We all know that Samsung's working on a new version of the Galaxy Note smartphone. And we can probably assume it's going to debut later this summer, as it has the last two years. Unlike the last two years, though, it doesn't seem like it will be released to a market free of any real competitors. In any practical sense, the Galaxy Note and Note II went basically unchallenged in the jumbo-phone segment. Sure, there were oddities like the Optimus Vu (aka LG Intuition in the US), but Samsung was so plainly far ahead of everyone else in this part of the market that its Note devices became synonymous with the term 'phablet.' When you see someone with a giant phone, it's a pretty automatic assumption that's a Note or Note II.
On April 11th, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 officially went on sale in the US in a Wi-Fi only flavor. I can tell you this already - if someone were to offer me one of those or a Nexus 7 3G, I'd take the Note 8.0 no questions asked. I think it's probably the best all-around Android tablet currently on sale, squeaky plastic and giant-Note II look be damned.
That said, it also costs $400! Now, that nets you 16GB of built-in storage with a microSD card slot, 2GB of RAM, a rear camera, Android 4.1.2, and a digitizer-equipped 8" 1280x800 display with a smart stylus.
On April 12th, Facebook Home will arrive in the Play Store... for select devices. It's a homescreen replacement app, and for those who use Facebook regularly, might be something worth looking into. The demos of the app looked smooth and simple - there's a lot of that gesture business going on - and while I'm not exactly big on Facebook, I know I'm going to give it a whirl just to see what it's like.
What about you - is your curiosity piqued enough to try out Facebook's newest mobile endeavor (assuming your phone is compatible)?
I still can't believe that Android Police has been around for three years now (we've just celebrated our third anniversary last week). It's been hell of a roller coaster of leaks, emotions, interesting news, editorials, contests, and... writers. You may not realize this, but in the past years, we've been through probably over 60 contributors, the strongest 11 of whom now comprise the core team.
But today is not the time for sob stories. That's not fun. What is fun, however, is figuring out just which one of the aforementioned 11 Android Police writers is your absolute favorite. Who makes you laugh?
The wireless service landscape is undergoing significant changes in the US this year. T-Mobile just launched it's kind-of no contract plans with monthly hardware payments, something no other US carrier offers. Sprint is in the early stages of its LTE rollout, a buyout from Japanese firm Softbank, and the acquisition of Clearwire (which seems more likely with each passing day). AT&T has already gained the #2 LTE spot in the US, but may have turned off a good number of potential Galaxy S4 buyers by pricing the device at $250 on contract, while continuing to push its own shared data plan model.
On last week's podcast, the question "HTC One or Galaxy S4?" came up, and was posed to each host. We all made our call, and now it's your turn. While I know many of you have no interest in either of these phones, today's question is not what your ideal phone is, but given a choice between them - which would you get? And no, 'neither' is not an option.
Each phone has its advantages and disadvantages - that's clear. The One is a beautiful piece of design with a few hardware tricks up its sleeve - dual front-facing speakers, a novel rear camera, and all aluminum chassis.
Samsung just unveiled the next.. next big thing: the Galaxy S4. And while some might argue it's more Galaxy S III 'Plus' than brand-new, standard-setting flagship, there's no denying Samsung is going to sell a ton of these things. Our question, though, is will Samsung be selling one to you?
If you're in the market for an Android smartphone right now, you've got plenty of options: HTC's One is on the way shortly, there's the Xperia Z / ZL, and of course, the Nexus 4. While it doesn't look like anyone will be dropping a phone to trounce the S4 any time soon, it's also a more cutthroat and competitive era in the smartphone market than ever before.
Back in the day, when I was using a Nexus One, custom launchers were all the rage on Android - not using one was strange. And when I had a DROID BIONIC, I still found myself using my go-to option - ADW.ex - most of the time. Today, though, my primary device is a Galaxy Note II, and I haven't had the urge to use a custom launcher for a moment since using it. The NatureUX launcher may not be particularly pretty, but it's highly functional, and rock-solid stable.
About a year ago, we asked you what your custom launcher situation was - that is, are you using one?
Now that Andy Rubin himself has officially snubbed what were apparently rather strong rumors of Google opening its own retail stores in the US, there's a lot of humdrum floating around about whether or not a Google Store would actually make sense.
On the one hand, with its increasing arsenal of hardware products on the Play Store, Google definitely has a wide enough selection of toys to at least give a standalone brick and mortar location (or two) a shot. Nexus phones, tablets, Chromebooks (along with accessories for all those devices), Play Store gift cards, and opportunities to sign up for premium Google services (eg, more Google Drive space) could really open up a lot more people to the idea that Google isn't just about search, email, and maps.
Last week, a rumor from ReadWrite indicated HP was re-entering the consumer tablet market, with Android-powered hardware. HP's first stab at tablets, the TouchPad, was one of the most spectacular failures in the company's history. But given how well it runs Android, you have to wonder: how would a similar tablet that was actually built for Android fare in the market?
If HP is working on Android tablets - which seems pretty likely, given the death of WebOS and the company's distaste for Windows RT - I personally think it could be a seriously disruptive force.
The company's laptop line has seen a popular resurgence in the last couple of years, and while printers may not be the world's most exciting product, there's little arguing that HP still has tons of brand recognition among consumers, particularly in the US.