Dell is back in the Android business, and its Venue tablets are low-cost alternatives to the competition this holiday season
How do you make an Android tablet stand out? If you’re Samsung, you equip it with 101 features and throw in an S-Pen for good measure. If you’re LG, you craft a well-made tablet around remarkable specs and your increasingly popular UI. And if you’re Google, you create a premium and pure Android software experience and let someone else worry about the hardware.
With a market cornered by a handful of big names, how does Dell, a company with an unlucky history in the Android world, compete? Well, one way is competitive pricing. And Dell will be hoping that the Venue 8's $180 price point, coupled with its brand name recognition, will be enough to lure first-time tablet buyers away from the competition this holiday season.
A step in the right direction for Sprint coverage and data speeds
When Sprint first launched its Spark LTE technology earlier this month, our curiosity was piqued. Utilizing 800MHz, 1.9GHz and 2.5GHz frequencies, supported devices would be capable of reaching speeds of up to 60 Mbps in any of the five rollout markets, including New York, LA, Chicago, Miami and Tampa. With the carrier’s god awful 3G speeds and bumpy initial LTE rollout, the promise of being the fastest network in five of the largest consumer markets in the country seemed too good to be true.
At $349, LG's first major foray into the Android tablet market (we'll forgive them for that 3D thing in 2011) is truly something to behold
In the years since its relatively quiet into the world of Android, LG has stuck to a strategy that’s relatively familiar in the mobile market: throw products against the wall and see which ones stick. Sound familiar? It’s an approach popularized by LG’s main competitor, Samsung, which has been churning out Galaxies of countless sizes over the past few years in the hope that it finally hits consumers’ sweet spots.
But where LG differs from Samsung is in its execution. Rather than flood the market with Optimii of various sizes and shapes, LG appears to have studied which products work, and which ones don't.
The most recent result of all this is the LG G Pad 8.3, a thrilling, near-perfect device that stands out even in an Android tablet market that has finally grown into its own skin. It’s a product of time, effort, and attention to detail that proves just how well LG’s strategy is paying off. This is the Galaxy Tab Samsung hasn't quite noticed consumers want.
Arriving on T-Mobile shelves on Oct. 23, the One Touch Fierce is proof that OEMs are only able to go so far with $164.
In the flurry of recent top-notch Android releases, you might have missed the announcement of T-Mobile's latest budget-friendly devices, the One Touch Fierce and One Touch Evolve. No, they’re not blood glucose monitors, but rather the latest installments from Alcatel, a company that has struggled to find its place here in the US. But with its Evolve and Fierce, Alcatel hopes to make waves in the entry-level market, beckoning T-Mobile customers with dirt-cheap price tags of $100 and $164 respectively.
But if we’ve learned anything from 2013, it’s that the current state of entry-level Android has finally reached a balance of affordability and usability, and the days of settling for cheaply-made Gingerbread-powered devices are behind us. But in the case of the One Touch Fierce, it appears that Alcatel made all the wrong cuts in all the wrong places.
Samsung has created a truly terrible smartphone and a downright dazzling tablet in the Galaxy Mega, available now on AT&T
Whispers. Crook-eyes. The occasional point-and-laugh. These are some of the things I’ve endured on a daily basis for the past week while using AT&T'sGalaxy Mega as my main smartphone. Whether I’m making a call on my morning commute or shooting off a message while walking down the street, it’s been hard to escape judgment while carrying Samsung's latest Galaxy iteration.
And who can blame the skeptics? At 6.3 inches, the Mega is conspicuously larger than just about everything else consumers are making calls on. It’s not only the largest phone on AT&T’s shelves, but it’s one of the largest phones in the world, and never for a second pretends to be anything other than just that. Samsung can finally check the “6.3-inch” box off its to-do list, at the expense of unknowingly absurd-looking Galaxy fans.
