Take a look at the top tier of Android phones right now and you might notice something. They all kind of look the same. Black front fascia, large touchscreen, minimal waistline. Boring, right? Well that's just the way things are going. Alternatives to the slate way of living are becoming increasingly rare, which puts the HTC Desire Z with its hardware keyboard in an intriguing light. With its metallic accents and suave grey pallet, the Desire Z cuts a different path. So how do I mean rare? If you want a top-level QWERTY Android phone in the USA you have a fairly limited selection to choose from: Sprint has the Samsung Epic 4G, Verizon the Motorola Droid 2 and T-Mobile the HTC G2.
A German HTC fan blog by the name HTC Inside published a shot from Vodafone's internal inventory system last night, revealing the existence of an HTC phone by the name "Desire 2". Phandroid pointed out that this may be a European version of the upcoming and equally mysterious dual-core Pyramid, and I'd say that's not too farfetched a theory.
We'll probably find out what this thing is at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (which starts on the 14th), so the mystery shouldn't last a whole lot longer.
Samsung is well-known for its ubiquity in the feature-phone market, and it's starting to look like they'll be employing the same assault-on-all-sides approach with Android phones too. As if they aren't struggling already to keep their phones up to date, Sammy is now digging a deeper hole with today's announcement of four budget-oriented devices set to prop up the rather premium Galaxy S.
Starting from the bottom, we have the Galaxy mini, intended to be a "first smartphone" for those crazy, hip youths you keep reading about. Not quite sure where the fun springs from in a 3.14-inch QVGA device, but Samsung is betting heavily on the "flashy color stripe along the side" to shift units.
On the one hand, we have the Desire HD. People may call it the EVO 4G for Europe, but it really isn't. Here we have the newly unveiled HTC Gratia. People are calling it the HTC Aria for Europe, and that's exactly what it is. The hardware appears to be identical save for some new colours, which, considering people seem quite fond of the Aria in the USA, is probably a good thing.
Another point of interest is that the Gratia will be released this November with Froyo. That's surely a sticking point right now with Aria owners, and it remains to be seen how well Android 2.2 will run on a 600 MHz processor, but it seems a win nonetheless.
If you live in European markets, you may be glad to hear that HTC is offering a new color for two of their phones: the HTC Desire, which will soon come in "Brilliant White", and the HTC Legend, which will soon be available in "Phantom Black."
There's no doubt that each phone looks really slick, but you've got to wonder the purpose of a black Legend: wasn't its main appeal the gorgeous metal finish? The white Desire, on the other hand, is sure to be a lot more exciting than the plain old brown color it launched with. Check out pictures of each device and the full press release below.
The official German O2 Twitter account posted a tweet this weekend that the Motorola Milestone (better known as the Verizon Droid to us Yanks) will be getting Android 2.2 in mid-late September of this year. Also contained in the announcement was news that the HTC Desire will be receiving FroYo in mid-to-late August, and the Galaxy S in mid-September while the Flipout and X10 are still TBD. It’s great to see these phones receiving prompt updates to the latest OS version after the slower rollouts of some of the previous updates (We’re looking at you Eclair).
HTC is not resting on its laurels with the latest version of Android. Hot off the heels of yesterday’s announcement that the EVO would be the first phone to receive an update to Android 2.2 (other than the Nexus One, of course), HTC has told Engadget that unlocked European Desires would be receiving the update this weekend, which would also include an App Sharing widget, 720p video recording, iTunes sync, and improved Caller ID.
Anyone who happens to have an unlocked European Desire should receiving a notification within the next two days telling you an update is available. It is a no-wipe update, but HTC stresses that you’ll want to be connected to Wi-Fi in order to avoid data charges.
Just in case you thought the Samsung Galaxy S would stop its myriad of launches around the world – the Super AMOLED phone has just become available at Three UK under three different pricing plans.
The three price plans are £35, £38, and £40 a month for two years, with the highest plan (called “The One Plan”) giving you 2000 calling minutes, 5000 texts, and 1 GB of data – something users in the US aren’t really familiar with (Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile all having unlimited data, and AT&T having a max of 2 GB.)
If you’re interested, head over here and check it out.
HTC Hero users across Europe are reporting that a two-part OTA update is being pushed to their devices. The first update addresses some bug fixes and system updates; but the second, OTA_Hero_HTC_WWE_3.32.405.1_R-2.73.405.93 is without a doubt the chocolate-éclair goodness Hero users have been salivating over for the past few weeks. One of our Danish readers tipped us that his hero had been updated, and was kind enough to provide us a few screenshots.
It seems that Hero users will finally be able to join the 2.0+ club. Additionally, many users are reporting (Credit: AndroidForums, @mclemmnsn) that the update does not perform a full data wipe.
I wasn’t too kind to the Flipout when we first covered it here, and I can’t say that the official announcement has done much to change my mind.
If it weren’t for the strange form factor (why can’t Motorola just stick to what we know works?), the phone would be another mid to low-range Android handset. For those of you in the States that think it’s hip to be square (see what I did there?), you’re going to have to wait a bit before you can get your hands on this perplexing device as it’s slated to hit Europe first – apparently by the end of Q2 2010 (seeing as how it’s June already, the launch should be imminent).