I keep telling you people, the actual gadget matters less than the ecosystem of customers+hardware+software+accessories. You can’t fake that. Customers will not be impressed by one new handset no matter how good it is. Every manufacturer wants to jump into this market and sell as well as the iPhone does. It’ll never happen, and people forget that the iPhone didn’t just waltz into the smartphone market without some teething pains. Anymore, a company needs to show us at least three years of steady growth, refinement, and support before they’ll start to crack into consumer awareness.
Well wouldn’t you know it, Microsoft is getting to that three year point, and I’m starting to see the occasional Windows Phone out in the wild. Here stateside, MS is a distant third place competitor growing to only around 3% of the smartphone market, stealing the third spot from Blackberry. Recently announced by analysts at Kantar World Panel however, Windows Phone is cracking into double digit share in Europe. WP is within one percent of the iPhone in Germany, makes up 10% of the French market, and stands at 12% in Great Britain. Averaging the five largest European markets Windows Phone is currently at 9%.
The Nokia brand still counts for a lot in those markets, especially the blend of unique design and bleeding edge camera technology. Unfortunately Nokia somewhat abandoned us here in the States, so they’re pretty much rebuilding their consumer base from scratch. We do get to see some very general trends though, and from my anecdotal experiences, the push into entry level devices is serving Nokia very well. Doesn’t hurt that outlets like CNET can’t figure out the difference between a phone which costs $100 out the door, and a phone which costs $100 on contract. Surprisingly, Nokia’s 520 does a remarkably good job of competing against phones which cost four times as much.
Plus with a two faction war between Apple and Samsung, those consumers who want something a little different only have Microsoft to turn to. Never underestimate someone’s desire to go a little hipster. We live in an age where new smartphone consumers will know Apple like people from my generation saw Microsoft.
Read the full write up at Kantar World Panel.
Better late than never I suppose?
If you’ve been looking for a nice mid-range Android experience in a smaller form factor than the 4.5″ and larger screened premier handsets, the GS3 Mini could be one to check out. Happily, we know that Google is looking towards improving Android efficiency, and app developers will likely be supporting dual-core handsets for some time yet as phones like The Moto X offer a premier experience with lower power internals.
This 4″ screen is powered by a dual-core 1.2GHz processor and 1GB of RAM. Expect all of the Samsung favorites like TouchWiz, S-Beam, S-Voice, Smart Stay eye tracking, a Super AMOLED screen, and a 5MP camera. All this in a form factor which should be easier to use one-handed.
And while the GS3 Mini is still a perfectly reasonable solution for a smaller form factor Android, it strikes me as more than a little odd that AT&T is making this play with a phone released last November. Especially as they currently sport the very nice HTC One Mini, which was released a little less than a month ago.
Thankfully, I think AT&T has absolutely nailed the pricing, as the GS3 Mini will come in at 99 cents with a two year contract. The slightly older hardware is a little easier to understand when you’ll get a mid-range experience for practically free on contract.
Check out all the deets on AT&T’s GS3 Mini site!
We’re you hoping to be the first cool kid on your block to rock some Dick Tracy style smartphone wrist action?
AT&T is now taking pre-orders for the Galaxy Gear, so you best get while the getting’s good. I don’t know exactly what that last sentence means, but continuing to read this is wasting precious time better spent on setting up your pre-order.
Expect to drop $299 on Galaxy Gear, and it should arrive sometime in October… Probably around the time the Note 3 drops… Because synergy. Yeah!
I like rugged!
Being able to use our delicate tech in challenging environments is becoming a very important topic for me. A 5″ screen is a lot of glass to potentially shatter while in the middle of a hike or out on a job site. Body Glove is offering up a new ShockSuit case for Galaxy S4 owners looking to add protection without adding a ton of bulk.
Shop Body Glove cases on Amazon!
The Active uses a lower res camera sensor than the regular GS4, and it’s one we’re very familiar with. First making an appearance on the GS3 and Note 2, this sensor doesn’t hold any surprises, though Samsung’s camera app has improved over the successive phones utilizing this hardware.