Unfortunately, the Galaxy Mega is not only one of the largest phones on the market, but it’s also one of the worst. Shooting off an SMS takes brute strength and two meaty paws; making a phone call looks and feels ridiculous, despite what anyone graciously might tell you. The Mega is the most polarizing device in Samsung’s arsenal, and the tough love it’s been receiving from the skeptics as a poorly designed and gimmicky smartphone isn’t entirely unwarranted.
But perhaps all of us — consumers, Samsung, and AT&T — have got it all wrong. Maybe the Galaxy Mega is being unfairly judged as an awful smartphone when, in reality, it’s a fantastic tablet.
We’re live in New York where LG has formally unveiled its highly-anticipated G2 flagship, which is set to hit 130 countries and the four major US carriers within the next eight weeks. LG knows just how fierce the smartphone market is, and it seems to have pulled out all the stops — this is undoubtedly the Korean company's most impressive smartphone yet. More than just a sequel to the Optimus G, the G2 marks a shift for LG — as it ditches the Optimus moniker for its flagship line, LG is keen to rebrand itself as a major competitor to the current market shapers.
The Galaxy Tab 3 line shares much in common with the Galaxy S4, but non-Samsung fanatics can find better Android tablets elsewhere
For me, the Samsung has consistently been the go-to choice for a quality Android tablet experience. I was an early adopter of the original Galaxy Tab 10.1, and the Galaxy Note 10.1 was the first device to make me feel like tablets were more than just oversized phones. As a Galaxy S 4 owner, I was eager to take the brand new Galaxy Tab 3 line for a spin and see how Samsung has incorporated the brand new version of TouchWiz into its flagship tablet line.
I recently got to spend a few days with both the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 and the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1, and while I can't say I had a completely negative experience, it's clear the Galaxy Tab line no longer represents the cutting edge of Android tablets.
The Sprint Vital offers a lot of bang for your buck, but it's not for everyone, especially given the carrier's handful of other budget-friendly options.
Things have changed quite a bit over the past year in terms of what $100 can buy you, and for those who can’t stomach dropping more than a Benjamin on a new smartphone, there’s never been a better time to upgrade. Budget-busting flagships are no longer the only devices worthy of writing a check for – Android has come a long way, and yesterday’s specs are becoming more and more evergreen.
The Vital, made by Chinese manufacturer ZTE yet sold under the Sprint moniker, isn’t cracking any glass ceilings – a game changer this is not. But it does mark a welcome new addition to the growing “high-end budget” market, which is great news for consumers. It faces some stiff competition on Sprint’s shelves, though, especially given the carrier’s recent promotions offering some of yesterday’s top-shelf phones for pennies on the dollar. For Sprint customers looking to save some money on their next smartphone, the Vital is just one of many choices offering some serious bang for your buck.
Sony finally has the smartphone it needs to become a major player in the U.S. mobile market.
Since its sweep at CES 2013, The Sony Xperia Z has become known in some circles as the best phone Americans can’t buy — thankfully, that changes next week when T-Mobile will add Sony’s flagship to its portfolio. Our own Alex Dobie put the Xperia Z through its paces back in March with a thorough review, and seeing as though the domestic version of the device is almost identical to the international one, we won’t waste your time with yet another teardown. We will, however, discuss how the Xperia Z fits into T-Mobile’s summer lineup — one of the more robust of all the major carriers — and examine what its addition means for Sony’s mobile footprint in the U.S. Hit the break for our thoughts and impressions.
One of the ways to gauge the popularity of a smartphone, and one that I’ve found quite interesting throughout the history of Android is the availability of quality compatible accessories. I started getting jealous of iPhone owners back in 2011 – I was hunting for a measly screen protector for my HTC Thunderbolt while they were rolling in thousands of cases, docks, speakers and lenses flooding the market. Times have changed and with Samsung’s meteoric rise over the past year, accessory makers have caught on to the fact that Galaxy owners love their add-ons just as much as iPhone owners do.
But that popularity and the booming market it creates brings with it the inherent rise of ridiculously unnecessary products -- enter the Rokdock by Rokform, a $100 paperweight that is the very definition of the frivolous, overpriced accessories a popular smartphone can spawn.