In addition to things like stock Android and being carrier-unlocked, one of the big features of Nexus and Google Play Edition devices that Android power users love is an easily unlockable bootloader. While OEMs and carriers often make a policy of locking their devices' bootloaders to prevent installation of unauthorized software, Google makes it very easy for us to tinker with devices bearing its brand. All you really need to unlock a Google device is a tool called "fastboot," which is made available through the Android SDK.
Just yesterday the Nexus 4, 5, 7, and 10 all received their first nightlies for CyanogenMod 11. Now KitKat-flavored builds are rolling out for a slew of additional devices. The team has shared a list of devices with incoming nightlies, and while it isn't yet an exhaustive list, it does include multiple variants of the HTC One (m7att, m7spr, m7tmo, m7ul) and LG G2 (d800, d801, d802), as well as the international Galaxy SIII (i9300).
The Nexus 5 was perhaps the worst-kept secret in tech this year, but nonetheless, rumor and speculation built up a category 5 hypestorm around it - everything from the farfetched, like revolutionary camera tech and flexible displays, to the mundane-but-desirable, like a much larger battery or 3GB of RAM.
But now the Nexus 5 is finally here, and Google has, for the most part, built a very iterative product.
The Moto X marked the spot for the the company's Google-centric rebrand earlier this year, and it looks like the naming convention may stick around for future models. The US Patent and Trademark Office is showing a new trademark filing from Motorola: the "MOTO G." This doesn't indicate that a new phone is coming, but it does mean that Motorola is interested in using that particular name for a future product.
You've been warned: the Galaxy Note II was probably my favorite smartphone of 2012, and it looks like its successor, the Note 3, is stealing my heart all over again. With big hardware improvements across the board, as well as substantial additions to software, the Note 3 feels like a true next-generation sort of phone. Samsung has rather effectively ruined every other large-screen device for me, and frankly, probably every other phone released this year.
Let me just start by saying that I like the DROID Maxx and DROID Mini. Why conclude a review before I begin it? Because so many people have already concluded that they cannot like these phones. Motorola's new devices have proven incredibly polarizing among enthusiasts, especially to Google and Android diehards who held on till the bitter end to a fantasy (and that is what it was) that the company would come to the rescue of marginalized power users.
I am generally of the view that when it comes to high-end smartphones, most such phones are now squarely in the "pretty good" category. While the internet moans and groans about SD cards, removable batteries, and heavy-handed UI modifications, these things are trivial to most people in the day-to-day operation of a device. But much in the same way some car enthusiasts refuse to relinquish the manual transmission, some smartphone enthusiasts will not let go of the microSD slot until it is pried from their cold, dead fingers.