It does come with one really neat trick though. How waterproof is your current smartphone?
Let’s take a look.
No seriously folks. I don’t get it, and I need your help to understand.
Why do we need 64-bit processors in our phones?
First Apple announces 64-bit will be included in the iPhone 5s, and now Samsung says they’ll be getting in on the trick in 2014. As best as I could understand, one of the primary reasons we moved to 64-bit on desktops and laptops was to allow us to use more than 4GB of RAM.
Are there other advantages I’m not aware of? Might this be a preemptive move for some future technology? I’m nonplussed…
Drop me a comment. School me folks!
Man. HTC just can’t catch a break here.
Last week, shares fell almost 5% on the news that HTC only pulled in $443 million this August, which is down 45% from a year ago. It seems that the critically acclaimed One and One Mini handsets aren’t quite motivating consumers to part with their cash. Investor confidence is also a little shaken by news of high level executives leaving the company. Some of those execs under investigation for allegedly leaking company secrets. In all, not a great position for the phone maker to be in given how competitive the phone landscape is.
The one resource HTC most likely needs to turn around its market image is likely the one most difficult to come by: Time. HTC’s recent moves have largely been celebrated by tech pundits. The HTC One marks the first handset by the company which isn’t hamstrung by carrier branding. Even the older One X was billed as the “Evo 4G LTE” on Sprint, diluting HTC’s presence. Future HTC phones will likely not be plagued by this consumer confusion.
Also, we recently saw the first fruits from HTC’s $1 billion ad campaign featuring Robert Downey Jr. and “Hipster Troll Carwashes”. This is a long term brand identity move, which should net positive results, but HTC is also in need of some short term sales to help boost confidence internally and with potential customers. They need evangelists and fans who will tout the company line, and be a grassroots first line of attack when new handsets are released.
Recent moves have been smart, HTC is trying to build a presence on sites like Reddit, and they’ve been more active on social media sites. It’s a tough road to build that kind of loyalty however. Their 716,000 Twitter followers are nothing to sneeze at, but pale in comparison to Samsung’s 4.4 million, and comparing recent tweets, actual engagement with likes and retweet action mirrors those follower numbers.
So while their long term strategies look sound, this isn’t a market known for patience, and that magical recipe for pairing good products and actual sales has been eluding numerous companies of late.
See my hands on reviews for the HTC One and the HTC One Mini.
So the radio in your phone is often one of the worst offenders in draining your battery. For all of our criticism surrounding powerful quad-cores, throw your phone into airplane mode, and it’s shocking how long that quad can run. We can only pack in SO much battery density, and the rest of your phone can be surprisingly frugal, which is why developments in radio management are so crucial to improving the smartphone experience.
Qualcomm has been working on Envelope Tracking for their LTE radio technology. To over-simplify, LTE is a little different in how it communicates with cell towers than 3G, which in the past has made it more difficult to adjust the power of the radio in your phone while maintaining a stable connection to a tower. Essentially, your phone’s radio tries to find an average signal to broadcast at, but often just runs at max on LTE, which is pretty terrible for battery life, and can sometimes result in a poor connection.
Envelope Tracking for LTE allows the radio to better scale with the quality of the tower’s signal. As the radio is working a brute force style signal, it should greatly reduce the amount of power needed to run, which should also cut back on wasted heat. Qualcomm is estimating a 20% reduction in power and a 30% reduction in heat generated by the radio. This should also provide a more stable link to the tower, hopefully resulting in faster throughput.
Now normally when we write up new tech like this it’s usually an article about researchers in a lab, and we’ll all have to wait for the breakthrough to eventually filter down into our actual consumer devices. The nice thing about Qualcomm’s ET gear is it’s already going to be included in the Galaxy Note 3. Likely one of the reasons Samsung went with Qualcomm’s 800 series chipset for its LTE variants of the note.
Hit the Qualcomm blog for better explanations of all the science-y details.