- Android 5.0.1 Lollipop reportedly rolling out to Moto G (1st and 2nd gens)
- Protect your Galaxy S5 Mini with these 7 cases
- Google’s new holiday ad features an Androidified Santa
- Imagination MIPS Creator CI20 review
- Save 50% on all Verizon Android phones $199 and over
- Google Nexus 5 back in stock via Google Play (update)
- 8 common problems with the Nexus 9 and how to fix them
- Deal: Red Nexus 5 16GB (D821) available from Expansys for $320
- Bitcoin Blaster – Indie app of the day
- Which up-and-coming OEM has the best chance for global success?
Just as promised, Motorola has been providing quick updates to all of their recent handsets as of late. Some Motorola devices have even been seeing Lollipop updates more quickly than the Nexus line, which is an impressive feat for an OEM. With that said, Android 5.0.1 recently began rolling out to Nexus and Google Play edition devices, so it was only a matter of time before Motorola’s phones got the update. And that time is now, as both the Motorola Moto G 2013 and 2014 models have reportedly began receiving the newest update to version 5.0.1. The 5.0.1 system update for the Moto G 2nd Gen. will bump the system version up to 22.21.25 and the build number up to LXB22.46-25, while the system version on the Moto G 1st Generation will bump up to 220.21.25 and the build number up to LXB22.46-25. We’ve only heard of a few cases of each update rolling out, so it might still be a while until your device receives the update. If you’re a Moto G owner, be on the lookout for your update! If you’re unsure how to check, head to _Settings>About phone>System updates>Check for updates._ Are there any other lucky Moto G owners out there that have received the update? Let us know in the comments if you've heard anything!
Back in July, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S5 Mini as a smaller alternative to its flagship-level bigger brother. Packing an Exynos 3 Quad 3470 CPU with 1.5GB RAM and 4.5-inch 720p display, the GS5 Mini is a decent mid-range device that, given Samsung’s reputation, should be able to withstand a few minor bumps, bruises and scratches but a little extra protection never hurts. With that in mind, we’ve gathered up a list of 7 cases designed to keep your Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini safe and sound. TUDIA ULTRA SLIM LITE TPU BUMPER PROTECTIVE GALXY S5 MINI CASE
Buy from Amazon - $8
HYPERION HONEYCOMB MATTE TPU GALAXY S5 MINI CASE
Buy from Amazon - $9
CIMO [WAVE] PREMIUM SLIM TPU FLEXIBLE GALAXY S5 MINI SOFT CASE
Buy from Amazon - $7
ALLRELI WALLET FOLIO S5 MINI CASE
Buy from Amazon - $10
SUPCASE UNICORN BEETLE PREMIUM HYBRID PROTECTIVE S5 MINI CASE
Buy from Amazon - $15
HYPERION EXPLORER 2-PIECE PREMIUM HYBRID PROTECTIVE GALAXY S5 MINI CASE
Buy from Amazon - $10
GHOSTEK BLUE BLITZ SAMSUNG GALAXY S5 MINI CASE
Buy from Amazon - $10
How are you protecting you Samsung Galaxy S5 mini? Let us know your favorite cases in the comments below.
Google's new ad campaign featuring Androidified characters has been growing in popularity as of late. Around the launch of the new Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and Nexus Player, the search giant coined the phrase "Be together, not the same," as their new slogan. We've seen countless commercials showing off all of Google's new hardware and software, and they've even gone as far as taking out a giant LED billboard in New York City the size of a football field. To make your holiday a bit brighter, Google has launched a short ad with an Androidified Santa character distributing smartwatches, phones and tablets. It's a short, festive ad that definitely helps us get in the mood for the holidays! What do you think of Google's recent ad campaign? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.
THE BOTTOM LINEThe popularity of Single Board Computers (SBCs) for both hobbyists and developers (as a prototyping platform) has been rising steadily for many years. However, since the launch of the Raspberry Pi these little computers have achieved a whole new standing. In the wake of the success of the Raspberry Pi, lots of different SBCs have been released and many like the BeagleBone Black and Hardkernel's range of ODROID boards have achieved a measure of lasting popularity. However all these boards have one thing in common, they all use CPUs based on designs by ARM. However that has now changed. Imagination Technologies has started to ship the Creator CI20, a SBC which uses a dual-core MIPS based processor. Imagination announced the CI20 back in August and the company has now started selling the board via its online web store. For just $65 (or £5o) you can get your hands on a development board that will run either Android or Linux, and includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 4GB of on-board storage.
