Android in 2013: Five Devices to Watch For in the Coming Months
With Mobile World Congress fading in our taillights and CES 2013 nothing more than a memory, two of the biggest shows for new mobile devices are out of the way for this year. What does that mean for Android in the coming months, though? It’s pretty common for manufacturers to announce new devices that we won’t actually see for several months down the road, so let’s take a look at a few of the most potentially promising devices that we should see this year (in no particular order).
Love it or hate it, one thing’s for sure: the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 changed the way we think about Android tablets. Certain features of Touchwiz UX brought a true multitasking experience to the mobile scene, and the addition of the S Pen opened the door for several new possibilities. If you love the idea of the Note 10.1, but would prefer everything it has to offer in a smaller, more portable package, the answer to your quandary showed up at Mobile World Congress this year: say hello to the Galaxy Note 8.
Featuring a blazing-fast 1.6GHz Exynos quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM underneath its eight-inch 1280×800 display, the Note 8 should be able to handle everything you throw at it, all in an easy to manage shell. Toss Android 4.1.2 and Touchwiz UX into the mix, and you’ve got a note-taking device that’s perfect for business and pleasure.
If the Note 8 is the tablet you’ve been waiting for, you’ll be able to make it yours in the second quarter of this year.
Mobile gaming has really come into its own over the last few years, and NVIDIA has been a pack-leader for much of that time thanks to its powerful Tegra chips. The company unveiled the latest in the series – the Tegra 4 – at CES this year, where it also took the wraps off Project SHIELD, an Android-powered handheld gaming system specifically optimized for mobile games.
As this time much of SHIELD’s existence is still quite mystery. We do know the device will feature a five-inch 720p display, built-in game controller, HDMI, USB, and microSD ports, along with the monstrous Tegra 4, but there’s no word on Android version of price just yet. We shouldn’t have to wait too much longer, though – SHIELD should be available in Q2 of this year.
Sony Xperia Z
If you’re a Sony fan, the Xperia Z may be the device for you. This semi-ruggedized handset is the company’s new flagship device, and it boasts the specs to back that claim. With a five-inch 1080p “Reality” display, quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 2GB of RAM, 13,1MP rear shooter, and Android 4.1.x, the Xperia Z means business.
But it’s not just about business – the handset is also waterproof, so accidentally forcing it to take a dive everyone once in a while won’t render it a useless paperweight like most other handsets.
The Xperia Z is scheduled to become available in Q1 of this year – which means it should be available by the end of this month. Not much longer!
While not technically a product announced at either CES or Mobile World Congress, the One is the newest flagship out of HTC’s camp. With the handset manufacturer in financial dire straits, this is potentially the most important device that it has ever released. As such, it’s pulled out all the stops with the One, focusing on innovative features as opposed to raw horsepower (because, let’s face it, raw horsepower doesn’t mean much these days). Of course, that doesn’t mean the One is a slouch under the hood, either: its 4.7-inch 1920×1080 Super LCD 3, quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor, 2GB RAM, 32GB built-in storage, 4 Ultrapixel camera, and Android 4.1.2 with Sense UI 5.0 put it in the top tier among the most high-end devices.
HTC has also incorporated some unique hardware features into the One, like a set of front-facing stereo speakers – an enhancement the company refers to as BoomSound. Aside from that, the software side of things brings some of HTC’s most innovative features to date to the table, such as Blinkfeed, a new homescreen replacement that aims to bring content front-and-center; and HTC Zoes, a picture-in-a-video feature to capture those special moments.
The One also marks the largest-scale device release HTC has ever done, with the handset coming to 184 different carriers. It’s undeniable that the One is HTC’s big play this year, but it has some stiff competition from the likes of Samsung and it’s newest beast: the Galaxy S4.
Samsung Galaxy S4
This is the phone Android users have been waiting on this year. Announced just last week, the GS4 is Samsung’s successor to the wildly popular Galaxy S III, which in itself helped change the face of Android. Packed to the brim with innovative eye tracking, gesture-based, and voice-control features, the Galaxy S4 is a worthy upgrade to 2012’s flagship.
While the software is probably the most impressive part of the GS4, it’s definitely not lacking in the hardware department. The device brings the highest-end specs on the market to one package: featuring a five-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display, 1.9GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor (1.6GHz octa-core Exynos in some markets), 2GB of RAM, 13MP rear camera, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, IR blaster, MHL 2.0, and Android 4.2.2, this phone is a force to be reckoned with on essentially every level.
Combine that hardware with innovative and potentially game-changing features like Air View, which lets you hover over certain object with your finger to interact with them; Smart Pause, which pauses videos when you turn your eyes from the screen; and Dual Mode, to use both cameras at one time (just to name a few); and you have a recipe for what could be the absolute best Android phone of the year.
With so many great devices coming out and manufacturers working harder than ever to compete with one another, there’s never been a better time to be an Android users. From NVIDIA’s Project SHIELD to Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 and S4, there should be a top-of-the-line piece of hardware coming out for everyone – it’s just up to you which one(s) are the right fit.
Good luck with that.
About the Author
Cameron is a die-hard Android fan and Senior Editor for Android Police. When he's not on the beat covering all the happenings in the Android world, you can usually find him tinkering with (read: breaking) his mobile devices or spending time with his family.
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