The big question on everyone's mind (well, at least ours) today is: How will the iPhone coming to Verizon next month change the smartphone landscape? At this point, it's anyone's guess, but Android's unabashed domination on the US's largest wireless carrier will certainly be challenged in the coming months. However, there are significant forces at work that won't exactly help the iPhone with its Verizon debut - namely, Verizon and Android.
At Motorola's booth today, we got a chance to play with the Atrix 4G - a dual-core HSPA+ equipped slate handset, sporting a whopping 1GB of RAM and packing a couple of notable features. Along with the laptop dock demoed in the video below, the Atrix 4G also has a media dock (called "HD dock") which allows you to connect it to a larger screen (and use the same WebTop desktop-like interface) as well as plug in a keyboard and a mouse.
The Atrix 4G may not be the only dual-core powered Android phone announced this year at CES, but it certainly seems to be the only one that claims to 'redefine the line between a phone and a laptop'. It's able to blur said line by featuring the relatively unique 'Laptop Dock' accessory, which, for all intents and purposes, will convert your Android phone into a netbook running Motorola's 'Webtop' application.
Details on the actual Webtop interface are sparse, but Motorola did spill the beans on the internals powering the Atrix 4G:
- Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core 1 GHz processor
- 1 GB RAM and 16 GB internal memory
- HSPA+ 4G compatibility with AT&T
- 4 inch qHD display
- 5 MP rear camera with LED flash
- VGA front-facing camera
- Fingerprint scanning security (located on the back of the device)
- Android 2.2 (Froyo) with MotoBlur (which looks to be refined, I might add)
- Wi-Fi b/g/n
- Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
- 1930 mAh battery for 9 hours talk time
Note the incredibly beefy battery - 1930 mAh is probably the largest mobile phone battery we've ever heard of.
AT&T has been keeping very quiet about its 4G plans over the past year, letting the other 3 major players freely roll out their respective 4G technologies - HSPA+ for T-Mobile, WiMax for Sprint, and LTE for Verizon. However, after the announcements at this morning's AT&T Developer Summit, it is clear AT&T is seriously stepping up its game.
According to Ralph de La Vega, AT&T's CEO, AT&T has already completed the upgrade of the whole mobile broadband network to HSPA+, or Evolved HSPA, which is the same technology used by T-Mobile that currently offers theoretical speeds of about 21Mbps downstream.
It appears that Samsung is going to continue with the Galaxy S brand name, but this upcoming AT&T handset is unlike any other Galaxy S phone you've seen before. The Samsung Infuse 4G improves on the original in just about every way - in fact, it easily tops any phones on the market today:
- 1.2 GHz (single core) processor
- 4.5" Super AMOLED Plus display
- 8 megapixel rear camera
- 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera
- HSPA+ support
- TouchWiz UI
- Extremely thin (thinnest phone on AT&T when it launches)
The most interesting aspect is the Super AMOLED Plus display.
Eyeing the HTC Thunderbolt or EVO 4G with envy but stuck on AT&T? Fortunately, the carrier, which has a long reputation of not embracing Android (none of their Android phones can officially sideload apps) has just announced its next "superphone." The HTC Inspire 4G looks to be just about the same as the Thunderbolt, with a 4.3" screen and 4G connectivity, although it will support AT&T's HSPA+ network instead of their upcoming LTE network.
That's right, carrier billing is now available for some Android users on the least Android-friendly wireless carrier in the US. Huzzah. I guess I shouldn't be so cynical - I am an AT&T customer, after all. Unfortunately, I also run CyanogenMod 6 on my AT&T Nexus One, and have not yet received any Market update to allow me to use carrier billing, and doubt I will until an official Gingerbread build coaxes me off my custom ROM goodness.
AT&T will be purchasing wireless spectrum from Qualcomm, the computer chip manufacturer, for $1.93 billion to provide higher speeds for its 4G network. The spectrum is in the lower 700 MHz frequency band and covers 300 million people in the United States.
The AT&T mobile network has been criticized heavily for some time because of connectivity issues which have caused poor service for its iPhone users. The iPhone uses more data than any feature phone and most smartphones (but not Android phones), so having exclusivity over the phone has put a severe strain on AT&T's network.
If you thought the news that Samsung shifted more than a million Galaxy Tabs was impressive, just wait 'til you hear this one: the company today announced that over three million of its Galaxy S smartphones have been sold in the US alone. This not only means that Sammy now owns 32.1% of the Android market in the US; it also makes Samsung the #1 supplier of Android devices in the US.
While we originally heard that AT&T would start selling the dual-core Motorola Olympus by the end of January, it now appears that the phone may be available earlier - according to a Facebook message which has since been deleted (see below), the handset may go on sale as early as December. Unfortunately, AT&T, who posted the message, later stated that "we don't have any information to share about upcoming devices" and that the message was posted "erroneously," so not much else came out of the leak.