PROS* Dual-core processor * 1GB memory * Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth * Runs Android & Linux
CONS* Android support needs to be improved
8.0The CI20 is a versatile board. It has greater performance than the Raspberry Pi and includes more memory. The built-in Wi-Fi is a great plus, as is the built-in Bluetooth. At $65 it is more expensive than the Pi, but you get more for your money.
The current version of Android for the CI20 is a good proof of concept, and it shows the versatility of the board.There are also a few other minor problems with the CI20. Having used several different ARM based media boxes (which are basically just boards like the CI20 packaged into a nice case), I had high expectations of the CI20. I had visions of being able to build a my own media box using the CI20. However there are several key things that don't yet work under Android. The most important of which is support for external USB drives. Although SD cards can be used and I was able to play a movie from the SD card without any problems, I was unable to use an external USB flash drive. It simply wasn't recognized by Android. Unfortunately, when playing a movie from the SD card the sound didn't work over the HDMI cable, and neither did it work via a Bluetooth speaker. While Wi-Fi works, there are no settings for the Ethernet. What this all means is that the current version of Android for the CI20 is a good proof of concept, and it shows the versatility of the board. It proves that Android is fully MIPS compatible, and that with extra effort the CI20 could become a very useful Android board. However as it currently stands, there is work to be done. Imagination is also going to bring Android 5.0 Lollipop to the CI20, but there is no official release date. LINUX As well as Android the CI20 is able to run Linux and it is clear that Linux is the primary operating system for this board. Many of the problems which exist under Android don't appear with the Linux default Linux distro. USB flash drives are recognized and the Ethernet works as expected. Several different Linux distros are available for the CI20, the default one is Debian 7.0. The other distros include Gentoo, Angstrom and Arch.
Flashing a new firmware on the CI20 is quite easy. You need to download the firmware you wish to use and write it on an SD card using Win32DiskImager. With the power off, move the JP3 selector from 1-2 to 2-3. Insert the SD card into the CI and power on the board. The LED will go from red to blue to show that the flashing process has started. After about 10 minutes the the LED will go back to red. Power off the board, remove the SD card and move the JP3 pin back to its original position. Then just power on again to boot into the new OS. WRAP UP The CI20 is clearly a versatile board. It has greater performance than the Raspberry and includes more memory. The built-in Wi-Fi is a great plus, as is the built-in Bluetooth. The Android support is good, but some work needs to be done to make it more friendly and more usable out of the box. The Linux support is excellent and is really the best OS available for the board at the moment. Like the Raspberry Pi, the CI20 has a set of GPIO pins which means the board is an attractive option for hardware enthusiasts. In a nutshell the board is more expensive than the Raspberry Pi, but the extra costs bring benefits.
Verizon Wireless is no stranger to offering a ton of great deals around the holiday season. The company apparently has a few more deals up their sleeve, because they’re now offering any Android phone that’s upwards of $199 for 50% off. The 50% off discount only applies to on-contract devices, but it’s still a great discount that can save you some money. The number of phones that Verizon is offering at a discounted price are slim, but they’re some of the best Big Red has to offer. The list includes: * Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - $149.99 * Motorola DROID Turbo - $99.99 * Sony Xperia Z3v - $99.99 We aren’t sure how long this particular deal will last, but we’re sure it will still be available throughout the holidays. The company is offering free overnight shipping with these phones as well, so you may be able to receive them by Christmas if you order by December 23rd. Also, we’ve reviewed all of these awesome devices. Check out our Galaxy Note 4, DROID Turbo, and Xperia Z3v reviews! Aside from this deal that Verizon is hosting, you can also grab a Motorola Moto X (2nd Gen.) for only $49.99 on-contract. The Moto X deal lasts until December 31st, so you better not delay. If none of these devices suit your needs, take a look at our list of the best Verizon Android phones. Will you take advantage of any of these deals this holiday season? If so, let us know what you’re interested in!
