is a wide range of handsets available from brands you may have forgotten about, but not because they aren't any good. BLU Products has been upping its game as of late, pushing out products with competent specs and great prices. Now the company is introducing several new models in its "Life" series of devices.
Seeing what it clearly believes is an untapped market, Netgear announced NeoMediacast, which gives pay TV providers an alternative to the traditional set-top box. This is an Android-powered system in a Chromecast-sized package that simply plugs into the back of your TV via an HDMI port. The idea here is that service providers can offer apps and premium content stores to give their subscribers access to everything they currently get through their cable boxes.
Update: It looks like some signals got crossed. This is the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact - the "Z1s" is a T-Mobile branded variant of the original 5-inch phone.
It's been said that those who want a powerful modern smartphone with a non-gigantic screen don't have a lot of options. If a new post from the tireless Evleaks is to be believed, they'll have at least one more on T-Mobile very soon.
In an odd bit of M&A news, the developers at Bitspin announced that the small company will be joining forces with Google. Whether Google has purchased the company outright or merely hired its Zurich-based development team isn't clear, but in either case, the big G will be benefitting from their impressive user interface experience soon. Google has not commented on the situation, and there is no dollar amount posted on the Bitspin website.
If you're in the market for a powerful phone that can take a few hits, then eBay's Daily Deals portal should be your first stop today. Well, so long as you need that phone to work on the AT&T network and don't mind a refurbished model. The AT&T version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is on sale for just $349.95 with free shipping to the US. You can have it in any color you want, as long as you want teal.
Lenovo has been hanging out in the bottom end of the Android market ever since they gave up on the ThinkPad Tablet, but it looks like they're finally ready to ship some high-end hardware. Enter the Lenovo Vibe Z, a 5.5-inch smartphone with an LTE radio - a first in the company's Android lineup. As usual, Lenovo doesn't seem interested in western markets for this phone. According to the press release, it will go on sale in February in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the Philippines for $549.