I've been envious of the iPhone over the last few years for one, not-so-obvious reason: Apple makes its recent flagships out of stainless steel. Here in the land of Android, the best we can really hope for is aluminum and glass, but there's a whole wide variety of premium, super-durable, and exotic materials out there phones could use. So, why are almost all Android smartphones boring glass and plastic or aluminum slabs? I was able to speak with Kinder Liu, COO and Head of R&D at OnePlus, to find out.
Everyone was all hyped up about sapphire crystal displays a few years ago, then manufacturers realized what a complete pain in the butt it was to manufacture synthetic sapphire at an industrial scale. There have been a few phones and watches with this super hard material covering the screen, but Zagg offers a "Sapphire Defense" screen protector, too. That makes it sound like a sapphire glass screen protector, and the high price backs that assumption up. However, JerryRigEverything just posted a video revealing it to be nothing more than treated plastic.
If you've been waiting for Verizon's carrier-branded version of the Nexus 6 to hit stores so you can save a little cash on a subsidized phone, you won't have to wait much longer. A tipster sent a photo to Android Police that appears to show a rollout schedule for Verizon's next round of phone releases displayed on a company intranet or presentation. The Nexus 6 (or at least Verizon's model with a scarlet V) is scheduled to be released on February 26th.
Verizon's model of the N6 will probably be identical to the ones on the Play Store and other carriers, at least in terms of hardware - the vanilla phone already has a Verizon CDMA-LTE compatible radio.
We've been waiting a long time to see smartphones with screens made from synthetic sapphire, an expensive material that justifies its cost by being nearly impervious to scratches from all but the hardest materials. So far we've seen it on a single Kyocera "tough" phone and not much else, but Chinese manufacturer OPPO is hoping to bring it to a more mainstream device. Say hello to the R1C, a phone that hangs out on the higher portion of the midrange, and is scheduled to hit China later this month.
The specs in the R1C are good, if not fantastic: it uses a Snapdragon 615 64-bit processor, 2GB of RAM, the infuriatingly typical 16GB of storage plus a MicroSD card slot, a 13MP rear camera, and a 5MP front-facing cam.
Kyocera isn't exactly a big name in modern Android smartphones, but it does make a lot of rugged devices that don't get much press. It's also big in materials science, which is where sapphire comes in. See, it seems like a safe bet that the next iPhone will have a sapphire glass display, and Kyocera happens to know a lot about manufacturing synthetic sapphire for watches and electrical components. So, they're making sapphire screens for smartphones. This is the thing now.
Unfortunately, all good things must one day come to an end, and for the world's first Android phone (the HTC Dream), today is that day - CyanogenMod, the most popular AOSP ROM in the business, has officially dropped support for the device (as well as the Magic/MT3G).
Now, Droid-Life's legion of tipsters have spotted two more official Verizon documents featuring the Droid 2 Global: a holiday ad featuring the D2G (above), and nothing other than a sheet listing the tech specs.
And quite a nicely-equipped phone it is. Think of it as a beefed up Droid 2, with an alternative color option:
1.2 GHz CPU
3.7" 854x480 screen
5 MP camera with 2 LED flash
8 GB ROM, 8 GB microSD included (16 GB total)
Dark Sapphire or Winter White
Seems a little weird to launch an upgraded product so soon after launching the original, but hey - I suppose they're trying to get a leg up on their competition.
CyanogenMod users rejoice: Cyanogen and the CM team are continuing to work feverishly to get CyanogenMod 6 into official release territory.
CyanogenMod 6 Release Candidate 2 ROMs for the Nexus One (and unofficially, the Droid), Dream, Magic, G1, and the MyTouch 3G are now available for download, along with Release Candidate 1 for the HTC EVO 4G.
Nexus One CM6 RC2 Download links (This will work on a Motorola Droid as well, see this CM forum post):