_UPDATE: __Now the 32GB model is in stock, but not the 16GB. _ The Google Nexus 6 may be the latest and greatest Nexus handset, but its larger size and higher pricing makes the phone less desirable for those looking for an affordable smartphone with solid specs. Thankfully, the Nexus 5 is still more than capable of providing a solid Android experience at an affordable price point, despite being a year old. On the downside, getting your hands on the Nexus 5 isn’t as easy now that Google has stopped production of the handset. Still looking to pick one up? We're happy to report that, at least at the time of this writing, the black Nexus 5 16GB is now back in stock from Google Play! Google had promised it would continue offering the phone “through early 2015”, but it’s unclear how much stock actually remains. If you are at all interested in the Nexus 5, we’d jump on it sooner rather than later. While the Nexus 5 has been around long enough that you probably have a pretty good idea of what to expect, be sure to check out our original review in order to get an even better look: So how about it, anyone biting on this offer?
Built by HTC, the Nexus 9 offers exactly what you would expect from a quality tablet, combining good looks, power, and the best iteration of stock Android yet. However, as popular as HTC and the Nexus 9 may be, it is not without its flaws, as is the case with most gadgets currently available in the market. Today, we will be looking at some of the most common issues that users have faced when using the Nexus 9, while offering potential solutions on how you to fix them. _Disclaimer: __Not every user of the Nexus 9 will face these issues, and it is quite likely that you won’t come across any of the problems listed below._ ------------------------- PROBLEM #1 – CHARGING TAKES A LONG TIME While there have been no major complaints with regards to battery life, users have faced issues with the surprisingly long time it takes to recharge. POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS: * Make sure that the cable and charger are properly connected to the power source. * Always use the cable that was intended for use with the tablet, rather than trying alternate chargers, as some alternatives can use different voltage parameters, which lead to slower charging. * Ensure the power outlet is working correctly by plugging in a different device and checking its function. * Connect the tablet directly to your computer via USB to confirm that the cable is not the problem. * Request a replacement charger if you find that this is the problem. If the charger works fine, and the tablet takes more than five hours to full recharge, contact your retailer for a replacement. ------------------------- PROBLEM #2 – SLOW OR LAGGY PERFORMANCE Even with such a powerful processing package, users of the Nexus 9 have reported delays after pressing the _Multitasking _or _Home _buttons, as well as problems with opening applications. POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS: * Performance issues may be related to software bugs with Android 5.0 Lollipop, and this might be taken care with the latest update to Android 5.0.1. * Attempt a factory reset. (See the instructions to do this below), as a specific app may be the culprit. After the factory reset is complete, check to see whether the problem has been resolved before you begin re-installing applications. ------------------------- PROBLEM #3 – CHARGING CAUSES A GLITCH WITH THE LOCK SCREEN Some Nexus 9 users have noticed a strange glitch when they charge their tablet, where the lock screen refreshes repeatedly, as though it’s stuck in a loop. The tablet becomes unresponsive, and a message appears announcing that the launcher has crashed. Occasionally, this issue is accompanied by a constant ticking sound. POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS: * Open the Google application then go into _Menu – Settings – “OK Google” detection _and uncheck the box that reads _“Always On”. _ * Change the language. If you’re automatically set on “French Canadian”, this problem seems to happen more regularly. * Make sure the tablet is up to date by going to _Settings – About Tablet – Software Update_ ------------------------- PROBLEM #4 – WI-FI DOESN’T CONNECT OR DROPS CONNECTION Almost every device on the market suffers from some form of Wi-Fi connectivity problems, and the Nexus 9 is no exception. POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS: * Turn off the router, and the Nexus 9 by holding down the _Power _button and tapping the _Power off _ Wait for thirty seconds then switch both devices back on. * Install the Wi-Fi Analyzer application and search for a less crowded channel. * Go into _Settings – Wi-Fi _and hold your finger on your preferred network until you get a list of options. Choose _Forget Network _and try to connect again from scratch. * Ensure that the firmware for the router is up-to-date. This might require confirmation with your ISP. * Try changing the band frequency from 2.4GHz. 5GHz usually provides a stronger signal, but 2.4GHz offers a further range. * Check that the MAC filtering is off on the router, or ensure that the MAC address of the Nexus 9 is added to the permitted devices. Find this address in _Settings – About tablet. _ ------------------------- PROBLEM #5 – ISSUES WITH OVERHEATING A lot of users have expressed concerns about their Nexus 9 constantly overheating. This occurs not only during processor-intensive activities like gaming, but also while just surfing the web. POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS: * Avoid visiting websites with a lot of animated images and advertisements. * Use a different browser, such as Firefox, Beta, or Chrome. * Make sure that applications are kept updated, including the browser application. * Keep up to date with Android Lollipop updates. ------------------------- PROBLEM #6: APPLICATIONS CRASH OR DON’T LOAD Some Nexus 9 users have faced difficulties in accessing their favorite applications, or experience frequent crashes. POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS: * If you are always experiencing problems with the same application, make sure that it is up to date, and compatible with Lollipop 5.0. Go into _Settings – Apps _and select the problematic application, then tap _Clear Cache. _Restart the Nexus 9 and if the problems persist, look for an alternative app. * Turn off the _“Battery saver” _option on the tablet, as this can hinder performance. Go to _Settings – Battery._ * Set the Nexus 9 up as a new device, instead of attempting to use on older Google profile. Old applications and settings can cause issues, particularly with authentication. Factory reset the device and be selective about the apps you reinstall. ------------------------- PROBLEM #7: AUTO-ROTATE DOESN’T WORK Some users have complained that the auto-rotate on their Nexus 9 doesn’t work. Sometimes it works temporarily, then stops again. POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS: * Go into _Settings – Accessibility – Display _and turn the _“Auto-rotate” _option off and on again. * Restart the Nexus 9. * Try uninstalling applications selectively to see whether the issue is caused by a third-party app. Alternatively, factory reset the tablet then reinstall applications one by one. * If the sensor in the Nexus 9 is faulty, the only option will be to return the tablet and get a replacement. ------------------------- PROBLEM #8: NEAR-FIELD COMMUNICATION DOESN’T WORK The Nexus 9 NFC feature can be used to share files and pay for purchases, but some users have complained that it doesn’t work. POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS: * Ensure that the back cover is in place by pressing gently on the cover. Push the area just below the camera on the tablet, you should hear a soft click. * If this doesn’t work, return the tablet for a replacement. ------------------------- There are some of the most common problems that owners have experienced with their Nexus 9 tablets. If you have experienced these problems, leave a comment below to tell us whether our solutions worked. Further, if you’ve experienced other problems, let us know and we’ll try to find a solution. We will do our best to keep updating this list as new problems and potential solutions make themselves known. SEE ALSO: Nexus 9 Review ------------------------- Here is the guide on how to factory reset the Nexus 9. FACTORY RESET: * Backup any precious data, as this will wipe all information from the tablet. * Go into _Settings – Backup and Reset – Factory data reset – Reset tablet_ * Enter your password or PIN. * Tap the option _“Delete Everything”._ * The device should automatically reboot.
With the launch of the Nexus 6, Google’s decision to stop production of the Nexus 5 is a pretty standard move from a company standpoint. A little more than a week ago, we got word that Google would stop manufacturing the Nexus 5, and only sell the units they have in stock until Q1 2015. A day before that news broke, both the White and Red variants of the handset became unavailable in the Google Play Store. So, if you still want a Nexus 5, you’re stuck with the black model. However, if you still want to get your hands on the now unavailable Red Nexus 5, you can… and for a pretty low price. Expansys, a phone and tablet retailer, is currently selling the Red Nexus 5 16GB for only $319.99. The 16GB Nexus 5 on Google Play is still being sold for $349.99, so being able to buy the seemingly unavailable handset for $30 off is a great deal. What’s more, the site will also throw in an LG Tone+ headset for only $20 more ($30 off original price). Note that this is the LG D821, an international variant of the Nexus 5 that may not be compatible with the LTE network offered by your carrier in your region. This deal poses a question, though. Is the Nexus 5 still worth it? It offers solid build quality, a crisp 1080p screen, and is running the latest version of Android. But with CES 2015 on the horizon as well as LG and HTC offerings coming soon after that, you will soon have a ton of options to choose from. Our own Kevin Nether revisited the Nexus 5 after a year, and states, “If you’re looking for a stock-Android experience, extremely quick updates, and decent build quality, you still can’t go wrong with the Nexus 5.” Take a look at the video below to decide for yourself. An unlocked Red Nexus 5 for only $320 is a great deal, especially considering that the phone isn’t even in production anymore. If you’re interested, follow the link below to pick one up for yourself. Anyone out there taking advantage of this deal?
WHAT IS BITCOIN BLASTER? Bitcoin Blaster is a shooting game where you play as Uncle Sam and you shoot bad guys. The bad guys are the Bitcoin Army and it's your job to prevent them from taking over the White House. The game is currently free with no in app purchases. During the game you sit in a turret that is mounted on the side of the White House. You then shoot real money at the Bitcoin army as they advance. Every now and then, an eagle will fly onto the screen with a power up of some kind. You lose the game when your health hits zero. The mechanics are easy enough. You hold down on the screen to start shooting (don't worry, you have infinite ammo) and drag your finger to aim. There are achievements and leaderboards in the game but unfortunately they aren't Google Play Games supported. In the menus, you also have access to thinks like the game's sound track and various sound effects and voice overs. The graphics for Bitcoin Blaster aren't amazing but the menus actually really good and the game play graphics aren't half bad. There are also 4 different levels._Check out the previous indie app of the day: Christmas in HD_ _Join us in the Apps and Games section of the Android Authority forums! Just don't forget to read the rules first!_
Simple, Satirical Fun.
PROS* The game play mechanics are very simple. Hold to shoot, drag to aim. * Free with no in app purchases. * The satire of Uncle Sam shooting bitcoin people with real money is hilarious. * Leaderboards and achievements help keep the game interesting. * The menus in this game are awesome.
CONS* Like most time wasters, repetition will eventually render this game boring. Enjoy it while you can. * The achievements and leaderboards arent Google Play Services supported. * The satire may go over some heads.
7.5Overall, this is a fun little time waster. It's nothing too special but it is easy to play and it does have a lot of personality with a little bit of satire thrown in. It's also totally free and that helps too. Check it out if you're interested!
Xiaomi continues its rise to the top, particularly in the Asian world. OnePlus is finally starting to become easier to buy. Oppo, Meizu, Huawei and several other similar OEMs continue to globally expand. All these brands are making headway due to a combination of aggressive pricing, aggressive marketing, and the introduction of unique features (like rotating cams, CM out of the box, etc). That said, all these players are still relatively small potatoes in the western world -- particularly in the United States. For this week's Friday Debate we discuss which up-and-coming Chinese (and/or any Asian-based) OEM has the best chance for success on a truly global scale. Can any of these OEMs join the ranks of big-names like Samsung, LG and Apple? As is our recent custom, we start out the Friday Debate by hearing from members of our community, followed by members of Team AA and finally we'll give our readers the opportunity to voice their opinion in the comments section. You can read all community responses in the forums, though this week we are showcasing a response from Shawny. Shawny Wow, that's a tough question considering how many minor OEM's there are and what they're capable of. They just lack the experience to unleash their full potential like Samsung, HTC, LG, Motorola, Nexus, Sony etc. Nonetheless, there are a few OEM's that seem to be rising from the ashes and rising to a position where they might eventually be able to compete on a global scale. XIAOMI: Up until this year, I had no clue who Xiaomi were and what to even expect from them. I just knew that they were a Chinese manufacturer and that's basically it. It was when they sold thousands of phones in a couple if seconds (in China or India, I forgett), that the company caught my attention and not surprisingly, a lot of News feeds including AA. They kept breaking records and even managed to somehow top Samsung in China in less than the 2 years they were running, that's impressive. It shouldn't take a rocket scientist or a microbiologist to realize that Xiaomi will be amongst the likes as LG, HTC and others. If Xiaomi keep this up, they will no doubt surpass some of the big OEM's, I'm confident. ONEPLUS: "Premium for cheap." That was the message I was getting upon those rumors by OnePlus and quite frankly, it was what they delivered. A company that barely existed last year and now is up there with Xiaomi, Huawei and others. They were the OEM to save people with an average budget from their misery, dubbed the "Flagship Killer". They didn't start off well to be honest, I think we can all remember when people entered that weird smash your phone competition (The funniest was that one person who smashed their HTC One M7 without reading reading the term's and conditions, haha :D) My point is that it was a poor decision by OP and it didn't get any better when people received their phone with so many missing tools. I don't think there was a time when OP had some kind of happy moment during their phone sales, I've heard losses and that the company was not in it for the profit but to please consumers. I have to give OP credit for their work and pleasing consumers, but I don't believe they will last long with their current problems. Maybe I'm being harsh, but that's how I see it. Some advice though, purchasing a phone without an invite would be nice, just saying… HUAWEI: I've known Huawei for a long time but they're like… a quiet smart kid in class, passing well but silently and no one bothers to pay attention to them, but recently they seem to be gaining in momentum and they make really nice smartphones. It's strange how I think that their smartphones are better than Xiaomi, but I'm not the market so it's obvious what consumers think. There's really not much to say, I do see growth either way and they aren't only producing phones so they have something to fall onto. Also, as an Gunner, I know that they have a partnership with Arsenal fc and are even producing the Ascend P7 Arsenal edition phone, so they could be attracting a lot of Gunners in the Asian market. At this rate, I'd say give them 3-4 years more and you'll see them up there with the best. YOTA: Never heard of this OEM until the YotoPhone 2 was released. Very impressive and unique phone I must say. I saw the review for the phone and I'd have to get it a :thumbsup: mainly because it's awesome (Ugh, I'm thinking of that Lego song now from the Lego Movie) there's a lot of credit that should be given for this company's latest release and I must say, without further babbling, that this company has a brighter future now with their current status, but we have to give them time and see how that phone does and how it influences the market. I'm in between on this one, a success or failure will depend in the coming year or two. OPPO: This is also a company with unique ambitions like Yota. I like Oppo, they may not have the coolest name but they certainly have one of the coolest features on their phones, that rotating Camera is one of them and the phone's back gesture feature is amazing too. They seem to be another rising OEM and we can't throw them out of the picture since they create such epic phones that I must get one day. There is obvious potential growth here and I do hope it will join the likes of Samsung, Sony, Motorola etc. They deserve such a status, keep it up Oppo! Overall, I'm aware that there are other OEM's like Sharp, Vivo, Meizu, etc. but they aren't much of a big deal in many countries and that is why I didn't include them. Bare in mind, this is just my perspective so yeah… What Team AA Has To Say Now that you've had a look at what community member _Shawny _had to say, it's time for Team AA to weigh in: JONATHAN FEIST
2014 really has been a big year for Chinese smartphone manufacturers. Vendors like OnePlus and Xiaomi have made a big splash on the world, but I think it is the quiet ones that have made a real difference. Popularity may be very hard to achieve in the Western markets, but success is another thing. As far as popularity goes, we have all seen the rise and, depending on perspective, fall of OnePlus with their flagship killer, the One. Fewer have also seen the major rise of Xiaomi this year. However, we usually overlook the major global success of the low-end and feature phone king, ZTE. I believe that Xiaomi is in for an awesome ride in 2015 and beyond, launching into more and more markets around the globe. I believe that players like Huawei, OPPO, Vivo, and Lenovo will also see great things ahead, but the Western markets are not their playground, yet. Lenovo is a special case here, having recently purchased Motorola, they gain instant penetration into many markets around the globe, especially the U.S. We are yet to see what Lenovo will do with the big M brand, which has been pretty much flying solo, and doing a great job of it, since Google announced their pending sale early in the year. I would highly recommend that Lenovo leave Motorola alone, else they find themselves with an insubordinate situation, as Microsoft has with Nokia over building Android devices. Bottom line, I think if anyone has a chance of becoming a major popular manufacturer in the West, it is Xiaomi, followed closely by ZTE. They will each have to step things up and offer a flagship 'killer' of their own. Budget devices make sales, but premium devices make fans. I would say that ZTE knows this - (I believe) they are the 4th largest phone manufacturer around the globe, but they make more carrier branded phones than self branded, and the high-end of their offerings just do not compare to the Nexus 6, Moto X, Note 4, Xperia Z3, LG G3, HTC One family, Galaxy S5, LG G2, Moto G, David Beckham's left foot and so many more. I suppose what I am trying to say is that the first of the Chinese manufacturers to build a phone that is a status symbol of personal success for users, whether warranted or not, and can overcome the legal barrier to entry into the American and Canadian markets, could have a chance at toppling a current top manufacturer. Thus, I don't see it happening any time soon. ROBERT TRIGGS
This really is the billion dollar question. In terms of raw numbers, Samsung and Apple are still a long way out in front, and there’s little sign of anyone catching up right away. However, Xiaomi and MicroMax have shot up in share in less than a year, and look poised to break out of the pack. At the same time, Apple and Samsung shipments look to be slowing, the gap could be set to close. It’s the lower upfront cost of these brands that is resulting in their success, and that trend isn’t going anywhere. Over the next couple of years, I can certainly see these brands becoming major players in certain parts of the world, in some countries they already rival the big brands. Now, if by global success you mean selling huge numbers of handsets in every region, as Samsung currently does, then that’s a different story. As we’ve covered in-depth, saturated Western markets are harder to break, due to marketing, tastes, and mistrust of unknown brands, especially from China. I don’t see Xiaomi becoming a big name in the US, but Xiaomi isn’t interested in that market. These smaller brands are finding success in faster growing smartphone markets, where the opportunities are. Could Xiaomi, Lenovo or Huawei go on to take significant shares of South East Asia, Latin America, India, China, and Central Africa? I certainly see no reason why not. Does that count as global success? In my book, absolutely. As to who is the most likely to succeed: Xiaomi is certainly the most ambitious, but I wouldn’t count out Lenovo. ERIC MCBRIDE
Can Chinese OEMs dethrone the heavy hitters in the US and globally? My answer: If they continue to do things as they are now, then it's a resounding “NO WAY and thank you for playing”. Here’s why. When it comes to dominating a market, domestic domination, international domination, and global domination are 3 completely different beasts. When I lived in Hickory North Carolina and got a craving for pizza, it was common knowledge that it was all about Tonys Pizza, which was a tiny privately held restaurant in the area. Pizza Hut, Dominos, or Papa Johns weren’t even in the conversation there, as it was ALL about Tonys in Hickory, and believe me when I tell you that place was ALWAYS packed. But does that mean Tonys could dominate on a national level witout severe changes to their business model? Not even close. International maybe? Common. Global? Just stop it. Samsung and Apple have established something that in my opinion no other smartphone manufacturers have really brought to the table (yet): brand recognition via relentless marketing (even subliminally) at an entirely new level. Everytime I hear that d*mn whistle on a train or a bus, most of the people know in an instant that it is a Samsung phone that made that noise. Everytime I hear that specific IOS ringtone that we have all come to know, or hear just the music from certain TV spots without being able to see the screen, you instantly know that this commercial is coming from Apple. Despite how insignificant that may seem, this ladies and gentlemen is branding power at its highest form. And how did it come to that? 2 words: Relentless marketing. HTC and LG were dropping some solid devices the entire time that Samsung’s run was at its peak, but as shown in the market share numbers, there were declines and drops all over the place for both companies. When it came to Android, there were a lot of options, but only one of those options was making noise and doing all they could to get their products stuck in your head at a viral/subliminal level, and that was Samsung. I couldn’t turn on a TV, a radio, or a YouTube video without seeing something about Samsung or Apple. Samsung spent huge amounts on over the top campaigns, being the first OEM to really go at Apple’s throat. And guess what? It worked. Apple, who once seemed untouchable (and had established itself in the same way…remember all those commercials with upcoming bands, dances, and songs you just couldn’t get out of your head?), was all of a sudden looking very “mortal”. In other words, I don’t care how many mega pixels, how powerful of a processor, how big of a display, or even how insanely low a pricetag is coming from a Chinese OEM (or any other American OEM for that matter). If you don’t have the money/resources/creativity for pure unadulterated, over the top, creatively borderline insane driven marketing to go along with your device (along with having the ability/resources to expand your reach globally), you can simply forget about taking the US and a big portion of Europe let alone the world. HTC found out the hard way, Motorola found out the hard way, LG found out the hard way, and these are all tier one companies with solid devices that DID spend "big" amounts of money that still couldn't come close to even making a dent in Samsung’s success when they were at their "prime". Now you might be saying „Pfffft…look at Samsung now Eric. They are falling at a pretty fast pace“, …remember that becoming a global leader and STAYING a global leader is a different debate all together. "Pfffft…look at all the companies coming up now Eric. You suck!" Sure companies are (thankfully) coming up, but are they anywhere near GLOBAL market domination? Nowhere near it. The winning equation looks like this: Solid device +marketing insanity+acceptable price (notice I didn’t even say “cheap”) = PROFIT at a more international level (remember, global domination also involves timing, luck, and even more factors that I can't discuss now). Chinese vendors will continue to grow in developing countries, will dominate China, and will start making a big mark in Europe and even in the US. I applaud that, as great devices are coming out of China, and not everyone has the money/sees the reason in spending the insane amounts of money that much of the western world spends on smartphones and contracts. But without taking their brand power and brand recognition to levels they never may have even dreamed imaginable (think Coca Cola, who Apple also surpassed on a branding level), simply scratch global domination off your list of things to do. MATTHEW BENSON
Truth be told, having not spent enough time with any specific Chinese OEM device enough to make a solid conclusion, I will avoid outright picking one company that I think will be the first to break out in the USA. With that said, however, Huawei's latest devices have been of great interest to me, especially the tablets. The MediaPad X1 7.0 looks fantastic (if not a bit unoriginal) and the screen is wonderful. I played around with it for a bit and would actually consider buying it were I not already in possession of a smaller tablet at the moment. Likewise the Ascend Mate 7 is a very nice phone; sort of a modified HTC One M7 but for significantly less money. Huawei has, much like HTC, quickly gone from making totally bland/hideous products (check out some of HTCs pre-Android days) to stylish and symmetrical beauties. Then again looking at Vivo, the company has recently unveiled the thinnest smartphone in existence. It completely one-upped Oppo in not only making a smaller device, but including all the things that Oppo couldn't locate, namely a headphone port. How did this miracle happen? Engineering prowess. Innovation. R&D. Vivo spent good money investing in technology to make this device happen, and it has paid off-at least on paper. But even if it turns out to be awful, the fact remains that the tech world is all enamored with it, and eagerly awaits the chance to take it for a test drive. I think the real task these Chinese OEMs will have to accomplish is that their brands are truly something to covet, and easing public perception when it comes to security (ties to Chinese government, etc). When thinking back about a decade or so, Samsung was anything but the giant it is today, at least in terms of brand acceptance. Back in those days, Sony was the go-to source for any and all product breakthroughs and top-notch products. The Korean offerings from Samsung and LG were largely viewed as inferior and destined for bargain bins. In this regard, the OnePlus One is probably in the best situation right now. In deliberately making its hardware ridiculously hard to obtain (read: invitation-only), OnePlus has managed to generate a huge amount of conversation, and tech sites around the globe have given the company and its phone considerable coverage. Couple this with the decision to partner with Cyanogen and it has elevated the company to another level entirely, wherein even enthusiasts want the hardware, and where just about anyone can afford it. Chinese OEMs have a fantastic chance at success in the USA, if only because their perfect pricing and premium products. And even looking at things like money (something Samsung has lost a lot of this past quarter), companies like Xiaomi don't care if they're not breaking the bank with profits per sale, so long as there are enough sales to make profits. And the products produced to procure those profits aren't priced perilously, so customers are happy! How many of those $600+ devices are sold at-cost? Now It's Your Turn You've heard what some of our forum members think, and the thoughts of our team as well. Now it's your turn to tell us what you think. Due to the nature of this topic, there's no poll this week, but please feel free to voice your thoughts in the comments below!
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